Damphewmore Acres, Kan.
After being here in Arizona “snowbirding” for three weeks, I’m convinced that there can’t be many retirees and old folks left in “winter” country. They all have to be here in the Valley of the Sun around Phoenix. So, if you’re old and cold, please stand up and wave at me. I want to get an accurate count.
Ol’ Nevah and I have traveled into nearly every part of greater Phoenix and eaten at a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, BBQ joints, and fast food franchises and everywhere we go, it’s folks of our age and level of infirmities that are in the majority. We drive past huge retirement and RV Villages every few miles and they are packed to the gills with winter escapees. It’s clear — being cold is not in vogue for the aging.
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I wonder about the zoning regulations in the greater Phoenix area. In our wanderings, we’ve passed at least a half-dozen huge — most likely corporate — dairies. Those several thousand Holstein cows, and their dairy aroma, are right next to spacious, up-scale housing developments.
Also, everywhere you drive, you’ll find small acreages with a couple of horses or a couple bovines trying to eat sparse green grass out of the sand. All those “acreage critters” are being fed from a small stack of alfalfa hay.
And, that hay is grown locally, because interspersed among all the housing developments, and retirement communities, are what looks like 40- and 80-acre fields of flood-irrigated alfalfa or irrigated wheat. The irrigation canals run right by and through all the development. Personally, I wonder how the farmers get their planting and harvesting equipment to all those fields because it will require driving or transporting it down streets packed with cars most of the day.
From the rampant housing being built everywhere, I’m sure the days of the dairies and the alfalfa and wheat fields are numbered. However, rest assured the folks who own the land will all be millionaires when they finally do sell the land.
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Oh, you’ll be pleased to know that one sandwich shop down here is named after me — Potbelly’s. I’ve been eating there on occasion. I can’t resist eating at a place emblazoned with my likeness.
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Another finding down here is a supermarket chain that sells all the regular stuff, but also one area, occupying several thousand square feet of floor space, is devoted to selling bulk foods. There are rows and rows of 25-gallon plastic drums containing every kind of raw and processed foodstuff that you’d ever consider buying. There are all kinds of flours, beans, dried fruits and veggies, candies and even fig newton cookies. (I couldn’t pass up the fig bars.)
It’s a novel way to sell foods and lots of folks sack the bulk foods up, weigh it, and head for the cashier. The store also has a bulk coffee area where you can select and grind your preferences from probably a couple hundred kinds of “Joe.”
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Another thing that mystifies me is the total lack of flies and nuisance bugs in Arizona at this time of year. Every day the temperatures rise to the mid-70s, but nary a fly or bug has been seen yet. Believe me, I’m not complaining, but I am surprised.
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Now, I’ll start describing some of the sights and activities that Nevah and I have been enjoying. First off, we’ve played golf only twice because my balky right knee. But, it’s a nice course and not far away. Down here, there’s a golf course every place you look.
We even went to a regular movie theater once. We hadn’t been to a movie in at least five years. We saw Clint Eastwood’s, “Richard Jewell,” movie about the guy falsely accused of the terrorist bombing at the Olympic Games in Atlanta. It wuz a good way to kill several hours. After the movie, we had a couple of malts at a ritzy ’50s-style hamburger joint. They cost us $13 total.
Other interesting places we’ve eaten is breakfasts at The Farm Grill, Eggs’nJoe, The Olive Mill, Crackers & Company, The Wild Berry, Kneader’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. Evening meals have featured outstanding fare of Mexican, Chinese, BBQ and a variety of hamburger and chicken fast food outlets. Plus, we’ve cooked salmon and T-bone steaks on a grill where we live.
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I hadn’t lost any $$$ betting on the ponies yet, so last Monday we went to an off-track betting facility in Apache Junction. It was quiet and uncrowded. I watched and bet on the simulcast races from Turf Paradise in Scottsdale.
At the end of the race program, I’d lost $45, but had more fun than spending the same money at a ball game or music concert. And, the most exciting moment of the day was when I lost out on a nice superfecta payout when the horse I needed in fourth place got “nostrilled out” by a long shot. Had I won that race, I’d have had a break-even day.
On the subject of race horses. Ol’ “Trick.” the Thoroughbred newly-gelded race horse I have a racing interest in, is now in training at Oaklawn Race Track in Hot Springs, Ark. He’ll get entered in his second race soon. I’ll keep you posted.
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It’s time to put this column to bed with these few words of wisdom: Remember when you were young and couldn’t wait to grow up so you could do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted? Well, how’s that working out for you? ❖