When my parents told me they were relocating to the desert, although supportive, I realized a big change was upon our tightly-knit family of three. In September 2013, after selling their house in Connecticut, my parents packed up the Volvo station wagon, fondly known as Silvy, and started their cross-country journey to Scottsdale, Arizona.
As an East Coaster, I couldn’t grasp how my parents found beauty in a landscape so different from home. Whether it is the stark contrast to what’s been familiar or the emotional response to exploring a new place, I can summarize Scottsdale and the Sonoran Desert in one word: Majestic.
When I visit my parents, my favorite activity is hiking. Scottsdale has beautifully manicured and abundant trails throughout the numerous preserves and mountain ranges in the area. My parents’ house backs up to the McDowell Mountains and from the vistas, on a clear day, you can see down the valley to Phoenix. Even when I hike the same trail, the experience is always different. Depending on the time of day, the sun casts shadows against the intricacies of the desert floor, illuminating the iridescent cholla and saguaro cacti. Indigenous to the Sonoran Desert, saguaros are the behemoth cacti with splayed arms. They can live hundreds of years, and when I see them along the trail, I feel like I am among wise elders.
Our favorite family hike is at the site of a landslide that occurred 500,000 years ago. The Marcus Landslide trails weave in between granite boulders balancing on one another in interpretive formations. The formations are so unusual it’s as if giants placed them overnight rather than them being the result of one of Arizona’s largest landslides.
The desert is a magical place. I can’t help but feel many forces at play. There’s a stillness—pristine quality—to the landscape. Known as the “Valley of the Sun,” Arizona boasts countless crystal clear days. The sky is expansive and the earth changes colors depending on the Sun’s glance. This also means that beautiful days make for sublime evenings. The sunsets can leave you breathless. At the end of the day, the clouds take their place, waiting to catch the unadulterated rays of the sun, creating spectacular shades of scarlet, violet, orange, and pink. I’d never seen a sunset like a desert sunset before visiting Arizona.
If nothing else, go for the sunsets—they are living pieces of art. But when you go, go with an open mind. It is a beautiful and special place that stays with you and ultimately pulls you back.
Shop the Tourmaline Necklace and the Half Moon Necklace (currently out of stock) pictured here.