Saguaro National Park - Arizona
I think growing up on the East Coast and in the Midwest made me love the desert before I saw it. And multiple readings of The Wood Wife by Terri Windling convinced me magic was stored like water in cacti and filled dry river beds, coming out at night like stars and a full moon.
When we headed west along a series of two lane roads we met storms instead of dry heat, clouded skies instead of vast blue. But I loved being there in the rain; catching the desert unaware, taking a quiet moment and a break from the sun.
We got out of the car and wove into the landscape, jackets zipped up against the mist, enclosed in the smell of green growing things. We saw jackrabbits and listened to birds sing and rain settling into the earth. I left fascinated with saguaro; they're unusual and taller than I thought they would be, covering hills and dipping down into valleys.
It was everything I'd hoped it would be.