I love this time of year. Summer is over, the temperatures are starting to drop and pumpkins adorn front porches everywhere. Before long, the trees will start to shake loose their leaves.
Autumn is in the air.
Yes, I know that most of you have been enjoying cooler temperatures and signs of autumn for a few weeks now, but here in Arizona, we tend to lag behind the rest of the country on most things. The change in the seasons is definitely no exception.
The second half of this year has been very busy for both my wife and me. We’ve both been involved with planning our high school reunions and preparing for speaking engagements. My little brother is getting married in November, and I’m in the middle of my Emergency Medical Technician refresher class.
With everything going on, we are both more than a little disappointed that we are not going to be able to spend a weekend in the “north country” to witness the autumn “changing of the color”.
Last year, we were able to make an overnight trip to Flagstaff and spend a couple of days in the mountains. On one of those days, we drove out to the ski resort Arizona Snowbowl, which opens its lift in the summer and fall for rides and magnificent views of the valley and forest below.
As we drove up the mountain after lunch that Saturday afternoon, we weren’t sure the weather was going to cooperate and give us the opportunity to ride the lift. Dark, ominous clouds covered the peak of the mountain and threatened all who dared to tempt Mother Nature.
The drive up the mountain was beautiful. The road meandered back and forth, climbing steadily upwards, weaving in and around pockets of brightly colored aspens and deep olive green conifers.
A slight drizzle fell from the sky as we drove slowly up the mountain with the windows down, pulling over every so often to let other, more expedient drivers pass. We savored the smell of the damp, fresh, clean mountain air.
Some of the best memories in life are made when you just slow down and enjoy the ride.
We made it to the parking area at the top of the mountain. Actually, it was the bottom of the ski run, but the elevation was very high. The rain had stopped, and we made our way inside to see the rustic ski lodge and get something warm to drink.
The sky was still cloudy and the temperature had dropped considerably. We were thankful we had brought our jackets.
After getting a cup of hot chocolate and browsing the gift shop, the girl behind the counter made an announcement that they were going to stop selling tickets in 15 minutes because the ride up and back was about an hour and they had to make sure everyone was back before the park closed and the ranger locked the gate at sunset.
We overheard a couple coming in from riding the lift remark about the rain and colder temperatures towards the summit. My wife purchased our tickets as I fetched an umbrella and a blanket from the car. We got in line, hopped on the lift and up we went.
The lift began its slow, steady climb upwards and it wasn’t long before the sky started drizzling again. As we huddled under the blanket and umbrella, we were thankful we were warm and dry, because there were many others on the way down who were less fortunate.
Sitting on the lift, we enjoyed the view of the mountain and forest in front of us. The intensity of the rain increased and the clouds swallowed the trees in front of us. The rain turned to hail, and then to snow.
Within minutes, we couldn’t see more than two chairs in front of us on the lift. As we approached the summit and prepared to exit the lift, the snow stopped and we saw the amazing views of the valley and the clouds below us.
The ride back down was quite pleasant, albeit a little cool. The patchwork of yellows, oranges, and greens of the trees below reminded me of a beautiful painting.
When we made it back to the lodge we refilled our hot chocolate and made our way back down the mountain to town for a nice dinner.
When I think back, that weekend is one of the more memorable weekends I’ve spent with my wife, and one I will always remember fondly.
Did you have an opportunity to see the changing of the colors this year? I’d love to hear about your experience. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a great weekend!
Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on Twitter at @CDGLA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.