First, GO TARHEELS! Our team beat the scrappy Villanova kids last night and will face Michigan State tomorrow evening for the final NCAA men’s basketball championship. One more game. . .
When would you leave 80 degree weather for 35 degree Winter? We’re fascinated by the commotion as the snowbirds flocked north from this and neighboring resorts. Every day we see several motor homes and fifth wheels heading northward on US Hwy 441. Estimates wildly vary but we’ve read more than one million people each year return the snowbird winter havens in FL, TX, and AZ to migrate to cooler places. And tomorrow we will join the parade although only for a two hundred mile relocation.
This seasonal diminishing of population reminds us of life (a long time ago) in our university town through the summers. Many businesses stayed open through the summer despite the students’ absence. And our payoff was access to restaurants anytime we wanted without any queues. The town quieted, traffic disappeared, and we had the run of the place for a couple of months. Then the students, and queues, returned as the cycle continued.
Church last Sunday had almost a half-dozen pews empty after being nearly full throughout the past several months. The flea market booths were mostly unattended after church, and the ones still operating were selling their goods at 1/2 price to the few remaining customers.
We’re feeling a bit deserted. People are wrapping their golf carts, their cars, their stuff, pulling the yellow chain across their driveways, and disappearing. The mantra becomes, “Will I see you, in September?” (apologies to Shelley Fabares). Resort occupancy seems to be down from nearly 100 percent to less than 65 percent now. And last week seemed to be the big exodus week although we just don’t see it.
This activity board tells part of the story: a few weeks ago it was completely filled with 8.5 X 11″ notices of weekly and special event activities, updated weekly. The only remaining notices are for standing weekly card or table games. Exercise classes continue throughout the year, but horseshoes, shuffleboard, golf leagues, dance classes, petanque, pancake breakfasts, weekly hamburger lunches, and the theme dinners are gone until at least October. The participants and volunteers have evacuated. And this park’s population is on its way to less than one-third of peak occupancy.
This park’s year-rounders are already feeling the change. The swimming pool and shuffleboard courts are quiet and available. Most of the remaining snowbirds migrate by April’s end. And although we’re only heading a couple hundred miles north, we’re leaving tomorrow morning. We’ll go to St Augustine for an Easter Rally, then south a few miles to a FL state park for a week then northward slowly to our Region 3 Rally in south GA. See you down the road!