Snow in the Arizona Desert

Yes, snow in the Arizona desert. And no, not in the high desert country – where it is the norm to have snow, and lots of it. Flagstaff and the White Mountains get enough snow to be home to ski resorts. Both places being only hours away from the Phoenix valley so you could conceivably ski in the morning and make it back to the valley for a round of golf, or at least a few holes.

But this most recent snow event happened down in the Phoenix valley – the low-lying desert with average elevation around 1000 feet. I have been coming to the Phoenix area for more than 40 years and have never experienced anything like this. Snowflakes here and there, but not actual accumulation of snow on the ground.

North Phoenix, Cave Creek area, can get ground accumulations on occasion but they are upwards of 2000+ feet in elevation; or down in Tucson where they have had several snow accumulations this winter of 4-6 inches or more, but they are at 2500+ feet in elevation or more.

Heavy snow accumulation in Tucson happened several times this winter.

For us, this is a once in a lifetime weather experience here in the desert so I felt it was worthy of a blog post, if for no other reason than to share some pictures not often captured in Arizona. I have often wanted to experience the desert with a little snow cover – but assumed I’d have to time a trek to Sedona or the like to get those photo ops. Never thinking I’d ever have the opportunity to capture these kinds of photos in my own backyard.

I live in the east part of the Valley where Four Peaks, Red Mountain, the Superstition and McDowell Mountains rise up out of the desert. Inhabitants here revel at awaking to the view of Four Peaks blanketed with snow on occasion. But generally these snow storms hang in these outward lying mountain ranges and just supply us with this ‘off in the distance’ majestic visual while we stay snow free, basking in the valley’s sun.

Being from the midwest, where the four seasons abound with diversity, I have truly missed experiencing a little snow here and there. So I was giddy with this anomaly snow event. With temps hovering around the freezing mark the snow quickly turned into sheets of ice by morning, leaving everything glazed over with a whitish hue.

Our home sits high on a hill, elevation of 1945 feet on top – with a steep curvy driveway and an elevation change of 300 feet from top to bottom. During the build we joked how it’s going to be a real challenge to shovel in the winter and worry about sliding down the icy driveway. Never in our wildest dreams did we think this could be a possibility. Luckily by the time we woke up during this recent weather event – the roads were wet, but not icy. I’m sure if we’d had to make a middle of the night run, it might have been a different case.

On February 22nd, 4 inches of snow fell in Fountain Hills, 9 inches in the McDowell Mountains, and 12 inches in the Tonto Hills and Carefree areas.** The last measurable snow event, of an inch or more, recorded in the Phoenix valley, was in 1937. There were traces of snow in 1998 and 1990.*

Waking up on February 23rd to snow in our Arizona backyard.

No golf today!

Rarely do we see temps low enough to create icy creations.

Even this ‘Elk’ was wondering ‘what the heck’ – he moved south to get out of the snow!

Red Mountain, although shrouded in clouds much of the day showed a hint of snow – first time ever.

The McDowell Mountains that separate the east valley from Scottsdale, and where we spend a lot of winter months hiking – just 10-15 minutes from our home.

Although the actual peaks of Four Peaks are slightly shrouded in clouds, the density of the whiteness of snow shows how deep it had to be – upwards on 3 feet for this mountain range about a 20-minute drive from Fountain Hills.

Palm trees and a golf course in the same picture of the snow-capped Four Peaks mountain range was a sight to see.

But don’t let this snow event deter you from heading to the desert in the winter to warm up and get a reprieve from the real winter wonderlands in the country, especially in a year that has experienced the extremes of snow and cold temps. By the end of the next week we were back up into the 70’s, still a little snow showing on Four Peaks, and a full 10-days later all traces of snow were left only in our memory banks.

Within days a good amount of the snow had melted off of Four Peaks.

And now 10 days later, not a trace of snow to be seen – even on Four Peaks. Ahhh…winter in Arizona.

Thank you to *12 News – KPNX-TV (https://www.12news.com/article/weather/snow-in-phoenix-its-happened-before/383134939) and **KTAR – FM news (http://ktar.com/story/2449524/snow-lands-really-sticks-in-phoenix-during-record-rainy-day/) for stats used in this post.

I’m back!! After a 3 1/2 year journey!

After a very long hiatus to give full attention to the building our family’s forever dream home, I am back to my writing, most importantly the writing of my travel blog.

But what a journey it has been. The home build was a year in the design process and another 2 1/2 years in the construction process. As much as the home build was a labor of love, it became a full time commitment in the final 18 months and I chose to put my writing on a temporary hold to give the build my full undivided attention.

In those 3 1/2 years I’m sure I logged enough road miles to earn AAA elite status – if there is such a thing! We chose to build on top of hill – but to accomplish our desire of building a one level home we had to excavate 25 feet deep from the highest point of the hill to the lowest point of the foundation. But after 6 plus months of digging, and exporting over 1200 truckloads of unusable material (325 of those were boulders alone), we had our flat lot. Now we can stay here until we are old and can race up and down the hallways with our walkers with no worries of stairs!

Luckily I somehow managed to fit in some very special trips during this busy time!

