Categories
About Fountain Hills Around Arizona Community Engagement Culture Desert Plants and Wildlife Local Businesses Local Events Outdoor recreation Real Estate Schools The Verdes Things to Do Yard and Garden

Summer 2022’s Desert Vibe Magazine Is Here!

The second quarterly issue of Desert Vibe magazine is finally here, and it’s full of must-see information about local events, listings, and market information!

Here are some of the things you’ll see in the summer Vibe:

This Desert Vibe, as with the previous, is being released in an online-only format, with interactive links to everything you’ll need! To read the full Desert Vibe magazine, go to DesertVibe.com/Magazine.

Categories
About Fountain Hills Around Arizona Culture Outdoor recreation The Verdes Things to Do

How The “Beeline” Highway Got Its Name

For residents of the east valley, the Beeline Highway is an important part of daily life, the gateway to the Mogollon Rim. It’s the only modern highway that connects to Fountain Hills.

The official name of the road is State Route 87, so you might wonder: why is it called “The Beeline Highway?”

History of Travel from Rim to Valley

You can see in this 1937 map that the Bush Highway follows its modern route. This is 21 years before the Beeline Highway. You can also see that the only trail that passes through modern Fountain Hills is likely the Stoneman Road.

The first major car route between Mesa and Payson was the Bush Highway, named after Harvey Granville Bush. He was a lumberman by trade, and thus had homes in Mesa and Payson, where the tall pines grow.

Getting lumber to the Valley from the mountains was a huge challenge during the days of wagons and early automobiles, involving several disjointed trails that went through the dangerous Reno Pass. So, Bush pushed an initiative with the state and the lumber industry to create a unified road from the city to Payson. Completed in 1934, the path, named after Bush, was the best and most convenient route to get to and from the Mogollon Rim.

As Phoenix’s population boomed after World War 2, camping became a larger and larger pastime, and the traffic up the Bush Highway increased drastically. This came to the attention of Grady Gammage, president of Arizona State Teachers College in Tempe. Gammage lobbied the state government and worked with James G. Hart of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to begin the creation of an official State Route to access and pass Payson.

After receiving permission from the Salt River Indian Reservation and Fort McDowell Indian Reservation, construction began.

A new, more convenient route was then built west of the Bush Highway. It was a significant shortcut for most Phoenix residents, considering it connected to West Mesa on Country Club Drive instead of all the way in Apache Junction.

The shortcut was so obvious, that it was considered “taking a bee-line” up to the Rim, with the term “bee-line” being a slang term referring to a shortcut.

While the Bush Highway passes through scenic and mountainous terrain, the Beeline shortcut cuts distance and time and travels along mostly smooth ground.

From then on, the Beeline Highway was paved and expanded on top of, and sometimes next to, the old Bush Highway. The original “bee-line” shortcut ends where the modern Bush Highway meets the Beeline, just north of Goldfield Ranch. You can still see the original route along the modern Beeline to this day, all the way to Payson.

The Beeline Highway as we know it today was fully realized in 1966, with the merging of the old State Route 65 (which connected Winslow to Strawberry) and the ever-expanding path of Route 87.

Categories
Around Arizona Things to Do

Must-See Mountaintops in Arizona

Arizona has a lot of mountains, some that are high in the forest and others that tower over the low deserts. The views on top of many of these mountains are so good, you’ll have to see them all.

Here are five mountains in Arizona that have particularly standout views:

Kitt Peak

Parts of the summit of Kitt Peak were damaged by a wildfire in June, but the view is still fantastic.

Kitt Peak is one of the sky islands of southern Arizona, located in the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. While its peak is only at 6,883 feet, the views from the summit are stunning.

On a clear day, you can see for hundreds of miles in any direction, and at sunset, you can look down as the sun sinks below the horizon to the west. The Kitt Peak National Observatory sits at the top but is currently temporarily closed due to damages from the Contreras Wildfire in June of 2022.

Mt. Lemmon

Mount Lemmon is another sky island, located just north of the city of Tucson. It sits at over 9,000 feet in elevation and is known for the Mount Lemmon Ski Resort.

From the summit of this beautiful mountain, you’ll have views overlooking almost every ecosystem in Arizona, from the high forests of the sky islands to the chaparral transition zones to the Sonoran and Chihuahua Deserts.

Piestewa Peak

Piestewa Peak is the twin sister to Camelback Mountain, right in the middle of the Valley, and it does not disappoint. This peak requires a hike through a beautiful desert preserve to reach, so be sure to bring sunscreen and a lot of water.

At 2,610 feet, you’ll still be in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem at the summit, and you’ll have a fantastic view of the entire Phoenix area in all directions. One of the mountains you’ll be able to see from here is the next entry on this list.

