Once again; I am happy to be here. Honest. Nice place. Nice change. Please believe that. BUT…some things are different (as you would expect) and it is that difference that I find so interesting and am writing about today. Well, to be honest, it is the differences that I find weird, even off-putting that interest me the most. Sal likes quirky. I like weird. Go figure.
So, the first oddity noticed is on the TV. It’s the ads. I swear to god, the ads for pharmaceuticals far and away dominate all commercial air time. By a huge margin. Way more drugs than Doritos.
I once watched ten dreaded-conditions ads in a row – complete with the rapid-speak, fine-print talking about gruesome side effects. When it is not about disabling symptoms, it’s about local lawyers urging you to sue someone or local hospitals that will sculpt your body or treat your addictions. It seems 90% of the ads are about industrial, commercial, corporate health product and service providers. Very strange.
We rarely watch the damn TV but, during the inauguration, we did. And because of weird thing #2, we watched it for five evenings in a row. Weird thing #2 is the weather. We are in the desert and it has been raining here three days out of five.
Now, to be fair, Arizona rain is a good thing and, anyway, it seems to lack real volume, real wetness. Each drop feels like it’s a half-size and a half-step behind our guys back home. To get an inch of rain in the desert takes hours. We can get an inch in a few minutes in BC. Still, there were puddles in the yard! And there are cactus near the puddles!? That’s kinda odd, don’t you think?
Seems the desert forms a surface crust and, when it rains, much of the water cannot penetrate down. So they get flash floods on less rain than we would handle with our normal drainage systems on a normal rainy day.
Temperatures are around 60F in the day, 35 in the evening and, up north near the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, they have accumulated many feet of snow! So, Arizona really does have a noticeable winter even by my BC standards. And I can finally imagine how the aquifer they rely on might have a chance at being at least partially replenished.
Just to be clear: I am perfectly OK with this kind of winter. I like 60-65 degrees F. I have never been a fan of 80-85F/30C. So, this is good.
Weird thing #3. More and more grocery stores down here are emphasizing health, too. Lots of cheap good produce. The fruit is wonderful. Everything is organic and gluten free. Meats without hormones and that sort of thing. Think Whole Foods. And the people shopping there are healthy looking and reading labels just like us. A Sprouts Store (best for organics) is a replica of a Thrifty’s or Whole Foods in Vancouver or Victoria. Same people. Same emphasis on produce. Less ‘processed’ foods.
But most restaurants are filled with BIG people. Some are really big. Dwarfing-the-scooter-riding big. We went to one nearby Mexican place rated well and I left a third of my dinner behind. I NEVER leave a tasty dinner uneaten. But there were so many Jabba-the-huts around us, I just felt that I had to get away and, to be honest, the portion was big enough that I could have left half behind. And I had the smallest entree. Sal stuck with the appetizers. We both felt that we had way too much food. C’mon! That’s weird.
I am also having some feelings about these modern adobe-style suburbs. There does not seem to be a very high occupancy. If there is, the people don’t go out much. Not even the kids. Few, if any, people walk. There is little visible proof of real people living here except when ‘garbage day’ rolls around, every house has their two incredibly immense cans (each could hide the two of us and our weekly output of garbage) out ready for pick up. They gotta be in there…………………?
Our obligatory Mexican gardener showed up today. Packing a blower. He walked around the yard blowing leaves. That was a surprise for two OTG’ers. Sal had just mentioned the other day about cleaning up some leaves but I said, “It’s fine. We’ll tidy up before we go. Anyway, the lawns are plastic. The plants are cactus. We’re good.” Seems I was wrong. We needed a good cleaning up.
This one is also kinda odd: rush hour is really clogged. Freeways. Main streets. Side roads. Rush hour starts about 5:00 and lasts for 40 minutes. Tops. Maybe less. For half an hour, you crawl. All other times, you can fly along on near-empty roads. If caught in rush hour, stop at the nearest shopping centre, buy a quart of milk and then continue on virtually empty streets. It’s actually more like a traffic swarm than it is a traffic jam or a congestion by Vancouver standards. Everyone must get off work at exactly the same time. Weird.
I can’t see doing too much reporting on this part of Arizona, really. Scottsdale was nice. Expensive homes. But nothing really. We are in the urban heart of Arizona and well, you know what that’s like….urban is urban just about everywhere you go.
BTW: I measure my writing by how many comments I get. The last two blogs only generated 5 comments and I was half of them. So, clearly, Trump, Arizona and whatever it was before that, is not resonating. I am OK with that. I do not resonate with everyone all the time. That’s OK. BUT – is there anything you WANT to know about? Meaning of life? Is there a God? Best wine under $10.00?