September 14, 2014

Seeing Home With A Fresh Eye

Dorothy may have been right. After two months away, I can appreciate her "there's no place like home" sentiment. Travel is fun and energizing. But, home is, well, home.

Being away offers an important opportunity to look at where and how you live with a fresh eye. Things you take for granted may have been missing, or different, while you were away. Something that happened on a trip may give you a few ideas that can be integrated into your daily life. You may return with a new dedication to experience all that your hometown has to offer.


Our home for the last thirty years has been the Phoenix metropolitan area. While the brutal heat for 4 months every summer can wear down even the most intrepid desert lover, there is so much to be thankful for. This trip reminded me of what I too often take from granted:


1) The lack of freezing weather, snow, and road salt means major streets and freeways are usually free of potholes and never-ending rough patches. The side streets near my home are not in the best of shape, but the majority of time I am traveling on smooth, new, roads. That was not the case throughout most of the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states.


2) Phoenix benefits from having several major grocery chains battling for every last percentage of business. Food prices are much lower than any place we were over the past two months. Betty and I were shocked at the prices we encountered and changed our menus accordingly. Milk almost $4.00 a gallon? We pay $1.89 most weeks. 


3) The weather is consistent, with very few surprises. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, hail, heavy rain, snow, or high winds are rarely part of our lives. Severe weather is so infrequent that years may pass between such extreme happenings. Over 300 days a year are sunny, many of those with no clouds. Humidity averages in the single digits. It is seriously hot from late May until mid September and remains quite warm until late October. But, we know that and plan accordingly. The RV trip reminded us that violent, unpredictable weather with wild swings between heat and cold, storms and clam are normal elsewhere. Oh, and our 70 degree days in December & January are very nice.


4) I love my solid, quick Internet service. One of the most consistent complaints about RV parks is the poor quality of WiFi service. Everyone has it, but the ability to connect or stay connected is always a roll of the dice. Of the twenty two campgrounds we visited, exactly three had high speed, high quality connections. That is never a problem at home. 


5) We have a pretty, relaxing, inviting backyard. I use it much too infrequently. That will change. 


How about the downside, things that I wish home had that many of the places we visited did:


1) Rivers and streams with water in them. Most of the "rivers" in my part of the country are dry creek beds. Betty and I like the sound of running, falling water. The closest we come at home is a fountain in the backyard.


2) What Betty calls "real trees:" trees with big green leaves instead of thorns or stickers. Sitting under a shade tree is something that is hard to experience at home.


3) The Phoenix area has 4.5 million residents. That creates non-stop traffic, air pollution, and few places where you can be alone. Many of the towns we visited had fewer than 2,000 folks....some were lucky to break 500. The sense of openness and lack of traffic problems was a blessing.



Betty and I are "selective travelers." We enjoy going different places and experiencing life in a new way. But, neither of us would be happy being away from home and family for more than a few months a year. The time we can spend with my dad, daughters, son-in-law, and grandkids is too precious.

RV travel and an occasional trip to Europe or Hawaii will remain part of our future. So will being close to home for most of the year.



Saddle up


20 comments:

  1. You forgot about listening to music while sipping a coffee outside in the winter at a cafe as well. It is good to be close to the grands and kiddos.
    I miss my Phoenix family tremendously, but I cannot do that heat. It seems you have found a balance that works for you.

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    1. After 29 summers we reached the same conclusion: escape for at least two months. I must be honest about the heat, though. I can tolerate it much better than I could ever live through another bitterly cold winter, the type I lived through in Boston, Syracuse, and Cedar Rapids.

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  2. Can you Fed Ex me some milk? We pay $4.49 at our grocery store. While you're at it, send some warm air as well -- it's starting to get cool around here. But ... don't send any traffic; we have plenty of our own.

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    1. Most of our stores post a price of around $2.79 a gallon (still much better than $4.49). But, every week at least one of the major chains has a $1.89 special that the others honor.

      Virtually every other food category was from a little to a lot higher during the trip. Because of the competition we often pay less than $1.00 for a dozen eggs or $2.79 for a pound of hamburger. One chain is known for their "buy one package of pork chops or chicken breasts and get two more free." We rarely encountered prices or deals anything like those.

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  3. I concur - one of the nicest things about travel is coming home. I like my creature comforts. I learned to appreciate the area in which I live more the year my friends from England visited and I saw the area through tourists' eyes. When my friend raves about this beautiful countryside in which I live when she lives in the beautiful English countryside, I came to learn that there must be something to it. It's taken practice, but I've learned to put on a holiday frame of mind and vacation on the front porch just like you in your back yard.

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    1. One of the best examples of that "grass is always greener" phenomenon occurred during a few of our trips to Hawaii. Most people would agree that the islands are as close to paradise as most of us are likely to encounter this side of heaven. Yet, whenever we mentioned we lived in Scottsdale, without fail the person would swoon at our luck for living in such a beautiful place.

      Maybe it is just the human tendency to always look for something better, even if what you have is amazing.

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  4. There's nothing quite as sweet as coming home!! Maybe that's one of the best reasons for going away. Bob, I have a question for you and your readers: Do you generally travel to familiar locations or do you prefer to venture to new places?

