Monday, February 15, 2010

Warmer Is Better

Magnet # 169: Arizona Thermometer

Material: Acrylic

Purchased By: Mom & Dad

Arizona was the 48th state added to the Union on February 14 back in 1912. The Spanish were the first Europeans to enter the area that would later become Arizona when a Fransican visited there in 1539. Other Spaniards down in Mexico, including the explorer Coronado, heard rumors that there was gold to be found there, and hurried over, but found little. Regardless, Spain continued to develop the land, building missions there until they were forced to hand it over to Mexico when it gained its independence. However, they didn't have it very long before the United States defeated it in the Mexican-American War and was ceded parts of the state. Later, the Gadsden Purchase added all other areas of the state to the Union. For a time, all of the land that was to become Arizona existed as the New Mexico Territory until it was split into two sections and the Arizona Territory was born. When gold, silver, and copper were discovered there, settlers came in droves, the majority of them Germans. Ranches were established, farmers began irrigating fields, and eventually, the territory was ready to apply for statehood. Despite a little difficulty from Congress and President Taft, it passed and the final contiguous state was added. At last, the United States had finished developing all of its adjoining lands. Since achieving statehood, Arizona has weathered the Great Depression and managed to become the 15th most populated state in the country. During World War II, air bases were built there because the sunny weather provided optimum flying conditions. And when air conditioning made living in the desert bearable, families flooded in to take advantage of the dry, warm climate and beautiful scenery. A good deal of retirement communities and winter residents have also taken advantage of what the state has to offer. What was once written off as nearly worthless desert has become a beloved home to millions and a popular tourist destination.

I have only been to Arizona once, and it was for almost no time at all. On our cross-country trip to California when I was growing up, we switched planes in Arizona. We were waiting in the airport and I wanted to say I had been there, so my Mom helped me find a door so I could walk outside for a minute. It was very hot that day - over 100 degrees and I was shocked by just how hot and dry it was. I couldn't see much, and that was about it. But at least it was somewhat memorable, even after all these years. I guess a thermometer magnet is pretty appropriate for this state, considering just how hot it can get. It would be nice to do a proper visit to this Southwestern state someday. Obviously, I could visit the Grand Canyon, the one place every American should see. But there is plenty more to be found in Arizona - there's Sedona, a small town filled with gorgeous scenery and vibrant culture that's rumored to have an almost supernatural vibe. And the Petrified Forest National Park is another amazing locale, filled with the logs of trees that have pretty much turned into quartz and shine brilliantly in the sunlight. There's also Sabino Canyon, that's unusually green given its desert locale, and Window Rock, an incredible arch-like hole weathered away in solid rock. Although I haven't seen these and other popular tourist stops my parents fortunately have, and have gotten plenty of magnets on my behalf. But I hope to truly take in this incredible state someday - perhaps in the winter, when it's warmer than most everywhere else in the nation, including what has become an unusually chilly East Coast. In fact, if I had my way, I'd be in Arizona right now!

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