AMP Goes West: An Adventure
This is a long one - just hang in there!
Back in April Zach and I photographed a lovely wedding just outside of Las Vegas. (Read all about it HERE) We had a blast exploring the bright lights of the big city while there and found some adventure of our own while in Vegas. (Read all about that HERE) After the wedding was over and we finished a final Vegas buffet (a breakfast buffet with Kyle and Jen, the bride and groom - yum!) Zach and I packed up our rental car and headed out into the desert.
Our first stop on our desert road trip didn't take us long to find. Growing up, my dad had loved watching documentaries about the Hoover Dam. Naturally, that love transitioned to me as well as I'd watch them with him. Zach and I agreed that this was an important part of American history that we needed to see. So we wound our way down the steep and curved roads and suddenly it was quite literally right next to us. Between the Hoover Dam and the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, it was pretty impressive to see these massive manmade marvels. I couldn't help but think of all of the families that were supported by the workers who built both, but especially the dam. It was a different time for construction back then, and the risks those people took to build the Hoover Dam were pretty great. Overall, it was a really cool thing to see, and if you're ever in Vegas it's worth the short trip out there!
We got back in the car and our road trip pressed on. We approached a small grouping of gas stations that seemed to be the last gas stations for several miles. (And they were, glad we tanked up!) We saw a couple of big name gas stations, but we couldn't help but select the super shady one. After all, this was a desert road trip and what is a desert road trip with out a sketchy gas station with alien murals painted on the walls and machine guns sold behind the counter? We loved it! We even got Mulder and Scully ID's, our only souvenir of the trip.
We drove for hours past sprawling desert, train yards and tiny towns. We even drove on Route 66 for a small while. The sky was a shining bright blue and the puffy clouds sprawled across the horizon. It was so different from Indiana and we enjoyed taking our time and soaking it in. After passing a handful of abandoned tourist traps that had become overgrown and like something out of a scary movie, (the Flinstones one will probably haunt me forever you guys!) we arrived at the Grand Canyon just before sunset. It really is as cool as everyone makes it out to be. Zach absolutely LOVED it, and immediately went right to the edge to get a better look. As it turns out, I'm not too crazy about heights so I stayed further back. Haha. Though I have to admit, it was pretty surreal to see large birds of prey soaring over the tops of massive pine trees.... below me. So cool!
Our next stop was Phoenix, Arizona. My sister, brother in law and nephew were living there at the time, in between long stints abroad so it was an absolute must that we stop for a visit as we were already so close being in Vegas. Though our time with them was short, we made the most of it. We started off our time in Phoenix with an adventure to return the rental car, which resulted in a tram ride through out the entire city of Phoenix, which I loved. It was really cool to see the city as a local would and I felt that we really got to know the city well. Next, my
brother in law, Josh, thought up some special plans to show us one of his favorite places in Phoenix, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Park. Aside from spending time with my family, this was hands down my favorite thing that we did while there. We hiked amongst thousands of massive saguaro cacti - they were as far as you could see! It was INCREDIBLE! Desert flowers speckled the path and we even saw a snake or two. I also learned about jumping cacti. Watch out! Sweet little Asher was a trooper and enjoyed holding onto wild flowers as we walked. I am so grateful to Josh for taking us there and sharing such a special place with us, I will never forget it.
Some other high lights of our trip included an adorable little coffee shop where we refueled and read each of our cat horoscopes, thanks to the coffee shops eclectic (and awesome!) coffee table book collection. We checked out a dog friendly brewery called O.S.H.O that had the best chicken and waffles ever and of course DOGS. Win. Seriously Indiana, get in on this! They even give you dog treats to take home with you. (Excuse me while I just move to Arizona for this brewery alone.) We also had lunch at a place that I have carried a torch for since my last Phoenix trip ten years ago. The place? Souper! Salad! The food SOUP OR SALAD. So clever these guys. My sister, Alisha, had taken me there years ago when I visited and I loved it then. It's safe to say, I still love it now. Ruby Tuesday's salad bar ain't got nothin' on Souper! Salad!
After some downtime at the house taking some photos of Asher, my absolutely amazing and adorable baby nephew (you can see those photos HERE) and admiring the citrus trees in the backyard and getting the stink eye from one fabulously shifty pug, we spent our last day in Phoenix exploring Tempe. I remember seeing Tempe the last time I was visiting, but this time we just casually strolled along, stopping in various stores and just taking in the sites. (Which is for real my favorite hobby.. just walking around new places) We had lunch at the most impressive little group of food trucks serving up authentic Mexican food. I could have stayed there trying their food for days! We stopped in at a cool bar called Angel's Trumpet where Alisha and I enjoyed some libations that somehow managed to taste like Christmas in a cup (cider with hints of cinnamon) and Easter in a glass (beer with hints of ham.. err.. I mean pineapple). It was awesome! We spent the last part of our trip here, relaxing, reading to Asher and playing an occasional game of corn hole.
My favorite part of the time we spent in Arizona was just spending time with my sister and her little family. Talking, laughing and just enjoying each others' company. Alisha and I even had a few moments of sister mind reading that both Zach and Josh were taken aback by. Haha. It was a fantastic trip and being able to see all of Alisha and Josh's favorite haunts was cool for me, as I felt like I got to know "their" Phoenix. Of course, now they live in Barcelona so I am excited to visit them there soon and see "their" Barcelona as well. :)