Snowbird Destinations

Snowbirds flock to Ol’ Airy Zonie, Southern Texas, Florida, and other Sunbelt states and Mexico to avoid winter’s bite, snow and blowing snow, and treacherous icy sidewalks and streets. Northern Europeans are also known to migrate to the U.S. Sunbelt, adding to these communities of seasonal residents.

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The available options are unlimited enabling snowbirds to design their winter lifestyle to suit their financial ability and social preferences.

The basic question is WHERE are YOU going to go? Do you prefer the Pacific or Atlantic coast or Gulf of Mexico with their sunny beaches, or arid desert? Is your preference for dry air or higher humidity? Do you enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, or biking?

The majority of snowbirds migrate straight south from their northern home. As a result most snowbirds from the Northwest tend to winter in Arizona and California; those from the Midwest in Texas; and snowbirds from the Northeast head to Florida.

Another consideration is finding an RV park that is within your budget. Even with the recent escalation of RV park rates, one can still find a spot for about $400/month.

Large snowbird parks offer a variety of activities: swimming, dancing, woodworking, quilting, lapidary.

With an RV, you have the freedom to check out places that appeal to you. Experiment before you decide to settle into one place. Or, like us, you may prefer to be “roving gypsies”.

Two desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, abut within Joshua Tree, dividing California's southernmost national park into two arid ecosystems of profoundly contrasting appearance. The key to their differences is elevation.
Two desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, abut within Joshua Tree, dividing California’s southernmost national park into two arid ecosystems of profoundly contrasting appearance. The key to their differences is elevation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Warm weather hubs such as Arizona, Texas, Florida, and California are tops for their predictable warm weather. But other states are also becoming popular—Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Arizona

The majority of snowbird resorts are centered around Mesa, Apache Junction, Tucson, Yuma, and along the Colorado River.

One of the hottest spots in terms of growth is YUMA (Yearly Uncontrolled Migration of the Aged), which doubles in population during winter months.

Any discussion of Arizona and snowbirds would be incomplete without mentioning Quartzsite, a rock-hound paradise since the 1960s. Quartzsite has been described as “$400,000 motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for FREE camping”.

Texas

The aptly-named Roseate Spoonbill is one of Florida's most distinctive wading birds. Spoonbills feed on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects with its unusual shaped bill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The aptly-named Roseate Spoonbill is one of Florida’s most distinctive wading birds. Spoonbills feed on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects with its unusual shaped bill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thousands of snow-weary Northerners flock to Texas during winter. In Texas—a state famous for adding its unique flair—migrating snowbirds have been dubbed “Winter Texans”.

Most congregate in one of two areas: Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Valley.

The majority of Winter Texans flock to “The Valley”, an area near the Mexican border that stretches from Brownsville and Harlingen in the east to Mission in the west—a distance of about 65 miles. Winters tend to be mild and a bit breezy. With less expensive living costs, the Valley is arguably the best bargain in the U.S. for wintering in a warm climate.

Florida

Think Florida, and you have thoughts of dazzling white beaches, wind-swept palms, endless citrus groves, fresh-from-the-water seafood, delicious key lime pie, Kennedy Space Center, NASCAR drivers at Daytona International Speedway, well-manicured golf courses, the Everglades, Key West, Disney World, and other Orlando-area theme parks.

Florida is the only state where you can winter anywhere. The further south you go, the warmer the winter temperatures.

There are so many choices depending on your interests and budget. The cost of RV parks increases as you travel further south and with proximity to the Atlantic or Gulf Coast.

California

Winter weather is close to perfect in Palm Springs and the other desert resort cities in the Coachella Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Winter weather is close to perfect in Palm Springs and the other desert resort cities in the Coachella Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The majority of snowbirds who make California their winter home, head for the Coachella Valley. This is desert country with an occasional oasis—some natural but mostly man-made. Known world-wide as “the golfer’s paradise”, golf courses abound.

Synonymous with the good life, Palm Springs is a retreat of the rich and famous, the ultimate in resort living. Swimming pools and fairways almost overlap. People who can afford to winter anywhere in the U.S. often do it here where winter weather is close to perfect.

In conclusion

Every fall when I hear the geese honking overhead, something starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose”. Feeling that I am at least as smart as a silly goose, I pack up the RV and head south to the Sun Belt.

And, remember, getting there is half the fun.

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Snowbirds Prep For Annual Migration

Migrating birds don’t have much prep work before they fly southward for the winter.

Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel.
Pictured above Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel across I-10 for a Sunbelt park in Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Snowbirds, on the other hand, must consider how to shut down their residences before taking flight to flee the coming winter’s snow, ice, and bone-chilling cold for southern Sunbelt sunny states.

