JP and Duane SmithJP and Duane agreed to tell me their story when we met in Cabo San Lucas where they chose to celebrate their 50th anniversary. I took copious notes and intended to write an article when I got home. We stayed in touch, and through emails, Duane actually wrote the article himself much better than I could have.

And I think you'll agree that JP's photos are stunning!

So, where do a US military colonel and his wife who have lived all over the US and abroad choose to retire?

Listen while they share why they decided to retire in Sierra Vista.

Why We Decided to Retire
in Sierra Vista, Arizona

by Duane Smith
photos by JP Smith

teach my granddaughter to ride by JP SmithAudrey. You inquired about what I do with my days. When we decided to retire to Sierra Vista, we checked our list of conditions. Our conditions were that JP be able to ride when and where she wanted and that I be able to play tennis when I pleased. This area is conducive to both activities. However, I have cut back on competitive tennis for the past three years. I do work with the grand kids and their tennis.

deer by JP SmithHowever, I mostly knock around our four acres, do some personal writing, read a good deal, follow politics closely and follow the Islamo-terrorist movement. I do walk 30 to 45 minutes per day and bike for short distances.

Other items of info about the Sierra Vista area

Temperatures run about 10 to 15 degrees less than Phoenix and 5 to 10 degrees less than Tucson.

jackrabbit by JP Smith

More species of animals inhabit our San Pedro River Valley than any other area in the world with the exception of the Costa Rican Rain Forest.

roadrunner by JP SmithSierra Vista is the hummingbird capital of the world.

The River itself, which would be called a creek in most parts of the U.S., supports approximately 400 species of birds. Two hundred species remain in the area year-round. Two hundred migrate through the area annually. Bird watching is an "industry" here.

Kartchner Caverns State Park is approximately 25 miles north of Sierra Vista. This is a magnificent underground wonder that has risen to an elite status among the state's tourist attractions. The caves were kept secret for decades while the State Parks Department worked to protect the pristine world of stalagmites and stalactites before opening them to the public. There are living caves maintained behind an elaborate air-lock system.

Other nearby tourist attractions are Tombstone, Bisbee and the Chiricahua National Monument.

Huachuaca mountains by JP Smith

The Huachuca Mountains offer hiking and riding, or we can just sit and look at them.

Huachuca is the Indian word for "Thunder Mountain". When the summer monsoons arrive, a person has no doubt as to why the name. Fort Huachuca sits right at the base of the Huachuca Mountains which include Miller (9,500') and Carr (9,400') Peaks.

Fort Huachuca is the U.S. Army Intelligence Center. Approximately 12,000 military and civilians are employed there, and it is the primary industry in this area. It is an attraction because of its history and picturesque location. It has a superb museum.

The Fort was established in 1877. Soldiers at the Fort, which included the Buffalo Soldiers, escorted wagon trains and attempted to keep the Apaches from random attacks. Senior officers' quarters on Post were built in the 1890's and early 1900's. They are opened to the public during the Christmas period.

The Post's museum complex traces the Army's history from the Buffalo Soldiers to the modern technology and gadgets used in today's military intelligence gathering effort. The Post is home to a symbolic Cav Troop which rides at Post change of command ceremonies and civic events.

©Duane Smith 2007 Used by permission
Clearly JP and Duane Smith, are happy they decided to retire in Sierra Vista, Arizona. What about you? If you think you have the best place to retire, please share.