Escape from Winter - 2012 travel blog





The plan for today was to return to the Naval Air Station to watch the Blue Angels practice for their next aerial show. However, Mother Nature decided that was a bad idea and a cluster of storms lighteninged and thundered and sent down sheets of rain. So we went out to breakfast with our Alaska bound friends and had a final confab. Now that we are retired we would like to visit Alaska in a leisurely fashion, stopping to see everything of interest, pausing when Mother Nature says its time to pause, and coming home when we feel we truly have seen it all. But there are some areas that are very popular and have limited campsites which provide all the utilities we prefer to have, so we've made some scattered reservations that will take us through the end of May. We also will celebrate the summer solstice in Fairbanks, which we've heard does the celebrating right. And we have booked a four night boat trip to Katmai National Park to see the bears fishing for salmon, which will involve leaving the motor home behind in Homer and taking a ferry to Kodiak. We've checked to see that our CB radios communicate with each other and made tentative routes on the map. Hopefully that's enough planning for now.

After a final round of golf - a real deal - only $10 we've cleaned the motor home, loaded the car and are ready for the trip back north.

Which makes us think of an article we read that came from a San Antonio paper, but could have been written in any of the communities we enjoyed this winter.

In late February, the white bass run in East Texas, which means it's time to go fishing.

In mid-July, the bulls run in Pamplona, which means it's time for dummies to get gored and trampled.

And in early April, the RVs run north from South Texas, which means it's the end of yet another successful snowbird season.

So long North Dakota license plates! Farewell crowded winter golf courses! Adios to 5 p.m. supper crowds.

Most of us notice snowbirds only when they arrive or leave, their RVs and Airstreams — fish-tailing and swerving like giant nunchucks — in the left lane of I-35. After that, they disappear for several months of active hibernation, doing as little or as much as they want.

Ask a native Texan about the Winter Texans and the first response will be typically negative. That's odd, because the Winter Texans are generally harmless. They don't burn or pillage anything and, in fact, are polite to a fault, keep to themselves and just want to hang out. If it's an army, it's an invisible one.

Probe a little deeper, however, and you'll find that most Texans are jealous. They'd kill to live that kind of unscheduled, unplanned, nomadic lifestyle.

I certainly would. With satellite TV, mobile data, portable propane grills, FedEx and Amazon, I would cash out right now, sell my house and jump in an RV quicker than you can say “Good Sam Club.” And I believe a lot of you would do the same.

Sadly, we can't, but we can do the next best thing — make money off of them.

For the South Texas economy, Winter Texans are a cash crop, except we don't have to plant them or harvest them.

Estimates vary region to region, but 141,000 snowbirds who migrate to the Rio Grande Valley in late November spend $800 million locally. The RV crowd, on average, spends 150-200 days on the road.

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