See Arizona

Hiking tips for Phoenix, Scottsdale visitors

It's gonna be a hot one today, folks! The metro Phoenix area is slated to see 98 degrees Farenheit today.

If you're visiting the metro Phoenix-Scottsdale area and you're considering hiking some of our beautiful mountain trails today, take note...  it's hotter than you think, and the trails are steeper than you think.


Remember that our firefighters routinely pull tourists (and sometimes even locals) off the mountain trails on stretchers and take them to the E.R.


Here are some tips to keep you safe when you're hiking the desert mountain trails of the metro Phoenix-Scottsdale area. Tips courtesy of the Scottsdale Parks department and the Phoenix Parks Department, and you can see more tips on their websites.




  • Always tell someone where you're going, when you'll be back, and stick to your plan!

  • Hike with a friend; it's safer and more fun.

  • Bring lots of water, three or four times as much as you think you need. The Scottsdale Parks department recommends at least one gallon of water per person, per day. I personally think that a standard-sized 16 to 19 ounce bottle is enough for about 15 minutes when it's really hot outside.

  • Wear a hat! If you've forgotten a hat, cover your head with whatever's handy

  • Wear and carry sunscreen, SPF 15 at minimum. Reapply more often than you think you need to.

  • Wear closed toe hiking shoes, or at least wear sneakers.

  • Rest 10 to 30 minutes for each hour of walking, depending on your overall level of fitness.


Get some info on the trail before you go. The Phoenix Parks department has a wonderful online library of information about the trails, their length, their degree of difficulty, locations of Park Ranger ramadas, etc.  The City of Scottsdale also has a wonderful online resource about their hiking trail system.



Trail etiquette



  • ALWAYS stay on a designated trail. City ordinances prohibit trailblazing.

  • Learn to share the trails with all other users.

  • In general, bike riders yield to both hikers and horseback riders; hikers yield to horseback riders. However, for all trail users, downhill yields to uphill. Use common sense and courtesy while on the trails.

  • Announce your intentions and slow your pace when passing someone on the trails


Well dear reader, I hope you have an enjoyable experience hiking our desert southwest trails! I'll be out there on South Mountain, sweating it out with the rest of you today, April 1, 2011.


Just wondering... have you ever thought of buying a vacation property in the metro Phoenix region? I am a Realtor, after all, so I tend to talk about property values all the time. Can I ask what you paid for your seasonal rental? I know, it's a pretty personal question. But we're on the Internet, so nobody will hear your answer. Did you know that you can pick up a vacation condo in the metro Phoenix area for as little as $25,000 to $50,000? Really. And after 3 or 4 years of price declines in Phoenix, it is possible to pick up a small home in several metro-Phoenix communities for about $100,000, give or take $25,000.


Want to do a little online home browsing? Search Phoenix-area homes for sale, online. When you're ready for a Realtor's help, contact us, The Phoenix Agents at Thompson's Realty. Real people, making real estate, real simple.

Snow in Phoenix



Although it’s rare, sometimes we Phoenicians have to protect our desert plants from freezing temperatures. Our Tucson branch manager, The HouseChick, a.k.a. Kelley Koehler wrote about prepping your cactus for the few freezing nights. Click on over to see  cups on cactus and the new trend, bags on cactus.

Thinking of visiting the Phoenix-Scottsdale area to get away from cold, snow and ice? Don’t despair. It’s rarely this cold in the Valley of the Sun. Weather.com predicts we’ll be back to our usual sunny and warm 75 degrees by about the first full week of January 2011.

Need a vacation rental? Thinking about buying a winter vacation home and want to look at a few Phoenix or Scottsdale homes while you’re here?

Contact us. We’re Realtors, we’ve been helping buyers and sellers in the metro Phoenix area for a combined 10 years. We routinely help buyers find vacation homes, and we help investors choose appropriate rental homes, as well as handling typical residential real estate sales. Check out client testimonials, then give us a call.

video courtesy of AZfamily.com (“Snow Falls on Phoenix Suburbs”, by Jennifer Thomas of AZ Family.com and originally published December 30, 2010 at 3:14pm)

Photographing the front of your house

Sometimes a head-on shot of the exterior front of a house isn’t the best way to showcase what the home has to offer.


