Arizona Dreamin’ On Such a Winter’s Day

I have fallen in love with a place.

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Playing with the Panorama feature on my iPhone.

Admittedly, perhaps I fell in love with the place because of the wonderful people I was with and the fact that everything wasn’t completely engulfed in snow, as it is back here in Maine.

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The Colorado River at sunset.

Some explanation is in order. This year, I traveled with Sean and his parents to Arizona to meet his extended family. But before we started the family meeting (kind of — we did meet his aunt for pie and lunch at a little place where Sean and I got harassed by Santa but ate some amazing Jack Daniels pecan pie), we headed up to the ol’ GC.

I had never been to the Grand Canyon before. On our way up, some guy working for a resort in Sedona tried to sell us a hotel room in Sedona by telling us that the average visitor to the GC only spends about 15 minutes there. Nice try, buck-o. We spent all day there, and it was glorious. Don’t get me wrong — Sedona is absolutely gorgeous, but I have been there before, and the giant Colorado River Chasm was calling my name.

We trotted around on the South Rim trail, ate lunch in a little lodge, saw a mule deer, and gawked at the mile drop to the bottom of the canyon.

CoonCap

I really wish I could have convinced him to buy this cap…

Our next stop, after some delicious beer, a rowdy game of Yahtzee, and some style experimentation (see above), we headed south to Tucson, where Sean’s grandparents live under the looming Santa Catalinas. On the way, we stopped at Montezuma’s Castle.

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Can I live here?

Seriously, can I?

Seriously, can I?

In Tucson, we spent some time hiking in Pima Canyon before the giant feast we had with his grandparents, two of his aunts, his step-aunt, and his step-cousin. I had a wonderful time meeting all of his family; they are all incredibly welcoming, silly, and fun. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to take any pictures of everybody. Mrrg.

Pima Canyon scenery.

Pima Canyon scenery.

Sean and me in Pima Canyon.

Sean and me in Pima Canyon.

We also made a trip to the Desert Museum. I highly recommend that anybody visiting that area go to the museum. We learned so much about the desert flora and fauna…and my developing love of Arizona blew the thermometer after walking around the museum all day. I can name so many cacti now that I probably grew annoying in our car rides afterwards. “Hey look, a beaver tail prickly pear! Ooh, a teddy bear cholla. Is that mesquite?”

A large agave at the end of its life at the desert museum.

A large agave at the end of its life at the desert museum.

For our last night, we visited Sean’s aunt and her man up in Black Canyon City. They have two snakes: a king snake and a red-tailed boa. I’m not big on snakes, but I learned a few things about them and got to hold both of them.

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Leaving Tucson 😦

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My new friend.

The next morning, before our red-eye, Sean’s mom, aunt, and I went for pedicures in the morning (my first ever). It was lovely to have some girl time, and it felt really good to get pampered after all that walking around. Then we went horseback riding in the Go John Mountains, ate dinner at Plaza Bonita (yummy Mexican food), and strolled around the Zoo Lights exhibit in Phoenix.

I was so sad to leave, and I hope that Sean and I get to go back for some serious climbing soon. I could see myself living there, especially since we came home to a snow storm. At our layover in Cleveland, our plane had to be sprayed down with de-icer. Yeah, no thanks. I’ll take dry heat, spiky plants, and poisonous snakes over that any day. Okay, maybe we can leave out the poisonous snakes. But the non-poisonous ones are okay.

Merry holidays and happy new year, everybody!

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