Stretched in All Directions

The green branches of a foothill palo verde tree grow in many directions at Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale, Arizona

As soon as I arrived in Arizona for my interview in February I was struck by the green trees I saw as I drove around town. The palo verde is the state tree of Arizona, the green in the bark contains chlorophyll so they can use both bark and leaves for photosynthesis. I came across this one shortly before sunrise when I visited Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale. We have accomplished a lot in the past six weeks but there is still a lot to do, I feel a bit like this tree, sprawling in all directions, a bit worse for the wear, but still standing, still growing.

Welcome to Arizona

A cactus wren perches on a saguaro cactus with the moon in the background

It’s been a busy week since we moved to Arizona but now it was time for some fun. I got up at 5 a.m. this morning (that wasn’t fun) and headed to Pinnacle Peak Park, the park I visited the day after I interviewed in February but now with time to hike the entire trail instead of just sampling hiking in the desert. As soon as I hit the trail, before the sun even rose above the horizon, I met this cactus wren perched on a large saguaro with the moon in the background, my first new wildlife species in our new home.

What a beautiful welcome to Arizona.

It’s Arizona

A small cactus in Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale, Arizona

The second job offer arrived this morning, and while it’s been difficult to choose between the two offers as I liked the work and the teams at both companies, in the end the cost of living difference between California and Arizona was too much to ignore. I might feel differently in the summer when my face has melted off.

It will be hard to say goodbye to my beloved Northwest but I’m looking forward to saying hello to the Southwest. This quick visit to Pinnacle Peak during my interview trip was a test to make sure I’d enjoy exploring the desert as much as I hoped. I’ve lived in eight states in this great land, Oregon felt like home the moment we moved here and is by far the longest I’ve lived anywhere. Arizona will be the ninth, here’s hoping we also love life in the desert.

It’s a Dry Heat

A close up of the spines on a saguaro cactus in Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale, Arizona

They say it’s hot in Arizona, but it’s a dry heat. It wasn’t hot on my trip since it was the winter but it was dry. How dry? This is what my skin looked like after two full days in the desert.

Because I was in Scottsdale for an interview, I didn’t bring along my camera as I knew I wouldn’t have much time for hiking. I did venture up to Pinnacle Peak Park for a brief hike, a short way in before turning around, just to make sure I’d enjoy hiking in the desert. The saguaros are as amazing as I expected, as well as the variety of cacti near the trail, plus I saw a lizard! I toyed with the idea of getting up for sunrise, but I was worn out and decided to sleep in. If we move there, given the constant sun, there will be plenty of opportunities for photographing in that lovely early light when I have my camera with me and not just my phone. But it is remarkable what you can do with an iPhone these days, it’s the reason I decided to leave the bigger camera at home in the first place.

And for the record, since this kind of thing seems unimportant at the time but is the sort of thing I’d like to know years from now, Pinnacle Peak Park is the first park I visited in Arizona.