As the annual migration begins, many homeowners set themselves up for potential disaster.

Leaving a home unoccupied for an extended period of time can put homeowners at risk.

Houses are a lot like teenagers, neither one should be left alone for very long.

Snowbirds come home to problems because they failed to properly plan when they left in the fall.

But simple steps can eliminate the nightmare.

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.

Before heading south for the season, snowbirds must take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Whether you’re new to the snowbird lifestyle or an experienced RVer, creating your own customized checklist is a great way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

Remember, it will be much easier to enjoy your winter in the sun if you have taken steps to protect your home while you are away for an extended period of time.

Furnace Creek Ranch boasts the lowest-elevation golf course in the world
Furnace Creek Ranch boasts the lowest-elevation golf course in the world at 214 feet below sea level, tennis courts, spring-fed swimming pools, horseback riding, hiking trails, and carriage rides. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Consider the following eight tips when creating your own winter-ready checklist:

Check expiry dates

Well in advance of your departure, check expiry dates for your passport and other travel documents, driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, credit cards, and membership cards—and renew if necessary.

Home insurance

Check with your insurance agency to determine how extended absences may affect coverage. Determine if your insurer requires regular walk-throughs during your absence and if so, how frequently.

Snow removal
You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep your sidewalks clear of the white stuff that Northerners know all too well.

Contact person
Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. The contact person should have access to your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, be available in emergency situations, and make repair appointments if necessary. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Contact information
Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including cell phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

Superstition Mountain Museum
To further understand and appreciate the Superstition Mountains area, its legend, history, and intrigue tour the 12.5-acre Superstition Mountain Museum, near Apache Junction, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Notify neighbors

Inform trusted neighbors that you will be away for a specified period of time. You’ll want them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Ensure they have a list of contact persons, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Water heater
Adjust the gas water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve.

Upon returning home, relight the pilot if you turned it off, and gradually turn the thermostat to the appropriate setting. Don’t forget to turn the water back on before restarting the water heater.

Home security
Check outdoor security lights to ensure the motion sensors are functioning correctly.

Lock windows and doors, and set the security alarm.

Worth Pondering…

Happy Snowbird Travels!

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day …

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”

Read More

Snowbird Basics

Winter is a time for boots, snow shovels, and icy roads… unless you’re a snowbird who RVs to the Sun Belt.

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As Neil Young once sang, “the summer ends and the winter winds begin to holler all around the bend…”

The cooler temperatures have us thinking about the coming winter: snow, ice, and bone-chilling cold. You’re familiar with the drill: dig out the snow shovel, take the snow blower on a test run, and pull out the warm winter sweaters, parkas, mitts, and snow boots. Such are the joys of a northern winter!

The entire history of the human race is largely a search for comfort. Warm southern winters certainly rate high on my comfort scale.

How about snowbirding?

Snowbirds are typically retired seniors who have the desire and financial ability to be away from home for extended periods of time.

The snowbird lifestyle is to our liking since we can take our home with us when the cold weather arrives and snow begins to falls. For us the snowbird lifestyle is the best of both worlds.

Planning

Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.

Before heading south, snowbirds need to take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Creating a customized checklists is one way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

Consider the following tips as a starting point when creating your winter-ready checklist.

Check expiry dates for travel documents, insurance, and credit cards.

Check with your insurance to determine how extended absences may affect coverage.

You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep sidewalks clear and your home secure.

Ask a friend, trustworthy neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, and be available in emergency situations. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including smart phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

The long-legged, S-necked Great white egret feeds in wetlands, streams, ponds, and tidal flats.
The long-legged, S-necked Great white egret feeds in wetlands, streams, ponds, and tidal flats. Photo above at Corkscrew Sanctuary near Naples, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Place a temporary hold on your newspaper delivery.

Receiving your mail in a timely manner can be a major concern for Snowbirds, full-timers, and other RVers who plan to be on the road for an extended period of time. Arrange with your local postal service to have your mail forwarded to a mail forwarding address. Trusted and reliable mail forwarding services include Good SamEscapees, and Dakota Post.

Unplug all electronics and electrical appliances—microwave, washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator, coffee pot, toaster oven, TVs, audio equipment, radios, and lamps.

Reduce costs and save energy consumption by turning the thermostat down to 45-50 degrees F (7-10 C).

Empty the refrigerator and turn it off. Unplug all electronics and electrical appliances.

Check to ensure that all smoke alarms are in working order and have fresh batteries.

