cacti in Phoenix

There are cacti everywhere in Phoenix. And, though not native to the region, palm trees, too. I was in Arizona for the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing – a conference for women in computer science.

I was really excited for all the talks, panels, and discussions but the first item on the agenda was food! We went to the Hard Rock Cafe and I had the “Local Legendary Burger,” a hamburger with toppings that showcase the city’s cuisine. For Phoenix? Cactus relish. (And a bacon-wrapped hot dog, but come on, cactus relish!) It was sweet and delicious! Quite distinctive.

Phoenix’s Local Legendary burger: a southwestern style burger with a bacon-wrapped hot dog and cactus relish.

Then we went to experience the conference! I attended leadership workshops, talks about working in tech, and scientific presentations. At every event there seemed to be a common thread: an encouragement to be ambitious. Set goals. Work hard. Innovate. I was inspired to take risks and change the world.

“Don’t take a ‘no’ personally.
You have to collect ‘no’s like flowers.
The more ‘no’s, the better your bouquet.”

Maybe they should have made some sort of cactus reference: The more spines in your cactus, the better! Wait a second, that’s not uplifting… sorry.


I dedicated one morning to exploring nature and hiking at South Mountain Park. The weather was perfect and the sights were amazing.

South Mountain ParkSouth Mountain Park

South Mountain Park
Hiking in South Mountain Park.

It was a pretty quiet day; not many other people were there. However, there was a group of teenagers at the top of one of the mountains just hanging out with a video recorder. They insisted on including me in one of their videos, and so I spent about three minutes awkwardly smiling and waving at a lens. I hope that doesn’t end up on the internet somewhere. Maybe it’ll be one of those hilarious home videos that people will watch ten years from now and just laugh at, while wondering who the random girl is.

There was a great view of the city from the top. The desert colours – brown, tan, green, red – were really cool to look at. It was very different from the huge cities I’m used to. We also stopped by Scorpion Gulch, which was not as scary as it sounds!


The Desert Botanical Garden is apparently best seen at night, so we went after a full day at the conference. There were pretty awesome cacti, among other cool plants. Afterwards, we stopped at an In-N-Out. After hearing so many good things about it from all of my friends, I was excited to try it for the first time! It did pretty well at living up to the hype.

Desert Rose
Desert Roses at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Pheonix was amazing! I hope I’ll be able to return to Arizona again sometime soon and explore the canyons!

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