Of Saguaro and Roadrunners

Friends of mine just returned from a trip out West.  Their last stop was in Arizona before flying back to the East Coast.  I think they would have liked to have gotten right back on a plane to Tucson when the frigid air hit them in Baltimore.

Listening to their adventures made me think back to my days living outside of Phoenix.  I lived for a year in my parents’ “retirement nest” trailer while my mom was still teaching up in Michigan and I had just finished my enlistment in the Army.  I loved Arizona!  For a girl from the upper Midwest, winter in Phoenix was like living in Paradise.  I used to call up my brother who was working in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the time and torment him when I saw that a snowstorm was heading his way.

“Hey, John.  I see you’ve got some snow headed your way,” I’d say.

“Yeah, again! ” he’d reply glumly.  “What’s it doing down where you are?”

“Oh, it’s a little chilly down here.  It only got up to 70 degrees today,” I’d announce.

Oooh, I just loved to rub it in.  Living down there, I got to do fun things like run over to California and see former Army buddies who had settled in San Diego.  I remember when this picture was taken as if it were yesterday.  I had asked my California friends to snap my picture while we were strolling around the zoo so that I could send it to my former boyfriend, who was languishing on the East Coast.  I hoped it would shoot daggers into his heart when he saw how happy I looked.  For good measure, we called him (since we all knew him from our Army days) and laughed and joked about what a great time we were having and how it was too bad that he wasn’t there.  HA!

My parents flew down that winter for a short visit and I drove them down to Tucson so we could wander around the Saguaro National Park.  We also had to eat at all the restaurants favored by snowbirds in Phoenix.  Dad was beside himself with joy and leaning hard on Mom to retire so they could move down.  I think he even went swimming in the outdoor pool at our trailer court AND called my brother to gloat about it.

But before too long, I was bit by the wanderlust bug again and headed off to join the Navy.  The orientation in San Diego wasn’t too bad but a winter in Newport, Rhode Island had me dreaming of cacti and wondering why I had ever left Arizona.  Thirty-three years later, I’m more than ready to point my compass towards the Southwest again.


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