Over spring break, I took a road trip with my friends across Arizona. I touched down Phoenix just a few hours before sunset. After grabbing a burger and fries from Wendy’s, I of course ran across walkalator after walkalator to catch an unobscured view of the tinted sky.
A guy saw me snapping with my DSLR and whipped out his camera phone. “I should take some photos too,” he said. Within 30 minutes, the sky had changed hues from a baby blue to a bright orange to soft pink. Just before it dipped into the horizon, the sun set the clouds ablaze in a fiery red.
It was pitch black by the time my friends and I headed out of the airport, so the first few hours I was actually in Arizona I had no idea what it looked like. We took an Uber to a car rental that looked deserted. The chain fences were locked. For a while it was just the six of us with our carry-on luggages sitting on the gravel. It looked like something out of a movie. Then the rental service worker came.
We drove to a Mexican place for a quick dinner, before starting the 2-hour drive to Sedona. The whole time one of my friends played hardcore Skrillex-type EDM—it was a long ride.
The next morning, Arizona transformed into a desert dream. My friends and I woke up to a beautiful view of Sedona’s desert landscape. As the sun began to rise, we saw hot air balloons floating in the distance. The roads were empty. The temperature was warm. There were cacti, red rock, and dusty sand all around us.
For a sweeping desert view, we climbed up Airport Mesa, a power vortex near Sedona Airport. We hiked across narrow trails with deep drops to one side as mountain bikers balanced beside us. We smelled of sunscreen and sweat as we forged paths through soil and shrubbery. The sun beat on top of our heads as we hung our feet off the ledge. Our sneakers started to collect red Arizona dust, but we didn’t mind. They were going to collect a lot more when we headed to the next rock to climb.