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    1. My answer would be a mixture of both. We have several favorite spots in Arizona and southern California we like to revisit. I would never turn down another trip to Hawaii. Next summer we plan on spending time in Portland which has become a place we love.

      But, this past trip included mostly new locations. After getting through Arizona and Utah and heading east the places we stopped and sights we saw were generally new.

      Probably the best mix for us is new places one year and favorites/comfortable the next.

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  5. I think Oklahoma has the best weather. Except for occasional EF-5 tornadoes, baseball-sized hail, searing heat," Exceptional" drought conditions punctuated by flooding from Gulf hurricanes, ice storms, and hurricane force straight line winds, the 5 days left over are just downright nice.
    Actually, it's not that bad- most of the time. It's just when those tornadoes are fixing to hit your house that you worry. :)
    Jeff in OK

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    1. You do make it sound to be just about perfect. Actually, I must have hit those 5 days. I had business clients in OKC and Tulsa and never experienced any problems.

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  6. Cari in North TexasMon Sep 15, 09:19:00 PM MST

    Thanks for sharing the up and down sides of traveling for longer periods of time away from home. That's good to know about the WiFi service. Its availability is touted on many campgrounds' websites, but I guess the existence doesn't always mean great quality.

    I just got back from a week's vacation at a small quaint town in the Texas Hill Country, and I was ready to come home. The B&B was nice, but I still had to get completely dressed to go to breakfast :-)

    And to echo Anonymous' description of OK weather - Texas has great weather, except for the ice storms in Feb, tornadoes in the spring, scalding high temps in the summer, and hurricanes in the late summer.

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  7. So glad you had a wonderful and safe trip. Very glad you have decided to continue the blog....made me sad when you might be discontinuing! Your blog is so uplifting.
    I concur....no place like home. But getting away just makes the heart grow fonder! I had a minister tell me once....God blesses us daily....our job is to notice. Sometimes when we get away, we not only experience its nuances but are reminded of its minuses also. Good to shake things up once in awhile!

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    1. I like the "God blesses us daily - our job is to notice" idea. So true. Too often our routine becomes our whole focus.

      I found not writing and interacting with others left me unfulfilled, so the blog continues, thanks to great folks like you, Linda.

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  8. Loved the post! We also live in a great area; & God blesses us daily---our job is to notice. What a great quote! I would like to get out more to enjoy both our area & further away, but you are correct. The everyday routine takes over. As well as it being my job to notice God's blessings, it might also be my job to remember to step out of my routine to see mylife with new eyes.

    Glad you are home safely, with those new eyes & SO glad you are continuing to blog. I would have missed a part of MY satisfying retirement if you had decided to stop. ;)

    pam

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    1. On our trip next summer we may be coming through Paso Robles again. We will compare notes on our blessings.

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  9. We know people who moved permanently to Phoenix they sold there and headed back here to the pacific northwest they said it was too hot for toooo long and the traffic and congestion forgettabout it, only thing of it was home prices really went high for what one could get they are very unhappy. I say always be grateful for what you do have and no one can change the weather this year here we have had nearly 29 days of 90 degree days and one or two near 100 and most people don't have air conditioning but it is cool and green here and one can get to the ocean and to the mountains easily..Schools are great, employment is oky doky, one lives differently here and I would not like to be paying nearly $5.00 for a gallon of milk, food prices are rising but not to the extent you have mentioned and we do have double coupon days, and many grocery retailers vie for your dollar with amazing deals..It is a wonderful place to live and work and to be retired...Heating bills for the 200 plus days of inclement weather are really not that bad we have a PUD to pay for our utilities and water is extremely reasonable no we have lived in the west colorful Colorado and to tell the truth it is dry as can be there and too populated in the Denver area now to enjoy the beauty of the state and home ownership is becoming terrible expensive to live there, Seattle is a ways from us but we don't care to live in King county homes are $350,000 for homes built over 60 years ago, no thank you a home is the family that lives there, we don't care for that, enjoy your travels when it gets boiling hot in Phoenix the pacific northwest is lovely if one can tolerate the many days of rain, and this year snow and ice and a polar vortex!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. The Pacific Northwest is one of our favorite parts of the country. We plan on spending a month or so there next summer.

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  10. Hi Bob,
    Some observations from my travels. I spent 21 years in the Canadian Infantry with travel to places that were in conflict or third world. On retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces, but not from work, I continued to travel to locals such as Thailand, Peru, Guatamala, Mexico, Belize, Israel, Cambodia, Croatia, Bosnia, and a few others. I like archeology and diving so these places meet my requirements.

    Each time I arrive back home from my travels I appreciate home even more, cold Edmonton Alberta, but great summers and a vibrant city; but that was relevant when I didn't live here. Home is where we feel most comfortable, wherever that may be. I also percieve that I am lucky to live in the west. Life is good.

    Cheers,


    Paul

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    1. Home is where we feel most comfortable, even if others wonder how we do it (cold in Edmonton, heat in Arizona).

      One of the nice memories from our trip was the friendliness of the people in Sioux Falls, SD. They readily admit the climate is miserable in the winter, but love it in the summer and family is nearby so that is where they stay, smiling and enjoying life.

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