We are vaccinated and masked and traveling again. Are you?
We spent two weeks in South Carolina at the end of April. Last week we flew to Phoenix for a family get-together. We have plans to go to Wisconsin later in the summer. Why? Because we have family in South Carolina, Phoenix and Wisconsin.
Masks are required in airline terminals and on airplanes. And they're serious about it. I had to keep a mask on for over seven hours each way. I thought that might be a problem. But it really wasn't. I got used to it.
In Phoenix these days many people have dispensed with masks, especially when they're outside -- or in restaurants. We went to two museums. At the indoor Musical Instrument Museum, a little more than half of the people wore masks. At the outdoor Pioneer Living village, hardly anyone wore a mask.
|The view from our condo|
Whenever I think of Phoenix I recall the Nichols and May telephone skit where May is confirming the spelling of the name Kaplan: "K as in knight," she says. "A as in aardvark. P as in pneumonia . . ."
I guess I understand why Phoenix is pronounced with an F. So is Philadelphia. But there are a lot of things I don't understand about the Sunbelt. The first of them is: why does everyone move here?
|Local fauna includes the pig-like Javelina|
The Phoenix area use to be cheap, uncrowded and not quite as hot as it is today. But now Phoenix has gotten expensive. Six of us went to dinner at a restaurant in a strip mall. It was a nice enough restaurant, but the bill was over $400!
The city is also mobbed. When Glen Campbell recorded "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" the population of the whole area was under a million. Now there are over 5 million people crowded into the Phoenix metro area. And that doesn't even count the tourists.
|At Pioneer Village they aren't kidding about the snakes|
We were there for a week. We agreed ahead of time that we'd go swimming in our airbnb pool every day the thermometer hit 100 degrees. We went swimming every day.
But I have to admit, I enjoyed swimming every day. And there's a silver lining to the heat. Our rental complex wasn't very crowded. A lot of people who live there are snowbirds, and they've fled to cooler climes for the time being.
Anyway, I was visiting family. They moved to Phoenix in 2002. And they love it.
|The teacher's house circa 1890|
There are a lot of things to do in Phoenix -- from the sports venues to the zoo and the botanical gardens and the art museum and an American Indian museum.
We spent most of our time hanging out with family. But we did make those two excursions. The first was to the Musical Instrument Museum which houses a large, well-organized and interactive collection of instruments from around the world. We saw all kinds of strange instruments, listened to lots of different music, and even caught a live bluegrass show.
|The sheriff's office included a jail|
We also spent a morning at the nearby Pioneer Living History Museum, located in an area that was once a ranch, a few miles north of the city.
Some of the buildings are re-creations; others are original buildings that were moved there when the museum opened in 1969. Either way, they were all sitting in the desert, baking under a remorseless sun.
|Peek inside a fancy dress shop|
Now we're back home, outside of Philadelphia. It's raining. It's 58 degrees. There's no swimming pool, just a lawn that needs mowing. Maybe I do know why people move to the Sunbelt!
|Phoenix today, at the corner of . . . well, any corner|