Why do people snowbird? I don’t know about anyone else, but as we have gotten older we have become less tolerant of the cold and the work involved in clearing snow from our driveway. We are also not winter sports people, so the main charm of winter for us is looking at the snow. True, now that we are both retired we no longer have to drive to/from work every day, regardless of how ridiculously dangerous the weather and road conditions are, but that does not equate to a particularly active lifestyle. And with the change in the way we eat—to a whole-foods plant-based approach —we are both healthier than we been in decades; so part of the decision to become snowbirds was the desire to be in a place where we could be much more physically active during the winter months.
As I have described in some previous post(s), we decided to try Florida for our first snowbird experience primarily because of the Arcadia (Bus’in) Rally held in Arcadia, Florida between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Although we would have liked to be headed south around November 1st, family, business, and personal commitments did not make that possible. Early entry for the Arcadia Rally, however, was December 26th. We often try to take advantage of early entry dates when they are offered and we wanted to arrive on the 26th and get set up.
Our original plan was to leave on the 20th, drive to Berea, Kentucky and stay two nights. We would then drive to Cartersville, Georgia on the 22nd and again stay two nights. The 24th would find us driving to somewhere in Florida and again staying for two nights. The morning of the 26th we would then drive to Arcadia, Florida. That was the plan, before the weather forecast strongly suggested a different itinerary.
Based on the national weather forecasts it appeared that if we left Michigan on the morning of the 20th there was a high likelihood we could have mixed precipitation on the first part of our drive. Me, the bus, and ice don’t mix. Further, there was a strong cold front pushing south which had the potential for us to drive through heavy rain and experience below freezing overnight lows for much of our trip south. Leaving on Thursday the 19th offered the opportunity to get somewhat ahead of the rain and avoid below-freezing overnight lows for the entire trip. Either way it looked like we were going to drive in rain.
As I mentioned in the previous post we had determined that the Lakewood Village RV Resort in Wapakoneta, Ohio was far enough south to assure overnight low temperatures above freezing. We decided to aim for a Thursday noon departure which, barring any traffic situations, would put us at the RV resort before 4 PM with plenty of daylight left for getting parked and hooked up. From there we would continue on to Berea, Kentucky and Cartersville, Georgia as planned, but only stay one night in each place, ending up at Williston Crossings RV Resort in Williston, Florida where we would stay for four nights before driving to the Arcadia Rally.
We were up early Thursday morning, had our usual breakfast, and then got right to work loading the bus. We packed more “stuff” than we did for our summer trip out west. Our western trip was only two months with mostly summer climate so we only needed summer clothes. This trip will be closer to four months by the time we get back with temperatures ranging for below-freezing lows to highs in the 80’s, requiring a more extensive selection of clothes.
Although we had 8+ inches of snow on the ground and temperatures in the 20’s when we got up, there was some sunshine and temperatures rose through the morning to just above freezing. The driveway was already cleared as we hired a snow-removal service for the winter and I had spent several hours the previous day removing a couple of additional inches that fell after the snow removal service was there. As we did not expect to have overnight lows below freezing we decided to load fresh water on board which would allow us to use the bathroom and then fully de-winterize the rig once we got parked without having to hook up to an external water supply.
By noon the bus and car were ready. We rounded up the cats, put them on board, and then finished prepping the house. We checked the light timers, stopped the grandfather clock, set the thermostats at 55 deg F (we can monitor and control the main one via the Internet), winterized the toilets and sink traps so they would not evaporate (and just in case), opened cabinets with water lines to aid in keeping them at room temperature, turned off the well pump, closed the water valves, and shutdown the water conditioning equipment. We locked the doors and pulled out of the driveway at 12:30 PM.
We drove about four miles to get to Grand River Avenue, picked up I-96 eastbound for about four miles and then headed south on US-23. It took about 90 minutes to reach the Ohio state line and another 30 minutes to swing around the west and south sides of Toledo, Ohio to reach I-75 in Perrysburg, Ohio. We had an easy run south from there to exit 111 at Wapakoneta, and just another half-mile to get to Lakewood Village RV Resort. We arrived at 4 PM, having traveled 166 miles in 3.5 hours. But it was almost due south of our starting point and got us out of freezing temperatures.
The resort was open for business but mostly snow-covered with very few guests. The resort roads and parking lots, however, were clear of snow. We were allowed to pick our spot and found a nice pull-though that just accommodated our motorcoach/car combination and would provide for an easy exit the following morning. We had an early dinner and turned in for the night at 8 PM.