Desert city is pretty cool

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Sunday, September 21, 2008

As the old saying goes, "don't Californicate" used to encourage people to stay in Phoenix instead of moving to Los Angeles, one can use it when deciding which US city to visit.  Yes, California is awesome and all, but, so is Arizona.  It's sunny and hot as hell in both places too!
  When we arrived at 9am, it was already 97˚.  It was hot.  It was unbelievably hot.  But dry, desert heat so slightly bearable.  I go to Enterprise to pick up my rental car.  I reserved it on line and chose a mid size sedan.  The cool part is when they confirmed my reservation, they just told me to go into the garage and pick what ever car I want.  Decisions.  Decisions.  Well, I kind of wanted a convertible but seeing as it's 105˚, I don't need my scalp to be scolded.  I picked out a hot, red Nissan Altima, plugged in my God I hope this works out of state GPS and headed to the hotel.
  GPS working fine, we make it to the Days Inn in Scottsdale right across the street from the mall.  Okay, I know this isn't exactly the most posh hotel in the country.  Some might say it is a shit hole.  But we got this huge discount through my Mastercard when we stay at certain chain hotels.  Since we wanted to stay in the Scottsdale area, Days Inn was it.  Look, it had a pool, and a nice view of Camel Back Mountain so good enough.
  We headed down to Old Scottsdale do have lunch and do some shopping.  We headed over to the Civic Center then back to Old Town.  We tried to last as long as we could.  The heat was brutal.  105˚, the sun was blazing and we were cooking.  Luckily, some stores you walk past spray mist on the sidewalk to cool off shoppers.  It works for about a second then you're dying again.  We decided to stay in air conditioning as long as possible in many stores in the Old Town area.  
  After dinner, the temperature went down to 96˚ which is considered chilly to locals, we headed to Papago Park.  We took a short hike along trails marked with warning signs.  Beware of rattlesnakes and scorpions.  Terrific, all I wanted was a stroll in this desert park and now I have to worry about getting bit and stung by poisonous creatures.  There goes my afternoon.  Not wanting to be bothered by the potential fatality, we left the park and went back to the hotel to go swimming.  No need to bring a towel with you to any pool in Arizona.  One minute after you get out of the water, you're dry as if you never went swimming at all.  Got to love the zero percent humidity.
  The next day we went to the Phoenix Zoo.  We went bright and early to beat the worst of the sweltering heat.  By 8am, we were at the entrance.  We saw bald eagles, pronghorn antelopes, prairie dogs, lions, tigers, more sheep, cheetahs, giraffes and various monkeys.  With the midday temperatures now 103˚, it was time to leave and get into air conditioning.  For dinner, we headed to Tempe.  Cool part of town.  Populated with students from the University of Arizona, Tempe has many bars and restaurants to keep everyone's stomaches full and blood/ alcohol levels elevated.  We ate dinner at this great Ethiopian restaurant (insert cruel but funny Ethiopian joke here) called Blue Elephant.  With the heat now bearable, we headed back to Papago Park.  Why?  I liked it and wanted to go back.  This time armed with anti-snake and scorpion weaponry.  By that I mean a stick I found earlier at the zoo.  After walking the trail, my genius partner thought it would be a great idea if we wandered off a bit.  Yea, with all those rattlesnakes, scorpions, black widow spiders and killer bees.  Great, now we're fucking lost.  With water running low and dusk looming upon us, we desperately try to find a way out of the park with no luck what so ever.  As I take out my phone to call 9-1-1 like an idiot, we come upon a fence.  I don't care hot tall it is, I'm climbing this fucker and getting us the hell out of here.  So, we climbed the fence and wound up in a not-so-safe neighborhood.  Oh wonderful times!  Sans the bulletproof vest required to get out of such a part of town alive, we hide behind some cars to stay out of site and call a cab.  A cab to drive us back to my car in the parking lot of Papago Park.  Finally, a half hour later a cab pulls up and drives us back to my car.  The driver asking, "what the fuck are you two white boys doing here?"  My only reply, "don't ask."  To add insult to injury, the cab ride was a whopping five minutes.  Basically, we walked around in circles in the park.  I know.  We're morons.
  The next day we decided to avoid Papago Park and do something a little less life threatening, the Phoenix Museum of Natural History.  It had a cool dinosaur exhibit and it even had an exhibit about poop.  You heard me.  Poop.  Best of all, it was air conditioned.  We spent the rest of the day shopping around in Tempe until it was too hot to bare and went back to the hotel to go swimming.  
  The following morning, as early as possible, we headed to the Desert Botanical Gardens.  I just so happen to love desert scenery so this was right up my alley.  I took some great pictures of cacti, mountains in the distance, Hopi Indian huts, desert flowers and the butterfly exhibit.  After, it was off to downtown Phoenix which is as usual partially under construction.  We went over to the Arizona Center for lunch then Heritage Square.  Not too interesting and so hot outside you can prepare scrambled eggs and hash browns on the sidewalk pavement, we headed back to Scottsdale to go to the mall across the street from the hotel.  Later, we went back to Old Town where they had this Latin music festival which was a lot of fun.
  Not being able to stand the heat any longer, we packed up the rented car and drove up to Flagstaff.  You can check out my Flagstaff blog to read about our wacky times in Northern Arizona.
  Phoenix is a pretty fun city.  Large and still growing, it is full of night life, a surprisingly great bar and restaurant scene, plenty of shopping and plenty of construction going on.  Seems that every part of town has some new development being built.  Why, there's probably something new being constructed right this second.  I believe the city's slogan should be: "Phoenix, under construction since 1982."  This being my third time here, each visit brings more construction, a new neighborhood (this time Chandler) and the construction of a pointless and inevitably useless lite railway in downtown. So, don't Californicate.  Come to Phoenix.  Just bring plenty of water with you, stay cool and watch out for rattlesnakes.   
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