Thursday, January 7, 2010

Arizona '09 Part 2

I am quickly approaching the one month mark since my trip to Arizona. It's about time I posted some more photos! There are so many little things I'd like to share. For starters, it was mid December in Arizona. Have you ever wondered what Christmas looks like in the desert?

There are still lights and decorations, even if there's no snow (as this photo clearly shows). There was a contest in my parents neighborhood, for the most decorated house (*this is not my parents house).

Neither is this.


Or this.

I just couldn't get over the fact that the lights were on the ground. I had never seen Christmas in the mid-west before. I guess when you don't have bushes or evergreens (or grass for that matter) you have to be creative. It was very pretty. And festive. But it still felt like something was missing. Snow. The snow that now covers the entire landscape where I live. Sparkly, white, crisp snow, rolling over every hill and once-green field. Icicles hanging sharply off of roofs, and slush beneath our feet. Gross, brown muddy slush in every parking lot. Brushing snow and ice off my car every morning. Red noses. Boots, gloves, and hats. Trying to keep the thermostat at 62 and increase layers of clothing to combat high energy costs. Yes, I said 62. It's freezing outside! Maybe the desert is on to something!

Back to the land where palm trees sway... Did you know that palm trees are not indigenous to Arizona? They have been brought in and planted, they do not grow naturally here. As a result, they are actually increasing the humidity in Arizona. They look beautiful though. Palm trees, cactus and mountains. So different than the climate here in the east.

There are so many types of cacti. I love the different colors and textures.

Some look deceptively "fuzzy" but up close they are a mass of needles. Like this creepy looking one. I can't remember the name of this one, but they are so unusual and interesting to look at. Why is it, that even though I know they are covered with prickers, I still want to touch them?

I did manage to pick this prickly pear in my parents back yard. Got some prickers there. The fruit was more bitter than the prickly pears for sale in the grocery store. But what a gorgeous fuchsia color!

These tangelo's were sweet . I love picking fresh fruit, right off the tree! "The tangelo is a citrus fruit that is a hybrid of a tangerine and either a pomelo or a grapefruit. The fruits are the size of an adult fist and have a tangerine taste, but are very juicy, to the point of not providing much flesh but producing excellent and plentiful juice. Tangelos generally have loose skin and are easier to peel than oranges.[1] They are easily distinguished from oranges by a characteristic knob at the top of the fruit." (Wickipedia)

It has become a tradition, each time I visit, that we have dinner at Los Gringos Locos, and excellent Mexican restaurant. I especially like their salsa and "cheeps". (chips)

The packaging designer in me likes to visit Trader Joe's, because we don't have any near us. They have some clever designs and interesting products.

Such as these dark chocolate sea salt caramels. The sea salt was a bit much, but the combination was unique. How cute is this box design? 

They also have their own pizza dough...

Which Mom turned into delicious pizza frita! There's nothing like fried dough, sprinkled with sugar! My Mom is still the best cook.

We spent some time together in the kitchen, cooking my favorite recipes. More to come on that in future posts.

We drove through the desert to a town called Florence. The mountains and the landscape really are pretty. It's hard to even try to capture it all on my Canon digital elph, but it did pretty well.

In Florence, we ate lunch at a delightful Greek restaurant. Drove around and looked at the town. This is a church with beautiful architecture.

We also paid a visit to the...

Partially out of curiosity. Ok, largely out of curiosity. Across the street from, none other than, the prison. The sign says "Crafts, clothing, jewelry, woodworking and leather." However, this wasn't your average store. I'll just say that. If you are looking for a funny t-shirt or weird "unique" piece of art, this is your place. Only in the west!

It looks like I will have to conclude the rest of my trip in part three....more to come. Hope you have enjoyed my snapshots thus far. I wish I could go back right now and escape this arctic climate!

 Teddy has no idea how good he has it!

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