The Underrated State of Arizona

| Sarah Auclair |

“Why do you go there? It’s so random. And what is there even to do there?” I’ve been asked these questions quite a bit. Ever since I was three and a half, my family and I would vacation down to Phoenix, Arizona almost every Easter break. I absolutely adored it. I would always look forward to the pool and the hot sun, and the pretty hotel lobby. There was this fountain in the lobby of the hotel we stayed at, and little me thought it was the prettiest thing ever. It was big and shiny, made of white marble with neat little gold details. The two flights, from Montreal to Toronto then Toronto to Phoenix, were well worth it. The last time we went there was eight years ago. My siblings and I were getting older and our school schedules weren’t aligned the same anymore, so we just stopped going for the next little while. But then we went back this past Easter break.

I was excited when my mother announced it because it had been so long and my happy memories of Arizona came flooding back. Only this time, it was just my parents and me and we stayed at a different hotel. This didn’t bother me much, (well, I was a tiny bit upset that my brother couldn’t join us at first, but I got over it) as long as we were going back, I was content. This time the trip was different. The last time we visited, I was nine or 10 years old. This time I was 18, an adult (well, technically) and I noticed so many more things about Arizona. For starters, I had forgotten how much I loved the desert and how beautiful I found it. I found it even more beautiful this time around because pools and chicken tenders weren’t the only things I gave a crap about. I had forgotten all about Camelback Mountain. Like at the old hotel we stayed at, Camelback Mountain was right behind our hotel making for a magnificent view.

You’ve probably already guessed how it got its name, but if you haven’t, it’s because it looks like a camel sitting down; the tops of the mountain looking like two camel humps. For the first time, I got to hike up this amazing mountain. When I was a kid I couldn’t care less about it, and I heard there were rattlesnakes. But I wanted to do it this time, my fear of rattlesnakes was still very present, but I was too curious not to. We made it a little more than halfway to the top and the views were breathtaking. To some, the view might have been be boring if they gave most of their attention to the buildings below. It is a desert state after all, so some might find it barren. But I was focused on the different mountains surrounding Phoenix. Phoenix is in a valley and is located in what is known as the Sonoran Desert (along with states like California, Northwestern Mexico, etc). All I could think about was how it would be the perfect location to shoot a Western. I even began to ponder the history of Arizona. How many lone riders and bandits rode through these mountains? I wanted to hear the stories that these mountains fostered. The openness is also what I loved about it. You tend to forget about things. You forget about the turmoil in the world and the pressure you put on yourself. Nothing really matters up in the mountains. Everything is just there, and you accept it.

My point is, Arizona is more beautiful than people give it credit for. It has such a simplistic beauty to it; all the mountains and cacti, tumbleweeds, and desert flowers, they just work so well together. Not to mention there’s so much to explore! I can’t really describe how (especially on paper) but I feel like it’s something you need to see and experience to feel. I have a bias because I’m a desert person, but I still think it’s worth a visit at least once in your life. I do still think it’s a random state. But a boring state? No way, man, not even close.