Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, April 13, 2020

A Surreal Existence

At Orchard Ranch RV Park, Dewey, Arizona...

It seems like a bad dream from which we will eventually awake. It has been almost a month since we arrived here, unceremoniously and almost unseen, at this park not far from Prescott, Arizona. Oh, I suppose Phannie was visible outside by whoever was in the office, as the bulk of a motorhome pulling a car is sort of hard to miss. However, almost everything related our visit here has been done via cell phone, from making the reservation to paying our fees. The only personal contact we have had with a park employee was when we arrived a month ago. As instructed then, we called when we were a few minutes from the facility and, upon parking, an older gentleman in a golf cart suddenly appeared, seemingly from nowhere, at Phannie's open door and handed us a clipboard, smiling politely as he stood at the bottom of the stairs. 

"Sign the first page and give it back, please; keep everything underneath." 

The 'underneath' was the customary park information package you get at every park check-in. 

"You're in space number 16," he said; "I'll lead you to it." 

I followed him closely, and, after driving through our site to identify it for us, he sped away, not to be seen again. The whole place is well-manicured, but silent and lifeless. Although the office is occupied by an unknown person who can be seen moving around inside, no admittance is allowed by the guests, and the the large  event center nearby stands empty and locked. 

Park Office Closed


Event Center Closed
The laundry and mail rooms are open, and there are courts for shuffleboard and boccie ball, as well as a putting green and swimming pool, but they are all eerily vacant. The whole place  seems abandoned, although nicely maintained, as if everyone has just left for the day.    

In the parking space beside us, there is a Thor motorhome about the same size as Phannie; on the other side are several empty sites.  There are RVs parked across the street in front of us and in back, as well. The RV park is about 2/3 full, I would estimate. The only time we have conversed with any other person since we arrived was when the driver of the Thor and I happened by chance to be outside our respective coaches at the same time. I greeted him, as I am accustomed to doing, but he was obviously not interested in a conversation, as he quickly went back inside. We still know nothing about each other, for they are rarely seen outside their rig. When the weather is nice, we sit outside on our patio, enjoying the quietness and fresh air.

Although there are several empty spaces in the RV park, we have  seen few arrivals or departures. We rarely see anyone outside their rigs, and when someone does pass by while dog-walking, all we get from them is the return of our wave and, sometimes a returned greeting.  No one stops to chat, even from a safe distance.

In 15 years of RVing, it is completely unprecedented that we could spend nearly a month at a very nice RV park, having virtually no meaningful contact with anyone. This park is part of a much larger complex of perhaps two hundred homes occupied by older residents, as it is a 55+ community. We've driven around the neighborhoods, but we've seen no one outside.  If it weren't for the sight of an occasional auto or golf cart, one would think the place is totally deserted. The streets all look like this:



A new section of modular homes had been under construction just north of the older complex like the one in the above photo, but work on that has now ceased, with houses in various stages of completion. It is always eerily quiet everywhere, with only the occasional garbage truck or delivery van to break the silence and to occupy for a moment the empty interior roads.

It seems the ultimate irony that the residents here seem to be practicing social distancing with such completeness in a place so utterly unlikely to harbor a wandering virus. The Covid-19 cases in the this entire Arizona county appears to have leveled off at 63, yet everyone here at this development seems paralyzed with fear.  No one seems to comprehend how unlikely it would be for anyone, even in a crowd, to be infected in this remote area with such a low incidence of illness. A quick calculation reveals that, in this entire county, a person would have only one chance in 4,000 of encountering anyone known to have the virus. The chances are actually much lower than that, for those with the virus would, presumably, be quarantined. 

While I'm certainly not advocating social gatherings yet, I think all this cowering in total isolation indicates that fear has replaced common sense here in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. If there were ever a place where opening the economy could begin with little danger to the public, it would appear to be in this area and other similarly remote locations.

Besides our puzzlement over their behavior, the absence of interaction with our neighbors has had little effect on us or the routine we have developed, which is sloth-like, compared to normal times. We do just fine being with each other, but we are also social people, and we do miss the interaction with others of our ilk. Meeting new people as we have traveled across the country has led to our finding some really great friends. 

Everything seems to be in slow motion now, and we try to spread out our tasks to perhaps one a day--two at most.  Sandy gamely tends to her household routine until her bum foot becomes too painful, then she has to elevate it for a while. (We're still waiting for the arrival of the new orthotics.) I've completed a few projects needed for Phannie, including replacing the Onan genset's exhaust tip that apparently fell off on the way here from Tucson. I also ran the engine and genset for about an hour to exercise them, taking the opportunity to move the coach a few feet forward for better satellite reception. A limb near the dish has begun to leaf out, and it was interfering slightly with the signal reception. I also cleaned out the lint from the clothes dryer exhaust hose and resealed the outside dryer exhaust vent. Then there are always small chores like replacing bulbs and changing batteries in various gadgets. I see that the refrigerator water filter light is on, so I suppose that will be the next task to be completed. Besides TV-watching and reading, we spend a good deal of time online, taking care of personal business but, mostly, interacting with our friends and family on social media--something that certainly has blossomed during the shutdown. 

