If you're motoring into Phoenix from Los Angeles after the mind-numbing negative space of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts -- or even just returning from a visit to the West Valley -- this perspective of downtown and uptown with the Phoenix Mountains and Camelback Mountain looming to the left is simply breathtaking. This elevated stretch of eastbound 10 is one of the few spots from which our Valley looks like a true metropolis and like the fifth-largest city in the U.S. The nighttime view is just as stunning, with lights shimmering like freshly cut diamonds on black velvet; but our favorite time of all is summer sunset, when the feverish sun casts its dimming rays on the reflective glass of the buildings, and that singular desert mist hovers over the mountains like a soft blue shroud. There aren't too many things to like about either Phoenix summers or Valley freeways, but here's one.
Fun Services
We love a parade, but we love a carnival even more -- you know, an old-fashioned, cheesy cake walk of a good time. But where to find the accouterment? We discovered rows of old cardboard boxes stuffed with carnival goods at Fun Services, an oddly named warehouse of a party store in Tempe.

The store stocks all the best traditional party goods -- enough paper goods to throw a palm-tree-themed party for 100, confetti in all sorts of shapes and a large costume shop with clown gear galore. But our favorite part was the back warehouse, which you have to ask about. When you do, a staff member will helpfully offer you paper and pencil to record your purchases, and leave you alone (there's no air conditioning back there, so who could blame her?) in the dim room, stocked with Santas waiting for the right season and the aforementioned boxes of carnival goods.

We dug for what seemed like days, never reaching the end but stuffing our basket with harmonicas, oversize sunglasses and kewpie dolls in assorted poses. We found blow-up guitars and oversize, glittered "microphones" for a sock hop, and enough plastic crap to satisfy our carnival cravings for good.

Whatcha doin' next Saturday?

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