Unplugged in Arizona

It’s healthy to unplug sometimes.  It gives us a chance to slow down and actually see the beauty of the world around us.

Recently, we took a little sun break to Arizona to visit friends and relatives.  So I wouldn’t be tempted to play around with my blog while I was there, I decided not to bring my laptop.  Once in Arizona, I only checked email and Facebook occasionally (and not in front of our gracious hosts) – just to make sure I wasn’t missing something important.  And I didn’t post anything to social media.  I didn’t even want to.

And I found that the longer I stayed unplugged, the happier I was.

I was free to be in the moment and fall in love with desert blooms, the saguaro cactus, and all the soft shades of the Sonoran Desert.

Of course there was no way that I was not going to take photos of all this beauty.  But I figured photography was still okay since I prefer to use a camera instead of my smart phone.  Visiting friends and relatives took us to parts of Arizona that we might not discover on our own.  So today I’m sharing photos of my favorite places.

Casa Grande

I like to learn about the history of places we visit.  And at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, in Coolidge, the history goes way back.  We saw the ruins of an advanced farming community built by the ancient Sonoran Desert people – including the huge and impressive great house that inspired the name Casa Grande.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

The tiny person to the far left in the photo gives you an idea of how large the  great house is.

Before the ruins were declared a national monument, visitors sometimes left graffiti behind.  And even though graffiti on a national monument is less than ideal, it made me think about all the visitors who had come here over the ages.  Here, history is layered.

Graffiti from 1871 in the great house.

The modern-day residents of Casa Grande are the owls that nest in its walls.

Great horned owls nesting at Casa Grande.

Other ancient structures dot the landscape.

A structure at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Saguaro Lake – Butcher Jones Trail

Near Phoenix, relatives took us on this beautiful hike.  We set out early to beat the heat.

But it was worth it.  This six-mile hike had it all.

Stunning vistas,

Saguaro Lake.
Saguaro Lake.


Turkey vultures near Saguaro Lake.
Wild horses near Saguaro Lake.

And that icon of the Southwest, the beautiful and fascinating saguaro cactus.

Saguaro Lake hike.
Blossoms on a saguaro cactus.
Saguaro cactus.
A dead saguaro cactus.


Our first few days in Arizona were spent on our own exploring Prescott.

Prescott was once the capital of the Arizona Territory.  It has a colorful past, and Whiskey Row, with its vintage taverns and saloons, is a fun place to visit.

The Yavapai County Courthouse, built in 1916, sits in the center of it all.  In its basement is a small but interesting display about crime, justice, and punishment in old-time Prescott.

Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott.

We stayed at the Hassayampa Inn.  Built in 1927, it is located in the heart of downtown Prescott.

The lobby of the Hassayampa Inn.

Our room was small, but it had a view of Thumb Butte and large windows that actually opened for ventilation.  The service at the hotel was outstanding, the restaurant was good and, while we were there, the bar had live music every evening.

We did several hikes in the area, but my favorite by far was in the Granite Dells area – the gorgeous hike to Watson Dam.

Scrambling over boulders was well worth it.  Even with a few other hikers on the trail, it felt remote and peaceful here.

Granite Dells.
Watson Dam hike.
Watson Dam hike.

My Favorite Souvenir

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Back in town, we explored the many antique stores that were dangerously close to our hotel.

Did I need another vase?  Of course not.  But this vintage fan vase is my favorite souvenir from the trip.

Back home, I just plopped the tulips in it and they practically arranged themselves.

My new find made me curious about fan vases.  So to learn more, I did a search of vintage ceramic fan vases on Etsy.  I was surprised at the variety – everything from unique to beautiful to tragically ugly.

Plugging Back In

It’s time for me to come clean and admit that I still used my smart phone navigation app on the trip.  But then I put the phone away again.

And now that I’m back, I’m trying to be more thoughtful about the way I use my screen time.  After all, time is precious.  So I’m simplifying some things and restricting myself on others.  I’m challenging myself to go for longer and longer stretches of time without looking at my smart phone.

I’m already happier for it.

Thanks for reading my ramblings about screen time, Arizona, and fan vases.  I promise to have something very special to share with you in my next post.  Stay tuned!


I took most of the photos in this post with our Canon PowerShot SX280 HS.  I like it for travel because it’s more compact and portable than my good SLR camera, yet for such a small camera it has a great zoom – far better than my smart phone.  Those turkey vultures were pretty far in the distance when I took their photo!

It’s an old model now.  If I were to replace it, I might get the Canon PowerShot SX620, which has an even better zoom.


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