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Love for Desert Heats UpDuring Visit to Scottsdale

Posted Sep 13 2008 6:52pm

Seth_hiking_123105_1 For New Year’s weekend we drove out to Scottsdale, Arizona, where Seth’s and Lael’s grandma lives. Both were excellent travelers, each way: Seth kept himself busy in his imaginative world for most of the six-hour drive while Lael slept.

We can’t go to Scottsdale without a stop at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. When we arrived this time, the park was lit up with Christmas lights from end to end.

But the line of parents and screaming kids snaked deep into the playground area. So I asked Seth: “Do you want to wait in line or do you want to come back another time when the line might be shorter?”

I was sure he was going to opt for waiting in line, but instead he said, “Let’s come back later.” Maybe he remembers the first time we stood in line for 1.5 hours. I think Grandma was somewhat relieved, too.

So we walked around the park to look at the lights. One display included a gigantic Statue of Liberty balloon. Reindeer flew across the tracks at another spot.

Deep into the park, we discovered a short line of parents and kids. We asked what was up and they said they were waiting for the other train. Other train?

It turns out that a small part of the park is devoted to train hobbyists who normally offer rides on Sunday. We had seen the tracks during other visits, but they were always empty. But on the day of our visit – Friday – the hobbyists were having a special run.

So 15 minutes later we were riding on a small, one-person-per-seat train, which was very low to the ground. It was awesome. Seth even got to see how they fixed one of the cars when it became derailed. I’m sure he’s been reliving the moment all week.

On New Year’s Eve, I took Seth hiking in North Mountain Park in Phoenix. Grandma had been teaching Seth about cactuses, so I expanded his education explaining to him how to pronounce saguaro (the “g” sounds like a “w”).

Dad_hiking_123105 Early into the hike, I asked Seth which he liked better, the desert or the ocean. He answered “desert.”

When we reached a saddle, on one side was desert and the other an endless view of development. I asked which Seth liked better. “The desert side.”

Toward the end of the hike, Seth was getting tired and asked me to carry him a lot. “My leg hurts,” he said. (Later we discovered he had a raw blister on his foot.) Again I asked him if he liked the desert or ocean better. “Ocean.” Smart kid.

During the drive home, though, Seth noticed there were no cactuses/saguaros on the California side of the border. He seemed bummed that they didn’t grow where we lived.

I guess we’re going to have to move to Baja California, where desert and ocean meet. Just kidding, honey!

(Note: The picture of me was taken by Seth.)

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