Page 22 - CSANews 81

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As a veteran travel writer,
I’ve had
more than my fair share of adven-
tures – I’ve sailed a Medieval vessel
(
CSANews
#39), piloted a Wright Flyer
(
CSANews
#49) and driven a Roman
chariot (
CSANews
#69) – but nothing can
compare with the fun and excitement I
experienced last winter when Kathy and
I accidentally became not only full-time
winter snowbirds, but Florida homeown-
ers to boot!
It began in August, when I was puttering
around in the garden and my neigh-
bours George and Arlene wandered over
for a visit.
What are you doing next winter,”
they
asked.
“The usual,”
I said,
“writing about Florida
and, of course, heading down to Lakeland
for a fewweeks to be at the Snowbird
Extravaganza.”
“Why don’t you come and rent a mobile
home in our park,”
they suggested.
“You
can always write from there and there’s
so much social activity for you and Kathy
to enjoy…and no snow to shovel.”
And
before I knew it, Kathy and Arlene had
arranged a three-month rental of a
double-width manufactured home
in Woodbrook Estates, just south of
Extravaganza’s home base, the
Lakeland
Center
.
Now after 49 years of marriage, I know
when to “go with the fow” so I turned
my hand to the practical matters
of how to transfer three months of
household goods and one “indoor” cat
to an unknown Florida base. Unlike my
freelance journalist friends who can jam
a few things into a backpack and take of
for six months to remote destinations,
I’m an author and like to travel in
comfort – I need my essentials such as
electric blanket, four computers and
juice blender.
So of to Home Depot I went to purchase
a small trailer. I then built a large wooden
box to ft the trailer bed and take all the
bits and pieces which we would need
to survive a southern winter. Finally,
all of our regular household bills were
converted to electronic invoices so that
we could receive them via e-mail and
pay through our bank’s Internet service.
Sweating through all of this advance
planning, I concluded that regular
long-term snowbirds must be a very
intelligent lot!
We set of in late December. Tammy
the Cat was on board in a cage high up
on the back seat so that she could see
the road ahead between us. Although
pampered with a frst-class view, soft
cushions and a 12-volt warming pad,
she didn’t take to travel very well but
was able to survive on more than her
fair share of treats. Oh, and it only took
three hours to fnd her when she went
missing in our small motel room in Ohio.
Cunningly, she had hidden herself inside
the bed’s box base…but again, treats
were her undoing.
We fnally arrived in Lakeland after four
nights on the road. On frst look, our
rented Florida home looked wonderful
with a huge bedroom, large screened
Florida room and attached tool shed.
The kitchen was “Kathy approved”
and the sunny living room has a huge
fat-screen TV. A smaller screened Florida
room attached to the living room
became my ofce. A second bedroom
and two bathrooms completed the
picture.
And wow, what a lifestyle. Constant
rounds of cocktail hours, potluck sup-
pers, bingo nights, shufeboard tourna-
ments and dances were broken up with
morning snowbird get-togethers (I had
no idea that you could get a Bloody
Mary so early in the day!). Chatting with
folks around the heated swimming pool
and in the warm spa, it was amazing how
many people knew people we knew – it
certainly is a small world.
How I Accidentally Became a Snowbird
and Acquired a Florida Home!
Travel writer Dave Hunter and his wife Kathy discover the snowbird lifestyle.
Snowbird
profle
Dave, Kathy and Tammy the Cat arrive in Florida