Winter Vacation - Where wouldn't You go?

The Frozen St. Lawrence River on the first day of Spring 2014, showing snowmobile tracks from Canada to Akwesasne.
The Frozen St. Lawrence River on the first day of Spring 2014, showing snowmobile tracks from Canada to Akwesasne. | Source

Welcome to the First Day of Spring

This winter changed our minds about holidays; it changed mine especially. Up until now I’ve never understood why Canadians fly, drive and sail south during the winter months.

Canadian winters are fascinating and helpful. In what other country can you phone your employer and explain that you won’t be at work - because you can’t drive out of your driveway due of snow or because you can’t see the driveway because of snow, or more likely, you can’t find you car because of snow.

Up until this winter, we sneered at the ‘snowbirds’ who escape to Florida or Mexico for all 6 of the winter months. Or we’d turn our noses up at the families who go on cruises south of the equator. This winter for instance, we have practically been alone in our neighbourhood. Across the street from us, the family went to Florida and also had a cruise in the Pacific. The neighbours to our right decided on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, and the ones on our left are in Mexico until April. And the couple four doors way are still on vacation and won’t be back until April.

Us? Between looking after four homes, we revel in winter’s erratic weather changes. We wake up every morning in excited anticipation of what the wind chill factor will be, and whether this will be the day we have heart attacks from shovelling snow – and where to put the damned stuff.

Up until this winter, we consoled ourselves by thinking what spring will be like – but this year the seasons have taken up different dates. With the St Lawrence River still frozen solid on the first day of spring, and the Great Lakes still 82% frozen, and the bordering States and Provinces admitting that they don’t have the ice beakers to do the job, spring will be the 2 weeks of floods, slush and mud before the first day of summer on June 21st.

This winter convinced us that it is time to become ‘Snowbirds.’ Next winter, we will travel……but to where?


A Canadian car, rarin' to go on the first day of Spring, 2014
A Canadian car, rarin' to go on the first day of Spring, 2014 | Source

Where wouldn't you go?

A dear friend in Central America suggested we spend next winter at his home on the beach. We welcomed that idea, and immediately began to daydream of sunshine and sand. He cautioned us about his two Rottweilers and two Dobermans, in case we were allergic. We reminded him that we were also dog lovers and the dogs would not be an obstacle.

He went on to explain that three of the dogs were left outside every night, but a Rottweiler – the most vicious one – was kept indoors.

“In case it attacks someone?” I suggested.

“Dear goodness, no!” our friend explained. “Sometimes the dogs that patrol outside get poisoned; the vicious one is the final protection, and of course I have the handgun under my pillow. When can you come down? I’m so looking forward to seeing you both again.”

We didn’t break the news to him straight away, that unless he came up to Canada – minus canines and firearms – it was going to be a long time before he saw us again.

My wife has always wanted to see the Taj Mahal, but after the most recent gang rape there, she’s had a change of heart. I’ve always wanted to see the Pyramids, but not during the present political turmoil. The decision was going to be difficult, so we retired to the local tavern to discuss our destination.

We each took a notebook and pen with us and sat down with a beer. We discounted all the countries that were having military conflict, which left out Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Crimea and half of Africa. Then we scored off the countries where the police and citizens seemed to have regular standoffs, and all the nations where murdering tourists seemed to be a favourite hobby.

We were mulling over this list when a friend sat down beside us and asked what we were doing. When we explained, he called over to some other of his friends for their opinions. Within minutes the whole tavern was involved. Some of the answers surprised us.

“Don’t go to London – the one in England, I mean,” a voice called out. “They behead policemen there.”

“And miss out Mexico; they murder tourists on a weekly basis.” Another voice called out.

“As well as America; they all have guns and have you seen those real-life Cop programmes on TV? They shoot people for the sake of shooting people.”

"And Greece has standoffs.” The opinions came thick and drunk, until we couldn’t write fast enough. It was becoming depressing, and we were beginning to wonder if Tristan de Cunha had any beaches, when the barmaid intervened.

“Shut up,” she shouted as she banged the bottom of a tray, “enough of this dismal crap.” She pointed at us, “You two are being too picky.” she said, “people can get murdered anywhere. Just because two tourists are assassinated in a country of 58 million people, doesn’t mean the whole population are into killing off tourists. Hell, if you stay here you get murdered tomorrow – in fact,” she warned as she looked at me, “If you don’t cut this discussion off right now, something else might get cut off.” I winced, tightened my groin - and shut up.


Would a crystal World help?
Would a crystal World help? | Source

Where in the World?

The following day I became even more confused about holiday destinations. I’d logged onto eBay to do some research, when I came across an eBay dealer who shipped ‘Worldwide’. The dealer even shipped to Canada which I thought was very magnanimous of them.

However, the ‘Ships Worldwide’ description excluded all of these countries – some of which I have never, ever, ever heard of……

Africa, Middle East, South America (There’s half the world gone already), Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan Republic, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Korea South, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rica, Saint Kits-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, American Samoa, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshal Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Fortuna, Western Samoa, Bermuda, Mexico, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Estonia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Italy, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Svalbard and Jan Mayen.

Pardon me for being obtuse, but it wouldn’t it be easier for the dealer to state that they only ship to the next village?

Where wouldn’t you go on vacation?

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14 comments

lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Hmmm. If money was no object I'd go to Hawaii or Australia.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Australia does sound nice but there are many places in America you see no guns. Come south, but not too near the border, lol. Well the president was there though and he said it was safe enough.

Where I wouldn't go would be Alaska! brrr.....

I think everyone is sick of this winter! Spring will be my way soon though. 70s! yah!