2 story head on


Sometimes you should take a picture from an angle you’d never normally use.


2 story from side


That’s the same house and the two pictures were taken within about 60 seconds of each other. You’d hardly even know it. While it’s a very unusual angle for a real estate “front” photo, I’d argue that picture number 2 is the better way to showcase this home.


thoughts?

All about the Phoenix monsoon

This is a reprint of a post from summer 2009.

When I was a kid and we moved here in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the knee-jerk reaction answer to "When's the monsoon?" was “August”.

With the heat island effect, it seems like the monsoon arrives earlier and lasts longer each year. In 2008, the National Weather Service announced they would date the monsoon season in Arizona from June 15 to September 30 each year. In prior years, the weather services had dated the beginning and ending of the monsoon season based on meteorological readings of the barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, etc.

According to Wikipedia:
The North American Monsoon (NAM) occurs from late June or early July into September, originating over Mexico and spreading into the southwest United States by mid-July. It affects Mexico along the Sierra Madre Occidental as well as Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah,Colorado, West Texas, and California.

Monsoon With a Dust Storm Chaser

Monsoon with a dust storm chaser originally posted on Kathy Anderson’s AZ Active Retirement Living blog
Monsoon Clouds Over Phoenix Skyline

monsoon over downtown Phx image courtesy of The Downtown Phoenix Journal
Monsoon near Quartzite Arizona, 1976

AZ monsoon near quartzite, AZ 1976 CDouglas Stockdale on DouglasStockdale DOT com photo courtesy of, and copyright by Douglas Stockdale
Video of Monsoon Storms

Here’s a really exciting video about Phoenix monsoons created by the local CBS news affiliate, channel 10 (hat tip to Kathy Anderson for linking me to it). The video clip is undated but it appears to be a retrospective of the 2008 monsoon season, which was one of the Valley’s 10 worst.

In the video, CBS reporters talk to a hi-rise condo owner in downtown Phoenix who shot video of the August 28 (2008?) storm as it swept across town, blew out the windows in his condo, and then proceeded to dump cherry-sized hailstones into his living room!

At about the 6:28 minute mark of the video, there’s a mind-boggling shot of a huge dust storm surging across the Valley. It reminded me instantly of the videos of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami.
Just the Facts, Ma’am

Are you the type who likes detailed statistical information instead of shocking videos? Here’s the National Weather Service explaining the meteorological in’s and out’s of monsoons. Local news AzFamily Channel 3 has some more great statistics on wind speeds and dollars’ worth of damages during monsoon season.
Related Posts and Information on Other Sites

Don’t leave your house naked

Just me popping in with a little tip for home sellers.

CIMG1489

We’ve all heard of “curb appeal”. The home above has none of it. The home below, on the other hand. . . .

CIMG1490

. . .  now that’s curb appeal!

These two homes are approximately the same floor plan in the same neighborhood. Neither is my listing. In fact, neither is for sale as far as I know. I just took pictures of homes in a Central Phoenix neighborhood I happen to like, so I could make a point about dressing up the front of your house when you’re trying to sell.


Obviously there’s a lot of difference between the two. Sellers, you wouldn’t have to do everything the homeowners in picture number 2 did to give this sort of home more curb appeal.


Adding shutters might be enough. Or get the grass lush & green. Full grown shrubs planted against the house might be expensive, but you could add some eye-catching color with small flowering plants like lantana or verbena. See Moon Valley Nursery’s website for more flowering ideas.


A fresh coat of paint goes miles towards snazzing up any home, exterior or interior. Those crisp white shutters really dress up the front of what’s essentially a plain red brick house.


Just some food for thought for the day.

Greenbelts, Washes, and Drainage

** Update 1/21/10, 9:00pm.  The pictures below were taken earlier today, before lunchtime.  As of now (and a full day of rain), my backyard is 2 inches under water, but the water is still draining towards the street, drainage pipes, and greenbelts.  I don't have statistics in front of me, but I don't remember getting as much rain at one time in a long time..  **

If you live in the suburbs, or any neighborhood in Greater Phoenix that was built in the last 20 years or so, you probably have some greenbelts or desert washes near your house.  They’re great – open space, lush grass, sidewalks for bike riding and walking your dog – everybody loves them.

