Arizona: A Land of Dramatic Contrast
A land of dramatic contrast – from an expanse of beautiful green courses to seemingly never ending scorching deserts to hundreds of volcanoes and towering ice capped mountains – Arizona has it all.
I didn’t know what to expect going into Arizona. Aside from the talked about sunny weather, I had no prior knowledge of what Arizona had to offer (shameful, I know). I stayed in Scottsdale most of the time at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. My stay at the hotel was amazing. Everyone was so friendly and I had the most amazing sleep because hotels always have the best pillows. Mornings were breezy, but afternoons were torrid. I was in Scottsdale for four days for a work conference so I unfortunately only got to enjoy the sun briefly during lunch breaks, and minutes before sunsets. In spite this minimal sun exposure, I still left Arizona burnt. The Arizona sun is no joke.
The time I really got to know Arizona was on our way to Flagstaff and I drove on American soil for the first time. I’ve driven across Canada before, but this was a different sense of freedom. This made me feel like a real adult and totally in control of my life. It took us under three hours to get to Flagstaff. The drive was breathtaking but also heart wrenching as I maneuvered my way around winding roads that overlooked 7,000 feet off of the city. My hands were sweaty as I concentrated on the road, fearful that I may veer off the path. We arrived at Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort around six in the evening. Having done no research prior to going, we were surprised by how remote the hotel was and most importantly, how cold it was. We left Scottsdale at almost 30 degrees Celsius; Flagstaff was at five degrees Celsius.
The following day, we embarked on a full-day “Ultimate Grand Canyon Adventure” via Viator. Chris, our wonderful tour guide, shared with us the story behind the Wupatki ruins, the Grand Canyon’s incredible history and wildlife, and the Navajo and Apache people’s humble way of life. As he shared with us their stories, I felt embarrassed that I knew very little about these tribes, and saddened that some of them couldn’t even afford to get electricity in their homes. Part of the tour was to dine at the Cameron Trading post located on a Navajo reservation. Here, I opted for the Navajo tacos, which had the best tasting flat bread I’ve ever had. Note that they serve massive portions, so feel free to share.
On the tour, we saw the Grand Canyon from the east and south rims, and it was an undeniably surreal experience. I remember reaching my hands out to feel the cold air, and felt my heart beating out of my chest. A watercolour perfection of blues, reds, and violets, the Grand Canyon was nothing short of magic.
Today, I headed home to Toronto completely overjoyed. I’ve come to realize that I have fallen for Arizona. Even though I hated every moment of the turbulent landing and take off, every part of me is also itching and willing to endure the torturous pain for just another glimpse of this enchanting place.