If you have ever thought about moving to one of the many senior communities, usually on a golf course, here is a peek at that life. Whether it’s North or South Carolina on the east coast or Tucson in the southwest, life, I think, is quite similar.
When we first encountered the desert, we lived in San Diego. We had friends who had moved to Dove Mountain outside of Tucson. We visited them often because it was only a six-hour drive between the cities, and we had a whole lot of fun. We had so much fun, when a house across the street from them came up for sale, we bought it as a second home.
The 55+ community was The Highlands at Dove Mountain.
They had a great community center on the golf course with a fitness center, a restaurant, and lots of rooms for games and meetings. https://www.thehighlandsatdovemountain.com/
The house was about 1700 square feet – just right for the two of us and entertaining. Plus all of our furniture and belongings were still in San Diego, so we didn’t have to worry about having enough room for everything. At that point, we weren’t ready to downsize (and I may never be – LOL). Having two houses, even if one is a second home, is kind of a hassle. You have to go back and forth and what you are looking for, like a kitchen utensil, is always in the other house. And I always felt guilty if I spent too much time in the second home because we were paying for utilities and maintenance upkeep in the other house.
We all bought quads and four wheeled throughout the canyons and desert. We lived in a 1200-home area for people 55 years and older. Everyone was from somewhere else, so it was easy to meet people. We had block parties every month – and every week in the summer.
We lived on a golf course overlooking a small lake and, at the time we bought, there were no houses across from us. The desert is an interesting place. Most people think of brown and dirt and sand when they think of the desert. In reality, homes in the desert have a lot of green, much of it planted and watered. Not big deciduous trees like you would have in non-desert areas, but trees and lots of types of cactus. Also I lot of citrus fruit trees such as oranges, lemons and grapefruits. You have to plant these, but they grow very well.
Yards rarely have grass, so they are easy to maintain. Gravel and an irrigation system to water the bushes and plants you plant yourself is what most yards consist of.
Of course, people in Minnesota and Wisconsin would laugh at me calling this a lake.
At this point, I was about 61 and still working. We couldn’t spend a lot of time there, but it was only a six-hour drive away, so we could come for long weekends when I wasn’t traveling or in the office – or I could fly in and out of there.
Most people had golf carts and went back and forth to the clubhouse in our carts. At night we’d take a ride on the cart paths, looking for wildlife.
Bobbi and John lived next door, and Bobbi is a fantastic photographer! I asked her if she would share some of her pictures so I could include them, and she did.
We saw many desert animals up close and personal. Seeing the bobcat was always a treat! He used to sit on the post of the gate right outside my office window. We would also see him crossing the street or going through our yards. One time a baby bobcat jumped our fence around our patio which was about 5' high. Jim was sitting at a patio table and happened to look down, and there he was. His mother was watching from outside the fence. We would sometimes see him curled up in the kiva in our back yard or under a fern. What fun!
See the funny-looking one that looks like a pig? That's not a pig - it's a javalina. They are actually related to a tapir and the elephant family. You can always tell when they are around because there is a smell. And they love potatoes and apples, although you aren't supposed to feed them. They would also scarf up the birdseed we put out for the birds - and bring their family to eat! The babies looked just like them, but tiny. They were really cute!
When you were out playing golf, it was not at all unusual to see the bobcat languishing on the grass or the coyote running along the fairway. The coyotes look so much like dogs - especially when they are rolling in the grass.
My husband Jim's sister, Jeannie, and her husband, Norm, came from New York to visit us. They stayed for a few days in the beginning. They loved where we lived and came often and stayed longer over the next few years. Finally, they decided to move out by us.
They looked at many houses in our area, but decided they really wanted to buy our house. By this time, the friends we moved to Tucson to be close to had bought a bigger house only a mile away. But our circle of friends grew bigger as we met several friends from Montana and other places. Some would come only for the winter. Lots of entertaining back and forth among houses. Lots of socializing. The houses were close together, and most people wanted to make friends. They finally built houses across the golf course, but they were far enough to not make a difference.
We finally decided to sell them our house. But we had even more reason to be in Dove Mountain and had many friends and much fun there. So what to do?
I’ll tell you in the next segment, Senior Living in the Desert.