Wanna know a secret?  They’re really for draining our heavy rainfall away from your house and into the local rivers.  (ok, “heavy” and “rivers” might be a bit of a stretch..)  We get to see them in action a couple times a year, and in all seriousness, it’s a pretty impressive system.

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix



Your misses the heavy rains of the ‘80s and ‘90s Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

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Just a Pretty Picture

Nothing more than a pretty picture here today. The world’s full to overbrimming with doom and gloom. I hope this will help.



Calle de los Arboles neighborhood 009

Taken in the Cave Creek neighborhood of Calle de los Arboles, spring 2009.


Click to view all Cave Creek homes for sale (or in any other neighborhood for that matter).


You must signup with email & a self-chosen password, but we don’t see your password and we don’t do anything with your email. Read our Privacy Policy.

Photos Make a Huge Difference Too

I’m piling on to Chris’ post yesterday about how staging can determine whether buyers make offers or make tracks.


Pictures make a huge difference too. Buyers love LOTS of pictures. Quantity doesn’t substitute for quality however.


A word about the condo Chris wrote about yesterday, with the fabulous view. We both agreed it was one of the best, and possibly the best view we’d ever seen. Between us we’ve been showing homes for 9 years so we’ve seen a lot of view variations.


I tell you, I was literally transfixed by the view from this condo; it stopped me in my tracks. Had I been shopping, I'd have whipped out my checkbook right there and offered the seller full list price. I don’t think Chris stressed enough that you could see all of these in a 180 degree panorama off the balcony:





  • The McDowells


  • Camelback Mountain


  • Mummy Mountain


  • Squaw Peak / Piestawa Peak


  • South Mountain


  • The Estrellas


  • North Mountain


This? Is the only view picture the listing shows:



Grayhawk blah condo only view pic

I don’t know about you, but all I see in that picture is some scrub desert and bird poop dripping down the balcony wall.


Sellers, make sure that if your property has a remarkable feature, it’s pictured prominently in the MLS listing your Realtor creates.


Buyers, looking for a drop dead view at bargain basement prices? This view on a luxury estate is easily worth $2 million. You can own the view and the cute 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo that surrounds it for $149,500. It's bank owned and priced to move, so don't dawdle.


Meteor Crater

We spent some time in Flagstaff this weekend (58 degrees in pouring rain felt pretty darn good!), and decided to make the short drive east on I-40 to check out the world famous Meteor Crater.

One could easily be overwhelmed with the sheer size and historical implications of it all – 4,000 feet across, 3 miles around the rim, 550 feet deep, created 50,000 years ago by a meteor 150 feet wide and weighing 1,400 lbs, in the middle of the high plains – an area completely flat for miles in every direction..

Meteor Crater in Arizona

Meteor Crater in Arizona

meteor crater in arizona

images provided by Google Earth.

Or, one could sum it up in the words of my older son, who surveyed the area and typed, “huge hole.”

Your equally amazed by meteors and kids Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

a visit from Wile E Coyote

My older son & I saw a coyote yesterday about 50 feet away; pretty neat actually!  Our neighborhood borders the New River, which is a very large desert wash the 359 days of the year it doesn’t rain, and runs from the mountains in north Peoria southwest through Peoria, Glendale, Sun City, Avondale, and Goodyear, before eventually joining with the Agua Fria River/Wash and ending at the Estrella Mountains.

Coyotes use these desert washes as roadways, and it’s not terribly uncommon to see them in a nearby neighborhood.  Fortunately, Coyotes are typically alone and typically very shy.  (not great news for small dogs, cats, and rabbits, but people are usually safe.)  Generally they’ll look at you for a moment, before disappearing silently into the brush..

Pictures – first the full frame, then the coyote cropped out..

0908-105a 0908-105b 0908-106a 0908-106b 0908-107a 0908-107b

Your eventually tired of the roadrunner always winning Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Phoenix Photos goes live!

I’ve been photographing Phoenix for 18 months for my Moving Stills series, and I’ve absolutely enjoyed it.  However, I have 2 frustrations about it:

MovingStills-31

1. The series limits me to photographs I’ve taken from my car, which means there are dozens hundreds of pictures I want to share, but which don’t meet the guidelines for the series.

