A friend messaged me yesterday, asking what I thought about a particular place in the Valley of The Sun. I answered back, then began thinking about all the things I love about Arizona.
The best part of Arizona are her people...solid, hard-working people who, for the most part, come from a heritage of folks who tamed a barren desert and made themselves an oasis....folks who are open hearted and forward thinking as any in America. Maybe it is our wide open vistas, so vast that it allows us to dream big.
One thinks about our water planning. While other westerns states stood pat, Arizona was building reservoirs and canals and underground aquifers...to store water in the good years and to see them through the drought years. And tens of thousands of Arizonans designed their lawns and gardens with wonderful drought tolerate desertscapes...and still made them a paradise for birds and bees and our native wildlife. Other western states are only now beginning to follow Arizona's lead in water management.
And, as in California, our natural environment is varied and wonderful! One can hike Camelback Mountain under sunny 70 degree temps in the morning, then two hours later be on skis up in the snowy mountains of Flagstaff. You can day trip to Bisbee, to see a thousand acres of desert flowers stretching to the horizon, and return to Phoenix, take in an opera, or catch a mega star concert and dine on the most cosmopolitan fare one can imagine in the evening.
And in our restaurants one can find more than 200 different ethnic meals...being served to folks in cowboy boots or Cole-Haan alligator loafers.
And, gosh, do we have a sense of humor. We once had a governor who so believed in UFO's that he once held a news conference and staged an "alien walk-on" to liven up the conversation We have rodeos and annual Barrett Jackson vintage car auctions, and on Cinco De Mayo we have Chihuahua races.
And we have political leaders unafraid to challenge our government masters in Washington D.C. No one will ever forget Governor Jan Brewer's finger in the face as she lectured Barack Obama on illegal immigration. And, during a government shutdown during the Clinton Administration, when the feds threatened to shut down the Grand Canyon, our Governor "deputized" a posse, commandeered the National Guard, and went up and opened up Grand Canyon National Park, then sent the bill to the feds for the maintenance costs, and got repaid!
Our baseball spring training facilities are second to none and draw millions of baseball fans every year...and every winter we welcome over 2 million snow birds from the wilds of Minnesota and Nebraska...and they keep the cash registers ringing all winter!
Perhaps our greatest accomplishment is our state's leadership in school choice! Our state was a pioneer in school vouchers and there's not a kid in Phoenix who doesn't have the right to go to any school he chooses...public or private...and that has kept school costs down and promoted competition among school districts.
When it comes to voting, Arizona makes it easy. For the first time in history more people cast their ballots at their dining room table than go to the polls.
Our Thunderbird School of Business is attended by students from around the world and the Cronkite Journalism School at Arizona State University is second to none for turning out some of the best journalists in the world. And the University co-ops with thousands of both local, state, national and international industries who intern and are mentored by Apple and Intel and the like.
And when all the play and all the work is done at the end of the day, we are can enjoy watching the night skies. Only a few places on earth are as well-positioned to view the cosmos as is Arizona. We have amazing telescopes trained on the night skies and leading space experts at our universities. And we turn out folks who launched the Mars Rover, and when they retire, run our Space Center for us....to teach our children the wonders of the universe. We have cities like Sedona and Flagstaff that are willing to take on the hard work of eliminating light pollution so our unique atmosphere can support the next big break in astronomy. And, I dare anyone to stand in the middle of the desert, and look up into those Arizona night skies, and deny the existence of a divine "creator".