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Showing posts from December, 2019

What the Casa Grande Ruins Can Tell Us About Arizona’s Future

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It’s 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday in June and it’s already 100º F as I drive down a highway that’s 14 lanes at its widest point. Heading south out of Phoenix, I pass through exurbs of stucco houses, strip malls, and one chain restaurant after another. It’s not long before I exit the sprawl and enter into the vast irrigated fields of Pinal County, Arizona.


The miles pass by as I switch from one state highway to the next. Water from aquifers, from the Gila River, or carried uphill across the state from Lake Mead fills concrete-lined irrigation canals, forming a moat between the blacktop and bright green fields. Lonely farmhouses are surrounded by Italian cypress, Australian eucalyptus, or shaggy California fan palms, themselves forming another kind of moat around homes. All this continues until the fields give way to the natural creosote flats of the Sonoran Desert. A huge structure dominates this clearing: a crumbling earthen tower capped with a modern metal roof.

Photo Post: Walkable Downtown Flagstaff, Arizona

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You can think of Flagstaff, Arizona, as the gateway to all that northern Arizona has to offer. From Flagstaff, it’s easy to daytrip to the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, encounter the enduring cultures of the Hopi and Navajo people, retrace historic Route 66 in all its kitschy glory, or go hiking and skiing in the San Francisco Mountains. But all these activities, as attractive as they are, require you to be stuck in your car for hours at a time.


Flagstaff’s historic downtown gives you the freedom to get out of your car, stretch your legs, and begin to acclimate yourself to more than 7,000 feet of elevation. This district’s regular grid of streets makes it easy to navigate the neighborhood, while dense, human-scaled development makes cars unnecessary to get from one hotspot to the next. Here in downtown, a new storefront opens up every few steps, from bookstores and hiking outfitters to healing crystal stores and candy shops.

7 Reasons Why I Love Arizona’s Boyce Thompson Arboretum

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I killed a jade plant within weeks of moving to Arizona three years ago.

That poor succulent never stood a chance: its pot had zero drainage, the soil wasn’t sandy enough, and, in retrospect, I was probably over-watering it. I even tried to dry it out by sticking it in the hot Phoenix sun, but that ended up burning the poor thing’s leaves.

To atone for my houseplant sins but still soak up all the whimsy and greenery that turned succulents into an interior design craze, I decided to take a daytrip a one-hour’s drive east of town to the oldest botanical garden in the state: Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Here, I got to see tiny potted jade plants surviving—thriving, even!—as well as enormous agaves taller than I am, a menagerie of birds and butterflies, and a grove of fragrant, towering eucalyptus trees that seemed out of place in the dry, dry desert. I was hooked, and ever since that first serene visit, I’ve come back half a dozen times, bringing friends and family members to share with the…