Travel

Arizona: Right Place, Right Time

What’s not to like about the only western US state with the good sense to reject Hillary Clinton? Not much, given the food, scenery and people are a joy to eat, watch and with whom to lament the decline of neighbouring California. Oh, and for Queenslanders there’s an extra attraction

arizonaHere’s a trivia question for you: what do the US states of Hawaii and Arizona have in common that no other US State shares?  I’ll throw in a clue.  Queensland shares this trait as well as Hawaii and Arizona.  I know the answer because over the recent Christmas break my wife and I went to Arizona via Hawaii.  It was a once-every-three-years family get-together with all my wife’s family, who live in Toronto.  I have no idea why they picked Arizona and truth be told my expectations were low.

Boy did I get that wrong.  Arizona was fantastic.   The weeklong get-together was at a dude ranch just outside Tucson.  (Again, don’t ask me why a dude ranch.)  Now the political junkies among you will know that Arizona was the only western state that President Trump won in the 2016 election.  So that’s a plus in my books.  And you certainly ran into a few refugees from the People’s Republic of Taxistan, aka California, who had transplanted themselves to Arizona.  Not so many people realise that outside the wealthy enclaves in and around San Francisco, plus the usual Hollywood oases in LA and Palm Springs, California is not doing all that well.  Its education scores are plummeting.  It’s losing business to less lefty loony jurisdictions.  Its Big Government married to Big Business uber regulation and tax is starting to bite it in the bum big time.  If that sounds not terribly dissimilar to Australia, well I couldn’t possibly comment.

Where was I?  Ah yes, at a dude ranch near Tucson in Arizona.  The surrounding countryside was magnificent.  National parks abounded with great walks through unreal scenery, not least a panoply of cacti, including the world’s largest.  Rattle snakes?  Tick.  Hot during the day and below freezing at night?  Tick.  One of the best airplane museums in the world just 25 minutes drive away in nearby Tucson?  Tick.  And the food was perhaps most surprising of all.  It was terrific.  And I don’t just mean the big thick steaks, though they too were excellent.

After the dude ranch our daughter had to fly back to the UK and exams, but we had four more nights with our London-living-and-working son.  So we got in the rental car and drove firstly to the top north-eastern bit of Arizona, the home of hunting, fishing and magnificent hikes or walks.  We did two of the latter, one to over 11,000 feet in altitude.  And we discovered a diner in the middle of nowhere, an old-fashioned authentic US diner that for over 60 years had been there in this sleepy town of some 200 year-round inhabitants.  (Apparently the town’s population in the summer months jumps up to over 3,000 because of the many lakes, rivers and cooler weather, but in the dead of winter you can take it from me, it is sleepy.)  This diner is a gem.  It’s worth a five-hour drive not just because the food was great but because it felt as though you’d hopped into your Delorean sports car, hit 88 miles per hour, and travelled back to the 1950s.

Anyway, we were two nights there before getting up at the crack of dawn and driving straight to the Grand Canyon at Flagstaff, on its southern rim.  We went for our son who’d been there when he was four but remembers nothing.  When you hear about the Grand Canyon you naturally think it can’t be as superb as people say.  But it is.   Get as close to the edge as your genetic inheritance will allow and then look down six or seven thousand feet at a canyon formed over tens of millions of years by the rush of water and the weather generally.  It will make you feel like an insignificant insect, so any readers who are paid up Liberal Party members in NSW or Victoria will feel right at home.

After lunch at the Grand Canyon we took the back road to Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon on one of those eye-popping roads that gets listed as ‘One of the Five Best Scenic Drives in the US’.  Take it and you’ll see why that sort of puffery is more than plausible.  And what of Sedona itself?  Well, it’s a smallish and very wealthy little enclave about two hours north of Phoenix.  (And hands up all those who knew that the greater Phoenix area is now the sixth largest place in the US, population-wise?)  We splurged and took a helicopter ride through all the canyons.  This is where more movie westerns have been filmed than anywhere else.   Throw in a quaint boutique hotel and yet more top-class dining and you can see why Arizona gets the grade of ‘great’. Or, as it’s a Trump-voting state, let’s make that ‘bigly great’.  Or ‘the greatest ever’.