2. I have so many pictures I want to share, but this blog is more than just pictures; too many pictures would overwhelm the rest of the content we’ve worked so hard to produce.

Enter posterous.com.  Well, actually, enter uber-broker Jay Thompson’s discovery and sharing of the posterous idea!

I’ve created and built a photo blog called Phoenix Photos (http://phoenixphotos.posterous.com), where I’ve been busy uploading pictures from all around town.  I’ll add more pictures every day; eventually I hope to display guest photographers’ works as well.

New to town, or considering moving here?  Phoenix Photos is the perfect place to get your feet wet & see what Phoenix really looks like, from the ground up!

Your still shuttering Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Showing 117

Yesterday was a personal record; it was the hottest I’ve ever experienced first-hand while showing homes with clients.  117 under bright blue, sunny skies.
phoenix temperature 117

Standing in backyards while we discuss potential landscaping ideas and pool repair.
Standing inside homes without a/c, where the temperature might have only been 97, but the humidity was brutal.
And then that one oasis of a home – the one with the electricity on and cold a/c blowing.  Thank you, sellers, we REALLY appreciated that!
Here are some Triple Digit Phoenix Facts.
Here is Heather’s take on “It’s a Dry Heat.”
Your rehydrated and ready for another round today Realtor,
Chris Butterworth

Friday’s dust storm

We had a pretty good dust storm on Friday evening.  I noticed the dark skies to the southwest when I left my house (in the northwest valley) under sunny skies.

These pictures were taken from around the I-10 and Loop 303 area, during the early evening (when there should have been a big bright sun in my windshield!), and with my blackberry (unedited).

0907-1180907-123 0907-115 

0907-127 0907-125 0907-126

Note – I was NOT using an SLR camera with manual settings while looking through the viewfinder; I was simply holding my phone up with one hand while driving.  Please spare me any “unsafe driving” emails..

Your loves interesting weather Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

When Is It Monsoon Season in Phoenix?

A former client’s question prompted this post, so thanks Jon!


According to Wikipedia:




The North American Monsoon (NAM) occurs from late June or early July into September, originating over Mexico and spreading into the southwest United States by mid-July. It affects Mexico along the Sierra Madre Occidental as well as Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah,Colorado, West Texas, and California.



When I was a kid and we moved here in the late 1970’s, the knee-jerk reaction answer to "When's the monsoon?" was “August”.


With the heat island effect, it seems like the monsoon arrives earlier and lasts longer each year. Last year, the National Weather Service announced they would date the monsoon season in Arizona from June 15 to September 30 each year. In prior years, the weather services had dated the beginning and ending of the monsoon season based on meteorological readings of the barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, etc.



Monsoon With a Dust Storm Chaser


Monsoon with a dust storm chaser originally posted on Kathy Anderson’s AZ Active Retirement Living blog

Monsoon Clouds Over Phoenix Skyline


monsoon over downtown Phx image courtesy of The Downtown Phoenix Journal

Monsoon near Quartzite Arizona, 1976


AZ monsoon near quartzite, AZ 1976 CDouglas Stockdale on DouglasStockdale DOT com photo courtesy of, and copyright by Douglas Stockdale

Video of Monsoon Storms


Here’s a really exciting video about Phoenix monsoons created by the local CBS news affiliate, channel 10 (hat tip to Kathy Anderson for linking me to it). The video clip is undated but it appears to be a retrospective of the 2008 monsoon season, which was one of the Valley’s 10 worst.


In the video, CBS reporters talk to a hi-rise condo owner in downtown Phoenix who shot video of the August 28 (2008?) storm as it swept across town, blew out the windows in his condo, and then proceeded to dump cherry-sized hailstones into his living room!


At about the 6:28 minute mark of the video, there’s a mind-boggling shot of a huge dust storm surging across the Valley. It reminded me instantly of the videos of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami.



Just the Facts, Ma’am


Are you the type who likes detailed statistical information instead of shocking videos? Here’s the National Weather Service explaining the meteorological in’s and out’s of monsoons. Local news AzFamily Channel 3 has some more great statistics on wind speeds and dollars’ worth of damages during monsoon season.



