Archives for posts with tag: Phoenix

I know what you’re probably thinking…”isn’t Arizona “hell-oven-Africa” hot in the summer?”  Well, the answer is “yes and not really”.  The yes part applies to the lower elevations, in the middle of the day, while in the sun and not near any water; the “not really” means that there are myriad ways to avoid that oppressive “dry” heat.  I’m a native of Arizona and my family has been in this state since the 1880’s AND I happen to be a heat-wuss, so I know what I’m talking about.

Before I get to my list I want to mention two words that make Arizona even possible: air conditioning.  Seriously.  I love history, particularly frontier history; when I think of the pioneers I’m struck by how hearty they were as a people.  Think about it…they didn’t have AC, their cell reception was probably worse than T-Mobile (maybe), they were being hunted by other people and to top it all off they had to do all of this in wooden underwear.  People today, by comparison, are so soft.

Air conditioning makes being in the desert possible, for us marshmallows.  But there are other ways to enjoy Arizona while being outside.  So, without further ado, here’s my top 5 ways to enjoy our state without spontaneously combusting like a Spinal Tap drummer.

NUMBER 5:  Swimming Pools.  If you come to Arizona and book a room at a hotel or resort without a pool then you deserve to sweat your crotch off!  I’m not sure how hard you’d have to work to find a place without a pool but I’m sure there are some seedy places that don’t.  The Arizona heat only really sucks when the sun is at its peak AND you’re in the direct sunlight.  Yes, 110°F is still hot, but it’s the combination of heat and sun that’s the killer.  Factor in a swimming pool and a cabana boy or girl and you’ve got the makings of a great afternoon.  Too warm, jump in the water.

Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

Mother of Pearl swimming pool at The Phoenician Resort & Spa

NUMBER 4: Animal Activity.  During the summer the animals come out to play at night.  In fact, it’s so prolific that we even have a stargazing & night-vision tour that you might want to consider.  You can’t get the night-vision portion during the winter because the animals are hibernating.  But at summer you’ll see coyote, javelina, Jack-hares, and snakes (don’t freak out, seriously…they want nothing to do with you).  In fact, there’s a statistic about who gets bit the most: males between the ages of 18-35, drunk, bitten on the hand, and a low “TTR”.  TTR stands for “tooth to tattoo ratio”.  Ladies, you’re safe!

NUMBER 3: Less Traffic/People.  Every November the population in The Valley increases by about a billion people.  Most of these people are what we lovingly call “snow birds”.  These are the seasonal visitors that descend upon our city with their motor-homes and basically clog up our roadways, shops & restaurants.  Don’t get me wrong – we make our living serving these guests; and I love people, just not when they’re driving.  But during the summer our population literally drops by thousands of people…and they’re not on the roads.

NUMBER 2: High-elevation activities.  Most people don’t realize that Arizona isn’t all desert.  In fact, we have a mountain that’s over 12,000′ tall.  The south rim of the Grand Canyon sits at 7,000′, and the north rim even higher.  The town of Flagstaff, one of our lesser-known gems, is a hub of adventure and activity and also sits at 7,000.  Their record high temperature was in 1973 and it was only 97°F, and considering it’s a “dry” climate it’s downright beautiful.  There are also other high elevations throughout the state so don’t think that coming to Arizona during the summer is going to cause you to catch fire.


Flagstaff, Arizona

NUMBER 1:  Resort Discounts.  Because the entire world knows that even Satan has a summer home outside the Sonoran Desert in the summer the local hotels and resorts cut their room rates embarrassingly low.  They used to just close for the summer but lately they figure that some revenue is better than no revenue.  You can book a room at a high-end resort, in the summer, for about the same cost as a Bate’s Motel in the peak season…almost.  Factor in the premium level of service and the manicured pools and grounds and it’s a no-brainer.  Perfect time for a family get-away.

Well, that’s just the top 5 reasons to visit Arizona in the summer.  There are more but I know your attention span is at it’s limit right now.  In fact, if you’re still reading this then I’m amazed and honored.

See you outside.


The last time I wrote I told you that I’ve decided to be a rich and famous travel writer.  I remember listening to a motivational speaker (that didn’t live in a van, down by the river) and he said that speak in the present tense when you speak about dreams.  For example, don’t say “some day I’m going to be a millionaire”; instead say “I’m a millionaire, the money just hasn’t made it into my bank account yet.”