Adjust the water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve.

do your dream
Do Your Dream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This list is a good place to start, but you may take additional steps to secure your home.

Be careful what you post on social media. Burglars have started crawling social media websites to find times when a house will be empty.

Worth Pondering…

It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snowbird life

behind the wheel.

Read More

Another Snowbird Season Ends as the Northern Migration Begins

As refugees from the frozen north, snowbirds escape winter at home by migrating southward each fall.

Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, another scenic destination, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Cathedral Rock. Sedona is also a popular stop over snowbirds on their northern flight. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Cathedral Rock. Sedona is also a popular stop over snowbirds on their northern flight. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These snowbirds are mostly seniors that live part time in the Sunbelt and spend summers in the Northern states and Canada.

They are gilded nomads, prosperous enough to own a recreational vehicle, a temporary second home, or condo unit.

Snowbirds desire some place warm and relatively free from crime, and an active lifestyle that may involve boating, fishing, swimming, dancing, hiking, biking, 4X4ing, golf, shuffle-board, or pickle ball. Some prefer the Pacific or Atlantic coast or Gulf of Mexico with their sunny beaches, while the preference of other is the arid desert of the Southwest.

Warm weather hubs such as Arizona, Texas, Florida, and California are tops for their predictable warm weather. But other states are also becoming popular—Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Snowbirds build the population base. Their financial impact is estimated in the billions of dollars.

Snowbirds often evolve in flocks, following friends and family and regional or social enclaves into migratory communities.

Fire Canyon/Silica Dome offers an excellent view of the deep red sandstone of Fire Canyon and the unique geological features of Silica Dome at Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas . © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Fire Canyon/Silica Dome offers an excellent view of the deep red sandstone of Fire Canyon and the unique geological features of Silica Dome at Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas . © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There was, in the beginning, a simple mathematical formula: The shortest distance between Up North and the Sunbelt was a straight line—I-95 down along the East Coast or I-75 from the Midwest to Florida’s West Coast or I-5 and 1-15 south to the Desert Southwest.

Patterns are patterns and habits are habits. The majority of snowbirds still tend to migrate straight south from their northern home.

They flock to Florida from New York and New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio, from Michigan and Illinois, even from Ontario and Quebec. Snowbirds arrive in Texas primarily from the Mid-West. And northern refugees from Washington, Oregon, Colorado, British Columbia, and Alberta migrate to Palm Springs, Phoenix, Yuma, Tucson, and other hot spots in the Desert Southwest.

The available options are unlimited enabling snowbirds to design their winter lifestyle to suit their financial ability and social preferences.

While most snowbirds enjoy long-term stays at RV parks and resorts that cultivate a sense of community among seasonal residents, others, like us, prefer to be “roving gypsies” spending the winter months traveling from one warm-weather location to another.

Then, in the shift of seasons with spring on the horizon, they go again. Spring, warmer weather, and melting snow and ice mark the time of year when a mass migration gets underway as snowbirds return to their northern homes.

Popular with migrating snowbirds, Arches National Park is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Popular with migrating snowbirds, Arches National Park is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From late February to early March some snowbirds begin their pilgrimage back to their northern residences. Others delay their departure until the snowy mess up North is nothing but a distant memory.

Still others, like us, break up their journey into segments taking several weeks to a month or more to reach their northern home.

Through both journeys, they change the lives of everyone else who comes, for however long, and of everyone who stays.

Worth Pondering…

Ah, Spring! Baseball. Blossoms. Sunshine. And northbound Snowbirds. Hitching up, bidding farewell to winter friends, heading up the Pacific Flyway…that’s Spring in the southwest for Snowbirds. Once snowbirds reach central and northern California, they may see they have been joined by great flocks of their high-flying feather counterparts, seeking sanctuary and feeding grounds in the state’s wetlands as they migrate along the Pacific Flyway.

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30 Years of Sunday Service for Florida RV Park Church

For the past thirty years, from November to March, the Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis has offered Sunday worship service for American and Canadian snowbirds escaping the wrath of northern winters.

Pastor Charles Granger, 82, and his wife, Joyce, center, greet New York visitors Yvonne Webster, left, and her husband Ardell at Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis. (Credit: Theresa Campbell/ dailycommercial.com)
Pastor Charles Granger, 82, and his wife, Joyce, center, greet New York visitors Yvonne Webster, left, and her husband Ardell at Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis. (Credit: Theresa Campbell/ dailycommercial.com)

This past Sunday morning’s service was the last of the 30th season, with a closing service and communion in the park’s fellowship hall, led by the Rev. Charles Granger, 82, of DeLand.

