We've been home for two weeks now. I'm frustrated I left everyone hanging on my trip. I really focused on finishing my Egypt manuscript (again). That project (a month past my personal deadline) overshadowed all of the other things I had planned to do this summer--including wrapping up my blog notes.
Well, it's done. Today I was typing my trip notes into my laptop, looking forward to some future writing assignments. I'm finally able to reflect on Arizona and all that happened.
I'll focus on favorites.
ELLIE'S FAVORITES: Ellie enjoyed White Sands National Monument as the best stop on our entire tour. We only spent about three hours there, arriving just before sunset. The kids barreled out of the van and climbed the nearest dune. They spent the next two hours sliding or rolling down the house-sized sand dunes. Meanwhile, Jenny and I got to enjoy the spectacular (and romantic) site of a White Sands sunset: pastel pinks and blues adorning the white dunes and the purple mountains. At the Navajo Reservation, Ellie picked up a taste for Sno-Cones, and we still talk about how delicious they were there and at the Acoma Reservation.
OWEN'S FAVORITE: This really doesn't have anything to do with the Southwest, but when he finished the "Alien Mothership" level on his Chicken Little Gameboy game, he screamed with joy for five minutes. Owen really enjoyed White Sands, too, and learning about the desert. We still talk about how hot it was.
JONAH'S FAVORITE: He still likes to talk about the "cactuh-eh-eh-es" he saw has we drove to Globe, Arizona--and the cacti at Al & Cinty Tomlinson's house. He loved the sand dunes, although he had the toughest time climbing back up of all the kids.
JENNY'S FAVORITE: Jenny has a special bond with Grand Canyon that dates back to a family trip she took there when she was twelve. We camped on the Rim one night, and it was a special time for us. We put the kids to bed and spent an hour looking up at the brilliant night sky. Jenny had spent the week apart in intense spiritual study, and she was bursting with ideas, hopes, dreams. As we sat close together at our picnic table that night, looking up at the Big Dipper and a million other stars, she asked me, "What is your dream?" My answer was one word: "This."
MY FAVORITE: Superior, Arizona. Our weekend in Globe/Superior was a time of intense emotion for me. We reunited with our church family there, which was totally uplifting. Leaving that place began an eight-year spiritual drought for Jenny and me that only lifted in the past ten months. My Sabbath School was taught by Preston Cox, who had been a student in my teen Sabbath School while I was there. There is nothing that makes me prouder than being taught by one of my students.
Speaking of my students, I did get a chance to meet with members of the Class of 1998 in Superior. What an experience. My four years at Superior High were there four years, and we graduated together, you could say. It was fun to learn about what they are doing eight years on--my Teacher's Pet, Aurora, is still brilliant and (alas) still making me wait to see her show her writing/teaching stuff. At least she's kept up the curiosity about Greece, and I'm looking forward to her sending me a postcard from some gorgeous Greek isle someday. (Pictured at left, beginning with me are [clockwise]: Manny, Monica, Sergio, Kelli, Aurora, Julie, and Ellie.)
The one thing they kept saying was, "You were our age (now) when you were teaching us?" (They are all 26 or 27). The one thing I enjoyed talking about was my trip to Troy in 1999. This group of kids, better than anyone else I know, including my own family, know what that meant to me--they spent hours reading The Iliad in my classroom.