It’s hot in Phoenix in the summer. Sure, we know the old joke, found on the postcards in the airport:
And to an extent it’s true. I’d much rather be in the middle of 110 degrees with 12% humidity than 90 degrees with 90% humidity. No doubt about that from where I sit. This is the tradeoff we get here: five months of hot followed by seven months of amazing weather. And, as I like to say, I don’t have to shovel heat (like I used to have to shovel snow). But, still, it’s hot, and in the summer, we look for things to do to get out of the house and out of the heat. Sometimes we travel to cooler places–more on that in future posts–but sometimes there are things nearby that are just waiting to be explored.
Even before we moved to Arizona in 2012 we were fascinated by many aspects of the state. Its geography, arts culture, the Native American story, the flora and fauna and so much more. We moved here for specific reasons, and one of those big reasons was our interest in continuing to learn more about this place that is so very different than the east coast where we spent most of our lives.
Earlier this week, my wife and I went to visit the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix. “Big deal,” you might say. Well, it actually IS a big deal here. Arizona’s capitol building was built in 1901 when Arizona was still aTerritory, before it became a State in 1912. State government has outgrown the old Capitol building so, instead of tearing it down, it is now a museum that pays tribute to the state’s history. It was a nice way to spend a few hours out of the heat.
But there was a bonus. Before going into the Capitol with its copper-toned dome (and if you don’t know why copper is important to Arizona, click this link to find out), we took advantage of the moderate morning temperatures (it was a balmy 91 degrees when we stepped out of the car and a few high clouds helped keep the sun from heating things up) to walk around the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza that adjoins the Capitol building. The Plaza has 30 memorial monuments dedicated to a host of topics including a memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, veterans and fallen heroes from many wars and conflicts and, as its centerpiece, a memorial to the USS Arizona, sunk in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 with the loss of 1,777 lives.
The USS Arizona’s anchor has pride of place in the memorial and it is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices that the men and women in our armed forces make every day to ensure our freedoms. Inside the Capitol building, there were more tributes to the USS Arizona, including a large piece of the ship’s hull.
It’s one thing to read history in a book. It is another to see it right before your eyes. You can touch this twisted piece of metal, look around the room at photos that show where it was before the ship sank. Our trip to the Capitol was full of powerful moments, a welcome distraction from the heat, and an opportunity to celebrate many of the things that make our state such a fascinating place.
As we were leaving the Capital, we went through a room that featured articles about Arizona’s early tourism industry. I smiled when I saw the old postcard, pictured above, with its old spelling of “canyon” as “canon” and its iconic association of the great saguaro cactus with the State. We continue to enjoy exploring Arizona, and days like we had earlier this week are serendipitous reminders of the joys and wonders to discover when you get out of the house. Even on a hot day.