True, I returned to the good ol' US of A. But not to my home in Seattle.
Instead, I landed about 1200 miles to the south, at Los Angeles International Airport. After a adrenalin-draining six-hour wait, in which I ate entirely too much ice cream, found the best phone charging station ever, and struck up a fantastic conversation with a Malaysian couple who were vacationing in the United States. I knew they were Malaysian because I overheard them saying, "Kelana Jaya."
Anyway, after that long, blurry wait, my three eldest finally arrived at the terminal and scooped me up off the curb. They had partaken in a two-day drive down the coast, and now that they had me in tow, we all headed east to fetch my youngest home from her university for the summer holiday
We spent the weekend in Tucson, and as usual, spent some time strolling around the University of Arizona. Now, I've visited several times before, and have seen the highlights of the campus. But this time was different - and special - because my Wildcat daughter has made this place her home. We weren't exploring as newcomers; this time, she was sharing her now-familiar world with her family.
And that made our visit extra interesting and extra fun.
The campus observatory is surrounded by orange trees which were currently bearing fruit. This was cool because a) my daughter is studying astronomy, and b) I love orange trees.
I've never noticed or appreciated that there are so many different types of palm trees. Psh. I'm such a rookie. I love the feathery fronds on this one.
In a funny little corner of the campus, there is a turtle pond. It's full of shockingly green water, and dozens of turtles. They were quite friendly and inquisitive fellows; definitely the most extroverted members of their species that I have ever met.
More palm trees.
Let me first say that I had a great time in college. I kept up an active and interesting social life, and still managed to study hard and get good grades. I always prepared for tests and handled academic stress fairly well. But there is something about this building that makes my blood run cold. I'm not sure why, but as I gazed up at those steel windows set in a rigid grid against the bright brick, I felt a solid and heavy load of scholarly stress and test anxiety hit me squarely on the shoulders like a ton of bricks. I really hate this building.
Dainty purple flowers have a much more soothing effect on me. Thank goodness.
This charming red door, set in a rounded wall of brick and stone, is not quite connected to the ground. I like that.
And even though that scary building is lurking on the right side of this shot, I love the three palms. They are the kind with tall and skinny trunks, and I think they are very dashing.
Here we are standing in a narrow passageway, a tiny canyon created by several interesting buidings. The sun was shining in at a friendly, late afternoon angle, and we found this to be a cool and cozy retreat. My daughter said it is one of her favorite places on campus, and I can understand why.
The air of the canyon was sweet with the fragrance of flowers. Star jasmine was blooming in great glossy mounds all along the edges of the walkway, and I was in heaven.
Tall, skinny palm tree. Tall, skinny shadow.
The short and stock palms have their charms too; such as the woven pattern of old branches that covers their trunks. I always have to touch it to believe that it's real.
Sweetsy little mums.
Soaring skinny trees.
Any my favorite piece of architecture on campus - the center court of the Student Union Memorial Center. I love the interesting play of circles and lines, white on white, with shadows and sunlight that changes hour to hour as the sun passes by overheard.
And that is how I spent my first full day back in the USA - wandering in the desert with my daughters.