Thompson Peak

Thompson Peak is “the antenna mountain” of the McDowell Mountain range that towers over Fountain Hills and east Scottsdale. This peak also requires a hike, and at the top, you’ll be able to see the entire Phoenix metro area to the south and west, vast swaths of Tonto National Forest and McDowell Mountain Regional Park to the north and east.

While the trail to Piestewa Peak is only open from sunrise to sunset, a big standout feature of Thomspon Peak is that it is a popular destination for night hiking. Start your hike at sunset (with lots of water and flashlights) and in 2 or 3 hours you’ll be overlooking the brilliant glimmering city lights in one direction, and the quiet darkness of the forest in the other.

Mount Ord

Mount Ord is a tall peak in the Tonto National Forest that typically marks the halfway point between Fountain Hills and Payson during a trip to the Mogollon Rim. You’ll have to drive a dirt road to get close to the top, before hiking the final half mile to the summit. The road is well maintained, but if there’s been rain or snow, you should avoid taking a city car up the very curvy path.

At the top is another radio tower, and some amazing views to the south. From Mount Ord, you can see all of Roosevelt Lake, the Reno Pass, Bartlett Lake, Fountain Hills, and much of the Phoenix area. If you have a Tonto Pass and decide to camp near the top, you’ll be able to see both city lights and shooting stars from the same peak, thanks to its altitude and distance from Phoenix.

Categories
Around Arizona Culture Desert Plants and Wildlife Things to Do

3 Arizona Destinations to Beat the Summer Heat

It’s summer in the Valley, and it’s hot. If you have time for a day trip, or even an extended stay, up in a place with cooler weather, why wouldn’t you? Luckily, there are forests and high elevations in almost all directions, where the weather is significantly cooler and wetter and the views are second to none. The best part: you can drive to all these places in a few hours.

Big Lake

Located near the town of Greer and the Sunrise Ski Resort, Big Lake is just one of the dozens of natural lakes on the Mogollon Rim. The elevation in the Big Lake area sits around 9,000 feet, and the average high temperature in the nearest towns is a beautiful 75.6 degrees in July.

The fishing is great here, and the views of meadows, forests, and often perennially snowcapped mountains are stunning. There are lots of places to park an RV or go camping, and there are cabins available for rent in Greer all year round.

Flagstaff

Flagstaff is the biggest city in northern Arizona, known for being the gateway to the Grand Canyon, home of Northern Arizona University, and the Sno Bowl Ski Resort. Arguably the best features of Flagstaff are its beautiful ecosystem and cool temperatures, all while being only a 2.5-hour drive from the Phoenix area. The average high temperature in July is 82 degrees.

There are countless resorts, hotels, and B&B’s in and around Flagstaff waiting to take in flatlanders trying to escape the heat. In the downtown area, there are several great food options and bars.

The nature in Flagstaff and the surrounding area is absolutely amazing, with stands of ponderosa pines mixed with aspen trees, occasionally separated by meadows.

Mount Lemmon

Mount Lemmon is one of the most prominent “Sky Islands” in southern Arizona, and the weather does not disappoint. Situated just north of the city of Tucson, a drive from Fountain Hills to the resort on top takes about 3.5 hours.

While Mount Lemmon is best known for its ski resort that runs throughout the winter and spring, the surrounding village is full of cabins to rent, trails to hike, an observatory to tour, and a few cute restaurants to enjoy.

The drive up the mountain and what you’ll see from the top are some of the best views you can find in the state. With an average July temperature of 76.5 degrees and an elevation of 9,171 feet, Mount Lemmon is a place you’ll want to see – and feel.

Categories
About Fountain Hills Around Arizona Desert Plants and Wildlife Outdoor recreation Things to Do

Monsoon Season Begins!

The temperature is high, the winds are getting stronger in the afternoons, and the thunderhead clouds are building up in the north.

If you’re familiar with our weather patterns, you’ll know these are some of the early signs of monsoon season, perhaps the most interesting time of the year when it comes to meteorological phenomena.

The National Weather Service declares that June 15th is the “official” start date for the monsoon season, and it runs through September 30th. These dates are the average, but there are other ways to tell when the season has begun.

Map of “Precipitable Water” compared to air pressure in 2021. Higher millibars (mb) signify lower air pressure, which also contributes to stronger storms.

Dew Point

Scientifically speaking, the monsoon has begun when three consecutive days pass in June during which the Dew Point at night exceeds 55 degrees. That means that water vapor reaches its saturation point, turning to cloud at air temperatures of 55 and below.

Cicadas

Another way to tell when the season has begun is to listen for cicadas. Cicadas begin their chirping during the hottest, driest weeks of the year. These weeks just happen to often coincide with the dew point exceeding 55 degrees. Once you hear cicadas outside for several days in a row, you’ll know it’s only a matter of time before the first storms begin.

