Friday, November 14, 2014

Recent Travels #1: Arizona

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to go visit my friends Rhiannon and Jaden in Arizona.  My only experience within the state's borders was at its northwest border when I drove from Saint George to Southern California.  So when Jaden got a job down in Phoenix after graduating from BYU, I thought I'd take the opportunity to visit a place I'd never been before.

I bought tickets on Allegiant Airlines for the third weekend in October.  The last time I flew on Allegiant I had a nine hour delay.  Allegiant is so much cheaper than other airlines, though, so I decided to risk it.  Luckily, I had no problems on this trip and everything went smoothly.

I arrived at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on Friday night where Jaden and Rhiannon picked me up.  We got dinner at a BBQ place in Mesa (where I swear I saw the guy who plays Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith movie) and then headed over to Bahama Buck's to get shaved ice.  I'll be honest, I was afraid it was just going to be a snowcone-like concoction but it ended up being amazing.  I chose cinnamon and wedding cake as my two flavors with chocolate ice cream in the bottom.  It was delicious!  I finally understood what all the hype was about!
We drove to Jaden and Rhiannon's cute little apartment in Phoenix to plan out the next couple of days.  They spoiled me with my own room and my own bathroom.  The next morning we went on a hike at a place I can't remember the name of but it was nice to get out and see the area before it got too hot.
The large hill we hiked up.
I needed a picture with a cactus :).
"How do I get down now?"
Rhiannon with a baby cactus.
After we got our fill of hiking, we went back to the apartment to get cleaned up before heading to downtown Phoenix.  Our first stop was at the Japanese Friendship Gardens.  It was like a little oasis in the middle of desert.
So posing for pictures isn't one of my strong suits.

The ponds in the garden were filled with Japanese Koi fish.  We chose not to buy food to feed them but that didn't stop them from following us around.  They sucked on Jaden's fingers, thinking they were food.
Opening their mouths for non-existent food.
We then headed out to check out Phoenix's downtown area.  It was very hot outside and I was wearing the wrong kind of jeans for the heat but it was fun to experience the culture of a desert city.  It was so different from cities like San Francisco, although I actually saw more cross-dressers in Phoenix than I ever have in the Bay Area.  It was kind of funny.
Downtown Phoenix
Jaden and Rhiannon's ward participated in a Down Syndrome Awareness carnival type thing so we went to help out at that.  Their ward was in charge of the cookie "booth" so we got to eat a lot of delicious sweets as well as check out some of the other booths.  It was fun to just hang out and watch the cute kids have fun playing all the games.

We got to sleep in a little bit on Sunday since Jaden and Rhiannon's ward doesn't meet until 1:00.  It's always nice to attend church in other places.  It reaffirms the fact that we are a world-wide church and that no matter where you go, the gospel is the same everywhere.  After we got back, we had a delicious Sunday dinner, reminisced about old times, and played board games.

On Monday, Rhiannon and I dropped Jaden off at work and then drove to the Phoenix Temple to attend the open house.  I had only been to two temple open houses previously (Sacramento and Draper) so it was a treat for me to experience another one.  The temple was beautiful!  They incorporated a lot of desert landscapes and plants into the paintings and carvings inside the temple.  It was awesome to go and feel the spirit that already resides within that building.
All too soon, it was time for me to fly home.  Thank you to Jaden and Rhiannon for being excellent hosts for the weekend.  It was great to discover some of the sites of Phoenix together and to catch up with each other!

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