Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is advertising-free, and is supported by my subscribers on Patreon. History adventuring posts are shared there daily. The basic tier is a dollar a month, and the PhD tier, which includes "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos, is five dollars a month, and is discounted for seniors, veterans, and students. If you're a subscriber, thank you! You make this happen!
Seeing Phoenix, Arizona for the first time
I remember the first time I saw Phoenix. I was 19 years old and had driven there from Minneapolis, Minnesota in August.
I really had no idea what to expect. I had a vague idea that it might have sand dunes, and look like the Sahara Desert, or it might have look like some old Western town from the movies. It really didn't matter to me - it was an adventure, I was far from home, and whatever it was, it was going to be exciting, and exotic. I had grown up in a world of snow and pine trees, and I know what I wanted to see - a palm tree.
The first exit I took was Cactus Road. Just the thought of seeing a cactus growing outside was amazing, and apparently there was a road with the name "cactus"! I was stunned. I drove a bit, pulled over somewhere, got out of my car, walked up to a palm tree, and touched it with my hand. I can still feel that feeling. It was a feeling of awe, and amazement.
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Of course, if you've always lived in a place, you really can't see it that way. A road named "Cactus" and palm trees are just commonplace things. I often talk to my friends who grew up in Phoenix about that feeling and they just smile and nod. To them, the fact that it never snows in Phoenix, or that there are lizards on the walls is just the way it is, nothing to be amazed at.
After all of these years my amazement of Phoenix never ceases. Every winter I remember how strange it felt to be warm, and for there to be no snow. I still watch a lot of sunsets. When I lived in my little "shack" while going to ASU, I would always go out at sunset and watch the sun go down. I would just stand there, and see colors painted in the sky that I had never seen before.
If you want to see Phoenix the way I do, even if you've lived there all of your life, try seeing it through the eyes of people like me. Hang around with some people who are visiting, or with people who have just moved there. Yes, there will be conversations with complaints, about how tricky it is to use the freeways, or how things are so different from somewhere else. But let the conversation drift in another direction, and you may be surprised at how exciting and beautiful Phoenix, and Arizona, is. I guarantee that you'll see it for the first time, and it will be astonishing.
Image at the top of this post: An apartment complex named called "Saguaro". I just loved that! And the photo was taken in the dead of winter. Can you imagine?!
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Posted by Brad Hall