The Phoenix I knew, before leaving in 1970, is no more. The northern suburbs now stretch all the way to Cave Creek. My brother and sister-in-law moved to Cave Creek 11 years ago. When I practiced veterinary medicine, never certain I practiced well enough or long enough to really be good at it, there was nothing between my clinic on 32nd Street and Bell Road and the town of Cave Creek, seven or so miles north. I had a few clients in Cave Creek so I drove those miles on a two-lane road full of drops down into washes then up again.
Today the road is divided, two lanes to a side, no dips and the previously empty desert is full of subdivisions and strip malls. Compared to the eclectic neighborhoods of Seattle and Edmonds, the subdivisions are monotonic, ersatz adobe style, flat or tile roofs, varying shades of tan. It is early spring in the Sonoran desert and the cacti are getting ready to bloom, some already have. If I lived in one of those subdivisions, even though I still have positive feelings about the desert, I think I would need a trail of bread crumbs to find my house after a couple of glasses of Malbec.
The biggest change though is the sheer number of people and the resulting traffic. I took Alexis to see where my clinic was and the building I built is still there. Here is a photo of the Paradise Animal Hospital in 1962:
Now the place is a Mexican furniture, knickknack and pottery store. We went in and most of the rooms of the clinic had been reconfigured and obviously re-purposed. The indoor kennels have been removed and the openings to the outside runs closed. The outside runs have been removed. My old reception area is now a private office, my old office full of knickknacks for sale. Just for fun I peeked into the restroom. The fixtures have been replaced but the door to my old darkroom was still there, closed. I opened it and the room was empty but still painted black! Here is what the place looks like now:
Charlize couldn’t have been less interested.
Retired veterinarian Dr. David Gross writes about his adventures on the road with his dog Charlize.