In October, 1983, I had been living in Brooklyn for 3 years, going to Pratt for the first two, and just being an artist for the third. New York City is an amazing, one-of-a-kind place, and I recommend that everyone live there for a little while at some time in their life. I does, however, have an effect on me that I didn't like. There is a persona that New Yorkers project in public, a kind of I'm tough, don't mess with me attitude that may or may not be essential to survival in the wormholes of the Big Apple. For some, myself being one, that attitude begins to become reality, no longer just a front.
When I decided I needed to remove myself from NYC, I had three criteria, weather, population density, and a place where I knew someone. The two finalists ended up being Albuquerque, NM, where the sister of an ex girlfriend lived, and Tucson, AZ, where one of my closest friends was at college. Tucson won.
I was born in Ekalaka, Montana, on the great plains. I think there is a genetic predisposition in me to love the wide open spaces. I immediately fell in love with the Sonoran Desert. It is remarkably full of life for a "desert". Fragile, weird, and often hostile life, but strength and beauty everywhere.
And the skies...unbelievable! The huge expanse of blue during the day, and an ocean of stars at night. During the monsoon season in Tucson, a 30% chance of rain means that 30% of Tucson will get rain. Little thunderstorms will bounce around the valley, dumping rain here and there, and producing an awesome light show everywhere. I have numerous times been standing in bright sunshine with rain falling on my head, or standing in the rain while across the street it is dry and sunny.
Then there are the mountains that those thunderstorms are bouncing off of. Huge majestic ranges and smaller desert hills, like islands in an ocean of desert. Each with its own ecosystem, isolated from the other "islands around it. Canyons reach up into these ranges, affording endless unique adventures for hikers of all levels. I hiked the Catalinas outside Tucson for eight years and barely scratched the surface.
Speaking of canyons, there must be mention of the Grand. This is a place without equal, the church where my soul blossoms. I have hiked to the bottom three times and rafted through six times. I cannot do justice to its power, beauty, size or age with words or pictures. You have to experience it for yourself.
There is also Monument Valley, The Chiracahuas, the Superstitions, Patagonia, Sedona, The Mogollon Rim, Slot canyons in Navajo country, Lake Powell, Snow Bowl and Flagstaff. This is such a varied and incredible state. Go buy a copy of Arizona Highways and you will get a small taste of it.
I have to say that my time in Phoenix has not been as wonderful as the years in Tucson. The mountains are too far away, visually, and in drive time, and the people are not so in tune with the land, and why they originally came here, but thank you, crazystraw, for re-acquainting me with my feeling for this state. This time next year, I will be out of Phoenix for good, and close to the mountains again.