Growing up in North Dakota and then spending most of the rest of my life in Oregon, I've come to think of Arizona as the place people go when they get old and just want to be warm. Not necessarily the place they actually call home, but where a person can set up a lounge chair by the pool in November, and relax until late March when the trees up north are beginning to bud. Then they jump into their rigs and go home.
Why is it I never thought of doing this annual migration myself? Or, rather, why haven't We - PK, my mate of 40 years - and I considered being snowbirds?
It's no secret that Oregon is sad and sodden three to five months a year. Depending upon your tolerance for cold, rainy gray days, or the calibre of what you have to do with your time indoors, I'm surprised anybody who's retired and solvent stays in a miserable climate for months at a time. Why not head south?
I am not forgetting, of course, the wonderous road trips we've enjoyed off and on since 2010, which in the past couple years, have become longer in mileage and months. But as with our most recent trip, we're not exactly escaping winter. We left home in early March and returned in mid-April.
|Bye bye to prehistoric ocotillos in Joshua Tree National Park.|
We stayed in a drab but clean and huge RV Park in Gila Bend. It was 3/4 empty because most winter residents had disconnected from the plumbing and electricity and were headed north.
Earlier in the day, we'd passed Quartzite, which we learned is a magnet for RVing snowbirds. A load of commercial RV parks dot the area, but the main attraction appears to be free or low-cost camping (boondocking) on BLM lands. This link describes the temporary communities and the colorful stores and rock and gem shows and other fun stuff that come and go each winter with the adventurous RV crowd.
Somehow I'd pictured Arizona snowbirds living in upscale planned communities, but I get it about not wanting to tie down to a particular place. We met RVers all over the SW and Texas who winter in the south and relocate seasonally. A few we met were selling their wares, following the crowds from festival to festival, gem show to gem show. Some return north for the summer to live in stick homes. Others just live in their RVs, wherever that may take them.
We're not ready to do this yet, apparently. We're tied to home for a number of reasons not the least of which are friendships that span decades and a still-too-ambitious garden. But I have to admit that during our spring 2017 road trip, I dared to consider, for the first time, relocating south, even imagining, if just for a nanosecond, living in a planned retirement community. Based on reports from friends who've made the big move, it's not a bad idea.
PK's thought? Not a bad idea? A terrible idea!
|Lenny and Dusty Friedman influencing me|
about the benefits of retirement communities.
Their smiles say it all.
They used to live (and garden) a few miles from us in Southern Oregon, but moved to AZ full-time in 2016. They worked hard on behalf of our community. Our loss, Green Valley's gain.
Lenny, who'd been an entrepreneur, a middle school teacher, and a community volunteer/activist, among other roles, says that for years he doubted his ability or desire to live in a planned community.
I wouldn't be writing this if he didn't now love it. He and Dusty are totally adapted to and happy with this new phase of their life.
|Here we are later in the trip, me decked out in my new|
favorite shirt, purchased from a street vendor in Bisbee.
|The "free store" in Bisbee didn't have much to offer, but it's the thought that counts, right? Definitely a hold-over from Bisbee's hippie past.|