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Adventures In Arizona: Reflection on Winter Break Travels

People often say that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. I think that those people have never been to the airport. I don’t think anyone would enjoy taking off their shoes, removing all electronics from their tightly packed bags, and walking through metal detectors, all the while hoping that they didn’t accidentally leave something in their pocket that will get them detained and make them miss their flight. No, I definitely enjoyed being in Phoenix, Ariz. for Christmas break more than I enjoyed getting there. After 18 years of freezing cold, sometimes snowy, sometimes icy Christmases, it was a dramatic change of pace to celebrate the holiday in 60 degree weather. Now don’t get me wrong, I love snow and cold during the right season. But there is also something beautiful about cactuses and palm trees being lit up with Christmas lights, and being able to spend my time off from school enjoying the beauty of nature while surrounded by it, and not just through a window.

Let me give you some more context — I went to Arizona this break to visit my best friend Giana, who has grown up in Phoenix. She knew all of the fun things to do, and so every day we were hiking or jeeping or traveling around the state. One of the most memorable parts of the trip was driving around the city while the sun was setting. The sky was lit up in a pink/orange color in every direction. It was incredible. The silhouettes of palm trees and mountains against the colorful sky felt like one of those default computer screen backgrounds. I can’t overemphasize how beautiful Arizona was, especially after expecting only the dull brown and green colors of the desert. The single most breathtaking view in Arizona, in my opinion, is the obvious one: The Grand Canyon. No picture or video can do it justice. It was more vast than you can imagine and simply stunning to look at. Hiking and rock climbing down to different lookout points only increased my sense of wonder at how magnificent the canyon was. I was only a speck in the miles and miles of rocks formed by such an all powerful God. Anyway, words don’t do it justice (especially my words) — visit for yourself if you can; it is awe-inspiring. Another canyon that we visited was called Antelope Canyon. It is less well known, and definitely smaller, but no less amazing. This one was all red rock face, that we were able to climb 80 feet down and hike through. Thus, the walls of the canyon extended to the sky on either side of us. Our guide kept pointing out animal shapes and faces in the rock formations, and saying things like “this rock here was the cover of the 2008 issue of National Geographic” and things like that. It was insanely cool.

The final adventure of the break was to Los Angeles, Calif., which was about a six hour drive from Phoenix. It was Jan. 4, and I was walking on the beach in a tank top. I got to feel the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Frequenting the Jersey Shore every summer growing up, it blew my mind to see the sun setting over the ocean instead of rising. The Walk of Fame, Hollywood Sign, and Rodeo Drive, were all fascinating to see in person, and the whole trip was unforgettable. (I couldn’t get the song “California Gurls” by Katy Perry out of my head for days.)

Traveling can be a pain sometimes, and being away from family for the holidays is never easy. But the adventures that I had this break with a friend who I love and her family, to some of the most breathtaking, fun and memorable places in the world, made returning home that much sweeter. Because now I can share with my loved ones in Pennsylvania, to the best of my ability, some of the beauty that I had seen and felt out in the world.

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