I don’t like big cities. There is too much traffic and often there is a lack of courtesy for other vehicles on the highways. I avoid these large cities when I can. I can only endure the busyness for a length of time before I need to disappear into my little home on wheels and shut the door.
A week ago I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona. With a population of 1,660,272, Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the United States. It can take over an hour to drive from the west side to the east side. There are freeways and highways going in all kinds of directions. It is busy.
I began to fuss about going there on my drive south from Washington. I think I may have even whined a little. Sometimes I am my own worse enemy.
Why was I going to Phoenix?
- While I was house sitting in Washington State, I learned that the Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. It was going to be in Seattle. I delayed buying tickets. When I finally got around to buying a ticket, they were sold out. Where else could I see it? It was going to be in Phoenix, Scottsdale to be precise.
- I have a good friend, Yvonne, that lives in Goodyear (the West side of Phoenix). I gave her a call asked her if she would be interested in going to the exhibit. Yes. I began to plan a visit to the big city.
- After the above plan was put into action I discovered another good friend, Leslie, from Anchorage, AK was in the lower forty-eight. After visiting in San Diego she was going to Phoenix to visit family. After a short discussion I decided to come into the area a few days early so I could meet up with her before she flew home.
- My friend Mary lives with her menagerie, 2 cats and a dog in Apache Junction (the East side). It has been four years since we have seen each other. Another planned visit took shape.
Phoenix was not as bad as my fussing about it was. It is a big city, sitting in one of the richest deserts in the world. If you get tired of the rushing and moving about, in twenty minutes to a half-hour you can be in the desert, kayaking on a lake, or hiking into the mountains. When things get too rushed one can disappear into nature and breathe. This is a very good feature of this large metropolis.
Upon my arrival to the greater Phoenix area, thanks to Boondockers Welcome, I found a lovely driveway to camp in for two nights. I pay an annual fee to this organization. It allows me to contact hosts wherever I might be traveling and stay in their driveway or back yard for a few nights before I move on. I have had good experiences wherever I have stayed. My first two nights were not disappointing. I stayed at Cave Creek Botanicals. Joni and Bill were the hosts. Their yard was lovely. It was a mix of cactus and sculptures. Joni is an artist and one can see her artwork throughout the yard. On my last morning, I sat and had coffee with them on the front porch. I now have places to stay in Nevada and Alaska.
Cave Creek put me in a good location to meet up with Leslie the following morning in Scottsdale. It has been several years since we have seen each other. We spent half of a day together and I feel that we barely had begun before it was over. A small amount of time, if done right, can be just as valuable and treasured as weeks together. I am glad for this brief meetup with Leslie.
Yvonne lives in Goodyear on the west side of the city. She lives in one of the many fifty-five and up communities that are spread throughout Phoenix. She has lived there for about a year. twelve or more of her relatives also live in the metro area. When one has a choice between North Dakota or the desert Southwest in the winter many choose the warmer climes of Arizona. I got to meet some of her extended family. I also got a personal tour of Pebble Creek. She was an excellent tour guide.
One day we went to the Desert Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were so lovely. They have been there since the 1930s. It always amazes me to see the diversity of plant life in an arid and warm environment. We strolled through the gardens in the morning ending at the Butterfly Pavilion. Oh, those butterflies!
The Immersive Van Gogh exhibit was amazing. If you get a chance and it is anywhere near you…Go! It was interesting and beautiful. The music enhanced the exhibit. I stood in a room full of color and Van Gogh paintings. They swirled around me and reflected off the floor. It was definitely worth a visit to the city.
Next stop, Apache Junction on the east side. Another Boondockers welcome host awaited my arrival, just a few miles from my friend. Mary lives within view of the Superstition Mountains. These are rugged desert mountains. When you go into them there are many canyons one could disappear in and never return. There were lakes and hiking and biking trails. It was fun to be with another adventurous soul. It had been four years since Mary and I met while traveling in our Roadtreks in Southern New Mexico. We have remained in touch. Meeting up with her was just like yesterday. And…she has cats!!
After a morning in the mountains, we returned to Mary’s home, picked up Roxie the dog, and drove to the Salt River, a favorite place of Mary’s. The day was perfect. The temperature was just right and the sky was an amazing blue. And there, just as we got to the river, were a band of the Salt River Wild Mustangs. Did you know I love horses? Oh my, I love horses. I really love the wild ones. I have always wanted to own a mustang. These horses were eating eelgrass growing in the river. This was a perfect ending to my week in Phoenix.
Everywhere I have traveled and explored has been unique and interesting and, well, different. My week of adventure in a big city reminded me that there is something the city has to offer the intrepid traveler. I love art and museums and culture that can only be found in larger populated areas. Like most large cities Nature is not too far away. It can be in a Botanical Garden or in the rugged terrain that often surrounds these larger metropolitan areas.
Phoenix was not as bad as I had imagined. I am glad I went. I am very glad for a visit with such good friends and enjoyed what this metropolitan area had to offer.
Today I am thankful for pushing myself out of my comfort zone, just a little to enjoy my week in Phoenix and connect with good friends.
On to San Diego. Oh Lord, another big city.