I think I could be one of those retirees who spend the winters in Florida and the spring, summer and fall in Canada.
I just got back Wednesday from a week's vacation down south, where I hung out with my father-in-law and his girlfriend. They have a comfortable home in one of the bazillion trailer parks in Florida. They live in New Port Richey, about half an hour north of Tampa. It's a conservative middle-class community with all the comforts of home.
Their trailer has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen, living room, sun room and parking for two cars. It doesn't do it justice calling it a trailer. It's a permanent dwelling as large as a small house.
The lifestyle is laid back and, yes, some of the stereotypes are true.
Days start early. I was usually out of bed with a cup of coffee watching Good Morning America or the local Tampa news by 6 a.m. The temperature for the day was usually the biggest story and the main topic of conversation. The clubhouse is where you catch up on the gossip and the latest shenanigans. It doesn't matter how old you get, there are still shenanigans in a park with 500 trailers. He moved in with her, she left him and, unfortunately, people who have passed (a lot of people who have passed).
Afternoons might include a light lunch, a game of cards or a swim.
But the stereotype really gears up for dinner. The early bird special is not only an ongoing joke in Florida, it's a way of life.
It took a little getting use to, but soon my dinner appetite was kicking in around 4 p.m. Actually it kicks in before 4 p.m. That's when the dinner prices are the cheapest.
Hey, at the Golden Corral, you can take home six free yeast rolls with the purchase of two adult dinners. But that's after 4 p.m., so it doesn't get in the way of the early bird from 2 to 4 p.m. For $7.99, you get a full buffet and beverage. I'm not sure if I was more excited about getting the special price or depressed because they assumed I was over 60.
But what makes Florida so enticing is the weather. After a brutal winter in 2014, I was determined to break up my winter this year. So even though it was only a week, it really helped. While I'm still a bit young (56) to be considering the big move south, I love everything about the southern climate.
My father-in-law is about two hours away from Orlando, he can drive to a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game at a fraction of the price of a Maple Leafs game (and Tampa Bay is currently in first place), life is a whole lot cheaper, and trailer parks have a real sense of community.
Am I ready to take the Snow Bird challenge? It might take a few more trips to convince my wife and I.
But for now, a week here and there will do.