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Senior Citizens Say Time Stands Still at RV Park

April 21, 1996|PAUL DAVENPORT | ASSOCIATED PRESS

MESA, Ariz. — Some of the trailer parking spots in this snowbird mecca are already empty as visitors who came to escape the cold start to head back north.

But not everyone is ready to leave the Valle Del Oro RV Resort, where, people say, boredom is rare and the aging process is suspended.

On a recent spring day, the line for the taco salad lunch stretched halfway across the ballroom at this strange blend between a campground and a retirement village. Those who were not waiting for lunch worked in craft shops, read in the library or swam with visiting relatives.

"No one grows old in this park," Don Burghardt, a semiretired businessman from Silver Creek, N.Y., said while taking a break from polishing a braided-silver bracelet he made in the silversmith workshop.

Across from the silversmith shop is the wax-casting area. Next door are the lapidary and the stained-glass shops. Other buildings house the woodworking, woodcarving and ceramics workshops.

Pools compete for room with tennis courts and horseshoe pits. Billiards and exercise rooms, an archery range and lawn bowling, shuffleboard and basketball courts are also available.

Still bored? Try the quilt-making, stamps, creative writing or photography classes. The park also brings in people like Broadway star John Raitt and actress-singer Anna Maria Alberghetti--she of spaghetti sauce commercial fame--to perform in the 1,200-seat ballroom.

Jan Anderson and her husband have spent half of each of the last three years at the 1,800-space trailer park and resort, whose name in English means "valley of gold."

"I wouldn't miss it for anything in the world," the retired schoolteacher from Darby, Mont., said while glazing a casserole dish--her 10th--in the ceramics shop. "If you're bored, it's your own damn fault."

The park and its activities give many of the residents a chance to pursue interests that went ignored for years. "You didn't have the time. You're busy. You're raising a family," Burghardt said.

With so much to do, it's easy to do too much, said Jim Dunning, a retired National Park Service administrator who last worked in Washington.

"I find I have to say no once in a while. The first thing you know, you're beat," he said.

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