That being said, my experience on U. S. Air was about as good as it gets. There was no mob scene at the airport. Check-in was not a problem. We took off without delay. The flight was smooth. We arrived on time. The whole experience almost made me want to fly again ... well, I guess I'll have to if I want to go home.
So I arrived in Arizona a few days ago, and I find that I am sleeping extremely well. I fell into bed at 9:15 last night; I read for a little while, but couldn't say awake past 10 p.m. Then I slept soundly until 7:15 this morning. A good nine hours of solid sack time! I dunno if it's because I'm on vacation, or if it's the dry air, or what, but if you're having trouble sleeping, come to Arizona!
There are a couple of things that make me nervous, however. Apparently there's been a rash of home invasions in the area recently. When I arrived, people were talking about a double murder that had occurred just a few days before, in one of the nicer neighborhoods of Phoenix.
It's pretty gruesome. A retired doctor and his wife were found bound, shot and burned beyond recognition in the master bedroom of their suburban home. Authorities have released no official statements. But the rumor I heard from another Phoenix doctor suggests it was a home invasion gone bad -- two men had followed the couple into their garage but they'd been recognized by the man. And so the couple had to be killed. And then the house was set on fire. Two suspects were arrested by the end of the week.
This could happen anywhere, I suppose. And honestly, I don't know if the crime rate around Phoenix is any worse than anywhere else. But I'll tell you one thing. My sister and all her friends are being very careful to close their garage doors and lock their doors at night.
Meanwhile, there's a proposal on the ballot in Arizona to allow people to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. Arizona already has the worst gun-safety laws in the nation, tied at the bottom with Utah and Alaska, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Now, I don't know how many 18 - 22 year olds you know, but when I look around and see how those kids drive, and how they can be impulsive, and how they experiment with drinking and drugs and who knows what else, do you really think it's a good idea to give them a license to carry a concealed weapon?
Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of people in the military are 20 years old, and carry much more deadly weapons than a concealed gun. But the kids in the military have been trained, and they are under the supervision of older, more experienced, more responsible officers. It would make me very nervous to be walking around a college campus, wondering who was packing heat, and who was not. If nothing else, it might inhibit class discussion, don't you think?
|The Heard Museum in Phoenix features Indian arts and culture|
Of course, I don't spend much time on a college campus anymore. But it also makes me a little nervous driving around the streets of Phoenix, wondering who's carrying and who's not.
Although, when I am driving around the streets of Phoenix, I'm not always aware that I'm even in Arizona. In fact, the Phoenix metro area seems like Florida to me -- miles and miles of strip malls and low-slung office buildings and parking lots dotted with palm trees. I think of the Valley of the Sun as Florida -- without the water. Except every once in a while you turn a corner and there, up ahead, is a mountain, or mountain ridge. And you're surprised. Oh yeah ... we are in Arizona.
One place I did drive was to the Heard Museum, a beautiful oasis in the middle of Phoenix dedicated to American Indian arts and cultures. (They say American Indian, not Native American, so I'm just going with their terminology.) I recommend a visit if you're in town.
As you can see I have mixed initial reactions to Phoenix -- and I've yet to experience the rest of Arizona, which I will do after I get back from California. Like everywhere else, I suppose, there are some good things and some bad things. But I didn't come here to judge Phoenix. Plenty have people have already done that, and given it high marks. Americans have voted with their feet, moving to Phoenix in droves. The place has been growing for decades and is still attracting people, despite what you hear about the bad economy and horrible real-estate market and the poor gun-safety laws.
As for me, I might not want to retire and live here; but it's a great place to visit. The people, by and large, seem friendly. The prices are reasonable (at least compared to the Northeast). And the weather in February is fantastic. Great for sleeping!