Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mesa, Arizona

We finally crossed into Arizona yesterday afternoon, and also into Mountain Standard Time. We are now one hour later than those of you back home. I'm afraid Mike has been assimilated into the RV crowd (Resistance is Futile). He now talks to almost everyone he sees about all kinds of RV related stuff--tow vehicles, vehicles being towed, electrical hook-ups, bike racks, and poo-poo hoses.

We drove through some beautiful country yesterday. We were on I-10 most of the day. We started out on the north side of Joshua Tree and drove the park road due south. We hadn't visited that part of Joshua Tree on the day before, and so it was good to get to see the rest. We saw quite a few wildflowers, and we can only think that the big storm that blew through is responsible for this unseasonal bloom. Very nice--but too cold or we would have stayed another day to do some hiking.

As it is, we drove through the Phoenix metropolitan area yesterday. We lived here during the first three years of our marriage in the late 70's. What a change 30 years can make! At that time there was one useless freeway at the far west end of town. We lived at the east end and so there was no way to get around except on downtown surface streets, steaming asphalt, and stifling heat. When we drove through last night, we were greeted by a huge and well-built freeway system that got us through town in rush hour traffic much faster than I could have driven home from work way back then.

According to the tour book, the Hohokam Indians mastered the Salt River Valley desert by building irrigation ditches, and then mysteriously disappeared around 1450. On this ancient site, the settler John Smith established a hay camp in 1864 and contracted to supply forage to Camp McDowell, an Army outpost 30 miles away. During this time, the name Phoenix was suggested, as a new city would be expected to rise from the remnants of the vanished civilization, just at the mythical phoenix rose from its own ashes. Interesting, huh? Phoenix is now the 6th largest city in America.

We pulled into a town on the east side of the city, a suburb called Mesa. Mesa is in the center of the Salt River Valley on a plateau. The Hohokam Indians were a very resourceful tribe and realized the need for water for irrigation and dug some 125 miles of canals around 700 BC. Some of those irrigation ditches are still in use. In 1883, the founding Mormon community discovered the ancient canal system and used it to irrigate the thousands of fertile acres of farmland above the Salt River.

The park where we stayed last night is huge--nearly 2,000 sites! They are extremely snooty, however. The only question they didn't ask is our net worth. We pulled in after dark and they parked us in a pull-through that offers nothing but asphalt and painted lines. The guy who showed us where to park also had to stay while Mike plugged into the electrical connection--no more difficult than plugging in a lamp. When Mike observed that this place had "too many rules," the guy told us that it was for our own safety that he stay. Hm.

They also gave us name badges and we are expected to wear them at all times while in the park. Neither of us has worn a name badge since we quit working, and we don't need no stinking badges! So . . . we are exercising one of the best things about RVing. If we don't like a place, we move on and give them a view of our backs. We had thought we might stay a week here until they started treating us like teenagers. As it is, we are out of here--and soon. It is only a couple of hours to Tucson. When we made our reservation, we quizzed them about the "too many rules" situation. The person on the phone thought our question about name badges was the strangest question she'd ever heard. By the way, these parks are designated age 55 and older. Mike is old enough, but I'm sneaking in. Hope I don't get carded! (Now I really feel like a teenager.)

So that's the scoop coming out of Mesa. More later.

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