Snowbirding

Wayne and I drove from San Diego back home to Minnesota last fall. On the way we scoped out some 55+ RV Parks in Arizona, where many retired Midwestern folks go to get away from winter. Wayne’s parents used to spend a couple of months in one of these parks in Brownsville, Texas. They loved it. My parents never had any desire to leave in the winter, other than a few short trips to visit family and friends in warm places. I was not sure how I felt about the whole idea, but was willing to check it out.

Driving through Phoenix there seemed to be hundreds of retirement communities and RV Parks. We saw many that seemed like big parking lots with RV’s lined up. Thumbs down. Heading east, we happened upon one in Gold Canyon on the very eastern fringe of the metro area. This place had a small golf course, beautiful desert landscaping and green spaces, a nice pool, bistro, gym, large activities building, and views of the Superstition Mountains in the background. The landscaping and green space with mountain view made all the difference. Thumbs up, I could see myself there. At the time we had a lot on our plate so we continued on to Minnesota and got busy with what we needed to do at home.

In January after things started to settle down, we decided to call Gold Canyon RV and Golf Resort to get our name on the waiting list for a “park model” rental for the month of February. The lady on the phone confirmed that it was a long shot, but she would take our name. We were surprised when she called us back shortly after that, and now here we are in Arizona!

We left Minnesota on a cold day near the end of January with fog, icy roads, and frost coating the trees. It was beautiful, but made for scary driving. When we got to the RV & Golf Resort two days later it was 77 degrees. That only lasted a couple of days and then it was much cooler with freeze warnings, but at least there was no chance of snow. Average high temperatures for the first half of February are in the low 70’s, but it cools off rapidly as soon as the sun starts to go down.

Leaving Otter Tail County
A winter wonderland in western Minnesota

The RV resort has “streets” with small “lots” to rent for your recreational vehicle, mixed in with park model homes to rent or purchase. In the middle is a common area with a big building that has a billiard room, library, ballroom, craft rooms for sewing, woodworking and jewelry making, a laundromat, meeting rooms, a coffee shop/bistro and golf shop. Outside the building are tennis and pickle ball courts, a pool, and a patio where you can hang out and listen to musicians around a fire pit. And of course there are some obligatory shuffleboard courts. Following are photos of the main building, Wayne standing in front of our rental unit with the mountains in the background and me standing inside our “house”.

The community building
Wayne standing in front of our rental, with the Superstition mountains in the background
The kitchen and part of the living room before we got it all cluttered up

Park model homes are sort of a cross between an RV and a “tiny house”, but bigger and not meant to be towed around. The one we are renting is 400 square feet with a bedroom, full bathroom, compact but complete kitchen and a living area. It is all very cozy and nice. There is a large overhang on the side with space to park your car, and room for an outside table and chairs and grill. Some of the park model homes are bigger with extra rooms or decks on the side.

A 55+ RV and Golf Resort is a community, as opposed to just lodging. People are very friendly. Many residents are active and social with tennis, pickle ball, golf, bingo, and a plethora of other activities. There is a giant board posted with all the clubs and activities going on. Another board has a list of upcoming events such as musicians coming on site to perform, pot luck dinners, bus trips for various outings and trips, etc.

This is half of the activities board. If you can’t find something to do, that is your problem.

I am doing most of the same things I do at home, but it is warm out instead of cold and snowy. I brought some knitting projects, and my table loom with a supply of yarn. We are walking and hiking. There are yoga classes. I can work on the blog. I can do the family cabin bookkeeping from here. I can read books. I can take naps. There are many interesting outings such as the Museum of the West, with large collections of cowboy art and artifacts.

I have been trying to get rid of stuff and live smaller, so I was looking forward to seeing what it was like living in the 400 square foot space. So far I like it. There is less time spent on cleaning and maintaining. More time for things I want to do.

There are endless opportunities for hiking around here
So many different kinds of cactus

Wayne was looking at old photos on his phone the other day. What do you know but he found some that he took six years ago when driving through this area, and he happened to make a random stop at one RV Resort – THIS VERY ONE! That was long before we were ever in a position to partake of the experience. We are now thinking about buying an RV. Maybe next winter we will be back here with that. Stay tuned.

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

12 thoughts on “Snowbirding

  1. Welcome to Arizona! I am glad you found a spot in Gold Canyon and hope your enjoy your stay! If you need anything or have questions while here, please let me know. Julie Kercher (Barbara Jones Bauer’s daughter)

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    1. Thank you Julie! So far so good. I am getting comments from people back in MN that it is below zero there this morning. We are house sitting for someone in the LA area for 3 weeks in March, so I have been in contact with your mom about seeing them while we are there.

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  2. We did something similar to see if we could live in 400 square feet. We stayed at a tiny house in Lyons, CO. After staying in the tiny house, I now feel that living in an RV could be a great life style, and we are now moving forward purchase an RV to live in full time.

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      1. I’m not sure I’m ready for full time RV living, but we are going to give it a try. 😊 Part of our plan is to look for a good place to live long term when we get tired of traveling.

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  3. Sounds amazing! You look so relaxed! Wayne looks happy too. My next check-up in Phoenix is mid-May and I usually rent a car and look around the area. I’ll check out where your place is and maybe there’s a chance Jim and Wayne can share some golf in the winter in the sunshine! Last fall Jim and I located his dad’s brother who lives in a really cool assisted living place on the east side of Phoenix. Sadly his dementia is very much advanced but he’s living comfortably thanks to his adoring and dutiful wife.

    On Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 10:43 AM Yarns from the Lake wrote:

    > Meg Hanson posted: ” Wayne and I drove from San Diego back home to > Minnesota last fall. On the way we scoped out some 55+ RV Parks in Arizona, > where many retired Midwestern folks go to get away from winter. Wayne’s > parents used to spend a couple of months in one of these par” >

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  4. Hi Meg, I love your blog! Too bad I could not make to see you and Wayne but you saw Scottsdale House crowd . I am really not free for 2 years to travel but when Robby is college we are thinking about Az for for 1-3 weeks several times. Pete can work remotely. But now Pete gave me 5 days with my sister Jenny(west palm beach) and my best friend Robin (fort laudable) for my birthday last August. Enjoy AZ! Love Molly

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