Snow-Bird Adventure – Take 2

I started our first snowbird adventure a bit shaky – feeling like it was not “working”. But by week 4, I found a groove and it was really hard to head back north. I started to have some good connections with people, we were in a good rhythm of busy days and down days, and the weather was getting better week-by-week.   Just as things seemed to fall into place, we were heading north to freezing temperatures (literally), snow, and gray skies. But I had moved lots of things into early March – theater tickets, doctor appointments, tax preparation – and so the northbound trip had to happen.

So what changed to make it “work”?

  • I took it more one-day at a time. Some days were busy; some days were quieter.   And I was just grateful for whatever the day brought – a breezy beach walk, a foggy morning, finding a neat shark tooth while shelling, or just a quiet at-home dinner.
  • I consciously tried to ignore those who indicated that our two-month snowbird was somehow wrong (i.e. not long enough). This mindset shift was thanks to many of my blogging buddies who commented on this element in my first post.
  • The effort I put into connections in January did pay out in February. We received a couple of invitations from others to do things!   And I also realized that I just needed to plan things that I enjoyed and put out invitations. Some of the fun things I did: the shuffleboard club (twice – it’s a big deal in St. Petersburg), multiple museums, a local theater production, multiple festivals, a couple of food tours, seeing Carol Burnett, and a number of new restaurants.
  • When it was just the 2 of us, we had fun doing some jigsaw puzzles and shopping at boutique foodie stores, as well as heading out on some mini-adventures with just us. I did beach yoga 3-days a week, found a local massage therapist, and biked quite a bit. And I spent some good reading time at the beach or on the porch with lots & of books read! 

I realized that I am living my days as I envisioned: lots of time outdoors, being active almost every day (beach yoga, beach walks, biking, walking my dog), cooking dinners (new recipes, fresh fish!) or eating out (restaurants I love and new ones, too), wine with friends, mini-adventures, and playing with words (blogging, crosswords, reading).  I was excited to see that I added over 30 new things to my 101 New and/or Fun Things for 2019 list. And I am hoping I can sustain this as we are back up north.   I’ve thought in the past that I like my daily routines in Florida more than in Ohio…and yet I push back against moving there full time. (But that’s another full blog post!)

So, next year, I’m thinking a 3-month snowbird adventure…heading home to 30F from 80F was tough!  And, I’ve been told, the planning gets easier every time. 

Picture Credit: Me – wine and a sunset

35 thoughts on “Snow-Bird Adventure – Take 2

    1. I had to laugh at your “I never go south with a plan”. I never do anything without a plan! And yes, today Ohio was lovely – 65 and sunny. It won’t last (tomorrow is rain and 50), but it does feel like spring is on its way!

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  1. We call snowbirds “grey nomads” in Western Australia – they all take their caravans and head up North as soon as Winter starts to kick in. I think your snowbirding sounds pretty good and just what I envisage retirement to be. As I embark on the beginning of not having a job, it sounds pretty perfect to me – I could get used to each item you added in your bullet points!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

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    1. Leanne – I’d never heard the term grey nomads. I had to laugh at the “caravans” term as well. It’s not uncommon here as well. On our drive back, we passed a lot of recreational vehicles (that’s the term here) also coming back… those on the 2-month plan. We’ve already learned not to travel on March 31 or April 1…. that is when the bulk of people are driving back! I’m also trying to keep some of the things I learned going even as I come back to “regular life”.

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  2. Hi Pat, I didn’t know what a Snow-Bird Adventure was until I read about yours. Isn’t it funny how we worry what other people think? If two months was enough for you then it was right for you. You did seem to embrace the whole idea and I’m impressed with all the new things you tried. Thank you for sharing at #MLSTL and I’ve shared on social media. I suppose you are now looking at next year’s adventure!

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    1. Sue, I’ve already got a couple of ideas for next winter…but we are also planning a visit this spring. My favorite seasons there are actually spring and fall because the weather is amazing for outdoor activities. And I have a 101 New and/or Fun Things target for 2019…. and so much of what we did there was new. Now I’m wondering how to keep that new things fun going back here at home!

