As someone who grew up in Arizona, I have visited many sights in Northern, AZ since childhood. It was a new experience and quite interesting to see them as an adult and through the eyes of a scientist. I have always appreciated the desert for its beauty, as one can easily gather from a trip through the Painted Desert or the Grand Canyon, but one can easily forget the history that surrounds them in the form of geology.
The highlight of the trip for me was visiting the Grand Canyon. It may be hard to believe, but after 21 years of living in Arizona, I hadn't yet been to the Grand Canyon. I knew of it, I suppose. There's a picture of it as the background of my driver's license and we watched a short documentary about its formation prior to leaving for the trip. I wasn't fully prepared for the massive wonder that lay up in the northwestern corner of the state. I still can't comprehend its size in either depth or scope, nor can I fathom its history in both formation and human usage. It was so full of life with its abundant vegetation, colorful layers, vibrant tourists from literally all over the world, and slightly too-friendly squirrels. While the rest of the trip was brilliant, the Grand Canyon was definitely what put it over the edge and really piqued my interest in earth science.