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juli_no_e

Arizona...I remember

It was hot. That's one of the main memories/impressions I've retained since our family road trip to Arizona. More than a decade later, and I barely remember driving through Las Vegas, barely remember the pueblos and other assorted sights and sites we stopped at during our trip. I remember the heat. I remember swimming at a KOA somewhere in the desert, and being amazed when I got out of the pool; I didn't need a towel -- it was so warm, I was completely dry within five minutes. 
I remember driving -- rather, one of my parents was driving, and I remember laying down on their bed in the back of the motorhome, totally sacked out amid the sleeping bags and pillows. So tired and hot, and I remember waking up, putting my hand to the window and feeling the heat pulsing in, like the sun itself was trying to push its way into the back of the motorhome through that window. It was intense.
I remember seeing my first snake -- a real, in-the-wild, in person snake -- at one of the R.V. parks we stayed at. I was walking out of the laundry room, and there it was. It was a garden snake, harmless, and it was gone in a flash.
I remember counting the little passages of water we went over when we took the Explorer to Canyon de Chelly. I remember Tex, our guide -- a man who had to have given us tours over a course of two or three days, a man my parents trusted, and pre-bought a handmade bow and set of arrows from, none of which we ever received. I remember us making our own little Ford commercial, with one of my parents driving the car as my sister and I leaned out the window singing/yelling, "Have you driven your Foooord lately?" as the other parent stood outside, filming. 
I remember sitting at the base of a cliff, in one of the canyons...it wasn't flat, it was almost steep, and I remember just kind of looking around at the rocks and gravel, trees or whatever foliage there was. I remember the sun beating down, and sitting in the shade of the cliff, and looking out at the lit up spaces, and watching the lizards.
I remember, vaguely, the stories of quicksand in the canyon, and how the Explorer got stuck in some, a little. 
I remember the fan belts breaking, and driving in the Explorer late at night, and making an illegal U-turn to get to either a repair station or get back to the motor-home after giving up looking for a repair station or an exit to make the legal U-turn.

My sister first went to Arizona when I was young. She went with my dad and my Uncle John. I don't remember this, but my Uncle John supposedly accompanied us on our later road trip to Arizona, and drove our Explorer for us when we were going from one place to another. 
I'm sad and disappointed that I don't remember my Uncle John's presence on the trip. I have few memories of him. I remember him carrying me on his shoulders once, and that same night, or so it seems, I remember being entranced by fireflies. So amazing...
I remember sitting on my Daddy's lap as he sat in the old brown leather chair -- that my sister and I cut a hole in to get to the loose change -- and cuddling there, as he and Uncle John talked. I remember Uncle John smoking his pipe, and I remember sitting on Uncle John's lap once. 
I remember going to visit Uncle John, and being a little shocked/surprised that he was living in a trailer house.
I remember when his daughter, Shawn, called one day, asking for my dad. I stayed on the phone as I sometimes did, and listened in on their conversation. She was crying, and telling my dad that Uncle John was dead. He'd fallen down the stairs at her house while she and her son were out. She came home to find him on the landing. He'd broken his neck, and he was gone.
I remember going back to Alabama with my dad and Ali for Uncle John's funeral, seeing Shawn and Kristopher again for the first time in years, meeting Ashleigh, Shawn's new baby daughter, and Shawn's new husband. Staying at Aunt Velma's while Mom and Dad and Ali stayed with Aunt Evelyn next door. I remember the cool, clean sheets, and the heavy, white, woven blanket on the bed at Aunt Velma's. I remember Red Velvet cakes, and miniature pecan pie tarts, and that Southern sweet iced tea -- no need to add sugar, it's sweet enough on its own, even for a sweet-tooth like me. I remember Grandma Ruby's cooking, and it makes me both happy and sad. That fried chicken that nothing else can compare to. Green beans and bacon, pound cake, biscuits. I remember the dominoes she used to keep on top of her television set. I remember watching cartoons, getting swatted on the butt, walking to KFC around the corner, going to the library and the park down the street, swinging on the swings. I remember Susie, her dog that hated me and hated everyone, even Grandma it seemed. I remember the ice cream man, and Grandma's neighbors and their kids we used to play with, and riding bikes down the end of the cul-de-sac. I remember Christmases, Grandma's tree always in the same place on top of the table in the corner, and the giant candle-flame-shaped lights of red, green, yellow, blue...I remember the swing and the picnic table out back, and her tin-roof covered patio. I remember her gate, practically falling down.

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