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Snowbirds, Geese and their Spring Exodus back to reality.
The real sign of Spring for Southerners.
It's something that happens every Spring for those of us living in the Deep South; this massive movement of temporary winder residents back to their homes up North.
Oh, I understand that there is an official day on all of our calendars that signifies the first day of Spring.
And, I understand that there is an internal sensor system used by birds that tells them it is time to migrate back to their Summer nesting sites in the northern parts of this planet of ours.
But, those of us who live in the deep southern states, like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and others have yet another tried and true indication of when Spring actually starts.
Our signal of the change is the Great Exodus of tourists and Campers back to their northern abodes.
Campers on the Road
The Great Exodus of Snowbird Tourists and Campers.
The tourists I mention are not the weekly or bi-weekly people who slip down to our warmer climes for a brief respite from the cold weather they are experiencing back home.
No, I'm talking about those seasonal tourists who rent condos and apartments for three or more months and lie by their pools each afternoon; generally either reading that book they always wanted to get to, or talking on their cell phones to their less fortunate friends still suffering through the cold back home.
And the Campers?
Well, these tourists have a little more money invested in their RV than the occasional tourist in the Condo, but they paid this extra money to have a little piece of their home with them wherever they go.
They do tend to stay longer than the regular tourists, but eventually even they have to return to their northern homes. Especially the Canadians.
In case you didn't know it, Canadian tourists are only allowed to be out of their country for a maximum total of six months a year.
From what I have been told, the penalties for being out of the country too long, are stiff and quite expensive, so these savvy travelers make sure that they are in compliance with their country's laws.
In fact, the eventual evolution of traveling Canadians is to arrive in their campground in September/October and return to their Canadian homes before their six month limit is hit and that usually means being on the road in April/May.
There is a even another group of Snowbirds, and these include those who come south and purchase a nice house, generally in a retirement community.
Those Canadians, who have the same time limit on their out-of-country travels as their camper counterparts.
Of course US citizens usually take a little more time to leave and are not part of this Spring surge of travelers.
GARMIN GPS for Campers
That Look, that Far Away Look.
Being a year-round resident in Florida, I have to mention the strange look that Snowbirds get as Spring nears for them.
A movie director will work with their actors for hours to get them to display a certain expression on their face that reflects their internal emotions to the camera.
Well, just like these actors, Snowbirds slowly begin exhibiting a special look in their eyes.
Oh, it's not a look of Fear, or Anger, or other such strong emotion. No, rather it's a look of consternation.
You see, once they recognize that their remaining days in their Winter paradise are numbered and quickly coming to an end, they develop a desire to fill every moment with activity.
There's no longer time for a nice afternoon nap.
No longer is there time for sitting alone on their Lanai sipping on a cold Margarita and enjoying the warm tropical breezes.
And, they realize there are only a few days left to curl their toes in the sun-warmed white sands of the beaches.
No, they realize that their homes, responsibilities and friends up North are calling them back. .
So, they start gathering in groups, and planning that last party at the clubhouse bar or the nearest Tiki Bar.
And, they get together to travel over to that golf course they have meant to play all Winter but just didn't get to.
And eventually, they dress up and go to the farewell dance/party at the clubhouse where they say their fond farewells to their fellow Snowbirds, until next year.
And, inevitably, finally, they start planning that long return trip to their northern homes and away from their Winter Paradise..
SNAP! They're Gone
It happens that fast, like a snap of the fingers.
One day, you, an actual resident of Paradise, are heading to the store or Doctor, cursing the traffic, the waiting time at the local Doctor's office, the cashier lines at the supermarkets, and all of those other lines at all of those other places that we locals use year round and the Snowbirds take advantage of when they visit us.
This is especially true of the Canadians. As you know they have a Socialized Medical system. I know, because I have to listen to them brag about it everywhere I go.
The interesting thing about their system is, to me, what I see them doing while they are down here in my Paradise.
To me, if the size of the crowds of Canadians taking advantage of our US medical facilities in the Winter is any indication, then their system is not such a great example of socialized medicine.
They choke our Doctors offices with appointments for things that you would think they should get treated while at home.
But that is for another article in the future.
The last sure signs of the imminent departure of Snowbirds are the crowds at the department stores as they stock up on gifts and new clothes..
The Last Shopping Trip.
You see, just before they leave Paradise, they go shopping.
There will be no; Mall, Department store, Curio Shop, or especially Outlet Mall safe from the sharp bargain-scanning eyes of the Snowbirds.
Where the typical shopper might spend $100 on a normal day of shopping the Snowbirds will now walk in with their long lists and rolls of $110 bills.
Their lists are of gifts to take home. Gifts of Beach T-Shirts, Cargo Shorts, ladies short and top outfits, designer shoes, name brand sporting goods of all types, and those myriad requests from their friends and relatives.
And of course there are those special things that they want to wear in front of their friends to indicate that they were in Florida, or wherever, for the winter.
