Tuesday, July 15, 2008

State Review: Arizona

Greetings, blogpals. I hope your summer's going as swimmingly (read: drinkingly, online gamingly) as mine is. I have just returned (again) from the desert, my second summer in a row to visit the Sonoran Desert, possibly the Largest Desert in North America and home to seventeen aboriginal American cultures (yep, I wiki'ed it), among them the Anasazi, who apparently ran around mostly nekkid (according to the film I saw).





Anyway, it was my first foray into this hot, dry state, so I present you with a review. It's not balanced nor fair, since I didn't visit every square mile, but I did hit some of the high points and it is written in the hit and run style that we love so much today.


**NOTE: Some "pissy" things are not the fault of the state of Arizona, but they were pissy nonetheless.

THE GRAND CANYON


Happy!
-Frickin awesome big hole in the ground
-Majestic
-Watching an IMAX movie before you get there so you know what you're actually looking at
-Breathtaking


Pissy!
-Totally inspired my somewhat fear of heights whilst hiking along the sidewalk at the parts where there is no fencing
-My dumbass camera decided to break on the way.
-It's hot
-I didn't get to actually go down inside the canyon and go river rafting. Apparently that is far more complicated than I thought, and involves mules.
-People throw coins in, which probably chokes gila monsters.
-Not actually seeing any gila monsters.


PHOENIX



Happy!
-A fairly navigable, not too huge airport
-Swimmin' pools and hot tubs
-Watching Andrea Bocelli for an hour on the super HDTV in the model homes of a gated community

-Fake grass that looked real, and no one has real grass
-Everything, EVERYTHING, is in "desert colors"


Pissy!
-Target had a Canon camera on sale, but it was out of stock.
-Plowing over a maverick goat on the way back to the airport (Ok, that was sad, not pissy, but thankfully I wasn't driving. I would've stopped at least. Jeez.)
-My relatives are getting on in years and do not enjoy eating as much as I do; therefore it was kind of like cold turkey fat loss week for me.
-It's hot.
-Not having my own vehicle, much internet access, or privacy, and therefore feeling like I was 13 years old again.



ROUTE 66


Happy!
-Well, I saw it.


Pissy!
-It's a road. The ghost of Jack Kerouac did not speak to me or anything, and I wouldn't have enjoyed it if he had.


SEDONA


Happy!
-Nestled in a circular arrangement of beautiful red mountains, set off by green ponderosa pines
-Churches built into mountainsides
-Spectacular drives on the way there, whereupon the hidden dwellings of the very rich could be seen on winding mountain paths
-Dazzling art galleries and quaint shops all over
-Tasty local beer


Pissy!
-Of course, it's touristy and pretentious
-Overpriced
-Not being as rich as those people I saw sitting on their wooded back decks
-Not going to said art galleries or quaint shops because I was trapped by relatives on fixed incomes with less sense of adventure than I
-Lots of walking on steep mountain grades, in the heat, at high altitudes
-Only drinking one glass of tasty local beer
























JEROME (A former mining town way up in the mountains)


Happy!
-Deadwood-esque, and more interesting than I suspected
-Lots of the town parts from the 1800s are still there (such as a hotel with no walls)
-Some Arizonan asking me if Texas looked like it looks up there (for the record, only in some places... Dallas? No.)
-Getting caught in a thunderstorm in the middle of the desert, in the summertime


Pissy!
-Lots of walking, in the heat, on steep grades
-Rude waitresses and fajitas containing no grilled onions whatsoever


SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK



Happy!
-Giant, 20 foot tall cartoon ass cactuses! All over the damn place!
-You expect Wiley E. Coyote to drop in at any time
-The tour guide was actually friendly and the tram tour was cheap
-Not losing a shoe off the edge of the tram

Pissy!
-They rushed me out of the bathroom when, fuck, it's the desert in July and there isn't going to be a run on tours this time of year.
-Some kid got attacked and bitten by a roving wild javelina. The local news reported that "it is suspected that the javelina has left the area," leaving me to wonder how exactly they would identify said javelina, and why they thought it might return to the scene of the crime.
-Almost losing a shoe (and perhaps my life in trying to retrieve it with my toes) off the edge of the tram
-It's hot.

