Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Another Retirement Option and a Hike in the Superstition Mountains…

After looking at a couple of retirement communities I felt we should take a look at something I felt might be a more likely option in our short term future. Although I know we will eventually end back in a sticks and bricks house I really don’t see us stopping RV’ing anytime soon. What I see s a transitional phase where we would acquire a small home as a base, keep an RV and travel seasonally.  With this in mind we went to visit Gold Canyon, Arizona to Superstition Views, a Cal-Am resort.

What appealed to me here were the casita models similar to ones we looked at when we were staying in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas at Bentson Palms. We drove over to the Cal-Am resort and checked in with the sales office. They had three basic models with varying floor plans available to look at. The smallest was 12 feet wide, the middle, another one 14 feet wide and the largest one was 16 feet wide resulting in casitas ranging form the low 600 square feet to just under 900 square feet of living space.

The smallest place we saw at Robson Ranch was over 1,200 square feet so we were curious what we would think about these smaller casitas. Along the tour we felt the smallest one was just a bit too small despite having a floor plan that made it appear much larger inside. We could live in a unit this  small but really liked the other two larger casita better than the smallest one.

We happily discovered this trip that we had very similar likes and dislikes about our future living arrangements. We do have some differences but nothing too earth shattering. The biggest difference we have is that I see no need for a second bedroom whereas Sharon would like one. I figure that since these casitas allow for an RV pad alongside the casitas, this would provide us guest accommodations when needed.  Sharon also preferred the plan with a laundry room rather than a closet for stackable washer/dryers. She seemed very happy with the plentiful resort amenities although they were on a smaller scale than those at Robson Ranch.

The least expensive were the smallest units starting right at $90,000 and the largest one was just over $100,000 so there would be no reason in my opinion to settle for the smallest one. We would need an additional $10,000  for the full hookup RV pad.  We would also upgrade the basic flooring and kitchen options to our tastes and add the optional deck.After a quick tally we found it would be pretty easy to move into a place at this resort for $150,000 or so. Now the downside would be the "lifestyle fee" (they don’t call it an HOA) as they are pricey at just over $500 per month with the likelihood of increasing about $24 per month at each anniversary until year five.However when considering all you get and the fact that you have no real estate taxes it really isn’t all that bad. If a buyer purchases an already built casita, this lifestyle fee is waived for two years whereas a custom built casita has a one year waive of the fee.

The biggest wow factor for us in this area out were the stunning views to be had by spending the additional money for the outside staircase for access to the roof as a patio deck. With the views of the Superstition Mountains I could see us spending a lot of time on that patio for sure…


After our complimentary lunch and tour we noticed  while driving back a small pull out along the road that appeared to be a parking lot for a trail. We stopped and sure enough found a nice series of trails that traversed some small hills with those same fabulous views of the Superstition Mountains. There was a lot of color on the trail as many flowers were blooming giving a beautiful contrast to the saguaros and other cacti as well as the beautiful reddish brown hue of the rocks. We did a short loop of less than two miles and wished we had found this trail system earlier..

We have come to the end of our stay here in Mesa and will leave today for Casa Grande. Yes it is only about 50 miles but that is the way I prefer to travel when we can. I am looking forward to Spring and resuming our life on the road again!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Visit to Hohokam Stadium and a few Breweries and a Mild Rant…


To pick up where we left off, here in Mesa, Az, we had one more social gathering to attend at one of the breweries in the little town of Chandler that was on my list to visit, the San Tan Brewery. Here we met Jeri and Terri (Just Wanderin’), Jim and Sandie (Where are the Dixon’s) and Paul and Marsha (Where’s Weaver) for a real late lunch or an early dinner. Of course we had a blast and no lies were told by anyone… I know because I was there and I must say there IPA was very, very good!

Another day there was a convention called Airpex which is the Arizona Federation of Stamp Clubs and was advertised as an “Attic Appraisal” where one could bring stamps and have them appraised. One thing I couldn’t part with when we sold our sticks and bricks home was my childhood stamp collection so out of curiosity I wanted to take my collection over to this Mesa Convention Center event to have them looked over.

I was charged $5 bucks entry even though the web site said it was free to attend. I asked about that and of course they said someone was supposed to have that changed … Strike 1… Once I entered I went to the “Attic Appraisal” table where a fairly pompous and self righteous fellow deigned to spend less than 2 minutes flipping pages in my collection (of which I have well over 100,000 stamps) stating rather flippantly that it wasn't’ worth much of anything.


I asked about my mint World War II German stamps and he had little to say.  When pressed  he said I should talk to someone at table 40… who said I should to talk with someone else… and finally the fellow who was knowledgeable about German stamps said it wasn’t anything notable. Again, when pressed he said my collection might be worth $20.00. These so called experts said my collection was worth less than the unused postage I have in the collection. In other words I could lick stamps, throw the rest away and get at least $50.00 for the collection. What a waste of time this was as it seemed to me these “appraisers” were not there to help anyone but merely looking for the occasional rare find to perhaps “steal” from someone's collection… Oh well, live and learn!


So the day wouldn't be a total loss we decided to go to Hohokam and Fitch Parks (both baseball fields and spring training facilities) in the City of Mesa.  This day at Hohokam Park, the spring training home of the Oakland A's, there was an open house event of sorts. Hohokam Park (pronounced HO-HO-COM) takes its name from some of the earliest residents of the “Valley of the Sun”: the Hohokam Indians. Since the event was free we checked it out and found mostly a venue geared to children but there was a nice live band and they had balloon rides (we just missed doing that).


Hohokam Stadium and Breweries 031As we were leaving we saw Bert Campaneris and Furguson Jenkins signing gear as a fundraiser for Breast Cancer. Sharon stopped and chatted with Bert to thank them as a breast cancer survivor for their charity work. It was fun and to cap off the day we drove over to Tempe for a visit to Sleepy Dog Brewery  where I had previously purchased a Groupon deal. We enjoyed some frosty beverages and took home a few bombers (as per the Groupon ). Their beer was not nearly as good as San Tan or Four Peaks but we will surely enjoy the bombers we brought home nonetheless.

Well it looks like we leave here on Wednesday and I just booked us into a Passport America stay at Las Colinas RV Park near Casa Grande and Eloy Arizona where we will likely stay 3 or 4 days before moving on over to Tucson… We both hope to see you on down the road…