[Jan 20-24, 2012]
There’s a girl I’ve been friends with since 6th grade, and let me tell you: she’s one of the loveliest people I know. It easily follows, then, that her family is one of the loveliest families I know – but the thing is, her family moved to Arizona when she and I were in college, so I rarely get to see them. I’m lucky my friend stayed in the Chicago area – as I know she and her family miss living in the same city. I hope her family knows that I do my very best to take care of her as family would :)
This friend of mine is getting married soon, and as such – I booked trip to Tucson, Arizona with her for multiple purposes: to see her family. to participate in some bridal shower/bachelorette celebrations. AND… for me to finally see Tucson! Surprisingly enough, this trip marked my first visit to Tucson – and my first visit to the fine state of Arizona, too. Between my bride-to-be friend and another dear friend who also who has family there and loves the city, it’s a little crazy it took this travel-bug so long to get out there.
This four-day trip was my first true experience “inhabiting” a desert climate. [Exceptions include a drive through Wyoming on family vacation in junior high and a stop-off in the Palm Springs area on my Cali trip in 2008]. Absolute, primary takeaway? Cacti. are. awesome.
And by the way, I thought I already knew that, prior to this trip. But after four days observing cacti in their natural habitat? So much more appreciation. [Up until now I’d really only seen them potted in people’s homes or on display in conservatories.] In Tucson, they are everywhere! And there are so many kinds: tall, short, fat, arms, no arms, tree-like, all different types of spines… Plus, how about the basic concept of what a cactus is? A plant that can survive in conditions not many others can… Impressive to think about. And really, it makes you think of certain people, doesn’t it? Makes you think of your own life – the dry spells, how you got through them… Hopefully it makes you feel a bit of pride at what you’ve been hearty enough to survive. Beyond the lack of water, the contrasting hot days versus the cold nights… Some cacti even grow flowers. *Respect*
To continue with the natural beauty of Tucson, there are mountains in every horizon you look towards. [Sometimes palm trees, too?!] Add the varying positions of the sun to the mix, and you get ever-changing beauty throughout the day… culminating in gorgeous sunsets: nature’s big hurrah to end the day. Though, then, there are the stars you can see at night… and that night sky can certainly rival the aforementioned beauty. [Night Owl, as you may recall.]
This Chicago gal was certainly glad to take a break from her January weather to experience the Southwest. 60-70 degree days. Cool nights – but still, just “cool.” Not freezing :)
A few flaws - though really just “character” – include snakes, dried up riverbeds (called Washes), dry air that can take some getting used to… More character? Coyotes! That howl at night, loudly! Crazy little wild pigs called Javelinas (- that apparently aren’t actually pigs). We went to a desert museum – that was outdoors and awesome, where we got to see a lot of these animals and more of desert plant beauty. (Driving alongside a forest of cacti is certainly something to behold).
Highlights of the trip included:
* Eating homemade Mexican food prepared by my friend’s mother. YUM!
* A BYOB painting class in which I got to paint a cactus! [Beyond loving arts and crafts, the wine and snacks probbbbly were also part of why I loved it.]
* The desert museum I mentioned earlier.
* Going to a Spanish mass on Sunday at a church that had a mariachi band!
* Doing yoga with my friend’s mom on Monday [- yes, I am a officially a yoga addict.]
* The yumminess of El Charro.
* Spending tons of quality, bonding time with my friend’s family. Such good people, so much love. I felt honored to be included in every moment.