Follow the Snowbirds

Posted at: 02/26/2013 10:45 AM
Updated at: 02/26/2013 11:51 AM

It's still February in the Northland. The land of ice and snow, folks still anticipating that first Spring day when winter jackets are not a necessity to be comfortable outside.

But, for some Northlanders, winter is a time for golfing, hikes in T-shirts and shorts, and basking in the sunshine. To get a better idea of what we're missing, we caught up with the snowbirds to find out for ourselves what it's like to escape winter's wrath.

In a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona lies Apache Junction where you'll find Win and Arlene from Two Harbors, Minnesota. They've turned in their snow shovels for sunscreen, and enjoy an active life down at the senior park. The weather down there hasn't always been perfect this winter. Just last week, a PGA tournament in Tucson was postponed due to snow.

"We've been running about 60 degrees warmer than you," says Win. "So, we're not complaining too much."

Win and Arlene say they do miss the children and grandchildren who live back north.

"And seeing the snow at Christmas," adds Arlene. "I think that's the biggest thing."

They still get together with Northland friends at the senior park. And, occasionally, get to watch the Vikings and Packers football.

They have a message for family members back home:

"Come down and see us! It's very nice here," says Arlene.

"And we love you, and miss you, too," adds Win.

We move from the sunny desert to tropical Florida. Jerry and Kathy from Britt, Minnesota, have spent the past 10 winters just south of Fort Myers in Estero, Florida. Here, golf balls are hit daily, and they find plenty of time to hit the beach. On a recent deep sea fishing excursion, Jerry landed a 7 foot, 200 pound shark! They head back north in May just in time for the Minnesota fishing opener.

Next, we fly to a valley city near Lake Havasu in Arizona, situated between the Arizona and California mountains.

"The scenery is nice, the people are nice, the complex is very nice, and we love the grass," says Rod from Virginia.

You won't find much grass in the Northland this time of year, and Lake Havasu City is home away from home for Rod and Mary Lou.

"Sitting out here on our patio as we look out over the area, we can see the mountains of California to our left," explains Rod. "We live in a condo on a hill with orange trees."

The city is about 2/3 the size of Duluth, and it still has a small town feel. The population grows substantially in the winter as snowbirds flock to the city. It's no wonder why they love it.

"And the lake really draws us," adds Mary Lou. "Because, being Minnesotans, we love lakes."

And here, the lake isn't frozen in February.