Rim country has been blessed with a blanket of white, a Christmas gift from Mother Nature. The blessings extend to all as the snow attracts tourists from the desert floor. Armed with sleds, discs and inner tubes, our winter visitors travel over the Verde River and up the mountain, buy the last snow boots from Wal-Mart and head for the hills of Rim country in search of the perfect spot.
The Previte family spent the weekend doing just that.
Pat and Tony Previte have owned a cabin in Strawberry for many years. This weekend they brought their son Joe, and his son Anthony (A.J.), 10, plus Joe's godson, Anthony, 11 up for a winter frolic.
Living in Glendale, naturally snow is something unusual to the boys.
"That's what we came up here for," Joe said. "You don't see much of that at my house."
The goal: to let the boys play in the snow, and play they did -- hard.
Building forts, snowball fights and sledding comprised the three-day weekend for the youngsters.
Looking for the ideal sledding spot, Joe took off in his four-wheel drive and headed north on Highway 87. The boys were well layered and the sleds piled high in the back.
As the crew drove north they passed scads of folks pulled off in any available spot to play in the snow. Many were pulled off at the junction of Highway 87 and Highway 260 near the snow-play area, Cinch Hook.
Unfortunately, the Forest Service had not yet opened the popular hill. Not enough snow says the recording at the Happy Jack Ranger station, the office that oversees the area.
So on the Previte clan drove.
"We were just toolin' back here to see what we could find," Joe said after he took a left off the highway.
"Just by chance," he said about how he and the boys came to the perfect secluded spot to try "extreme sledding."
The boys have been riding dirt bikes and quads for years, so a nice and easy sled ride was out of the question.
Sliding down a hill, out of control, trying to avoid the trees and make a jump is how they define extreme sledding -- and what they consider extreme fun.
To make it even more exciting, Joe created a jump to the hill they found.
"We made it a little wider and a little longer," he said with a sly grin. Coming back the next day they found the hill covered with ice, making it slicker and faster.
Encouraging all to try their hand, Papa (a.k.a. Tony Previte) brought a video camera to catch the boys as they caught air.
"Jumping is cool", Anthony said. His favorite trick was being airborne for as long as possible.
Citing falling as his favorite part of the weekend, young A.J. demonstrated his technique repeatedly as he and his cousin tried to find new ways to flail their bodies down the snow-covered embankment. Sledding, spinning, snowboarding and even body surfing sent the boys tumbling head over heels more than once.
"My butt still hurts," A.J. complained on Monday.
"Yeah, you flew about 4 feet," his dad, Joe said with a laugh.
As sledding turned to snowball fights, sleds became shields and catching your opponent off guard resulted in cheers of success. Moving from tree to tree in stealth mode guaranteed more target opportunity. Who won?
"Me, me, me, me, me," the boys shouted.
With memories made and the clothing dried, the boys drove back to the Valley on Monday with smiles from ear to ear and a weekend full of what will surely become some of their favorite memories years from now.