Adventure Queen

Craig OuthierJanuary 2020
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Jessica dunham is a firehose of ideas. The Valley-based freelance travel writer seems to conjure them effortlessly, flooding my inbox with neat-o road trips, lesser-known wine-country excursions, secret island getaways and other singular escapes.

She travels frequently, and inventively. Why, no sooner had she put our annual 52 Weekend Adventures cover story to bed – her fourth in as many years – than she started pitching me on a travel feature about Route 50, an old Pony Express trail running from Ocean City, Maryland, to Sacramento, California, which she had personally transited for a book project. “It’s two lanes the whole way,” she wrote. “I just completed this beast in September [and] could do any of the towns on the route or just talk about the whole thing.”

Cool, right? Not a great fit for 52 Weekends, but definitely something I want to experience personally someday.

That being said, plenty of her pitches were great fits for this week-by-week compendium of short-form Arizona escapes, including cabins on the water in Lake Havasu, an Oscar party in Flagstaff, state-park-sponsored family camping trips in Sedona and Show Low, and a funky gathering of mermaids in Tucson. (Actually, that last one was my idea. Too weird not to include.)

Photo by Diana Elizabeth
Photo by Diana Elizabeth

“Why, no sooner had she put our annual 52 Weekend Adventures cover story to bed – her fourth in as many years – than she started pitching me on a travel feature about Route 50, an old Pony Express trail running from Ocean City, Maryland, to Sacramento.’”

It’s a 52-item action plan designed to get you to know your state better, and you can find it all starting on page 88.

In addition to the cover story, your February issue of PHOENIX is crammed with edifying and actionable content, including writer Jimmy Magahern’s catch-up piece with Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper, the Phoenix couple who filed a multimillion-dollar claim against the Phoenix Police Department after the notorious dollar-store dolly incident last year; and dining writer M.V. Moorhead’s investigative profile of guerrilla chefs in the Valley who operate out of their homes. Speaking of dining: Critic Nikki Buchanan reviews two new restaurants, and they’re both raves, for once.

Something else to try, if cross-country road trips and mermaid parties aren’t in the cards for you this weekend.

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