It was a special treat to be given the opportunity to travel the first weekend of January -- all the way to Arizona to visit a friend of mine who lives in Scotland but was back to visit family. Even from the air I could already see major differences between Indiana and Arizona!
And before we even left the confines of the airport I had a thousand questions for my friend about the flora and fauna of this region. It is all so very different!
First order of business was brunch with Karen and her sister, Janice. It's only taken me 15 years to meet Janice, having met all the other members of the family previously.
Here we are enjoying the sunshine and warmth of Phoenix in January, not to mention the joys of friendship!
It took me a few minutes to get over the idea of FAKE GRASS! What?!
More nature lessons awaited in Karen's mom's backyard where I found an ancient olive tree!
And this amazing, nearly leaf-less tree that survives by having green trunks and branches rather than big leaves.
Citrus was growing everywhere!!!! I kind of went a little batty about it until finally Karen's mom, Dawn, said surely we could pick one or two if they were hanging over the fence into the alley. It was so delicious (and I kept thinking, "stolen water is sweet.....).
And bougainvillea -- a flashback to Africa. I love it so much!!!
Later that day Karen and I headed north to Sedona where her family has a house. The next day we went exploring and couldn't believe how high the water was.
I tried to take in all the different scenery -- red rock, scrubby trees, dry grass, blue sky, and broken down Conestoga wagons all around.
And gorgeous sycamore trees!!!!
Here's a view of the "ranch" where we spent the weekend.
Isn't the caboose fun!??!
Friday afternoon we drove into Sedona, admiring all the rock formations.
And wandering around all the tourist shops.....
I can understand why people love the West so much:
Mostly we spent our time sitting in front of this fire, talking and reading books:
Lots and lots of books! YAY!!!
Saturday afternoon we wandered next door to this delightful place:
Enjoying our hot cider!!!
Christmas decorations were still up!
And then we came upon a random barn of sheep! WHAT? This seemed to belong back in Scotland not here in Sedona. Turns out the sheep help manicure all the lovely greenery.
By Sunday Karen's cold had taken many turns for the worse and going to church was out of the question. We listened to a sermon together, made a huge pot of chicken soup, and spent more hours by the fire. Mid-afternoon I decided to take a little walk. The water level had gone down significantly:
The weather was warming up (60 degrees) and the rocks were looking lovely:
I walked up a quiet hill road:
Thinking about all the books I've read set in the west....
And the woods was completely covered in blackberry bushes!!!! I couldn't believe my eyes, except Karen had told me as a child her mom would bring their family up to Sedona just to pick blackberries!
It was so nice outside I decided to sit and watch the birds and read my book in the gazebo.
We lit upon the terrific idea of baking potatoes in the fireplace. Twice as tasty!
And we made sure to cook delicious, nutritious food!
Our favorite was the chicken soup, which we consumed for three meals straight:
It was fun for me to observe the desert as we traveled south:
Dawn took us to lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant!
It was SO delicious! Wouldn't mind having this again right now!
And then it was time for us both to head to the airport -- one of us to Indianapolis and the other all the way to Scotland.
What a fun way to begin the year!