We sure have missed being around this guy, 18 month-old Austin. He definitely prefers Bapa to me, but when Bapa isn't around, Austin is content to come to me. Second-best is acceptable.
On the Monday before Thanksgiving, we went here for the next two weeks.
The Villages is a city of approximately 86,000 people comprised of 55 small "villages" - neighborhoods full of similar-aged people, 55 years and older, who're like-minded about retirement, wanting to live their senior years. The Villages is located next to the city of Lady Lake in central Florida. It's little over an hour northwest of Orlando (home of Disney World, Epcot Center, Universal Studios, Sea World, and the like), and about a half hour southeast of Ocala.
It's a beautiful, idyllic place that has been called "Disney World for adults." Someone else likened The Villages to "being in eighth grade, without the homework!"
|Photo taken while driving in a golf cart, on the golf cart road|
|View of Lake Miona from Market Square boardwalk.|
Dan and I first visited The Villages one day last May. He attended a simulcast John Deere retiree meeting while I strolled and shopped the retail shops in Market Square. After his meeting we went to the sales office to learn more about The Villages. We were delighted with what we heard and left there with a strong desire to learn more. Hence our return visit these past weeks.
Just as we did, anyone 55 years or older is invited to make a "lifestyle visit" to The Villages, staying four to fourteen days in a furnished home. We were privileged to stay in the Lakeshore Cottages village, in this fabulous three-bedroom, two-bathroom, furnished house.
|Hogan, our dog, came with us.|
During the two weeks of our lifestyle visit, we had every opportunity to enjoy the amenities and we tried very hard to do so! Every single night of the year (except Christmas), there's free live music in both of the city squares - Spanish Springs Square, and Market Square, the latter of which was within short walking distance of our house. We took advantage and attended each evening except two, sitting outdoors listening and dancing! We don't dance often, and certainly don't know formal dances, but when the music played is mostly from the 60s and 70s, we couldn't resist.
Depending on who's performing, the Market Square can be a hoppin' place! Rocky and the Rollers are a particular favorite.
As well, every other night vendor booths are set up to sell things: jewelry, outdoor signage (residents of The Villages often display their names in front of their homes), designer soap and sporting goods.
On this particular evening, Thursday, December 1, the square was especially busy because it was the annual Christmas Tree lighting, the most well-attended event of the year.
Check out the hundreds of golf carts parked along the streets!
Many of them just made me smile.
You can see here that we enjoyed our golf cart too. Our Tampa family visited us, staying for four nights over Thanksgiving and the weekend. This is how we went to church Sunday morning!
With more than 1,800 groups within The Villages, there is no shortage of opportunities to share interests and be active. While we didn't try out any of the 504 golf holes in The Villages, we found activities that interest us. Dan got to play cribbage, a card game he's loved since being taught by his grandfather and that he hasn't played for years. He also played badminton, platform tennis and tried pickleball, the most popular sport in The Villages. I think I could hear his creaky knees after that week.
|Dan, on the right, at platform tennis lessons.|
As for me, well of course you know I visited quilt groups. The Villages boasts 12 groups that meet weekly! All of them meet on Tuesdays though, so I couldn't attend many of them - only two: Laurel Manor Quilters and Allamanda Quilters. Then, once a month all of them meet as the Quilting Guild of The Villages and have about 500 members. I met some pretty nice people - Honestly, are there any not-nice quilters? I also visited a needlework group and they were just as nice. The Villages isn't called "Florida's Friendliest Hometown" without reason. (In future posts I have more to share about attending those groups.)
We made sure that Hogan would be comfortable riding in a golf cart. He was!
Suffice it to say we had a fabulous time, one that has instigated serious discussions about how we'll spend our retirement years. During our long drive back home, we spent considerable time accessing our living situation and lifestyle. We agree that we're ready to make a change and this may be it.
|Dozens of neighborhood heated swimming pools are open year-round.|
|Streets and properties are well-maintained with gorgeous landscaping.|
|Even though we don't golf, these course views are impressive.|
Lots of planning lies ahead, and God-willing, we'll find ourselves spending the next 20 years living like this. Factored into decision-making is my unwillingness to physically further distance myself from young grandchildren. I've been praying earnestly about everything (Can we sell our house?), and will continue to do so.
As I've been pondering, I do find it serendipitous that I like palm trees so much - that my blog name and my favorite Bible verses (Psalm 92:12-13) are about palm trees. Doesn't it seem right that someday I might live where palm trees do? Linda