Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Spencer Jack's Tree Got Me Reminiscing About My Christmas Escape History

Last night Spencer Jack text messaged me that which you see here.

Standing on a chair installing the final touch on the 2016 Spencer Jack Christmas tree.

Spencer Jack also called the old-fashioned way last night. He was in Everett having taken his dad for a tour of Paine Field and some sort of new aviation museum.

Paine Field is near where Boeing builds its big jets in the biggest manufacturing building in the world.

I do not remember when last I was at Paine Field. It may have been way back in the last century at an air show where I got one of my worst sunburns ever, spending too many hours looking skyward.

Spencer Jack wanted to know if I was planning on heading to Arizona for Christmas, telling me that if I was doing so he was thinking it would be fun to fly his dad to Phoenix for that particular occasion.

I currently do not know where I will be on December 25.

Years ago, during the latter part of the last century my December norm was to skip the height of the holiday season by heading south, usually staying in Reno for a few days before going to California, usually Southern California.

Now that you are making me think about it the last time I escaped Christmas was in 1993. That year's escape skipped Reno and headed directly to Southern California on a nerve wrackingly crowded Interstate 5.

1993's Christmas was spent in Disneyland. On that particular day Disneyland broke its attendance record. There were some staffing problems and due to the unexpected big crowd food items ran out, such as New Orleans fritters, a staple, for me, of any Disneyland visit, dating back to my first time visiting Mickey Mouse's home, when I was 13.

The most amusing thing that happened on that Christmas in Disneyland day was on the Jungle Cruise. It was the last cruise of the day. When the boat was loaded the pilot looked at the crowd and asked if there were any kids on board. There were none.

The pilot then asked if we'd mind if he did the Jungle Cruise without the usual script. No one objected. So, instead of the usual script the pilot sort of sarcastically said stuff like, "Oh no, there's that pesky hippo again. I think I'll shoot him".

By the end of that Jungle Cruise everyone seemed to have had a mighty fine time, with many thanking the pilot for the best Jungle Cruise ever, when we finally safely docked.

After Disneyland, that year's Christmas escape included several more days in the Los Angeles zone, including a visit to the Nixon library. This was a few months before Nixon died. The Nixon library is like an adult Disneyland. Extremely entertaining and interesting.

Later that week, prior to New Year's Eve, I headed east for two days in Las Vegas. Then headed further east to spend one night in Flagstaff before driving north to the snowy, icy South Rim of the Grand Canyon the next day. Then continuing on further east where eventually I made my way to Moab on New Year's Eve.

New Years Day in Moab saw snow covered hiking in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park where at Islands in the Sky I looked down far below and saw mountain bikers. I vowed at that point in time to get myself a mountain bike and return to Moab to do some riding.

And so, back in Washington I got my first mountain bike, and then in March of 1995 returned for some adventurous slick rock riding, including the infamous Porcupine Rim Trail, and the less infamous Gemini Bridges Trail and the Slickrock Trail, where I had my only bad bike crash during that Moab stay.

It was on the aforementioned Disneyland Christmas escape road trip I first saw the San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat. The San Juan Inn pops into view when you cross the San Juan River from Arizona to Utah, shortly after visiting Monument Valley. When I saw the San Juan Inn nestled up against a tall redrock cliff I remarked that that looks like a fun place to stay. But, I continued on to Moab.

However, less than a year later I was back in Utah to do some Lake Powell Houseboating, so I made reservations at the San Juan Inn for the day we got off the houseboat, reaching Mexican Hat via the treacherous Moki Dugway.

The San Juan Inn did not disappoint. The Navajo Cafe which is part of the Inn made the best Indian tacos ever.

In a couple weeks my little sister is taking my Favorite Nephews David and Theo, and Favorite Niece Ruby to Disneyland prior to flying to Phoenix for Christmas in Arizona. I hope my little sister knows it can be cold in Disneyland on Christmas and packs accordingly...

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