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The ABCs of Arizona

by Lacey Doddrow 2 years ago in travel photography
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my home state in 26 letters

Navajo Bridge over Glen Canyon

A is, of course, for Arizona, an “arid zone” of airports and arachnids. A is for all my adolescence, acne faced boys at AMC theaters, acres and acres of ATV rides, and air conditioned August afternoons.

B is for backflips and cannonballs and dives, for blistered feet and burned-pink bums, beach towels and backyard barbecues and aloe balms to beat the heat.

C is for cactus, coyotes and copper mines, for creosote and citrus orchards and cotton fields, cowboys and cattle farms, and the grandest Canyon of them all.

Pueblo ruins at Wupatki National Monument

D is for the desert, dusty and dry but dynamically death defying, and for my Dad, driving down dirt roads and digging up rocks.

E is for enigmas, for esoteric elements and extraterrestrial encounters and eerie events.

F is for our flag, one bright gold star on a deep blue background, striped through like a sunset, cut-and-paste construction paper on a classroom wall.

G is for Gila Monsters, the gentle giants of Arizona’s reptilian world, for gold veins and golden sunsets, for Gabby Giffords and Grand Canyon State generosity and greatness.

Horses on the Navajo Nation

H is for heat; fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk heat; oven-mitts-in-your-car heat; record breaking, warmer than the Devil’s underpants, heady, sweaty, heat.

I is for the interstates, from I-9 to I-40, blacktop arteries connecting Arizonans to each other, long drives and trucker horns and antelope sightings.

J is for justice and her justices, for Sandra Day O'Connor and Lorna E. Lockwood, for Jessie Gray Bevan and Jean Maddock Clark.

A sandstone structure in Northern Arizona

K is for kids playing kickball on sun-faded grass, for kisses stolen under the waterslide, for KOOL FM and Kerri Strug.

L is for long summer days spent laying out, for laid back style, for lazy rivers and lizards and locusts.

M is for mesas and mountains, monuments of stone, massive megaliths, from McDowell Mountain to the Mogollon Rim, and the monsoons that drench them all when the summer heat breaks.

N is for our neighbor, Mexico; for Nogales, for Naco vs. Naco volleyball and No Más Muertes.

A view from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

O is for obsidian, for opaque blades and opalescent carvings, for overflowing truck beds on rock collecting trips and oak cabinets displaying the most outstanding specimens.

P is for poolside popsicles and picnics under the palo verde, for prickly pear candies, peas still frozen and pineapples in packs of ice.

Q is for quail, their quivering lines of babies following quick-skittering mamas and quill-headed papas.

R is for ranchers, for riding horseback over rocky trails, for rodeo grounds and river rafting and railroad robbers.

Saguaro cacti in the Sonoran Desert

S is for Saguaro cacti and the Sonoran Desert where they make their home, for scorpions and snakes and sagebrush and for the stewardship of the lands we have been entrusted.

T is for the tastes of the southwest: Tucson's terrific taquerías, tepin chile peppers, tacos and tamales, tortas and tortillas with Tajin on top.

U is for underground, for winding mine shafts and dripping caves, undulating sandstone stripes and unearthed fossils.

V is for vision-blurring vistas and visitors on vacation to vintage villas.

A view from Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Arizona

W is for Walapai, for winter snows and winding mountain roads, for Wyatt Earp and the Wild West, woven through our history and whispering into the present.

X is for Saint Francis Xavier, for adobe missions and altarias, tall candles and wooden rosaries and stained glass chapels.

Y is for Yuma, and Yarnell and Yavapai, for local words and ancient tongues, for yellow wildflowers and yucca cactus.

Z is for our one-of-a-kind, only-state-with-the-letter-Z, last-of-the-lower-48-to-join, Zia-records-founding, half-a-dozen-different-bio-zones zaniness.

travel photography

About the author

Lacey Doddrow

hedonist, storyteller, solicited advice giver, desert dweller

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