Thursday, March 05, 2009


Isn't it great that one can slowly shuffle into a big jet in Buffalo, NY, where it's 9 degrees, snowy, and windy, and just a few hours later shuffle off a big jet in Phoenix, AZ, where it's 80 degrees, sunny, and breezy!

I've been reading Jack Finney's classic novel "Time and Again", and its sequel, "From Time to Time". You'd never guess that time travel is involved in these stories. It seems appropriate, then, that going from Buffalo to Phoenix in early March almost seems like time travel; the scenes are radically different. One leaves hooded coats and lined jeans, arrives at shorts and t-shirts.

This morning I drove to Camelback Mountain and climbed it again. It's a hike! The climb is only 1.2 miles, but the elevation gain is over 1,200 feet. Many of the sections are very steep ravines filled with boulders that one must scramble up or down. Each time I go there I meet folks who try it, only to get part way up and realize it's time to turn around before they get hurt. Some silly people slowly make their way up to the top, only to find that coming down is harder and they are all tired out. But the view from the top is worth the climb, and it's a great workout. Take a look for yourself:

The economy is not doing well in Phoenix. With the state budget in shambles, there are cutbacks in social services, schools, and even library hours. I understand the number of illegals in Arizona is way down because there isn't much work. Last night, on the news, they said that 35% of mortgages in Phoenix are "upside down", and that 40% will be that way before long. Home prices are down more than 30%. Although there are many well-off people in Phoenix, there are also many working poor. At the middle school where my son teaches eight grade math, almost all students get free breakfast and lunch; he hears there is often no food at home. This is not good.

This afternoon we toured a beautiful Japanese garden in the downtown area. It was perhaps two acres or more, with wonderfully-groomed trees and a large pond filled with large, multi-colored koi fish. A 12-foot waterfall filled the pond. The garden resulted from a "sister cities" project between Phoenix and a Japanese city.

After seeing the garden, we went not far to visit the modern downtown public library. Five stories of luxurious learning! It was open and welcoming, with high ceilings and many comfortable carels. The Good Witch, who is a first class library customer, was amazed by the scale of it all. And, of course, it is free. Learning is priceless!

"Gettting away from it all" is a luxury to be appreciated. It's especially nice to enjoy new surroundings and re-establish family relationships at the same time. Tomorrow we leave #2 son's home to go an hour southeast where we'll invade #3 son's space for a few days. The grandchildren will definitely be spoiled!

And that's all for today.


Dave said...

Run over to Glendale and say hello to my brother. Enjoy your trip.

ThomasLB said...

I love the SouthWest. Seeing it for myself made me appreciate Georgia O'Keefe in a way I couldn't before.

The Japanese have built gardens all over the world. What a wonderful legacy they've left behind!

Ron Davison said...

Camelback! I used to travel to Chandler lots, working with a client. I came to enjoy that area more as I got to know it better. And I didn't even have grandchildren to help make it better.
Welcome back west.

leslie said...

I love Camelback Mountain. Stevie Nicks lives there, you know. Next time try peyote if you want to liven up your hike and take your mind off those darned "illegals"!