Phoenix, Arizona – September 1999
Hello readers! We are now in the heart of what is known here in Phoenix as the “Monsoon Season”. Powerful storms build up along the outskirts of the valley during the day, and then sweep through in the late afternoon/evening, pounding us with walls of blowing dust, rain, bizarre cloud formations, and incredible lightning displays.
These beautiful, erratic storms are commonly mentioned as one thing people miss the most about Phoenix when they move away. They are, indeed, quite spectacular and if you happen to be in the area in August/September/October you’ll probably be lucky enough to see what I mean.
Of course, they can also be quite dangerous, especially to those who happen to be caught in a monsoonal storm while driving. There have been numerous accounts of accidents caused by blinding dust storms, flash floods, and even downed power cables. Several cases of people being struck by lightning are reported every year, especially by golfers, who, with their metal clubs in the air, are like sitting ducks for a strike. So, be careful. Enjoy the beauty and raw power of these storms from a safe location.
On a separate note, I want to mention a fantastic place to visit here in Phoenix – Taliesin West – a former home of world renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, which he also turned into a school for architecture.
The US house of Representatives hailed this home “the highest achievement in American artistic architectural expression”. Tours range from $10-20 US dollars and student discounts are available. Visiting Taliesin West gives you a wonderful opportunity to learn about the life of the great artist and see his genius firsthand.
And finally, I want to take a moment to let you know that I shall be taking a six month hiatus from Phoenix, during which time I shall be living and writing to you from London, England.
Cheers – and thank you for reading!
Here’s some general info to get you acquainted.
From Phoenix, it’s a 4 hour to drive north to the Grand Canyon, and 4 hours south to Rocky Point, Mexico. Also, a one hour flight will take you to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, or San Diego, CA., for about $80 if you book in advance.
Phoenix is extremely spread out, and public transport is quite limited. Unless you have a friend to cart you around, you could try renting a car, ($20-$40) per day, or, if you find accommodation in downtown Tempe or Scottsdale, there’s lots to do within walking distance.
Sadly, there’s only one hostel in Phoenix, and it’ s a bit dodgy (the neighborhood is downright scary). Plus, it’s nowhere near anything to see or do. I’d honestly avoid it at all costs – try to find a cheap hotel, like the Days Inn at Fashion Square Mall, Scottsdale. Unbeatable location – and it’s about $40(off season) per room (2 double beds) – not bad, especially if you’re in a group.