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By Jane Cassie
(For Travel Writers' Tales)

When my husband, Brent, asks if I want to go on another RV vacation, I give him two thumbs up -wilderness campgrounds, untarnished landscapes, peace and solitude. Being a back-to-nature-kinda-gal, he has my approval!

"I was thinking about something more civilized," he responds. "How 'bout we try the snowbird thing?"

I'd heard that Mesa and Palm Springs were magnets for these golden rovers but I'm not quite ready for senior summer camp.

"Haven't you heard?" he quickly quips, sensing my skepticism. "Being sixty is now the new forty. Check out this action-packed oasis in Hemet, California."

I have to admit, even online, the Golden Village Palms looks pretty impressive. A welcoming roadway, bordered by billowy palms leads to a thousand spacious sites, and just steps away are pools, hot tubs and pastimes that include everything from sand and water volleyball to yoga and Zumba classes.

"Check out their pickleball courts," Brent baits, knowing full well that this outdoor playpen will tweak my interest. The growing court sport, a combo of tennis, badminton and ping pong, is big in our South Surrey community and since retirement has been our go-to activity.

That's pretty much the deciding factor. Before I know it, we're hitching up our tag-along and heading for the I-5 that, in just three days, gets us to this home away from home.

Florida Avenue is the main byway that links Hemet's once-thriving old town to the new bustling big box stores. While whizzing past Target, Marshalls and Ross I make a mental note of their location. One thing is for certain -I can always default to shopping mode if this RV lifestyle isn't my thing.

But it doesn't take long to realize this won't be necessary. Soon after checking in and selecting our site, the action begins. At a wine and cheese reception we're given a run-down on the upcoming events and introduced to our new neighbors, many of who are Canadian and within our boomer age bracket -Sue and Neil from Chilliwack, Janice and Dale from White Rock -so many new names and faces, it's like playing a crazy game of memory when recalling who's who.

And everyone is happy. After hearing what's in store, it's understandable -golf sessions, games nights, Saturday dances. We can join the crafty and learn how to paint canvases or sew quilts, challenge the gamey in shuffleboard and cribbage or compete in one of the many tournaments that covers the gamut from golf to our favourite pickleball.

For the first few days, we're like kids at Christmastime -making a hearty attempt to try out every toy under this humungous activity tree. Between daily fitness and pool time, we squeeze in special events like car shows and horse races -and dance to sound-alike musicians who pay tribute to the famed Chicago, Fleetwood Mac and Rolling Stones. Even Kalli, our canine, gets in on the fun. As well as strutting in the pet parade, she wags and sniffs while we schmooze and sip at Bark and Wine, a weekly gathering, put on by Happy Puppy Paradise.

Our bio-rhythms quickly fall into synch with this relaxing lifestyle and like an RV land-cruise we explore other ports beyond the resort's iron gates. An hour and a half drive, southwest, gets us to San Diego's beaches. The other way leads to chichi Palm Springs -and closer to Hemet, we tee off weekly at Golden Era, one of the dozen dirt-cheap, golf courses (a third the price of our green fees back home).

Two days before checkout we take Highway 74, a curvy, queasy mile-high route to the mountain town of Idyllwild. Funky galleries border the pine-shaded streets, and just beyond is a network of trails that weave throughout the San Jacinto Wilderness. "Here's to peace and solitude," Brent says, as we plod up Devil's Slide, a 4km (2.5 miles) ascent that offers unsurpassed vistas. "That's what you wanted on this holiday, right?"

I momentarily pause while reflecting on a few more imminent issues -happy hour will be in full swing by the time we get back, the banquet room needs decorating for tomorrow's pickleball potluck and we need to reserve our site for next year -making sure we double the length of our stay! "I've come to a new revelation," I finally respond with a grin. "As well as being a 'back-to-nature gal,' I'm now a true blue snowbird."


PHOTOS by Brent Cassie
Suggested captions:

1. Enjoying a little pool time
2. A gregarious game of sand volleyball
3. Pickleball is our favourite go-to activity
4. We dance to sound-alike musicians who pay tribute to Chicago
5. Strolling San Diego's stunning beaches
6. Funky galleries line the streets of Idyllwild
7. Happy hour is a daily event!

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