saguaro

#WayBackWednesday - Arizona or bust!

I’m not sure if I have discussed this adventure in another post or not, but here we go (I have, it was the very first #WayBackWednesday)… It was seven (7) years ago, my best friend Kevin moved to Houston for a job. I had moved to Texas the year before, near Fort Worth. It was a pretty cool feeling to have someone who is chosen family in the same state. On January 15, 2012 I was in Houston, hanging out with Kevin before he had to work off-shore for a while. This is the guy you may remember from the four big trips that really got me into road trips. We decided we needed some spontaneity in our lives and that we were going to do something wild and crazy because growing up was really taking a toll on us with schedules, bills, and other responsibilities. Neither of us had been to Saguaro National Park, and it was really only a 15 hour drive; ONLY!? we used to do that all the time back in college. We set off without a real plan, just driving west on I-10 with “fuck it” attitudes and the only caveat being I had to work in a couple of days. It was on.

We left at night, which was another thing we liked to do, because to hell with Houston traffic and any other people in our way. I don’t remember much from the drive to Arizona, but I do remember these things:

  • Seeing the sign for Kerrville, TX and thinking Kern River or thinking that Tim Allen said this on some episode of Home Improvement. Don’t ask, because that is all I remember.

  • West Texas was just as wide open at night, we were speeding for sure.

  • The border check point lights were the brightest lights ever (we didn’t cross into Mexico, but there are many checkpoints as you get closer)

  • This was the closest to Mexico I had ever been and that was weird, despite going to Canada while living in Michigan my whole life

  • We may have stopped at a hotel near San Antonio, but it could have also been on the way home or not at all. Who knows!?

We arrived to Saguaro National Park at some point in the late morning. It was a rainy, gray day but the park was still cool. We didn’t get to hike through anything because of the rain, but we did drive through the park and enjoy the views and moments when the rain let up. We decided to stay in Tucson that night, and got a room at the Hampton Inn. We promptly filled the sink with ice, got a case of beer, and proceeded to enjoy ourselves. I don’t have notes on this trip in the travel journal, but I do remember the ride home being long. We saw immigration bust a u-turn in the middle of I-10 to assist in a pull-over and I think got Taco Bell and/or Starbucks in El Paso. Again, it’s a very fuzzy trip to me.

A conversation with Jen, check out her page, really inspired me to write about this. I saw the “on this day” post in Google Photos, talked with her, and really wanted to keep it real and feed the nostalgic side of adventure. I haven’t been as spontaneous or adventurous as I was in the past, and it has to change. I have shied away from things I’m “afraid” of such as challenging trails or access points, various trips, or local opportunities. It’s time to take back REAL LIFE and make some real adventurous choices. As I work on that, enjoy some more photos from that hazy trip Saguaro seven Januaries ago.

#WayBackWednesday - Something I made up to talk about the Desert

I can remember when I first visited the desert; the year was 2007 and the locations varied through Western Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas via a road trip with friends.  I grew up with hardwood forests featuring scattered evergreens, rolling hills, and the Great Lakes.  My adventures prior to college consisted of trips within Michigan or Canada, staying close to the Great Lakes landscape.  When I visited the Mountains of Colorado and then the Western Slope, I was stunned.  Driving further south, I felt as though I was on another planet taking it all in, mile after mile trying to process this landscape.  I wasn't really fascinated with the desert after that trip, but I was introduced.  Years following, I visited more desert landscapes - Death Valley, Southern Utah, parts of Arizona, and New Mexico.  With each visit, the desert landscape was burned into my brain and quickly became something I couldn't stop thinking about.

Favorite Desert Things:

  • After the rain, when the ground is dark and plants are vivid shades of green

  • The plant life - from the resiliency to the variety (the ecology of a desert is fascinating)

  • Landscape - red/brown hills, snow capped mountains, fields of sand...it all looks good to me

  • When there's the bluest of blue skies with white puffy clouds above a desert landscape

  • The variation in weather/climates per the elevation and location

One of my favorite memories, though we didn't see much, was when my buddy and I drove from Houston to Tuscon just to see Saguaro National Park.  This trip captured the spirit of our past college road trips while incorporating my love for the desert.  I saw those giant, noble Saguaros, and I'll never forget them.  I saw the other wildlife too, and the experience as a whole sparked my fascination in desert ecology.  After the Tuscon trip, I was fully hooked and I needed to go back.  In 2013 I visited New Mexico and Arizona, in 2014 it was back to Utah, and 2015 took me back to Arizona.  It's been a while since I enjoyed the desert landscape, and I'm ready to go back.