It’s hard to believe that 6 weeks has come and almost gone drawing our south-east bus trip to a close. It’s felt long and momentary in its own paradoxical way. Funny how hindsight has that affect on you. On the one hand I feel like we’ve been gone forever, putting a hold on the scheduled routine of my life and its openings for spontaneity. Yet now as I reflect on where we’ve been and what we’ve done, it feels like just yesterday that we took off. What an odd phenomenon.
It’s been a while since my last post though it’s not for lack of trying. Twice I wrote pieces regarding my impressions about the snow birds who flock to Florida and the Disney utopian town of Celebration, and twice Word Press deleted the copy as I was trying to add pictures, moments later automatically saving the blank page as my draft. It irritated me enough to bite my nose to spite my face, say f*** it and go on with my evening without an entry. Now I’m “saving” along the way until they get that glitch (I assume it was “they”) resolved. I’m not a terribly patient person by nature. Can you tell?
We spent the bulk of our time in Florida – down the East coast and back up the Gulf side so I’ve had my fill of ocean and beach for now. I admit to enjoying the Gulf side more because of its greater feeling of space and residential sensibility. Plus there seems to be more than just palm trees to look at. I did love exploring the Everglades which wasn’t a surprise since National Parks rank high on my list of must sees.
The Keys were also fun – it’s a great past-time to bike the streets all over Key West – and frankly, all of Florida due to the flat terrain, though it’s the hills and forests that I love so much about the northern southeast of the country (is that an oxymoron? Northern Southeast?) Anyway – I’m referring to Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.
My greatest impression of Florida is that it’s loaded with seniors, especially snow birds this time of year. License plates from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin, Michigan and other states flood the campgrounds where these older citizens live out the winter months. One of the “RV resorts” in Venice was mostly a mobile home park which doubled as winter camp for its part-time residents. And their calendars get filled with activities like bingo, shuffle board, pot luck suppers and dance, coffee and pastry get togethers while they toodle around the place on adult tricycles and golf carts. It’s a sight for the un-itiated like me. Our campground in the Everglades was the setting for a wedding between two snowbirds celebrating their second anniversary wintering there together. The whole place was invited so I went too; it was a charming diversion while waiting for my laundry to finish drying! Here’s a taste of the wedding.
The Orlando area was a surprise, very much like Pigeon Forge in my neck of the woods with its bumper to bumper traffic and kitschy stores trumpeting all sorts of cheap trinkets for tourists. The highlight for us was touring Celebration, Disney’s vision of a utopian residential village built around a town center. When I read about its development years ago I pictured row after row of colorful pseudo cheerful houses with picket fences, each looking exactly like its neighbor. Shame on me for not assuming they’d commission famed architects Michael Graves, Philip Johnson and Robert A.M. Stern among others to design key elements of this town. It was charming and I can appreciate its appeal.
But my favorite place wasn’t in Florida at all. It was Tybee Island in Georgia, just 16 miles east of Savannah on a wild piece of land resplendent with the natural growth of the region. I love its earthiness and understated homes and especially its zoning law of a maximum three-story structure.
That substantially limits hotels and keeps tourists at a minimum offering a lifestyle the residents can really enjoy. I’ll definitely be going back, may even check real estate prices.
Right now we sit in our wooded campsite at Stone Mountain Campground, about three hours from home. These two days will cap our winter adventure for the season. Tomorrow I’ll hike and bike and we’ll celebrate our last bus dinner with hot dogs and baked beans!
I‘m looking forward to going home just as I look forward to going away. I need both in my life. Both feed my soul.
See you at home.
How is your winter going?