by Guest Contributor, Syl Lassman
I’m a snowbird, sort of. Like most of my species I have the time and resources to flee winter. However, there are different sub-species. Most here share a common thread. They tend to be elderly, conservative, religious Christians, and religiously patriotic. I am none of those–with the possible exception of being moderately elderly.
As much as I lean to the left, others here usually lean even farther to the right. Finding a liberal in an RV park is like finding Jesse Jackson at a KKK picnic. I have found it very difficult to find anyone of my political bent. You’ll find more Tea Party members than those of Green Peace. Most comments about President Obama and the Democrats are less than flattering. I’m not sure why this is so but perhaps it’s our location.
Our landing spot is the Phoenix metropolitan area. Arizona is a logical choice for the western RVer for the obvious reasons—warm and dry winters, golf, and spring training baseball. I can’t help but think, though, that they come here to feel comfortable in this bastion of conservatism. In Arizona, the prevalent view is that the major problems facing the United States are too few guns and too many Mexicans.
One of the most iconic figures here is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “Toughest Sheriff in America.” I see him as the sheriff who most closely resembles a clown. He keeps his County Jail residents in tents (in sub-freezing and sauna-like temperatures), feeds them baloney sandwiches, and dresses them in archaic convict stripes and pink underwear.
Sheriff Joe is also very fond of volunteer posses: Obama-birther investigators, immigration-control patrols, school-safety patrols. Some of these volunteers will be trained by the noted law enforcement expert, actor Steven Seagal. Mr. Seagal was the obvious choice based on his vast criminology experience. He was the host of a TV reality show—Steven Seagal: Lawman. Some members of the posses also have law enforcement experience, which includes being arrested for assault, drug possession, domestic violence, sex crimes against children, disorderly conduct and impersonating an officer. Sheriff Joe is a folk hero to many in this area. He’s a Fox News watcher’s dream.
Another feature of this park is its proximity to Luke Air Force Base. We are directly under the flight path of a frequent stream of fighter jets on training runs. The take-offs and landings start at 8:00 AM., often continuing late into the evening. Each fly-over is at decibel level such that you can’t hear the person standing next to you. The ardently patriotic say “It sounds like freedom.” The less fervent are just irritated by the noise. I’m happy to know that we have trained fighter pilots but, thankfully, they take weekends and holidays off.
Politics aside, it’s not bad place to be. There’s a plethora of activities: golf, arts and crafts, sports, fitness, in-house entertainment, etc. Also, every afternoon at 4:30 marks the start of happy hours all around the park. Laughter and adult beverages abound. It’s like summer camp for seniors with no counselors.
The park is a virtual small town— a walled and gated enclave with over 1,000 sites. It is populated with motor-homes, trailers, and semi-permanent abodes. Like most RV resorts here, it is restricted to the 55 and over crowd, but children are allowed as temporary visitors of the Grandpas and Grandmas. The residents tend to be very pleasant and friendly. You’ll often get a friendly wave from many as you walk or drive around the park, whether you know them or not. I know more of my neighbors here than I do at home.
The primary form of transportation in the park is the golf cart, followed by bicycles, with walking in third place. The walkers are often walking dogs bred to the size of large rodents and carrying little plastic bags of doggie surprise.
The average age is around 65 to 70. Some of them refuse to grow old and some refuse to get off the couch. Activity levels of the residents range from barely mobile to vigorous exercise. Somewhere in the middle is water aerobics. A group of mostly women engaging in what looks like geriatric synchronized swimming. They extol the health and fitness benefits of this activity but, when finished, they parade out of the pool looking like a pod of orca whales evolving to walk on land. To be fair, many of the men have long since given up hope—and possibly, the desire—of looking like Greek gods. Chests have sagged into a belly perched on spindly legs. Thankfully, none of them wear Speedos.
All in all, it’s a great life here. We’ve been spending at least part of the winters here for the last seven years. I’ve never heard an argument or seen anyone fall-down drunk. Everybody respects others’ spaces. We often don’t lock our door and feel perfectly comfortable leaving golf clubs, bicycles, and other things out without any fear of them walking away. As long as I don’t get involved in discussions of politics or religion, I’m happy— and I don’t piss anyone else off.
Happy Hour in the rain
Syl Lassman: Guest writer
I was born in Spokane, WA and graduated from high school in 1969. I flunked my first quarter of college and ended up back in Spokane where I saw my opportunities limited to a series of menial jobs. I moved to Seattle and continued my series of menial jobs. By pure chance I was sent to Boeing as an office temporary. Twenty six years later I retired from Boeing as a reluctant computer administrator and haven’t looked back.
My wife and I chase the sun every winter to Phoenix. We have also have travelled several thousand miles around the country in our motor home. Home base is the little town of Carnation, WA, about 30 miles from Seattle. In addition to my travels I enjoy woodworking, golf, reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic.
Proving my childhood critics right, I still haven’t achieved my potential but I’m still working on it.
@2013 by Syl Lassman