The desert welcomed us with warmth and sunshine. Our former neighbors, the Biddulph family--native Washingtonians turned Arizonians--welcomed us with hugs and the cutest coffee table message.
Their beautiful home even has a casita that was prepared for our visit. In Spanish, casita means "little house." In Arizona, it's the word commonly used to describe a guest house. The casita made for a most comfortable week-long stay and we just loved even using the word any chance we could get.
"Do you have the camera?"
"It's in the casita."
Is Caleb outside?"
"No, he's watching a movie in the casita."
"Where did Jon go?"
"He's taking a siesta in la casita."
"Did you get that orange from the casita?"
"No, I got it from la casa grande."
This is a view of la casa grande--as Jon and I called it:
Isn't it beautiful? It was so peaceful and relaxing and our friends are amazing hosts.
We did a few puzzles, which is one of my favorite pastimes. Here's Jon working on one of them:
I put my feet up a lot during the week:
Tracy and I went for a morning walk through the orange groves that surround their house and then she made us some fun pancakes for Valentine's day.
Bryan and Tracy's basketball court was just being poured but Caleb got to shoot hoops in their neighbor's yard. That's a full court in their backyard!
The girls celebrated being able to wear t-shirts and shorts in the middle of February by going for a ride around the block.
The backyard felt like a dream. Most Arizonian pools are not heated which means their waters are quite cold in February. But my kids are from Washington, which means they don't mind splashing around in chilly water.
Caleb even jumped in twice. (And also sat at the swim-up bar momentarily.) The water really was cold. Like jumping into a lake.
One day we went to a western town called Rawhide. We happened to visit during their birthday celebration which meant all of the attractions were free.
One such attraction was the cheesy Roughriders gunfight show. Caleb loved the lame jokes.
My favorite part was when one of the guys fell from the top of the livery stable after being "shot." We all learned a little bit about Wild Bill Hickok.
Tracy taught me that a cactus has to be 70 years old before it grows an arm. This must be one old cactus:
On Saturday night, we went out to dinner with our friends, Doug and Jenny. Doug and Jon were great friends and roommates in college. We were reminiscing that it was when Jon went to Arizona to be a part of their wedding, that he bought an engagement ring for me. We hung out with them a lot when we were both newlyweds living in Provo. It had been twelve long years since we last spent time together.
We enjoyed a lovely evening with them dining outside in downtown Phoenix. Outside dining. In February!
After Natalie's meet on Sunday, we went to church with them and then they hosted us in their home for dinner. So fun to catch up.
Our kids had never met each other but they had fun together, too. While Doug was running the BBQ, the kids were playing soccer and shooting basketballs into the pool's hoop.
Don't Jon's dress socks just make this outfit?:
Caleb would probably tell you that the best part of the trip was seeing all of the sports venues. He and Jon went to the Cubs spring training one day and the Mariners the next.
They got an up-close and personal view of the team practicing.
Then they gathered lots of autographs. This is Felix Hernandez on the left and Joe Torre on the right:
They also went to see where the Cardinals and Sun devils play.
And Chase Field, where the Diamondbacks play. Caleb is disappointed that we don't have a picture to document seeing the Suns' arena, too.
While Jon and Caleb were off to spring training. I took the girls to Flipside, a fun center that promised "pure awesomeness." They weren't disappointed.
Have you ever heard of mini bowling? I hadn't, either.
Lots of fun activities. But I think we all agreed that the absolute best part about our week in Arizona was spending time with old friends.
Kennedy and Natalie have known each other their whole lives. They had a blast together.
Lys and Brinkley have been friends for a long, long time, too.
We shared lots of laughs. Especially when we played Quelf and everyone was required to snort every time we laughed. And then I had to put my thumbs in my mouth and Bryan had to put ice in his pants.
Watching Jon and Alyssa play leapfrog was pretty funny, too.
One afternoon, Bryan and Tracy treated us to an adult only lunch on the veranda of their community's country club.
I ate my chicken and brie sandwich while admiring the view of San Tan mountain.
We later took the kids to the country club to swim since their pools were heated. So nice!
We watched the girls' meet videos on their giant TV and later enjoyed the BYU basketball game.
Caleb left them this message:
What a great vacation with such a variety of fun!
Happy trails to you, until we meet again.