This past Memorial Day weekend marked a pretty big milestone for us and we couldn't let it pass by without busting out a fantabulous blog post to mark the occasion right! As you are probably aware from the title (suspenseful, we know), May 31st marked our 10th anniversary of moving to the Valley of the Sun! Truth be told, it took us about 5 years to accept the fact that Phoenix was our new home (and if we're being honest, it took Megan more like 8 years). As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, we grew up in sunny San Diego. We spent our summer days at the beach, eating our fair share of California burritos, and spending our summer nights by the bonfire. To say we missed it would be a bit of an understatement. But God has a funny way of changing us as time makes its steady march into eternity, and after enough years here in Phoenix, we started to appreciate it a bit more. To be sure, there are still things we desperately miss about good ol' SD, but after 10 years, we are here to say officially that Phoenix is our home and we love it!
10 years in one place is a good amount of time to learn a few things and get a good lay of the land, so to speak. Like a lot of people we meet in The Valley, we didn't grow up here, but after a decade, we'd like to think we've learned a thing or two about what makes Phoenix great. So without much further ado, we've compiled a list of quirks, nuances, and awesomeness you can only find in Phoenix!
1. Ok, ok. Let's get the big one out of the way first. It gets HOT here. Legit, fry an egg on the sidewalk, HOT. The first couple summers here, we have to admit, were pretty brutal. But c'mon people, its all about perspective! After 10 years we've just learned to make friends with someone who has a pool, or we just hibernate for about 4 months. If you really think about it, it's not that different from winter in a cold climate...except totally opposite. Instead of getting frostbite from going outside for too long, in Phoenix your face melts if you go outside for too long. "It's a dry heat," is not a big consolation either. As Megan used to say, "So is my oven, but I don't want to live in it." All that to say, the heat is bearable if you know how to handle it. Stay indoors. Drink lots of water. And find a pool. After the unbearable heat of the summer, the other 7-8 months of the year are really amazing!
2. Speaking of heat, trust us when we tell you to avoid using the "cold water" tap during the summer. When your water pipes are baking in the desert sun all day, that "cold water" coming out of the faucet tends to be on the toasty side. Here's a 10 year tip for you: during the summer turn down your hot water heater and use the "hot tap" for cold water! Seriously, we aren't making this up. (It also helps you save on those extra fun, summertime electricity bills!)
3. Monsoons are pretty awesome. Every year, right about the time the summer starts to get a little too hot, we are treated to some truly epic summer monsoon storms. They build throughout the day as the hot air from the desert rises and usually the storms unleash all their cooling rain and desert winds late in the afternoon or evening. They usually don't last long, but they are a great reprieve from the heat at just the right time! (Insider tip: they also provide some truly epic photography opportunities! Lightning and weather photos are some of James' favorites kinds to capture.)
4. We have other seasons. We know our first three points were about summer but there are three other pretty amazing seasons that make living here in The Valley pretty awesome. When everyone else is starting to bundle up for the winter, we all come out of hibernation and spend the whole winter having barbecues and wearing flip flops. Ok, maybe not the WHOLE Winter. It does get cold here for a few weeks in December and January, which is just about long enough for us to get our sweaters and fleece PJs out before we get sick of them and want our flip flops back. Spring provides some truly gorgeous desert blooms and a quick trip up to Sedona or Flagstaff in the Fall provides some truly breathtaking fall foliage if that's your thing (did we mention Phoenix is a pretty great place for photography?).
5. It's pretty easy to find your way around. We have to admit, for like the first 5 years we couldn't figure out why whenever someone was giving us directions they would say something like, "It's on the corner of Camelback and 44th street." For the first half-decade we usually responded with, "Ummmm....ok....can you just give us DIRECTIONS?" Once we figured out that Phoenix is a HUGE GRID, we felt like we could finally speak the language and sound like proper locals. So here it is in a nutshell...North/South roads are numbered. East/West roads have names. Streets are EAST of Central and Avenues are WEST of Central. The farther away from Central you are, the higher the number. Freeways are a different story for another time, but for the record, we will always refer to them as "The 101" or "The 17." Sorry folks, but that's just a little bit of California we aren't quite ready to give up yet.
6. There is so much to see and do. If you're willing to drive a bit and explore our state, Arizona is hard to beat for awe-inspiring scenery. The Grand Canyon? Check. Sedona's Red Rocks? Check? Horseshoe Bend? Check. Also let's not forget Vermillion Cliffs, Havasu Falls, Lower Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, The Hoover Dam, Tombstone, Saguaro Cactus, and way too many other natural wonders to name here. All that to say, if you want to road trip or enjoy vast open spaces, we have plenty of places for you to go out here!
7. Finally, and most importantly, places are really about people. We've had the honor of meeting some truly amazing people and friends in our ten years here and are so thankful that God brought us to Phoenix to meet them. We have watched our family grow from a newlywed couple to a family of five during the last decade. All three of our kids call Arizona home and are natives to this beautiful state. We hope to spend many more decades here watching our kids grow into productive, creative, well-rounded, humble adults and we are glad God chose this place to grow our family. San Diego will always hold a special place in our hearts, but Phoenix is the only place we call home.