We make an occasional trip to the grocery store or drugstore--a welcome diversion, since Sandy can't walk very far around the park right now.  The nearest town of any size, Prescott Valley, is about 10 minutes away but, in terms of activity, it is a different world compared to our RV park. Even with many of the stores closed, there is plenty of activity and lots of traffic on the streets. The restaurant takeout windows are always busy, and we see a steady stream of people going in and out of the stores that are open. Few of the people we've seen here were wearing masks or gloves, irrespective of their ages. Do you suppose they also have figured out the huge odds against encountering the virus in this area? Are they daring, reckless or clueless? Who knows?

I couldn't help but compare the difference between teeming Prescott Valley and the virtual ghost town that is our RV park/retirement development. I feel sorry that the fear among these senior citizens is so intense that they mostly imprison themselves, even from stepping outside for a walk. Here's the way the roads look at the front and rear of Phannie's parking spot:




Nope, not a soul visible, and it's like this 99 percent of the time.

I suppose that, considering the 24/7 TV bombardment about the horrors of the heavily-affected areas and the warnings about the vulnerability of the elderly, it is a little easier to understand their phobia. I can't imagine what it will take for them to return to some kind of normalcy.

Since we've nowhere to go (we're paid up through the first week of May), we've never done so much cooking in Phannie as we have in the last month. We have a new Ninja Foodie Grill that I really like. It has been fun getting familiar with it and, so far, we've at least been able to eat the experimental dishes, some of which have been quite good.  Staying put has also cut our outlay for eating out by hundreds of dollars, but we do miss that part of our entertainment.

We also miss personal visits with family and friends, and we are very sensitive to the the terrible toll this virus has taken on the country and its citizens. So far, we don't know anyone who has been infected, but we pray that all our relatives, friends and those who read this stay well.

It seems pretty clear on both sides of the political spectrum that China has played a nefarious role in the spread of this plague and that our country has become far too dependent upon them in many ways. I, for one, will be more diligent in limiting my purchases of goods that I can identify as having Chinese origin.

I'll leave you with one more photo that I forgot to include when we were roaming around Prescott before the shutdown:




There is a bronze foundry here in Prescott, and the city commissioned local artist Bill Nebeker to do this wonderful sculpture. The foundry fabricated it to a large scale for outdoor use, and it was placed in the center of a traffic roundabout. It shows a cowboy trying to rope a calf while it runs under the horse, causing the horse to stumble and the cowboy to lose his hat. While I'm usually not a huge sculpture aficionado, I really like this one.

Happy Easter, everyone!


Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood


26 comments:

  1. We too are baffled by the COVID-19 response that seems overwrought. We live in Montana and have less than 400 cases in a population of over 1,000,000. There have been seven deaths the majority of which were in one nursing home. While I am no way making light of those deaths it seems that they are not statistically significant. I believe the damage done to our economy will lead to more harm to the population than the virus ever has or will. Those populations centers with thousands of residents per square mile probably should have been quarantined but where the population averages six people per square mile it is ridiculous.

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    1. Totally agree. And well stated, my friend. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. I am here just north of Del Rio Tx and things are much quieter than usual but still slightly lively. The 6 foot rule is being well adhered to but large circles of chairs still happen every day or so around the park. In town is is fairly strict but not really in panic mode. We have the Amistad NRA nearby that has great walking locations that are open and we can all stay spread out for our health. Be Safe, Please

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    1. Well, you are in Texas. Seems there is still some common sense there, Barney. Enjoy yourself; this, too, shall pass.

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  3. Your RV Park certainly does look like a ghost town, Mike. It would be such a lovely place to take a walk or simply sit outside to enjoy the scenery and fresh air as you and Sandy have done. I hope your fellow residents are taking their Vitamin D! I'm glad you included the photo of the bronze statue - it's really a gorgeous piece of work. I'm definitely not an art connoisseur, but I do love bronze sculptures of western scenes such as those of Frederic Remington. Better yet if they're life-size. I'm guessing you might be familiar with the Mustangs of Las Colinas - that one's my favorite, hands down.

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    1. I am, indeed, familiar with the Mustangs. Saw them many times when we lived in the DFW area. And I wouldn't mind having a Remington. ($$$$)

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  4. P.S. Don't think I didn't notice that perfect spacing between your quotes!

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    1. I think Blogger finally got it right; it was driving me crazy, too.

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  5. Perhaps you folks out west and in rural areas should be thankful that social distancing has made a difference in your death count.
    In response to COVID-19, the United States was slow to act at a time when each day of inaction mattered most–in terms of both the eventual public health harms as well as the severe economic costs. The President and some of his closest senior officials also disseminated misinformation that left the public less safe and more vulnerable to discounting the severity of the pandemic. When it came time to minimize the loss of life and economic damage, the United States was unnecessarily underprepared, had sacrificed valuable time, and confronted the pandemic with a more mild response than public health experts recommended. These lapses meant that the United States was ultimately forced to make more drastic economic sacrifices to catch up to the severity of the pandemic than would have otherwise been necessary.

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    1. President Bush II warned about our unpreparedness for a pandemic during his term and requested several billion dollars toward remedying the problem. Congress, didn't act, of course, and the issue lay dormant throughout the Obama administration, which did nothing toward preparedness. So perhaps not all the blame lies with the President, as so many on the left have targeted as the boogey man. Do we really expect perfect predictions and information during an unprecedented time like this? That is totally unrealistic.

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    2. You need to have annual budget commitment. You need to have institutions that can survive any one administration. And you need to have leadership experience,All three of those can be effected by our wonderful and unique form of government in which you transfer power every four years.Time for a new boogey man.I respected George Bush 1 and 2 and your liberal LBJ....I'll take any one of them over this bumbling idiot.

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    3. Ordinarily, I would delete an ad hominem attack like yours on the President, but I think it may add a degree of enlightenment as to the vacuity of our opposition. With anger management therapy, perhaps you will be able to abide Mr. Trump's second term with a bit more dignity.

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    4. Dignity..tRumps middle name ! See you in November.

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  6. We understand social distancing, of course, but I don't feel threatened when I'm out shopping and I don't wear a mask at senior shopping time. I keep 6 feet away and wear plastic gloves. In your park, it is sad that everyone is so afraid. Do they not know how to be sociable from a distance? We've carried on conversations from 6' apart and it is still quite nice.

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    1. In other words, S & M, we would gladly sit out at happy hour with you two!

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    2. Your attitude and practice is much like ours, Patsy. And I'm still peeved at myself that we missed you guys when we were in Yuma.

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  7. We are distancing in Red Bay, Alabama. We have successfully been able to complete a few projects while keepIng required space from others and sanitizing as we go. This small community is doing a wonderful job of keeping people safe. I’m sorry your beautiful park is so desolate and has allowed fear to take over. Life must go on, we walk, talk and visit outside at a safe distance, but I do miss the hugging partπŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡

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    1. Well, I feel sorry for these folks, but this will pass and we will get back to normal, whatever that will look like. It will be good to see y'all again. I guess we'll do elbow hugs!

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  8. Ah. . .well, it is easy for me to tell, that, the MOST important thing you have done in this entire litany of goings on, is to have moved the coach forward for better satellite reception. YES, and AMEN! LOL! Love and miss you guys.

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    1. Oh, we miss y'all, too. Sometimes, it seems we're marooned on another planet!

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  9. I know that park and it doesn't really come alive until May and June so there is that. For the people that are there they might be scared but I don't believe they are "cowering"...I think they are being smart. I have always liked your posts but I don't think you are being fair with this one. You are lucky to have a safe place to land.

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    1. Well, I'm sorry to have come across in such a way. We feel very fortunate to be here. But I only report what I see, and I agree that "cowering" may have been too strong a word. Thanks for your feedback.

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  10. I would find it a disappointment to be in such a beautiful place with so many people around me and feel such loneliness. Saying hello, where are you from, how are you doing, etc. to others is just a kind gesture. If we were there we'd social distance with you and Sandy. At least things are starting to look up a bit. I'm thankful for that. I do hope people are able to return to their home bases soon, if that is their wish.

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    1. Thank you, Cheri. You and Dean exemplify our excitement in forming new friendships among those in this lifestyle. I'm sure things would be different if folks weren't fed gloom and doom 24/7 by the TV, resulting in such unreasonable anxiety. Hope to see y'all again in better days! Good to hear from you!

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  11. Nice post. We walk one to three miles a day in our hood. People keep their distance and say hello. Most playing in their open garage like it is a long weekend. We stay inside except for the walks.

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    1. Well, it sounds like you're doing everything right. I still can't figure out why people seem so locked down out here where there is zero incidence of the virus. I think the TV has everybody spooked.

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