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It was a little chihuly to start…

Posted Apr 23 2009 4:16pm

I’m back from my trip to Phoenix, actually got back on Sunday night — and almost immediately got hit with the reality of being back to work, kids, more wedding planning (although it’s almost all squared away now), my ImperfectParent essay (due like, now, and still not finished) and back in the Eastern time zone. Wow, those 3 hours can make a difference!

We packed a lot, lot into the trip — sightseeing, hiking/walking, visiting, a family wedding – but it was worth it. The funny thing, though, is after all my talk about the sun and warmth, the first two days we were there were kind of, well, cold. Last Wednesday it was in the high 60’s, overcast and windy. Not at all what I expected. Thank goodness it warmed up by the weekend.

Here’s a quick summary:

1. We visited the wonderful Desert Botanical Garden ,…

…which was exhibiting the unique glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly - very, very cool!

There was even a butterfly garden.

2. I saw my college roomie again! We may be sporting a few more wrinkles (and me definitely a few more pounds), but still lovely, if I say so myself. (Sorry, I was too lazy to dig out an old photo for comparison. You’ll have to trust me that we’re still quite lovely almost 20 years later.)

3. J. really likes architecture and wanted to visit Taliesin West , which was Frank Lloyd Wright’s escape from his Wisconsin winters. It was worth the trip to see it. I love the idea of FLW’s organic building and architecture philosophy — a man truly ahead of his time.

Ironically, I live fairly close to  Fallingwater , but have never been there in my 14 years in this area.

Coincidentally, J., the kids and I are going to Fallingwater in 2 weeks. I’m psyched!

4. Friday morning it had warmed up to maybe the high 70’s/low 80’s — it was the day we planned to hike up Piestewa Peak, formerly known as Squaw Peak . (The park was renamed after fallen soldier Lori Piestewa , a native of Arizona who died in Iraq in 2003 during the same attack in which her friend Jessica Lynch was injured.)

Maybe if I had realized that, according to Azcentral.com , “The [1.2 mile] Summit Trail has an average grade of 19 percent and probably has more stairs than most people climb in months. You hike from about 1,400 to 2,600 feet…and “Level of difficulty: Difficult” (the red thrown in for effect), I wouldn’t have ventured up at all.

But I didn’t read any of that before, so off — up – we went.

As it was, we made it 1 mile up, maybe a little over, to what I think is referred to as the “fake summit.” At that point the terrain was too rocky for us to feel safe continuing in sneakers. (Read: ill-prepared tourists.) Climbing up those last steps I could see the GD REAL motherf’in summit still above us — with people literally pulling themselves up over rocks — and had a minor panic attack. I wasn’t so worried about continuing up (ok, yes I was – it was way more like rock climbing than hiking the “paved path” I had envisioned, particularly when we were close to the top), but I was even more freaked out about how we were going to make our way back down — without twisting an ankle, falling face-first on a sharp rock or plain ol’ falling right off the side of the mountain.

I should mention that when I was a teen my family went to Cancun, Mexico, and we traveled to see the famous Mayan ruins and pyramid of Chichen Itza . I was the only one in the family who dared to climb the pyramid (when they allowed it), zipping right up those steep-steep steps — only to get to the top, turn around and realize I was standing on a relatively narrow ledge with nothing to prevent me from toppling over.

It was like in the cartoons or movies when you see someone flatten themselves against the wall!

That’s kind of how I felt as I thought about getting back down the trail.

But I’m so glad and proud of myself that I did it. Quite a workout, I might add.

A view from near the summit:

Me, the goofy, sweaty pseudo-hiker (note tourist camera slung across me) at MY summit:

Here’s a desert chipmunky-kind of creature that I was making noises at when we stopped to rest on the way back down. I stopped making the cute noises when said creature started coming at us full speed. I was either communing with nature really well, or it was rabid. (Or it was likely it thought we had food, but that’s not as exciting to report.)

(BTW, I ended up basically scooting down Chichen Itza on my butt. I’m proud to say I did not have to resort to that on this little outing.)

5. Dobbins Lookout of the South Mountains was our last sight-seeing stop before the wedding, which was why we were in AZ in the first place. Fortunately, we drove up to get the view: ;)

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