Christopher Creek is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The old freight wagon along the Loop in front of the Landmark looks like a picture postcard. The volunteers came out to decorate along the Loop. Three fellas put up all the figurines — the giant teddy bears, elves, Santa, a gingerbread man, the snowman and his family are all in place for the season. More than a dozen folks came out to hang the lights. Everything was ready to light up the Loop Thanksgiving weekend. The east end of the Creek is already aglow with the spectacular light display at Creekside Tavern and Cabins. The stage is set for the annual Christmas Carts and Quads Electric Light Parade coming up on Saturday, Dec. 12.
The end of October marked the retirement of our friend Ingrid Sabo. She had spent the last 10 years here in the Creek as a longtime manager of the Grey Hackle Cabins and more recently held a similar position at Creekside Cabins. Ingrid came here from Sedona, where she worked in the hospitality industry as well. We wish her well on her adventures in retirement.
Warm weather continues in the area. There are some who are becoming anxious to see some snow. Perhaps a snow story will hasten a flurry or, at least, lessen the anxiety.
Back in the days before the bypass, SR 260 came right through the Creek. Now, there may not have been as much traffic as there are these days, but there was plenty. Summertime weekends had cars and trucks bumper to bumper, to the point that it was difficult to turn onto the road. Winter snowstorms, in those days, made for some very hazardous driving conditions on that winding, two-lane highway.
Old-timers, such as Karen, Jeannie, Margot, Larry and Patty, will remember this tale. Along toward evening, on the day of a big snowstorm, our friend, Candy, would make her preparations. Dressed in her trademark black hat, heavy leather jacket, gloves and scarf, she would engage the four-wheel drive on her gold-green 1970 Chevy pickup and head up to Creekside. We would share a table on the porch, her with a hot coffee drink. From that vantage point we would watch the traffic on the snow-packed steep curve coming off the ridge on the east end of town. Soon the parking lot would begin to fill as passenger cars without benefit of four-wheel drive or chains would fail to climb the treacherous hill. There were many slide-offs. The 18-wheel semis would creep down the slick roadway and on occasion would jackknife, taking up both the uphill and downhill lanes, often getting straight again, but sometimes ending up in the ditch. If it were still snowing, Candy would watch as a patron would leave the restaurant to venture out on the road. Armed with her long plastic windshield brush with the scraper on the other end, she would scurry out to clean off the snow from the vehicle. Her service was a courtesy, after which she would return to refresh her hot coffee drink. Candy was not a big baseball or football fan, but give her a front-row seat to a snowstorm and that was the sport she enjoyed.
There are several folks in the area who will attempt to keep the motoring public informed of traffic conditions and accidents through the magic of social media. These updates come by way of scanner traffic, AZ511, and other websites or apps. This is happening most often during peak weekend traffic times and in particular concerning the road between the Creek and Payson. Some postings contain acronyms and radio jargon. Most are readily apparent or easily figured out. However, recently a friend asked what a LEO (law enforcement official) is. It wouldn’t hurt to go over a few things. Motor vehicle accidents (MVA) happen often on State Route 260 (SR260) at a milepost such as MP260 where the four-lane goes down to two-lane east of Star Valley. Notice here that the highway number is the same as the milepost, which can be confusing. Traffic can be stopped in the eastbound (EB) lane or westbound (WB) and could be northbound (NB) or southbound (SB). DPS or GCSO (Gila County Sheriff’s Office) may be on scene. If it is an emergency medical situation (EMS) then emergency medical technicians (EMTs) may be coming (en route). There are numeric designators for emergency vehicles such as ENG-511, which is an engine from station one in Christopher Creek. Others would be Payson FD 100, Hellsgate/Star Valley/Tonto Village FD is 200, Pine/Strawberry FD is 400, ambulance designators are 600, and Whispering Pines/Water Wheel FD is 700. There are trauma codes 1, 2, 3, or 4 as well as response codes 1, 2, 3, or 4 with priority ones being the most urgent in both cases. That’s good for now.
The one thing we were most thankful this Thanksgiving is that the winter solstice is 25 days away. That means there are 29 days until Christmas. More importantly, there are just 35 days left in the year 2020 ... and that’s another week in the Creek.