Friday, January 6, 2012

Anderson Family Vacay


Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of fleeing the city and escaping to sunny Arizona for a week with my fam. We spent part of the week visiting grandparents in Scottsdale and the other part of the week exploring Tucson and what appeared to be some of Arizona's nether regions (can we say massive border patrol checkpoints in the middle of the desert?). It has been quite awhile since the four of us have gone on vacation together and it was great :D Great to be back in our familiar routine, packing a backpack full of pb & js and traipsing up mountains with far fetched, but very real, hopes of spotting a bobcat. (Spoiler alert: we didn't.)

Christmas morning was awesome. Clare and I went for an early run while it was still brisk, through Grandma and Grandpa's palm tree lined retirement community and out into the endless maze of Scottsdale's shopping centers. Someone had a wood fire going, which was pleasant, yet strange to smell considering our faux tropical surroundings. Our Christmas trot was the perfect way to start the day. As was the massage that came after. Thanks Clare :)

Thai Massage

Clarie working wonders on mom

Sisters Xmas pic!
The first half of our week was spent with Grandma and Grandpa and different branches of the family who are stationed in AZ. Twas fun to see folks who we NEVER get to see, spend some quality time with our Grandparents and honestly to re-meet relatives. When you only see people once every 8 years or so, seeing them again is always such an adventure. As it turns out, I have some pretty cool second cousins. Who knew? Not I :)

Scrabble was played. The victor shall remain undisclosed. 

The best part of the trip though, was getting outside and hiking almost every day. Whether it was a quick, steep hike up one of Scottsdale's highly populated peaks in a recreational area, or a meandering ascent up the spine of Rincon Peak outside of Tuscon, it didn't matter. We got outside. Sucked in the dry, warm air, enjoyed a little sweat, and filled each other in on whats what in our lives. Though we go as a family, we often pair off in twos while hiking. Twos make sense on any trail. You can't shout a conversation from the back of a single file line of four. Hiking conversations are leisurely; a patched together discussion of news in our respective cities, pleasant silences filled by the rhythmic sound of hiking boots crunching on rocks, little jaunts down memory lane, observations about the surroundings, spattered with quick breaks to trade packs, slug some water, or snap a picture. 

Dancer on Camelback

Some clever person put a fully decorated Christmas tree
on top of Camelback Mtn. 

Getting to the tippy top of Squaw Peak w/ Mom, Dad and Greg

Ma n' Pa at Squaw Peak
Attention span at the Sonora Desert Museum fading...

...playing with cacti commences

One of these things is not like the others. 
I'll give you a hint: Its the dead one. 

Those boots make for an interesting center of balance!
We spent one evening at the Kitt Peak National Observatory on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. Kitt Peak is the only National Observatory in the country (ie, anyone whose application gets approved can use the telescopes) and is the highest concentration of telescopes in the world. Fancy! 

Ariel shot snagged from their website, tx!
We arrived just in time to catch the sunset. Kitt Peak was chosen as the location for the telescopes in part because of the incredible air quality. My camera couldn't capture how awesome this view was. Not because of the sunset itself, but because of the gorgeous layers of mountains in varying shades of blue gray stacked against the horizon. One of the nerds other visitors told me that the last row of mountains was in Baja, California, about 250 miles away. So cool.

As soon as the sun went down, we heard this loud, metal on metal grinding, like a garage door opening. Scared the shit out of me at first. It is a pretty startling noise for someone who has never been in the presence of a telescope coming to life. The telescopes are all digital and remotely operated. Someone, in some dark little room at the University of whatever, had opened the roof of the telescope with the push of a button. Our guide chatted away and as it got darker, the telescope swiveled around as needed, like a gigantic R2D2, snapping pictures of the Orion Nebula, 1500 light years away. Alone. On a mountain.

Astronomy isn't really my thing. Finding the constellations frustrates me and light years are really too big for my brain to comprehend. But, this place was pretty cool and I have to acknowledge the people who study such a mind bending topic and make it accessible to the rest of us. I saw Jupiter and it's four moons through a telescope. Couldn't have done that on my own.
Visitors watching the sunset.
Telescope waiting for the sun to go down before getting down to business. 
This time last week, I was slurping down a hot pink prickly pear margarita at El Charro Cafe in Tuscon and slipping into that post big meal, day in the sun has finally caught up with you, haze of satisfaction.  

Now it is 15 degrees in NYC. Not complaining. Just stating facts. 
I have been reunited with Zach and Harriet and the city I love, buuuuutttt... I'm just sayin. I was in shorts. 

The souvenir I didn't get?
A gorgeous dining room table with turquoise inlay.

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