Memorial Day Weekend Off-Road Adventure: Celebrating Journeys and Joyful Memories

Join us on a Memorial Day weekend adventure that’s as breathtaking as it is heartwarming! 🌄👨‍👧‍👧 In this video, we set off from Happy Jack, Arizona, and journey to Reserve, New Mexico, exploring rugged landscapes and historical sites along the way. 🚙💨

Day 1: Departure and Journey to Reserve, New Mexico

Our adventure began on a bright Memorial Day weekend several years ago. Jennifer, Kennedy, and I were filled with excitement as we loaded our Polaris RZR and headed to Dooley Vanyo’s cabin in Pinetop. This video, which we’re now sharing, captures the thrill and joy of that trip, reminding us of the wonderful times we had.

The drive in our RZR’s took us mostly off-road towards the Sunrise ski area, stopping briefly at the Sunrise Store for fuel. We then made our way down to the Black River, a perfect spot for Elle, Dooley’s dog, to dive in for a swim. These moments, filled with laughter and camaraderie, are the heart of our journey.

We enjoyed a rustic lunch at Hannagan Meadows Lodge, savoring the local flavors against the serene backdrop of Arizona’s landscapes. The moments spent there, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, allowed us to truly connect with nature and each other.

After lunch, our adventure continued as we made our way to Reserve, New Mexico. The drive itself was scenic and exhilarating, filled with views that spanned the wide open spaces of the Southwest. Upon arrival, we settled in for the night at The Frisco Lodging Company, a cozy spot that offered us a warm welcome and a comfortable place to rest after a day full of exploration and discovery.

Day 2: Exploration and Return

The next morning, we set out early to climb up to Saddle Mountain Lookout. At 8,340 feet, the views were spectacular, stretching endlessly under the clear blue sky. The ranger at the lookout pointed us to nearby Indian cliff dwellings. This tip led to a spontaneous educational adventure, as Jennifer and Kennedy explored this historical site firsthand.

This hands-on experience was not only exciting but also enriching. Jennifer was able to use the pictures from this trip for a future school project. This trip not only provided them with direct knowledge of historical and cultural significance but also a memorable story to tell their peers, connecting their personal experiences with their educational growth.

After our visit to the cliff dwellings, we descended from Saddle Mountain and made our way to the Blue River. We stopped at a local fish hatchery, which added another layer of learning to our trip, blending natural science with the historical insights from earlier in the day. The journey continued to Alpine, where we enjoyed lunch. On the way back to Pinetop, we unexpectedly encountered a herd of wild horses. This rare sighting added a touch of wilderness magic to our adventure.


Reflecting on that Memorial Day weekend, it’s clear this trip was more than just an outing—it was a multifaceted educational journey wrapped in adventure. The loss of our cabin in Happy Jack, along with the tragic passing of Dooley last year, brings a tinge of sadness when we recall these memories. However, the spirit of those times—the joy, the discoveries, and the connections we made—continues to inspire and influence us.

Though we can’t recreate those exact moments, the legacy of our experiences lives on, fueling our ongoing adventures and reminding us to cherish every moment. This blog post and video celebrate…

RIP Dooley & Elle

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