Traveling to Arizona by car recently was quite an adventure for my husband and me. We went through parts of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico, before getting to Arizona. The scenery changed often, going from flat and green to rolling hills and farmland to mountains.

We drove through many small towns, some quaint and some practically ghost towns. Farms with dairy cows and horses dotted some of the landscape, while feed lots covered large parcels of land in other places. Interestingly, in one place, cows grazed peacefully in a green meadow right beside one of the biggest feed lots I’ve ever seen, with the feed lot cows packed in so tightly they were barely able to move. The contrast was stark. One of the grazing cows stood next to the fence and stared at the feed lot, and I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking.

Another thing that struck me was the high number of freight trains traversing the southwest part of the country, sometimes passing each other. I didn’t realize how much freight was moved by trains.

When we got to Flagstaff, Arizona, I was pleasantly surprised. It looked like it could have been in the Rockies near Denver–high altitude, a pine forest, some snow still on the ground. Beautiful!

Two hours later we arrived in the Phoenix metro, which was just as lovely as I remembered from our earlier visits.

An interesting thing happened on our second day there. We went shopping for desert landscaping books in the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. We pulled some books off the shelf and sat down in two comfy chairs near the landscaping books and started looking through the books to see which ones we wanted to buy. Nearby, five women sat around a rectangular table and were reading from printed pages. I immediately realized they were writers and that they were a critique group. They began discussing the manuscript pages they’d just read. They went on to discuss writing in general, and publishing. I was so curious and I debated whether to go over and introduce myself and find out if they were interested in adding another author to their critique group.

Well, I didn’t. Not sure why, exactly, but it didn’t seem the right time. Or maybe it was because I’m a bit shy when it comes to approaching strangers and interrupting what they’re doing. I guess there will be more opportunities to meet other authors in the area.