My last post was May of 2015. The following places are where I’ve been since then: Big Sky and Billings, Montana; Sedona (twice), Scottsdale and Wickenburg, Arizona; Napa Valley (twice), California; Vancouver, British Columbia; 4 different trips to Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York; Palm Springs, California; Sao Paulo, Angra dos Reis and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and a few other jaunts betwixt and between these amazing trips.

I will also reprise my monthly food blog. My need to fill my foodie desires never wavered during the home build project. Had to keep that strength up!

As much as I love to travel, there is no place like home and nothing like coming home. Especially when home allows me views that equal any I’ve ever experienced in my travels. Rugged red mountain ranges, hawks soaring through the open skies, lush green golf courses and orchards dotting the saguaro laden desert landscape, owls and coyotes making their presence known in the dark of night with their hoots and howls .

But…this is a travel blog, and there are many more amazing destinations on my bucket list to see and experience. So time to get back to my nomadic living and narrate!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Massage: travel treat AND medicinal must

Since most of my travel is based on personal enjoyment, I have time to partake in certain indulgences. As my body ages, the one indulgence that becomes as much necessity as pleasure is having a massage. Especially after a long-haul flight to destinations abroad. A vacation is generally an opportunity to take a breather from the stresses of daily life – both physical and mental. The serene setting of a spa relaxes my mind and the massage works out the built up tension in my body, so when I exit the spa I am ready to be active on my vacation.

It doesn’t take too much investigating to see that the massage industry has become a big buck business. There are actual Spa Resorts, most notably in Arizona: Miraval Spa Resort north of Tucson or Mii Amo Spa Resort in Sedona, Arizona. There are independent day spas, like Milagro Midwestern Day Spa in Leawood, Kansas and multi-location day spas like Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas. Massages have long been a part of European and Middle Eastern culture and where many techniques and products originated – i.e. Swedish Massage and Dead Sea Salts.

Milagro Midwestern Spa & Collective, Kansas

Milagro Midwestern Spa & Collective, Kansas

 

Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, Union Square, NYC

Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, Union Square, NYC

Even insurance companies have gotten on board supporting massage therapy as being a very important medical therapy to help people be more productive by keeping their body pain-free and moving well to withstand the demands of work and daily life.

I have been getting regular massages for the better part of the last thirty years, long before it was a popular thing to do. My mother became a clinical massage therapist 32 years ago at the age of 48 and I was more than happy to be her constant guinea pig while she worked on perfecting her skills. Up until a couple of years ago, she was still able to give a 90-minute massage to rival any I have had, anywhere. Through her eyes I have witnessed the massage industry go from an indulgent luxury to a part of many people’s regular health routine.

Over the years I have noticed a change in the attitude of the massage therapist. Instead of being an easy way to earn $50 an hour without much training, massage therapy has become a professionally trained modality that is producing a competitive edge to force therapists to hone their talent and be proud of their skills. Think about using your hands and body to give back to back massages throughout an eight-hour day – could you do that?

For years, options of kinds of massages were fairly limited – either the lighter touch Swedish massage or for the braver souls a Deep Tissue massage that really gets in and works out all the knots and ropes that stress creates in our bodies. Now the options include: hot stone; cold stone, aromatherapy; four hands; bamboo shoot rolls; foot reflexology. And cater to special needs such as: trigger point; relaxation; rejuvenation; lymphatic drain; migraine relief; cranial facial; back ailments; TMJ; prenatal; golfer’s neck, back and shoulders. And the list goes on and on for both.

Hot stone massage

My daughter and I have made massage a regular part of our regular travel routine together. We have our favorite places like the Scottsdale Spa at the CopperWynd Resort in Fountain Hills, Arizona or the Cornelia Spa at the Surrey Hotel in New York City. But we are always game to try out someplace new, having learned there are so many different ways to be treated to great massage, most being equally effective. To date we have indulged in literally dozens of massages, so when the massage therapist asks us “Have you ever had a massage before?” – we grin and say “Most definitely!”

A massage therapy room at The Scottsdale Spa at Copperwynd, Fountain Hills, AZ

A massage therapy room at Cornelia Spa at the Surrey Hotel, NYC

More spas worth checking out:

Arizona:

Agave Spa, Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, Scottsdale

Sanctuary Spa, Sanctuary Resort and Spa, Scottsdale

Florida:

Eau Spa, Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa, Palm Beach

Minnesota:

Fusion LifeSpa, Minnetonka

New York:

Great Jones Spa, NoHo, Manhattan, NYC

The Spa at Trump, Trump SoHo, NYC

Vermont:

The Spa at Windham Hill Inn, West Townshend

Czech Republic:

Esotica Spa, The Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa, Prague

Dubai:

Shiseido Spa, Atlantis The Palm Resort, Dubai, UAE

Jordan:

Moevenpick Resort and Spa, Dead Sea

InterContinental Spa, InterContinental Hotel, Amman

Mexico:

The Spa, Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort, Cancun

Secrets Spa, Secrets Silversands Resort and Spa, Cancun

Saskatchewan:

Essence Organic Day Spa, Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina

Sahara Spa, Moose Jaw

Sun Tree Spa, Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Resort Hotel, Moose Jaw

Switzerland:

La Spa Geneva, Grand Kempinski Hotel, Geneva