“I want to be just like them when I grow up.” That’s what my friend Chicca said after seeing a photo of my son and I hiking with my Uncle Doug and Aunt Maddie, both 77, of Des Moines, Iowa, on Superstition Mountain near Phoenix, Arizona. Chicca’s parents, too, winter there so she is familiar with the active lifestyle embraced by folks retiring to the Desert Southwest. I got my first dose of it last weekend on a quick trip to visit my late mother’s only brother and his wife, at their place in a popular RV resort community in Mesa called Valle del Oro.
The sign on the entrance to the well-groomed community filled with 1900 lots for RVs or resort vacation rentals states “Active 55+.” If I have the energy, I can visit for a longer stay when I quality in just under five years.
Getting the lay of the land on from my relatives as we walked around the neighborhood, we met pleasant people at every turn – seniors completely enjoying life and each other’s company. And, why not? They have access to the Arizona sunshine, social opportunities, beautiful pools and a Tiki bar, gleaming shuffleboard courts and a viewing area from which to cheer during tournaments, pickleball courts, tennis courts, bocce courts, and a horseshoe court, daily crafts (stained glass, pottery, quilting), dances, lectures, golf, bicycling, running, walking, and hiking — all against the backdrop of the mountains and close to Phoenix (not to mention Cactus League baseball!). Most residents seemed to work it all in!
While we played bocce, men behind the courts worked on the impressive model train, a 12-year+ project; in a nearby picnic area ladies had a carry-in dinner; amid security guards readying for the Jay Leno show that evening (two shows!), we heard the clang of horseshoes and laughter from the pool and Tiki bar; and on the way home, we passed a block party. I’m inspired by this view of retirement!