Highlights of Phoenix, Arizona

Earlier this year, I went to Phoenix, Arizona for the first time to attend a Photography expo. This post is pretty long overdue, and because of that, I actually have spotty memory of the trip (hate when that happens). But I’ll try to sum it up the best I can.

To save money, I stayed at Camelbackpackers, a hostel that was fairly close to the convention center. This was my first time staying at a hostel, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. This place was great. The hostel felt like a house and not dorm-like at all, which I hear tends to be what hostels feel like, the place was clean and the hosts were very nice. Basically all I really cared about. I had actually spent a lot of my time at the expo so I barely got to hang out at the hostel, except to sleep and shower.

The expo gave some time during the day to have lunch and explore the trade floors, and that’s when I normally took the time to explore some features that Phoenix has to offer.

Hole In the Rock

The first place I visited was called ‘Hole in the Rock’, near Phoenix’s botanical garden. I had geared up for this ‘hike’, as Yelp reviews deemed this activity. Yet, three minutes of hiking on man-carved steps led me to the top of this rock. Yeah…If you plan on doing some rigorous activity, don’t come to Hole in the Rock.

On the plus side, this little feature is great for any age. It’s a neat rock, really, and the view overlooking most of Phoenix is pretty nice.

Desert Botanical Garden

The second place was the Desert Botanical Garden. The garden is open to the public for free once a month, and we had luckily stayed in Phoenix during the day this was true. Coming from Southern California, I was familiar with cactuses, but not in large doses. When we arrived at the garden, it became very apparent at how my knowledge with cactus species were so limited. The difference between one plant from another were so minimal that they seemed the same! But tell that to a local Phoenix-ian (?) and I’m sure they’ll think you’re delirious hah.

Seeing so many desert plants in one place was great, and I highly enjoyed photographing them. If only I had brought a macro lens though. Seriously.

Camelback Mountain – Echo Trail

My final stop was Camelback Mountain – Echo trail, right before taking the six hour drive home.

When we arrived at 7am, we were greeted by a swarm of local news trucks and policemen at the deserted parking lot. I was afraid to approach, thinking that we would be turned away for whatever reason (in my head, it was a vicious murder that happened the night) but none of that happened. No one stopped us, no one paid us any attention as we pulled up and made our way towards the trail.

Soon after, I had a chance to talk to a local hiker and she told me all the deets. Apparently, there was a murder!! No, haha, just kidding. The trail was actually just closed for renovations for the past year, and that day had happened to be the grand reopening of their beloved mountain! Okay, seriously, what are the chances?!

The hike was fantastic. It took roughly 1.5 hours to get to the top, and 1 hour to get down. Though it wasn’t a far hike, it was a steep one. Plenty of avid hikers zoomed by us, young and old(!!), as we marched forward and upward, climbing up rocks and making sure we didn’t make a slip and fall.

When we finally made it to the top, the feeling was wonderful. Our thighs were burning and our hairs were blowing like crazy (it was really windy up there!) but we made it.

Unfortunately, we still had to go down… sigh.

With legs a-shaking and body tired, I drove home.

My first solo adventure had gone smoothly, and I highly pleased about that. I’m not sure I liked it very much though. When I went to Hole in the Rock by myself, it didn’t feel as rewarding or as fun as when I went to the Garden and Camelback Mountain with my new photographer friend. Not sure if this will be the first and last trip I do by myself but it was an interesting experience nonetheless.

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