An average of 150 to 200 people — just about all of the RVers — have attended on Sundays over the years, according to a report in the (Leesburg) Daily Commercial.

“I love meeting such a wonderful group of people, a cross-section of Americana and the number of Canadians who come down here, too,” Granger said.

Christmas Eve is one of the biggest services, along with a memorial service on the first Sunday in February.

“We memorialize all of the people who have died the previous year who were a part of this fellowship here,” the pastor said.

“They call it a church, but there is no membership,” Granger said of the services at the resort, located near Lake County Fairgrounds.

“This is just people coming together.”

Granger recalled the park belonged to the city of Eustis before it was sold to individuals who owned parks all over the country. Granger had been serving as interim pastor at the First Baptist Church in Eustis when he was asked if he could preach at the RV park.

Bill Myer, at microphone, leads prayer at Southern Palms RV Resort, joined by Ruth Karper, Dave Walcott and Marian Shank. (Credit: Theresa Campbell/ dailycommercial.com)
Bill Myer, at microphone, leads prayer at Southern Palms RV Resort, joined by Ruth Karper, Dave Walcott and Marian Shank. (Credit: Theresa Campbell/ dailycommercial.com)

“My first Sunday, 82 people were sitting here,” Granger said.

“And what they told me was 80 percent of the people who were here for that service did not go to church anywhere on Sunday. I came back the next Sunday and we had 150 or so.”

During his time of ministering at Southern Palms, Granger was serving as chaplain and campus minister at Stetson University.

“It was a great time; I was working with both age groups,” he said of ministering to college kids during the week and to seniors on Sundays.

“I was 52 when I started (at Southern Palms) and I thought they were a bunch of old folks, and now I’m older than most of them over here.”

In those early years, he arranged for some Stetson students to preach at the RV park.

“Every one of them would come to my office on Monday morning saying, ‘Let me go again!’ They loved coming over here,” Granger said. He remained at the private college for 21 years before retiring in 1996 at age 65.

The pastor has gone through hip and knee replacements and a battle with lymphoma cancer, but strives to continue inspiring people with his tell-it-like-it-is sermons.

Joyce Granger sings during worship service at Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis. Sunday marked the resort’s last church service of the 30th season. The resort will resume its weekly worship service on the first Sunday in November. (Credit: Theresa Campbell/ dailycommercial.com)
Joyce Granger sings during worship service at Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis. Sunday marked the resort’s last church service of the 30th season. The resort will resume its weekly worship service on the first Sunday in November. (Credit: Theresa Campbell/ dailycommercial.com)

“Pastor Granger is just wonderful. Thirty years he has been with us,” said Judy Kryder of Michigan, who sings in the choir and cherishes the friendship she has forged with others at Southern Palms, the park that has been her winter home since 1998.

Florida’s glorious weather is what brings her back each year, she said, and she and hundreds of others hope to reunite with their pastor in November for the park’s 2014-15 season.

Details

Southern Palms RV Resort

Southern Palms is an Encore RV resort north of Orlando in Central Florida’s Lake County.

Shopping, restaurants, and many golf courses, ranging from novice to professional, are all within minutes of the RV resort.

At the campground, relax by the swimming pool or soak in the hot tub. Take in a game of shuffleboard or test your skills at bocci ball. Check out a book at our library or dance the evening away.

Number of Sites: 889

Address: One Avocado Lane Eustis, FL 32726

Phone: (352) 357-8882

Website: www.southernpalmsrvresort.com

Worth Pondering…

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that’s the law.

—Jerry Steinfeld

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The Fountains Motorcoach Resort Planned for St. Augustine

The Fountains of St. Augustine Premier Motorcoach Resort offers RVers an unique and luxurious experience in travel and leisure.

The Fountains Premier Motorcoach Resort of St. Augustine
The Fountains Premier Motorcoach Resort of St. Augustine

This five star paradise also provides its guests and owners with the finest in outdoor attractions, fine dining, upscale shopping, and world-class entertainment.

Nestled less than a mile from Interstate 95 and less than five miles away from St. Augustine, The Fountains of St. Augustine is a marvel unto itself that will open a world of possibilities for its owners and guests from all over the country, according to a news release.

Right up the road are white sand beaches, deep sea fishing, and every other water sport you can fathom.

The Fountains offer a culturally rich or just-for-fun experience in the oldest permanently settled city in the United States with local boutique shopping and regional outlet malls and even a Camping World RV Center within miles of the resort

The Fountains Premier Motorcoach Resort of St. Augustine, the first of what is planned as a series of “The Fountains” resorts across the U.S., has drawn a lot of interest, according to the company.

