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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

ENJOYING THE APPEAL OF SOUTHWEST LIVING

For those who live in areas where winters are long, cold and cloudy, or have snow on the ground most of the time, it sounds like you need a winter vacation to break up that yearly uncomfortable routine. It’s not an impossibility if you book a vacation somewhere in the southwestern United States, preferably Arizona. There are reasons that thousands of people either have second homes in The Grand Canyon State or rent properties there during the winter, especially in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area.

The average daytime temperature is 73 degrees between November and March. During that same period, Chicago averages 26 degrees, Montreal averages 24 degrees, and Minneapolis averages 16 degrees. This begs the question: Would I rather (a) freeze in the north all winter under a pile of blankets with basically no interesting outdoor activity or (b) try to spend some time in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area playing outdoors under clear skies and balmy temperatures? If you said (b) you are in for a great taste of the Southwest which could include the following paragraphs and more.

A popular activity for many visitors is a Jeep tour through the desert. The four wheel drive Jeeps travel rough back roads while guides explain details about the habitat. Many tours also offer a desert cook out to complement the experience. I have been on these tours and can tell you from personal experiences, they are a great time.
 
Have you ever dreamed of wearing shorts in December and January? You won’t do that in cold northern cities but it is typical in Arizona.  Be sure to bring your tennis racket and golf clubs if you play those sports and if you enjoy attending a PGA Tour golf event, there is the Phoenix Open. Do you like to hike or jog? The area is full of great trails along with every hiker’s dream: climbing Camelback Mountain.

How about spring training baseball? Games begin in early March for the 15 major league teams who train in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. While your friends back home are still enduring winter you can watch major league baseball in the warm sun of Arizona.

For those who enjoy more subtle activities, there are museums such as the Heard Museum which explores American Indian Cultures of the Southwest. The Musical Instrument Museum celebrates the cultures of the world through music. Also notable are the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and the Phoenix Art Museum. For a really unique experience, there is the Butterfly Wonderland located on the Salt River Indian Reservation just east of Scottsdale. It is the largest butterfly pavilion in America.

When dinner time arrives, you can choose from a variety of cuisines including popular Mexican restaurants, many of which have outdoor patios for eating or having a cocktail as you watch a beautiful sunset on the Sonoran Desert. There is more but the above is enough to keep you happily busy if you decide to leave winter behind either for a short stay in the Southwest or for the entire season.

Winter golf in Arizona
 Let’s compare the Sonoran lifestyle you could be enjoying this winter to that of your friends huddling together next to a potbellied stove somewhere in the northern climes: you are driving a convertible with the top down in Scottsdale. They are driving a snow covered SUV with the heater turned to “high.” You are having dinner and a cocktail on the outdoor terrace of a high end restaurant. They are eating a microwave hot dog at home because the roads are too icy to go out. After dinner you are going to the Musical Instrument Museum to see a show. They are hoping the roads are clear enough to get to the smoky bowling alley where they attend their mixed couples beer league. The next morning you dress in a tee shirt and shorts and go for a morning run. They put on a parka, wool trousers and boots to brave the cold while they chip ice off their windshields.

Please don’t misunderstand; we all have our favorite activities and if you enjoy being outdoors in a freezing winter climate, that’s entirely up to you. I have known people who take vacations in the winter to go skiing or ice skating in places like Colorado. As for me, that is never going to happen. If I have the choice of living in a place that includes sun, sand, and cactus versus snow drifts, ice, and salted roads, you can win a bet if you pick me to take the former.

To paraphrase the late writer Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again once you have had a taste of the Southwest.”

Click "COMMENTS" below to leave comments.

25 comments:

Jim McAllister said...

Thanks for reading this months' blog. Please leave comments if you desire.

Mike Slater said...

Jim, as an Arizona native I can't imagine living in a cold climate. If the temp gets below 70 I get cold.

Living in Sun City I can always spot the snowbirds, they're the ones wearing a t-shirt and shorts while I have a sweat shirt on.

