Don is a Writer and a Storyteller. He has published over 9 books on varied subjects along with many articles and commentary on his blogs.
Palm Trees, Rainbows and Tropical Storms
What are the Tropics anyway?
Just where are the Tropics, anyway?
Well, the official definition is that "the Tropics" is the area on Earth that is between the meridians; Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. The area of the globe that is between the North and South latitudes of 23.5 is all considered to be in the Tropics.
This part of the planet is primarily characterized as having above normal temperatures and heavier levels of precipitation than other areas of the Earth.
So seeing as I actually live in Florida, why did I say that I live in the Tropics? OK, by definition I don't actually live in the Tropics.
But I do live south of Tampa Florida, and this area is so close to the official Tropics that the climate, and the resultant lifestyle here are so fantastic, that I and the many other residents call it a Tropical Area anyway.
A Personal Decision - I like Warm Weather!
In order to understand my choice of location, you need to first understand a little bit of my personal history.
I was born in Central Virginia, specifically the city of Lynchburg, Virginia.
Lynchburg, it turns out is considered a preferred retirement area for many people. This is according to so many of the non-locals that I have met there over the years.
Many of them tell me that one of the main things they like about Lynchburg is the fact that it is located, geographically, where you get four equal seasons and typically none of these seasons are very harsh or longer than the others.
As to the Winters and the amount of snow you will see in the Lynchburg area; it's actually a pretty tame place to live.
Looking back at my memories from my childhood, we always seemed to have two to three light snows a year. But usual, the snow was gone within 1-3 days. It was rare to get a very heavy snow during the winter in Lynchburg.
So, this was what I was used to; mild seasons and rare weather extremes. But, I do remember that even then, I never actually enjoyed being out in the cold or participating in winter activities.
For Me Warm was the Key word and having this kind of weather year round was my preference.
A look at Florida from a Hammock
My first Harsh Winter - The shock of real Cold Weather.
Being originally from the South, when I joined the Navy and was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Base, north of Chicago, in 1966-1967, I soon realized that I "wasn't in Kansas anymore".
You see this very large Naval Base is positioned directly on the shore of Lake Michigan in what was called North Chicago. I tell you this just for a physical reference.
If you dig out your old reference books or search on the web, you will find out that particular winter, when I lived there, was called the "coldest winter in the past 25-years" at that time.
Was it Cold there? Brother, it was so Cold that .........
No, I won't do that old routine on you, but it was really cold. And it was Cold for the whole darned Winter, too.
Winter Entertainment, A Car Lottery
I remember that one of the fun things the locals really enjoyed back then was holding lotteries. Not just football lotteries, you understand, but almost every bar that I went to had a "car lottery" going on.
What's a car lottery, you ask?
Well, the locals were such fun people, and there was so much going on (sic), that most bars would have someone haul a " junked car" onto one of the hundreds of frozen lakes in the area.
Then, the patrons would pick a date and time, in the Springtime, when they thought the car would finally fall through the ice.
Yep, this was a grand game for the locals.
You see, they got to drink beer and talk about that old car, just sitting on that cold and icy lake, patiently waiting for spring, so it could fall through the ice to it's watery grave.
They would all drink their beers and start arguing over why their date was better than those picked by their fellow drinkers.
They would estimate what the cars weight was, how thick the ice was, what the Spring weather was going to be like, and other such silly things.
And they continued to drink their beers and wait for the day that they would walk back into their favorite bar and see that someone had written the day of the car's sinking to the depths of the lake onto the wall.
What a fun game, Huh?
Don't get me wrong as this was just one example of the FUN and exciting things that I discovered people doing up North in the Cold of the Winter.
OK, they had Ice Skating, Ski-Doo riding, Ice Fishing, and other grand cold weather sports, but the one that stuck in my mind was the great "car lotteries"
The dreamland tropical Island everyone desires.
The Harsh Reality of a REAL Winter!
I should mention that over that time, living in North Chicago, I learned a number of things about surviving a Real Winter, as I would walk half frozen, around North Chicago, that year.
I learned such things as;
1- In the Windy City, you can walk around a building and the wind will actually hit you directly in the face as you turn each corner.
2- Your Snot will freeze in your nose and it really hurts when you eventually try to blow the resultant chunk of ice out, so you can breath again.
3- There are not enough socks in the world that you can put on to keep you from losing the feeling in your feet when you are outside in sub-zero temperatures.
4- When your teardrops freeze, do not just knock them off, they will pull your eyelashes out with them.
5- When your cheeks or fingers or toes, or whatever other body part freezes, or if they have just lost all feeling from the cold, they will actually begin to feel as if they are burning when you get inside and start to warm up.
My list of Winters lessons is very long, and I won't bore you with any more of these FUN facts that I learned that Winter. But I will tell you that I learned one true and tested fact about me, above all others.
I, Don Bobbitt, am genetically designed for the warmer climes of the lands of the South. This is a fact that was etched into my soul that cold and miserable winter in North Chicago.
To me, Hell is spelled C-O-L-D !
I am a man who must have the Sun and Breezes of more Tropical lands to be truly comfortable.
Beautiful Birds Wintering in Florida
Movin' South one state at a time.
Well, I served my stint in the Navy and eventually returned to my hometown of Lynchburg to start a family and a career.
I put up with the Winters there, enjoyed the summers and then, one day, when I was in my fifties, I accepted a job offer to relocate to Raleigh, North Carolina.
It was a great move for me. I loved the challenges of my new job, but I found that I was now also enjoying the warmer weather in Raleigh.