Related Posts and Information on Other Sites



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Phoenix is a Big Grid

Here’s a bit of handy introduction-to-the-Valley sort of info about Phoenix’s street system.

phx is a grid map (click to enlarge/”back” to return)

Thoughtfully, our Phoenician forebears laid out our fair city on a big grid. Nearly every street is straight and major streets are 1 mile apart. Numbered streets go north & south, named streets go east-west.

lost already?
try Chris' much more concise post about driving about Phoenix,
or a humorous take on driving in Greater Phoenix


Obviously the big yellow lines are freeways (check out our funky freeway names). The smaller yellow lines on the map above are the major streets crossing Phoenix. Where the major streets cross each other you can count on a huge intersection (4 to 10 lanes wide!) and probably strip mall shopping.

Check out a few of the bigger shopping areas by seeing the Google maps Street View of these intersections: Tatum and Shea, Camelback & 20th Street35th Avenue and Glendale.

North-South Streets Are Numbered


All the north-south streets start out on the grid counting from Central Avenue, which is “0”. Heading east from Central Avenue, you’ll cross 1st Street, 2nd Street, 3rd Street, and so on.

Heading west from Central, you’ll cross over 1st Avenue, 2nd Avenue (you get the picture by now). The I-17 freeway interrupts at about 27th Avenue, and then you’re off again, hitting major streets at 1-mile intervals.

“The Sevens” (7th Street and 7th Avenue) are major traffic arteries for mid-town Phoenicians. During rush hour, they become reversible travel lanes, lovingly called “suicide lanes” by long-time residents. Don’t want to risk the suicide lanes? Check out this post where I blogged about my bus ride up and down the 7th Street route.

East-West Streets Are Named


The major east-west streets are all 1 mile apart and have names instead of numbers. At first the city planners used President’s names for the E-W streets. After they ran out of Presidents, city planners used names of prominent Phoenicians and notable farms, ranches or landmarks.

Indian School Road is named for The Phoenix Indian School, an actual school for the city’s Indian children which opened in the 1890’s.  Thankfully, Phoenicians figured out segregation and forced Anglo-ization of Indian children was a pretty awful policy and the school was closed (but not until 1988).

Bethany Home Road is named for the the old Bethany Home, a mental institution. Etc. (I’m almost afraid to do any more research into Phoenix street names, for fear of finding more politically incorrect and/or shameful origins of street names.)

In high school Driver’s Ed class I remember being made to memorize the names of the streets from Baseline Road on the south end of town to Beardsley Road which was, at that point in time, the northernmost edge of metro Phoenix. We also had to memorize the north-south range number assigned to each street.

McDowell Road is 1600 North, Thomas is 2900 North, Indian School is 4100 North, Camelback is 5000 North, etc. At the time I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d ever done. Now? With 20+ years of driving around Phoenix under my belt, I realize that anybody can be their own GPS system if they memorize the East-West range markers. Check them out here, on local artist Brad Hall’s awesome website about historic Phoenix.

How to Work the Grid


Let’s say you have to get to 2917 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix. It’s on the east side of town because of the E so you’ll be dealing with Streets, not Avenues. You know Camelback is 5000 North. And the 2917 tells you it’s at 29th Street. So it’s 2900 east and 5000 north. Essentially, if you know which are the major streets, you can vector your way from anywhere to 2917 E Camelback Road.

Every Rule Has Exceptions


Outside the boundaries of Phoenix proper, the rules for street names and number ranges change. Other Valley towns made their own street names, grids and rules. And sometimes within Phoenix boundaries, the street name changes mid-town just to keep you on your toes. Dunlap becomes Olive. Glendale Avenue becomes Lincoln Drive.

Cave Creek Road and Grand Avenue cut through Phoenix crosswise, on angles going northeast-southwest, or northwest-southeast. Again, I’m pretty certain someone thought this would just keep things interesting. Where Cave Creek and Grand cross ‘normal’ streets that go N-S or E-W you get a 5-point intersection. And more, bigger shopping strip malls.

Which leads me to the single most useful description I’ve ever devised for explaining metro Phoenix to folks from other towns: Phoenix is one immense suburb liberally studded with strip malls and numbered in a regular, predictable pattern.

We also have about 300 days of sunshine per year, no natural disasters, lots of outdoor recreational spots, and a generally pretty darn friendly population. Nearly everybody living here is from somewhere else. Personally I think that makes folks friendlier.

