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Carol and I just got back from two weeks in Phoenix, in a house rented through VRBO. We had intended to scout out neighborhoods as part of a long-term project to buy a winter place down there. We had a daily routine: After breakfast, we threw QBit and Aero in the car and headed over to one of the local parks. (Jack and Dash don’t travel as well, so we boarded them with Grandma Jimi.) After the dogs had had enough, we got back in the car and cruised the surrounding neighborhood, noting details we would otherwise have breezed past, including For Sale signs. That night we looked up all the For Sale signs on Zillow. The next day we looked at the map and chose a different park. Lather, rinse, repeat.

On Day 2 we paused to watch a ball game of some sort, played by a crew of East Indian guys. It almost looked like baseball, and then it hit me: Cricket! I had never seen a cricket game before. I have no idea what the rules are, and I wasn’t used to seeing the pitcher bounce balls off the ground on the way to the batter. Maybe it was just that they were on a deadline or something, but the game went a great deal faster than baseball. (I’m not alone in thinking that baseball is too slow to be interesting.) So is there sandlot cricket? I’d even be willing to try that.

On Day 3 we ran into a woman walking her little dog (which I think is a dashuahua) and after talking briefly about dogs we asked her if she lived in the neighborhood and what she thought of it. She did, and told us about it, and when we said we were interviewing neighborhoods for a winter place, she let slip that she was a realtor. So although we hadn’t really intended to look at individual properties this trip, she clearly knew what she was talking about, and we spent much of the rest of our two weeks touring homes on large lots in a rectangle bounded by Hayden, Greenway, Tatum, and Shea.

One of them truly called to us, and we looked it over carefully. It has a PV solar array that can put out 5000 watts in peak sun, a fenced pool, and (critically) no stairs. A little pricier than we’d like, but then again, what isn’t? So we’re still researching it and chasing down financing. Besides, I’d have to have another workshop scratchbuilt. Have done that twice now, so a third time would be no big deal. Or so I hope.

We’ll be back there later this year and will pick up the quest again.

A marksman friend of mine drove out from California so we could punch some holes in calibrated cardboard up at the Ben Avery Shooting Range near Cave Creek. We pumped about 150 rounds total, first at 25 yards (with a .22 rifle) and then at 100 yards, with his AR-15. I did a reasonably good job, and got ten rounds into a 3 1/2″ circle at 100 yards with the AR-15, including two in the 1 1/4″ bullseye circle. The range was so crowded that several .38 rounds from other people hit our targets. (They probably struck the ground and got turned to one side or the other by hitting a rock.) There was a miserable crosswind, and I’m far from a marksman, so I’m satisfied with what I did.

It was the first long trip we took in our new 2014 Durango. That car is so comfortable that I could credibly describe it as a Barcalounger with a V8. It’s about 840 Interstate miles, and we split the run at Grants, New Mexico. I forgot to write down the average mileage for the trip down, but for the trip back it was 24.5 MPG, which I thought was pretty good for a thing this size cruising at 75-80 MPH.

Why do I want a place in Phoenix? We lived there for 13 years and considered the weather good for nine months out of the year. Then we moved to Colorado, and consider the weather good about six months out of the year. Colorado winters are getting worse, and (sorry, Certain People) based on my research I’m betting against global warming. Besides, I miss swimming pools.

I found something interesting in the pile of held mail that I brought home yesterday. More on that tomorrow.


  1. Tom Roderick says:

    Congratulations on beginning your search for winter quarters.

    Some good friends of mine had two houses (one each from previous marriage) and inherited two more. Starting in the south one is on the west coast of Florida far enough down to miss most of winter, one is in Georgia about 15 miles east of Atlanta, one is in North Carolina and another is on a lake in Pennsylvania in the Poconos. They now make a twice a year seasonal migration north in the spring and south in the fall. I try to meet up as they pass through each time!

    HOWEVER, they seem to confirm some of my own experience that maintenance on multiple houses is NOT a linear function. Without doubt it is an exponential and probably a high order one at that!

    1. Two houses is plenty; I know people who have four, though some of those were, as you said, inherited. We just accepted a buy offer on our condo in Des Plaines, Illinois, so that’s one less place to deal with, and freeing up our equity will facilitate the Arizona purchase, whenever that happens.

      Migrating is something we’ve never done, and I’m of two minds about leaving a house vacant for much or most of a year, however we decide to split it. We do have retired friends who’ve been doing this for years, and we intend to pick their brains about it. There are some weird issues most people don’t think about, like how to get a health insurance policy that covers two states. (PPACA’s Multi-State Plans died before birth, though nobody in the SM seems to want to talk about that.)

  2. Jim Mischel says:

    I had to laugh at “dashuahua.” I’m trying to remember if you came up with that to describe our dog Sandy, or we told you that Sandy was a dashuahua. Whatever the case, seeing the word brought back memories of a good laugh.

    1. I’m pretty sure I got the word from you, since I’d never seen a dog like Sandy before. Elva (who owned the dog I referred to in this entry) called her a chiweenie. Easier to pronounce than “chiwaschshunt,” at any rate.

      We’ve begun to see bichon/poodle crosses referred to as Bitchy-Poos. I have reservations about that term, and even greater reservations about crossing bichons and poodles to begin with.

      1. Erbo says:

        Oh, it can get more ridiculous. Last year, I helped my godsons’ family acquire a second dog, Caramel, who is a “chihuwiener” or “chihuweenie” (mix between chihuahua and dachshund, or wiener dog). They intend to train her to act as another service dog, just like my godsons’ mother’s existing service dog, Velcro, who is a min-pin (miniature pinscher). I might also mention that neither of these dogs have been spayed/neutered…and, shortly after Caramel joined the household, the two dogs were caught in flagrante delicto. Velcro appears to be “shooting blanks,” but, if he hadn’t been, they might have wound up with “pinchihuweenies” as a result. 😀

  3. Bob says:

    FWIW, you might consider getting a place in Northern Arizona. Decent weather in summer and a lot easier to drive back and forth. Cuts down on multiple state tax forms and maybe some problems with medical insurance.

    I grew up in Arizona but then moved to California and I like it here. So far, Prop 13 shields me from the real estate price madness but hostile fire from the tax-n-spenders keeps landing closer as they figure out ways to weaken it. That plus the fact that my family lives in Tucson and I may need to help out has me thinking about buying a place there so I will be interested in your experience.

  4. […] you may recall, Carol and I drove down to Phoenix back in May for two weeks in order to interview neighborhoods for a winter place. We hadn’t intended to look at […]

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