The heat in the Phoenix area was our greatest fear, and summertime highs of 120+ need to be respected: Drink a lot of water, wear a straw cowboy hat, and stay in the shade.
If you’re retired, perfect. Do what needs to be done in the early hours (8-to-10-ish), stay inside during the day, then emerge again in late afternoon.
(Another benefit of retirement: Stay off the highways during rush hour. Otherwise, it takes us 15-20 minutes to get anywhere we want to go.)
Today, Sunday, Aug. 24, it’s 84 degrees, very pleasant.
Publisher Tara Barnwell suggested a column comparing our new home, Tempe, Ariz., with Otsego County, and that’s what everybody asks about first, the temperature.
As it happens, my wife Sylvia and I got it backwards. We pursued exciting careers — newspaper publisher and Methodist pastor, respectively, in a 61,000 Upstate county — then retired to the 11th largest MSA — Phoenix, Mesa and Chandler, 4.8 million population.
Phoenix, with 1.7 million people, is the nation’s fifth largest city, compared with the villages of Cooperstown (1,738) and Milford (415). The Phoenix metroplex is 80 miles across, from Cooperstown to the other side of Albany.
Country mice go to the city, and how.
Our first impression of our new home was its vitality. Lots of young people, many of them tech and dot-com professionals who are pouring over the border from California.
To absorb these new people, homes, condos and apartments are rising everywhere. There’s the equivalent of a Lofts on Dietz under construction at every corner.
Phoenix and its suburbs are built on a grid — simple, once you get and hang of it — and there are shopping centers in each of the four corners of just about every intersection. All the chains — from Starbucks to Walmart — have outlets everywhere.
After promoting economic development on The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta editorial page for 15 years, the contrast around here is overwhelming.
Take Intel, which seven months ago announced a $20 billion — yes, billion — expansion to its local plant, generating 3,000 construction jobs, then 3,000 new jobs, raising its “hi-tech, high wage” permanent local workforce to 15,000.
On Aug. 23, Facebook announced an $800 million data center in Mesa, “among the most advanced energy- and water-efficient” such facilities in the world, creating 1,500 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs.
A mile from our Tempe home, the ASU Research Park hosts GoDaddy, Edward Jones, Shutterfly and a dozen other sizeable facilities. Any one of them would have transformed Otsego County. For the better? Well…
Yes, the Valley of the Sun, as the Phoenix area is called, is astonishing. Big, bold, booming.
But Otsego County, of course, is astonishing in itself. Beautiful, historic, home to Hall of Fame and higher education, ambitious on a different scale, a Monet to a Frederick Church, as Fenimore Art Museum fans might put it.
While Sylvia and I may enjoy the massive Superstition Mountains, they remind us of last autumn’s Sunday drives on unpaved country tracks through brilliant foliage — and so much more.
And some things stay the same … oops, I’m late for my Moderna booster.
Jim Kevlin was editor, publisher and proprietor of The Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta and www.AllOTSEGO.com for 15 years before his April 18 retirement.