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Murphy Bridle Path, Phoenix

Greetings from the Valley of the Sun

The weather has been nothing but wonderful since my arrival in Phoenix on Saturday, October 6. Of course, that’s because it’s October; two months ago, I probably wouldn’t have been saying that. But actually, two months ago when Beth, Jonathan and I came to Phoenix for my second set of interviews for this new ministry position, it was hotter in Greenville, South Carolina, where we were living at the time, than it was in Phoenix—an anomaly in the typical weather patterns of the desert Southwest for August, for sure.

I am renting the two rooms on the top floor of a condo in North Central Phoenix, on Central in the North Village area, not far from Sunnyslope High School. It’s an old neighborhood, and all the land used to be farm homesteads. But you know how cities spread; Phoenix is no exception.

One of the cool features of this neighborhood runs north-south along the eastern edge of Central Avenue. It is a one hundred-year-old bridle path that serves as a walking/jogging trail, and sometimes still has horses on it. Made from a combination of sand and gravel and dirt—no concrete or asphalt—it’s suitable for horse hooves. Now, I haven’t personally seen a horse on the trail during any of my morning or afternoon walks, but I have seen (and had to avoid stepping in) evidence of horses being on the Murphy Bridle Path—if you get my meaning. It’s a great area in which to walk, and lots of people use the path.

At the top end of the path, near Dunlap Street, it crosses the Arizona canal in Phoenix, and there are walking and bike paths along each side of it, which make for a nice, quieter walk. I’m not sure yet where the water comes from; I’ll find out and let you know. The city also provides underpasses for bike riders and walkers and horseback riders to walk or ride under the busy mile streets (major thoroughfares), thus avoiding having to cross dangerously busy roads during the morning and afternoon commuting hours. Very nice. Kind of like a River Walk, without the shopping mall along its banks.

I am driving a “company” provided car—a Toyota Prius, one of the very first models of this hybrid car ever sold in California where it came from four years ago. It was a next-door neighbor Prius to a Prius owned by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston—which tells you how old it actually is, if you know their history. If not, you can look their history up.

The Prius sips gas like an unemployed English major nurses a beer. Very stingy. It runs very quiet, so quiet that at times I think the motor has stopped running—which, in fact, it has. That’s when the batteries take over. One thing I learned about the Prius this week while driving around town is that when the motor shuts off at intersections, the compressor for the AC goes off, as well. So the cool air immediately begins to warm up a bit and it gets a little humid. When the motor restarts, the compressor kicks back on. Now, does the extra work it has to do to cool down and dehumidify the car off-set the fuel savings gained when the motor/compressor kicked off? Is the whole thing a phony, designed to line the pockets of Toyota with your “green” while convincing you that you’re being environmentally friendly, the other “green,” while driving a Prius? Who knows? But still, it’s stingy on gas. So it must actually work, to some degree.

Phoenix is nice, growing, and very different from the Piedmont region of South Carolina. The desert is its own kind of beautiful, and it takes time to appreciate that. Lots of people want to be here. I’m glad that I am here, and can’t wait for the rest of the family to join me, as well.

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