Because Canada was closed last summer (and still is as of April of 2021) due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to use our timeshare week in Whistler, British Columbia for 2020. We were fortunate enough to trade our unused vacation to Orange Tree Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona where my dad lives with a plan to celebrate my milestone.

Retirement Graduation TripMy husband called this my “graduation trip” to celebrate my retirement after 44 years of public service. It was a fantastic experience and I highly recommend going somewhere a few days after your retirement, primarily so that there is a break in your routine. No looking back!

I had a week to make the transition and to pack a suitcase and my golf bag.  This amount of time seemed just about right.  We flew to Phoenix, rented a car, and drove to Tubac Golf Resort.  My husband wanted to do something special before our timeshare week, so he took me there because it was the location for shooting one of his favorite golf movies, starring Kevin Costner and Rene Russo, Tin Cup.

He signed us up for the “Indulgent Golf Package” which is two nights in a historic Casita, two rounds of golf, and two breakfast burritos at the Cantina on the first hole. It was a magical place in the desert south of Green Valley, just north of the Mexican border.  I learned that the ranch was originally a land grant from the King of Spain to the Ortero family in 1685.  From this ranch, the family rose to prominence and became the “Cattle Kings of Arizona.”  In the 1950s, lead by Bing Crosby and other investors, the ranch was purchased and three 9-hole courses were constructed.  The longhorn cattle are still there and integrated into the course design.

I loved the historic feel of the place and as a beginning golfer, I appreciated the spacing of the women’s and men’s tees.  Even though I’m still learning, we were able to enjoy some rounds of golf with a different couple each day.  The husbands were pretty good golfers and both of the wives were beginners, so we could encourage each other.

At Orange Tree Resort we were in a wonderful central location north of Scottsdale.  We golfed three days and enjoyed meeting other couples and even had lunch together after one of our rounds.  I truly appreciated that I was in a beautiful warm place, meeting interesting people, trying something new, and walking five or more miles in a park setting with water fountains. I had to remind myself that if I hadn’t retired, I would have been on a Zoom Call in my home office that day.

I also really enjoyed taking two hikes in the desert. By starting out early enough we were able to hike mostly in the 70-degree weather, but by noon temperatures were in the mid-90’s so having a pool to dip in during the lazy afternoons was wonderful.  At the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, we saw hikers and many mountain bikers.  It has a rugged beauty and is a classic desert hike.  https://www.maricopacountyparks.net/mcdowell-mountain-regional-park-mm/ When we went to the visitor center we were asked whether we saw any rattlesnakes.  We said no!  The ranger shared that it is mating season and the rattlesnakes are all out and a little crazy.  Yikes!  It was probably good we didn’t realize that before we started hiking.

On our last evening before returning home, we went to Butterfly Wonderland. It was an inspiring way to end our trip. https://butterflywonderland.com We learned about the plight of Monarch Butterflies and experienced a tropical rainforest environment full of all kinds of butterflies, birds, and koi.  I was in awe of what we learned and what we saw. Retirement Graduation Trip

While it was good to return home to the spring-like weather of the Pacific Northwest after a ten-day trip to the desert, I’m so grateful for this time we had together to experience a different place, reconnect with family, make new friends, stretch my legs, swing my clubs and start the next chapter of my life. I’ve now graduated to feeling really retired!

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