The snowpocalypse has come and gone.
Or so I hear – While the rest of the country has been demolished by record-breaking blizzards this week, I’ve been cavorting around the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. It’s my first time in this great state, and I came down here as part of my US tour for TFT, visiting schools and doing home visits around the country. Being in Arizona for the first time has made me think about how much of the USA I have never seen, and how drop-dead gorgeous so much of this country is. I resolve to come back to the Southwest at the first opportunity.
First impressions of Arizona (I grew up in Texas and then New England, and now live in Italy, so those are my points of reference):
  • The weather is incredibly pleasant in February. I wouldn’t want to be here in July, but hey – while the snowmageddon rages, it’s a nice place to be.
  • The people in Arizona are very cheerful, and very nice. Americans are really nice people in general, but Arizona takes it to a whole other level.
  • Arizona is actually full of cacti. This delighted me as only a stereotype fulfilled can.
An actual cactus
  • Outside the cities, it’s emptiness. I realized this while driving from Sedona back to Phoenix, and seeing the entire landscape spread out below me for miles and miles in every direction. There was literally nothing to be seen except for arid grassland. In the Northeast, there’s always something filling up the landscape – buildings, roads, people, parking lots, or at the very least a forest or river.
  • There seem to be very strict building codes in Arizona which regulate the size, shape, and color of buildings. The buildings that I saw were all remarkably well-adapted to the natural desert colors that surrounded them. Most of the houses and even shopping centers that I saw were beige, brown, tan, or rusty-red colored, which made them blend almost seamlessly into the landscape.
Buildings fit with the landscape
  • Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the US, seems strangely small. I assume this is because maybe I somehow never actually made it into the downtown area – I was staying in Scottsdale – but still. Maybe Phoenix doesn’t have a downtown full of tall buildings? Houston, the 4th largest city (where I was last week) has a downtown area that is seriously impressive, with soaring, shiny skyscrapers.


Arizona is also a wonderland for a photographer like me. I wish I could spend weeks here, exploring the incredible landscapes and rich desert colors. I had never seen anything like it before in my life, especially when I drove to Sedona, in northern Arizona.
Sedona is literally one of the most beautiful places I’ve been on the planet – It’s at least as stunning as the Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, or the Dolomites in Italy.
Here are some of my favorite shots from Sedona.
Road Trip!
Desert Colors
Desert Rainbow
So here I am on the plane winging my way from Arizona to Philadelphia, epicenter of the snowquake and TFT Headquarters. Next leg of my US tour – NYC this weekend, Washington DC next week!
Nic Emery
Italy Trip Director