When they finally pull their two or three overflowing shopping carts up to a cashier, you know that they will take more time to check out.
They will be flashing their coupons, special credit cards and such, and of course having the items rung up and bagged 2-3 pieces at a time, depending who they are purchased for.
When we residents drive by and see these packed parking lots, we groan, but we also smile.
You see, this is the the sign. The sign that we year-round residents have been waiting for. We now know that the annual "Time of the Snowbird" is ending, yet again.
And we will have a summer of peace and and time to be true residents of Paradise, without advice on how to change everything, complaints about our stores, and restaurants, and loud bloated visitors just, well, just disturbing things.
You see we know that they are now going to be "On the Road"
Door Mount Towing Mirror
The Parade on the Interstate Highways
It is a parade, by the way,
if you take the time to look closely, this gorging of our Interstate highways with the tens of thousands of Campers, Cars, Trucks and even Motorcycles, as they begin their push home.
Geese and other birds are more intelligent, and have it a lot easier as they migrate.
They instinctively know that they have to line up and work together in their return trip to the north. They know instinctively that they to stop and rest and eat and refresh themselves as they perform their migration.
They know that they will eventually get to their destination, and they essentially enjoy their trip, the new sights, the spring plants and grains growing by the abundant ponds, the fresh water to drink as they prepare for the next hop of their journey.
Campers heading Home
The Insanity of the Race home for Snowbirds.
Snowbirds, especially the Campers, have quite a different attitude.
To them, its every man for himself, and it turns into a personal challenge to; get around that other camper in front of them.
They just have to get that parking space at the rest area that is closest to the building, so they can get to the urinal or toilet, twenty seconds before the other slower walking travelers. Make them wait, Ha Ha!
To them, it is an all-out race, every minute, and they all want to win, by having bragging rights for the fastest trip home. You know, I made it from Tampa to Quebec in 32.57 hours! My personal best!, HA!
You see such stupid things happening on the northbound roads. For instance have you ever gotten behind an under-powered pickup truck pulling a fifth-wheel camper driving right beside another under-powered truck pulling a tag-along camper.
The one in the left lane is running wide open but he just can't get around the other truck, and the other truck is also running wide open but refuses to back off. It's the race thing you see.
So you and a few hundred other drivers stack up behind them for mile after mile as they play their little power game with each other.
This is part of your entertainment when the Great Exodus starts.
The rest of the world stacks up behind the Snowbirds as they exercise their personal indifference to everything but the race.
And then, it happens;
Someone runs out of gas, or someone has a flat tire, or some other calamity occurs along the road like a drowsy driver and running off of the edge of the road.
He recovers, maybe, but stops on the side of the road to inspect his vehicle for damage and just decides it is a good time for a little snack, sitting there, on the side of the Interstate highway,
If you travel on the open road very often then you you know what a Rubber-Necker happens to be.
Anything strange brings out the "Rubber-Neckers" on the road.
These strange animals are just your average drivers who let off of their gas pedal whenever they see something on the side of the road.
S, this one minute of slowing down by one driver this starts a chain reaction. The first Rubber-Necker slows down by just 10-mph, maybe, but the person behind him must also slow down. and the one behind him, ahd the one behind him. This goes on for dozens of cars.
By the time the first Rubber-Necker has stepped on the gas and accelerated back to speed once again, he doesn't see the hundreds of cars that are now barely moving on the highway, he is happily driving along, at the speed limit, in front of the chaos they have started..
Even if there are luckily no actual accidents caused by the sudden slowdown in traffic, there are now hundreds of vehicles that must go through the deceleration/acceleration process for miles until traffic normalizes.
One guy, has caused hundreds of others to react to his one act of stupidity, and they are all now trying to make up for their own lost time in the great Exodus home.
No Shirt No Shoes No problem
You can't stop the Exodus, so you just live with it.
That;s the thing about this strange winter/spring phenomena.
We are a free country, and we can all go where we desire, if we can afford it.
The natural fact is, more people want to be warm and enjoy the Sun and Beaches of the South than there are people who want to freeze their butts of in the colder reaches of the North.
OK, I know, there are people who love to ski, who love to hike winter trails, who just flat love the beauty of a snow-covered hillside.
But, my friend, there are so, so, many more who love to wear short pants and t-shirts every day and sit at Tiki Bars and sip on a cold beer as they watch the sunsets over their favorite bay.
Me? I'm sitting here wondering if I should go over to the Tiki Bar at Tarpon Point, sit at the now uncrowded bar, ordering a pint of Yeungling Beer and a hot Cuban sandwich.
Then I can sit back, in the setting Sun, and listen to the little trio over in the corner as they play some bad renditions of Jimmy Buffet music.
They kinda Suck, but that's alright, if you're in the right mood, and the Snowbirds are gone.
Frustrated Floridian and Snowbird commentary.
© 2014 Don Bobbitt