When I say or hear "Phoenix", I consider it to mean all/any of Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, Guadalupe, Mesa, Glendale, and Peoria. There are others. No one cares.

I didn't grow up in Phoenix, but I am currently attending school there. I am the only one of my not-so-large polygon of friends who owns a vehicle and drives well. As such, I know where (certain) things are. If you ever visit this booming metropolitan area, let me tell you where some things are and give you some advice -- advice I can give from bitter, bitter experience.

First of all, it is very, very hot here. Phoenix, AZ is the single warmest city in all of North America, due mostly to its location and partly to all the concrete and the pollution cloud. It is not unusual for it to be over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in July or August. Wear sunscreen, I mean, wear sunscreen, you idiot, if you're going to be outside. Drink lots and lots of water if you're going to be outside. Wear a white long-sleeved shirt if you're going to be outside. Actually, don't go outside. Many people have severe health problems every year on account of dehydration, heat prostration, heatstroke, and a host of other things.

It is occasionally possible to fry an egg on the sidewalk. This is attempted by local media most years.

"It's a dry heat." Yeah, and that sucks for you, because the dry, dry air will be sucking the water out of your body every minute you spend outdoors in the summer, which lasts from April to October. Do not, under any circumstances, leave your pet or child in the car while you "run into the store for a couple of things." Pets die every year, children have to be rushed to the hospital. Being in a closed car in Arizona valley weather in the summer is roughly equivalent to being put in an oven set for about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't do it.

In the winter, which lasts from November to February, it rarely gets much below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. One sweater should get you through the winter. It snows here about once every seven years. All the precipitation occurs in December and January (couple of showers) and in a week of deluge in August (the "monsoon" season). Drainage in Phoenix is terrible, which is understandable because it's only useful three days out of the year. Stay out of flooded streets. Serious accidents happen every year because residents are unfamiliar with the difference between driving on dry road and driving on wet road.

Regarding Phoenix itself, hopefully the following information will be of use to you:

  • If you consider Phoenix proper to be in the center of the sprawl, Tempe, Chandler, and Guadalupe are to the southeast. Mesa is to the east. Scottsdale is to the east. Glendale is to the northwest. Peoria is far to the northwest. The rich people live mostly in Scottsdale. Some of them live in southern Tempe/Guadalupe, where there are artificial lakes and rivers. These are the stupidest things I've ever seen. It's a desert, idiots. Move to Finland if you like lakes.
  • Phoenix is not particularly safe. Don't walk the streets alone at night, especially not near ASU or in Guadalupe.
  • I-10 runs from Tucson straight north to the Phoenix Area, then cuts west again to go through Phoenix proper. It intersects US-60 before it does that. After it goes through Phoenix, it heads for California.
  • US-60 runs through Mesa. Do not take US-60 west past I-10 unless you're really sure what you're doing. It turns into a horrible diagonal street called "Grand Ave." which is always extremely slow. US-60 east of I-10 is how most of the Mesa people get back and forth to work and school. It is always very busy, always. Slows to a crawl promptly at 4:30 pm every weekday.
  • Loop 101 runs north and south through Tempe, Scottsdale, and Glendale (far northwest).
  • Loop 202 runs east and west through Scottsdale, Mesa, Phoenix, and others. Almost never very busy, because it is enormous.
  • I-17 runs through Phoenix proper north up to Flagstaff.
  • ASU is located in Tempe. Use I-10 and exit on Broadway. Go east. Turn North on Mill Ave. You'll find it.
  • If you are visiting the ASU area, be advised that Apache Blvd. becomes Main St. in Mesa, and McClintock Dr and Rural Rd become Haydn Rd and Scottsdale Rd respectively in Scottsdale (i.e. north of the 202)
  • Arizona Mills Mall, the largest mall in Arizona, is located at Baseline Rd and I-10. Never will you see a more wretched hive of scum and villany (if rampant, rabid consumerism bugs you as much as it bugs me).
  • Fiesta Mall is located in Mesa, near Southern Ave. and Extension Rd. (I think).
  • Scottsdale Fashion Square is not worth visiting, unless you're out for a $100 pair of jeans.
  • There are two incredible resorts in the Phoenix area: the Camelback Inn and The Phoenician. The latter has dozens and dozens of swimming pools, incredibly cushy accomodations, and will cost you a fortune. The former is so sprawled out that you need a golf cart to get from your room to the front desk. Rooms have individual, private swimming pools and spas.
  • Target is in Mesa, near Dobson Rd. and Main St.
  • There are zero inexpensive or decent restaurants in the Tempe area. Period.
  • Radio Shack is at Southern Ave. and McClintock Dr.
  • There is a Japanese import store on Haydn Rd near Thomas Rd. in Scottsdale.
  • Mesa Community College is at Southern Ave. and Dobson Rd.
  • The LDS temple is at Main St. and Mesa Dr. in Mesa. It's worth checking out at Christmas time, the light displays are amazing.
  • The Gammage Auditorium is the round building near Mill Ave. and Apache Blvd.
  • Desert Sky Pavillions is the worst possible place to witness a concert, unless you enjoy using a telescope. Not only that, but you will pay through the nose for the worst seats available, and through some other orifice for the "good" seats.
  • The Mesa Amphitheatre is an awesome place to have a concert. It's basically a big piece of nice grassy slope with walls all around and a stage in the front. Great place to be on summer nights.
  • There is no supermarket close to ASU. There is a Fry's at Southern Ave. and Mill Ave. There is an Albertson's at Dobson and Main. There is an Abco at Scottsdale north of Weber, but we don't go there anymore after a rash of spoiled goods. There is a kind of nifty hippie "natural foods" market on Mill Ave. south of University Dr.
  • The famous donut shop known as Krispy Kremes is located near Arizona Mills Mall. Visit after 5pm up until 11pm for very tasty, fresh-baked donuts.
  • Do not use University Dr. near ASU in the mornings on weekdays. Hundreds of students crossing the street every 10 minutes makes for a traffic jam every single morning.
  • If you are planning on attending ASU, buy a parking decal for Lot 59. It looks inconvenient and seems like a bad idea, but it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. The parking structures and seemingly better lots are much more expensive and are oversold, leaving you with no place to park if you get to school late.
  • You can park illegally at ASU very easily without getting a ticket. Park in the very back of Lot 59, north of University Dr. You will have a long walk to campus, unless the free buses are running and then you have it made. The parking patrol people almost never go all the way to the back of the parking lot. Move your vehicle every day to be certain.
  • To get to Tucson from Phoenix, follow I-10 east. It goes south right through Tucson and Vail, and then cuts east and heads towards El Paso, TX.
Phoenix is definitely not a place I want to live in after I'm done with school. It's huge, even hotter than Tucson, and the people are jerks. If you like the desert, move to Tucson. It's much easier to handle and it's not too much trouble to drive up to Phoenix for all the concerts and shows.