Orchard Ranch

“Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends.” – C.S. Lewis

In the high desert of Northern Arizona, Orchard Ranch is a 55-plus resort community off Highway 69 in Dewey, a small town east of Prescott, south of Sedona. It is also where my father has lived for the last decade and a half.

Its population fluctuates by the season, with northern snowbirds who seek respite from shoveling snow in the winter and those longing for cooler elevations in the summer. Some stop for a few days, weeks, or a season while traveling through, others return annually. Many full-timers, like my Dad, start with shorter visits, then opt to stay year-round, living in recreational vehicles, then transitioning for health or comfort, to a pre-fab park model or a manufactured home.

Most of all, Orchard Ranch is a community. Neighbors know neighbors. They look out for each other. If Dad doesn’t come out of his house, multiple neighbors knock on his door to make sure everything’s alright. When he walks his dog, Ellie, it’s a social occasion. Everyone knows Ellie and Ellie knows who has treats and who will fuss over her. Last winter, when it snowed and the roads were icy, one of his neighbors volunteered to drive him to his doctor’s appointment. People sit out on their front porches and visit. In the summer, neighbors gather in the evenings around portable fire pits to share jokes and tales of times gone by over glasses of wine. At the center of the park is the Roundhouse, a community building used to host countless potlucks, holiday events, dances, and on Sundays, Cornerstone Church. There is never a lack of things to do with pickleball and bocce ball tournaments, shuffleboard, swimming classes, card games of all types, bingo, cribbage, and mahjong games.

The roads in the park are lined with shade trees and the small parcels of land in front of RVs and homes are landscaped with painted rocks, pots of artificial flowers, yard chachki, and satellite dishes that can be easily moved. On the Fourth of July, the park is festooned with flags and banners in red, white, and blue, and while no one tricks or treats on Halloween, pumpkins and scary decor fill the yards. But the time when Orchard Ranch is most decked out is Christmas when rarely an RV or home is without Santas, reindeer, and lights.