While writing this I am about ready to leave for Florida again. I’ll be going with the snowbirds and returning with the robins. People always said I am quite the bird. What can I say?

I am grateful to my sons and daughter for encouraging me to go again. They all realize that going to Florida is like a health spa for me. I do the same things there but I can continue to be outside, whereas, staying at home in the winter will be mostly indoor activities. 

Many years ago, a neighbor of mine, Bud Brogan, told me about Bird Bay Village in Venice, Florida. He moved there years ago and was one of the first owners in that village. Early on, he began to run breakfasts for Newburyporters and Amesbury people who were there.

Back when we began going to Florida I used to take my wife, Barbara, and two of my oldest sisters They were widowed so would come along readily. We’d be in Florida for a month visiting different places. At one point we visited Bud’s condo at Bird Bay Village. We could see what a nice development he lived in. Little did I know that one day I would be a resident there.

There are about 1,200 condos in that area. If you were to travel around it, it would be about two miles. All the buildings are so nice looking; the place is always well taken care of and well groomed. The buildings are either one or two stories tall. I have been fortunate finding a place to rent in my 15 winters going there and I have made many friends. It is so interesting, people come from all over North America. Should I need any help at all, they are there to help me. Years I spent there solely with a bicycle so whenever I needed a ride some place, I had many people who would offer. There was never a time I couldn’t make an appointment one place or another.

Everything I need is so close by. Getting to these places is never a problem. Having to give up riding my bike at the age of 92 I find I get along well with my car. Every place I go to is so close that I don’t have to fill up my gas tank for two weeks at a time; then I only need a half tank of gas So, you can see how little I have to travel. The beaches are all so great and so close I travel there sometimes just for the view. One particular beach that is most popular is Sharky’s. There are always activities there with many visitors. One big attraction is a long pier jutting out into the Gulf. People go out there just for the view or maybe to fish off it. It’s well worth a ride there each time.

Venice has a small downtown that sort of reminds me of little Newburyport. Bud Grogan began his reunions there and when we visited there for the first time we fell in love with the town.

Right inside Bird Bay Village we have the nicest facilities. Only a 10-minute walk from the condo is a pool where I swim laps every morning. There is a heater keeping the water warm all night long. Because of the time of the year it doesn’t get light until 7 a.m. and I have to wait until then to swim. If the air temperature is 48 degrees or better I am ready to get in for laps.

There are tennis courts on both sides of the pool, pickleball courts at one end of the pool, a small workout room right next door and also a small library for my reading material. I am so grateful to Bud who introduced me to Bird Bay Village. He has since moved to a service retirement home in Mississippi. While he lived in Bird Bay he was always active in tennis and also on a softball team.

Even in my late years, I find a lot to do in Florida. Right alongside the development is a rail trail that extends for miles. As you can imagine, no hills, and all pretty country to admire along the way. You can understand why I am so dedicated to being there. Surely if some Newburyporters would come down, they would feel the same way. It would be nice to have them join me.

Bob "Boots" Chouinard lives in Salisbury.