Saturday, February 03, 2007

From Arizona With Love

It's 70 and sunny, the windows are rolled down and I'm cruising the famous Arizona highways. For those of you huddled together this day enduring a brutal sub-zero winter day I feel for you. No, I really do...

When I left the Minneapolis/St Paul International airport this morning it was so cold... "How Cold Was It?" It was so cold the parking brakes on the A320 were frozen solid. It took two hours with what I assume was a measly 1200 watt hair dryer to break them free so that we could defy the bonds of gravity and jet off to the land of the Sun Devils.

It's just such an odd sensation to be on the verge of depression contemplating day after day of inhuman temperatures only to be transported to a "mid June" afternoon two and a half hours later. Right now I am listening to the glorious sounds of a basketball bouncing on the tennis court outside my hotel window.

I'm in Phoenix on business and today is a travel day so I am free to do whatever I want with it. So I rented a car and took a drive out into the desert along Arizona's famous Apache Trail. The thing about Arizona is that if you don't like the geography you find yourself in just wait 10 miles. I don't think there is another state outside of California that can boast such a diverse geographical footprint. It's simply amazing.

Here we have entered Tonto National Forest when we whip around a mountain switchback to have our wondering eyes filled with this awesome vista. This is Canyon Lake. I only wish a photo could do it justice. I really was beautiful.

At the beginning of the trail where the metropolis of the greater Phoenix area comes to an end we ogle the mysterious Superstition Mountains. This rugged monolith juts out of the desert and is as imposing its name...

Now, mind you, all is not well along the Apache Trail. While I do see those ubiquitous "Adopt-a-Highway" signs it seems no one - and I mean no one - has been out picking up litter for a long, long time. Frankly it's disgusting. In Minnesota with all our pretentiousness and outright snobbery at least our highways and byways are clean. It only stands to reason the further you get away from the city the cleaner it gets. But soon you realize the other great problem with this would be fabulous Sunday drive.

What's wrong with this picture?

"Why, look here, there's a line running right across the sky." You are so right. Every direction you look while cruising along Highway 88 you see power lines. They are everywhere. It is nearly impossible to take a picture from the roadside without these lines cutting through them. It is understandable that for access reasons it is necessary for these power lines to follow along the highway but it is very distracting for the tourist.

Having been out here now on 4 or 5 different occasions it's no wonder so many people from the upper mid-west spend their winters here. It's wonderfully warm.