I’ve always lived in the northern half of the country, either Illinois or New Jersey, but I absolutely love traveling. Last week my work took me to the Tucson area and my team’s schedule allowed for a bit of site-seeing.
First on the agenda was a hike through the Sonoran Desert. Compared to the fall foliage of Illinois, the desert initially appeared monotone and bare – but I couldn’t have been more wrong. As we soaked in the views of the mountains and studied the cacti, rocks, plants and animals, the colors came alive.
Bright yellow flowers peeked through crags and crevices, reaching out to remind the world that they could survive the harsh climate. The jagged rocks displayed a palette of burnt orange, lime green and gold, demonstrating to the careful onlooker that this place was anything but colorless.
Most impressive to me was the quintessential desert mascot – the saguaro. They seem to camouflage themselves in the landscape when you look from a distance, but the closer you get to a saguaro the more impressive (and intimidating) they become. The arms of this one looked as though they were about to envelope me in a prickly grasp.
Our explorations were topped off with a quick trip downtown. We wandered along Fourth Avenue, an eclectic and intriguing section of the city. I wish we had more time to peruse this area because we only scratched the surface of what it had to offer.
Of course, our day wouldn’t be complete without freshly brewed coffee, and Sabine’s Café Passe did not disappoint. In addition to a quality caffeine fix, they serve small plates, sandwiches, cocktails, wine and beer. The charming courtyard in the back with exposed brick, trees and inspiring décor created the ideal ambiance for a brief respite before heading to work that evening.
The next morning greeted us with more beautiful weather. We decided to use our remaining time to visit the historic Mission San Xavier del Bac, a Spanish-Catholic mission on the Tohono O’odham reservation.
Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Francisco Kino founded the mission in 1692. The current church was built between 1783 and 1797 by the Franciscans and remains active, serving the local community.
Our trip ended with a scenic drive up Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. We stopped at the Windy Point Vista to soak up the breathtaking view.
The scene was painted with awe-inspiring images at every turn — bare branches against a brilliant blue sky, trees growing in the midst of an arid desert and rocky cliffs that demanded your respect by not allowing you to get too close.
I’ll admit, this was not a typical work trip, but it gave me an unexpected time of refreshment and reflection. People-watching, viewing street art, studying architecture and hiking through nature reminded me that I serve an infinitely creative God – One who has given me the chance to live creatively so I can reflect Him.
Have you visited any inspiring places lately? We’d love to hear about your adventures!