What is it about the desert southwest that has us returning year after year? It’s obvious we share our desert addiction with hundreds or more like thousands of other visitors. Each winter season, droves of people migrate to Phoenix and the surrounding area to escape the cold and snow.
Some folks come for a long weekend visit, while others (us included) stay for months at a time. Let’s face it, with over 300 days of sunshine a year, mild winter temperatures, and sunsets that’ll knock your socks off, it’s hard not to like this part of the United States. But there’s a lot more to the valley of the sun than merely the weather.
Sometimes I relish quiet, remote solitude while other times I like the hustle and bustle only a city can offer. Phoenix is unique in offering me the pleasure of both world’s.
Phoenix is not only the capital of the state of Arizona but also the county seat for Maricopa County. Maricopa County encompasses 9,224 square miles (23,890km) and includes the city of Phoenix along with 13 other cities, 10 towns, over a dozen other unincorporated communities, and 5 Indian Reservations.
Each locale offers its own distinct vibe and topography. Recreational opportunities are endless and diverse ….. hiking, biking, kayaking, golfing, fishing, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, fine dining, casual dining, museums, art galleries, rodeos, car shows, zoos, festivals, casinos, concerts, professional sports, minor league sports, shooting guns, and shooting cameras (my favorite, of course).
Trust me, there is no shortage of things to photograph around here; from wildlife, to beautiful flora – fauna, to distinct architecture and landscapes. And of course, those amazing sunsets.
The Maricopa County Park System is a recreational delight for locals and tourists alike. Our favorites include Cave Creek Regional Park, Lake Pleasant (week days), and Lost Dutchman State Park. We’ve heard great things about other regional parks, but can’t speak from personal experience due to a failure on my part in making a reservation. Weekends book up and reservations are a must during the peak winter season.
That said, I love going to sleep in a rural setting being serenaded by coyotes and wild burros while the next day I’m able to take an easy twenty-minute drive to shop at a top drawer grocery store/mall or visit a one of a kind museum like the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum).
Accommodations vary from rustic tent camping, to RV Park Resorts, to hotels, five-star all-inclusive resorts, to plenty of vacation rentals. In other words, there’s no shortage of overnight options that’ll custom fit anyone’s taste buds.
I haven’t always liked Phoenix, but the more time I spend here the more I like it. Of course, it’s a bonus that both my children now live here, but there’s other relationships as well.
Since Phoenix is such a great place to visit, there’s no shortage of social opportunities. I love meeting up with fellow bloggers, RVer’s, or long-lost friends.
A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a friend whom I hadn’t seen in twenty-three years. She and I were in a play group together back in the Chicago suburbs when our children were little. In the early 1990’s, Marianne and her family moved to California while my family and I moved to Nevada. Once a year we’d exchange Christmas cards while keeping up with each others ever changing addresses.
I picked Marianne up at her son’s home here in Phoenix and the two of us headed out for tea and crumpets. After five hours of visiting, we bid farewell with the promise of getting together again soon. Although she and her husband live in Florida full time, they do enjoy regular visits to Phoenix to see their son. Thus, I’m sure it won’t be another twenty some years before our next luncheon or tea time 🙂
And since we’re speaking of tea, I realize the desert isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Me? I’m intrigued by the harsh desert landscape and fascinated by the vegetation and wildlife that are able to thrive in such an unforgiving environment.
I love the diversity of activities available, the weather (well, not the summer), and all the friendships, new and old, that we’ve made since we started visiting the valley of the sun. I love hanging with my children and although I always hate saying good-bye, the itch to hitch has set in thus the wheels on the RV will start going round and round in a few days, BUT “we’ll be back“!
May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. And rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.