Southwest Glo said...


Hi Jim.

As a Connecticut native, I wouldn’t dream of spending my remaining years anywhere but out here. I migrated to Phoenix in 1990 – 25 years ago (how the HECK did that time go by???). My goal was never to see another snowflake, never to shovel a driveway at 6 AM to be able to go to work (hoping that I didn’t hit black ice on the way into Hartford), and endure zero degrees and thigh-freezing wind chill factor. I have managed to adjust to the horror of never again experiencing those things.

And I truly, truly do not understand people DRIVING ==to== snow for skiing. Blech!

I’m not much of an outdoor person now, but I do spend the summer in my beloved pool (I had it renovated last October: hopefully in another 6 weeks the water will be warm enough to swim). I’m more of an indoor kind of gal, but I like knowing the weather is beautiful and everything is sunny and pretty ‘out there.’ I desperately need to attend my front and back yards, and that is on my updated to-do list (it is updated since after March 27th I’ll be out of a job yet again and have plenty of free, non-salary time to take care of my home; Amex is changing and letting go of a lot of contractors as well as employees; one woman I work with is being laid off after 30+ years in Amex. “Thank you and F you.”).

I am finishing up my latest manuscript, and am 16 chapters away from being done (oh yeah, plus the epilogue). That’ll keep me busy. On March 28th I’m flying to South Carolina to visit my bro & SIL to celebrate their 50th anniversary: I’m taking them to Savannah for 2 nights and created a 1965+ book for them. I also am buying them plane tickets to come out here in September.

I must stop going out to eat and buying processed food. My fave places are El Encanto in Cave Creek for Mexican. Oregano’s in CC isn’t too bad for Italian food. I’ve given up on Carlos O’Brien’s after the last takeout. Pei Wei for Asian food.

I love the art fairs in the winter. Even around CC and Carefree there are so many little shops to browse and enjoy (but not ‘The Town Dump’ - RUDE people and overpriced merchandise!). So much to see and do around here all year round. I’ve been to MIM, and it was great. I wish they had more venues like the Orpheum and arenas up north here since I don’t go ‘down there’ for such entertainment.

All in all, this is simply a wonderful place to live.

Well, except for the rattlesnakes that occasionally slither into my garage …

Jim McAllister said...

Jim, your latest blog is wonderful. My husband and I were just remarking, recently, that we would never go back to the pacific Northwest to live, in Tacoma, WA!! The Chamber of Commerce should hire you.

I am so glad to hear from you because I have been wondering if you and Barb are ok ,or are away. but who would leave Scottsdale this time of year! Thank you for sending your blog.

til later...

Joy Wiseman

CJinPhoenix said...

The snow is nice to visit but I wouldn't want to live in it. That's how I see it anyway. Besides, I don't even have heavy clothes. Maybe one or two sweatshirts but I would have to dig them out again. Haven't seen them in years. And I am not a snowbird ...

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Joy,

Great to hear from you.

After living in Scottsdale for the past 25 years I could never return to Kansas City or Cincinnati. The people there were great but I hated those winter mornings when I had to go out on sales calls in the snow or icy rain.

I no longer write for Images but have been asked to so some work for The North Valley magazine. It's a classy publication that leans closer to what I like to write so I am considering it. I'll keep you up to date.

I hope all is well with you and Duv. Barb and I still talk about the nice day we got to spend with you and the other ladies of the DAR. It's a great organization and we enjoy the magazine.

Take care and keep in touch.

Jim McAllister said...

Karl S,

Hi Karl. I agree. I made the move here in 1987 and have never regretted it. After spending most of my life in the Midwest it was really nice to escape those winters.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I used to be one of those snowbirds. I remember people always asking me "Aren't you cold?"

Barb and I would come down after spending a few winter months in freezing Kansas City. When we got off the plane at night it could be 50 here and we would drive through town with the windows down! lol Now they are up with the heater on. All about conditioning I guess.

