Reasons Why Phoenix is Awesome

Ever had someone talk crap about your family  all over social media?  That’s how I felt after reading Vice.com’s “article” Reasons Why Phoenix Is the Worst Place Ever. http://www.vice.com/read/reasons-why-phoenix-is-the-worst-place-ever.  After seeing this whiney, nasty piece shared repeatedly on my Facebook feed, I decided to take matters into my own hands to defend the city I love.

Here are a few reasons why Phoenix is freaking awesome.

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Phoenix, Arizona- “the Valley of the Sun.” Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

It’s sunny almost all the time.

With over 300 days of sunshine per year, Phoenix has earned its nickname of “Valley of the Sun.”  Weather rarely forces us to change our plans, and we can almost always play outside while our friends and family in other regions are bundled up, facing seasonal blues or yet another destructive storm.  We’re really spoiled with sunshine, and I truly believe that our bright and happy weather contributes to an overall better emotional state year-round.

Amazing Mexican food is ALWAYS within reach.

Tacos-de-Carne-Asada

Perfection.

For Phoenicians, Mexican food is not “ethnic food.” It’s part of who we are, and we can’t get enough of it. To us, Mexican food means Christmas tamales by the dozen, fresh carne asada tacos on homemade tortillas, or bacon-wrapped Sonoran hot dogs with all the toppings. It’s a late night trip to the nearest “-berto’s” for a sweet and icy horchata and a massive $5 burrito, or even a cheese and sour cream covered chimichanga when we’re craving something more gringo. What about some table-side guacamole or some cochinita pibil? Or… OOH! Some green chicken enchiladas?  Or, or… Ok, must stop.  Dang, I’m hungry now.

Phoenix knows how to manage water.

canal

One of our many canals. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Some people claim that Phoenix shouldn’t exist, claiming we are spitting in the face of nature, growing irresponsibly and carelessly depleting our natural resources without any regard for sustainability.  My response? “Gurl, you don’t even KNOW me!”

The reality is Phoenix has been dealing with a dry climate, rapid growth and limited water supplies since the beginning, and we’re much better off than most cities in the southwest. Our city was literally designed around the canals of the Hohokam, a Native American group who harnessed the power of irrigation to turn this arid valley into fruitful cropland and a long-lasting society.

Unlike most other cities in the southwest, Phoenix can count on water from more than one source. We get our liquid of life from the Colorado River, the Salt and Verde River watersheds,  ground water from the city’s wells, and reclaimed water.  In 1980, the State passed a law requiring “water banking” underground for drier times, and Arizona now won’t approve any new development unless there is a 100 year water supply to sustain it.  Are we the “greenest” and most sustainable city in America? No. But we’re not going to dry up any time soon. Check out more at: http://phoenix.gov/waterservices/wrc/yourwater/

Our sky is huge. Our sunsets are legendary.

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Just a typical sunset in one of our many desert preserves. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

The sky is just bigger out here. Maybe it’s the lack of big trees, or maybe it’s because we’re just closer to heaven. Laugh if you want, but you’ll believe heaven isn’t far away when you see our hot desert sun paint a masterpiece behind silhouettes of saguaros, palm trees and mountainsides.

It’s inexpensive.

The concept of “expensive” is relative, so let’s compare Phoenix with San Diego.  Considering food, gas, housing, transportation, healthcare and utilities, Phoenix’s cost of living is 34% lower than San Diego’s.  But since median income is only 20% less, a decent quality of life is that much more in reach.  Oh, and Phoenix is also cheaper than Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, and almost every other large city in the United States. (Source: cost of living calculator at areavibes.com)

The Sonoran desert is a different kind of beautiful.

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Saguaros, palo verde trees and an ocotillo. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

If you’re looking for a grassy forest with moss-covered rocks and fairies flitting about, Phoenix isn’t the place for you. The Sonoran desert is a land of imposing mountains and vast valleys with life popping up where you least expect it. Beauty comes in shades of sage, brown, gray and black, and spring turns the landscape into a promised land of yellow, green, purple and pink. And with mountain trails all around, there are countless opportunities to appreciate the beauty of the desert.

hedgehog cactus

Spring flowers on a hedgehog cactus. Photo credit: Ron Niebrugge, http://www.wildnatureimages.com

Camelback Mountain, Photo credit: wikimedia commons

Camelback Mountain, Photo credit: wikimedia commons

We’re really quite progressive, despite what it seems.

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Street art in Phoenix

Our state may have some crazy politicians, but their bizarre antics do not represent how the average Phoenician thinks.  Frankly we are very embarrassed that our politicians have made the world think we’re all racist, homophobic and generally intolerant people.  Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of those, but generally speaking, Phoenix residents are quite middle-thinking.  Phoenix is a blue splotch in a sea of red voting districts, and as our demographic makeup changes our city is growing more and more centered.

We get to take advantage of our top-notch resorts.

Whether you’re golfing, meeting up for a drink, having a spa day or a full-on “staycation,” our city has some of the best resorts around. And best yet, the drastically reduced summer prices make those luxuries accessible for the masses.

We have excellent roads and mucho free parking.

Potholes, crumbling asphalt, and hunting for parking are foreign concepts to Arizona natives. Here our road and freeway systems are well planned, well kept, and wide enough to accommodate our growing population. And yeah, free parking is everywhere.

Citrus, citrus, everywhere!

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Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

One of the “Five C’s” of Arizona industry (along with cotton, copper, cattle and climate), citrus trees are everywhere. In cooler months people have so many oranges, lemons, grapefruits or tangerines that they are giving them away by the bagful. And let’s not forget the intoxicating smell of orange blossoms in the spring! It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Summers bring out the “Phoenix” in us.

hot sun

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Our sweltering summers bring out our resourceful side. When it doesn’t dip below 100 for months, we learn to adapt. We stay inside a lot. We praise God for the gift of air conditioning when we’re not in a pool or cooling off at one of our lakes, water parks, or with frozen treats and occasional trips to cooler places.  After a few months of sacrifice, we’re rejoicing in our gorgeous weather again for another seven months while the rest of the country braces for the dark days.

We’re a short drive away from other worlds.

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West Fork, Oak Creek Canyon. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

When we need a break from our desert metropolis, we have plenty of options to drive to.  In a matter of a couple of hours we can escape to explore mountains, canyons, forests and amazing rock formations all around the state.  We can take a trip to funky ghost towns, ski resorts, artist communities or even head up to the Grand Canyon if we’re feeling adventurous. San Diego, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles are all within a six hour drive, and we’re particularly fond of margaritas on the beach in Rocky Point, Mexico, only four hours away.

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Aspen trees along a road in Flagstaff. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

skiing in snow bowl

Skiing at Snow Bowl. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

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Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco), Mexico. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

 

Our plants and animals are the definition of badass.

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A cactus wren chillin’ in a cholla cactus (pronounced choy-ah). Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

From beautiful and to bizarre, delicate to dangerous, desert life is something to be respected and admired. With their spines, blossoms, fangs, feathers, and fur, our flora and fauna are the definition of “hard and soft” and are truly the ultimate survivors. And props to them for not even needing air conditioning or bottled water!

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Hey, Mr. coyote! Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

There’s always something to do (and eat!)

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Day of the Dead celebration at Mesa Arts Center

No matter what you’re into, you can find it here. We have art fairs, culinary festivals, sporting events, biker fests and everything in between. And from the Day of the Dead to Chinese New Year, we celebrate our many cultures with pride.  Proof of a higher power comes in the form of taco festivals, tamale festivals, salsa festivals, and tequila festivals.  HECK yes.  Did I mention we have tons of amazing restaurants?  From Ethiopian fare to chicken and waffles, we’ve got it all.  Oh, and you know, we have some awesome Mexican food…

Our people are everything.

Rock and Roll Marathon

Phoenix’s greatest quality is its people.  We’re a little bit Midwest, a little bit California, a little bit Mexico and a ton of pure awesomeness.  We’re a deliciously fabulous, ever-growing fondue pot of people with a dream to rise above the ashes to do something great in life.  And in a city where natives like me are rare, friends truly become family.  In my 29 years here, I’ve met the most amazing individuals who have filled my life with love and learning, teaching me that the human spirit is something more powerful and beautiful than what I could have imagined.  The sappy cliché “home is where the heart is” normally makes me want to roll my eyes, but that’s honestly how I feel about Phoenix, and I have the people around me to thank.

In summary, Phoenix is freaking awesome.

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“Calle 16” street art in Phoenix near Barrio Cafe.

While I don’t claim it’s perfect, Phoenix is a pretty damn awesome place to call home.  And I think the growing number of Phoenicians would have to agree, it’s far from the “worst place ever.”  When it comes down to it, you could bash any city for its shortcomings, but if you’re stuck complaining all the time, you’re missing out on the truly special and beautiful things right in front of you.

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A view of Phoenix from Camelback Mountain. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

What awesome things about Phoenix have I forgotten to include? Let me know in the comment box below!

 

 

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17 comments

  1. Well stated. I love living in Phoenix and I am tired of hearing people talk about us in a negative way. I need to share this on facebook! 🙂

  2. Dude! You hit the nail on the head. I’m a 36-year-old native who is just old enough to remember going to Legend City as a kid. I’ve won 3 Ladmo bags. I’ve also been all around the world and find myself coming back to call this desert home. Your comments about culture and how our ecology is the definition of “bad-ass” made me laugh so loud that all the Mexicans at Gorditas El Tío restaurant all turned and looked at me funny. I’m a landscape design contractor and arborist-in-training who fears no triple-digit heat and lives in sin with a gorgeous, educated, bilingual Mexico City girl and her Canadian-born son. My Spanish is so fluent that I have a city-specific regional dialect…yet I am Irish. I am the poster child of your basic Phoenician melting pot. When I describe Phoenix to my out-of-town friends, I describe it exactly as you just did. Kudos, vato! You’re the man for standing up and singing the praise that this town deserves.

    1. Seamus, I think we are long lost compadres! We’re both güero hispanophiles who dance to the beat of our own drum. Thanks for the awesome comment, and I hope you continue to follow my blog! Un abrazo. Oh, P.S. Gorditas el tio is the bomb.

  3. Loved this! I grew up here, moved away for many years, and came back to Phoenix recently. The progressive part kinda threw me. It’s a great word to describe us, but it has also been hijacked by the sheep on the extreme left side of politics. I’m very happy to have moved away from that crowd. Thank you for letting the world know Phoenix is a grand place indeed!

  4. I just recently went to calle 16 for my Spanish class and it was beautiful! Obviously my favorite mural was the one of Frida!

  5. thank you for writing this. Phoenix is much cooler than people make it out to be, crazy politics aside I’m proud to hail from the Valley of the Sun!!

  6. Hey SuperPadre, I agree with most of what you say AND I agree with most of the Vice article. Phoenix creates strong emotion in everybody who’s been there. Also, to be fair, Vice apparently has a whole series about why London / San Francisco / Los Angeles / etc is the worst place ever. They can’t all be the worst… Anyway, congrats on your blog! The Suits theme rocks!

    1. I also agreed with pretty much everything on the Vice article, so I felt it my responsibility to celebrate the city’s positive side. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement! A mí también me gusta bastante tu blog. ¡Te felicito, tío!

  7. I loved this article. I too read some other articles bashing Phoneix and my Phoenician pride became defensive, I felt they wrent seeing so many of the amazing benefits to living here. I am expecting a daughter soon and I cannot think of a better place to raise her. So may opportunities lie here with school and career options all the while offering affordable places to live. Thanks for posting!!

  8. From rainy and green Portland I also agree with what you say! I just wish it didn’t sprawl so much and be so dependent on cars. Sorry. But I have often defended Phoenix when people say negative things about the town– I mention many of the points you make, and say, “but it’s a dry heat”……!

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