Silver Alerts, Thongs, and the Real Florida
Visiting Florida in the winter can’t be beat. Living there for two or three months can be a culture shock. As Tom says, “Drivers in Florida click on their turn signals and forget them.” Silver alerts abound. News of missing seniors regularly flashed on the Interstate.
I have a theory. Remember the hippies, counter culture, and free love children of the sixties who dined on LSD for lunch? Well, I think they all moved to Florida. But now, they are in their seventies and eighties and well-worn. We wondered if they had been out in the sun too much. They still wear bell bottoms, long hair, and tie-died t-shirts. As one couple in a multi-colored limping bus said to me, “If it walks and talks like a duck, it must be …”
A Love Affair with the Sand
It is amazing to watch beach-worshippers disrobe in cold weather while the locals are wearing sweatshirts. While walking down A1A in Cocoa Beach, waiting for a concert to start, a naked woman passed by us. Well, we thought she was naked. We think she was wearing a thong and nothing else. It was 68 degrees or less.
Pardon me Boys ….?
Florida is on the East Coast and counts more than 100 million visitors every year. It took Tom and I several weeks to get used to the break or is it brake neck speed and lack of manners of people in the stores and on the highways. Shoppers would run right into you because you were walking too slow or were in their way. If they wanted something, they would lean over you (touching or pushing you) and pick it off the shelf. They rarely said, “excuse me.” While walking in a parking lot, they might try to run you over or trip you on the way to a door! (How do you take a photo of this?)
Are we Nuts?
After considerable hunting over a few years, we finally settled on purchasing a “hut” (They call them executive suites.) at the Great Outdoors RV Resort (TGO).
The negotiations were painful because two couples owned the hut and were at war. They had ignored maintenance on the hut for years while fighting. Many things had to be fixed. We knew of several before we bought, but others surfaced after the purchase.
We spent about three weeks scraping grease off everything, donating most of the dirty items in the hut, and painting the inside. I spent six hours just trying to clean the windows in one room. We had to throw out very expensive blinds because we could not get the grease off of them.
It took five buckets of water to clean a 10×10 room. We also had to have the roof fixed, rotted wood replaced, a shower re-grouted, a fan installed, other electrical work plus the installation of overhead lights. There is more to do next December.
Have you Ever Owned Palm Trees?
Our hope was to find a very large double-driveway, open space, and room for our beloved canines. Tom plays the guitar and I wanted a place for my keyboard. RV’s can become very tight in rainy or cold weather. We needed a bit more space.
Our unit at 130 Windsong Way measures up to our dreams. The four rooms of the “hut” are about 600 square feet and our screened in porch is 600 square feet. There is a front room with a small kitchen, a study, a man-size shower and bath, plus a storage room with a place for a washer and dryer. The driveway can hold at least two large RV’s plus a couple of cars. And, we are situated on a lovely pond, now named Harvey Lake. Palm trees drape both sides of our driveway.
Our place is about ten minutes from the beach. We are near the Space center and about 30 miles East of Orlando. Canaveral National Sea Shore and Cocoa Beach are just hops away.
Why Purchase a Driveway in Florida!?
The problem is reservations. Campers have come to Florida for a hundred years and they want to go back to their old camping spot. It is very difficult to break this cycle because owners of RV Camps give priority to prior renters. It takes hours and hours to find a spot and when you do, it could be one foot away from another camper. It is a very stressful enterprise!
We discovered that TGO took one-month reservations for the winter starting in August. We had bundled a few weeks together for next year but had gaping holes of three days where we could not find a place to stay! By August everything in Florida is booked, so you could not add to your vacation at this point. It is a strategy they used to encourage people to purchase pads (driveways). It worked. Some individuals rent their pads but identifying those individuals is a mysterious process.
The Great Outdoors is Different
TGO (click on TGO to go to the resort.) is built in the midst of a 2800-acre gated nature preserve. The park is gorgeous. Most RV pads have space in front and back. So, people have a lot of personal space. TGO maintains all of the grass and landscaping. You can purchase a small driveway with utilities for $69K up to homes that are worth several million dollars. Yes, they have huge garages for their Class A Motorhome beauties.
Activities and clubs abound. Special events dot calendars around golf events and the local non-denominational Christian church.
It is a place to stay healthy and meet people from all over the continent. There are miles and miles of roads, nature paths, ponds, dog walks, pools, and all the rest of the games you would find on a high-end cruise ship. Plus, it has an 18 hole golf course.
Several exercise classes are taught almost every day. There are two restaurants, a post office, RV service center, RV sales, a Nature Center, and a state-of-the-art recycling area. You can bring anything to this area and it will be disposed. People are connected by two Facebook accounts and receive monthly newsletters about events, classifieds, homes for sale, services and so much more. I could go on…. Here is the main website: http://www.tgoresort.com
Neighbors Made Us Feel at Home
From the first day to the last people were more than cordial. When exploring neighborhoods on foot, people would come out of their RV’s and tell us about a property and why we should purchase on their street. Some even had keys to properties and willingly allowed us to tour the homes. Literally everyone waves when they see you. One evening we were walking back to our RV after a concert and a man offered us a ride. We told him that we wanted to walk. He said that was very sad because, “he wanted to get to know us.” He was one of our neighbors.
All of the neighbors across the street and next to us welcomed us. We have never experienced this in our entire life. I wonder if it is that we all have so much in common. We all like to travel, to camp, own an RV, want to be in Florida in the winter, and, are mostly retired. So, now we have email addresses, phone numbers, and already have been contacting our neighbors. One of them is taking care of our “hut” while we are gone!!!!
Stuck in Florida
We had planned to come home three weeks earlier. But we had to wait and wait and wait on very slow contractors to help us. No one was in a hurry!!!! Some of the work was good and some of it was ….
We will send more signals about this adventure when December rolls around. Who knows, we might add some “before and after pics” of the hut!
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge