At long last, the first installment of my Arizona adventures.
It really is true what you hear about Arizona being mostly sunny, blue skies and – this time of year, at least – in the southern, desert part of the state, it’s lovely warm temperatures during the day, cooling down at night. Mesa was home base for this trip – it’s part of the Greater Phoenix Area (or “the Valley,” I’m told it’s better known) and is a bit east of downtown Phoenix. It’s the place my folks have called home during the winter for the past several years – their escape from Greater Toronto Area snow and cold (well, most of the time, that is).
My first day (Saturday) included a tour of the RV park model mobile home where the parentals live (a little aluminum cottage about the size of a junior one-bedroom apartment with a car port on the side) – dubbed their “tin can in the desert.” These make up the majority of dwellings in the park, with the remainder being RVs that people drive in from home. Some of the models are quite large and impressive. My first couple of days was pretty low-key overall. I was still getting over that cold and getting my bearings – and we spent some time comparing lists of stuff to see/do and making a plan for the coming week.
Built on a former citrus grove, the park has orange, lemon and grapefruit trees – and I picked oranges from my aunt and uncle’s lot, consuming them throughout the week.
The tin can is located close to the hub of the park: the community buildings that house the office and activity rooms (a library, event hall, card room, pool table room), craft and workshop rooms, and movie room, with an outdoor heated pool for swimming, a smaller one for water volley ball and a jacuzzi/hot tub, as well as shuffleboard courts, adjacent to the buildings. There are organized activities, dinners and events galore that the residents can sign up for (you have to be 55+ to have a place there) – and the schedules my folks had up on their fridge showed a very full week, and my mum and aunt were busy organizing their annual Canadian breakfast on top of their regularly scheduled stuff.
Sunday’s adventures started with a quest for brunch that took my parents, aunt, uncle and I to four locations – all of which were crazy crowded and had wait times of at least half an hour – before we finally settled on the IHOP line-up. Pancakes, eggs and bacon never tasted so good. The afternoon was spent on an outlet mall run; my walking shoes were pretty worn, so I was on a mission to find new ones. Having no luck finding New Balance in my size (I’m a shrimp with size 6 feet), one of the store clerks – a young guy named Francisco – suggested I try a pair of Saucony’s. They were mesh (I’d been looking for leather) and had small fuchsia designs on them (I prefer blue) – but, man, they were comfy. And way more comfy than the New Balance I’d been wearing. Being the sort of gal who’s more concerned with comfort over relatively minor style options, I overlooked the style issues and got them. And my feet have been thanking me ever since.
p.s. – Side note (which Lost Girl fans will appreciate): Remember the episode in season one when Lauren and Bo go undercover at a pharmaceutical lab to discover the cause of a mysterious illness that killed a Fae lady and nearly killed Kenzi? Early in the episode, Trick was conducting a transaction with a Fae trader to get a spice he needed to make a dish called Colcannon. Anyway, while I was in Arizona, I learned from my mum that this is a real thing – it’s an Irish dish made from mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, and butter. It just came up in conversation when we were talking about food and cooking, and I was stunned that I had never heard of this before – my mum’s side of the family being mostly Irish and all. Huh. She said she’d make it for me someday.
p.p.s. – My parents have a statue of St. Francis in front of their place; my aunt and uncle do as well. Twice while I was there, another park resident mistook my folks’ place for my aunt and uncle’s. I blame St. Francis.