Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Becca from "If only I could read faster" on Arizona - Guest blogger shares her tips

Hello. I'm welcoming Becca a fellow blogger, from "If only I could read faster". She is joining me to share her love of Arizona, and she has some great photos! This one has to go on my bucket list. Welcome Becca :)

I visited Arizona five times over the space of three or four years. Every visit had a purpose, mainly training for my job at the time, but I always combined it with some extra time to explore.

On my first visit I did the usual touristy things, I didn’t hire a car so I did a day trip on a tour bus. I went to Sedona, home of the red rock and to the Grand Canyon. Both were amazing. The red rocks took my breath away, but the trip that I was on stuck to the touristy places which was frustrating, I wanted to get out there and explore.
The Main Road in Sedona. 

The Magnificent Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is breathtaking. The first time I walked to the edge of the canyon and looked out was a moment that I will never forget, I don’t think that you can truly appreciate the sheer size of it from photos and films. I was excited too because I treated myself to a helicopter ride over the canyon, something that I had always wanted to do.

It had been a flying visit but a special one, and I was determined to return.

I made sure that on my next visits I always hired a car, this gave me the freedom to explore. There is something incredibly magical about Arizona, I’m not a religious person but there is something very spiritual about it, I have never felt connected to a place like I do there and it really feels like batteries recharge when I’m there.

My second trip took me to a small town (well, they call it a town but it was more of a village in my book!), called Wickenburg. Wickenburg is right in cowboy country, you walk down the side walk and there would be men in cowboy boots, hats and a gun in their holster. That was a bit of a shock, being from England that’s not something that I’m used to, but in Wickenburg it was completely normal, as was riding your Harley with just a cowboy hat on.

I’d definitely recommend stopping in Wickenburg if you do go to Arizona, you can
Lake Watson
drive that way as you head north from Phoenix towards Sedona so it’s a great stop for lunch, you’ll see some amazing sights going that way rather than taking the main highway, make sure that you stop at Lake Watson to stretch your legs too! Then, before Sedona there is a small town called Jerome, definitely worth a stop to admire the views and to see the galleries, there are a lot of artists around Jerome and I defy you not to fall in love with some of the art there.

Snoopy Rock. Can you see him?

I also returned to Sedona on my second visit, staying in a hotel on the main drag which had views over a rock that looked like Snoopy, sunsets were stunning! But it was tourist central with shop after shop trying to sell you expensive keepsakes and souvenirs.  I did a jeep tour out into the rocks, it was fun and took me right out into the middle of the amazing scenery. But the best thing that I did was take myself off out of town where I did a short hike, looking back I was terribly ill-equipped with one small bottle of water despite the 40C heat and I had told no one where I was going. The hike took about two hours and it was stunning, I took some of my favourite ever photos during that hike.
I love this photo I took on my hike in Sedona
It was only when I was about half way round it occurred to me that they have mountain lions in Arizona, and there I was on my own and incredibly isolated. Of course I was absolutely fine but I did drink a huge amount of cold water once I returned to civilisation! You really do need to be prepared for the heat in Arizona, it is damn hot but it is a dry heat so in my book it is a lot more pleasant that many places that aren’t as hot. And of course everywhere has air-conditioning.

Great Cactus
On my next trip I stayed closer to Scottsdale where I was staying and training. The botanical gardens are a brilliant place to visit, the plant life in Arizona is stunning and I am now a huge cactus fan. I think that I actually visited the botanical gardens on at least three of my five trips so it is definitely worth going. I also loved going horse riding in Arizona, it’s a great way to appreciate the desert and tranquillity of the place so I’d hugely recommend that.

I only headed south of Scottsdale once on my last visit to see Tuscon, although I didn’t really get to see that much in the end it was nice to see something a bit different but I do think that the north is more for me, although my next visit I am definitely going to go to Saguaro National Park as I just can’t get enough of the cactus there! 

The food in Arizona isn’t anything special, standard American stuff really. You can get cactus chips but I can’t say that I ever tried them. I did have a delicious salad in Wickenburg once but I can’t remember the name of the place, I could take you there though! 

Me, Becca
Now I no longer have an excuse to visit Arizona I haven’t been in almost six years, but I have no doubt that I will return, you can fly direct from Heathrow with British Airways which makes it easy to get to and if you book at the right times then it isn’t so expensive, but sadly out of my reach at the moment. But I will return, I can’t wait to show my children the cactus that they know I adore, and the hummingbirds, and the red rocks, and the amazing desert scenery, and the beautiful blue sky, and the desert sun warming your skin, and hike around Sedona, and…. Well, you get the picture.

Video - What to see and do in Sedona - Beautiful


Title - The Bean Trees

Author - Barbara Kingsolver

Buy Link - Amazon UK // Amazon US

Synopsis - Plucky Taylor Greer grows up poor in rural Kentucky with two goals: to avoid pregnancy and to get away. She succeeds on both counts when she buys an old car and heads west. But midway across the country motherhood catches up with her when she becomes the guardian of an abandoned baby girl she calls Turtle. In Tuscon they encounter an extraordinary array of people, and with their help, Taylor builds herself and her sweet, stunned child a life.

Title - Rage Against The Dying

Author - Becky Masterman

Buy Link  -  Amazon UK // Amazon US

Synopsis - Old Case. New Rules... After a long and murky career with the FBI, Brigid Quinn is trying to move on. She's got a nice house. Dogs. A husband who knows nothing of her past. But the abduction and murder of a young female colleague still haunts her.So when the girl's body is finally found, and a man confesses to the murder, Brigid is desperate for answers. Yet the more she learns, the more convinced she is that they have the wrong man. Following leads that the Bureau ignored, she's propelled straight into the path of a ruthless serial killer. One who has evaded the law for decades, and will stop at nothing to keep her quiet...But Brigid Quinn is a woman to be reckoned with. An utterly compelling crime debut, shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and longlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger 2013

Suggestion from Becca
Title - Three Moons Over Sedona

Author - Sherry Hartzler 

Buy LinkAmazon UK // Amazon US

SynopsisGeorgia Mae Brown has always lived an ordinary life. That is, until her husband dies in the arms of a younger woman. Six weeks after his death, Georgia slides behind the wheel of her husband’s beloved 1976 Fleetwood convertible, starts the engine and just keeps driving. Empowered by a volatile mix of freedom and retribution, Georgia begins a journey of a lifetime. 

Traveling two thousand-miles to Sedona, Arizona, Georgia finds work in a cafĂ© managed by the kooky proprietor, Trish Martin. Next door, the Moon Tide Gift Shop is owned by the exotic Zoe Atwater, the daughter of screen legend, Gloria Atwater. Befriended by these two flamboyant characters, Georgia finds new life in Sedona, an artisan town surrounded by the magnificent red rock scenery of Oak Creek Canyon. This energizing landscape of mysterious vortexes and new-age spiritualism revitalizes her soul. However, her two new friends have their own agendas, generating a major crisis that takes the three women to LA and a media Hollywood funeral. Georgia is suddenly thrust into the surreal world of A-list movie stars, glamorous Rodeo Drive, and tabloid hell. 

Three Moons Over Sedona is an odyssey of the human heart, filled with secrets, regrets and finally forgiveness. Georgia is a survivor who learns that although you can never run away from yourself, you can—through pure determination—become the person you were always meant to be.

Thanks Becca for being part of my blog today. 

Catch up with Becca at "If only I could Read Faster" on the following links.