This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Seeing your hometown through the eyes of a stranger - Phoenix, Arizona


I've lived in some pretty amazing places in my day, mostly because I just knew that there had to be somewhere that wasn't like where I grew up, which has two seasons: Snow, and Mosquitos. I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So I left there as soon as I figured out how to read a map, and which direction was "West".

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I came to Phoenix, Arizona, when I was 19, got my degree at Arizona State University, and went to Southern California afterwards, seeking fame and fortune. Fame and fortune I never found, but I was amazed by the places I saw, and even more amazed by the people who were essentially blind to all of it.

Mine is the world of palm trees and mountains. It's a place of Arizona sunsets. It never snows in Phoenix, and sometimes it gets so hot that it makes your eyes bug out just to walk out of your house. There are lizards on the walls, and there are trees with green bark (palo verdes). And there are palm trees! There are thunderstorms that are beyond amazing, and there's a smell to the desert that's the most wonderful thing I've ever experienced, especially after a rain. I could go on, and on, and I probably will, but I'll need to include the mention of a stifled yawn from people who just take all of this for granted.

I saw these people in California, too, even Santa Barbara. They had grown up there, or had lived there for a long time, and to them the ocean wasn't the most amazing and spectacular thing ever, it was just where their Uncle had lost his boat last year. The rainbows behind the mountains just reminded them that they were going to have to drive somewhere, and that the traffic would be awful. This isn't true of all locals, of course, but the vast majority were essentially blind to the beautiful place where they lived. I wanted to grab them by the shoulders, and shake them, saying "can't you see this?"

I learned a long time ago that it's a matter of choice where you live. You can live in an exciting, beautiful, and amazing world, or not. And it doesn't even matter if there's palm trees and mountains. I chose a long time ago to live surrounded by amazing things, to walk around with my mouth hanging open, to be a stranger in a strange land.

If you haven't seen it yet, I'm hoping you will. Walk with me.


Image at the top of this post: the Black Sphinx palms at 44th Street and Camelback, Phoenix, Arizona.