I took a bit of a break in 2019 from my blogging in between jobs. In the fall, my life took an exciting westward turn. This is how my new chapter began in the great Southwest.
Before setting off on my long journey to Arizona in the truck with all my earthly possessions, I thought about all of the pioneers who ventured west with their loaded wagons during the last couple of centuries in search of new opportunities and their American dream. Then I was reminded of this great quote by Robert Penn Warren in All the King’s Men.
“Then, after a while, the sun was in my eyes, for I was driving west. So I pulled the sun screen down and squinted and put the throttle to the floor. And kept on moving west. For West is where we all plan to go some day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: Flee, all is discovered. It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go when you hear that thar’s gold in them-thar hills. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go. It was just where I went.”
And for me, it was just where I went. The arduous drive to Phoenix was my longest relocation yet. The three-day journey across eight states took me down sections of America’s most epic road trip: legendary Route 66. More to come on that journey in a different blog entry, but the drive was memorable, full of epic road stops, bounded by historic markers, and bookmarked by fiery sunsets.
After becoming settled and completing my first week of work, I had a chance to get out and explore some of Phoenix. I learned 10 interesting things about Phoenix during my first week.
1) We have terrifying dust storms called haboobs (no, they are not found at a popular wings restaurant) and the State of Arizona actually has progressive signs along the road telling you what to do if you are driving through one. They end with the wise words you never want to hear, “take your foot off the brake pedal.”
2) Everyone has a dog here, and by that, I mean big killer dogs. I swear that I expect to see someone walking a coyote because these people pack heat on their hips and with their wolf dogs. Seemingly more dogs than Buenos Aires, and that says a lot to rival the porteños.
3) Speaking of dogs, there is an abundance of Phoenix dog attorney billboards that indicate that the Valley of the Sun has an aggressive canine problem. Hey Cujo, bad dog!
4) And speaking of billboard lawyers, so if Alabama has Alexander Shunnarah, Detroit has Joumana Kayrouz and Austin has David Komie, then Phoenix has Byron Browne, the tattooed “anti-lawyer” who looks like a pro wrestler/part-time motor mechanic who could unleash the hurt on anyone.
5) When you land at Sky Harbor, they will yell at you to close your damn window shades … even though 90 degrees in October is a cool wave!
6) Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the U.S. (this only counts the city, not metro area). But if you count December through March when the snowbirds descend on Arizona to escape their winter tundra, Phoenix seems like the most populous city in the U.S. (slight overstatement).
7) I have yet to meet hardly anyone over 30 who was actually born in Phoenix. Except for a few scorpions I saw out in the desert my first weekend.
8) There are more than 252,000 single women in Phoenix– way more than San Francisco, San Diego and Dallas! And half of them are on Bumble making a duck face or sporting a full arm-sleeve tattoo.
9) I thought the first sign I saw had simply worn letters, but multiple signs later confirm those barriers on the road are actually called speed humps, not speed bumps. I suspect this has something to do with camels in the desert and all the camel names (Camelback Mountain). But they are tamer than Detroit potholes that are like IEDs that will knock even a Jeep Wrangler off its frame.
10) Our squirrels here are the friendly neighborhood lizards — and many are the kind that could theoretically eat a chihuahua!
Needless to say, I am learning something new about the Valley of the Sun and Phoenix every day!