Sunday, June 24, 2012

Excuse me for a moment while I blow off some dust here.

*puff* *cough* *gack*

Okay, I think we're good.

I had promised a few of these when I went on my most recent trip to Arizona, and hey, if anything's going to get me excited about writing again, it'll be writing.  So let's get a few things out of the way first.

1)  Arizona is hot.

This falls under "well, no kidding, next you'll be telling me the ocean's wet."  But perhaps it's just because I've lived in many places, but the heat is less unbearable there than it is in Maine, which doesn't come anywhere near those temperatures.  And why?  Humidity. When I lived in Virginia, every house had central air conditioning.  Temperatures rarely went past 100, but, well, let's look at the weather for this upcoming Friday.

And now here's the weather for Phoenix the same day.

Okay, if I had to pick one to be in, you know where I'd go?  I'd go to Phoenix.  Why?  Because there's very little humidity.  Humidity assaults people.  It clings to everything and absorbs ambient heat so you can never cool down.  It soaks your clothes the moment you step outside, it seeps into your house, and it feels like all it wants to do is kill you.  If the weather was a horror movie, humidity would be zombies.  Always present and you can fight for a while, but eventually you have to face it.  And you'll lose.

Now, I'll be honest, 112 is really goddamn hot.  When I was in Phoenix, the hottest it got was 107, but before you feel sorry for me, know this:  I walked around outside almost every day for most of the day.  I didn't get a sunburn from extreme sun exposure (hell, I barely tanned at all, I'm just "less white").  I was absolutely fine every evening.  The thing about Phoenix is they know it's going to be hot.  They aren't surprised by it any more than people in Florida should be surprised that huge storms come through and knock over all their stuff.  They have shaded sidewalks with awnings, they have trees strategically planted to shade street corners, and the most awesome part?  Check this out.

You see that mist?  Many stores in the Phoenix area run pipes along the edges of their awnings and overhangs that spray a mist down.  This cools you off by not only being cool water, but it also drops the temperature a few degrees in the immediate area.  Just don't go running through it like a child in a sprinkler, or you'll look like a total tourist.

Fact #2:  Phoenix is in a desert.

Again, "no kidding" but, here's something you might not know.  1) The definition for a desert depends on how much rainfall it gets, not how much plant life it has.  2) Arizona has gotten really, really good at irrigation.  Someone I know commented during their trip to Arizona that nothing was alive and it was brown everywhere.  Well, I'll admit, there is a lot of brown, but you work with the stone and dirt you've got, right?  But does this look like barren land to you?

Does that look barren to you?

...okay, the last one's a bit barren in the front, but in the back it's not!  Just...look behind the dust devil that was blowing right beside the road.  ...right.  Anyway.

Maybe it's just because the other person I know went in winter, but every time I looked around, there was greenery.  Plants, trees, cactus, grass, it was all around me thanks to Arizona having really hardy trees and doing a damn good job irrigating it.  In fact, right outside the city where the Salt River tribe lives, they have crops.  Honest to god crops.  I saw corn growing in fields out there (but that's another blog post).

Fact #3: There's a lot of southern culture in Arizona.

Okay, now I'm just getting stupid with these, so this is going to be my last one.  Something I know about the northeast is that if you've seen one city, you've seen most of the cities.  If someone asked me to tell the difference between Kennebunkport and Freeport, my answer would be "one has LL Bean."  Falmouth and Windham?  "One's closer to the ocean, one's closer to a lake?"  Gorham and Hudson?  "Gorham has paved roads."  But once you get past the quaintness, it's all rather...bland.

Man, this post isn't going to make me any friends, is it?

Here, look at some of these pictures I took.  

This is the hill alongside the highway that leads to the wall blocking sound from the residential areas.  That pattern on the ground is all made out of small rocks arranged just so in this really elaborately done style.  Next up:

The walls of overpasses and on-ramps are decorated with all sorts of designs.   Lizards, cactuses, figures from Native American myth, designs, patterns, pictures telling short stories, all these creations that add character to a town.  And this is just the roads.  Buildings, parks, sidewalks, all parts of the city embraced the variety of cultures and history of the region and display them prominently.  The area is trying to tell you its story, and each road you take and each time you look around, you see more of it.  They even managed to balance this delicate level of classic design with modern technology.  Their new mass transit system, the light rail, maneuvers down roads passing statues, signs, and memorials of what used to be.

Overall, Phoenix is, in my opinion at least, a gorgeous city, one rife with culture and flavor (not just in the food, but I'll get to that later as well).  I'd highly recommend anybody visit it, and not do it during the winter.  From what I saw, Spring is the slow tourist season there, so it's a good time to visit (my father told me that through a time-share company he deals with, I could get a week's stay in a two-bedroom condo with a kitchen for $180.  Per WEEK.)

Hell, there's enough stuff to do there, I wouldn't mind going back.  Anybody want to split a condo?

No comments: