"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."
– Virginia Satir
So true, isn't it? I know this is a lesson that I have learned, and continue to learn, and I'm 52 years old!!!! When does it stop????
So, we're here in Bushnell, Florida and having a very nice time. The park we're staying in is smaller than usual (probably about 50 campers) but the people are just the friendliest. Steve and I enjoyed the Mexican dinner night and the all-you-can-eat breakfast they provided. We once again played Bingo and I won $2 (because I had to share the pot with several others who also won with me). This park belongs to the Escapees camping club and I highly recommend this club to anyone who's thinking about doing some serious traveling like Steve and I. You get discounts at a ton of RV parks, but this group also provides other services to full-timers like mail forwarding, trip planning, etc.
We began our week with a visit to The Villages. It's a community designed for people 55+ and it offers everything you could ever possibly want in life. Honestly, it was kinda weird to drive into this city, and when I say city, I mean it. There are 80,000 residents of The Villages and the plan is to grow that to 100,000. The residential area is organized into "neighborhoods", all of which contain multiple community pools, at least one clubhouse (but most have multiple), and at least one Executive golf course. Overall within The Villages there are 20 executive and 8 championship golf courses, each of which can be used by anyone within The Villages system. This community also offers all kinds of clubs to keep the seniors active and engaged and quite frankly, it was overwhelming. We drove around and looked at homes with a sales person and I was taken aback at the amount of activity. There are "streets" right next to the main roads that are for golf cars only and these "streets" were full of traffic. The golf car is the major source of transportation in this community and when we visited one of the town squares, the place was lousy with golf cars. Steve and I both loved this community and will definitely keep it in mind when we finally settle down and I go back to work. Here is a link to the website if you want to check it out yourself: www.thevillages.com. In my mind, the homes are overpriced, but the monthly fee (similar to an HOA) is so low, it sort of makes up for the overpricing on the house. Residents pay $135/month which covers all the costs associated with maintaining the facilities throughout the Villages. This fee allows each resident access to each and every pool, clubhouse, entertainment and social clubs, and free golf on any of their executive courses. So, yeah, Steve and I could become "Villagers". Holy Cow!
After this visit, we stopped at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. What a gem this museum was. There are two buildings full of cars and I mean FULL - - the first dedicated to Don's drag racing career and the sport in general, and the second was just chock full of antique cars. "Big Daddy", as Don was known throughout his career, began racing cars in Florida in 1950. He was quite the visionary and innovator for the sport and dominated the drag racing circuit for nearly 25 years. While there, we met Don's current crew chief, Bob Taaffe, who told us about his time with Don both in the past as well as the present. These two men go WAAAAAY back and it was interesting to hear Bob talk about old times.
Also in the area is Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. This was more like a zoo than a state park and is the home to some of Florida's largest winter manatee population. It's an interesting park in that you enter at the Visitor's Center and then board a boat that takes you to the actual park. The ride is educational and informative as the guide tells you about the native wildlife and the history of the park and it's most famous resident - Lou the Hippo. Once inside the park, you walk along a paved path and view tons of animals that are native to Florida: red wolves, bald eagles, flamingos, bobcats, alligators, manatees, key deer, and many others. There is even an underwater viewing area for the manatees and many of Florida's resident species of fish. This has to be one of the best state parks I have ever visited and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. This is a recommended stop if you are ever in the Ocala area.
One of the disappointing things we did this week was visit Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. I had always heard about the mermaids at this park and both Steve and I were looking forward to the visit. Unfortunately, the day we were there was dedicated to celebrating the 100th birthday of Dr. Seuss so the entire park was centered around Dr. Seuss related activities and entertainment. The place was swarming with kids and it was quite hot so we picked a bad day. The mermaid show was superceded by a show about the Cat in the Hat. It was cute but not what we wanted to see. We also took the boat ride down the river which also turned out to be a disappointment. The boat traveled only 1/2 mile and there was really nothing to see except the kayakers. UGH. To compound this bad experience, we headed from there to the Botanical Gardens. This would have been a spectacular place to visit if it weren't "winter". Most of the plants were in their winter hibernation stage and very little of them had flowered. Those that did, however, were spectacular and Steve got some awesome pictures.
The balance of the week was spent hanging out at the trailer and visiting with our neighbors. This week will be exciting. We are going to a flea market in Webster that everyone seems to think is a "must see". We also plan to see the Detroit Tigers in a Spring training game and then our final stop is a day at the NHRA Grand Nationals in Gainesville on Friday.
Until then, hang in there you winter people. Daylight Savings time begins on March 10 and that means that Spring is just around the corner. We miss you all!!