Saturday, July 27, 2013

Buddy and Diane Visit Us at The Villages

We had a visit from some of our favorite people in the world: Buddy and Diane.  They came during the week that Nathan and I went back down to Wauchula, but luckily they waited for us to get back for a night out with them and Rich and Donna.

We headed down to Wildwood to eat at a place that Rich and Donna had been to before, the Cotillion Southern Cafe.
We had dinner reservations at 4:30.  We arrived early enough to peek at the menu that had sitting out front.  It looked like a wonderful country cooking menu to me.  Once we were inside I could see how unique this place really was.  The decorations were so down home and relaxing, right down to our mis-matched dishes at our table.  Most importantly was the food there.  It was very good!  We ordered a variety of dishes and we all agreed that our food was wonderful.  I highly recommend this place to anyone in the area.

We enjoyed our night of fun, food and most important of all: Friends!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Short Trip Back to Peace River

I am having so much fun in The Villages, that I think the only thing that could get me to leave would be the horses at the horse sanctuary that I volunteer at.  The owner took a much needed vacation, so I agreed to come down and help our group of core volunteers cover while she was gone.  I was happy to be greeted by some of my favorite horses as soon as I stepped out of my car.

I was also happy to see all of the horses looking healthy and happy.  Even Joe, who is still recovering and underweight was much better than a month ago.  Dixie, the newest mini, was walking around well.
Chevy, who makes my heart pitter patter like no other male beyond Nathan, was an handsome as ever.  His gorgeous side kick was as feisty as ever.
There is a beautiful storage barn for the hay.
In fact, the only thing that wasn't wonderful while I was there was this:
We had an abundance of rain last summer, but we have much more flooding from it this year.  I think the horses are as sick of it as we are.
I did get lots of exercise the four days I was there.  I normally walk a lot while there.  In fact, I wore my pedometer one day and this is how many steps I logged during that day:
Now factor in many of those steps being in the mud, and you can imagine how tired my legs are right now! I have blisters all over my feet and legs.  My shoulders and arms ache.  Luckily the horses make every minute of the hard work worth it all and then some!  I love spending time out there, and I love each and every horse.
Living the life in wet and muggy Florida!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Another Fun Night with Rich and Donna

It has been so great to have friends here at The Villages.  It has given me someone to do things with during the day while Nathan works and it has also given us a fun couple to do things together with when Nathan is not working.

Tonight is a great example of that.  First we went out to eat at Olive Garden tonight, enjoying their 2 for $25 special.  Afterwards Rich and Donna invited us to their place this time, and Donna spoiled us with pumpkin cheesecake for desert.  It was delicious!

I think we might have found a game that Rich enjoys, or at least tolerates for the rest of our sake.  Nathan is hoping we will move to Rook shortly because that is his favorite card game.  In the meantime, I am enjoying a game that I sometimes have a shot at winning.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What We've Been Up To

With hundreds of weekly activities available here at The Villages, the hardest part of being here is picking and choosing just what to do each week.  Last year while visiting, Donna introduced me to Bunco.  We have continued playing that together this year.  We have played at Mulberry, Seabreeze and Bacall and Donna has played at Churchill.
We are tackling line dancing, which comes very easily to Donna due to her professional dance background.  Even though I am limping along compared to her, I am really loving it.  Donna snapped this picture the other morning as we were heading out.  We started at 8 am that morning and danced until almost 11 am.
 I have finally moved from the bench to the court with pickleball and my muscles are feeling the effects of that.  It is so dreadful hot and the level of play is so much higher here, so between the two-it is exhausting to play each day.  It is great fun though and I hope that it will improve my game quite a bit.  I can see a huge difference in Nathan's game and his weight already so hoping the same happens with me.

We have enjoyed playing Mexican Train several times, which allows us some "down time" from time to time and is a nice filler in between other activities.  And all of that is just the daytime fun.  At night it is more Bunco, Pickleball and of course-going out to eat.  I am sharing two more of Donna's pictures from some of our eating out trips together.

