We were given a generous gift by some friends from the NW--a weeks stay anywhere we wanted using their timeshare. We decided on a place we'd never been but fit a few requirements: 1. It was less than one full day's drive from Tijuana and 2. It was in the mountains where we could step out our door and be surrounded by fresh air and hiking. What we came up with was a lodge about 20 minutes outside of Payson, AZ. Payson has a small town feel, similar to where each of us grew up. It boasted a Starbucks in the Safeway and had a great park with a lake that Elena couldn't get enough of (she is quite enamored with ducks). We were 20 minutes the other direction from the Mongollon Rim. I'd never heard of it either--think Columbia Gorge without the River. What it meant for us was beautiful vistas, few people, hiking and snow.
Our very own cabin
The week started sunny and ended with snow. This was Elena's first experience with snow--she wasn't too sure about it but did like our snowball fight.
A view of the Rim from below.
A view of below from the Rim.
So this is where vacation with a toddler looks different than before. We found the local library and came back the next day because of its play room and toddler story time. I've not found this type of thing in TJ so we were pretty excited. Oh how life changes.
Another experience with Elena that I am grateful for--slowing down to enjoy the scenery. We spent a lot of time gathering leaves, sticks and rocks and throwing them into the creek. We also spent a lot of time sitting by the creek (ok, I was holding her jacket so she wouldn't nose dive into it) watching things float down and listening to the water. It was a sort of forced peacefulness that I wouldn't have enjoyed the same without her.
Below is a video of Elena's fascination with ducks. You can tell its contagious.