Day 27--Friday, July 4, 2003
We began our long drive through the very hot desert to Tucson. We saw the temperature get up to 115. The desert stretched away on both sides of us. To our right, a simple wooden fence ran through the desert, marking the border between the United States and Mexico. No one guarded it; I mean, really, even if someone did try to jump the border and crossed the Mexican side of the desert to do so, where would they go when they got into the US? We passed one security checkpoint, and again, they waved us right on through without checking our IDs or anything.
We arrived at my "Aunt" Anne Vance's house in Tucson shortly before 6:30, at the same time as Fred and JJ (JoAnne) Vance. I hadn't seen my mother's extended family in years, not since I was in high school and they all came to Peoria to celebrate Hattie and Parky's [my grandparents] 75th birthdays. I must have been 16 at the time. I hadn't been to Tucson since I was about six, but Ben and I were both immediately engulfed in squealing, hugging relatives as soon as we walked through the door. All of the names sounded familiar as they introduced themselves, but I have to admit that I didn't really recognize any of them except Fred, Anne, and Vicki Stanton, who was going to be our "host" during our visit.
After we made awkward pleasantries with everyone in the living room, my mother came out of the bathroom and greeted us excitedly. It was her birthday, and she had flown to Tucson to spend it with family. We caught up briefly with her, and then Vicki sent us to get our swimsuits out of the car so we could take a dip in the famous "Uncle Topper's pool" before dinner.
We got changed in the guest house out back where Parky always used to stay on his yearly visits. The pool was just as I remembered it from all those years ago, clover shaped with a wooden bridge arching over and separating the third and shallowest leaf of the clover from the other two. I swam with a shirt over my suit, as so to hide my monstrous sunburn from Mom. I didn't think she would take kindly to realizing that my shoulder looked like raw (and somewhat bloody) meat.
We paddled back and forth for a while, enjoying the peace the calm water brought. We talked a with Mom and some other relatives, and then it was time for dinner. We loaded our plates with ribs, watermelon, and potato salad and chatted while eating. We spent the rest of the evening telling some of my relatives stories of our trip, and then we finally began the lengthy process of rounding everyone and everything up to go to Vicki's house.
Once there, Ben and I settled into Greg and Charlie's rooms for the night, since they were away working at their camp in Minnesota. I borrowed a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the newest 800+ beast, from Vicki's husband Allen and read until I fell asleep.
12 / 40