Then we had a few nights in Maui on the way back and that was that.  Which takes me back to my original pub-quiz question.  Want one more clue?  Take a look at your watch.  You see, neither Arizona nor Hawaii have daylight savings.  Those are the only two US states to forego the twice-yearly clock changing routine.  They join Canada’s province of Saskatchewan, my home state of Queensland, and Western Australia – which gives us so much of its GST monies that even the centralising gurus in Canberra would be embarrassed to steal an hour of its time once a year.

17 comments
  • [email protected]

    I have asked many times what the benefits to DLS are for someone living in a state which has on average more than enough daylight. All they have, is a string of meaningless slogans.
    Our suppliers are in the east, so how you having placed your order three hours before they open, is a problem? Also, so you don’t deal, with local businesses then? The cafe and restaurants would be able to open later! Why? All the customers have gone home. After all, they have to get up an hour earlier!

  • peter prenavon

    That is a great story about day light saving, thanks James.
    DLS, is a great inconvenience when southern regressive states, control national content like the bolt report.
    it’s like middle of the afternoon in Queensland, and they are showing the evening news. I know , I need a life.

  • Geoffrey Luck

    Just across the California/Arizona border on Interstate 10, the little town of Quartzsite becomes the biggest trailer park in the world every year for the annual gemstone and mineral rock meet. The big interstate rigs all leave the west coast near empty to make it there where there’s no fuel tax. Gas or diesel $2.99 a gallon when we were there

  • Ian MacKenzie

    The most persuasive argument for DLS is that it encourages outdoor activities in the evening, so good for sporting clubs, not so good for primetime TV. Arguments against seem to revolve around farm schedules, especially milking time (although I would have thought farmers would have more discretion than most about when they work) and some health concerns in that children walking home after school receive higher UV exposure during DLS (do any children walk home after school anymore?). The best argument against I’ve heard was from a Queensland woman who allegedly called in to talkback radio concerned that as her husband invariably woke up with a morning erection, moving the clocks forward an hour would mean this would happen on the bus to work, to the embarrassment of all concerned.

    The bottom line is that DLS works well at higher latitudes where there is a larger difference in day length between summer and winter. It doesn’t work well at low latitudes where there isn’t much difference. Consequently Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and NSW won’t give it up, Queensland and the NT won’t adopt it, WA can’t work out what it wants and possibly doesn’t understand it and we’ll all just have to live with that.

    • rodcoles

      The Commonwealth has a constitutional head of power for ‘weights and measures’. This is set out in section 51 (xv) of the Constitution. Since time is clearly a measurement, then surely the Feds should take control of setting of DLS.

      • Ian MacKenzie

        This would require more courage than most of our current politicians possess. Besides, an hour in Queensland is the same length as an hour in NSW (it might seem longer, but that’s a different matter), it just doesn’t always happen at the same time. WA is always behind the east, its simply a matter of how much.

        The main advantage of the current system seems to be that as each state pleases itself, it can also feel superior to other states which made the wrong decision.

      • PT

        What do you want old sailor? Push WA into secession? We HAVE the same time measurement – seconds, minutes and hours. We don’t still have miles and gallons out here. The section MAY allow Canberra to do this (the High Court would have to decide if time zones are included). But it’s failed in 4 votes over 30 years, and you’d be disregarding the will of WA people. Do you really want to open that can of worms? Even a lot of people out here who like DLS would baulk at Canberra ignoring our clearly shown democratic will! It would just prove you lot don’t care what we think, and see us as a giant ATM, to be otherwise disregarded!

        Perth is 4000kms west of Sydney. The sun rises approximately 2 hours after it does in Sydney. If that doesn’t count, we should all be on GMT and Harrison’s work was in vain. We are NOT on Sydney time. If DLS doesn’t suit the conditions of most people here, then why should we have it? And why do you care so much anyway?

    • [email protected]

      The arguments of country people against daylight saving have been mocked cynically and mercilessly by the big city media, led by their shower of typically brainless journalists who demonstrate daily that nothing exists for them west of the Great Dividing Range. Farm schedules are only one factor. My father in his retirement years drove a school bus in western NSW. Rural kids on his run at the furthest distance from town (about 100 km) had to be up, dressed, fed and driven some distance to the nearest bus-stop by no later than 7.00am to get them to school on time. For much of the time this meant being up before dawn. Then, after school finished at 3.30pm in the afternoon, they had at least another hour and a half travel in the hottest part of the day in an unairconditioned bus. After a week or so of this routine, he said the kids were zombies.

      And the city elites claimed that country people were only worried about their curtains fading, Yuck yuck yuck.

