Anyone who is retired and spends their winter’s snowbirding will recognize this question – it is the one asked by friends and family who are either still working and reluctant to retire for fear of being bored, or those who have retired and haven’t yet decided what to do with all their free time.
Ross and I have been snowbirds for five years now and have learned to love spending our lives in perpetual sunshine. You develop a set of winter friends while maintaining your circle of old and valued friends at home – the two sets may or may not ever meet but it doesn’t matter – they both enrich your lives.
There are three distinct types of snowbirds – there are those who spend their winter’s wandering. They never stay in once place very long, often they eschew modern amenities and prefer to spend their time boondocking on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands in the desert, and they have no need of amenities such as pools, fitness centers, or organized sports. The second type is those who return, like true snowbirds, to the same place each year. Often you hear them say “I came here 20 years ago and fell in love with this place and have never gone anywhere else”. Most often, these folks have a “permanent” site in their Park of choice and do not actually take their RV with them. They purchase Park model homes and they are as entrenched in the daily life of their winter homes as they are in their summer residences.
The third type is the “hybrids” and this includes Ross and me. We have, for the past five years, been a combination of both the above types. We tow a 32 foot fifth wheel and spend approximately 5 ½ months on the road. Over the past five years, we have seen numerous parks in Utah, Arizona and California and have really enjoyed seeing the sites that each community we have stayed in has offered. Towards the end of each trip, we return to one of our favourite Parks, Golden Village Palms (GVP) in Hemet California. It is here that we have made our winter friends and we always look forward to returning here for the last couple of months of our journey.
So, to answer the question – what do we do all day – mostly that depends on what day of the week you are talking about. If it is a Monday or a Wednesday, Ross is most likely to be found heading out onto the Golf Course. GVP has a very active men’s, women’s and couple’s golf program that takes advantage of the many different golf courses in the area. All he is required to do is sign up weekly and the rest is done for him – foursomes are organized, tee times booked and handicaps calculated – now if he could just correct his slice, he would be ready for the pros.
Alternatives for the non-golf crowd include a walking club, a biking club, a hiking club and a variety of classes that include line dancing, fitness, and crafts. There is never a shortage of volunteers to organize such events and you can be a leader and help define what these groups do, or you can be a participant and just enjoy the organizational abilities of others.
On a daily basis, we love to play in the pool, and water volleyball is a fun sport to participate in. There is also a sand volleyball group, but the laughter is always much louder coming from the water group and we enjoy our two hours of frolicking in the water.
At GVP, there is also live music poolside six days out of seven. You can buy a burger or a hotdog from the cantina, or bring your own sandwich, and enjoy the entertainment. There is something quite relaxing about bobbing on a floatie in the pool, while you listen to the sounds of Elvis – it doesn’t get much better than that, especially if you have just called home and they are spending their mornings shovelling that white stuff.
So after we have either whiled away the hours poolside or, in Ross’ case, toughed it out on the golf course, it is time to relax and enjoy the late afternoon hours. Happy hour is a snowbird tradition and you will never have difficulty finding someone to share it with. I call this the educational part of our day, as the number of people you meet from different parts of both the United States and Canada is quite amazing, and you can learn a lot about life in different areas of this continent if you take the time to listen. It’s like being an armchair traveller and you can make a new friend every day if you wish.
Happy hour over and dinner done, it is now time to pick an evening’s entertainment. Depending on the day of the week, you once again have multiple choices – play pool, win (or lose) at poker, enjoy a fun game of bunko, dazzle everyone with your skill on the shuffleboard court, or if it is a weekend, show off your dancing expertise to the sounds of live music in the ballroom.
If you feel the need to escape the Resort, and people do escape, there are many choices one can make. We love to travel about ½ hour south and visit the wine country (and wineries) of Temecula. California is known for its wines and there are some mighty fine wineries in this area of the State.
We have also been known to visit the casinos when we feel the need to refill the coffers – it doesn’t always work that way of course, but the thrill of “maybe” keeps us going back. As well, visiting the casinos can involve a trip to Palm Springs, Temecula, or even San Diego, so the journey can be as much fun as the casino itself.
Each Resort that a snowbird chooses has its own special appeal – the trick is to pick one that works for the lifestyle that works best for you. We are still searching for our perfect place, but for now, we are enjoying the journey. We are grateful for friends who allow us to make this journey and welcome us back each Spring. In the day and age of computers, one is never really out of touch with home, and so we enjoy the benefits of two different lifestyles.
So, there you have it – this is how we spend our winter. Now I have a question for you: WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DO ALL DAY?
By Gerrie Stinson, featured in RVTimes