Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rainbow Springs State Park

Today we finally got out for a day trip.  Once you are in The Villages, it is easy to forget there is a whole other world out there because you have everything you need right here.  There is so much in this area that is unique and beautiful so I'm glad we remembered it for today at least.  Rich and Donna graciously babysat Ava, so after dropping her off we headed to Dunnellon to visit Rainbow Springs State Park.

The first thing we noticed was the fact that the place was packed.  The second was the reality that almost every person except us was wearing a swimming suit, which meant the springs were a great place to swim.  Neither of those things especially surprised us.  What did surprise us was how gorgeous the place was.  We love most Florida parks, but this one was especially pretty in terms of the water.  The water was crystal clear and fairly warm temperature wise.  And it was breathtakingly beautiful.
Rainbow Springs is the fourth largest spring in Florida.  The springs and park used to be a privately owned attraction.  Based on how popular it seemed to be today, I am guessing it did well for many years.  Before the magical mouse took up residence in Florida, I am guessing places like this did very well.  It was nice to see families enjoying it and soaking up the fun still today.  I am happy to say, we did not see one child using an electronic device the entire time we were here which says a lot for the place!

Since we did not bring our swimsuits, we headed off to see what the nature trails were like.  We were very pleased with what we found there also.
Even with it being very hot and humid, we really enjoyed our nature walk.  It was very relaxing and peaceful.  There used to be a little zoo here but that is no longer in operation.  There was a nice butterfly garden that was full of beautiful butterflies.  We watched two that seemed to be doing synchronized flying together.  And beyond a group of kids throwing rocks down at the waterfall we were looking at and almost hitting us, the crowds were not overwhelming in the least.  We gave this place two thumbs up for sure.
So glad we did venture out today and see one of Florida's natural gifts.  Living the life in HOT and HUMID Florida!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Laurel Manor Recreation Center

This morning Donna and I went to line dancing at Laurel Manor Rec Center.  I don't think I've taken pictures there yet, so I grabbed some shots while there.  As always, the building is beautiful and so warm and inviting.
I really enjoy line dancing here.  The instructor is wonderful and each week I am learning more and more.
Living the life in the lovely Villages!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nick and Tonyia Visit The Villages

Nick and Tonyia came to visit Rich and Donna this weekend.  We made plans to get together at our place Friday night, but ended up moving it to Saturday.  Ava had fun catching up with Rich and Donna and Nick and Tonyia.  Donna brought a mix, and Nathan got to work making us some yummy frozen drinks.
We visited on the lanai for a bit, until it started to rain.  Nathan also made us some very yummy fajitas.  Donna brought two different kinds of chips and salsa to add to the dinner.  We had plenty to eat and it was nice to have a table that we all fit around.
After dinner, we got out the Phase 10 game and played that until quite late.  Only half of us had played before so we played a practice hand to teach the others and then we were off and running.  We were neck and neck at the end with Nick being the final winner.
This morning we met at Golden Coral and then Nick and Tonyia had to head back out.  It was a great weekend that went by much too fast!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pickleball at Mulberry and Bunco at Sea Breeze

Donna has been driving up to our "end" of The Villages in the morning, so she and I can play pickleball at Mulberry.  I'm thrilled at this because it means an extra hour of sleep for me.  The more we play there, the more I'm getting to know people and really enjoying playing with them.  I haven't snapped any pictures there yet, but maybe in the next day or two.

After pickleball, we headed out to Bunco yesterday.  We went down to Sea Breeze and it was a very large group.  Donna and I both won drawings and Donna won the lucky combo.  I like the group there.  They are a fun group to play with.

We both grabbed some pictures of Sea Breeze while there.  I love this rec center.  It is one of my favorites by far.
Since I was using the camera on my phone, my pictures are not good at all.  I have to remember to bring my big camera some time.
You can still get the feel of how pretty and relaxing this place is.  I see Donna posted a link to a video where you can take a better look, so I'm going to do the same:   Sea Breeze

After I got back home and we ate dinner, Nathan and I headed back down to the pickleball courts to play with just the two of us.  I really missed Donna and the other ladies there, that's for sure!  We are much kinder and more encouraging to each other than the guys who take the game very seriously.  The weather was perfect while we were there!  It is the nicest the weather has been since we have arrived in The Villages.  We are still loving our time here.  In fact, we are feeling quite torn between traveling next year and coming back to The Villages and staying longer next year.  I guess we'll just have to see which one grabs us the most!  Living the life in beautiful Florida!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bacall Recreation Center

Bacall Recreation Center is one of the places that Donna and I have visited to play Bunco.  As with the other buildings here, it is decorated in a theme.  This one is Hollywood themed and it is really cute.  Donna took some pictures while we were there the other day, and shared them with me.
I really need to find a small camera to stick in my purse when we are going to places like this, because I am missing so many pictures that I know I'll wish I had later.  Isn't this place so neat?
And here is the outside pool area:
Living the life in the lovely Villages!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Anniversary Celebration

This year we got to celebrate our wedding anniversary here in The Villages.  Which means we did not have to go far or work hard to make it a fun day.  We started out with a lazy morning, hanging out at the house with Ava.  Then we headed out to Spanish Springs for a movie.

