In honor of Earth Day, we turned to some of our Arizona PBS colleagues who spend the most time traveling across our state — and in the process, enjoying Arizona’s stunning panoramic views.
Our Education and Community Impact team serves communities across the state, and in a normal year, some team members spend a lot of time on the road to meet with families and educators in person. We asked Tammy Lee, the regional coordinator in Coconino, Gila and Yavapai Counties, and Misty Standeford, the program coordinator for the Colorado River Indian Tribe and LaPaz/Mohave County, to give us front seat tips for traveling along Arizona’s roads, where the spectacular scenery can make your window feel like a movie screen.
Arizona PBS: As a member of the educational outreach team, what has been the most fulfilling part of your journey?
Tammy Lee: I get to help teachers get scholarship opportunities to go to school, which is something that I never had for myself. I can help early childhood education teachers stay in the field by getting a free degree and work within their passion. To be able to travel all over Northern Arizona, see the beauty of Arizona and get paid to do it has been pretty exciting.
AZPBS: And specifically, what do you do in the education outreach team?
Misty Standeford: As part of the team I cover the region of Mojave County where we offer a lot of training including some early literacy and parent support workshops; that’s just under one grant that we get. Another grant that we utilize is for La Paz County under the Colorado River Indian Tribes Reservation and we offer a transition to kindergarten “Super Why!” reading camp every year.
AZPBS: What is your most memorable experience traveling in Arizona?
T: I helped a woman with a scholarship go to school for her associate’s degree in early childhood. She lives in the Navajo Nation, in a very, very small town on the edge of the Grand Canyon. She finally was able to fulfill this dream and it just brought her so much joy. To me, that is the best part about our positions — helping people in rural communities or traveling to child care centers and working with these potential scholars.
M: We were able to work with three different locations to bring Cookie Monster to family events. We created and implemented a resource-type funfair and were able to share Cookie Monster with a lot of different communities that maybe don’t get that opportunity very often. It was exhausting, but it was awesome. (At left, Tammy with Cookie Monster. At right, Misty and colleagues Susana O’Brien and Barbara Baum with Cookie Monster.)
AZPBS: What are some of the most scenic drives throughout Arizona?
T: I love driving over Mingus Mountain from Prescott, Arizona. When I go over to the other side of Yavapai County, I love taking Mingus Mountain and going over to Jerome, which is a little haunted town on the side of a mountain. From there, you can actually see the mountains of Sedona and the redness from that little tiny town. What’s amazing about Arizona is that from Tucson to Phoenix, the terrain is so diverse because of its desert and rock formations. Then if you go from Phoenix up to Flagstaff, you end up in the Ponderosa pine trees and in the forest with elk, where you would never think to see those types of large animals down in Southern Arizona. I feel like the greatest beauty is the state itself because it’s so different no matter where you go.
AZPBS: Is there a view in Arizona that you never get tired of?
T: I think they’re all magnificent. I love Havasu Falls and I love going to Horseshoe Bend. I went there on my lunch break one day when I was working up in Northern Arizona. I think every view is just unique and beautiful in itself.
M: I absolutely love the view that I get every single day in my community. Whether you want it to be a lake view, a mountain view or something that’s just serene such as looking at a swimming pool or palm trees. All the mountainous areas and different rock colors and formations, especially through that northern part up in Arizona, up to the Utah border.
AZPBS: What is #viewfrommyofficewindow and how did it get started?
T: I taught preschool for 10 years in classrooms where I drove to the same building every single day. I had the same routine. I had the same schedule. The activities within the routines and the schedule would change. But ultimately, the view out the window was always the same. So when I got hired at PBS, they said, ‘you’re going to be working from home and traveling.’ And I was like, ‘So the view out my office window changes daily.’ Because my car is now my office, I just love all the views out my office window.
AZPBS: What’s your top travel tip when traveling through the desert?
T: Make sure you have a lot of water in your car, gas up and hydrate. You have to make sure you stop to stretch yourself and hydrate because you’re in the middle of nowhere and a lot of the time with no cell phone service. So have a map! Honestly, just have an old-school road map as well.
M: Always be prepared for the unknown and always keep water in your car because it definitely gets hot in our area. Temperatures up to a 130° on any given summer day. Just make sure you know your route, and ensure that somebody knows the route you’re taking.
AZPBS: If you had to give one piece of advice to someone who is about to take their first Arizona road trip, what would it be?
T: Go with an open mind without an expectation. You can’t have a full agenda because you might find that one place captures your eye more than another. Just be open about the opportunity to explore!
AZPBS: What are your plans for 2021? Are there any interesting places, communities or cities that you will be visiting this year?
M: Right now, I just want to travel again. Under the COVID restrictions, we haven’t been given the OK to do so. For 2021, my plan and hope are that we can get back out and enjoy all the scenery and back to meeting with families and educators in the field.
*Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed.