Sun time

Phoenix, viewed from the hills of South Mointain Park , looking north.

Phoenix, viewed from the hills of South Mointain Park , looking north.

A few years ago we came down to Phoenix for a longer stay than this trip, and were forced to leave early and return home hurriedly. Even as it was only March, our home was threatened by a forest fire, a controlled burn that reignited and got out of control. It was contained without damage, but made us wonder what the hell we were thinking buying that place. Still do wonder that, I do.

We did not know it, but we had a credit here, and our very nice host informed us this year that we could stay here for a week or so at a very reasonable price. All we had to do was get here.

So we are in Phoenix. I’ve lost interest not in baseball, but in spring training games. They are adrenalin-free events that after three innings become AAA and AA match ups, players wearing nameless uniforms with numbers in the 90’s. I do like attending games in Goodyear, where the Cincinnati Reds are located, but not on a “fan” basis. The team moved its spring facilities to Arizona from Sarasota maybe five years ago, and its legions of fans used to making the Florida trip in the spring were pissed. They have not yet caught on to the Phoenix experience, where 15 teams are all within a short drive of one another. Teams share stadiums, practice fields, travel is minimal. It is ideal.

Goodyear Stadium, spring training home of Reds and Indians.

Goodyear Stadium, spring training home of Reds and Indians.

Most teams here have nice stadiums (fifteen teams, ten stadiums) that are packed with noisy fans. Not so the Reds, so that a $7 ticket gets you in to a spacious and half-empty stadium where we can wander around and view the game from any vantage point of our choosing. Even right behind home plate is accessible, as the stadium designers thoughtfully put in leaning tables to hold soft drinks and beer while watching the game.

Two years ago I attended a Seattle/Cincy game at their home field in Peoria with our friend George. We bought tickets from a nice gentleman in his seventies, paying face and ending up in box seats behind third base, seated with Seattle fans. That’s scalping, Phoenix-style. We had the nicest time with a delightful group of people, hardly watching the game. But at one point a Red stole second base and looked out but was called safe. There was some discontent, and then quiet grousing that eventually erupted into the softest “booooooooo” I have ever heard.

“Too much beer,” I said to my seat mate. Baseball fans are generally quieter and more laid back than those of other sports, but even among baseball fans, Seattle fans are the nicest.

I am far more interested in the Sonoran Desert than baseball, and also our Bozeman friends who now winter down here. There will be a gathering late next week of Bozemanites, and we look forward to it.

The Sonoran occupies most of Southwest USA. As deserts go, it’s lush, receiving on average an inch or more of rainfall each year. That means that vegetation is abundant, from saguaro cactus is to huge agave-like plants whose names elude me. That line “I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight” had to be written with Sonoran in mind. Beautiful Palm Springs, California, home of so many wealthy people, is a Sonoran paradise.

One thing we do not do here is eat out – it’s not only expensive, but boring. The best bet is Mexican food, which is, of course, American in origin. Beyond that, it’s Olive Garden-type fare, overdone carbohydrate orgies. I am told that Phoenix is heavily influenced by California cuisine, and that to get true TexMex, one must go to Tuscon. That’s a worthy destination, but a long drive.

San Francisco Peaks, iPad photo taken yesterday en route to Flagstaff.

San Francisco Peaks, iPad photo taken yesterday en route to Flagstaff.

I was surprised, our first trip down here in 2010, at how mountainous, rugged and forested so much of Arizona is. Another stereotype disabused. Of course Phoenix is hot, dry and flat, the dominant architecture here called “warehouse.” But getting here takes us through forests and higher elevations. Flagstaff is high and cool, and sits a the base of the San Francisco Peaks, a rugged area with ski resorts, camping, hiking as beautiful as anything in Colorado or Montana.

The house we are staying in sits at the base of South Mountain Park, and when we sent the photo of the back yard to our kids, smart-ass son-in-law said “are you in Afghanistan?” It’s kind of like my stereotype of that place, treeless. Quail, cactus wrens, curved-bill thrashers and Inca doves are all about, and we are told there are roadrunners but have not seen any yet. Coyotes sing at night. We are right by a trail access point, so there is a constant stream of people as we sit by a warm fire in the back yard at night.

Life is very good here.
PS: Just now sitting here checking email on the computer, a roadrunner made its way across the back yard. My first!

About Mark Tokarski

Just a man who likes to read, argue, and occasionally be surprised.
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5 Responses to Sun time

  1. steve kelly says:


    Possible authentic eats.


  2. steve kelly says:,7340,L-4633404,00.html

    For your 7th-inning stretch amusement.


    • That’s cute – the way that Congress jumped to its feet on a regular basis was disturbing. I wish I had better understanding of this world. Israel is a rogue state, but one that does what it is told, and yet as portrayed, it appears that Israel tells American officials what to do. Cannot be.


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