PHOENIX - Scottsdale and Tempe

PHOENIX – is the capital of Arizona State – and the biggest city too, with a population of around 2 million people if you include Scottsdale and Tempe in that count. It is 146 miles south of Flagstaff and 111 miles north of Tucson.

Heading south from Flagstaff and Prescott you head down the 1-17 and leave behind the pine trees that slowly thin out until you start travelling through the Sonoran Desert country, with the Saguaro Cactus standing tall above the smaller cactus and landscape. Rugged almost bald hills and mountains with odd shapes can be seen on either side of the road as you travel south to Phoenix and as you come closer to the City the remarkable Camelback Mountains come into view.

The Saguaro Cactus can live between 150 and 200 years of age, and grow to 40 to 60 feet in height. The arms start growing at around 50 to 75 years of age, and if you see holes in the side of a Saguaro, chances are that a bird is living in there too. Not all old Saguaro have arms, but the more arms and taller the cactus, the more likely it is older than the ones near to it. The Saguaro Cactus are very particular about where they live and they come into flower too between April and early June. There are lots of other cactus types too here in the Sonoran Desert, and to get a real understanding and see lots of different types, head to the Desert Botanical Garden 1201 N. Galvin Parkway. See Also another place to see cactus is Boyce Thompson Arboretum located at US 60 at Milepost 223, an hour out of Phoenix, See Tel: (520) 689 2811.

The cactus that you also need to look out for and not get too close to it is the 'Jumping Cholla' usually just called a 'Jumping Cactus'. You only need to brush close to one for the needle spines to attach to your clothing or skin, and the hollow spines have a small hook that will get under your skin making it hard to get out and also really hurt. There is even one called the "Teddy Bear Cholla" – but it is not very cuddly. Beware!

Phoenix Airport, Sky Harbor with Terminals 2, 3 and 4 is not far from Phoenix downtown with and Airport shuttle vans, taxis and rental cars all available. Sky Harbor is the 10th busiest airport in the USA so can get busy, with a free Sky Train running between terminals, car parks and the Metro station at 44th St and Washington. The METRO light rail system has 28 stops running between Downtown, Mesa and Tempe. There are lots of hotels downtown and also many resort hotels in and around Phoenix.

Happy Travelling!

I hope you have a great time in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Geoff Stuart

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