Sunday, July 14, 2013

365 Inspirations—195: Life of a Snowbird

“The birds fly south for the winter not because it’s cold, but because they have wings."—Jarod Kintz

I found Linda's blog, Thoughts from a Bag Lady in Waiting, quite a while ago and was intrigued that she was a) from Washington State and b) was headed to Arizona to live as a snowbird.

While the summer has been so lovely here and I can't imagine living anywhere else right now, the rainy cold days of winter are not always easy to get through. During that time, I have entertained the thought of moving and/or traveling to a warmer climate during the winter months.

Well, Linda did just that! Not only that, but I recently discovered that she also traveled to Kenya. Another warm place. It sounds like Linda is having lots of fun in her retirement, so I decided to catch up with her for an interview. Here she is:

And here's my interview with her:

What inspired you to move down to Arizona for the winter? 

I live in the Pacific Northwest, and I love it there. But I have Seasonal Affective Disorder – the winter blues – from November until about April, because of the relatively few hours of daylight and even fewer hours of sun. Once we were no longer working, we tried multiple short vacations in sunny places; the year before last we spent two weeks in Hawaii, two weeks in Sedona, and three weeks in Ecuador. That kept us in the sun, but it was three trips—three flights, three sets of packing, etc. We decided to try staying in just one place for two months, and that worked out better. I like Arizona in the winter, especially Tucson. And we have old friends who have been snowbirds for several years, and they invited us to come visit them last year when we were in Sedona. We liked what we saw and decided to do it ourselves.

Where did you live? How did you spend your days as a snowbird? 

We lived at the Voyager RV Resort. It’s a 55-plus community in south Tucson. We rented a park model with an “Arizona room," so we had about 650 square feet of living space, which was enough for the time we were there. There was lots to do. We learned how to line dance and do the Texas two step (we’d rarely danced together before, in 20 years). We joined a current events discussion group and a Great Decisions group. I played handbells for the first time in nearly 30 years. I went to water aerobics three times a week. We went to dances with friends. It’s not about the warmth, though. I like cold weather. It’s about the light.

How long did you stay there? 

We arrived on January 4 and left on February 28, with a weeklong extension in Sedona and an eight-day road trip home.

I saw on your blog that you were in Kenya. What inspired your trip there? 

Well, it wasn’t on our bucket list! We had some houseguests last summer who’d been to Kenya the year before, and they said it was a life-changing experience. They referred me to their friend who had taken them there, and he referred me to an outfitter in Nairobi. It was the most expensive trip we’d ever planned, and I was a little concerned we’d be the only people on our tour, but it turned out to be just right.

Tell me about your trip to Kenya. What were the highlights? 

The animals on our game drives (a lion kill, a pair of giraffes courting, a newborn gazelle and a newborn hippo), the people (our very knowledgeable guide, women in a village who’d left their homes because of abuse, a chief in a village, a third-generation British Kenyan, a conversation with the wife of the CEO of a major corporation, talks with our tent stewards and servers and other camp staff.

Have you been reflecting much on your trip since you arrived home? What experiences have changed you or made you think differently about life?

Are you doing more traveling since you’ve retired? Do you have any other big trips planned?

We traveled as often as we could when we were still working. But since June 25, 2010 when I quit my job, we’ve taken 29 trips of varying lengths. We’ll be going to Hawaii for two weeks in December and back to Tucson for three months next winter. Others we have in mind are New Zealand/Australia, Antarctica (just me, probably), and we’re dreaming of a Road Scholar trip on the Trans Siberian Railroad from Beijing to Moscow. But we really like road trips within the US, and we’ll be doing more of those. Next up in that mode are Colorado and the Ohio/Illinois/Missouri area, for family research.

Wow! That's a lot of trips! What has been the best part about being retired? 

The freedom to choose how I spend my time. I became a certified mediator through my local Dispute Resolution Center, and that is very rewarding. My husband and I wrote and published a book about a trip we took to Vietnam in 2005. I am getting more exercise than I used to as well.

Thanks so much for being on my blog Linda. It sounds like you have lots of adventures ahead of you!

A question for the readers here: Are you retired or do you know anyone who is? How do you (or they) spend the time?


  1. Thank you, Katherine, for the interview!

  2. I'm a writer and a translator, we don't retire, we just die when our time comes. :)

    My mother is retired, and she founded a choir, hopes to found another one, and gives music lessons.

    1. Yes, I agree....retire is an interesting word. I think the ideal would be to do what you love now and continue to do it until your death...If anything, I think retirement just frees up more time for this if one is not able to do what they love full time ^_^!