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It shouldn't be surprising that the biggest and best dog park is located on the side of Tempe that has the fewest residents in swanky South Tempe, not the aptly named Sin City district near Arizona State University. We got lost trying to find it the first time, in part because the north-south Hardy Drive doesn't go through from Guadalupe to Elliot roads. The sports complex is so big, we were lost after we got there, too. We thought one of the fenced-in softball fields was the dog park until our old pooch started straining at her leash, pulling in the right direction.
Dogs will find plenty of room to roam here and we usually sit on top of one of the picnic tables to avoid the slobbery, though friendly, snouts that come our way. The grass was in perfect shape in early June, and gravel areas break up the open space and give the mutts something else to explore. Gates also divide the park's middle, but they're always propped open, a couple with a floppy brown Lab told us. When we were there on a weeknight at about 8 p.m. (it's open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.), the place was full of flouncing Fidos and their owners. Rosy went home exhausted.
Don't worry about a fishing license you're trespassing, anyway, so it won't do you much good should the boys in blue notice you. But a couple of poles, some worms or chicken liver, and a six-pack of Old Style provide a few hours of good times, right in the middle of this desert metropolis.
Multiply that vehicular impotence a hundredfold and you've got Sisters on the Fly, a clan of adventure-seeking chicks who la-la-la around the country, clogging up traffic arteries with their "cowgirl caravans" 20-plus flotillas of vintage, custom-painted Shastas, Alohas, Fireballs, and Airstreams.
The group was formed in 1998 by a couple of fly-fishing sisters who decided to bring some friends along on their next field trip. The concept caught on, and the Sisterhood now numbers about 630, with members ranging in age from 21 to 87, and a thriving Arizona chapter. The annual membership fee is $35, which gets you a personalized Sisters on the Fly vehicle sticker, a subscription to the group's newsletter, and a permanent black mark in the hearts of non-trailer drivers everywhere.
There's no fee for animal care, but donations are appreciated and graciously accepted. And don't be afraid if Kieran's eccentric mom greets you, even when she's dolled up in her cute and colorful curlers.
Outdoor activities center on the large pool, while indoor options feature a clubhouse with billiards and darts as well as the weekend-only Bare Buns Café, serving snacks and coffee drinks. Tuesday nights are potlucks, and there's always a rockin' Saturday-night dance shindig celebrating holidays such as Earth Day or themed events like the Bunny Hop, in which you can actually wear something like rabbit ears or an Easter bonnet to the dance. The curious can download a one-time-only guest pass online, while mainstayers can take advantage of the lifetime membership.
Oh, okay, she jumped all over you for this sudden and unquenchable need to be a potential organ donor. But a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do, right? Yeah, baby!
And what a route you found, one that scoots you, in almost no time, far from the maddening crowds of our metropolis. Here's how it goes: From central Phoenix, get up to the 101 East, either from Interstate 17 or 51 North. Exit at the Princess/Pima Road offramp and follow the signs from Pima Road North to the lake. The views of the mountains and desert are as good as it gets around here, and the traffic, thankfully, is usually sparse. By the time you're halfway there, the city seems far, far away. Stick on your helmet (please!), watch out for the lame-brains driving all around you, and get your motor running.