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It all started around 1950.  I was 4 years old and my family often planned their vacations and most school holidays around taking a road trip to visit Grandpa’ at the Rancho Romero Ranch near Tucson.   We lived near Los Angeles at the time, and when my father got home from work, we loaded up a used, brown 1949 Chevy Coupe without air conditioning, and drove all night to Tucson – mostly in the summer months.

Most of these yearly vacation road trips were planned around the vacation schedule(s) of my father’s brother, Leslie, Margie and my cousin Leslie Jr.  The plan was to meet at ranch as soon as possible.

Interstate roads in those days were not like today’s Interstate freeways.  The highway from Los Angeles to Tucson was a two-lane highway and the desert would literally encroach along the highway’s edge with few road stops along the way.   All night we would see coyotes, rabbits and other critters run across our head-lights during the 14-hour drive.  Even at 3-am the heat was serious hot – and it didn’t help much with my preverbal whinny – “are we there yet?” 

The following morning driving through “THE GATES OF HEAVEN” made the long hot trip worth it.  The best of times are about to happen.

Ranch Gate

The monumental gate to the Rancho Romero – Tucson

From this entrance gate pillars, over a cattle grate, the ranch house is about ¼ mile down a winding driveway with Road Runners darting in & out.  Beyond, is the north side of Santa Catalina Mountain Range.  The city of Tucson is about 40 miles to the west, along the Oracle Junction highway.

The anticipation of finally meeting up Grandpa’ Pete, Jean, my uncles and cousins is more than a young boy from California could stand.

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