Shrinking and Swelling with the Snowbirds
On my second day in Tucson my ankles swelled up like two giant balloons, and the surface of my skin shrunk into tiny dry triangles thirsty for every ounce of moisturizer I doused on it. After about three days, I woke up with a bloody nose. And after about a week, our kitchen countertops shrunk down about 1/4”.
I don’t think one single drop of water is wasted in Arizona, instead it just shrinks away from one thing (my countertop) and moves into another (my body). Adjusting to the dryness of Arizona, and the Southwest in general requires time, especially if you have spent most of your life near water.
Our Airstream no longer filled with condensation when the heater was on, but with an average daily temperature of 90 degrees, we didn’t turn the heater on once in Tucson. Instead, we got to test out the air conditioner which cooled us down to a reasonable temperature, certainly a relief because we will be in the South this summer.
Arizona is a well known destination for a regular population of snowbirds, who migrate from the North to warm up and dry out from the snow, rain and cold weather of winter. With an average of about 36 percent humidity, Tucson is similarly dry to Phoenix and Las Vegas, but not as hot.
I always thought old folks flee to dry climates on the count of their rheumatoid arthritis. I suppose this makes sense because warmth is soothing, though I personally find living in dryness painful as I can’t even touch my nose because parts of it are flaking off. At the pool of the KOA where I chatted with many of the Silvers, as they are called, I learned of another secret reason they exit the North, RV parks are one hell of a party.
Although one of the things I have always disliked about Arizona is the overall resistance to acknowledging Dr. King, Tucson, being mostly a college town, is slightly more liberal than the rest of Arizona and therefore quite passable. Tucson seems to represent easy living, with affordable home prices and a decent median income. There is a large hispanic population which makes the shopping and diversity of ingredients available really awesome. With Mexico being only about one hour away, I have never tasted a sweeter pepper.
The other funny thing about Arizona is they don’t do daylight savings, which actually makes perfect sense because there is more than enough sun to go around. Although technically Colorado wins that contest with a few more sunny days per year. The large Saguaros provide no shelter from the pulverizing sunshine, instead, people retreat indoors during the hot summer months where temperatures reach about 115 with hot monsoon rains providing little relief.
While I enjoyed soaking up sunshine with the Snowbirds, I don’t think I ever quite adjusted to the desert and 3000 feet elevation. I eventually found relief from the swelling effects of the dryness with a hibiscus sun tea and a couple of squeezes of grapefruit from the citrus trees in front of every parking space at the Tucson Lazydays KOA RV Park.
Hibiscus Sun Tea
16 oz Mason Jar
3 Hibiscus Tea Bags
Place tea bags in mason jar. Cut grapefruit into three wedges and squeeze into jar. Place one peel in the jar and fill with water. Set in the sun for 2-3 hours, then chill.
Hibiscus is a great source of vitamin C and iron, and also helps remove excess fluid, which can help to lower blood pressure.