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What's Right With Arizona
People like to complain. About their jobs, their neighbors, their lot in life. People like to complain about Arizona, too. It's too hot, it's too dry, it's too this, it's too that. Admittedly, Arizona isn't perfect — no place is. Nevertheless, there's a lot that's right with Arizona, and we thought the world could use a reminder.

by Jeff Kida, Kelly Kramer & Robert Stieve

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Perserverance

Perseverance

Standing as ancient sentinels near the tundra region of Humphreys Peak, Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pines (Pinus aristata) are among the oldest and most resilient trees in the world. Their California cousins, Great Basin Bristlecone Pines (Pinus longaeva), are the oldest, with some dating back 4,600 years. Researchers from the University of Arizona used the tenacious old pines to assemble a continuous tree-ring chronology that extends back nearly 10,000 years. It's the longest chronology in the world and it provides an unequaled look into past climatic and environmental conditions.
Information: Flagstaff Visitor Center, 800-379-0065 or www.flagstaffarizona.org

Best of Arizona


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Transition
Despite the stereotypes, there are four seasons in Arizona. All four: winter, spring, summer and fall. Although the switch from one to another may not be as severe as it is in a place like Vermont, it exists nonetheless. And in some cases, the seasons even overlap. Information: Flagstaff Visitor Center, 800-379-0065 or www.flagstaffarizona.org
Atmospheric Pressure
The sun shines a lot in Arizona, which makes those rare summer storms even more impressive. Although most people think of the Indian Ocean when they think of monsoons, the Arizona Monsoon puts on a pretty good show of its own, and one of the best places to see the weather phenomenon is along the Florence Kelvin Highway east of Florence.
Information: Florence Visitor Center, 866-977-4496 or www.visitflorenceaz.com


Tranquility
Garbage trucks, police sirens, overhead 737s ... there's a lot of noise in urban Arizona. Off the beaten path, however, there are plenty of places for some peace and quiet, including Cattail Cove State Park, a 2,000-acre getaway located along Lake Havasu.
Information: 928-855-1223 or www.azstateparks.com/parks/caco
Pastimes
There are plenty of ways to pass the time in Arizona, from hiking and biking to canyoneering and geocaching. And even though Minnesota may be the land of 10,000 lakes, Arizona is surprisingly water rich, which means there are countless places to kayak, canoe or cast your fishing line. Get your feet wet in the pine-reflecting waters of Bear Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim.
Information: Black Mesa Ranger District, 928-535-7300 or www.fs.usda.gov/asnf.
Innocence
In art, literature and religion, water is often symbolic — of purity, of virtue and rebirth. For kids, though, it equates to good, old-fashioned fun. At Slide Rock State Park, children of all ages slip, slide and skim along a natural water chute and the slick creek bottom. It’s entertainment at its purest, absent Playstations and Wiis, but full of hands-in-the-air wheeeeeees!
Information: Slide Rock State Park, 928-282-2034 or www.azstateparks.com/parks/slro
Simple Pleasures
iPhones and Droids and whatever new technology comes out by the time this magazine leaves the printer are great, but Steve Jobs, et al. still haven't mastered the sense of taste. For that, there's no virtual option, especially when it comes to ice cream, one of the great joys in life. Cones are available everywhere, but somehow they taste even better at a diner on Historic Route 66.
Information: Twisters 50's Soda Fountain, 928-635-0266 or www.route66place.com
Sundown
When the sun kisses the horizon, its light is forced to pass through more air. Molecules scatter through the atmosphere, and blues and violets are pushed from your line of sight, allowing oranges, golds, reds and pinks to muscle their way through, just as they do in the San Pedro Valley, east of Tucson. Stop to inhale an Arizona sunset. Even if you're having a tough day, those colors will make you stop and think, There's something right about that.
Information: Benson/San Pedro Valley Chamber of Commerce, 520-586-2842 or www.bensonchamberaz.com

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