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There’s No Place Like Home

The start of my trip back to Phoenix was a bit reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz. The threat of tornadoes loomed over Nashville just the time my plane was to take off. A skilled crew and wonderfully on-time passengers allowed us to take off early just as the winds began to pick up.

Four hours later, I arrived in Phoenix and immediately went to get my rental car. Having lived there for 18 years, I never needed a rental car from the airport before. Who knew Sky Harbor had this enormously constructed indoor conglomerate of rental car options?! Of course, the idea is convenience and efficiency. I’ll give them an “A” for convenience and a “B-” for efficiency. Oh well…

Now that I had some wheels, the real fun was about to begin. Molly, the wonder beagle dog, was the leader of the welcoming committee. She is about the cutest thing I’ve seen…. so sweet and so loving. The last time I saw her, I worked at the Ballet and she was just a puppy. She’s grown into a lovely canine. Her mommy and I enjoyed dinner and great “catch up” chat at Rubio’s. Oh Rubio’s! How I missed your lime chile salmon tacos! (I ate there every day of my trip.)

I was up and at ’em early Saturday morning to make my way to Central Phoenix to visit my bff and her 5 monkeys. Along the way, I passed a genuine farmer’s market. What a great way to spend a mild 60 degree morning with my camera. I probably spent more time looking for a parking spot than I did at the farmer’s market; but, hey, this is the life in a city of 6 million people.

It was breakfast time and there was only one place I could consider eating at. (Again, I ate here every day I was there! LOL) Einstein’s Bros Bagels. Green chili…? Jalapeno…? Which to choose?! It was a difficult decision but one that had to be made. Green chili that day…jalapeno the next…then green chili again…and some jalapeno to take home. Problem solving is all about compromise. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I had one place to go after breakfast before heading to see the Lanier clan. Central and Osborn is where I lived for several years. I lived all across the Valley of the Sun but this was my favorite. I love the urban lifestyle here. I watched the lightrail come in. It was controversial and I know a lot of businesses suffered through that construction. But it has become a great addition to the city….and public transportation, which was just beginning to develop when I first arrived back in 1992.

This area is called the Central Corridor. It is not far from downtown and is home to many of the historic homes and the Phoenix Financial Center.

Now that the day was warming up and the Lanier’s were waking up, it was time to go east on Osborn. It was so good to see everyone. A year and a half is a long time. A lot happens. Little man (who isn’t so little anymore!) has a new best friend… Tori is preparing to go to ASU… and now there are 5 monkeys in this home…. and if any two parents can handle the mayhem, their parents can.

How could we stand to be penned up in the house on such a beautiful day? So, off to the park we go. Not just any park, though. Steele Indian School Park. I love this park! It’s home to Ballet Under the Stars every September and weekly jazz concerts all summer long. I’ll admit, I was remiss to not shoot the park. To the south is the downtown skyline and to the northwest is Camelback Mountain. The largest American flag in the state flies here. There are historic buildings and a beautiful rose garden beginning to bloom. It’s a great family place right in the heart of the city.

But of course, the real star of the show… the one I could barely wait to hug and kiss… was the sweet Baby Girl. She is such a good baby. She just rolled with whatever we wanted to do…. and she was so patient with me as I figured out how to work the new flash I got for my camera! Little did she know she was a volunteer for my next school assignment: Portraits. I could have taken hundreds of pictures of her. Oh wait! I did!! About 200, as a matter of fact.

After all that fun, my dear friend honored me with a fabulous dinner at Maggiano’s. For being so well-acquainted with Phoenix, I did many new things. This was my first dining experience there. I had the special: sauteed shrimp with spring vegetable risotto. We shared the fried zuchinni, which was OMG amazing! and a yummy red velvet bundt cake with a raspberry chocolate sauce. Mmmmm…

The next morning I awoke and made a beeline to the Dreamy Draw Mountain Preserve. This was a first for me as well. I’ve never been much of a hiker. That got squashed back in the days of my summer jr. high youth camps in the Sequoias.ย For most people, however, the desert is a great place for a lot of recreational activity. I’m also not particularly fond of the idea of coming upon a rattlesnake. But…how could I make the 1600 mile trek and not take pictures of the desert. Oh! And did I mention that I also have a landscape shooting assignment due for school. I reckon I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to present something other than farm life and rivers!!

Not all recreate in the desert. Fido was chillin’ in this sweet convertible while Mommy or Daddy was having dinner at an outdoor eatery in Old Town Scottsdale. We crossed his path as we made our way to the LOVE sculpture adjacent to the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.

And this is my love… my favorite form of recreation. No longer am I affiliated in a professional way… by my heart remains true to this art form. These girls are getting ready for university life. Each one talented dancers- smart, driven and genuinely good-hearted people.

I did a lot in just a few days. I saw a few other friends, as well. But time only allowed for so much. This trip was exactly what I had hoped it would be. Time with my dearest friends. Time to shoot the things unique to Phoenix. And when it came time Monday morning to head back to that giant car rent-a-center and hop on the plane, I took a deep breath, thankful for my trip… but there is no place like home.


  1. Liberty Lanier

    Great blog Shayna! I love your choice of pics! I am so thankful you came and I look forward to seeing you again. Know that you are missed and loved here in Phoenix. Especially by me!

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