What do you think of when you think of Arizona?  Maybe the Grand Canyon, our big beautiful hole in the ground.  Maybe a lone saguaro sticking out of the sand.  Maybe the big bustling metropolis of Phoenix.  Maybe the college with a reluctant city around it that calls itself Tucson.  Certainly those are the big things that draw the most people, so that’s natural, but it’s not all there it to my state.

Jenn and I took a trip up to Show Low, AZ and the surrounding White Mountain area last week.  It is an absolutely gorgeous part of the state, and in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in the country.  It very much stirs my soul in the way that all beautiful western places do.  There is something about the vast remoteness that just speaks out to me.  Most importantly for my point, it is absolutely nothing like Tucson, and it is only four hours away.

Take a look at some of the terrain types in this area.

Lake in Alpine AZ

Lake in Alpine AZ

This is a beautiful lake on the road down to Alpine AZ.  You can see we have a lake, which actually has water in it, shocking for Arizona.  The green trees on that hill are about to turn into a large pine forest in just a few more miles.  So yes, trees can grow in AZ.

Frozen lake in Arizona between Springerville and Pinetop

Frozen lake in Arizona between Springerville and Pinetop

I don’t actually think this is a lake, I think it was just a field that got flooded and froze, but it was beautiful.  This picture is probably about 20-30 miles from the other one.  Trees, ice and snow.

Rolling plains in Arizona between Show Low and Springerville

Rolling plains in Arizona between Show Low and Springerville

Here we have some rolling plains.  At one point this whole vista would have been covered with those little scrub bushes, but where it’s clear is where it was overgrazed.  Arizona, apparently, dedicates a huge portion of it’s north eastern corner to beef production, which is both awesome, and kind of sad to see so many ranchers doing it badly and damaging the land.

Painted Desert in North Arizona

Painted Desert in North Arizona

Lastly of course, we have the Painted Desert.  Which is absolutely gorgeous, and speaks for itself.  You can’t look at this vista and not be swept away.  This is pretty desert.  This is not what the Tucson desert looks like by the way.  Ours is much more, sterile.

All of these pictures were taken on the same weekend.  In fact, all of the except the Painted Desert were taken on the same day.  We spent our vacation driving around, and exploring a new place, and it was beautiful.  All of these pictures were within 100 miles of our cabin.  The cabin was only 4 hours drive from where we live now.  It’s not that far to branch out and explore.

How often do we really get out and explore our surroundings?  How many beautiful things exist only a few hour from your home, and you have never seen them?  When was the last time you went out simply to explore someplace new, and see what surprises life holds for you?

This country contains some of the most amazing places and people of anywhere on earth, but we often go through such lengths to make sure we never encounter them.  We fall into our routine and stay nice and cozy inside our box.  That’s no way to live.  Get out and explore.  See what there is.  The world is very different so close to us, if you only get out and look.

We stay in one place, and make snap judgements on the entire world based on our experiences.  Well, that thing you said might be true where you live, but it might not be true down the road.  How will you know unless you get off your butt and explore?

I would challenge everyone who reads this to find someplace they have never been within 3 hours of their home, and go see it.  Three hours or less can be done all in one day if you want.  Go out, see it, and come back.  Bonus points if you just pick a direction or a destination and go, without knowing what’s there first.  Those are the best kind of experiences.  You just might shock yourself.  The world is so much of a bigger and more open place than we ever want to admit.  Most of the limits we place on ourselves are simply that, self imposed.  We pretend we are trapped to justify why we can’t do something.  So go out there and remember you are free.

 

 

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