Thursday, October 02, 2008

On the Snowbird Trail

RUSKIN, Fla – The day dawned bright and clear in the Midwest. Outside it was a brisk 32 degrees and a layer of white frost covered everything – including the little RV I had packed and ready to drive south. Surely, I thought, the temperature was a sign for snowbirds to begin their annual migration.

Out on the freeway, the sky was the deep blue of the autumns in my dreams but I was too preoccupied to appreciate it. I was certain that with the freezing temperature, entire flocks of snowbirds would be filling up the campgrounds on their migration south. Would I be able to find a place to stay?

It turns out I needn’t have worried. There was no flock to be found. On my first night in Illinois, my little RV was one of the few in the park. In a few days the campground was scheduled to close for the season, the little store was nearly as empty as the park and the entire place had an end-of-life feel to it.

The next campground in Tennessee was a little more active. With nearly half the sites filled, many campers seemed entrenched for longer stays – as indicated by Halloween decorations and other bric-a-brac of everyday life. For some, this campground appeared to be home. But even here, many of the campers will eventually have to head south or return to a more traditional style of housing. The forecast for tonight is for a strong breeze with a low of 43 degrees.

There were no concerns about cold winds at the next stop. Nor was there a flock of snowbirds. According to Cheryl Leyhem, one of the owners of the Southern Gates RV Park and Campground in Arabi, Georgia, the park was nearly full the night before. On this night, however, most of the sites were empty.
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