So, I’m a rich and famous travel writer, it’s just that the money isn’t here yet and nobody knows who I am (except for my friends but they’re certainly not going to pay me to write shit; maybe to shut up, but that’s a different blog). I just need to travel and write.  My plan for the summer is to take my travel trailer around the state, to higher elevation cities, and write about what there is to do and places to eat.  Done deal, right?

Well, the “travel” part is proving to be a challenge.  You see, I discovered that a skylight in my travel trailer was cracked, and as a result it leaked…into my shower (yay) and vanity (boo).  So, I bought a replacement skylight and removed the old one.  Only to discover that there was some pretty significant water damage to the substrate.  I learned that word, “substrate”, after watching about 20 YouTube videos about how to repair RV roofs.  I discovered that this is an easy project as long as you’re handy and have tools.

I have a backpack and a bong.  I have a few tools but I’m better at watching professionals use them than I am at using them myself.

But I’m going to learn.

It’s part of the new “me”, and shit.  Yep, I’m trying to grow up and learn how to actually do things other than run a business.  I’m almost 50 so there’s time.

Anyway, my plan for the next few works is to learn how to replace rotten wood and resurfacing my travel trailer roof.

So I got that going for me, which is nice.

100-thingsMy friend, Christine Bailey, is a travel and food writer.  She wrote 100 Things to do in Phoenix before you DIE.  This particular blog is dedicated to some of the best of the 100 things.  I had to pick only five because more would be too long and “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Full disclosure – my company’s adventure, canyoneering, is listed under adventures.  And while I may think it’s the absolute best of the best, I might be a bit biased.  Therefore, that particular thing to do will not be listed, other than to say it’s not listed (see what I did there?).

So, here are five of my favorite things from this wonderful book:

  1. Eat at Barrio Cafe
  2. Visit a Ghost Town turned Artist Community
  3. Watch a sunset or sunrise on a hot air balloon flight
  4. Explore the music of the world at MIM
  5. Enjoy amazing views from the top of Camelback

First, the Barrio Cafe – located in the heart of Phoenix, this unassuming little cafe is truly unexpected.  It was rated as the best Mexican food restaurant in the US by Tabelog.  In a city that has more Mexican food restaurants than Mexicans we’re not surprised that Chef Silvana Esparza is at the top of the list – go there and you’ll see why.  I suggest the Chilies en Nogada or the Cochinita Pibil.  Damn, I think I’ll go there now instead of finish this blog.

OK – I’m back and in a food coma but this blog isn’t going to write itself.


My next favorite thing to do technically isn’t in Phoenix – it’s about 2 hours north.  It’s the town of Jerome.  Situated on the side of a steep hill, this town was once known as “the wickedest town in the west”.  It got its start as a copper mining town, but eventually the mine was closed.  Then, came the “ghost town status”.  Eventually the town started attracting artists.  Today, the town is a thriving tourist destination but here’s the secret – get there in the morning before the hordes of tourists descend on the town.  Most people go to Sedona THEN Jerome.  If you do decide to stay longer there’s a great hotel and the longest continually operated restaurant in Arizona, The English Kitchen.

Next on the list is enjoying one of Arizona’s spectacular sunrises or sunsets.  Unless you live in a cave no doubt you’ve seen pictures of an Arizona sunset or rise.  One of the best ways to catch this spectacular show is from the basket of a hot air balloon.  Technically balloons aren’t allowed to fly before the sun rises, or after it sets, but the light show is still magical.  The views from the air are unexpected – it’s so quiet up there that you could almost hear a bunny fart.  And because there’s so little sound it’s not uncommon to drift over wildlife.

Speaking of sound, you MUST include a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum.  I’m not kidding.  The only way you might not enjoy this is if you’re a music hater.  Here’s how it works – they give you a set of headphones, once in front of a display a video plays telling you about the instruments, it’s history and what it sounds like.  You basically wander through this massive museum listening to the sounds of different cultures.  Definitely plan for a few hours.

camelback-mountainThe last thing you should do is to hike to the top of iconic Camelback Mountain.  This is not a remote wilderness setting by any means.  In fact, you’ll most likely have to jockey for a parking spot, ESPECIALLY during the spring.  But, once you find your spot just follow the signs and other hikers.  It is virtually impossible to get lost.  If you do then natural selection has probably been looking for you for a while.  Once at the top collect your breath and soak in the views.  In fact, I might suggest you do this hike THEN head to Barrio Cafe – you’ll be able to justify eating whatever you want.

Well, this blog is considerably longer than I’d planned.  Hopefully you enjoyed it though.

See you outside.