Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A Snowbird’s Summer Song

Hellooooo Summer!  The “most wonderful time of the year” is in full swing all over the Northern Hemisphere—well, at least according to this gal—and with that, comes the opportunity for making the most of what always seems to be the shortest, yet, most anticipated, time of the year in my neck of the woods—Ontario, Canada.

Over the last year and a half, upon taking on my own SOULo travels to Key West, it appears as though I’ve become a stereotypical snowbird, jumping at every opportunity possible to escape the cold and dreary winter months of my homeland.  However, it isn’t JUST the weather that calls my soul to the islands.

As many of you who have been following me here and online via social media have known, I spent an entire month living the island life in a little apartment in a beautifully restored Conch home in the Historic Seaport of Old Town in Key West last July—and I had never even been to camp as a kid!  What an incredible experience for growth and adventure taking myself out of my comfort zone and making one of my own personal dreams come true.

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Aboard the J.B. Magruder at Mel Fisher Days in the Historic Seaport of Key West (Summer 2015)

And so, here I am again, Summer 2016, and, to quote the Clash, “this indecision’s buggin’ me!” Should I stay and enjoy the best time of the year in my beautiful home near the Great Lakes OR take on another long-term adventure in the place my heart holds so dear?  Somehow, I feel a “sunbirding” tradition coming on.  And now, more than ever, with the incredible connections and Conch family I have acquired through all of my previous visits.

Many people don’t quite understand the appeal to go to a place that averages in the low 90’s on any given day in the summer, where the ocean temps feel more like hot springs, and you absolutely must hydrate every two blocks when walking down the street, but this is the stuff my dreams are made of!  And to top it off, there are new adventures waiting for me around every corner!  If I stick around home this summer, it’s likely I’ll have the same experiences I have had for 90% of all of my previous summers if I don’t make a conscious effort to do something different.  Not that there is anything wrong with those experiences, but it sure is exciting to switch life up a bit and there’s nothing more extreme than plucking yourself up out of familiar surrounding and totally changing your geographical location or physical surroundings.  I really believe life is about having as many experiences as possible and there is so much to experience through change.  And, if these changes resonate with your heart…you can bet there’s something great waiting on the other side of it all.

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Racing freighters in Lake Erie (Summer 2016)

There are many perks to visiting Key West during the summer season.  With slightly less tourists, you really get a feel for the local vibe, as well as less congestion in the streets, local establishments, and on excursions.  Living like a local is the ultimate way to experience your favorite places.  I was highly flattered when I was mistaken for a local several times last year, and couldn’t have been more humbled; it certainly helped validate my inner calling to be there.

With the summer season, also comes discounted pricing on many activities, as well as accommodations.  You can literally pay half the price to stay in the same place or neighborhood as you would during the winter months.  This is a no-brainer for me when, as a teacher with no flexibility in my vacation time, I’m forced to pay nearly the same price for a short, week-long winter getaway as I am for a rental property for the entire month of July or August.

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Island Home Sweet Home (Summer 2015)
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Making myself right at home in the Southernmost City (Summer 2015)

And don’t think that just because there’ll be less snowbirds flocking to the streets, there’ll be less to do.  It is always high season for festivals in Key West, and the summer months are no exception.  From Independence Day fireworks at Smathers Beach, Mel Fisher Days in the Historic Seaport, Hemingway Days on Duval, and Mini-Lobster season on the beautifully calm, turquoise waters that surround this eclectic little island, you are sure to find enough local activities to be festi-FULL!

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The beautiful streets of Old Town Key West (Independence Day, Summer 2015)

Above all, is the excitement of the unknown, the new people, and life experiences that await you when you are brave enough to break free from your normal routine.  If you can’t physically relocate yourself to a place like Key West this summer, then getting involved in activities and attending events that you wouldn’t normally participate in, in and around your own summer paradise, can make all the difference in the opportunities and adventures that come your way this magical season.

And so, as I sit in front of my laptop looking at my freshly cut, vibrant green lawn, the newly opened pool, and the freely flowing waters of the creek in my backyard, I have to wonder if I’ll be out on the waters racing freighters in Lake St. Clair, or wiping my brow reading this article on Simonton Beach over some fresh fish tacos, by the time this article hits the stands.  Neither option is a bad deal,…but “c’mon and let me know, should I stay or should I go?”

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Representing Key West in the hometown waters, Lake St. Clair. (Summer 2016)

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