Monday, May 5, 2008

Up to Phoenix and back

The largest cities in the U.S. are now:
1-New York
2-Los Angeles

This past weekend we went up to Phoenix, and Sunday morning, in their local paper, I saw this map:

The designation of "megalopolises" has been around for a while, but I'd never seen the phrase 'megapolitan nation.' Driving from Tucson to Phoenix on maxed-out I-10, you can see what economic and demographic forecasters are talking about--they estimate that by 2030 the desert corridor between the two cities will fill in with several million more people! Where's the water? No matter--build it and they will come/they're coming so we have to build it.

Phoenix is often disparaged as "Los Angeles without the beach;" freeways, bad air, endless sprawl. (The city covers FIVE HUNDRED square miles but it's still searching for a downtown soul and a decent skyline.) A person who lives there said, "well, actually, we DO have a beach--lots and lots of sand--just no ocean." Driving around, my wife and I often felt like we were in southern California--the lush landscaping, the tony shops of Scottsdale...

Tucson seems to affirm its desert identity; lawns are rare and man-made lakes hard to come by.
Phoenix engineers its way, at least for now, out of its desert reality--office parks and condo complexes with acres and acres of man-made lakes and fountains dot the suburban landcape.

I'm not meaning to judge (although there is a strong rivalry between Tucsonans and Phoenicians)--I'm just saying, it is what it is.

But the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix do make for a lovely walk. The mutated cristate saguaros were fun to spot:

Back home, after work I went for a walk in Sabino Canyon--full of prickly pear cacti in bloom; I continue to find single 'paddles' with two (or more) colors of flowers sprouting from the thorns:
And the cholla are putting on their pollination-show as well:

A while back, this cartoon (New Yorker) caught my eye...and the increasing price of filling up the gas tank made me think of it:

One day...freedom.

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