We were supposed to be Snowbirds this winter. Snowbirds actually head south to warmer climates, but like I said in my WTH was I thinking article... we are backwards snowbirds.
We experienced our first Ice Storm (winter storm Jasper) in our Airstream. She did beautifully, but it was a bit of a rough night listening to tiny ice pellets pelting away at her - all night long. I had dreams of ice building on her rooftop and scrunching it under the weight. My husband assured me she was fine, but I am a bit of a nervous Nellie when it comes to Betty Jo (the Airstream), my protective instincts go into hyperdrive.
We unhooked from city water before the temperatures dropped. We learned that lesson early on. When we bought Betty Jo in February of 2021. Our first weekend with her in an RV park we got hit by a snowstorm in Anacortes, WA. We received over a foot of snow in just under 24 hours. A friend told us to make sure we unhook from city water. A valuable piece of advice. This was a rare occurrence. Just one of many we were going to experience, including a heat dome in the Pacific Northwest.
That weekend was a test for us newbies and a test of our decision to start this lifestyle.
The February Snow Storm of 2021
We kept the heat up during the ice store, around 64 degrees during the night. Our trailer is ducted, much like a home, and our tanks and pipes are enclosed underneath. The ducting runs through that area so when the furnace runs it warms up her underbelly - keeping everything toasty.
We woke up to her creaking and crackling as the weather started to warm up. Chunks of ice melting from her skin. I went out to check on her to find most of her was unharmed and only small chunks of ice gathered on her passenger side. Our truck, however, was caked in a thick layer of ice. And, so was Pink (the flamingo.)
The weather is warming up now and most of the ice has thawed and dripped from the surfaces of all involved. The gulls are out enjoying the lull in weather and flying over head. Waves from the Atlantic Ocean are gently rolling to shore. Life is returning to a warmer normal.
Betty Jo (the Airstream) weathered the storm beautifully and is as resilient as her namesake.
The weather this year has not been NORMAL! You can not always PLAN for it. This was a rare occurrence, normally it is in the mid-50s and upper 30s at night in this area. Many tell us, well you can just go south again, but the reality is you cannot always just pack up and MOVE. There are many factors at play. Sure, we have the ability to move, but sometimes it is safer and better to ride out a storm then to try to outrun it.
“I want to ride on one of those someday.”
As we grow older our childhood dreams fade away, forgotten as life takes over. Since I was a child I wanted to ride on an Airboat and when we hit the road with Betty Jo (the Airstream) and ended up in Florida, I remembered that dream and made plans to make it come true.
I wanted the “experience” of being on an Airboat, not a quick tourist ride. I searched and located a company committed to providing their customers with an experience — not just a ride. Their mission is to invite you to discover the beauty and the nature of the Everglades and absorb its beauty. There are no “touristy” shows, no crowded boats — just you and nature — the way it was intended.
Our guide is the sixth generation in the area and was passionate about the Everglades and introducing people to it. We picked the company, Down South Airboat Tours, because of their personalized service and because they also have access to parts of the Everglades than most of the others in the area. It was worth every penny.
The ride was more than the thrill of skimming along the water on a fast boat. The natural beauty was beyond anything I could have imagined. I was mesmerized with what this earth truly has to offer — and how much we need to respect and appreciate it.
I was surprised by the diversity of the area — from grass to forest to swampland. And by its beauty and my reaction to it.
The Everglades is an intricate system of subtropical wetlands, lakes, and rivers, originally covering more than 4,000 square miles (10,000 square kilometers) from Lake Okeechobee to the southern tip of Florida. However, due to development, the Everglades has been reduced to less than half of that size,
While sometimes thought of like a giant swamp, the Everglades is technically a very slow-moving, shallow river. Because sawgrass marsh dominates this river, it was traditionally called the “River of Grass.” In fact, Native Americans living in the area called it Pahayokee, meaning the “grassy waters.
The Everglades: River of Grass
It was more than a ride on an Airboat — it was a history lesson, a deep appreciation for the area and its diverse offerings to the world, and a memory to be treasured for many years to come.
When we started this journey with Betty Jo (the Airstream) we knew there were a few places we wanted to visit, but as the journey unfolded, so did the dreams of where to next. We did not start with a Bucket List — it just evolved and keeps evolving — as does the journey.
Safe travels to all, and may you find your Bucket List dreams do come true.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo