The Downside of Arizona Living and Remembering the Fallen

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We watch the news from around the country in wonder of the natural disasters that take place in other areas. Hurricanes up and down the Atlantic Coast. Tornados in Oklahoma, Joplin, Tuscaloosa and throughout the Midwest. Superstorm Sandy and the destruction wrought in New Jersey and the boroughs of New York City.

Heat waves? We sit in our homes and watch others struggle to make do in areas not equipped to handle triple-digit temperatures. We smile ruefully and consider we are enduring 118-degree temperatures with minimal humidity while others are trying to survive 95 and 90, pick which one is the humidity and which the temperature.

Aside from the occasional brutal summer thunderstorm (or other event that gets its own name, like the Hailstorm of 2010), there is little weather to discuss here. Yes, it gets hot. We make do. But all of the dramatic stuff from around the country? Never happens here.

Except … except for brush and forest fires.

Here in Peoria and the rest of the Phoenix area? Not so much. We’ve got mountains and homes on mountains but traffic on the mountains is so minimal that the actual fire risk, as opposed to the potential, is next to nil. I’ve lived here 37 years and can’t remember a major fire threatening homes in the metro area.

Up north in the National Forests? That’s a different story.

We remember the Rodeo-Chediski fire of 2002 for its sheer size, a monster that sent plumes of smoke into the atmosphere to where it looked from here in the Valley that monsoon thunderstorms were on their way down.

Most other names are forgotten to all but those who have either lost property or had it threatened; there are a few of these every year.

The Yarnell fire will be remembered because it reminded us all what a fickle animal flame can be. On Sunday, 19 firefighters perished when the fire roared down upon them unexpectedly, racing ahead and cutting them off from escape.

If you wish to make a donation to the families or to those still fighting this and other fires, the following is from The Arizona Republic via the Asbury Park Press ...

 Donations to the Yarnell Fire Fund can be made through United Way’s website, www.unitedwayyavapai.org, or at any National Bank of Arizona branch.

The United Way of Yavapai County, working with the Prescott Fire Department and the Town of Yarnell, will distribute donations to the crew members’ families and Yarnell citizens.

The American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter is accepting monetary donations to help provide food, snacks, water and beds at two shelters at Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz., and Wickenburg High School in Wickenburg, Ariz.

The shelters are providing places to stay for those evacuated from their homes in wake of the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Those wishing to make a monetary donation can do so at the chapter’s website, www.redcross.org/az/phoenix/ways-to-donate.

Rio Vista Community Center Presents Parents’ Night Out

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Personally, I no longer need to worry about such things now that the kids are in their teens and the wife and I can abandon them here with the promise of Domino’s.

For those not quite so fortunate, the Rio Vista Community Center in Peoria presents Parents’ Night Out every third Saturday. And, according to my calendar, this upcoming Saturday night would be the third Saturday of the month.

Drop off the kiddos starting at 5:30 p.m. and they’ll enjoy pizza and games while you enjoy either a pleasant night out or a much-needed nap. Just make sure you’re awake by 9:30 p.m. to pick them up.

Parents’ Night Out is open for kids ages 3 to 10 though they have to be fully potty-trained. So make sure your 10-year-old fits the bill.

Cost and registration information is available on the Rio Vista site.

So get those kids to Rio Vista and get yourselves out of the house!

Get Dad Running on Father’s Day

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Let’s face it. Dad probably doesn’t need another tie. So why not get him off the couch and away from the U.S. Open on television and take him for a jog?

On Sunday, June 16 – Fathers Day, for those so curious – the City of Peoria will host a four-mile Fathers’ Day run and kids run.

The event will be held at Rio Vista Park, just west of Loop 101 off Thunderbird Road. Check-in is at 6 a.m. with the race starting at 7 a.m.

There are three ways to enter:

  • Online at Active.com
  • By phone by calling 623-773-7137
  • By mail by printing out the Registration Form from the City of Peoria website.

Cost for those registering before June 13 is $20 for adults and $10 for kids; after that date registration is $25 and $15, respectively.

You’ll even receive a T-shirt.

For more information about the Father’s Day run or the City of Peoria’s running series,visit the city website.

Meerkats, Sharks and More at Wildlife World Zoo

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Looking for something to do with the kids? Get out early before the heat of the day hits and take them to the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium, on Northern Avenue and the Loop 303 in Litchfield Park.

The Wildlife World Zoo features more than 6,000 animals, both on land and in the aquarium. There’s also a Dillon’s Restaurant on site which, for the record, serves some absolutely awesome Kansas City-style barbecue.

Just this past week, Wildlife World Zoo opened its fourth aquarium building which expanded the state’s only aquarium about a quarter of a million gallons of aquatic displays. The main attraction in the new building? An Amazon River Monsters display containing several types of Amazon River giants.

Tickets are $29 for adults and $14.25 for kids; after 5 p.m., aquarium-only tickets are $16.99 and $8.99. (Hint – you can find discount tickets everywhere. I’ve seen them on the counters inside Baskin Robbins near Arrowhead Mall and the Dairy Queen at 59th Avenue and Greenway. I’m guessing they’re available outside ice cream shops, too.)

For more information about the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium, visit their website.

Photo credit: Candice N via Flick Creative Commons

City Pools are Open and Calling

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Given this week’s (and month’s, for that matter) absolutely absurd temperatures, it might be worth mentioning there’s open swimming this weekend and throughout the summer at the City of Peoria’s three public pools – at Centennial, Peoria and Sunrise Mountain high schools.

Schedules for the three pools for the month of June are available on the City of Peoria’s website or at the links below:

For Centennial, at 79th Avenue and Acoma, click here.

For Peoria, at 83rd Avenue and Peoria(ish), click here.

For Sunrise Mountain, south of Deer Valley on 83rd Avenue, click here.

Oh … and no matter which pool you head to, bring some sun screen. SPF 2,500 should suffice.

Photo credit: matchity via Flickr Creative Commons