Scottsdale Journal Neighborly Advice to the Palins: In Arizona, the Sun Burns

And while she’s at it, the former governor of Alaska might want to steer clear of rattlesnakes, especially the green Mojave variety. And be on the lookout for cactus rustlers who occasionally make off with saguaros, the towering, multi-armed Arizona icons that sell for $100 a foot.

Moving from the tundra to the desert will be a dramatic change for the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential nominee, who this week confirmed that she had purchased a $1.7 million property in this remote and exclusive community of ranch homes — real ranch homes — on the outskirts of Phoenix. So her new neighbors have plenty of advice for her.

“There’s snakes, so I’d tell her not to mess with them,” said Monica Rahman, who raises horses across a dirt road from Ms. Palin’s new home. “They’re dangerous snakes.”

Others warned of the scorpions that sometimes come to visit indoors, the coyotes that howl all night and the odd-looking javelina that have been residents of this patch of the Sonoran Desert since long before it became an exclusive refuge for humans seeking to commune, in style, with nature.

Although the multiacre properties here in north Scottsdale are fenced off and private, there is a close-knit community of horse lovers and outdoors people, Ms. Palin’s neighbors say. They wear cowboy boots and hats, not for fashion but because the boots fit in the stirrups and the hats keep the sun out of their eyes.

Those snow machines that Ms. Palin’s husband, Todd, races in Alaska will be useless here, residents said, suggesting that he trade them in for a thoroughbred or a good mountain bike.

Ron Craver, the manager at MacDonald’s Ranch, down the road, said he cares not at all about Ms. Palin’s politics. Mr. Craver, a former rodeo clown and trail guide, has met many political figures over the years and considers them just regular folks. He took former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter and grandchildren horseback riding in Wyoming and met three former presidents (Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes) while he was on the rodeo circuit. “She can come on over for a horseback ride anytime,” he said of Ms. Palin.

Despite its rustic flair, there is nothing ordinary about Ms. Palin’s new neighborhood, one of the most elite in the Phoenix area and a place that some refer to derisively as “Snobsdale.”

“Scottsdale is a unique combination of cowboy country, open spaces, sophistication, snobbery, resorts, arts, golf, spring training and plastic surgery,” said Jason Rose, a public relations executive who works here.

Its downtown is lined with art galleries and fashionable restaurants, and Scottsdale hosts an Arabian horse show and antique car auction every year. It calls itself “the West’s most Western town,” albeit one with far more Mercedes sedans than mustangs.

“I think she’ll be left alone,” said Sandi Shea, who works near the new Palin home at a nursery that sells cactuses and other desert plants to residents who want to add even more flair to the stunning landscape. “We have a lot of celebrities here, and we live our lives and we let them live theirs.”

Her advice to Ms. Palin is that she drink a lot of water, but not to water the cactuses on her property too much. “Nature takes care of it,” she said.

Ms. Palin is no newcomer to the area, having made regular trips to give speeches and sign books. It was in Phoenix that Senator John McCain conceded his failed bid for the presidency in 2008, with Ms. Palin at his side.

Although Ms. Palin elicits the same range of opinions here — from excitement to exasperation — as elsewhere in the country, Arizona is a Republican stronghold, and analysts said it made sense for her to use it as a political base.

Whether she intends to make a run for the presidency, vie for the Senate seat that will be up for grabs next year upon Senator Jon Kyl’s retirement or forgo politics and maintain her lucrative role as a commentator remains a closely guarded secret.

Jennifer Johnson, the Arizona Democratic Party’s spokeswoman, offered some advice to Ms. Palin. “In Arizona, you’ll find good neighbors, great locally owned businesses and stunning natural wonders,” she said. “You won’t, however, find any successful presidential candidates.”

Logistically, there is a small airport a short drive away, and the expansive six-bedroom home (which has a six-car garage and a large swimming pool and sits on 4.4 acres) has plenty of space for a television studio like the one she has at her place in Alaska. Ms. Palin’s daughter Bristol has a home about an hour away in the city of Maricopa.

The Palins bought the Scottsdale home on May 13 through Safari Investments, a limited liability company that was set up the day before, to shield the transaction from the public.

But now that the word is out, news helicopters are flying overhead and reporters are staking out the property. Ms. Rahman said the commotion was scaring her horses. “I’m excited to have a new neighbor, because that house has been vacant for a long time,” said Ms. Rahman, who plans to bring cookies to the Palins. “The only thing is, I want my neighborhood to stay as calm as it’s always been.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/27/us/27scottsdale.html