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

lambservant: No contest there, lambservant, in fact I might meet you there. thanks for stopping by and commenting.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Jackie Lynnley: Nice to see you Jack, and thanks for the idea. I wouldn't go to Alaska either. I'm just about drooling at the mouth just now with cabin fever, and that's only with the same snow since November. God knows what it must be like with perpetual snow and ice.


Say Yes To Life profile image

Say Yes To Life 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaii has a low crime rate.


JessBraz profile image

JessBraz 2 years ago from Canada

Another great hub, John!

As I write this, I'm sitting with my warm cup of Timmies, looking outside.. It's looks so sunny and warm, but it's still -9 outside... Certainly warmer than it has been all winter.. but still.. It's March.. And it's still -9!!!! Urgh. I guess this has been the coldest winter in our area in 20 years. This is what it was like every year when I was a kid.. Makes me wonder how on Earth I survived walking to school everyday in this mess..

I loved the part about how it's perfectly acceptable to call your employer and tell them there's too much snow to come in to work.. I used a couple of sick days this winter for that exact reason. :)

My fiance and I usually take 1 or 2 week holiday every winter, just around this time (last year Mexico, year before Dominican.. Florida two years in a row) but alas, neither one of were able to get approved holidays at work this year... Not having that winter trip made the winter feel that much longer... I think Costa Rica would be a lovely place to visit one winter. :)

Last point: I have always felt that those Canadians who take off for the entire winter are, hmmm.. how shall I phrase this? Wimps. ?? Yeah, wimps is the word I'm looking for. YOU'RE CANADIAN!! IT' GETS COLD HERE!! Deal with it. lol. Being able to suck it up and still carry on when Mother Nature just dropped 20 feet of snow on you is part of what makes Canadians so great.... I think people who take off for the entire winter are fairweather Canadians.. A True Canadian sticks it out... That being said, I'm not retired (37 more working years to go!) and I can still tolerate the cold.. Maybe when I'm a bit older I'll change my mind.

Awesome hub. Voted up!


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Say Yes To Life: I believe you SYTL, and Hawaii seems like heaven on Earth - I've been there once. Hawaii that is, not heaven. Appreciate the visit and comment.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello John, These are some tough choices. It did rain for 30 minutes in Southern California yesterday between the hours of 3:30 am and 4 am. It is 70 degrees this evening. Wish I could think of someplace you and your family could go to escape the Canadian winter. Let me think about it. Now, where did I put my sandals?


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

JessBraz: I appreciate your visit and comment, Jess. I remember winters like this in Scotland during the '40's - yes, that's right the 1940's. As I recall they used to talk then about it being the end of a mini-ice age. But...I certainly can't remember any winter lasting this long. Back in the auld country the winters aren't so much cold as wet and damp, and quite honestly I prefer the cold over here, rather than the shivering damp over there.

The cold in Canada is cold and the sun shines - who ever heard of such a thing? Sunshine in winter is almost as impossible as rivers freezing over, or light switches switching up for 'on'. But one of the most amazing things in Canada is a double, double; I don't know how I ever survived without Timmies. When Cabin fever strikes ( every day) we have to find a reason to go into town, and sample a Timmies.

When it comes to vacations, I find that being in Canada in winter is a vacation - true, I've only been here for 13 years, but I find the country and the weather exhilarating.

One of our neighbours returned from a two month trip to Florida last month - expecting to find the river thawing out - last week they couldn't take it any more, and returned to Florida. I think we have to phone them when the snow has gone, which should be around August.

Take care young lass, and enjoy that Timmies.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

mckbirdbks: Very droll Mike. It won't be long until spring arrives. We saw a Robin three days ago; it was sitting up on a branch, looking around in bewilderment. You could almost hear it thinking "What the f***, how am I supposed to find worms in this?"

The Canada Geese have had more sense; we haven't seen a single one this year. Thanks for popping in Mike. I hope you manage to find your sandals in that tropical heat.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

I have only become aware of the Canadian winters since joining Hubpages. Each winter the Canadaian writers would begin the coldest, cavernous depths of writing I ever read. The mood changes for the whole country. Of course you all get the last laugh when it is 112 degrees here in the desert. Hope all is well.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Mckbirdbks: We live on the bank of the St. Lawrence - on the wrong side of the road, literally. Rural Route # 1 is between us and the expensive homes ON the river bank. When I first arrived, my new wife said something about the river freezing; as the St. Lawrence is one of the largest and swiftest rivers in North America, I assumed she meant the small creek just up the road.

I refused to believe she meant the St. Lawrence - until it happened. All summer, people played on the river, canoeing, fishing, water skiing etc. In winter people still fish, but they drive skidoos, and have fairs on the ice. It's a revelation at first.

And talking of moods, Mike. Today we were in town and I could feel an excitement in the air, in the way people greeted us, and in the way bank tellers reacted. The snow is so deep and so iced over that Christmas lights are still outside (as is ours), and gardens still have Santa Clauses and lots of Manger scenes are unable to be dismantled, but there is a definite uplift of spirits today. Tonight we are supposed to have freezing rain, but tomorrow it is going to rain all day - that is when the flooding begins. At least it isn't boring. Take care and slap on that sunscreen.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

On the flip side of all that sunshine is the 5.4 earthquake which rocked my house this evening. Made the dogs very nervous.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

mckbirdbks: Your earthquake reminds me of the winter I popped into a corner store in a local village. The lady who owned the store was American, from the deep south. When I asked her 'What the hell are you doing shivering to death up here when you could be enjoying the sunshine?"

She had a one word answer - "Hurricanes!"

I suppose we all have our cross to bear - ours is cold and yours is hot and shakes a lot.

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