“Snowbirds” October 16, 2012

As I swerved on I-10 trying to avoid the front bumper off the exact same car I was driving, one in which was still smoking, I momentarily watched emergency workers trying to rescue a driver from the car.   He had quite obviously either fell asleep or got distracted and drove through the median fence probably returning from San Diego to his home state of Virginia, or back to his house in Tucson from visiting in Phoenix, I don’t really know.

From that point on I noticed a steady stream of campers, and other northern plated cars… snow birds returning from their summer lives in places like Chicago, Des Moines, Bismarck, Pittsburgh, and yes…Milbank to their trailer parks, condos, and houses in sunny Arizona.  How many died on this years migration, I wondered to myself as the traffic finally let up.  I met the first ambulance, which could be seen slowing down and then took off the lights, as undoubtedly the one in the Escalade hadn’t made it.  “Another one bites the dust….”

Is it all worth it?  Are saguaro cacti that much worth seeing plus the hot days (it is still over 90 down here), the desert, the dust, the dryness, and the whole environment of the southwest?  I drove off the freeway northwest of Tucson and found newer neighborhoods of small houses, absent yards, a lack of anything outdoors.  At my hotel, the windows didn’t open.  It was the life of air conditioning.  Back outside I scanned the horizon and saw power lines, power lines were everywhere.  In one respect, I felt kind of sad for the disappearing vistas.  What really does this living have to offer?

I drove north of Phoenix and actually stayed in a trailer park filled or soon to be filled with snowbirds.  There was no grass, no flowers, or no pretty landscaping.  They had close neighbors and the place was dead quiet.  Even after hours I heard not a sound of children, and it soon became apparent that I was the youngest person there.  Do our seniors hate children so much they have to move one thousand miles or more from them?  Again, I pondered the state of humanity.

I went to the pool and overheard a conversation.  It was between two retired couples who knew each other and had obviously just arrived.  “Oh, after dinner at your house, let’s go to the show.”  Then, “should I bring anything?”

“No,” the other answered.  “I bought the hotdogs in Denver and we should use them up, and I figure with the week old buns, that will be balanced enough and besides we need to be at the five o’clock showing for the senior discount so we can’t eat much.”

I left the pool shaking my head.  A big night out in Phoenix, two week old dogs and be home at seven after a five month old movie.  I looked at their cars thinking they were poor.  One drove a BMW and the other a Cadillac–no poverty in their wallets.

Can these towns handle the water loads or the power loads?  Can this area handle all of these people?  Are there that many nursing homes?  How about that many CNAs?  I have not been to the desert southwest for over ten years and I could feel the change.  Senior housing bill boards were everywhere, the Target in Casa Grande looked as though I was at a senior citizens home.  But again why?  If we can’t leave our houses in winter because of the cold, why would we move to a place where we can’t leave our houses because of the heat?

I just don’t get it.  Humans were not meant to live here, or at least not in the numbers that are currently here.  We need our grandparents, my children need to see their grandparents and unfortunately we have somehow created another way to isolate or most treasured resources, those of us smart enough to have seen a thing or two and possibly have the sense to warn us of our pending mistakes.

I stiil just don’t get it.  I repeat, I just don’t get it.  It is area is such an odd mix of young Hispanic people and Caucasian senior citizens here, that I’m not sure how it can even work.  While I was in Tucson, I looked at a condo for sale and thought for a minute that owning it would be fun but then this reality hit me and I slapped myself in the head.  I can look at a picture of a saguaro and get the same enjoyment.  I may not know what to think but Florida and the Southeast seem so much nicer, this weather here…they can keep it.  If you’re a cactus wren or a gila woodpecker, these cacti are heaven but for me…it is for the birds, the real birds.

Not so sunny in Arizona, my friends


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