Tuesday, October 25, 2011


So, I was randomly inspired to spend some time outdoors today. I was literally sitting on the couch and had a eureka moment: "I have to get out of the house!" I felt a desperate need to experience some sun, sky, dirt, and plants that I wasn't growing (or rather, barely keeping alive) in my house. I've come to the realization over the last few months that living in Phoenix can be similar to living in a snowy climate. No, seriously. For a period of about five months every year, it's completely unbearable to go outside. Even when you are completely craving some natural light, a quick trip to the mail box is enough to make you run back inside again and stand in front of the fan with a glass of ice water. Everyone spends their day going from air conditioned building to air conditioned car to air conditioned building and so on. After a while I start to develop cabin fever. All I want to do is go outside and experience nature, but nature doesn't love me back.

In the last couple weeks, however, Phoenix has become beautiful. October is my favorite month of the year. It's warm, but not cold. The mysterious darkness of fall is palpable but not overwhelming. The world feels like it's starting to calm and the month ends with my favorite creepy holiday, Halloween. This beautiful October weather has made me itch even more to get outdoors and today I just couldn't take it anymore. Once I became determined to go outdoors I realized that I had no idea where I wanted to go. I've lived in Phoenix for three years, but those three years were spent frantically trying to accomplish all my tasks as a teacher with very little free time. I have no idea what there is to do outdoors here. It seems so silly that I've barely even ventured out of my own backyard and I live in this huge city surrounded by all sorts of mountains and lakes. I decided that there had to be some hiking trails east of Mesa that I could go to, so I did an internet search for hiking trails near Mesa. Most of the trails that came up were a little farther away than I was willing to travel today except for Usery Mountain Regional Park. It was only twenty minutes away from my house so I decided to check it out.

I'd never actually driven this far northeast in Mesa. I am amazed to say that there is actually something past all of the orange groves! I figured they just went on forever and ever. I took Mckellips past the 202 and ran into this new subdivision. All of a sudden the scenery changed and it felt like I was in northwest Tucson. Even the houses looked like they belonged in northwest Tucson. It was very pretty. Usery Mountain Regional Park has a bunch of hiking trails, some of which go into the Tonto National Forest, campgrounds, and an archery range. I got there in the late afternoon, so I was able to get some cool sunset pictures.

 One of the mountains in Usery Park. It has a "scar" which is actually a different layer of sediment deposited by volcanoes.
 Saguaros! I've missed you...

 You usually can't see a saguaro's roots, but sometimes the soil washes away enough that you can see them like roots from a tree. I noticed the roots from several saguaros sticking out and also a couple of barrel cacti that had been uprooted, so I guess this soil must wash away easily.

I guess someone decided that this saguaro needed a hat... 

I decided to make these pictures bigger since they're all scenery pictures.

 They wanted to make sure that you knew that Phoenix is < that way.

 The shoes! I forgot to take a picture when there was still daylight.
 This one was my favorite sunset picture.
 The white lines by the saguaros are planes flying by. I had to do 15 second exposures on these pictures, so any moving lights turn into a line.

 I really liked this particular ocotillo silhouette. 
 Staring down the road at the city lights.
This is a panorama I stitched together out of three different pictures.

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