Dateline: Arizona.  Phoenix.  Desert.  Flat.  Brown.  And not just a little bit mind boggling.

First impressions: clean, pleasant, nice people, new, not-as-cheap as I remember it from our last visit 45 years ago (and again about 20 years ago) but, of course, still cheaper than Canada.  Gasoline is $2.05 a gallon.  With exchange and the imperial gallon, I am guessing the equivalent of $3.00 a gallon.  Food seems practically free except in restaurants. Limes were 19 cents in the store, free on the neighbourhood trees.  Same for oranges.

One of my chores is to squeeze the one hundred or so already picked oranges from the trees in the yard.

But the biggest first impression is this: Infrastructure.  We are living in a distant subdivision in the southeast area of Phoenix, basically the equivalent of Mission or outer Abbotsford in the lower mainland.  Hell and gone.  Way out in the desert.  All the houses are new.  All the shopping centres are new.  Everything is new….within the last ten years for sure.  Even the cars!

The area is still under-developed with a mile of desert between walled communities and then another mile or more before the next one.  This area is in transition from cactus and burros to walled communities sporting fake grass and manicured cactus. NOT highly populated. Not yet, anyway.

But, still, the highway system is better than anywhere in Canada.  By a HUGE margin. Seriously.  Even Toronto.  Within five minutes of driving I am on a six lane (one way) freeway heading into downtown Phoenix.  Overhead cloverleafs with other highways passing over and under me appear every ten minutes or so and NOT just one level either.  Four or more overpasses are the norm.

And they are attractive.  No graffiti.  No dirt.  Attractive native patterns cast into the concrete.  All the ‘grounds’ around the highways are manicured, landscaped and free of litter.

You drive along at 65 miles per hour, four or more abreast, flying by sagebrush and sand heading towards a shopping centre intersection with huge big box stores and acres of parking.  These places are so big that, should you need something else from another store across the street, it is at least a five minute drive.  You can walk but no one does.  There is no pedestrian traffic.

Mind you, we are still orienting.  It may be different elsewhere. It has to be.  This area in the southeast is new.  Phoenix is not; it has some age.  We just haven’t seen it yet.

Still, there are two large airports that we have seen.  There is the aforementioned phenomenal highway system.  There are incredible shopping centres.  Everywhere. And much of the population lives in clean, new, adobe-esque style walled communities, it seems.

It is all brown and flat.  And, to be honest – I can’t really see (yet) why the huge investment in this, a rather inhospitable environment that does not have major industry, has been made.  Why?

So, my curiosity is piqued.  We’ll go exploring soon.  But one thing is evident – Canadian infrastructure is closer to Mexican than American.

It’s a car culture here

16 thoughts on “America

  1. Welcome to snow bird country! The folks next door blew in to keep their BC Medical valid and will return south in about a month. They love wintering state side and have been doing it for 19 years on private and public Canadian pensions. They have a group of friends and live an active and varied life.


    • I get it. I really do. I don’t think I WANT IT, but I get it. And I kinda DO want it every 20 years or so. Maybe more often as I age. Makes for an interesting visit, that’s for sure. I am quite intrigued with ‘culture’ and that includes ‘Merican culture just as much as anyone else’s. But I am not a redneck so much as a wet-neck. I need rain. I am out of my element in a desert. And I am disinclined to shopping. Still, the people are pleasant, I love Mexican food and the winter weather is great!


  2. I’m surprised at you – as bad as Non-confidence! Overpasses are made of CONCRETE! If they were made of cement they would fall down! Cement is what they (used to) put on the back of postage stamps.


      • Wow!
        You MUST be in Margaritaville……you “turtled” pretty quick there buddy.
        As a friend once said to me.
        Concrete comes in TRUCKS
        Cement comes in BAGS
        While you’re in Arizona drive down to Tombstone and check out Boothill.
        Some of the best headstone poetry around.
        “Here lies Les Moore
        Kilt by four slugs from a .44
        No Less
        No More”

        have another umbrella drink for me………


        • If I ‘turtle’ it means I have fallen and I can’t get up. It may seem like I ‘turned’ on ya when confronted by JA but clearly someone had to be thrown under the bus. You were handy. Instead of it hurting your feelings, think of it as further proof that I would make a great politician.


          • No no.
            By “turtle” I mean you didnt bother to “fight back” against the critique.
            John’s Aghast doesnt bother me at all.
            As for “hurt feelings”….. thats for teenagers at Proms and Divorce settlements .
            Neither of which I’ve experienced..
            Too old…. :)-


          • Oh, I see. But I can’t fight back against the truth. JA is right. Cement is powder and concrete is water, powder, sand and rocks all mixed up and slumped at your feet. I should know better. Mea culpa. As for you: I am so sorry to hear that you haven’t had a prom or a divorce. Life can be cruel and we all deserve a chance to feel the pain first hand. Gawd! I should tell you about my TWO proms…some day…..maybe never. And, as you know, I have experienced over 200 divorces. Pure Hell….but at mediator’s hourly rates, of course.


  3. Love your wheels. Enjoy your suncation. I had a scary incident here in the States yesterday. An older gentleman wearing a military cap and a chip on his shoulder verbally attacked another patron in a store (standing in front of me) about a political pin he was wearing. The man with the cap yelled, grabbed the man by the shoulder, and berate him for the pin. Fortunately a clerk diffused the situation and the man backed down. Things here are getting crazy. – Margy


    • I half expected something like that myself but the opposite has been true so far. All encounters pleasant. But everyone I talk to seems to be dreading the inauguration and, yet, Arizona ostensibly went RED in a big way….? Go figure…


  4. More Tombstone Poetry
    Here Lies George Johnson
    Hanged by mistake in 1882
    “He was right
    We was wrong
    But we strung him up
    And now he’s gone”


  5. The world is full of is it a boat or a ship, is it a rifle or a gun? I think the rhyme goes, ‘this is your rifle and this is your gun, one is for killing and one if for …!


    • Well, a bit embarrassing…….it was free….kinda….only flights and the weak $C.
      I have a friend with a house and truck down here. He offered it up as an escape from the winter. I accepted. The last time we were here for any stretch was back in the 70’s as hippies in a VW van heading south and ‘experiencing’ the rednecks of Gila Bend. We came back again about 20 years ago to stay in Tucson. Another friend with an empty house, too. I also have another friend in Albuquerque so we have been there a few times – just to visit. It’s hard being a heavy-set rain-forest guy who is inclined to boats and fish and chips to find a lot in common with desert folk but I find the people just fine. It’s the desert that seems odd.


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