I have wanted to see "The Heat" since I saw a movie promo a few months ago when we were in Virginia.  I love Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy is really funny too.  I was hoping this would be as funny as it looked in the trailers.  I'm happy to report that it was.  Nathan is a hard sell when it comes to comedy and he said as we left, "Most movies have some funny parts.  That movie was funny the entire movie".  So I guess that means we both gave it two thumbs up.
After the movie, we walked around the Square for a bit, headed over to the Ay Jalisco for a plate of chicken nachos and then drove over to Orange Blossom so Nathan could see the houses over there.  I am telling him how much I would enjoy having a house here.  He is ignoring me so far!

Next we headed south to the Havana Country Club.  I heard about this place online, but then had a first hand recommendation while sitting on the bench at pickleball yesterday morning.  The woman who had visited there said the food was ok but the experience was really unique.  They have a singing waitstaff there.  So we invited Rich and Donna and made reservations to see if it was as neat as she said.
We were seated right away when we entered and I noticed we were right next to the piano, which I was hoping meant we would be in the middle of the entertainment.  As it turns out, the waiters and waitresses moved around while singing, so there was not a bad seat in the house.  So how was it?  I'm happy to report that this place was another win!  We all enjoyed it, including the guys.  Our waitress, Veronica, was wonderful.  We all enjoyed our food.  It was much better than ok.  And the singing was top notch, with some very talented people entertaining us.
Donna has nice pictures and descriptions of the food on her blog here: Florida Picklers  The portions were big enough that I brought home half my meal, to enjoy for lunch the next day.  It was loud while the singers were performing, but there were breaks in between songs, so dinner conversation was still possible.  I really enjoyed our time there and it made it a nice treat for our anniversary.

While we were leaving, I was snapping pictures of the outside when a gentleman asked if I was trying to get a picture of him.  I told him that I sure was, so he posed for me.
 The rest of his party was as amused by him as I was.  What a fun group!
We had a wonderful day, and it was made even better by sharing it with special friends.  Happy Anniversary honey!  Here's hoping for many more years together!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brownwood Paddock Town Square

After line dancing yesterday, Donna and I grabbed some lunch.  Then we headed down to Brownwood Paddock Town Square.  Just as the recreation centers are all themed, so are the town squares here.  There are three of them and Brownwood Paddock is the newest one.
In fact it is so new, that it is still in the process of being built.  There is a movie theater and a few restaurants and stores that are open.  Other than that, it is pretty quiet.
That worked out great for us, because that allowed us to take lots of pictures.  Just like the recreation centers, the details in the decorations of this place are just incredible.
I'm so glad we got down here and finally I have some pictures.  It really is a neat place!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Line Dancing at Colony Cottage Recreation Center

Every night Donna and I email each other and decide what we are going to do the following day.  Last night we decided to go line dancing at a new place, the Colony Cottage Recreation Center.   We got there early, and I'm so glad we did because shortly after we arrived, there was a line waiting to get in.
 Because there were so many people, it meant a very crowded room while we were dancing.
Donna took some of these pictures, which meant she captured me while I was dancing.
The line dancing class starts at Beginner level and works up to Intermediate level.  Each week we are learning more and more, so we are able to stay and dance longer.  Donna is a former professional dancer, so she is incredibly fast at learning and she is an awesome dancer.  I move along at a much slower pace across the board, but still manage to have a lot of fun.

After we hit the level where we needed to stop we made sure to take some pictures of the recreation center we were in.  We both managed to take some, so I have a mix of pictures from my phone camera and ones Donna shared with me.  I will try to take more pictures of the recreation centers, because they are all incredible.  There are 63 recreation centers in The Villages.  Each one is decorated in a specific theme.  Colony Cottage is a regional center and is gorgeous.  The details in each of the centers is truly exceptional and I love just wandering around and looking at each one.
This one is so pretty and relaxing.  It really does feel like a beautiful cottage.
I'll try to write about the rest of our day tomorrow, because we have an early for me day in the morning so I need to head to bed!
Living the life in The Villages!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Turkey Feast at Rich and Donna's

Rich and Donna invited Nathan, Ava and I to their place for dinner.  Dinner doesn't really cover it though because she really made a full Thanksgiving feast.   She had so much there, I could even fully remember all she cooked for us so I took this from her blog:
Hors d'oeuvres included fresh carrots, celery and tomatoes with ranch dipping,  and crackers -and cheese.

Pre - dinner cocktails: Your choice of  straberry dacquari, pina colada, marguarita, wine or beer 

Dinner include a 13 lb turkey, beautifully browned and perfectly moist with sausage stuffing, ( that's the dish with the foil still on it!)  mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, fresh rolls and cranberry bread, and cranberry sauce. 

Unfortunately I had to take the pictures from her blog also, because they were not on Nathan's phone when I went to get them.  Not sure what I did wrong there, but I sure am glad that she had some.

This was a wonderful treat for me, because I did not get Thanksgiving dinner this past year due to having strep throat on that day.  Donna more than made up for it because everything was fabulous!

After dinner we headed to the pickleball courts which is always an interesting experience for Donna and I.  We hobbled along, while the guys barely broke a sweat.  We had great fun though!  I love nights like this and we sure have been spoiled by them since we have been at The Villages!

On a completely unrelated note, our poor girl came back from her nightly walk with green feet!  I'm not sure what was on the grass to make her feet look this way but she was not a happy camper and I imagine it is probably not a healthy thing for her to be walking on grass that produces this result: