THE VILLAGES WATERFRONT INN AND MEET MR. NEW JERSEY
By Stephen A Duncan
Back in April I visited a retirement community in central Florida called The Villages. I spent about four hours looking around. I climbed aboard the one hour blue trolley bus tour, had dinner and talked to a lot of people who live in the place. On the four hour ride back to the condo in Pompano, I had time to think things through and it was pretty clear to me The Villages was a place I could call home.
But how can I make that kind of decision that quickly? On the drive back I thought about pulling roots and leaving what has been home (Indianapolis) for most of my life. Anytime I get excited about something. I have a tendency to tear it apart to make sure I’m making a rational decision. I look for the negatives and reasons why not. But as I continued my drive through the night, I couldn’t think of any reason not to seriously consider living in The Villages. Yes, there would be challenges and hurdles in moving. Convincing Dad (94) to sell his home he has lived in for fifty seven years and move to Florida? That will be a huge challenge.
I decided to let the idea perk in my head for a few days. When I got back to Indianapolis I started telling people about my experience and spreading the good news, so to speak. Some seemed excited for me, others could have cared less. I discovered a lot of people could not wrap their mind around the thought of leaving their grandchildren behind. The thought that they would be a thousand miles away from family and their grandkids was not even a consideration. It simply isn’t going to happen. I talked to my son, Scott, and in fact, he was in favor of the move. He wants to live in The Villages himself, but at forty three he’s too young.
While talking to The Villages staff about living in the Villages I remember they had a program where you can rent a home for a week and experience The Villages to make sure this is something you really want to do. So I called The Villages sales office and asked what dates were available. It was set; I would be going back in July for a week.
Being on the road always holds a fascination for me. The asphalt strip just seems to never end. It’s sort of like riding your horse into the sunset… “Shane?”
NOTICE THE PLEASURE CRAFT ON THE WATER NEXT TO HIGHWAY 24.
JUST ANOTHER DAY IN THE MOUNTAINS
Late Sunday night around nine I was lost. I was close to the Villages and I was sure I was following the instructions faxed to me by The Villages staff, but I was hopelessly lost. For some reason my GPS was telling me I had passed the exit and that I was south of The Villages. After wandering around for what seemed forever I found a gate guard. He told me where I was and pointed me in the right direction. Finally, I was driving in the Lake Sumter Town Square looking for a place to park.
I had no idea where I was going to stay for the night. So, I decided to walk to the open air bar on the town square and ask someone. The bar, I guess they serve food too, was about 25% full. I looked around for who I thought I might approach. Four people were sitting in the corner at a high table and stools and so I walked up to their table.
“Pardon me, I just arrived from Indianapolis, I don’t know the area, I thought you folks might be willing to recommend a place to stay for the night?”
The table was occupied by two women and two men. They looked me over and one woman asked if I was just staying one night? I told them no, I had reservations for a Villa to stay the week and had come for the program called Experience The Villages. The other woman gave me a little harder look and asked if I was on this trip alone. I smiled and told her, “Yes.” They were looking around and started pointing down the block. They told me about a hotel called The Waterfront Inn. They all seemed to think this was the place for me. “It’s only a couple of blocks, you’ll like it.”
I pulled up to the entrance of the Waterfront Inn and walked into the lobby. An older man asked if he could help me. Keep in mind this is a retirement community and almost everyone here is an older person. I told him I was here to experience The Villages and was meeting my realtor in the morning at the sales office and I need a place to stay for the evening. Not a single word was mentioned about the price of the room, and when I entered the room I started to worry what it was going to cost.
WATERFRONT INN – NICE SIZE BED – WITH PILLOWS
WATERFRONT INN – COUCH
WATERFRONT INN – DRESSER AND TV
WATERFRONT INN – WORK DESK
WATERFRONT INN – BATH
WATERFRONT INN – SHOWER HEADS
You tell me the cost of this room… more on that later.
I decided to head back to the bar for a night cap. So, I settled in the room, walked downstairs and walked the two blocks back to the bar. I cozied up to the bar and asked for a cocktail. The white board menu on the wall said well drinks cost $2.50. As I was holding my well drink, a woman came up to the bar and sat next to me. On her right, a bald headed man sat next to her. I turned and said Hi. She “Hi-ed” me back. It seemed awkward for a few minutes. I just decided to mind my own business and sit there and think the day through. I had been on the road all day… I found The Villages… I had a place to say for the night, and I was enjoying the last few minutes of the day. The weather was perfect. The drink was… acceptable. It sure wasn’t Gray Goose vodka they were using, but a vodka cocktail of some kind in a cheap plastic cup. The woman sitting next to me tried to start a conversation and I was forced to disclose I was just in from Indianapolis. I had a reservation to stay the week in a Villa type home. She indicated she had lived in several homes in The Villages and liked Villa style living. She apparently has downsized due to a divorce. Her male friend sitting next to her was real quiet. I wasn’t sure if I was treading on his personal property and he wouldn’t take kindly to the dude from Indiana talking to his woman, or if he was simply the silent type.
I asked her how she ended up in The Villages and if she liked living here. Off the subject, have you ever noticed if you ask a person if they like the new car they just purchased? More than likely they spent twenty five or thirty thousand dollars. I have never had anyone say, “I made a big mistake and I hate this turkey.” Well, the same thing is true about asking someone about living in The Villages… “Oh, I just love it here. There is so much to do.” Mr. Silent finally looked over at me and we made eye contact… I asked him “What brought him to The Villages.”
I figured he would blow me off… but he didn’t. I found out he worked most of his career for the New Jersey State Police, narcotics division. He and his golf buddies back in New Jersey vacationed year after year all over the country trying out all the best golf courses in the country. One year one of his pals suggested they come to The Villages and play a couple of rounds of golf on the professional courses. The suggestion was not well received. The push back was “You want us to play golf at a f**king rest home?” When they arrived and played they discovered the courses were equal to, or better than some that they played years earlier. He told me at some point he looked at the total package The Villages had to offer. He said he couldn’t get this place out of his mind. So he came back the next year to play golf again and decided he wanted to retire here. We talked for about an hour. His friend, the lady who was sitting next to me, bid us a good evening and she left. His language became even more salty as the night wore on and he talked about his job back in New Jersey. He had no kind words for his supervisors, for the system, for the whole organization. The bar was giving a “last call” and he decided to have one more. I was wiped. In fact, he lost interest in talking to me for the fine looking woman serving behind the bar. I could see my night was coming to a close. I told him I was turning in. He turned on his stool and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Come back, I’m here most any night.”
WATERFRONT INN – ROOM RENT FOR ONE NIGHT