If you’re new to metro Phoenix, welcome! Hope this and other posts about getting around Phoenix are useful. If you’re ready to become a Phoenix area homeowner, contact us. If you’re thinking about moving here but not quite ready to call a Realtor, browse around. You might especially like our Moving page.
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Metro Phoenix Freeways Names

Where’s the Santan Freeway? And when does it become the Red Mountain Freeway? Why is the Loop 101 called the Pima Freeway and also called the Aqua Fria Freeway? What is it with Phoenicians changing the names of roads as they cross town anyway?


Where’s The Stack? Is it different from The Mini-Stack? Dreamy Draw? Are you kidding me with these names?


Finally! Found this map of the Valley’s freeways marked by name and number.


Traffic Terms in Metro Phoenix


Valley Freeways by Name and Number




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Blogging From The Bus

I had to take the bus the other day. Various reasons why, and while not looking forward to it, I decided to make the most of it. Mobile blog post!


IMG_1730


I walked about 1/4 mile from my house to the bus stop and hopped on the number 7 bus going north. North-South bus routes are often named for the street they’re traveling; I was going north on 7th Street.


As I rode, I got a chance to look around me at the scenery, which I rarely get to do. Phoenix is a very car-dependent town and I’m a Realtor so I’m nearly always in the driver’s seat when I go anywhere.


Part of Phoenix’s car-dependence is because we’re hyoooge! It’s easily 75 miles from the upper reaches of Surprise in the Northwest to the outskirts of Queen Creek in the Southeast. Easily.


Another reason metro Phoenix is car-dependent is because it’s so stinking hot in the summer. This is an extreme climate. Imagine Calgary or the interior of Alaska in the winter, imagine it’s opposite and you have Phoenix in May through September. Heck, just imagine The Outback (the region, not the restaurant).


Back to the bus ride and scenery.


IMG_1731


This is a not-very-good picture of a major intersection shopping center. They’re all pretty much built on the same concept: major anchor store such as Target, WallMart or a supermarket surrounded by strip-mall type shops including food and retailers. This particular shopping center is at 7th Street and Bell Road.


IMG_1732 This strip mall also has these shops: Teaching Tools, a discount shoe retailer, a T.G.I.Friday’s, Pier 1, Tuesday Morning and Anna’s Linens (both discount home goods), Pei Wei (casual Asian fusion dining), Blockbuster, 2 supermarkets, a couple of fast food joints, a hair salon, a bagel place, a Verizon Wireless retailer, a WaldenBooks, a Post Office & More-type shop and probably about 50 others that I’m forgetting. Essentially, you could live your life without ever shopping anywhere else.


I think the City aims to have a bus pass each stop on each major route about once every 20 to 30 minutes. I waited here at the “Bell Towne Centre” for about 10 minutes for my bus transfer. Bus stops are shaded structures whenever & wherever possible. You can just see the shade structure in the picture below.


IMG_1734 Picture of a bus stop shade structure taken from inside the bus.


Here’s a confession: I’m a big dork. Phoenix is a car town. I drive everywhere. I didn’t know how to work the little bus fare chippy- receiving thingy they have on buses nowadays. I didn’t even know how much the fare was.


I knew enough to know I needed a transfer, because the buses go North-South or East-West and I had to go northwest. I figured surely $2 was enough, right? Wrong. It’s $2.50 for 1 adult, all-day bus pass with unlimited transfers.


So I get on the bus a little nervous, with my money in hand. I’ve got 2 singles or a five-spot. I don’t want to mess it up, to hold up the bus and all these other people. I’ve got all day to get to the auto shop but they’ve got schedules and deadlines to meet.



Me (to the bus driver): How much to 19th Avenue & Bell?
Driver: $2.50
Me: Will it make change?
Driver: No
Me: (digging in change purse, spilling pennies on the floor, debating about spending my entire $5)
Driver: <sigh>
Me: No, wait! I got it, here! <more pennies hit the floor>
Driver: <closing door, more sighing> OK, that’s it, you’re done.

The driver took my money at that point, put it in the fare box and handed me my ticket. The rest of the bus ride was uneventful.


