Arizona (part 1)

Tempe Travel Blog

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Okay, so getting to Arizona proved to be a huge hassle.  My plane from Eugene on Monday the 16th was delayed so long that I was stuck in SFO overnight, getting into Phoenix at 11:00 on Tuesday the 17th.  Seeing as I was supposed to be due on campus to meet the professors at ASU for a brief orientation at noon on the 17th, that was bad news, but fortunately I managed to catch them in Sky Harbor Airport and let them know I'd be a little late.  After that fiasco, I settled in and began working on my research -- the reason I came to Phoenix -- amidst one of the worst heat waves on record.  It reached 115 twice in that first week (that's about 46 for you metric folks), and never got below 112 (right around 44.5-45). 

I didn't do a whole lot with that first week other than work and avoid the heat; the plan was to get as much done as possible so that I could go out and do some traveling on the weekend.  I did get around a bit in the Tempe/Scottsdale area, mostly for meals, but there wasn't a whole lot that I can remember doing which stood out as being worth recounting here.  That first weekend was very much the main time for action, so I was planning to put a lot of energy into that part of the trip.

My original plan was to take a really long day on Saturday, heading north from Phoenix to see Native American sites along the freeway north toward Flagstaff.  I hoped to be able to get out early enough in the morning to get out before the heat set in with a real vengeance, and depending on how tired and dehydrated I was, I would see how long I could go on checking out these sites before retreating to the safety and comfort of my room back in Tempe.  On Sunday, my plan was to take a more leisurely day, and to stay more locally focused around Phoenix; the big plan involved a stop at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park (a Hohokam site) near the airport, and then driving around to see what I could with the rest of the day.  I partially decided this upon the intelligence that Pueblo Grande had no admission cost on Sundays, and while that was not a major expense, I was happy to save the five dollars for somewhere else.

However, I slept in on Saturday morning, and therefore I decided to reverse my plans, doing the more leisurely Phoenix trip first, and then setting out for the longer haul on Sunday.  As it happens, I'm very glad that I chose to do so, because while it is true that Pueblo Grande *does* offer free admission on Sundays, they are also closed on Sundays during the summer!  I have no idea why that may be, but the sign out front was very specific on that point, so I regard my laziness about getting up super-early on Saturday as a blessing in disguise.

The downside of my late start was that I failed to get to the Park until the afternoon, and therefore during the hottest part of the day.  However, the actual ruins themselves, which are accessible along a trail under half a mile (roughly 1/2 km), were not difficult to get around in, so it wasn't a long hike or over steep terrain or anything like that.  Which was good, seeing as it was 113 when I got there (just under 46* C).  Unfortunately, the ruins themselves were mostly confined to a single mound with the very minimal remains of a pueblo structure atop it; there wasn't a whole lot of coherency or really much to see in the park itself.  Scattered around elsewhere were concrete reconstructions of Hohokam pithouses and other exhibits, including a firepit "oven" and a small garden growing things which the Hohokam probably were tending at the site in their day.  In all, it took about 45 minutes to walk the grounds, during which time I drank a liter of water I had brought with me (it was REALLY hot, and there was virtually no shade, except in the few rest areas along the concrete 'trail').  Inside, after wandering the grounds, I perused the museum, which was a very small and simple series of exhibits about the site's earlier geography, the Hohokam and other peoples who lived there, and the larger culture trends of the region during that period.  There were a few interesting displays, but nothing spectacular or of any real interest to someone not already very interested in the region and its prehistory. 
Overall, I found Pueblo Grande to be a little disappointing; perhaps it was just the heat, but I really didn't feel that the site or the museum were particularly well planned out or informative.  I was pretty tired and hot by the time I was done in there, so I picked up some Chinese from campus, headed back to the hotel, and called it a day.  Sunday was a whole different story, but I'll put that up in a separate segment, as there's a lot of detail to go over!  I'll put up a few shots from Pueblo Grande soon, but as I said, it's not a lot to look at, so hopefully I can make up for that with the next segment!
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photo by: Africancrab