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      1. Sounds like you love it there Pat! My favourite seasons are also Spring and Autumn as Summer in Brisbane is hot and humid although Winters are pretty mild. I admire your target of 101 New and/or Fun things. I think I would be hard pressed to find that many at the moment! You have me thinking though!

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  3. I think your snow bird adventure sounds marvelous. I don’t think there is a “right way” to be a snowbird. Getting outside, reading, having nice dinners- it all sounds good to me! We’re trying to decide if this is something we will do when my husband retires- we have one more winter to decide. I suspect everyone has to experiment a bit to see how it will work best for them.

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    1. Michele, I agree with the experimenting a bit. And many people do start like us with shorter time and then it grows. There’s been a learning curve for me, and also the fear of missing out on things back “at home” so I am really not sure where we might balance out. Time will tell!

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  4. Hi Pat,
    I am enjoying my “snowbirding” but we jumped in with both feet; husband has arthritis and just feels better when the weather is warm. So, it’s 6 months in FL for us each winter from now on.
    Yes, there were some adjustments. But I have to say the ability to be outdoors and active each day is welcome and invigorating. And we are steadily meeting new folks and connecting with like-minded people.
    We unexpectedly spent some time in MI and were quickly reminded of what winter really felt like and that we don’t really like it.
    I do miss our kids, but we have had some of them visit and are in contact regularly with them. Truthfully, they are so busy we would not see them that frequently even if we were closer those 6 months.

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  5. I’m not surprised at all that you become more and more comfortable with your snow bird status as time went on. Because you are so open to new connections and adventures, they are bound to come your way. I love that you are planning to extend your stay next year; that’s really a good indication that you are onto a good thing. I imagine It was hard to travel back, knowing that you were headed for gray skies and freezing temps.

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    1. Janis, It was a tough re-entry for sure! Not only gray skies and freezing temps, but tax paperwork. Ugh! But spring is coming… I keep telling myself that. I love getting out into the garden and puttering, taking walks to look at spring flowers. So hopeful that waking up to 34 and gray will cease very shortly.

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  6. Pat, I really appreciate your blogs about snow birding. You are a year or two ahead of us so I’m learning from you. At this point we aren’t leaning toward buying but who knows. My husband loved the heat and daily beach sitting of Miami while I hated it. I did like the blue skies but the gray Cinci ones don’t bother me. I went to the beach twice over the 4 wks we were there when I realized why am I torturing myself sitting in the sun and sweating while trying to read or knit?? I could much more comfortably sit on our shady balcony at the condo. I found a lovely knitting group and yoga at the Y so I had one “social” activity three days a week – not nearly enough!! I DETEST the traffic. Hubby is already trying to arrange a 9 wks stay next year while I’m trying to convince him to go alone!! I may be taking Allegient flights back to Cincinnati!!

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    1. You do need to figure out what you love and look for it. Hubby loves the heat and the sun. I burn in the sun, so we have multiple types of shade things (umbrellas, tarps) that we put up (different ones depending on winds) when we go to the beach for me to sit under. But I love sitting at beach reading…or simply staring at the waves with my feet in the sand. So I slather on the sunscreen and read a lot!

      Also, you might explore different parts of Florida over the next couple of years…they have different feels. We are on a barrier island on the Gulf Coast, and while we complain about the traffic, that means it takes us 35 minutes to get to downtown St Petersburg instead of 25 minutes. Not that we go there often… everything we really need is walking or biking distance!

      And keep looking for those groups…. I found a couple of yoga places now (did it 3 times a week this past trip) and started to have friends to do things with. In St Petersburg, every museum has a say open late cheap night, so we did that a few times (different museums) and we played tourist (Groupon was great to find things) and we did multiple festivals (seemed like one or 2 every weekend!). It’s a matter of looking…. this was the first time I really pushed at that and it took me over 4 weeks to get it into motion. All or other trips were only 4 weeks long, so this was neat to see. I have a “date” next winter already because another snowbird & I never got to our “bike to the bakery” plan. 🙂 And now know of a book-club I can tap into for the time I’m there. A snowbird friend taps into a weekly golf-group via Meet-up when she’s there for her 3 months. I encourage you to keep looking for what you love to do.

