APRIL 2019 • 39
LIVING ON WHEELS • SHEILA SOWDER
Why Do RVers come to Silver City And stay...and stay…and stay?
am intrigued by how RVers find Silver City in the first place, and then why so many decide to stay and make it home. It’s a Continental Divide town, but that attracts hikers and bikers, not RVers. It’s on the way to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and that attract lots of tourists, but that’s no reason to hang around indefinitely. I set off to do a little informal research, find out why so many RVers have decided to adopt this community as home, and how they found us in the first place. “It’s comfortable,” said Reed Stevens, fulltime RVer and a Rose Valley RV Ranch, 2040 Memory Lane, resident since last November. “Originally, we came to Silver City to visit a friend of my wife Vicki, but we were tired of moving around a lot, and, well, we’re comfortable here, so we stayed.” Okay, maybe it’s not bumper sticker potential, but isn’t that what we’re all looking for, a home where we feel comfortable, at ease, relaxed and safe? And that could mean something different to each person. “We’re birders and hikers, and Silver City looked like a good place to spend a few months,” said Richard Drummond of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Linda Rogers, from Long Beach, California, first came here to deliver some boxes that a friend back home had been holding for a Silver City artist for 10 years. Dean Maxwell spent his professional life in Alaska and had a friend that raved about Silver City. So, after he retired, he set off in an RV and eventually made his way down here. He was in and out for several years, generally coming for Bluesfest, making more friends
with each stay. Finally, he gave in and declared himself permanent. You might run into him at a local coffee house – he’s the guy who periodically asks, “Don’t you just love this place?” Heinrich Wichmann and his wife read about Silver City in a travel book back home in Germany, and first stopped by on their way to White Sands National Monument. Dave Shaw passed through while trying to avoid highways on his way back to Houston from picking up his travel trailer in Oregon. He was in and out while traveling fulltime until he decided to put down roots here for a while. Phillip Miller and his wife, RVers from Scottsdale, came looking for Silver City after watching the 2001 movie “Rat Race.” Although not filmed here, the comedy’s plot centers around the misadventures of a group of Las Vegas gamblers trying to reach Silver City and a $2 million treasure. And strangely, talking to the Millers reminded me that I also first heard of the town from the movie, years before my brother-in-law, a building contractor, moved here to build houses. Years before we discovered the arts and music scene here, the great climate and friendly people, and decided to stay. Ray Stryker, a 25-year Army retiree, has lived in Rose Valley since 2011 and originally came here to pursue a degree in Renewable Energy at Western New Mexico University, which he has since completed. Diane and Jim Fausser first arrived at Rose Valley for a week’s stay about six months after the park opened, after a friend in Las Cruces recommended it. Then in 2007, while staying
at an RV park in Arizona, Diane told Jim, “Let’s go back to Rose Valley – it doesn’t look like most campgrounds.” I used to say that no one finds Silver City by accident because it’s an hour off the main highway, but Dennis Jensch’s experience proved me wrong. He was traveling on Interstate 10, returning home to California from visiting his kids in Artesia, when he stopped for gas in Deming. Somehow, he got on Highway 180 by mistake, saw the Gila Wilderness sign and decided to camp out for a couple of days. His plans changed when he ran into heavy snow. He saw the sign for Rose Valley and pulled in to wait it out. The manager told him to go straight to his site while he could still get through the snow, and he could pay later. The next day he explored the town and thought to himself, “I could make a difference here. It’s small and friendly, and my life would benefit.” After spending several years here at Rose Valley, Dennis recently moved into his own home in the historic district, but you can often find him relaxing in the downtown hangouts, lifting people’s spirits with his positive attitude and looking for ways to help others. Rene Blalock first heard about Silver City while staying at City of Rocks State Park, and was in and out for several years, developing an affection for the town, especially loving the Food Coop and the restaurants. After retiring, she came back to stay permanently, telling me, “I like it even more now.” Finally, Bob McClure first visited Silver City in 2010 after being on the road in his RV for four years. He was in and out of the town for the next year, and after
adopting his dog Sally in 2011, he returned to Rose Valley for a visit and stayed for the good dog-walking. “I’m not going to travel anymore,” he recently told me, “and when I finally croak and get up to those pearly gates and St. Peter asks me what I consider heaven, I’ll tell him I just want to live in an RV park where I can walk my dog in the field.” So that’s it, folks. Many reasons why we came, many reasons why we stayed. But I think
Reed Stevens spoke for us all – we are indeed comfortable here. Sheila and husband, Jimmy Sowder, have lived at Rose Valley RV Ranch in Silver City for four years following five years of wandering the US from Maine to California. She can be contacted at sksowder@aol. com.
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