Our first full week in Florida provided opportunities to explore and create new habits as well. The resort is less than full presently, which has its upside and downside. We certainly have the run of the facilities like the pool and laundry which is nice. Our neighbors are limited but very nice so far. On the downside, the west side of the resort is nearly empty limiting the opportunities to meet new people and make connections.
One of our first tasks, after a grueling eight-day trip getting here, was to find a chiropractor. We certainly had a high bar having gone to Dr. Pat in Glastonbury for as long as we can remember. It has to be at least twenty-five years. We searched on-line and found Dr. O’Neill who came highly recommended. We made an appointment right away. We were very happy with both Dr. O’Neill and his staff. They were very friendly and the adjustment was a welcome relief.
One of our goals for this winter was to use the free time wisely and try to create some healthy living habits. Chief among them was to engage in a regular exercise program. I had mentioned to Eileen that I wanted to try yoga. After she recovered from mild shock, we agreed to look for a class when we arrived. We were very fortunate to happen upon a YMCA that is less than five minutes from our resort and the timing was just right as the first Saturday of our stay they were having a sign-up day. We saved the initial sign-up fee and signed up for the family plan which provides access to all of their facilities and free access to all of their classes including yoga.
The facilities are first-rate with a workout room with more machines and free weights than a Planet Fitness, a regular gym, Olympic-size pool, group fitness room and pickle-ball courts. If you are not from Florida, or retired, you might be saying, “Pickle Ball?” It is very popular with retirees here in Florida at least. It is tennis on smaller court, with a racquet the size of a racquet ball racquet and a plastic ball sized between a baseball and a softball. It is mostly played as mixed doubles and very competitive. It is sometimes the geriatric version of Connors vs. McEnroe.
On Monday evening at 6:30 we arrived for our first yoga class. At 7:30 we staggered away with a healthy respect for the rigors of yoga. I was aware of muscles that heretofore I did not know even existed. The instructor was good and made sure to encourage modifications for those of us whose bodies had never gone where she was asking them to go.
We have been back to the Y almost every day for some kind of class or workout. Yoga stretch (a little less intense than yoga), circuit training, and water exercise. I even went to the pool on Sunday morning to swim laps, which I had not done since I left Weaver High School twenty years ago. For five or six years I would meet my good friends and colleagues Mike Cuhna and Ed Mickiewicz at 6 am every morning and we would swim between thirty and forty laps. Sometimes Mike, a committed triathlete, would talk us into doing a ladder sprint workout, but most of the time straight and steady free-style did the trick. Swimming on this Sunday morning was not like riding a bike. It was like starting all over again.
The staff at Sanctuary continues to do repairs on the site including replacing a good deal of the grass that was lost to flooding. There have been socializing events for people in the resort to get to know each other. There was happy hour with a free rum punch. Every Monday morning there are free donuts and coffee in the community room. So far Eileen and I have resisted. The donuts – not the rum punch. The restaurant had a barbecue Saturday night with drinks and a band.
I have been checking out the public golf courses. The first one I frequented was Bonita Fairways about five miles from the resort. I was shocked that the course was empty. It was not until I got to the third hole and realized it was a 230-yard par four that I realized that it was an executive course with five par 3s on the front nine. I was done with nine in fifty-five minutes. The course was integrated into the community so I was driving my cart between people’s condos and driving about thirty yards from the front door of the residents.
The next course I played was Eagle Ridge in Fort Myers. This was a full-size course and somewhat challenging with lots of water and obvious residual effects of Irma. The course was very busy. As I was by myself I was paired with two older women probably in their seventies. They were part of a six-women group and were pulled out to play with me. I felt bad from them not being able to play with their friends’ and they felt bad for me having to play with them. We made the best of it.
Although the golf was less than stellar, the banter and conversation were fun. I unfortunately have been hitting the ball a little better and spent much of the time either waiting for one or both to hit their third or fourth shot before I got to my ball, or standing by the green and waiting for them to get on to putt. On the 12th green the ranger stopped by to ask me how I was doing. He clearly did not have to ask as I was standing on the green and the ladies were searching for their balls in a mucky, swampy area on the side of the fairway. He said, “I’m not sure you are going to finish 18. The carts have to be back by 5:30.” We had teed off at 1:30. It was 4:30 as I stood waiting on the 12th green. I had to agree.
When we finished the 15th hole the ranger showed up again. The friends group ahead of us, and our group, had decided to call it a day. He led the way back to the clubhouse where the ladies were going to have their customary weekly drink amongst friends. I just made my way home.
Most of the courses down here are integrated into gated communities. The golf is sometimes a part of the housing deal but often on private courses there is a hefty initiation fee of twenty thousand dollars or more as well as the greens fees.
I will be trying several more public courses along the way. Come January it may take an act of congress to get a tee time. I may have to switch to pickle ball.
There is never a day where there is not something to do. The challenge is actually to give yourself permission to do nothing. You sometimes have to remind yourself that you are not required to do anything and it is ok to just veg out and read or watch a game. We are still establishing our pace. As the resort begins to fill, and we are more comfortable with our surroundings, I am sure we will fall into a more comfortable and relaxed pattern. This is an excellent opportunity for us to figure out if in fact this area is where we would like to be for six months and a day each year.