We returned earlier this week from a short vacation to Arizona, where we hooked up with atara's folks and uncle to take on some sights, and catch a couple of Cleveland Indians pre-season games. The weather was gorgeous for the whole trip, and the scenery in the parks we visited was lovely this time of year (much greener than I expect is the norm for that part of the country). We both enjoyed the trip, but we agreed that we are not in a huge rush to return to the land of god and guns1.
I took around 600 shots on the trip, but so far I've only procesed and posted about half a dozen of them. I took well over one hundred pictures up on Kitt's Peak, but so far this is the only one I have to show for it - a turkey buzzard circling over the desert.
This is an example of what I meant when I said it was surprisingly green. I took this picture by pointing my camera out the window of the car while we were driving ~80KMH, but that gives you some idea of how pretty the parkland was once you got outside of Pheonix.
Down closer to Tucson, there was a desert museum that we took in. Big cats are not always the most cooperative subjects for pictures, but this lynx was being very photogenic.
For as much as we enjoyed the vacation, there were two definite low points. Obviously the first was the crushing news of takazas' death.
The other was a run-in with US Border Services. They had set up a roadblock on the highway to Kitt's Peak, and they were stopping all traffic heading back toward town. They had waved us through as we came the other direction, and we both assumed that we were probably white enough not to catch their eye. Sadly, when they asked where we were from on our return trip, we made the mistake of confessing that we were visiting from Canada, and that we were Canadian and dual-citizen respectively.
The nice young man immediately demanded to see our papers so that we could prove our citizenship and show that we were in the country legally. We told him that we had left our passports back at the hotel because we had not anticipated crossing any international borders between Pheonix and Kitt's Peak. He lectured us about how they had every right to demand our papers, and he advised that we should carry them with us at all times. He managed to achieve a good mix of disparaging and magnanimous as he told us that, were he not such a kind person, he would detain us for not having our passports.
"Another guy, not as nice as me, would be perfectly within his right to roll you and hold you here for a few hours."
We'd mentioned to him that we were down visiting with our inlaws/parents who were travelling in the car behind us, but it apparently went in one side of his little head and out the other, because when he finally waved us through and they pulled up, one of the first things he told them after they self-identified as Americans was, "It seems you've got a car full of Canadians in front of you."
"Yes," said my in-laws, "they're travelling with us."
I love visiting the states, since I have a lot of friends and family down there, but the creepy "papers please" mentality that is sneaking into that society makes me a bit nervous about crossing the border lately.
1When we stopped at a viewing place on our way up Mount Lemmon, the sounds of nature had to compete with the stacatto crack and sputter of automatic weapons from a nearby shooting range. I was a bit nervous as we walked around the site and I noticed scars and pocks from stray bullets all around the nature viewing area.