While the season may begin halfway into June, June is still the driest month of the year in the valley. Typically, the first raindrops of the season won’t hit the ground until the first week of July.

If a monsoon storm brings in enough moisture, the clouds can descend and even cover parts of the McDowells in the mornings. This happened a few times in the 2021 monsoon season.

This was the case in 2021, which turned out to be a record-breaking monsoon season in many parts of Arizona. Check out Weather.gov’s 2021 Monsoon Review for more details on what made last year’s season special.

The NWS explains its prediction of an above-average monsoon season in this short video.

The National Weather Service is predicting another above-average storm season for the summer of 2022, so stay tuned for some of the best shows of nature that Arizona has to offer!

Categories
Around Arizona Desert Plants and Wildlife

The Power of Prickly Pear!

Opuntia cactus fruits ripen.

Have you ever had your mouth water while you looked at a prickly pear cactus? Perhaps it should!

Prickly pears, spiny cacti of the genus Opuntia, are native to the Western Hemisphere but have been shared around the world. For hundreds of years, they have provided nutrition and medicine to people wherever they grow.

In the spring, the plant flowers, and then the colorful fruits begin to grow. In Spanish-speaking areas, the fruit is called tuna and the pads are called nopales (plural of nopal). Both are edible.

Prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) on wooden background.

This plant can be used in almost any kind of dish you can imagine. The flat green pads are eaten like a vegetable and are a staple food in the Mexican diet. When cooked, the taste is like a green bean and the texture is like okra.

The fruit is popular as candy, jelly, or syrup for beverages and desserts. They have a slight bubble gum or watermelon flavor. The darker the fruit, the sweeter the flavor.

When harvesting prickly pear, use caution to avoid contact with the glochids, the hairlike prickles that stick to the skin. Wear thick gloves or use a long pair of tongs. To get rid of glochids, use a potato peeler or a flame. You can also purchase pads and fruits at a Mexican supermarket or Sprouts.

Leaves of cactus nopales, used as a Mexican food and drink ingredient.

In addition to food, prickly pear pads can be processed into an environmentally friendly leather replacement. A red dye, called betanin, is extracted from an insect that lives on the cacti. Essential oils from the flowers are used to make perfumes and the seeds are a source of oil.

Prickly pear has played an important role in Mexican folk medicine. One of its most popular uses is as a hangover cure. It is also used to treat burns.

Both fruits and pads are rich in slowly absorbed soluble fibers and have long been used to keep blood sugar stable, reducing the need for insulin. However, studies on this are ongoing and there are no scientifically proven results yet. You should consult a physician before using prickly pear medicinally.

Categories
Around Arizona Culture Outdoor recreation

Spring Training is On!

For 75 years now, Phoenix has been the main hub for Major League Baseball’s Spring Training. Spring Training “began” about at the beginning of March. Unfortunately, Spring Training was delayed, and ended up beginning on March 17th, two weeks later than originally anticipated. So, what is the Cactus League, and what caused its schedule to be delayed?

The Cactus League is like the MLB’s practice round, combined with tryouts for aspiring new team members. For baseball players around the country, the Cactus League is the final achievement before entering the Major League and is also an opportunity to meet and interact with seasoned MLB players.

Tens of thousands of fans also gather to watch these Cactus League matches every day, providing one of Arizona’s biggest annual tourism booms. In fact, according to the Cactus League website, “the 2018 Cactus League season generated an estimated economic impact of $644.2 million” for our state. This includes visits to Arizona’s many other attractions between games.

However, if you look up the Cactus League schedule as of today, you won’t see much. Things have been put on hold recently due to MLB labor contract agreements not being settled yet. This means that many peoples’ plans have already been interrupted over the past several days, and the original matchup schedule is no longer accurate. Apparently, on March 13th, the MLB came to a deal with its players, and the games finally began on March 17th!

Click here to check the Cactus League’s schedule page, and see the new Spring Training schedule.

Categories
Around Arizona Culture Outdoor recreation

The Snowiest Day in Arizona History

If you’ve lived here for a while, you know that every couple years, a little bit of snow (or snow-like precipitation called “graupel”) isn’t unheard of. The high country of Arizona is often coated in brilliant blankets of snow for a good part of the year. This is expected.

Once in a blue moon, however, some wild winter storms hit our state, bringing heavy snow to areas that usually don’t experience much at all. In 2019 Fountain Hills and Rio Verde were treated to “Snowpocalypse,” touted by many as the most snowfall seen in the area.

However, an even larger storm brought the state to a standstill over 50 years ago.

On December 12th, 1967, a winter storm front covered nearly the entire state. Snow began falling on the Mogollon Rim that day, but nobody paid much attention. It always snows on the Rim in the winter. The tone started to change when the snow didn’t stop. For an entire week.

