Throughout our stay at Recreation Plantation COVID-19 was always a factor in our planning and decision-making. We formed an informal “bubble” with our friends. On occasion, we did participate in community events, but did our best to be friendly and distant at the same time. I am so looking forward to when this pandemic is behind us.
Our friends in Recreation Plantation included some Key West friends that had purchased homes in The Villages. Rusty and Charito Schlagheck were one of these couples. We had enjoyed Christmas Dinner with them and the Fords and they invited all of us to their house for a grilled brisket. They are certainly enjoying themselves in their new home. They had been full-time RVers until they decided to settle down, and it was interesting to see an actual home in The Villages.
Getting our COVID-19 vaccinations was a priority for us. Fortunately we were able to get our shots before Florida insisted that their vaccinations be limited to permanent and part-time (Snowbirds who owned property) residents. Having our legal residence in South Dakota could have been problematic and we were not going to be in any one place long enough to get both shots until we got to the Tacoma, WA area in May. I felt sorry for the staff and volunteers working in the cold and wind, but appreciated what they were doing.
In The Villages, there are four Village Squares that are social centers for music, shopping, and restaurants. We visited the Spanish Springs Square and Sumter Landing Square several times for dining and shopping. Spanish Springs hosted a craft fair and a Mardi Gras celebration. It was interesting to see how people handled COVID protocols. Some consistently wore masks, maintained social distancing, and hand washing, while others acted as though COVID had never happened. We (and our friends) were very careful.
One of my favorite activities in Key West was the weekly jam session. For years, Gary Buck had coordinated this event in Key West. This year I picked up on his tradition and started a jam session that met on Tuesday afternoons. After a slow start, Gary and some other amateur musicians arrived in the park to form a group that had fun sharing songs and tips with each other.
I was struck by the hardships faced by the residents of Texas and neighboring states by the winter storms in February, and I wanted to do something to help. I performed two guitar concerts and put out the word that all of my tips would go to raise money for Feeding America to support the food banks in the area. Thanks to the generosity of the residents of Recreation Plantation, I was able to contribute $250 to Feeding America.
We took a day to drive to Silver Springs State Park to go kayaking. What a great time! There was wildlife everywhere. I was amazed how comfortable to the turtles and other wildlife were with humans. Normally the alligators don’t care, but the turtles normally slide into the water at the slightest interaction with people. At Silver Springs, you could paddle right up to them and they continued to sun on the fallen trees along the river. It seemed like you could almost touch them before they would move.
The day before we were supposed to leave, the starter on our truck failed. It took the local dealer three days to get a new starter and get it installed. Talk about a bummer! However, we continue to prevail.
On our last night in the park, we went out to dinner at La Palma Mexican Grill in Leesburg with our good friends from Lansing, MI – Steve and Debbie Smith. The food was good, but we really enjoyed the 3 for 1 margaritas!