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Snowbird Winters

February 20, 2021

by Marilyn Stroversby 

When my husband Cliff retired from being the manager of Poweshiek Mutual Insurance Association and sold the McDowell Insurance Agency, it brought a new phase to our lives. Travel beckoned and we bought a 5th wheel trailer, 7 ft. by 25 ft. and a new Ford pickup to pull it. We still have the pickup!

We did some traveling around the country, Washington DC to Washington state with some interesting spots in between. Winter came and found us driving south, marveling that it was already warm in Kansas. We continued on to Harlingen, Texas and stayed a month in an RV Resort named Paradise. It was an interesting experience but Cliff declared it too windy for another year. Thus, the next winter we set out for Arizona.

Arizona proved to be a treasure trove of opportunities for sightseeing and a magnet for friends and family members to visit.  Along the way on our first trip to AZ, we stopped in San Antonio, Texas, to visit Marge and Bill Doyle, neighbors from back home. San Antonio has done so much with their river, which has so little water. On our way to Tucson, we checked out Carlsbad Caverns where we bought our senior national park passes, $10 each. The caverns were wonderful, but Cliff said one cave was enough for him. Later, we went to Kartchner Caverns in southwest Arizona on a bus tour with some friends. 

On to Tucson where we stayed a week in another RV Park. Then north, encountering saguaro cactus for the first time. Friends were spending the winter in Sunrise Park in Apache Junction, so we went there to join them.

Soon the little fifth-wheel trailer proved to be too small for a long-term residence. That led us to look for a larger, so-called, park model. In the end, we bought a house, a lovely manufactured home in a 55 plus community with few residents, a nice pool and clubhouse. New friends and old were entertained there, family and friends came to visit and stay over. One spring we sold our house, it was a mistake, but done is done.

The next winter we spent in Ft. Myers, Florida. Daughter Jan and her husband Jeff were living there. Another RV Park was our home in a new larger park model, new because the previous one had blown away in a hurricane. Our winter in Ft. Myers had lovely weather, we were near the beach and also close to Sanibel Island. Birds were everywhere. 

The next winter we found ourselves back in Arizona—Mesa this time. We rented a furnished home of friends and rented for three years before we bought a house in Las Palmas, a lovely senior community. Although the pool was less of an attraction, musical programs, the book club and daily coffee groups kept us interested. 

One highlight of our Arizona winters was the weekly IHOP breakfast with other Grinnell and Poweshiek County friends. The Grand Canyon, Verde Valley Train ride, Monument Valley, Tombstone, Organ Pipe National Park and the Coronado National Forest make up a shortlist of sites and adventures of our 20 plus years wintering in Arizona. 

Like all retirees, we grew older while enjoying the scenery. We decided to sell our Las Palmas house, and we did. Friends came to our rescue and brought some of our treasures home for us. What do I miss most about Arizona winters? The list is long: Year-round blossoms, oranges and lemons, the vegetable market, always a view of mountains, quail in our backyard, the nearby mall and consignment shops. As the song says “a few of my favorite things.”

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