Arizona Adventure (Day One)

It was 5:30 am when the yellow cab arrived at my cousin’s house in Flatbush, Brooklyn where Julian and I had spent the night after the Passover Seder with our cousins the previous night. Fortunately, there was not much traffic on the way to Laguadia airport and soon we were at the gate of the Southwest Airline plane bound for Houston. During the short Texas layover, I enjoyed writing postcards to the children, who through the Periwinkle Foundation, had provided pieces of original art to display in order to raise funds to help build communities. There were beautiful colorful paintings of birds and flowers by children from the Houston area as well as from Peru. Another three hour flight brought us into Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. After picking up our luggage, navigating through the larger terminal via the shuttle bus and obtaining our rental car for the week (a sprightly little red Toyota), we were on our way under the desert sun.

Our first stop in Arizona was the Awakening Seed School located near the airport on the outskirts of Phoenix. Although I had taught here (After-school and K-1) over twenty years ago, I had never been to the new location, which was beautiful beyond words! A large spacious playground comprising of sand play areas, climbing areas, a castle and a long inviting green lawn seemed to sprawl out endlessly. Trees dotted the yard, which was surrounded by a wall on which each panel exhibited a painting from a different class. In addition to all of this, each class boasted its own garden. In keeping with the school’s philosophy, which fosters an individual creative approach, each garden was different from one another. In some gardens, tomato plants and chard took precedence whereas in others, Sunflower plants were king. In addition to touring the gardens and play area, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the classes of two of my former colleagues, Becky and Kerri. While I was in each classroom, I played some selections on flute for the children. It just so happened that my friend Diane (who currently teaches Spanish at the Awakening Seed School) has a child in each of these classrooms, which I visited.

After our delightful visit to the Awakening Seed School’s new beautiful campus, Julian and I continued our journey on to the Grand Canyon stopping in Flagstaff for dinner. It was a little bit of culture shock for both of us to see the highway lined with Saguaro Cacti of various sizes. Mountains in the distance also graced the skyline. Our short respite in Flagstaff (after stopping for beverages in a circle K convenient store and then accidentally driving past the Univeristy of Northern Arizona)  was most welcome. Julian and I ate at the Chilo Cafe on San Fransisco Street, which was wedged between gift shops selling turquoise jewelry and cowboy boots. The cuisine was atypical Southwestern fare boasting items on the meal such as Prickly Pear and Jalapeno Margaritas. We started out with a salsa trio and chips, which was followed by eclectic yet delectable larger sized dishes. I chose a a gluten-free option of calamari breaded with corn meal as well as a vegetarian chile releno entree made from butternut squash.

It was dark when we set out on the highway for our final leg of our journey to the Canyon. I had to be careful of the large deer standing by the side of the road. The scent of ponderosa pine was pleasingly pungent as we meandered into the National Park. After locating our room at Yavsapi Lodge, we were both soon sound asleep after our long adventurous day of travel.