Why aren’t you in Florida? We have been asked that a lot on this trip. It is very clear that there is an obvious “migration pattern” for snowbirds. Those from the Northeast go to Florida and those from the Northwest go to Southern California. We have seen very few New Englanders so far on our journey. In fact we have only met 2 other couples from Maine.
Here is why we journeyed west instead of south.
We wanted to go on a cross-country journey and explore national parks along the way
Wide open spaces- if you look at a map of the US and look at the roads you will see how congested the east coast is. Sure there are lots of roads right on the west coast but get away from the coast and you find wide open spaces
No bugs- that’s right we have had no bugs. You can’t say that about Florida?
No rain- We have had one day of rain and one day with a few sprinkles since we left Maine on 10/1. The Coachella Valley averages 3-5 inches of rain per year. The rainfall in Orlando averages 3 inches per month.
Mountains… Florida’s highpoint is 345 feet. California is home to the highest point (and lowest point) in the Continental US. San Gorgonio (11,503 feet) is the highest peak in Southern California and we can see it from the road that leads to our campground. We can see San Jacinto peak (10,834 feet) out the window of our RV. The Coachella Valley is literally surrounded by mountains. There are 1250 miles of hiking trails within a 70 mile radius of the Coachella Valley. This is perhaps the biggest perk for us. We prefer mountains over beaches. If we do get a desire to go to the beach it’s a 1.5 hour drive to San Diego. We could not get to mountains if we were in Florida.
Humidity- It’s bone dry here in the desert. I have never had to drink so much water in my life. I will take this dry heat any day over sweating in humidity
Snow- I can see it. I can drive to it if I want to ski or hike in it. I love that it is warm in the valleys and cool up in the mountain peaks.
Traffic- Here in the Coachella Valley the traffic is moderate. The roads here feel much less congested than the ones we have driven in Florida.
There is a huge “sense of community” here in the Coachella Valley. There are lots of community events each weekend and it’s been great to participate in these as a person traveling to this community for a short time.
What do we miss
Grass- Southern California is in a severe drought and even places where they had grass it is now dead or gone. We miss grass, but we don’t miss mowing it
Shade on hiking trails. This is more for Gizmo than for us, but the lower mountain areas do not have trees so you are exposed to the sun for the whole hike. You can get hot fast without shade.
Streams- I miss streams on hiking trails. I don’t miss huge stream crossings but I love to hear streams flowing through the woods as I’m hiking.
Would we travel west again? Definitely. We plan on coming west again next year. We want to leave Maine a bit sooner so we have time to travel up to Glacier National Park and then continue west and explore state and national parks in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. We plan on spending the cold winter months in Southern California again next year as we have definitely fallen in love with this area. Will we ever travel south with the RV? Probably but that will be after we have explored all the areas in the west that are on our bucket list. The one definite advantage that Florida has over California is it’s about 1/2 the travel distance for us.