July 10, 2015

Summertime in Phoenix, or, Who Left the Oven Door Open?

From the last post you know Betty and I cancelled a two month RV trip to the Pacific Northwest, deciding to stay in town for most of this summer. As 30 year residents of this area we are well versed on what it is like from May through mid October: HOT. Hot, as in every day is at least 100 degrees, often in the 108-112 degree range. We lived here during the hottest day ever recorded in Phoenix: 122 on June 26, 1990. That was toasty.

So, after we agree that I must be crazy to pass up the cool of Portland for the baked treat that is Phoenix, what does someone do when it is too hot to touch the steering wheel? Actually, I have noticed a fascinating change in how locals approach summer. Folks used to simply hibernate. Virtually all activities stopped until fall. Many resorts would close for a few months. No business conventions would be caught dead in town. Concerts, plays, art openings......nothing. The town hunkered down (I love that phrase) and went into survival mode.

But over the last several years, things have changed rather dramatically. While most of us don't leap for joy at 105 degree afternoons, the tendency to hide and wait it out is no longer the first choice. Just like residents of Minneapolis or Fargo or other frozen places who don't lock the doors and stay inside until the spring thaw, Phoenix is running at full throttle year round.

No resorts close anymore. In fact, with special rates (and even better ones for locals), they are full all summer long. Using someone else's air conditioning, taking a dip in a beautiful pool, using the spa, and eating at nice restaurants makes the hottest days not so bad. 

Cultural activities like plays, concerts, museum shows, lecture series, and documentary films at the local library can keep someone busy all day. The Diamondbacks play baseball in an air conditioned facility, while the  WNBA team play just down the street at the home of the Phoenix Suns. The Arizona Cardinals start their preseason games next month, again, in an enclosed stadium.

Very likely, with most of the Valley going to a year round school calendar, it has become more difficult for those with school age kids to leave for weeks or months at a time. Our grand kids begin their new school year in two weeks, for example. What that means, is that things to keep kids and the family busy and engaged have to take place all year. Shutting down everything for the summer just doesn't work anymore.

So, for whatever the reason, Phoenix in the summer doesn't shut down and doesn't flinch in the face of the heat. Betty and I are staying every bit as busy and active as we do during more temperate times of the year. Maybe it is attitude, maybe it is just accepting what the good Lord gives us. We take Bailey for her romp in the park. She still loves to chase birds and smell those smells only doggies smell, regardless of the thermometer. 

Granted, Phoenix in the summer is not for sissies, nor is it everyone's cup of tea. Neither is it a time to complain and simply sit inside. We desert dwellers are accepting our reality and living our lives as fully as we choose. Heavens, Betty and I are even in the market for a pair of bikes to explore our new neighborhood....now, not just when the temperatures drop.

Our satisfying journey through life continues.  

25 comments:

  1. I can't imagine what that type of heat feels like. We swelter when it reaches the upper 80's in central NY.

    You are right; attitude is everything. We can choose to make the best of it; we tend to be happiest when we are able to make this kind of psychological adjustment.

    You will enjoy bike riding! We purchased bikes a few years ago, and even take them with us when we travel. Although in this age of distracted driving, we limit our bicycling to trails, paths, and low traffic roads. So much fun to bicycle! Great way to enjoy the beauty of nature, and get some exercise as well. Reminds me of when I was a kid and would take off for the day in the summer on my bike. Many happy memories.

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    1. After my 6 years in Syracuse, I must say I prefer the heat to an Upstate NY winter.

      The area around our new home is much more bike-friendly. There are unlimited bike paths along the canals, through riparian preserves, and even throughout our immediate neighborhood.

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    1. How true. By early afternoon even the animals are smart enough to be in the shade, asleep.

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  3. I can relate. Being in South Florida is like sitting in a sauna right now. Staying active throughout the summer takes a little more creativity, and a lot more diligence toward hydration, but it can be done. Getting a trailer hitch for my bike rack installed today, along with a roof rack for the paddle board and kayak. No excuses now...

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    1. Staying properly hydrated is so important. Drinking water before one feels thirsty must become a habit.

      Enjoy your newfound freedom with the extra equipment. I assume Malcolm joins you in your adventures!

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    2. Balance problems prevent Malcolm from paddle boarding, even though I continue to insist that he can do it. We enjoy tandem kayaking and we still ride our bikes together at least once a week. Lately, he is joining me on photo club outings, which I really love. He has an interesting eye.

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  4. Hey Bob and Betty...Waving at you from Sun City...Come on over for a visit. You are right, we just keep rolling in the heat. We do things a little earlier in the morning and a little later at night but we find lots to do. When we retired here 3 years ago in June, thought we would DIE!!! But we have adjusted and life rolls on. I will gladly take this heat since we retired from Chicago with cold, ice and gloom. Yup bring on the heat!!! Cindy

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    1. Our new home has better insulation so our living space stays more comfortable without the money-sucking AC on all the time. But, like you, we have spent lots of time in cold and gloomy winters and could never return.

