The Coronavirus Pandemic has caused many changes to our normal routine. While for most people that means wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, in our case it affects where we live. We normally spend our winters in Key West, but the RV park at the Naval Air Station remains closed so that wasn’t an option. The RV park at Patrick Air Force Base near Cocoa Beach, FL is a favorite location, but they don’t accept reservations and we didn’t want to base where we would stay from November through March on a “roll of the dice.” Many people we know from Key West have stayed at the Recreation Plantation near The Villages and were talking about spending the winter there instead of Key West. Based on all of this we made a reservation at Recreation Plantation.
So far it has been a great choice. While we miss the camaraderie of our “military family” at Key West, many of them are here, and the other “residents” of Recreation Plantation are very welcoming. There is plenty to do here. We are right next to The Villages and there is a system of golf cart/bicycle/walking paths through The Villages we can use. It makes for a nice, scenic ride without having to worry about vehicle traffic. There are many places to shop and eat within a short ride from the RV park. The park has an Activities Office that coordinates several events within the park. The Coronavirus has caused several to be cancelled, but the staff and residents have been very creative in keeping the place hopping.
There is a Thursday morning gathering for free coffee and donuts where they make general announcements about park activities. There is a trailer with fresh produce for sale on Thursdays and one morning there was a blood drive that I supported. I am easily bribed with free juice and cookies and a Wal-Mart gift card!
We celebrated Thanksgiving by inviting another couple Mike and Judy, friends from Key West, to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. Pat baked a turkey and apple pie and our friends brought side dishes. We ate at our picnic table and enjoyed a great meal with great company. I took pictures of the turkey and the pie, but we were having such a good time I forgot to get any pictures of the people! 😦
The local town of Lady Lake held a Christmas parade that was very entertaining.
After Thanksgiving, we decorated our trailer with Christmas decorations. Usually we would have to take these down after a few days because we would fly back to Michigan for the holidays and store the trailer somewhere else. This year we were not flying back home because of the pandemic and not storing the trailer, so they could stay up! Our big decoration is our outdoor tree made out of lights we used to hang on our house.
I discovered that a local SCUBA dive shop, Underwater Adventures, was offering the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Rescue Diver course. I have wanted to take this course for a long time and decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
The course was challenging, mentally as much as physically. I was fortunate to have been a Red Cross Safety Programs Field Representative and, as a result, an Instructor-Trainer in both First Aid and Water Safety. That training and experience was a great help in completing this course. The course included preventing and dealing with equipment failures, assisting divers in trouble both underwater and on the surface. We did the open water diving at Alexander Springs, part of the Ocala National Forest. Our instructor wanted to do this training in poorer visibility, but I was happy to swim in the crystal clear water of the spring. The practical examination in open water was definitely challenging. Doing mouth to mouth rescue breathing while treading water was tough when I was 40, it was even more so at 71 years old!
I don’t see myself becoming a Divemaster or Instructor, but do feel that I am now a much safer diver and will be able to safely and effectively assist other divers who may be experiencing difficulties.
One Sunday morning (at about 1:00 am) we awoke to a whooshing sound and the strong smell of ammonia. When I went outside to investigate I found that the cooling unit of our refrigerator had ruptured and ammonia was spewing out of a rusted pipe. After almost ten years on the road and constant use, it was not surprising that it died. Granted, that didn’t make us happy about it. The next morning I called around and made arrangements to get it repaired at RV Specialist in nearby Leesburg. We had to leave our RV with them overnight for the repair and we took advantage of this to get a hotel room in Disney Springs and see the Christmas lights and displays. We picked up our rig the next morning and our refrigerator is now operating like it was brand new again.
December 12th was the Army-Navy Game. Unlike the past few years when we were at Patrick AFB and this was a big deal, we didn’t find anyone in the park that was hosting a game party, so we did our own thing and cheered Army on to victory. We have no doubt that our enthusiastic support was key to the victory for the Black Knights.
One of the local churches set up an outdoor Christmas light display and it was a pleasure to see the religious symbols of the season in lights.
I usually practice playing my guitar outside our RV in the afternoon and many of the people who had stopped by to listen, encouraged me to do a performance for the park. On December 14th I used the back of our pickup for a stage and held a “Music on the Lawn” performance. It was unique, compared to other campgrounds. In the past people would show up with their lawn chairs, but here it was like a “drive in theater” for golf carts! It was fun and I put on my Santa hat to finish the performance with Christmas Carols.
On December 17th the park had a lighted Christmas Parade for golf carts and bicycles. We decorated our bikes with gift wrap and lights. What a lot of fun! Did I tell you there are a lot of golf carts around here? I discovered that Florida has regulations for golf carts and “Low Speed Vehicles” (LSV). LSVs are super golf carts with higher standards (turn signals, exterior rear view mirrors, head lights, and seat belts. These are considered street legal and you see them all over town.
Wreaths Across America is a non-profit charity that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 2,100 locations across the United States and abroad While most of the effort is on national cemeteries, some local ones participate. We volunteered this year at the Lady Lake Cemetery.
On December 22nd I gave myself an early Christmas present – a Total Knee Replacement on my right knee. Look for more information on this in a future post.
We celebrated Christmas Day with some Key West friends, Roger and Bonnie Ford, and Rusty and Charito Schlagheck. Roger and Bonnie hosted us at their motor home. A great meal with great friends – a true Merry Christmas!