I'll break the suspense to say, yes, I live in Manhattan but we lack cacti and open spaces short of the Park. psychopyro had it right with Arizona as the setting, good guess. Have you spent time there?
I'm only using the Canon utility and PS Elements at the moment, but I will get PSCS soon, which is why there's not a lot of PP done on the image. I am certainly interested in seeing your edits and learning your workflows.
About your edit, Cosworth, I like the blue you got from the sky the best. With the fire hydrant I was trying to capture the vividness of the yellow against the sky. I think a wider aperture on a bit longer lens would have done it for me, in retrospect. (Compositionally, I think the clouds get in the way in this image but I still like it overall. Might make it my avatar for starters.)
BottomBracket, thanks for reminding of the rule of thirds, a concept I think anyone is exposed to (no pun intended). It's always the neglected basic things that catch you most of the time. As you noted, the colors grabbed me and I got carried away with the sky. Again, a compositional error. The clouds come back to haunt the image again, since without them I think a crop would work nicely for this one. Next time I'm back, I'll wait for a clear blue sky and redo the photo. Could you elaborate on underexposing to bring out the detail in the brush in the background?
Thanks to all for your comments and encouragement.