10 Unexpected Snowbird Observations

Well, as long as we were traveling, there were lots of new locations and pictures to show. But now that we are settled in one place for a long period I have not had as much new material. So I have not posted anything new for several weeks.

But now that we have been in Arizona for almost 3 months, I thought it might be nice to do a picture narrative of some of the surprises that we have uncovered during our time in the Southwest.

1 Desert sunsets are spectacular. I have seen dozens of spectacular sunsets. But every Arizona sunset that I have seen has been colorful and most of them picture worthy. The shot below, taken with my drone last week, is a great example. And of course it doesn’t hurt to have mountains in the distance and palm trees silhouetted in the foreground. Awesome!

2. It’s ALL about the weather — Here’s a screen shot of the weather forecast for this next week in Goodyear, AZ, which explains why the live flowers below look like this. Remember this is the last week in January. What is your weather like then?

Who would NOT like this?

3. Roadrunners are surprisingly friendly — the picture below is a visitor who appears as we sat in lawn chairs outside the RV. This friendly roadrunner ran up to within about 4 feet, obviously checking out the food supply. Although roadrunner cartoons show birdseed as the food of choice, neighbors tell us Cheetos are always a hit. Unfortunately we did not have any on hand. And while we have seen several roadrunners, Wile E. Coyote has not yet been spotted.

4. Our town’s name origin is fascinating — If you assumed that Goodyear was somehow connected with Goodyear tires, you would be right. But why? Goodyear bought the land here and established the town so they could have a controlled source of cotton to use for cords in their tires. Tires are now steel-belted, but cotton is still the prevailing crop in the surrounding agricultural area. This picture shows a freshly harvested bale.

5. There’s an RV park for everybody, and they’re all different — We originally planned to spend 4 months in Ehrenberg, Arizona, which is a ghost town by its own admission. The park had grass sites (a rarity in the desert), but had ZERO planned activities. If you were not a rock hound or an ATV enthusiast, you were out of luck. Cotton Lane, by contrast, averages about 6 planned activities per day, from golf and pickle ball to crafts, pool, cards, potlucks, bingo, and more. The picture below is sunrise over the Ehrenberg campground.

6. I’ve never waved to so many people in my life — Our age 55-plus RV park has over 500 sites, with three distinct groups of people: the permanent residents, almost all of whom live in (surprisingly nice) pre-fab housing; the snowbirds, here for typically 2-4 months, and the transients, here for a few days or weeks. We figure there are perhaps 600 or so people here, or about the size of Ellen’s hometown of St. John.

And it feels like a small town. Literally every person you pass, whether walking or driving, will wave a friendly greeting and have the gesture returned. It is wonderfully charming.

7. Arizona has its own sense of humor

No explanations necessary.

8. Quartzsite is a unique phenomenon — We used my drone to capture the scene below, which is a massive section of BLM land outside of Quartzsite, AZ. This was during the week of the “big tent” show, which is like a massive RV-oriented state fair (complete with the appropriate food, like the alligator on a stick that we tried). The 52 rigs in the front are a formal group of a single brand of RV, called Integras. But as you can see, there are thousands of other campers, all “boondocking” (operating without power, sewer or water hookups). Our silver truck is parked behind our new friends’ rig at the bottom left of the horseshoe.

9. I never expected days like this — Last Saturday, we went out to breakfast in town, came back to the park in time to join in a 4-team best-ball golf tournament, my fourth since I have been here. We play all 4 holes three times to come up with a par-36 tournament. It takes us just about 2 hours. We finished, had lunch, then wandered over for to play cards during the afternoon. Enjoyed a nice pizza dinner and recorded movie, although we could have gone to the dance instead.

Most days are not as full as this, and occasionally Ellen’s Fitbit knockoff will tell us it is time to “move your body.” We don’t always obey. But it is wonderful to have a variety of options every day. The picture below is a drone shot showing a portion of the park and golf course.

10. Don’t book a Phoenix hotel room in March if you can avoid it — Our new plans mean we will store our RV in Arizona while we take an extended trip. It meant that we had to book a hotel room in early March, during the height of spring training. We usually book mid-range hotel rooms, at around $100-120 a night. We were astonished to see these same hotels go for $200 in March. Wow, will plan around that next time!

Want something that is NOT a surprise? We plan to make another reservation here for next year, unless we decide to trade roadrunners for crocodiles and check out Florida just for comparison.