Jim McAllister said...

Glo,

We're pretty much in the same boat for time in grade here. We came part time in '87, graduated to FT in '89 and have never looked back.

I'm with you on trying to find snow. Why? I guess those who have grown up here are just looking for something different, but snow?

Sorry about the job ending on 3-27 but I know you well enough to know you will land on your feet as always. You are a survivor no matter how much these companies try to proved otherwise. You could teach a course in "Positive thinking." Maybe some of the whiners could learn something.

Time definitely flies is true. 50 years for your brother being married is a feat these days. Barb and I will have number 48 in August. Where did it go?

I love the Pei Wei spicy chicken salad. I've only been to Oregano's once at Shea and Scottsdale. The one is Cave Creek always has a full parking lot; very popular. I'm not a big Mexican food eater but we go to Jalapeno's occasionally. For pizza, it's Lamp at Pima and Pinnacle. Great salads and wood fired pizza.

Take care and thanks for your comment.

Jim McAllister said...

CJ,

I'm with you on snow. No thanks! Growing up in the Midwest gave me enough snow forever.

Mike Slater said...

Jim, you're right about conditioning.
Having been born here and working outside for 35 years I learned to tolerate the heat of summer. I guess it's because my blood is so thin.

Last November I had a deer hunt with my son in northern Arizona near the Utah border. The morning temp was in the low 20,s or high teens. I had so many layers of clothes on I could hardly move it was so cold.

The good news is I got a nice 4 point buck on opening day and went home to warm up.

Jim McAllister said...

Dr. John,

Thanks for the plug.

JM

Jim McAllister said...

rettajim@aol.com
9:50 AM (2 hours ago)


I could have said it myself.

Keep it up Jim.

Meanwhile, I'm just out of Mayo for second stem cell transplant. All went better than expected.

Jim Johnson

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Jim,

I didn't know about the stem surgery. glad to hear it went well and that you feeling well. Keep me up to date and thanks for your comment.

Rick Kepple said...

Gardening season starts soon, but no tractor, no garden tiller and no home to live in. Just a barn.

Rick Kepple said...

Someone's giving me a complete toilet. Now I'm going to get ... ahead!

Rick Kepple said...

Just remember that Americans know everything.

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

If only!

Rick Kepple said...

Me and a friend want to visit and do some golf. He and his sister got my pets out of the house when it caught fire. I'm supposed to relax says everybody.

Jim McAllister said...

Jim, you're right about conditioning.
> Having been born here and working outside for 35 years I learned to
> tolerate the heat of summer. I guess it's because my blood is so thin.
>
> Last November I had a deer hunt with my son in northern Arizona near the
> Utah border. The morning temp was in the low 20,s or high teens. I had so
> many layers of clothes on I could hardly move it was so cold.
>
> The good news is I got a nice 4 point buck on opening day and went home to
> warm up.
>
>

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

Yeah, it's all about what one is used to.

I remember when we started coming here in the 80's it would be 60 degrees and sunny so we were in shorts and short sleeves. The locals would ask us, "Aren't you cold?" We would reply , "Nope, we just came from 20 degrees so this is like summer."

Jim McAllister said...

Jim, I never got into running. It didn't appeal to me. I stayed in shape by hunting, playing softball and working outside.

Living in Sun City we go to the rec center and use the equipment to stay in shape.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

What you do is fine. Marathons are basically for extremists. I know guys who have run 40 or 50 of them; they are kind of in their own world. I did 9 with a personal best of 3:04:05 and decided it was enough. The Fiesta Bowl race was my last one but I still ran some shorter races in KC.

J. Wiseman said...

Jim you did a lot of research. It is a fascinating history, and Mesilla is an interesting small, historical town to visit.
Joy

Jim McAllister said...

Joy,

Yes, very interesting town by Las Cruces. Barb and I went there a few years ago and enjoyed the place. I like most things that deal with American History.

Thanks for the comment on the story. That sort of thing is fun to research.