A few years ago, when I was still in the workforce full-time, I would fantasize about having a summer reporter job here and a winter job for a newspaper in a warmer climate.

If it wasn’t too rainy, it would be ideal to spend summers in Minnesota and the cold months where there was no snow? I would have gone to New Mexico. My family lived in Albuquerque from 1958-61. We would have stayed there, but my dad was laid off his job and my mother wanted to move back to Minnesota. And you know the saying, “If momma ain’t happy…” So, having just begun seventh grade, instead I was heading back to the Minneapolis suburbs from whence I came. I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been had our family remained in New Mexico.

Minnesota has a lot of snowbirds – approximately 44,000 – who spend the cold months elsewhere with Arizona, Florida, Texas and California ranking among the top states to go to in winter.

The word “snowbird” was first used in 1923 to describe seasonal workers who moved south for the winter months. By 1979, it was commonly used in reference to the large number of retiree tourists who flocked to the south.

While many of these folks are well-to-do, some are not. The “nots” are called “workampers” and they typically take up seasonal jobs in RV parks, theme parks, lodges and other tourist attractions in close proximity to their secondary home. And, in this day and age, remote online work is often a possibility.

These “winter visitors” as some would rather be called, are now mostly baby boomers who came of retirement age a few years ago.

Florida boasts more than 810,000 snowbirds a year. Arizona and Texas are high on the list but other states see more snowbirds as well, such as North and South Carolina, southern California and Nevada. According to Winter Sun Expert, the most beautiful snowbird locations are Clearwater and St. Petersburg in Florida; Bella Vista, Arkansas; Tucson, Arizona, Aiken, South Carolina; La Quinta and Palm Springs in California; San Antonio, Texas; Keanu, Hawaii; Jekyll Island, Georgia and Costa Rica.

These all sound wonderful. If I were to try any, the location would have to be one I could drive to as I don’t get on airplanes. Most likely I’d pick Georgia and South Carolina since I am a Civil War buff. One of the largest Confederate military prisons was in Andersonville, Georgia. During the 14 months the prison existed, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined there. Of those, almost 13,000 died there.

How in the heck did I end up on the Civil War topic when I started with snowbirds? Funny how aging makes the mind work …

Returning to the subject, I would still choose New Mexico if I could be a snowbird. There were so many things I thoroughly enjoyed during my short time there. I love rock-hounding and visiting cliff dwellings and other village ruins were awesome.

But, alas, instead I will be shoveling the deck and sidewalks and possibly the roof this winter. Such is life …

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