      • ianl

        > ” … west of the Great Dividing Range”

        DT, as I note in comment below, the geometry is simple but most don’t get it.

        It’s not the longitude (east-west) that matters, but the latitude (north-south). The closer to the equator one is, the less variation in seasonal daylight hours. Broken Hill has roughly the same seasonal daylight spread as Sydney but both have a far greater seasonal range than Cairns.

        • PT

          Country people are more opposed than city dwellers. The failed attempts to get WA to “vote the right way” demonstrate this.

    • ianl

      > “The bottom line is that DLS works well at higher latitudes where there is a larger difference in day length between summer and winter. It doesn’t work well at low latitudes where there isn’t much difference”

      Yep. Getting people to understand that simple bit of geometry is almost impossible (I’ve tried, across the world).

      For those in the higher latitudes, both hemispheres, using the full extent of daylight hours in the summers means a lower power bill for that period (increasingly important in these insane times). Of course, conversely the winter months are a busted flush.

      • PT

        I’d also point out that DLS was a war economy from WWI. If you’ve lived in London, you’d know it’s daylight at 4:00 am in mid summer, and still bright well into the night. It was decided to move to clocks in summer so that coal used to generate electricity for lights could be used for municians production instead.

    • PT

      Ian as a West Australian, that’s an extremely patronising comment! We DO know what we want! It’s failed EVERY SINGLE TIME it’s been put up. In fact the last debacle, which had a 3 year trial – deliberately so people would get used to it – had the biggest rejection of all!

      Perth is further north than Sydney (more like Newcastle), is it any wonder it’s less popular here? But pompous comments from “othersiders” don’t make it more popular. It keeps coming up because it’s backed by the “powers that be”! Basically the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t like losing an hour of contact with Sydney and Melbourne, but instead of just adjusting their own working times, they want all services to adjust too!

      Regarding farmers: they do not set their own hours – nature does. But a dairy farmer, for example, has a customer’s tanker that calls to collect the milk, and the truck does run to time. As does the supermarket to which the dairy sells the milk!

      Regarding sports etc. That is an individual decision. In WA many go for a morning run, swim etc in summer and lose the daylight for this. This counterbalances those who bodysurf in the evening, or do gardening. But that’s the point, it’s an individual lifestyle choice. It will suit some, but others. If there are more people who find it inconvenient (and just arbitrarily changing time is inconvenient in and of itself) then a jurisdiction doesn’t adopt it. Is that OK with you?

      • Ian MacKenzie

        That’s fine with me PT, although I don’t vote in WA, so my opinion is really neither here or there. As I said above “each state pleases itself” and “we’ll all just have to live with that”.

        The comment about WA not sure about what it wants derives from the number of times you’ve changed back and forth, with DLS adopted in 1917, 1942-1943, 1974-1975, 1983-1984, 1991-1992, and 2006–2009. That’s 12 changes to or from DLS in 100 years, substantially more than any other state. That’s perhaps not surprising given that WA has a much greater extent in terms of latitude than any other state, and the difference in day length variation between north and south in WA is therefore greater. One would expect support for DLS to be strongest in the south and against DLS strongest in the north. None-the-less, as you point out, the four referendums (again the most for any state) in 1975, 1984, 1992 and 2009, all went against, so perhaps you’ve now worked out what you want. Incidentally the difference in latitude between Sydney and Perth is minor, only resulting in a 7 minute longer day in Sydney today for instance, so that’s unlikely to be a factor in the decision. Its more likely that cultural differences are at play. In the end though, “as each state pleases itself, it can also feel superior to other states which made the wrong decision”, whatever you believe that to be.

  • ianl

    And I’m pleased to read that James Allan has recognised the true awesomeness of Deep Time, brought home to him by the sheer brutal beauty of the Grand Canyon stratigraphical exposures.

    Most city dwellers do not like the desert, it frightens them – they find their insignificance as measured against Deep Time extremely discomfiting.

  • [email protected]

    Which is why I give more credence to professional geologists like Ian Plimer and the late Bob Carter than I do to so-called climate “scientists”.

  • pgang

    “…tens of millions of years by the rush of water and the weather generally.” Actually what makes it even more amazing is that it was formed quickly and catastrophically. Imagine the forces that must have been at work. The slow and steady scenario is riddled with problems.

    Really can’t wait to get to the USA – one of these days.

Post a comment