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  7. Hi Pat! Sounds like you’ve managed to do many great things during first “snow bird” experience. And yes, next year you can do more if you want now that you know how it goes and that you like the place you picked. We do the opposite as you…we are “sun birds” meaning we go where it is cooler in the summer (rather than the winter) and the most we’ve ever done in one place is 2 months. That gives us time to travel other places too. We all have to find what works for us huh? ~Kathy

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    1. Kathy, we actually own our place in Florida, so it’s good we “like where we picked”. 🙂 One thing about returning to same place…we know the people better and better each time. My yoga instructor now follows my blog (on FB) and sent me a note this AM saying she’ll miss me at class! I also like that feeling of comfort that comes from knowing my way around things (plus not having to pack hardly anything to go there – stuff is all there). And hubby is not a traveller, so this is definitely his preference. As you said…. we find what works for us!

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  8. So glad you ended your snowbird adventure on a good note. We just returned from only a week down there. The weather could have been better but we enjoyed the good fish and a couple of baseball games. We also took our first step towards snowbirding – we talked to a company that specializes in seasonal rentals. Definitely got me excited. Now let’s hope winter is on its way out because after a small taste of warmer weather I am ready for more of those nice days here!!!

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    1. Lots of folks do the seasonal rentals near where we are… and some come back to the same place year after year. I have friends who started that way with a one month stay, and then bought a condo, and now are almost to the point of flipping their primary residence! I think you get addicted to not seeing gray skies all winter. It was cold and gloomy in Cincinnati, and we had sunny and 60. Not beach weather, but lovely for walking/biking.

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  9. Congratulations. Sounds like it worked out well and I can assure you that you missed a LOT of lousy weather here in Cincinnati!

    I keep adding new things to learn/do to my list also. I am taking a class with my Shaker Box mentor John Wilson to learn how to make a new kind of box. I have also found three new BBQ recipes to try out: hog wings (pork shanks), pork belly burnt ends and lamb belly. I also bought a new (used) smoker which will be undergoing modifications prior to use this spring. I have also built or am in the process of building several new jigs and fixtures to help me do things in my workshop. I have not kept track of the new things I’ve tried, but maybe I should. I would probably be astounded at the end of the year.

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    1. Bob, It was a blast last year to look back at my list towards the end of the year and re-live many of the moments. I had targeted 52… and hit over 70 things, not counting new restaurants and new foods/recipes. Even now, it was fun to see all that we did in Florida by looking at the list. I think you’d be amazed as well… and it’s a fun way to keep track (and celebrate milestones — 25 new recipes?).

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  10. You left wanting more – the sign of success, Pat! Your description of your two months in Florida makes me think I could adjust to a snowbird lifestyle, too! Heading back to March weather is going to be tough, but as Deb wrote – only a few more weeks. You are repeating a pattern I’ve seen with my friends who winter in Florida. They start small and every year stay longer.

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    1. Molly, I heard the same thing from folks down there about starting small and every year staying longer. And have multiple friends who have increased every year as well… one couple is up to 4.5 months and another friend has officially flipped primary residence. We will see!

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  11. I was South for 6 weeks. Agree, not quite long enough, esp. since we came to a snow storm. But I dunno if I’d want to spend too much more time down there. We’d lose touch with friends at home, and miss out on a lot of activities

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    1. Tom, I’ve heard mixed comments about the back and forth. Some folks manage it well, and some folks feel like in each place they miss out. I’m going to need to see how it goes….we did miss some activities here but there’s not that much happening in Jan/Feb in cold gray Ohio!

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  12. Glad to hear that your found your rhythm on your getaway, Pat! Next year should be that much better!
    I’m with you. It’s hard to come back to the cold. But hopefully only for a few more weeks…

    Deb

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    1. Deb, It’s actually not the cold that bothers me so much, its the gray skies! Hubby hates the cold, so there is that to deal with. But for me, I can handle cold as long as the sun is shining…. like today. 34 and sun-shine – I’m OK with that! But yes, I am also looking forward to spring time.

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