We are really loving our time here so much!  It was a good decision to spend the summer here!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Swimming With The Manatees

Before Aric even came to stay for the week with us, we planned a trip to swim with the manatees with him.  Nathan and I went last year and enjoyed the experience so much, we highly recommended it to Aric.  This trip was with a much bigger group.  We had less encounters with manatees and the water was cloudy, making it impossible to see the manatees.  I decided to stay on the boat and take pictures and let the guys hang out with the manatees.  It was still a great day even with those factors.
According to the information they gave us, this is the only place you can swim alongside the West Indian Manatee.  In the winter, they estimate up to 700 manatees are in this area.  During this time of the year that drops to 70.  They are not sure why some migrate north and some stay put here in Florida.  We encountered a mama and her baby.  You are not allowed to touch babies until they reach a certain age/size but it is still neat to see them like we did last year.  It is amazing how gentle the manatees are for their size.  They are not intimidating at all to hang out with, beyond I would not want to be trapped underneath one!
I hope we can make this trip with all of our kids at some point.  It is one of the neatest animal encounters that we've ever experienced!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Archery Range Fun

Since Aric arrived here, he has wanted to try out the archery range.  We finally got down there to try it yesterday.  One of the best aspects of The Villages is that there is a group for almost anything and everything you could want to do, and that means you can try a bunch of new things.
I would not ever think to do archery on my own and even if I had an interest, like Aric, rarely would I be somewhere where it would be so easily available with volunteers willing to teach me.
Since we had all of that available to us, we soaked it up.  The volunteer instructor has been doing this for five years and she was a great teacher.
In the two hours we were there, different groups came and went, so I got to see many different people try archery.  Aric was the most accurate out of all of those people.  He seemed to have a natural talent for it.
I did not seem to have a natural talent for it and worse than that, managed to hurt myself by hitting my arm with the bow string.  Over and over again because I didn't realize how badly it hurt until after an hour or so of doing it.  I would love to try this sport again, without the pain, because I think I'd really enjoy it.
So glad we did get out and try this.  It showed me that even though new things can seem intimidating to begin with, they are great to push the limits of what I think I am capable of and get me out of my comfort zone.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy Birthday to Aric and I

I realized on my last post that it was post #999, which means my birthday post is #1,000.  That is a lot of blog posts for someone who did not want to do a blog to begin with!

Today was Aric and I's birthday, and since he took his week's vacation and spent it with us, that meant we celebrated the day together.  We went down to Sumter Landing during the day and ate lunch there and spent at least two hours at Barnes and Nobles looking at all the books we would love to read.  We then walked around and shopped together. As usual, we enjoyed the special golf carts we ran across there.
  We came back home to cool off some, and then headed back down to the latest square and had dinner at City Fire Restaurant and watched Man of Steel at the movie theater there.  It was a nice, quiet day for us but the fact we were together made it a great birthday for me.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The horses at Grand Oaks

While we loved seeing the museum, I think the highlight of our visit to Grand Oaks Resort and Carriage Museum was our time with the horses after we saw the museum.  First we visited one of the many barns, to see if there were any horses in their stalls.  
We did not find any horses there so we headed to the pastures.  There are 400 gorgeous acres at Grand Oaks and everywhere we looked, we were surrounded by beauty and horses.
Here are were some of the sweethearts we got to spend time loving on.
And I just have to share two shots of this beauty.  Can you believe those eyes?!?
She was a sweetie too!

Living the life in The Villages, FL.

Florida Carriage Museum and Paintball

Today we split up and some of us went to play Paintball:
and the rest of us visited the Florida Carriage Museum in nearby Weirsdale, Florida.  I don't know much about the paintball fun beyond seeing the battle scars and hearing talk of a return visit but I got the impression they had a blast.  We had our own version of fun at the museum.
I didn't know quite what to expect when I read online that it was a carriage museum.  I was very pleased with what we did find there.  The collection was even more extensive and interesting than I'd suspected might be there.  
The tour guide did a good job of sharing the history behind many of the carriages they had there and the general history of carriages and driving.
I especially enjoyed being able to share the visit with Brittany.  This is the first museum we took her too and I probably should have warned her that this will be the first of many museums she will see if she is a part of the family.  She said she really enjoyed it, so hopefully that is a good thing for her too!