BIOSPHERE

Happy!
-It was somewhat hidden and creepily empty at midday
-Walking about unquestioned
-Felt like walking into a Choose Your Own Adventure book


Pissy!
-Pauly Shore doesn't actually reside there
-Not finding evidence of vast government or corporate conspiracy
-It was hot.

THE INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE MUSEUM


Happy!
-Got some great pictures of animal skulls for later student study

Pissy!
-It's full of way dead animals.

MISSION SAN XAVIER DEL BAC


Happy!
-It's the "Sistine Chapel of the New World" -- and it did remind me of the European cathedrals I saw
-Friendly mission dogs who let me pet them a bunch of times
-Native American fry bread stalls
-Cheap souvenirs


Pissy!
-Not actually eating any fry bread
-It's hot



So there you go, folks. Now you may or may not want to visit.

-------------------------

"Standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona..." -- Frey, Henley, et. al.








12 comments:

mr_g said...

I've spent some time in AZ - not one of my favorite places, though it definitely has its beauty. And if you live in Phoenix, you have a few color choices for your house. White, off-white, taupe, or adobe-red. Anything else, and the armed civilians that they deputized to make the town safer will run you out of town with a saguaro cactus tied to your back.

Oh yeah, it's also where old people from California go to die....rivaling Las Vegas for the title of the Miami Beach of the West.

Heff said...

Thanks for stopping by. Nice Eagles reference, BTW.

Axe Victim said...

Hey Ari, I too thought that the Eagles reference was handled with aplomb. I am somewhat envious of your trip. Sounds like it was a good laugh. I wondered where you had got to!

Ari said...

MG: I concur on all points.

H: No problem, and thank YOU.

AV: Thank you again! It was a nice trip, I would just have made a few adjustments, if I could. I could say that about most of life, however. :)

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Bang-up job, Ari. Mark Twain himself would be proud of this travel log.

BTW, I've never been to Biosphere and I've lived here over 20 years.

I have, however, had the Indian Fry Bread at San Xavier and let me assure you it's delicious. Worth every calorie.

Ari said...

LBB: Thanks for your kind words and stopping by! Next time I go to AZ, I'll drive my damn self so that I will be able to eat some fry bread.

Zen Wizard said...

I went to Phoenix one summer--a long, long time ago.

Driving down the road, it was so f***ing hot the battery in my truck blew up.

I thought somebody shot me.

On the other hand it is a very clean city and certainly exotic and interesting.

random moments said...

Thanks for the review! I've only been to a resort in Phoenix for a convention, meaning I didn't really get to get out much. It is, however, a state I'd love to visit.

All the happys sound good but the non-eating relatives? No fun! :)

BrideOfPorkins said...

I'm glad you got to experience the frikkin' awesome hole in the ground for all of us who haven't, 'cause while I enjoy that Paul Winter album like mad, I'd have melted and fed a family of gila monsters for a week.

*moment of silence for your camera and the goat*

Aw man, I want fry bread now, and I don't even know what it is.

Ari said...

ZW: As usual, you caused me to LOL with your exploding truck battery. I'm glad no one shot you.

RM: It is worth a visit. On your own. Where you can eat. :)

BOP: I must be turnin' old, because more and more I am ok in the heat for brief periods. I wish I could tell you more about fry bread. ::sighhh::

Amandarama said...

Your vacation sounds cool! I think we may have flown over AZ on the way to San Diego (where we're currently vacationing now).

Todd Camplin said...

I have been once, and I realllllly want to go back some day to see the Grand C again and recover my penny. Sounds like a great trip. Glad you can take the good with the bad.

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