Phoenix Fun

Posted by on February 19, 2017 at 11:40 pm :: No Comments

Jason and I are more about accumulating experiences than accumulating things (with the exception of my LEGO Minifigures collection of course). Therefore, one of the primary gifts I gave him for Christmas this year was a break from winter’s crankiness via a long weekend in Phoenix.

Although not too opulent by today's standards, the Wrigley Mansion was interesting.

Although not too opulent by today’s standards, the Wrigley Mansion was interesting.

Our first night in Phoenix we visited the Wrigley Mansion, the house that gum built. No, the bricks were not held together by Big Red but one room was completely lined with foil from the factory.

Saguaros are a classic emblem of the American Southwest.

Saguaros are a classic emblem of the American Southwest.

The next day, we hiked to the top of Camelback Mountain via the Cholla Trail. This path gains 1,253 feet in only 1.4 miles. In combination with some rocky sections where scrambling is necessary, that steepness has earned Cholla a double black diamond rating. But that grade doesn’t adequately elucidate what we saw up there that day. I’ve never come across so many timid hikers (or so many pairs of yoga pants) in my life. As a Utahan, I was shocked by the number of trekkers that were seemingly puzzled by the concept of putting one foot in front of the other or clinging to rocks like they were dangling on the edge of the Great Pit of Carkoon. Were these natives or were they tourists? And how did they not know how to walk up a hill? Double black diamond or not, this trail seemed pretty standard to us but the people we encountered on it didn’t.

Camelback's spine twisted like a stony serpent.

Camelback’s spine twisted like a stony serpent.

We spent that evening wandering around the Desert Botanical Garden. Its display of 23,000 cacti, succulents, and other desert flora was both informative and picturesque. Desert plants have always fascinated me, perhaps because I can relate to their inventive stubbornness.

The Cholla Trail was a little intense but not intense enough to account for the petrified and confused hikers we encountered.

The Cholla Trail was a little intense but not intense enough to account for the petrified and confused hikers we encountered.

Our last day in Phoenix, I requested more time out in the mid-sixties sunshine, something essential I’d be missing in Utah for a while. So, we headed to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and trekked around the Bajada Nature Trail, Saguaro Trail, and Saguaro Loop Trail. We walked about a mile and a half while looking at educational signs and examining native spikers. It wasn’t exactly exercise but it was peaceful and pleasant.

Phoenix's mountains are sporadically spaced- a peak here, a peak there- with urban sprawl spanning the gaps in between.

Phoenix’s mountains are sporadically spaced- a peak here, a peak there- with urban sprawl spanning the gaps in between.

Strolling through the Desert Botanical Garden was Jason's favorite part of our whole trip.

Strolling through the Desert Botanical Garden was Jason’s favorite part of our whole trip.

Next, we stopped at Butterfly Wonderland, the largest butterfly conservatory in America. There, 3,000 butterflies and moths, some of them startlingly enormous, flitted around us like graceful and animated bobbins weaving a lofty tapestry. Pretty awesome!

Bristly saguaros silhouetted by a technicolored sky make for a mighty memorable sunset.

Bristly saguaros silhouetted by a technicolored sky make for a mighty memorable sunset.

We finished off the day at the Musical Instrument Museum. At that institution, we saw everything from Johnny Cash’s guitar to the first Steinway piano. Also awesome? Yes!

At Butterfly Wonderland, thousands of butterflies and moths fly freely around you.

At Butterfly Wonderland, thousands of butterflies and moths fly freely around you.

With so many winged creatures fluttering about, it was difficult to decide which way to flutter ourselves.

With so many winged creatures fluttering about, it was difficult to decide which way to flutter ourselves.

On a side note, during this trip we stayed at a resort out in the desert. It was both inconveniently located and beautifully situated. Nature seemed barely held back by its bits of development. Bunnies and birds bobbed about each morning and at dusk coyotes howled twilight serenades.

The Atlas moth is the biggest moth in the world. It's bigger than many birds and Jason's hands.

The Atlas moth is the biggest moth in the world. It’s bigger than many birds and Jason’s hands.

On a far side note, one night we tried to start a fire in our casita’s fireplace with wood provided by the resort, strange desert wood. It refused to light but then, three hours later at 1:30 AM, it set itself ablaze suddenly. Waking up to flames is not a comfortable experience.

Saguaro cacti only grow in the Sonoran Desert but they do so with zest, living hundreds of years.

Saguaro cacti only grow in the Sonoran Desert but they do so with zest, living hundreds of years.

We flew to Phoenix less than a week after our return from Yellowstone so we underwent a 100-degree temperature variation within a few days. Warmth was the point of Phoenix but I wasn’t sure what else we could fill a few days there with. Now I know, we could have filled a few more easily. Merry Christmas my love!

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