Well, I wanted to spend my free time ordering things for $5 off of the J. Crew final sale but their website seems to be down, so I will instead regale you with tales of Phoenix.

I knew that the city was in the desert, but for some reason I was picturing it as something similar to the Sahel of West Africa– lots of dirt, the occasional low bush or scrawny tree. In fact, I was astonished to witness a rocky, dusty landscape dotted with cacti! There were saguaros, prickly pears, agave, century plants(which are actually a type of agave), and more. It was monsoon season and though there was no rain the dust was often swept up into whirling devils by the hot wind. The prickly pears had swollen purple fruits and the saguaros had hats of red flowers– they looked so dressed up! On a road trip through the Superstition wilderness we saw two mountain goats perched on a cliff face, nonchalantly working their jaws. They had long, curved horns and hide that was shiny in places, like polished leather. Imagine having your skin cured while it was still on your body. The wilderness is harsh and at first glance dull; I wanted to turn away to rest my eye on something lush and green. But I didn’t have a choice and the more I looked, the more invigorated I felt– the wildness and variety of the terrain and the flora and fauna multiplies with every glance. Every landscape must interpret its calling and this one does it with beauty and flair.
The Valley itself is less interesting; blocks of houses interspersed with blocks of strip malls, all the buildings in the same color palette and all the streets perfectly straight and spaced out. Masterminded, if you will, as the new West so often is. Convenient for getting around, certainly. It’s also about 30 miles wide and constantly expanding. You know how a lot of times people say they live in D.C., but they really mean Rosslyn or Bethesda? Or Portland when they mean Beaverton? Well, for some reason we keep ending up actually habitating in the cities themselves, and Phoenix is no exception, despite the cluster of suburbs that have grown into the core. Our new place is, Dr. G tells me, exactly 2000.5 miles from our current place in Baltimore proper. I wouldn’t say it qualifies as luxury (no ambient music or servants in evidence), but it’s nice. Here’s the text of the craigslist ad:

2br – Hillside Townhome/Mt. views/City Lights/Wood Floors


Great 2 Bedroom Townhome, 1 1/2 baths with 2 Balconies overlooking the city.

End unit with wood floors in Living Room, Kitchen and Master Bedroom.

Backs to Shaw Butte Mountain with Hiking and Biking trails thru the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

Community Pool, Jacuzzi, BBQ, Cable TV, All Appliances, Water, Sewer and Trash included

A few pics:

The view driving up to the townhouse:111.jpg

The view from the balcony:

And here are some links that describe the mountain preserve behind, which includes petroglyphs and the ruins of a fancy restaurant, among other things.