In this winter-season series, we’re asking snowbirds (people from the US and Canada who spend a large portion of winter in warmer locales) what they love about the lifestyle and how KOA fits snugly into it. Steve and Gail Cawsey told us why they’ve decided to make San Diego Metro KOA their permanent home after snowbirding there for years.
Q: Tell us about yourselves, how long you have been official “snowbirds.”
A: We’ve been married for 20 years and both enjoyed wonderful careers. One day, we decided that we didn’t want to wait any longer to retire. Being Type A personalities, we weren’t quite ready to “settle down.” After buying homes, selling them and moving about every two years, we decided that we liked traveling, but also liked being in a home. So we bought an Itasca Diesel Motorhome and traveled the country full time for almost three years. We even wrote a book about our adventures: “Life on the Road — Full-Time Motorhoming.”
One thing we learned about our travels was the importance of choosing a campground that fit our needs. And KOA was always our first choice. You can be sure you’ll always find the same quality at each KOA.
Eventually, we sold our motor home and moved back to my home of Moline, Illinois. Being a Southern California boy, Steve wasn’t all that thrilled. We were there 5 years and, when we once again got the itch to travel, we bought a 5th wheel and headed to San Diego to stay at our favorite campground: San Diego Metro KOA. After snowbirding here for two years, we decided to move here full-time this year. And we have never been happier.
Q: Where do you live during the rest of the year?
A: We travel the West Coast for vacations, particularly to Seattle where our kids live.
Q: What type of RV do you have?
A: We have a Cameo 5th Wheel. It’s beautiful — with lots of lovely woodwork and even a fireplace, which we actually use.
Q: How do you start planning your annual journey South?
A: We resisted technology as long as we could. But we have a GPS system that gets us where we want to go, the new “in home” Verizon phone, and a notepad so we can stay in touch with everyone. But our main planning took the form of putting a magnetic notepad on the refrigerator and writing down things to remember to take with us — or things to do before we left.
Q: What KOAs do you stay at other than San Diego Metro?
A: While RVing full time, we stayed at some of the following KOA campgrounds (many more than once):
Waldport KOA– Waldpoort, OR
Kingman KOA– Kingman, AZ
Holbrook/Petrified Forest KOA – Holbrook, AZ
Tucumcari KOA – Tucumcari, NM
Springfield/Route 66 KOA – Springfield, MO
St. Louis, West/Historic Route 66 KOA – Mesquite, MO
Leavenworth/Pine Village KOA – Leavenworth, WA
St. Augustine Beach KOA – St. Augustine Beach, FL
Point South KOA – Point South, S.C.
Rawlins KOA – Rawlins, WY
San Diego Metro KOA – Chula Vista, CA*
*Our favorite and where we are currently living.
Q: What is your favorite thing about KOA?
A: That’s not easy to answer because we like a lot of things about KOA campgrounds. I think our favorite would be how happy the people working at KOAs seem to be. We have stayed in campgrounds where the employees dislike their jobs and aren’t afraid to let you know about it. It makes for a much more fun stay when the employees are happy and interact with the campers in a positive way.
Q: Can you tell us about the snowbird lifestyle at KOA?
A: Making new lifelong friends is probably the highlight. We have met people from Canada, Montana, Wyoming and elsewhere who are true friends. Because people tend to come back to the same campground when snowbirding, you’re able to spend a lot of time together. This campground is really special because it makes families feel very welcome and plans great activities, such as a climbing wall for kids, hay rides for Halloween and so much more. We love to have the trick or treaters, all dressed up, come and get treats from us. The staff here is very creative.
Q: When creating your “home away from home,” what do you like about KOA?
A: Most KOAs are landscaped beautifully. It’s more like living in a park than in a campground. Of all the campgrounds where we’ve stayed, this KOA is the most beautiful. You can just walk out your door and feel you are in the woods. Also, we have three dogs, which are another reason for choosing this lifestyle. We never leave home without them and they are very welcome here. We also look for campgrounds where it is easy to go and jog or bicycle. There is a beautiful bike path just outside the campground that runs beside a bird sanctuary.
Q: Do you spend your holidays at KOA? If so, how do you create a festive environment at KOA?
A: Since so many people know each other, there’s a lot of competition to out-decorate each other — so it’s very festive. Lots of us join in for barbeques and potlucks.
Q: What type of events and holiday festivities take place at your KOA?
A: We have not yet been here in the summer, but I understand there are a lot of activities, including pancake breakfasts. As I mentioned previously, Halloween is a big event here and the kids really love it.
Q: What advice do you have for people thinking about heading out on their own snowbird journey?
A: Just do it. It is a very relaxing lifestyle. As soon as we’re hooked up, all the stress just goes away. You’ll love it!
Steve and Gail Cawsey have been RVers for more many years. They even wrote a book on it: “Life on the Road — Full-Time Motorhoming.” You can find them enjoying the good life all winter long at San Diego Metro KOA in Southern California.