In 2001, my story on the Fountain Hills Fountain resulted in my first published photo. Read all about it.
Fountain Park Lake is a 28-acre lake in the center of the 32-acre Fountain Park, which is itself located in Fountain Hills, a desert oasis for the financially gifted — the kind of place where the public restrooms at the park are nicer than the one I have at home. As pretty as it is, though, you must keep in mind that the lake is composed of 100,623,600 gallons of "chemically treated, recycled wastewater." In other words, no swimming. The geese, however, don't seem to mind. Of course, geese are nasty.
The fountain percolates hourly, and having drawn up my itinerary with exquisite accuracy, I arrived at T-minus fifteen minutes. I had just enough time to select a vantage point and break out the photo equipment. I assumed the large, concrete structure in the middle of the reservoir marked the spot, although it didn't look all that big. I imagined myself rowing a small boat out to greet it, though, and as I saw my craft receding further out onto the lake, I realized that the fountain really is larger than it appears.
Waking me suddenly from my nautical daydream, a gust of water rushed into the sky. I started snapping a few shots, although the geyser seemed to stop at a disappointing height, making me feel a bit foolish for snapping on a wide-angle lens. It didn't take long, however, for the plume to increase in elevation, reaching a sudden crescendo stabbing 560 feet into the sky. It kind of reminded me of an oversized summer, garden-hose toy — remember the one that shot the clown's hat into the air?
Now, I feel I should interject here to warn you that if you venture a visit yourself, you have to focus your attention on the fountainhead if you want to see it go off; there's no aural warning. In fact, the whole thing is surprisingly quiet. You would think that so much water pouring down out of the sky would approach a thunderous level, but it somehow doesn't. Just remember to keep your eyes out on the lake.
Having been lucky enough myself to catch the show from the beginning, I took a leisurely walk around the end of the lake to see if the fountain's shower was creating a rainbow. As luck would have it, it was. Aware that the display normally endures a full fifteen minutes, I took the time to head back for a more appropriate lens. Unfortunately, before I could make it, the spectacle died. As quickly and as silently as it had begun, it ended, and far sooner than it should have. As it turns out, the fountain has a safety feature; if the wind is stronger than 12 miles per hour, it automatically shuts off. After all, we wouldn't want to douse the residents walking their prized poodles, now would we?
Incidentally, the person who constructed this enormous bidet was the somewhat eccentric developer Robert P. McCulloch, the same man who had the big idea of bringing over the London Bridge to Lake Havasu City, brick by brick.
By the way, if anyone reading this has a giant clown hat, a flatbed truck and a boat, meet me in Arizona next April 1st.
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