Visiting Phoenix, Arizona
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  Posted January 2nd, 2010 by Zdenko  in Travel | No comments yet.

Travel USA

By: Zdenko Kahlina

Our trip to Phoenix, Arizona
Things are different in the desert. The sky is bigger. The stars are brighter. The sunsets stop you in your tracks. It’s a feeling that can’t be conjured, landscaped or kindled with twinkling bulbs. Come to Greater Phoenix and you’ll understand.

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My last visit to Phoenix was during my business trip, in November 2004 and as usual Vera came along. We stayed there for the whole week. We had evenings to browse and explore the city. Weekend was reserved for the road trip to Sedona (up north of the city) and Apache trail (south-east of the city). These trips will be described in  separate blogs.

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America’s fifth-largest city still has real cowboys and rugged mountains and the kind of cactus most people see only in cartoons. Phoenix is the gateway to the Grand Canyon, and its history is a testament to the spirit of puebloans, ranchers, miners and visionaries. Projected against this rich backdrop is a panorama of urban sophistication: Resorts and spas that drop jaws and soothe souls. Stadiums and arenas worthy of the world’s biggest sports spectacles. Restaurants with inspired cuisine and inspiring patio views. Golf courses that beckon players the year round. Shopping centers as stylish and eclectic as the fashions they house.

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This is Greater Phoenix — Arizona’s urban heart and America’s sunniest metropolis.

Facts about Phoenix:

  • According to legend, Phoenix gets its name from Cambridge-educated pioneer Darrell Duppa, who saw the ruins and prehistoric canals of the Hohokam and believed another civilization would rise from the ashes.
  • Phoenix is the United States’ fifth-largest city with a population of nearly 1.5 million.
  • Greater Phoenix (which includes, among others, the cities of Chandler, Glendale, Scottsdale and Tempe) has a population of nearly 3.8 million and covers 2,000 square miles.
  • Maricopa County—where Greater Phoenix is located—covers 9,127 square miles.
  • Phoenix‘s elevation is 1,117 feet.
  • Greater Phoenix is located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, which is widely considered the most ecologically diverse desert in the world.
  • Phoenix averages more than 310 sunny days per year.
  • Phoenix has an average annual rainfall of 7.66 inches, an average annual temperature of 72.6 degrees and an annual high temperature of 85 degrees.
  • Greater Phoenix is home to more than 200 golf courses.
  • 13-15 million people visit Phoenix each year. More than 30 million people visit Arizona each year.
  • Sky Harbor serves more than 42 million passengers a year, ranking it among the 10 busiest airports in the nation.
  • Phoenix is one of only 13 U.S. cities with franchises in all four major professional sports leagues: Phoenix Suns (NBA), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Arizona Cardinals (NFL) and Phoenix Coyotes (NHL).

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History
Phoenix history is as colorful as the ancient peoples, immigrants and settlers who shaped it. If you’re a history buff, no trip here is complete without a visit to the museums dedicated to telling Phoenix’s story — places like Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, Heard Museum, and the Phoenix Museum of History.

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For now, though, here’s a lesson in Phoenix History 101: The Hohokam people inhabited what is now Greater Phoenix until about 1450 A.D. They created the first major urban civilization in the Salt River Valley and developed a canal system that’s still in use today. In 1865, the U.S. government established Fort McDowell here, and settlers such as Jack Swilling began farming the land.

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The city of Phoenix was established in 1868. Two years later, the first survey and census of the city noted it was about a mile long and a half-mile wide, with 74 dwellings and a population of 250. Today, Greater Phoenix covers about 2,000 square miles and the population exceeds 3.8 million.

papago-arizona-saguaroSaguaro Cactus, Papago Park

This photo show a Sagauro Cactus, symbol of the Desert Southwest. It is seen here in Papago Park, the desert park found in downtown Phoenix. Beautiful sunset light adorns the Phoenix landscape in this late winter photo. This is shot during one of my favorite times of the day for photography, about ten minutes before sundown. Warm evening light makes for interesting compositions!

Arizona_Nov2004_123Vera by Saguaro cactus
Only a short drive away from Old Town Scottsdale and the Fifth Avenue art galleries and shops, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a unique Scottsdale treasure. Visitors here will get a truer sense of this resort and arts enclave and discover the desert aesthetic visible from the trail above. Hera are few pictures of big cactuses that grow in the area.

Desert Botanical Garden

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Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix has several cacti I’ve never seen before. It was a perfect getaway within Phoenix. There many varieties of cactus as well as other plants. A desert tortoise even showed itself as well as a variety of birds.

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We spent at least 4 hours at the Garden. It was wonderful! Very well kept, and lots of interesting desert plants. It was fun to watch the quail running around, along with birds and rabbits. If you don’t live in a desert climate, this garden gives you a very good education on what it’s like.

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Have a good and healthy season.

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