This is obviously a long overdue post, but the pictures are worth the wait. I was in Phoenix at the end of October for a conference and stayed at a resort built into a butte. What's a butte, you ask? It's a rocky formation, like a hill, that juts out of the desert landscape. Very beautiful. This was the view from my room.
I had never set foot in the desert before, and after landing and gaining three hours, I had the rest of the day ahead of me to enjoy some exploring. A friend recommended the Desert Botanical Garden, and so I set out to visit it just before sunset.
This east coast girl couldn't get over the color and variety of the desert. Instead of a deserted (pun intended) and lifeless collection of prickly plants, I encountered a teeming ecosystem full of life, movement, and vibrant hues.
I visited the butterfly exhibit just before it closed at 5pm. Unbelievably it began to sprinkle while I was in there, giving the enclosure an ethereal, other-worldly effect.
The butterfly cage was full of monarchs and as the sun sets, they cling to the screen walls, wings folded, and rest for the evening. Those are hundreds of butterflies hanging down.
As I exited the butterfly exhibit, I got to enjoy this stunning rainbow. The cognitive dissonance of hearing rolling thunder and seeing a brief rain shower with a rainbow in the middle of a desert was certainly not lost on me and served to heighten the experience.
I was amazed at the information about how indigenous peoples learned the plants that could survive with little water and how they thrived as a group by cultivating crops, like gourds. These dried gourds are used variously as rattles with their dried seeds left intact or scooped out as ladles.
My love of the ocean is well-documented, but imagine my surprise when this arid environment evoked the same awe-inspiring peacefulness that I only ever experience from watching and listening to powerful ocean waves crash.
If sunsets over the bay are breathtaking, so too is the setting sun over the desert. The horizon is starkly silhouetted and so foreign to anything I've ever known. It was a spiritual experience.