Sunday, June 29, 2014

Oh Arizona….

   I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Arizona. I don’t know what you've heard about this state, but I had some general ideas about what I might expect when visiting and was pleasantly surprised by my experience. There are pros and cons to every endeavor, and this trip was no exception, but let me explain what Arizona was like…for me.
   Let me get right to the heat since that is undoubtedly the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about Arizona (unless you’re a regular purveyor of the news, then it might be immigration). Arizona is hot, but it’s the kind of heat I absolutely love. Coming from the Easy Coast, hot days in the summer come with high humidity which makes the “heat” very stuffy and sticky…completely uncomfortable (for me). The dry heat of Arizona was made with me in mind, I couldn't get enough and was angry that I was leaving right before the start of a 110 degree week. 105 degrees just wasn't enough for me. Call me crazy, but heat without moisture is just…relaxing.

   Food is plentiful there although if you’re like me with a limited palate, you have to be a bit judicious in where you choose to eat. I’m not much of a “fast food” person, but if you are, then there is no shortage of places to indulge in. It was interesting to see food chains, well known, not present in my part of the country like Red Robin, Jack-in-the-Box, and In-and-Out Burger. I even saw a few Church’s Chicken which enjoyed business in my section of the world for only a brief time. Restaurants indigenous to the area were my wheelhouse of eateries and none did I enjoy more than Pita Jungle. Nowhere have I had better Spanakopita than there. It figures that my very last meal in Arizona would be the best. 

   There is plenty of land in Arizona…like miles and miles of desert under development. So much so that they don’t build “up” there, they build “out.” Coming from a place of tall buildings and residences typically three to four stories high; I wasn't used to all the space. Given that there was a lot of space, I didn't understand why the homes were being built so close to each other. Nor do I get why there is no variation of color…everything is just sandy brown. I think I would have fallen over if I came across a blue or red house in Arizona. I guess the thing to do is to own your own home out there and not be a part of any housing association if you want a bit of pizzazz to your home.

   Of course, with money, nearly anything is possible and this rang true when, from the highway, I saw homes built on top of large hills and carved into the side of mountains (whoa!). 

   If ever I was to consider moving to “The Grand Canyon State” (and believe it or not, I didn't visit the Grand Canyon) I’d certainly get familiar with the laws of the land first. Like the fact that killing the indigenous cactus will cost you a fine of $250,000 (who’s got that just laying around?). Your first DUI offense will cost you a fine of $250…along with a year revocation of your license, and 30 days in prison! Yes, you can have fun in Arizona, but understand Arizona doesn't play around with you.

   Having friends and family in the area made it less of a tourist type of vacation and more of a visit to the real parts of Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Scottsdale. They do things big in Arizona (high schools that graduate classes of 4000 seniors, movie theaters with 48 screens) and issues are multifaceted (you didn’t really think immigration was as clear cut as they make it out to be on the news did you?) but enjoying the sun while not being bit by a rattlesnake, Black Widow Spider, Brown Recluse Spider or stung by a scorpion was very pleasant.

   So there is my brief assessment of Arizona. Despite whatever I have said here, the best measure of Arizona is the one you take yourself…so take a trip and experience something new and different, and hopefully come away from it more than when you went into it.

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