It's always sad to have a good friend move far far away. I met Heather in Fine Arts over 25 years ago and shortly after graduation she moved down to Phoenix to pursue her career. Since my first trip to Phoenix in 1996 I haven't missed a winter visit with her yet. I was happy to discover Tucson and Phoenix are only a 90 minute drive from each other. Now I mix my annual gemstone purchasing trip in with our visits. Work coupled with play never feels like work!
There are several stops I like to squeeze in when I'm down south. The Phoenix Botanical Gardens always inspires me in so many ways. The desert gardens are so graphic and structural it is a feast for my eyes. Most years they invite a prominent visual artist to display in the midst of the landscape to striking effect. This year Jun Kaneko's large ceramic pieces dotted the grounds of the gardens. Several years ago I was fortunate enough to see glass artists Dale Chihuly's massive works of art sparkling in the sun.
Hikes in the desert are daily occurrences as well. I stay close to South Mountain Park which is the largest municipal park in North America. This year we took the time to drive east for a beautiful day in the Superstition Mountain range. It was well worth the effort! You can experience the classic desert landscape with more saguaro cactus than the eye can see fading into the distance.
I discovered a gemstone that was new to me called "Sonoran Sunset". It was from the same stone dealer I purchase all of the snow globe agates from and I thought I had to add them to my collection to celebrate the heat and color of the desert. They are pictured in the upper right corner of the photograph. I'll be sure to add the pieces to the OOAK section of my website when I get them designed and finished.