As the storm front lingered and intensified, the temperatures descended much lower than usual. Even at elevations as low as the Valley of the Sun, sub-freezing temperatures were no longer out of the question.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm reached its peak on December 17th. By then, nearly 77 inches of snow accumulated in Payson, 86 inches in Flagstaff, 91.5 inches in Heber, 2.5 inches in Gila Bend, and even trace amounts in Yuma. The Navajo Nation was completely buried, causing significant damage and even deaths.

The Fountain Hills “Snowpocalypse” of 2019 left more than six inches of snow in some parts of town.

Fountain Hills was still the P-Bar Ranch at this point in history, but kids were building snowmen in downtown Phoenix that day, so it’s quite likely the area our McDowell Mountain Foothills would have seen dramatic accumulation to rival the 2019 Snowpocalypse.

So, while a winter storm that brings measurable and lasting snow to the Valley is not a common sight, it’s also not unprecedented. Luckily, freak storms like these usually only bring enough snowfall for us to take pretty pictures and make a snowman.

(for photos: credit to Paul Handverger and the Associated Press on their respective image files)

Categories
Around Arizona Culture

Arizona is “The Valentine State”

February 14th is most often celebrated nationwide as Valentine’s Day, a day of love, romance, and chocolate. But, if you’re single and you live in Arizona, February 14th probably just means one thing to you: Arizona’s birthday.

This coincidence goes mostly unnoticed today, but 110 years ago, it was at the forefront of the public mind. In fact, Arizona’s nickname was widely considered “The Valentine State” for a few years before it became “The Grand Canyon State” that we know and love today. How did this happen, and what changed?

Arizona’s Not-So-Romantic Quest for Statehood

Arizona Territory thought it was ready for statehood for decades before the federal government finally agreed to let them in. They had the population to apply for statehood as of the 1900 census, and they would have had the population earlier had they not had their borders changed in 1867. The U.S. Senate denied their statehood back in 1902, for reasons including, but not limited to, the lack of order in the state. Then the idea occurred to the U.S. Senate to merge Arizona and New Mexico into a single, huge state. This idea made it surprisingly far, before being soundly rejected in an Arizona referendum in 1906.

In 1912, President William Howard Taft and Congress were finally ready to allow both Arizona and New Mexico into the Union as separate states. New Mexico entered the union in January of 1912, and Arizona’s entry was slated for February 12th, 1912. The Republican government of Arizona at the time wanted Arizona’s state birthday to line up with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

When the day finally came, President Taft and the Arizona delegation to Washington were both delayed for various reasons. Taft thought the procedure would “take five minutes” so his advisors scheduled a meeting for him in New York, which took longer than expected. Taft finally signed for Arizona’s statehood on February 14th, which just happened to be Valentine’s Day.

People were very aware of this, and for the first few years of its statehood, “The Valentine State” was one of Arizona’s most popular nicknames. Other nicknames included “The Copper State,” “The Apache State,” “The Sunset State,” “The Italy of America,” and finally, “The Grand Canyon State.” By the time Grand Canyon National Park was created in 1919, “The Grand Canyon State” was definitively the winner.

Nowadays, you won’t see anything about Valentine’s Day on the Arizona Quarter. But don’t forget that the most romantic day of the year is also the birthday of the best state in the country!

If you’re interested in living in Arizona, Fountain Hills has the motto “All That Is Arizona” for a reason! Click here to see listings you’ll fall in love with!

Categories
Around Arizona Culture Local Events Things to Do

WM Phoenix Open Begins February 7th

The golf world is about to unite in Scottsdale! If you’re in the loop on anything golf, you’ll know that the Waste Management Phoenix Open is a huge deal.

The best golf players in the world come to TPC Scottsdale for a tournament that is broadcast nationwide. Some of the big names in attendance will include Jason Dufner, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Billy Horschel, Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, and many more.

Other celebrities are expected to be there too, and even play some golf. Arizona Cardinals all-time leading receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Golf Channel
correspondent Alexandra O’Laughlin, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith and actor/comedian Rob Riggle are among the early list of celebrities who will be playing in the Annexus Pro-Am at the WM Phoenix Open on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course.

The “Tournament Player’s Club” (TPC Scottsdale) from afar during the 2020 Open.

In addition to golf, there will be live music and lots of fun activities in the Coors Light Entertainment Tent. The tournament begins on February 7th, but the biggest events will be happening from the 10th through the 13th. You can see the full event calendar here.

This year marks the 90th Anniversary of the creation of the Phoenix Open Tournament, so surely the Thunderbirds have big plans in store. You can buy your tickets for the Open by clicking here. First Responders, Military Members, and Veterans get in for free!