The Fountains’ website has received more than 9,000 unique visitors over the past two months. After the resort’s appearance at the Hershey RV Show and the Tampa RV SuperShow, interest and requests for information have totaled in the thousands.

Grand entrance to The Fountains Premier Motorcoach Resort of St. Augustine, featuring several fountains and lush landscaping.
Grand entrance to The Fountains Premier Motorcoach Resort of St. Augustine, featuring several fountains and lush landscaping.

In addition to 9,000 unique visitors to the website, The Fountains’ animated tour of the property’s amenities and grounds received almost 7,000 views from interested RVers

The Fountains’ prime location, five-star atmosphere, and its premium Class A membership and ownership opportunities may transform the upper end of the RV-park industry, the people behind it hope.

The Fountains has two new concepts that will soon be rolled out, called The Fountainshare and The Fountains Advantage Programs.

The resort owners believe the concepts promise to maximize resort accessibility and experience with unsurpassed amenities, services and benefits at The Fountains resort properties and at a variety of other affiliated resorts.

Ameri Motorcoach Resorts, Inc., the supervising company for The Fountains, will be introducing these programs through the newly formed Ameri Motorcoach Association or “AMCA.”

Based upon extensive market research and interviews with Class A motorcoach owners, AMCA believes The Fountainshare and The Fountains Advantage Programs are truly unique by allowing people to enjoy year-round access to this resort.

“As we move forward with The Fountains groundbreaking and construction, we are working diligently to keep interested RVers informed of our development plans and our beautiful, one-of-a-kind resort,” said Tommy Hammond, president of Ameri Motorcoach Resorts Inc.

“We truly believe that our resort and concept for the Fountains will attract RVers from all over the country to experience a new level of luxury RVing.”

Community resort amenities include: village clubhouse area with Infinity pool, poolside barbeque and fire pit, lakeside barbeque and fire pit, park Wi-Fi, gated entrances to coach site roadways, Jacuzzis, fully appointed fitness center, Bocce Ball courts, lighted tennis court/pickle ball/sport court, private movie theatre (village) with 20 seats, putting green, 4-acre lake, fishing, paddle boats, pier, walking/bike trail with nature deck in wetlands, bait & tackle at general store, on-site storage for vehicles and equipment, on-site general store, and laundry facilities.

A look inside The Fountains’ sprawling Clubhouse, complete with an infinity pool overlooking the property’s sparkling lake.
A look inside The Fountains’ sprawling Clubhouse, complete with an infinity pool overlooking the property’s sparkling lake.

Individual RV site amenities and options include: Coach Houses, AC/Heating, water pump/hot water, ceiling fans, summer pavilion/pergola, outdoor gas grills/individual tanks, pavilions with gathering area and summer kitchen, wood-burning chimney fireplaces in pergolas and pavilions, flat screen TVs, water features/waterfalls, on site fountains and fire pits

Details

The Fountains of St. Augustine

Address: 3960 Inman Road, Saint Augustine, FL 32084

Website: www.thefountainssamr.com

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden

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Sunbelt RV Parks Report Record Number of Snowbirds

Resurgence of the Polar vortex and snow in 49 of the 50 states is good news for the Sunbelt.

Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campgrounds in southern California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona are seeing a boom in occupancy for December–March with travelers seeking a respite from this winter’s ravaging snow and plummeting temperatures.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports that more than 1 million RVers will use their RV this winter to head to warmer climates, spending on average 12 weeks at campgrounds throughout the Sunbelt.

“RVing has always been popular in the winter months but this year has been exceptionally successful for campgrounds. Every segment of traveler is discovering that RVing is affordable, easy and most importantly, flexible,” says Richard Coon, RVIA president.

“RVers can stay at a campground for as long as they would like or travel throughout the season without worrying about any long-term commitments, an option not afforded traditional seasonal rentals.  If you want a new view, just pick up and go.”

The most popular Sunbelt state for snowbirds is Florida with RV parks seeing an ever-expanding demographic of travelers who will spend the winter months working while escaping the cold weather.

Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Pusher and toad at Cajun Palms RV Resort which consists of over 300 Deluxe RV Spots,12 Chalets,and 25 Cabins. RV spots have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Pusher and toad at Cajun Palms RV Resort which consists of over 300 Deluxe RV Spots,12 Chalets,and 25 Cabins. RV spots have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We are at 100 percent occupancy for February and March and up 20 percent for April over last year. This winter has been great for us,” Tim Deputy, GM of Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Florida.

