Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Happiness Is…

Sonoran Desert, Arizona.

This week, Ann-Christine asks us to use the photographer’s lens to show and share happiness. Less than a decade ago, I’d have had an entirely different response to this challenge. Then, by chance, I found myself considering the purchase of a house in Arizona strictly to get out of those cold North Dakota winters. In December 2011, I said good-bye to my friends and colleagues of over 30 years and in January 2012 my wife and I found ourselves spending the remaining days of that winter in an entirely new environment to us.

Coincidentally, 2012 is Arizona’s centennial year and one of the activities to celebrate the state’s 100th year, a 100-mile  hiking challenge (approximately 168 km) became a popular thing to do. Our local gym offered a weekly hike with mile tracking to pair experienced hikers with us “gym rats” on the many nearby trails. We met the goal that year and several years after.

Prior to our first steps in the Sonoran Desert around Phoenix, I believed deserts were nothing but sand dunes and scrub. How wrong I was. As spring rolled around, I was introduced to the beauty of desert flora in bloom. In the image above, the yellow flowers belong to a shrub called Brittlebush and the purple blossoms are on a hedgehog cactus.

Since that introduction to hiking, I’ve gone on to be a hiking leader. I don’t lead long or super challenging hikes, I leave that to younger hikers, much more fit than I. Instead, I choose to select trails of no more than moderate difficulty, long walks in the desert with maybe a moderate altitude change. I have become very familiar with the parks in the area and have joined a group that features hike leaders with varying degrees of ability. Though 100 miles in a season is no longer a goal, our desert hikes are still a weekly activity.

For me, happiness is a walk in the desert. Prior to 2012, I would have laughed at that thought.

To review Ann-Christine’s challenge post, click here.

John Steiner


  1. A walk in the desert is indeed happiness! One of these days you’ll have to check out a sunset @ hole in the rock, in conjunction with a visit to the botanical gardens. Ring, ring, phone’s ringing, it’s the NC botanical garden. AZ, botanical garden, you won.
    We forgot to show you our own moss garden which is far superior to the one at the NC botanical garden. Oh by the way, check out this joint, I’ve heard good things, authentic Neapolitan pizza in the southwest… The first location…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.