As soon as you mention you are visiting Arizona, you know what people say.
C’mon, you know. You have said it yourself: “Oh, it’s a dry heat.”
Yes, yes it is. So is sticking your head in an oven door and closing it.
The people who inhabit the great state of Arizona are made of sturdier stock than I ever will be. Or maybe they have had their brains broiled by the searing heat and do not know enough to move.
Before you criticize me as being an Arizona-basher, let me say that I traveled a fair portion of the state during a recent visit and was struck by its rich history, interesting attractions, great dining and excellent universities.
It is just that the conditions there are not for me. I am more of a four-season New England weather kind of guy. I subscribe to the idea that it easier to add layers to stay warm than it is to strip away layers to stay cool.
Take for example the heat in Arizona. When we were there in mid-March, the temps in some parts were in the high 80s or low 90s. That was in March for crying out loud!
During the summer, it is regularly triple-digit temperatures. The only thing that should reach triple-digit temperatures is my grilled hamburger.
But here is the other crazy thing: We did not once sweat during the entire trip. We had the early stages of heat stroke yes, but not once did we sweat no matter how much water we drank.
It was unnatural.
The terrain was surreal, going from mountain to desert to cliffs and back again.
For someone like me who lives in the woods and is accustomed to seeing nothing but trees and limited horizons, it was an odd experience.
We learned that Arizona is much like Pennsylvania in that it has wildlife like bears, foxes, deer and coyotes.
I almost felt at home hearing that.
And then we saw a sign that said “Watch for rattlesnakes” – on a public sidewalk at a museum.
Oh, and did I mention that there are scorpions? That come into people’s houses?
Fuhgedaboutit. I’m outta here.
The state is also prone to outbreaks of dust storms known as haboobs. These can kick up with little warning and bring visibility on the road to nil.
Apparently if you are caught driving in one of these, the recommended response is to pull over (makes sense) and turn off all of your lights (hmmmm….) because if you keep them on someone might think you are moving and attempt to follow you (ahhh…OK), except of course sitting on the side of the road in a dust storm with no lights on to signal your presence means you run the risk of being struck. (What?!)
The day we left Arizona, it was sunny and about 90 degrees.
When we returned, it was 18 degrees and there were dire forecasts for a blizzard and two-plus feet of snow.
I was happy to be home.