“We’re seeing the retirees that you would expect to be snowbirds, but also a growing number of younger folks who are telecommuting. With technology, you can really work anywhere, so why not spend the winter on the beach if you can?”

However, campgrounds are doing more than just relying on good weather and warm beaches to attract the competitive snowbird market. They’re adding amenities that rival traditional hotel resorts.

Two years ago, Sun N Fun RV Resort opened an 18,000-square-foot spa and wellness center with an indoor swimming pool, infrared sauna, and steam room. They also offer an onsite masseuse and sports therapist. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this campground is the Neurogym, equipped with computer programs and equipment that helps people learn how to reduce their stress and improve their mental wellbeing.

Snowbirds and full-time RVs in their winter home at Bella Terra RV Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Snowbirds and full-time RVs in their winter home at Bella Terra RV Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Services and amenities are increasingly more important for a campground to compete with other snowbird accommodations. The Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, California, has garnered a reputation for outstanding entertainment seven days a week with tribute bands, jazz performances, and dinner shows. They also cater to the pet-friendly traveler with a dog park and weekly Bark & Wine parties.

Arizona-based Carefree RV Resorts, which offers more than 10,000 RV and park model sites throughout the Sunbelt, expects to see a 6 percent increase in revenue over last winter.

“The snowbird business is stronger than ever. The convergence of a steadily recovering economy, the demographic bulge of Baby Boomers who embrace travel and leisure, the ease of connectivity for travelers, and the growing appeal of RVing as a vibrant lifestyle will likely fuel growth for decades,” says Colleen Edwards, president of Carefree RV Resorts.

“What’s particularly encouraging is that the snowbird season is extending every year with many of our guests, who have traditionally checked out in March, staying through April.”

Texas has seen a particularly robust season this year as well, with parks from the central part of the state, known as the Texas Hill Country, to the southern border of the Rio Grande Valley reporting a year-to-year increase ranging from 5 percent to 37 percent, that is credited to the severe winter weather in the north. But it’s not just the campgrounds that are benefiting from this winter’s frigid temperatures and record-breaking snow.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“According to a University of Texas Pan Am study of snowbirds, they spend nearly $100 a day when visiting Texas; so the economic impact to the whole community is significant,” says Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

Helping fuel this boom is the strong performance of the RV industry that is surging back from the great recession. Shipments in 2013 hit a four-year high of 321,127 units—up 12.4 percent over 2012 totals and nearly double the amount of RVs shipped in 2009 at the depth of the recession for the industry.

Worth Pondering…
It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snow-bird life

behind the wheel.

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Hot-dog-filled Journey Through Cactus & Grapefruit Leagues

With Cactus League clubs clustered in the Valley of the Sun and Grapefruit League teams dotting the Florida coasts and center of the state, Spring Training offers one of baseball’s great traditions while bringing fans close to the game and under the sun.

236x132_spring_training_4__ufglpur7Cactus League

Where else can you go and see half of the Major Leagues’ 30 teams play without ever having to drive more than 47 miles, and oftentimes much shorter distances? That would be the Cactus League, where 15 teams prepare for the season in a relatively tight radius surrounding Phoenix in the beautiful Valley of the Sun.

The Cactus League kick off Wednesday, February 26 with three games and concludes Saturday, March 29 with nine games.

Teams, spring training locations, and practice fields follow:

Arizona Diamondbacks (Scottsdale, Salt River Fields)

Chicago Cubs (Mesa, Cubs Park)

Chicago White Sox (Glendale, Camelback Ranch)

Cincinnati Reds (Goodyear, Goodyear Ballpark)

Cleveland Indians ( Goodyear, Goodyear Ballpark)

Colorado Rockies (Scottsdale, Salt River Fields)

Kansas City Royals (Surprise, Surprise Stadium)

Los Angeles Angels (Tempe, Tempe Diablo Stadium)

412953_0_563x261Los Angeles Dodgers (Glendale, Camelback Ranch)

Milwaukee Brewers (Phoenix, Maryvale Park)

Oakland Athletics (Phoenix, Phoenix Municipal Stadium)

San Diego Padres (Peoria, Peoria Sports Complex)

San Francisco Giants (Scottsdale, Scottsdale Stadium)

Seattle Mariners (Peoria, Peoria Sports Complex)

Texas Rangers (Surprise, Surprise Stadium)

Grapefruit League

With 12 teams near the coastlines and three in the center of Florida, the Grapefruit League offers fans plenty of options for a sun-splashed journey that includes deep ties to the game’s history, feature-filled new ballparks, and some of MLB’s best teams biggest stars getting ready for the season.

