I grew up in Mesa, Arizona and I have fond memories of the town. And, while Mesa has certainly changed over the years, a lot of things are still the same.
During the Spring, many people flock to Hohokam Park to watch the Chicago Cubs baseball team practice. My fondest memory during this time however, is driving down Gilbert or McKellips road each year to watch the pavement wash away as the Salt River flooded. New bridges have now been built so the roadways don’t wash away but water is still released each year when the snow starts to melt from the Northern part of the state. It’s amazing to watch the “controlled” flash flood washing over the gritty desert landscape and putting a river in it’s place.
Christmas time brings memories of stopping to get an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen on Main Street and walking around the Mormon Temple looking at the lights. Each year, the Temple has an amazing light and Holiday display complete with nativity scenes. This is still one of the best and free lights display in Mesa during the holidays.
Orange groves dotted almost every corner and in the early summer evenings, we’d stop and pick some oranges (sh….don’t tell anyone) and eat them right in the car. It’s hard to describe the sweet smell and the tangy goodness that you can only get from an orange picked freshly from a tree. Oranges still play an important role in Mesa’s agriculture and while there aren’t orange groves on every corner, there are plenty. I’d suggest though stopping by a roadside stand to purchase your oranges.
Where we once cruised down Main Street on Friday and Saturday nights there is now a vibrant arts center that attracts nationally known talent. Many of the downtown shops have changed with only a few (such as Milano‘s Music) remaining throughout the years and today the streets of Mesa are lined with cute boutiques and cafes.
One of the best still undiscovered secrets is The Park of Canals. Not only is there a great, small botanical garden area but there are archeological ruins of canals dug by the Hohokam Indians thousands of years ago.
Everytime I visit Mesa, I am amazed by the city where I grew up and how it has not only held on to it’s past but it’s embraced it’s future.