In many respects, Colorado isn’t that different from Arizona. Oh, of course the weather is considerably different. And Arizona has the beautiful cacti that are characteristic of the Sonoran desert, while Colorado has the Rocky Mountains and skiing. Still, I talk about Arizona being the Wild,Wild West, but in fact it was in Colorado – on I-25 between Denver and Fort Collins – that my sister had to come to a stop because there was a herd of cattle crossing the road.
That was, of course, quite a while ago. Now traffic along that road is so busy that a herd of cattle wouldn’t even slow most people down I’m afraid. Cows flying EVERYWHERE!
But I will tell you that driving in the Phoenix metro area is one of the most difficult adjustments I must make when I first arrive. And it mostly doesn’t have thing to do with the Snowbirds. This, I promise you, will not be an elderly-bashing post, because who am I to bash?
In most of Phoenix – or at least in the East Valley with which I am most familiar – the roads are four-to-six lanes wide, divided by islands, and impeccably cared for. And I’m talking about the regular roads. I will also tell you that the freeways are also amazing. Well-lit, bright line dividers, the whole nine yards.
But back to the surface roads. Because they are so wide, multi-laned, and divided by islands, the speed limit is mostly 45 mph. Not always, but I would venture to guess that unless you’re on a neighborhood street, 98 percent of the time you’re driving 45 mph. Even in school zones you only slow down to 35 mph!
Unless you just arrived from Denver where the speed limit is rarely 45 mph. In that case, because you are used to driving 30 or 35 mph, you find yourself putzing along until about the time you look in your rear-view mirror to see someone a quarter of an inch from your back bumper, so close that you think his car and your car should just get a room.
I can’t tell you how many times I say out loud to myself, “Kris, you’re doggin’ it. Get going!”
One of the most dangerous mistakes I must FORCE myself not to make is when I’m waiting to turn left into a parking lot or on to another street. I will see the car coming, and in Denver I would have plenty of time to make that turn. Here, well, let’s just say it could be Dale Earnhardt Junior heading my way. It goes from dot to monster truck in a heartbeat. I’ve learned to wait.
The other thing I have to get used to here in the Phoenix metro area is that since the streets are divided by islands, you can’t turn left at all streets. As a result, it is absolutely common to see what Bill and I have dubbed the Phoenix Flip, that is, U-turns to get to the street you’re looking for. I make a Phoenix Flip probably three times a day since we are victims of the island if you are trying to get to our house heading north. They are perfectly legal.
I know I’ve pledged to not Snowbird Bash in this particular post, and I will tell you that for the most part, the winter visitors drive the 45 mph speed limit. The only thing you have to watch out for is that they slow down to 1 mph to make turns, and they enter the freeway at that same 45 mph.
It is a fact that I have the same trouble when I return to Denver after spending the winter here in Arizona. By that time I have gotten used to driving at the speed of sound, and must constantly remind myself to slow down.
On a slightly different note, I mentioned we came back to a broken garbage disposal. Bill spent yesterday installing the – ahem – Waste King 8000 Legend. This particular garbage disposal, my friends, could actually grind up a car if we could fit it down the little hole. When it comes to any kind of appliance or machinery, Bill IS Tim the Tool Man Taylor.