Many ballparks are within driving distance from each other, allowing you an opportunity to check out other venues and games while following your team wherever they go!

With so much available, RVers can easily take a hot-dog-filled journey that suits their own schedules and preferences.

Teams, spring training locations, and practice fields follow:

oriolesrosdmapBaltimore Orioles (Sarasota, Ed Smith Stadium)

Boston Red Sox (Fort Myers, JetBlue Park at Fenway South)

Detroit Tigers (Lakeland, Joker Marchant Stadium)

Houston Astros (Kissimmee, Osceola County Stadium)

Miami Marlins (Jupiter, Roger Dean Stadium)

Milwaukee Braves (Lake Buena Vista, Champion Stadium)

Minnesota Twins (Fort Myers, Hammond Stadium)

New York Mets (Port St. Lucie, Digital Domain Park)

New York Yankees (Tampa, George M. Steinbrenner Field)

Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater, Bright House Field)

0000000Pittsburg Pirates (Bradenton, McKechnie Field)

St. Louis Cardinals (Jupiter, Roger Dean Stadium)

Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte, Charlotte Sports Park)

Toronto Blue Jays (Florida Auto Exchange Stadium)

Washington Nationals (Melbourne, Space Coast Stadium)

The Grapefruit League kicks off Tuesday, February 25 with two games and concludes Saturday, March 29 with nine games.

How many Spring Training venues will you hit up this spring?

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series on Baseball Spring Training

Part 1: Snowbirds Anticipate Baseball Spring Training 2014

Worth Pondering…

That’s the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on the ball.
—Bill Veeck (1976)

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Snowbirds Anticipate Baseball Spring Training 2014

Rogers Hornsby was once asked what he did in the winter when there’s no baseball. “I stare out the window and wait for spring,” the baseball great replied.

spring_tickets_header_676There is nothing as magical as spring training for a northern baseball fan.

Spring training is almost as old as baseball itself. The best evidence points to spring training first taking place in 1870, when the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Chicago White Stockings held organized baseball camps in New Orleans. Other baseball historians argue that the Washington Capitals of the National League pioneered spring training in 1888, holding a four-day camp in Jacksonville. In either case, the roots of spring training history go deep, and the specific origins really don’t matter.

By 1900, spring training was firmly established as a baseball ritual, with most American and National League teams heading out of town so players could train and managers could evaluate.

Early training sites include the St. Louis Cardinals in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma; the New York Yankees in New Orleans and later Phoenix, when the team was owned by Del Webb; the Chicago Cubs in Los Angeles when owned by William Wrigley Jr.; the St. Louis Browns and later the Kansas City Athletics in San Diego as well the A’s were in West Palm Beach, Florida; the Pittsburg Pirates in Honolulu and other teams joined in by the early 1940s.

Spring training in Florida began in earnest in 1913, when the Chicago Cubs played in Tampa, and the Cleveland Indians in Pensacola. One year later, two other teams moved to Florida for spring training, the real start of the Grapefruit League.

logo2Spring Training baseball under the warm Arizona sun has been a tradition for devoted fans since 1947, when two teams, the Cleveland Indians and the New York Giants, came to prepare for the regular season.

With Cactus League clubs clustered in the Valley of the Sun and Grapefruit League teams dotting the Florida coasts and center of the state, Spring Training offers one of baseball’s great traditions while bringing fans close to the game and under the sun.

Whether attending games or team practices, fans experience an atmosphere with fewer barriers between spectators and players with daily games scheduled at centrally located stadiums.

Managers take a look at the players and determine the final roster based on their performance. The great thing about Spring Training games is that you’ll get to see many of your favorite team’s players during one game.

Since 2010, major league teams have been equally divided during spring training, with 15 teams in Florida and 15 teams in Arizona. All but six of the major league teams have gone to spring training in Florida at one time or another.

cactus-league-scheduleWhile these areas offer an abundance of activities, spring training is at the top of snowbirds’ must-see lists this time of year.

RV travelers who want the best in resort-style amenities can choose from numerous Good Sam park locations across Arizona and Florida. Each location offers unique amenities and activities, such as swimming pools, spas, fitness centers, sports courts, organized activities, professional entertainment, Wi-Fi access, Cable TV, dog parks, and more.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on Baseball Spring Training

Part 2: Hot-dog-filled Journey Through Cactus & Grapefruit Leagues

Worth Pondering…

In the beginning, there was no baseball. But ever since there have been few beginnings as good as the start of a new baseball season. It is the most splendid time in sports.
—B.J. Phillips, Time Magazine (1981)

 

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Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands: Where RV Memories Abound

Following is a continuation of the listing with brief description of the campgrounds/RV parks you’ll find in Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands:

Palms & Pines Riverside RV Resort

Palms & Pines Riverside RV Park
Palms & Pines Riverside RV Park

Located on the juncture of Peace River, Shell Creek, and Charlotte Harbor, Palms and Pines offers an extraordinary opportunity to enjoy the panoramic view and natural resources of the region.