      I do see something moving on the horizon northwest of me...is that you?

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  5. It's Not the Heat, it's the humidity...

    That's the old saying around here. 90 degrees with 85% relative humidity is much worse than 95 degrees with 10% humidity. So, quit complaining Bob (ha).

    We spent a week in Santa Fe this spring and I fell in love with the area. I guess it is high enough (7,000 ft) to tone down the temps. If I ever leave the Midwest that will probably be my destination.

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    1. Places like Santa Fe or Flagstaff are high enough that the summers are much more reasonable. While we are around 105, Flag will be 75-80 - pretty much perfect.

      Betty and I were in Santa Fe two years ago. It is a lovely town in a beautiful setting.

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  6. Even here on the plateau in TN we are in the dog days of summer. I run early in the morn and I still can't stop sweating many minutes after stopping, until I get in the shower. But I'll still take this over that Phoenix heat anytime. I still remember we had a summer meeting out there years ago, and late at night I went out on my hotel patio to sit and enjoy the stars. Next thing I know it was the next morning. It was so warm it just put me to sleep. But you and Betty are probably old hands at the heat by now, so you are better able to enjoy it.

    Good to see you back in the saddle, Bob.

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    1. I think most of us can adapt to wherever we call home. I just watched a documentary on Netflix about folks who spend a full year on Antarctica, including 4 months of total darkness. That is one situation that would definitely be too much for me.

      Glad you are back, too, Chuck.

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  7. We had one of the worst winters on record in our region, but I still prefer having four full seasons. I haven't personally been to Arizona, and I'm sure it's a nice place to visit, but I know I couldn't live there. We're looking at a place to rent in the Carolina's for February next year. It's the worst month, mostly because you are just 'over' winter by then. But, Cape May pretty much shuts down that month. So we need a place that's driving distance to take the dogs and it fits that criteria. We don't need 80 degree beach weather, just 60+ works for us in Feb.! Glad you guys are enjoying your decision! b

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    1. I vaguely remember winters when I lived in Haddonfield, just across the river from Philly. Snowy, gray, and cold. But, when you are 8 years old, you just assume that is what everyone is going through!

      The Carolinas are pretty and a nice change from Cape May in February, I'm sure.

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  8. Nice to see your post! We went east for a two-week vacation, but couldn't tolerate the heat (I got sick in the first two days) so came home early. 85 in Seattle is WAY different from 85 in Atlanta!

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    1. I agree. I can take heat but not much humidity.

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  9. We used to play tennis as the sun rose and swim as it set. Mid day was always reserved for naptime. My sister golfs and runs almost every day in Anthem.
    Still, I am delighted with Delaware. Home is where the family is for us!
    I am glad you are swttling in for another summer of activity.

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    1. I am glad to hear you are liking your new home. Delaware is probably quite different from Kansas.

      We are enjoying midday swim parties with the grand kids in their pool and then coming home for a nice, cool nap.

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  10. Obviously, you're one resilient guy! A friend of mine was in Phoenix last week and he said not only was it hot, but it was humid as well. What happened to the always-bearable dry heat?

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    1. This time of year our winds often change from westerly to southerly. That allows moisture and humidity to come into the state, setting up our summer monsoon season of intense thunderstorms and brief bursts of high winds. So, yes, the July and August months are more humid, usually in the 30-40% range. For the rest of the year humidity under 10% is the rule.

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  11. Lawd have mercy, it's been a hot summer in SC. I have acclimated enough that store clerks no longer point to a chair and order me to sit down. I am not a morning person, but I have had to flip my day around. The dog thinks I am crazy to go to the dog park at 9, but I notice he still jumps in the car.

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    1. By 9 we can already be in the mid 90's! So, we just grin and bear it and take her after dinner when it has cooled off to 101.

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  12. Hi Bob, I too have retired to the heat of the Phoenix area. I actually don’t mind it all that much. I’ve developed some survival tactics that enable me to live my life as I wish year-round. After reading how you want to take your writing in a different direction, I wonder if you might enjoy being a guest on my podcast. One of the great things about podcasting is that it gives you an opportunity to connect with your audience in your own literal voice. We can talk about whatever you want and do so at your convenience. Please note that I podcast just for the enjoyment and not for profit. If you’d like to check out some of my podcasts, you can play them from my home page: www.retirementjourneys.com. If you would like to look into it some more, please email me using either the contact form on the home page or at retirementjourneys@gmail.com. Thank you and all the best – Ted Carr

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    1. Hi, Ted,

      Thanks for the contact. I would be interested in talking with you. My wife and I are spending a few days at a local resort, but when I return I will be in touch.

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