Since we’re spending part of the fall/winter in Florida this year, rather than Arizona like we’ve done for several years, we have the chance to re-connect with some friends whom we haven’t seen for awhile.
Larry & Marilyn Forbes are staying in the Sumter Oaks RV Park (an Escapees Rainbow Park) where we’re parked for 6 weeks, and they invited us for happy hour a few days after we arrived. By that time, Becky Hazen & Lonnie Hodge had also arrived and are parked next to the Forbes’, plus Larry & Carolyn Jarvis, who are long-time Sumter Oaks residents, joined us, so it was a nice gathering of friends.
The Florida Chapter of Escapees has a monthly luncheon in Clermont, about 30 miles east, and we joined them at Golden Corral last Thursday. Everyone was so intent on eating, I didn’t get any good pictures, but here are a few so those who know some of these folks might see a few friends.
Our site in the park is a little cramped for our 40-ft. motorhome and car, but it’s one of the few where we can get our satellite dish tuned in amidst the trees, so we’re making the best of it.
The patio-side neighbors were away from their motorhome for the first week we were here, then they pulled out a couple of days after returning. After they left, four resident sandhill cranes came to explore and check for any goodies the people might have left behind.
These large birds have such pretty red foreheads, and generally call in unison, so we always know when they’re nearby. The Florida sandhill crane is less common than in other states, with only about 5,000 population. They are protected by high monetary penalties for killing them. I don’t think there’s any danger of that happening to these four, as everyone seems to enjoy seeing them roam about the park and among the cypress trees in a nearby swamp.
Jim & Gail McManus came through for a couple of nights after picking up their new motorhome from Lazy Days RV near Tampa, and we went out for BBQ at Sonny’s one night and Mexican food another night with them and Becky & Lonnie.
Besides enjoying friends in the park, and a few outings to the Webster Flea Market (the oldest one in the state), kayaking with manatees, and a trek to Tampa, we also re-connected with a long-time friend Don & I met several years ago (about the same time we met each other) in the Escapees Solos, Jan Pyle. She lives nearby in The Villages, an amazing retirement community unlike any other in the world. We enjoyed a glass of wine on her lanai.
Jan’s no longer RVing, but she hasn’t stopped traveling by any means. She just returned from Ohio for a visit with one daughter, and is preparing to fly to Italy to visit the other one in a few days!
Later, Jan showed us some of the Christmas decorations in nearby neighborhoods. My pictures are a little fuzzy because I was taking them while we were moving slowly in the car. But they will give you a feel for the festive environment.
It’s Florida, so there have to be some flamingoes!
We had dinner at one of the many restaurants in one of The Villages’ three town squares.
Outside, there was a DJ playing lively music and lots of line dancers enjoying themselves.
The square was surrounded with market booths selling everything from clothing and jewelry to wooden roses. I think I need one of these bikini T-shirts!
The shops all have colorful window displays as well.
Thanks, Jan, for the lovely visit and dinner. We so enjoyed seeing you again! And to our other friends, it’s great to be sharing the Christmas spirit and good times with all of you. This is our favorite thing about the RV life – we can meet up with friends almost everywhere we go, and still enjoy seeing new places and have fun experiences together.