Light in the Valley of the Sun

A first-time trip to the Phoenix area introduced me to the light to be found in the desert.

If you’ve been left wondering what happened to me and which room I was going to de-clutter next… my apologies. I’ve been off on a mid-spring adventure to the Valley of the Sun.

My husband had a conference to attend in the Phoenix, Arizona area, so the boys and I came along for the ride. Unbelievably, I’ve never been to Phoenix before. Even more unbelievable, since I have extended family who live there. So it was high time for me to pay a visit to this most unique area of our country.

For someone who adores the sun, it’s funny that I’m not particularly fond of the desert. Perhaps my love of all things green… and not prickly… is what usually turns me from the desert’s landscape. But I was determined to see it as it truly is and experience it fully. OK, I experienced it in April. Let’s not be crazy and experience it in August!

And I found it’s beauty. In three places in particular. I found amazing light in the Valley of the Sun.

First, was at Hole in the Rock. The second day we were there, when the bright desert sun had us all wide awake at 6:00am, (ok, the boys were awake) we hopped in the car and drove to an amazing rock formation right in the middle of the Phoenix area.  It’s literally right next to the Zoo in an area called Papago Park.

The red sandstone makes the most incredible formations and the most interesting point is the hole in the rock (surprised?) You can hike up to it easily. I’m pretty sure the boys ran the whole way. And the view from the hole, both ways, was marvelous. It’s believed that the Hohokum (native american tribe) that lived there, used the formation to mark the solstices and equinoxes. (I always love that sort of thing!) I could have stayed there, hiking around, all morning. It was truly an amazing place.

Second, were the flowers of the desert. Yes, flowers! I know, we were there in the spring. and I’m beginning to believe that’s the best time to view the desert’s beauty. I was awe-struck by the unique look of the flowers smiling at the sun in that arid landscape. These were a favorite.

The flowers and truly the plants themselves made me appreciate the strength and adaptability of these desert plants. No rain? Fine. They have all learned how to make do. And when the rains come? They’ve got a plan for that as well. And most of all, they have learned how to thrive in the bright sun. Lessons that struck my heart and I’m continuing to think about.

Third, was Saguaro Lake. The last day of our trip, we drove north-east of Phoenix into the Tonto National Forest and spent the morning at Saguaro Lake. First, may I give a nod to the majestic Saguaro Cactus. They are simply amazing. Driving through miles and miles of these tall plants, their “arms” lifted to the sun, was an almost surreal experience.

Saguaro Lake is an oasis in the desert. The Stewart Mountain Dam on the Salt River provides a beautiful gathering of water for people and animals alike. Since we were there on a Saturday morning, there were plenty of Arizonans enjoying the water with kayaks, wave runners, SUPs, tubes, boats, and good old fashioned swimming. But I’m told that the real stars of the lake… are the wild horses. I was hoping so much to see them! They must have been on an adventure somewhere else that morning. But I sat on the shore of the lake, my toes in the water, and imagined those beautiful wild mustangs and the beautiful wild life they must have out there in the desert. I was smiling.

So, yes… Desert… while you are not my first choice to live permanently (I would miss the green)… I have seen your beauty. I have seen your tenacity. And you have my admiration.

I have seen the light of the Valley of the Sun. And (not surprisingly) I like it.

Have you been to the Valley of the Sun?

2 thoughts on “Light in the Valley of the Sun

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