February 11, 2010

Is this Seattle or Tucson?

It's been surprisingly cool and rainy in Arizona since we returned. While there are some nice days in the low 70's, there are also cool rainy days in the 50's as El Nino's effects are felt.

Now, the big question is whether these rainy storms coming every week or so will be enough to result in a nice wildflower season in a month or so. Some people are optimistic that despite the extremely dry fall and early winter, these regular rains will be enough to get the annuals to sprout and blooms.

Others have said it is too late for them. That they needed a fall rain to germinate and without that rain, no amount of winter/spring rain will get them there. Perhaps these rains are great to the shrubs and cacti, but not for the wildflowers. However, no one can seem to agree to predict, so we'll just have to see what happens.

Of course, the other 5 days of the week tend to be pretty nice with either mostly sunny or partly cloudy. This results in beautiful sunsets and spectacular vistas.

Another thing that Tucson shares in common with Seattle is rapid growth. I was talking to an old-timer who says that Tucson is the Phoenix of 40 years ago. That is, a nice relatively small city with beautiful landscapes that is growing rapidly.

While Phoenix has become a cancer that even locals hate, Tucson still has potential. But, the growth into the hinterlands is obvious and a trip across town now takes forever, as we learned when we needed to take the trailer in for some maintenance work. Whatever charm it once had is fading rapidly and I am afraid there is probably no going back....

Notice the housing developments sprawling out on the opposite side of Saguaro National Park from Tucson. Someday soon, this National Park will literally be an island of desert in a sea of housing.

Notice the large ponds in the distance? These are recharge basins. You see Tucson has over-pumped its aquifer as it grows uncontrolled and is running out of groundwater. So, they built a canal from Lake Havasu on the California border and they run the water into these large ponds. These ponds have porous bottoms to let the water seep into the ground to recharge the aquifer. In other words, one reason the Colorado River no longer runs to the ocean is because some of it is channeled off to feed Tucson's growing need for water.

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