October 3-5, 2008 — Phoenix, Arizona
We left Page, Arizona Friday morning because the hotel was booked for Friday night. (We had hoped for a cancellation but it didn’t happen.) Because it promised to be another hazy overcast day, we decided to head south to Phoenix rather than look for another room in Page.
We took 89 down out of Page and when we reached Flagstaff, we took 17 down to Phoenix. Comfortable ride, but overcast skies. We listened to music much of the trip, which is very unusual for us since we normally talk about everything we are seeing. Anyway, a quick ride, we were in Phoenix by 2 pm. Phoenix is so large it is hard to know where to begin. Since we carry a Best Western guide in the car, I looked at it for possible hotels. I use it to get a feel for rates in an area — and sometimes we do stay in the Best Western. We are mostly staying in 3 different hotels: Holiday Inn Express (usually $10-15 higher than the others but beds, bedding and breakfast are worth it), Comfort Inn (new ones are the best) or Best Western (we
have had some pleasant surprises — overall the less expensive ones have been the best). So, looking at the Best Western guide, we found that the older one in Scottsdale was actually one of the better priced hotels in the area — so we set the GPS for this address. As it turned out, the hotel was booked and they sent us down the road into Tempe. This Best Western has been great. Very quiet — a high school hockey team stayed here Friday night and we didn’t hear a thing! So anyway, we decided to stay 3 nights; tonight (Sunday) is our last.
For once, we were in early enough that I had time to call home. There is three hours difference (no daylight savings time in AZ) so often by the time I’m able to call home it is just too late. I had three great conversations — with my sister Lori, my mom and my sister Wendy. Everyone sounds so good — oh I miss you all! And then I finally updated MostlyFiction.com with a review of Ben Bova’s latest book and an interview with author.
Carl and I decided to get to know Phoenix better. So we spent Saturday putting addresses in the GPS and driving to different places in the Phoenix area. We first looked for a Toyota Dealer – hoping to change oil but the list in the Prius wasn’t up to date. Then we sought out a car wash, Barnes & Noble, a Mac store, a Border’s store and a Trader’s Joe. I chose a wide range of addresses and thus we traveled around Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe and Chandler, all to the east of Phoenix.
When we first arrived in Phoenix area, it was felt so large and overwhelming — for the past few couple of weeks we have been staying in small towns with practically no traffic; the fast traffic on the 101 loop was a bit exhilarating and worrisome (at least for me, the passenger). After driving around Saturday, we felt that we had the hang of the grid and started to get a feel for each of the different areas. Anyway, yesterday was a cloudy, overcast day again so I didn’t take a lot of photos.
Last night (still Saturday) — we took it easy. I decided to just read and not work on this travelbog or on MostlyFiction.com. Carl actually got a chance to use the computer for a change! It was great just to read for an evening. (I’m reading THE 19TH WIFE by David Ebershoff and it turns out that we drove right by the fictional town of Mesadale when we did our drive on I-89 in Utah on October 2nd!)
The sky is blue and sunny today, although there is a bit of haze. We spent the morning walking through the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, then we drove out to Gilbert to see if we could find a field where they fly model airplanes (we did find the field but no one was there), and then we drove up South Mountain to the lookout. After that we headed to Sun City & Surprise on the West side of the city, which really wasn’t much to see. More interesting was coming back in which we took “60” through the older more industrial Glendale. Huge contrast with what we saw the previous day with all its new buildings, thousands of apartments and condos and new shopping plazas. The nonresidential area of Glendale has a working railroad running through it and has a bit of a chemical smell. We then took a tour through the center section of Phoenix, where all the tall buildings are, and then found ourselves quickly back in the run down section (quick cash, pawn shops, strip joints, etc). And then just as suddenly we were back to “our” section of town, Tempe.
So is the city we will end up in? The rent is definitely affordable and the whole area is easy to get around. Certainly not lacking for stores, restaurants, etc. But it is a city, 5th largest in the U.S. according to Wikipedia. Not ruling it out, though. If we do come back to live here (maybe just for the winter months) I think I’d consider the Tempe area. One thing in its favor is all the furnished apartments that are available according to a rental guide.