Early Morning Hike, by Maggie Denena
Today, the LEAP Center hiked Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The peak rises to an elevation of 3,169 feet and offers a 1.75-mile trail exploring the area. The weather was beautiful and the views were incredible. Pinnacle Peak offered scenery of towering saguaro cacti, strawberry hedgehog cacti, jumping cacti and many other forms of dry desert plants and shrubbery.
We chose a relatively painless hike for our first day to get ourselves acclimated to the weather in Arizona.
We enjoyed seeing such perfectly groomed golf courses and pools at the bottom of the rugged, dusty mountain. What is interesting about the trail is, instead of forming a loop around the mountain, the trail ends at a separate point and hikers must return the way they came, making the hike a total of 3.6 miles!
Some of us increased our field of vision by climbing on big rocks and boulders scattering the landscape.
Our new vantage points showed us just how high up we really were! These risky attempts certainly paid off and we were able to capture some great shots of the mountains around us.
Pinnacle Peak is a man-made trail and is kept up by maintenance for the safety of hikers. One thing we all learned was that jumping cacti do attack!
Professor Yawn was the unfortunate victim of these dangerous predators and had to have a small bundle of barbs removed from his hand.
My favorite part of the hike was climbing on a boulder over looking the side of the mountain, offering an unusual view.
One thing I experienced that was new to me was the different type of climate here in Arizona; instead of the suffocating humidity we know all too well in Huntsville. Arizona air is drier and easier to function in,but can quickly turn dangerous if you are not diligent about staying hydrated. Overall, the hike was a great experience and I look forward to the many more hikes during our trip to Arizona and Utah!
Phoenix Art Museum, by Ryan Brim
After some time to recuperate at the hotel after the hike, the LEAP Ambassadors headed to the Phoenix Museum of art. There, in the permanent collection, we saw many of our favorite artists: Maya Lin,
and Louise Nevelson,
and many others.
We were even able to see a painting by Kehinde Wiley, the artist that did the official portrait of Former President Barack Obama.
The temporary exhibit by Valeska Soares, titled Any Moment Now, was a series of sculptures, media, and interactive art that were linked by the motif of time.
Some of the installments include suspended disco balls of various sizes…
…spinning at different speeds…
…a barrier of light bulbs with long cords attached to the ceiling…
…and a wall completely lined with the covers of books with time-related titles.
The artistry that went into the pieces was impressive: one example was an assortment of pillows, mattresses and other usually-soft furniture items made from marble that looked comfortable enough to take a nap on.
We also saw works by Anish Kapoor…
…and other pieces of which we were particularly fond.
We couldn’t stay long, as the museum closed at 5:00, so we decided to look around the outside of the Arizona State Capitol and the surrounding war memorials, including monuments for the Navajo Codebreakers…
…those who lost their lives in WWII from Arizona, and elements from the USS Arizona.
After a short trip around the grounds…
…we found a small coffee shop, Green New American Vegetarian, to wait and sip on coffee for a little while before we went to Papago Park at sunset.
Sunset and Dinner, by Dillon Glass
One of the great places to see a sunset is Papago Park’s “Hole in the Rock.” As the name suggests, it is a hole in a large rock–almost a mountain–in which visitors can perch and watch the sunset.
We set up in different locations, set up our photographic equipment, and recorded the sunset and enjoyed each other’s company.
Following sunset, the LEAP ambassadors headed to Rustler’s Rooste for dinner to cap off a day full of activities. At the main entrance to the restaurant there’s a Longhorn laying in his pen; and being from Texas, everyone truly felt at home. When walking into the building, the country twang is immediately felt, but with an Arizona twist. While waiting on a table, the LEAP ambassadors enjoyed listening to a live band performing classic country music (from the likes of Hank Williams, Brooks & Dunn and many more) as fellow patrons line danced.
Once seated, everyone tried fried rattlesnake and cactus for the first time; and it was delicious!
The fried rattlesnake and cactus was just the beginning. Once finishing that, everyone shared a huge platter of “Cowboy Stuff”….
…which ranged from steak and fish kabobs, to pork ribs and chicken wings that literally fell off the bone.
After a great day full of exploring, learning and enjoying some fantastic food, the group was ready to head back to the hotel and recharge for another insightful day in Arizona.