Updated: Mar 7, 2019
“Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon, and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent’s sepulchre), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun”. – Roman poet Ovid describing the mythical bird Phoenix after which Arizona's most interesting university town got its name.
In Phoenix I reconnected with Vanessa, a close friend that spent a year in Germany through the same scholarship as I three years ago. Vanessa is a wonderful human being; An elementary school teacher, the most noble of professions, with a big heart and nothing but positive energy. Her boyfriend Stefan and their roommate Victor were my hosts for a few days in Phoenix where I took advantage and got the camera repaired while also catching up on some maintenance work on the machine. The bike was due for a new spark plug, and a thorough cleaning.
Phoenix is a lively city, much thanks to the big student population there. I stopped at a hippie shop near Mill street in downtown Tempe where most of the nightlife is and there I met a beautiful girl, as lovely as she is feisty. Lizy is her name and it is to her as well that I must contribute the unforgettable few days in Phoenix AZ. Lizy, Vane and Stefan were excellent tour guides and it's wonderful to have local contacts and old friend to reconnect with in new places I visited.
Here are a few activities I would recommend for Phoenix. Since almost every day is sunny and hot, what better way to utilize the day then to float lazily down a slow moving river with a few friends and a few more beers? Devote a few hours tubing down the Salt River which winds for a few scenic miles through some of the nicest desert and canyon topography. Another must is to do a night hike of the North Mountain Preserve or the Phoenix Mountain Reserve located directly in the heart of the city. The hikes are not difficult although you will be climbing for a few hundred feet on well established trails. At the top the air is fresh and you have the most stunning view of this enormous city that is actually bigger than Los Angeles by territory. On the night that I went the moon was full and it was definitely one of the highlights of the city for me. Yhe expansive views of the city lights in the mostly flat valley bellow with the river winding through is simply beautiful.
Another pleasant way to spend an afternoon is to visit the botanical gardens for a walk through some of the most interesting desert fauna and cacti. They even offer a flashlight tour at night where you might be able to spot scorpions glowing bright under black light.
Phoenix is a very spread out city with boring blocks of avenues laid out in squares so plan on driving everywhere although remember to tune the radio to 104.3 that plays great oldies, funk and motown tunes.Thanks to my friends in Phoenix for a wonderful few days there.