I know a lot of readers out there, especially those of you starting a new school year, have already said your farewells to Summer 2008. But here in the desert, folks are just getting started. Alas, it won't truly be safe to turn off the air conditioner until around the time we start to make the stuffing and put the Tofurky in the oven.
I've been shut indoors now for over a month, venturing outside only to forage for food and to keep my plants alive. But my wife and I did manage to get in a couple quick walks earlier this season. As you can see from the photo documentation I brought back, even the sky itself seems to be ablaze. As far north as Meteor Crater, about an hour east of Flagstaff, where we took refuge one weekend, the terrain is achingly bright. (By the way, this is not desert, it's forest country denuded of trees by the force of meteor impact.)
The so-called "monsoon" season commences in July. The heat sucks enough moisture from the ground to creates a thunder cloud theater every afternoon. Sometimes, the clouds are even strong enough to jump Phoenix's concrete island and actually rain in town. The storms come up quick and brief, but if they're heavy enough they can cool things down for a day or two.
During one such cool-down, we grabbed our cameras and lit out to the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project. This piece of dry river bottom reclaimed by the city on the south edge of town is not only wild and beautiful, but it also reminds me of the kind of open spaces Phoenix used to have a lot more of. Now that such areas are afforded the same protection as an endangered species, the city can hopefully keep it safe from taggers and teenage partiers.
The low point in the summer came last week when our air conditioner gave up the ghost. After pounding away non-stop for months, the motor finally shook loose from its brackets. Hundreds of units go down in any given day here, so we had to wait almost a week before it was fixed. Such is the backlog for repairs in a city where over a million people rely on these piuny machines to shield them from the extreme elements. In the meantime, we spent a couple days at a resort about five miles away. It was easily Priceline-able, so cheap and so huge that I'm certain we weren't the only guests exiled from their homes, waiting out the repairman.
I made the best of it, however, rising early enough to scout out the surrounding hills and check out the great view of the city. I got good and soaked, but managed to keep the sweat away from the camera. As much as I enjoy the shots, I think I prefer to shoot when white hot highlights and fierce lens flare are mere technical anomalies and not unavoidable features of the landscape.