Getting started in Arizona - Oct 14, 2009

We spent yesterday re-organizing the kitchen cabinets again. It’s difficult to find the right spot for everything, but we are getting closer. Half-way thru that exercise we heard a really loud bang right outside our RV. We rushed out to see what it was but didn't see anyone or anything right away. Then Randy saw that his bike spontaneously blew out a back tire tube! It was so loud that our neighbors thought it was a gunshot, and came outside to see what happened. We don’t know what caused it to blowout, but Randy put on a new tube right away so he will be ready for our next bike ride. During the past few days we started to get into a routine. Randy gets up before me and goes for a walk, and when he gets back we both go for a 45-60 minute bike ride around the area. This is a good way to get some exercise and learn about the neighborhood.

The land here is incredibly flat. And very, very hard. They grow cotton in some fields, but only with irrigation. In the Midwest irrigation is done by spraying water over the fields, but here it is done by flooding the fields. They don’t waste water by putting on the leaves to evaporate.

The neighborhoods are remarkably similar – one-story houses with gabled or flat roofs, and the color is almost always some variation of sandy beige. There are slight variations towards pink or grey or brown or white, but no strong contrasts. Most houses have tile roofs, which are very pretty. A few houses are in the old adobe fortress-style, with squared-off fa├žade and the ends of wooden poles sticking out at the roofline. These houses are not really old, they just borrowed the style. Many houses have a privacy fence, but it’s not the kind you see in the Midwest. Around here the privacy fences are about 6 feet tall and made of concrete blocks. The blocks are almost never painted – they just leave them the normal gray color. The “yards” are almost all gravel. Some folks have created patterns in their yards with different colored gravel (beige and reddish-brown), and some have small stone edging around their yard boundaries. Instead of bushes or hedges, most yards have a few cacti. There are small barrel cacti (which are flowering now), and the taller saguaro cacti that often tower over the house. I was surprised to see that several yards have palm trees, which grow very tall out here. 
There are a few other hardy trees that may get as tall as the house, but no taller. I don’t know what these trees are but they don’t grown leaves as closely bunched as the maples and oaks that I’m used to. No maples or oaks grow here, of course – they just wouldn’t last.

Many houses have a privacy fence, but it’s not the kind you see in the Midwest. Around here, the privacy fences are about 6 feet tall and made of concrete blocks. The walls are almost never painted – they just leave them the normal gray color.

Because the land is so flat and the trees, cacti and palms are scarcely scattered around, one of the main visual elements here is the sky. Since we’ve been here it has been a beautiful, clear sky with a few clouds at dusk that make for a gorgeous sunset. That might be rare – I’ve heard that there usually aren’t any clouds. And when you look across these flat plains in almost any direction, there are always, in the distance, the shapes of mountains. They are hazy brown during the day, but at dusk their color changes to a dark purple.

The weather couldn’t be more perfect. It’s been between 70 – 90 degrees with a slight breeze. It only feels hot if you stand in the sun for awhile, and even then you don’t sweat – you just feel like you might be getting sunburn. I put on sun factor 45 every day!

We saw jackrabbits on one of our bike ride. They are over twice the size of the little fluffy bunnies from Illinois. Their ears are about as long as their bodies and they hold them straight up. They are so large that you can see them from quite a distance, once you know what to look for.

This RV Park is very pretty, and seems huge to me. There are over 300 sites here but they are not all RV sites - there are a lot of Park Models here that are either owned or for rent. Most owners have added a car port and a large shed. Every Park Model has a paved driveway and apparently when the owners are somewhere else for the season, they put a few potted cacti or stones across the driveway.

I’ve seen two types of flowering bushes here – a pink one and a flaming red one. I think they are some variation of azaleas, and I love them because they are not beige! Every site in the park has some kind of tree or bush, and most of the trees are fruit trees, pruned down to 3-4 feet tall. There are figs, lemons, oranges, limes and grapefruits. Our site has a great-looking grapefruit tree with lots of fruit – can’t wait until these are ripe! There are a lot of doves in the area, and I was delighted to see there are hummingbirds, too! Our neighbors put up a hummingbird feeder and have a couple of hummers fighting over it, so I put up one too, and one of them is coming over to it now.

On Wednesday we had a lovely morning - got up, went for a bike ride, got cleaned up and went out for a late breakfast, then took a nap. What a great life!!

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