Except for that part about choosing where to sit. The bus was surprisingly full, and I was instantly transported back in time to elementary school – should I sit next to the fat kid who probably smells? or next to the band geek with his tuba strapped on? Or next to that poor girl who has to wear full headgear 24-7 for the next 5 years until her braces come off? Needless to say, I sat up front with the rest of the dorks, geeks and castoffs from the Island of Misfit Toys, where I belong.


As I said, the rest of my bus expedition was uneventful and the car’s new brakes are killer. I hoped someone would get a little smile out my dorky bus-riding story. And maybe it’ll illustrate what a totally car dependent town Phoenix is. You can confirm that by checking the WalkScore of your neighborhood.


Meanwhile, riding the bus and writing this post gave me the idea for a post about how Phoenix is laid out on a big grid. That makes driving around town completely easy, and I’ll have more on that tomorrow.


PS – While researching this post I found the coolest website about historic Phoenix! Check out BradHallArt.com which is full of pics of historic Phoenix, Valley National Bank memorbilia and old maps of the Valley of the Sun.

Spring Blooms

This is a great time of year to be a Phoenician - warm days, cool nights, blue skies, and brilliant color everywhere you look.  Our desert vegetation is blooming, exploding in pink, purple, orange, red, yellow, and white.  I don't often stop to smell roses, but I do make it a point to slow down and enjoy the beauty now and then.

A picture's worth 1,000 words, so here are some of mine:

orange blooms

orange blooms

red lantana

purple flower

yellow desert wild flower

pink bouganvilla

white morning glory

Your welcoming spring Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Valley Freeways

11502 001

I snapped this photo some months ago on a trip to the East Valley to meet a client. If memory serves, it’s a picture of where the 202 passes over the 60.


I’m sort of an oddball – I love the Valley’s freeways for their looks. I love the sweeping space underneath the overpasses, and the way the city’s planners seem to spend time, energy and money making our freeways kinda pretty.


It’s true that the freeways help me scoot around town quickly. . . it’s true that compared to other cities I’ve driven in (Chicago, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia) they’re relatively traffic free. . . and it’s true that the radar cameras have slowed traffic speeds to a reasonable 60-something, down from the 85 that seemed standard pre-camera.


But I really love the freeways’ looks. I think I was one of a teensy handful of city residents who actually appreciated Phoenix’s attempt to art up (tart up?) the Piestewa Freeway back in 1992 with Alice in Wonderland-inspired sculptures of teacups and saucers placed on the tops of the freeway retaining walls and scattered through the neighborhoods close to either side of the freeway.  Although the national media praised Phoenix’s moxy in putting up the freeway art, there was quite a controversy in the local media, with most folks coming out on the “I hate it” side of the argument.


The cups and saucers were replaced by the Squaw Peak Pots but even those eventually came down when HOV (carpooling) lanes were put in.


You can see a couple more arty freeway pictures in Chris’s Moving Stills posts on freeway art, and my favorite spot in town, the 101 overpass.


Wondering about the Valley’s freeways? The City has an excellent map of the entire freeway system on it’s website. Want a printable version? Click here. Trying to estimate commuting times? Google Maps has pretty solid time estimates for traveling Phoenix’s freeways.


Enjoy!

Spring in Phoenix

Spring has sprung, with a vengeance. We had a fairly mild and wet winter, so the mountainsides are awash in green. These snaps are from a quick hike this morning through North Mountain.


I’m working on the followup to my Feb 23 post about part 1 of President Obama’s Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. Part 2 of his plan is proving difficult to explain briefly. And besides that, the housing crisis is depressing. Pictures are much more pleasant.


IMG_1645 Barrel cactus


  IMG_1647 hiking trail with creosote bushes in the foreground



IMG_1650   ocotillo in bloom

IMG_1652  springtime blooms (possibly lupine?)


IMG_1653 IMG_1651    who says Phoenix isn’t green? these 2 photos show a created habitat managed by Park Services in order to provide a protected wildlife area.


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Thinking about visiting the Phoenix area? Do! These pictures are as-is, point and shoot. I take zero credit for how pretty the scenery is. I didn’t photoshop these or embellish them in any way. Give the credit to Mother Nature or whichever god you fancy, it’s just that pretty here in Phoenix during springtime.