Shopping, restaurants, and medical facilities are within a few miles.

Relax beneath the palms, enjoy the sunshine and participate in the many activities such as bingo, cards, crafts, and potluck dinners. There are boat docks, a boat ramp, fishing pier, shuffleboard, horseshoes, and mini-library.

Rental spaces have complete hookups and grassy lots with concrete patios and are available for short or long term rental. Apartments feature full kitchens, air-conditioning, and screened porches.

Address: 5400 Riverside Drive, Punta Gorda, FL 33982

Phone: (941) 639-5461

Website: palmsandpinesinc.com

Peace River Mobile Home, RV Park, & Fishing Camp

There are 30 sites and 30 units/cabins for visitors’ accommodations.

Facility amenities include: boat dock, boat ramp, cable TV hookup, electric 30 + 50 amp, full hookups, hot showers, laundry, phone hookup, restrooms, showers, and water access.

Address: 29208 Snook Circle, Punta Gorda, FL 33982

Phone: (941) 639-2819

Punta Gorda RV Resort

Punta Gorda RV Resort
Punta Gorda RV Resort

This friendly adult park offers 221 sites, full hookups, pool, hot tub, bicycling, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and is ADA-compliant. Shuffleboard, horseshoes, a recreation hall, convenience store, and laundry.

Address: 3701 Baynard Drive, Punta Gorda, FL 33950

Phone: (941) 639-2010

Website: pgrvresort.com

Shell Creek Carefree RV Resort

With 239 sites, facility amenities include: boat ramp, cable TV hookup, convenience store, electric 30 + 50 amp, exercise/fitness facilities, full hookups, groceries, hot tub, ice, laundry, parking, pay phones, phone hookup, picnic area, pool outdoor, propane sales, recreation hall/clubhouse, recreational area, restrooms, showers, tables, and water access for fishing and swimming.

Address: 35711 Washington Loop Road, Punta Gorda, FL 33982

Phone: (941) 639-4234

Website: carefreervresorts.com

Sun-N-Shade RV Park

Fishing, horseshoes, shuffleboard, and swimming are top activities found in this lovely country setting.

Facility amenities: full hookups, hot showers, patio, phone hookup, outdoor heated pool, recreation hall/clubhouse, restrooms, showers, electric 30 + 50 amp.

Address: U.S. 41 S., 14880 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, FL 33955

Phone: (941) 639-5388

Website: sunnshade.com

Water’s Edge RV Resort

Water’s Edge RV Resort
Water’s Edge RV Resort

A resort for bicyclers, swimmers, and those with a need for big rig hookups.

Amenities include 167 sites, covered pavilion, dump station, electric 30 + 50 amp, full hookups, hot showers, hot tub, laundry, patio, phone hookup, picnic area, picnic shelter, pool heated, pool outdoor, propane sales, recreation hall/clubhouse, recreational area, restaurant nearby, restrooms, showers and tables.

Address: 6800 Golf Course Blvd., Punta Gorda, FL 33982

Phone: (941) 637-4677 or (800) 637-9224 (toll free)

Website: watersedgervresort.com

Details

Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands

999795_10151745467177015_652093996_aLocated halfway between Tampa and Naples on the Southwest Florida Gulf coast, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is a collection of nine coastal communities surrounding the state’s second largest harbor.

One of Florida’s year-round eco-tourism destinations, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers unspoiled beauty that has served as the backdrop for seven major feature films as well as countless memorable vacations.

A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands has been named to SAIL magazine’s “10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States,” ranked by Golf Digest as “Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America,” and rated by MONEY magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live in the South.”

The city of Punta Gorda was named as one of “Top Ten Places to Retire Healthy” by U.S. News & World Report. Englewood was named as No. 2 of the Top Ten emerging travel destinations in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.com.

Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau

Address: 18500 Murdock Circle, B104, Port Charlotte, FL 33948

Phone: (941) 743-1900 or (800) 652-6090

Website: charlotteharbortravel.com

Please Note: This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands

Part 1: Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands: Florida Gulf Coast Paradise

Part 2: Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands: Making RVing Memories

Worth Pondering…

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”

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