I started my expedition by asking my father a very simple question. What is a home? It took him several minutes to answer. He said, “A home is an environment that provides security and happiness where families reside together.”
Every one knows Arizona or at least we have heard about it. However, today I am sitting face-to-face on a tatami mat with a different Arizona, which few people see or hear all over the world. People come to Arizona all the time from within United States and abroad. They come from California and Canada. They swim from Mexico and even Wake Island. They fly from Africa and Asia. Each person comes with a unique history.
Arizona is American’s city of people, plants, water, and fantasy. Arizona is divided into fifteen counties; Coconino, Mohave, Pima, Yavapai, Maricopa, Apache, Navajo, Cochise, Yuma, Graham, Pinal, Gila, La Paz, Greenlee, and Santa Cruz. Each county has a unique features and history.
The old, long, meandering, deep and broad Colorado River has made it possible for Arizona to be the American’s fastest-growing, driest state; the perfect perceptible indication of the notion that water and gas will never run out. Arizona is the desert of ostentation, cars and water especially during winter and summer.
As early as 300 BC (approximate), life already existed in Arizona. The Native Americans (Hohokam) engaged in farming in the valley by constructing the irrigation ditches, which enabled them to get abundant water from the Salt and the Gila River. For the desert to support more lives, dams have been built on the western rivers for reclamation purposes. One of the dams is Theodore Roosevelt, which was built in 1902 and has expanded the water supply for the growing population. Every house in Arizona has an ample supply of fresh, treated and clean water.
Arizona is the home of a variety of unique animals, birds, plants, and minerals. The saguaro is a large, tree-sized cactus with night blooming flowers. Saguaros grow slowly taking up to approximately 90 years to grow and they are slow at multiplication. In fact, most vehicles’ license plates in Arizona display a saguaro cactus. The saguaro is an endangered species. Damaging saguaro cactus in any way is against the law in Arizona.
In pursuit of an impressive desert plants display, I recently chose to stay in Tucson. Which was most impressive? The Saguaro of course. In the saguaro plants – can you imagine? Gila woodpeckers and the gilded flickers were creating holes for nests in the giants of the desert, which has encouraged other birds such as the Elf Owl to invade the saguaro. Surprisingly, Saguaro is used for the construction of the house roofs at Tohono O’odham land near Tucson Arizona. Saguaro cactus has made Arizona a unique state worldwide.
During summers, when I was driving my three-ton car along U.S Route 60, east of Phoenix, to one of the recreation destinations for the residents of Arizona, I saw the legendary Superstition Mountains. As I was approached the Superstitions, I encountered many visitors who were ready for hiking. One could easily tell that they were visitors from abroad by the look of their dress and their accent. A vast network of hiking trails makes it easier for hikers to access the Superstition Mountains from multiple access points. The altitude in the western portion of the Superstitions is lower than eastern portion and the variation of the altitude lowers slightly the temperatures making it favorable for hiking during summer. In addition, hikers find it more comfortable because of the Monsoon’s moisture which makes Arizona a little bit humid in August. The magnificent McDowell Mountains to the northwest and the White Tank Mountains to the west of Phoenix attract a large number of visitors and residents.
As a youth, I liked skiing during winter weekends and Mount Sierra Estrella, which is to the southwest of Phoenix; it was my favorite playground. In the winter, Mount Sierra Estrella boasts a cloak of glistening white snow and the temperatures in the neighboring area is conducive to farming. For those people who like farming, Mount Sierra Estrella is your best destination.
I deliberately chose a different route and drove my dark-turquoise Honda back to my cocoon. I saw the South Mountain Park, which I came to learn later from my neighbor, is the largest metropolitan park in the world and can accommodate approximately 4 million visitors each year.
Snow in the Arizona desert is a rare phenomenon; mild, sunny weather encourages “snow birds” (winter visitors) to migrate from the cold regions of the northern parts of the U.S. to enjoy the indoor entertainment and outdoor activities. In addition, during the monsoon season, from July to mid September, humid air, and strong winds, blow in from the Gulf of California; thunderstorms are more vigorous dumping a copious rain on the parched desert. Residents are grateful to the weather forecasters who have remained always faithful, posting warnings to residents of impending severe weather when there is a need to take precautions.
Arizona is the center of attraction for visitors during the winter season. The warm climate encourages visitors from within the U.S and other parts of the world who come for both business and recreation. As a result, the local government has benefited from tourists’ taxes. In addition, tourists are a source of income for enterprises that sell goods and services to these travelers. The local government has utilized the travelers’ tax well by constructing an extensive network of smooth, wide roads, efficient public transport, an advanced aviation system, and rail transport.
On January 16, 2006, (Martin Luther king holiday), I drove north to see the Colorado River as it passes through the Grand Canyon. At the gate, I gladly paid the entrance fee to see this natural wonder. The Grand Canyon’s magnificent waterfalls form a secluded and unexpected rain forest. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I glided along the roads of the Grand Canyon with windows wide open and smelled the pungent perfume from the desert vegetation. I saw those who were lucky to have their lovers and friends, happy throughout the day. Every street was filled with polite notices and beautiful heart symbols. Couples walked in pairs down the paths holding hands and pulling along their little offspring, watching carefully for dangerous animals – bears! I realized how double dealers, “love stealers,” could easily be found at the Grand Canyon because it is the best place for lovers to experience how marvelous nature can heal broken or pending relationships through the gorgeous Grand Canyon. The splendor of the Grand Canyon’s array of unique colors as day fades into night is breathtaking.
Arizona even contains the Dinosaurs National Monument on the border between Utah and Colorado, which contains the complete skeletons and eggs of prehistoric dinosaurs. In addition, tourists wait in line for the chance to explore Yellowstone National Park to see over 300 geysers propelled into the air by subterranean gases. The park also has hundreds of different types of animals including elks, buffaloes, and bears.
As the saying goes, “Education is the key to success.” Various institutions have been set to aide education in Arizona. Arizona has elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and public and private universities. The presence of the colleges has always enlivened the “Valley of the Sun” with a cultural and intellectual stimulation. Arizona State University (ASU), which was founded in the year 1885, has made the “Valley of the Sun” proud. ASU has developed a number of nationally recognized programs in the fields of art and sciences. ASU is a home of both local and international students who represent many countries with the aim of nurturing the inextinguishable desire to educate oneself by tackling the enigmas of mathematics, chemistry, engineering and other course descriptions that I have not listed. ASU has added beauty to Arizona by hosting students with cultural diversity who participate in various athletics, and extracurricular activities. As a result, many companies, including computer companies in Chandler, have relocated their businesses to Arizona in order to make use of this pompous resource of graduates from ASU.
When considering a move to Arizona, a new comer will want to consider the economy and cost of housing. Now it may make sense to train management analyst, advertising sales agent, and financial analyst, but to the average person like me, it may as well be written in Yoruba number system. The median home price in Arizona is relatively cheap, approximately $167,900 per unit as compared to that of Minneapolis which is $298,900 per unit. The cost-of-living index in Arizona is approximately $60 as compared to the U.S. average of $100. The rate of unemployment average is approximately 1.5% as compared to the U.S. average of approximately 5%, and the future job growth is expected to be approximately 32% as compared to U.S. average of 9%.
Arizona is a home of more than approximately 2 million illegal immigrants. The increase in population growth has made Arizona a better place for married families and single folks to enjoy the nightlife in great bars, casinos, and motels. Living is affordable; the local economy is growing strong with plenty of opportunities for jobs and career advancement, making Arizona a more attractive place to live. The quality of life has increased from good to great in Arizona. The crime and divorce rate are lower due to the reinforcement of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Mormon churches. Gay, Lesbians, Malaysians, and Buddhists are partially off the map in Arizona.
Arizona is popular with PhDs, musicians, artist, casinos, and retirees and young people who like abundant recreational activities. The residents and visitors have much to learn from Arizona, so when you have time on weekends drive around, relax, and get the real rhythm of Arizona. As the saying goes, “There’s no place like home.” At the end of the day, I drive in the twilight, a happy person, to Mesa, Arizona to be reunited with my beloved parents and my siblings and rest from a long drive exploring the wonders of Arizona. Mesa is a flat piece of land, extensive, with strip malls, radar cameras, and a main street dotted with unique sculptures; a community where at night vehicles are tucked safely behind garage doors which go up and down and villainy before dawn is newsworthy.