After our relaxing cruise, we met up with my cousins at Orlando airport, and headed to the Villages, just outside of Ocala. For those you unfamiliar with the Villages, it is the world's largest retirement community, home to about 50,000 residents 55 and up. It is large enough to warrant its own weather pattern, and it arguably houses the largest number of golf carts on this continent. If you like to golf, it is a veritable mecca, with 18 professional level courses and dozens of par-3 courses scattered throughout. It is a place where our family like to congregate whenever possible, given that a few of our number qualify as residents, many of us enjoy golfing, and weather in Florida is typically more temperate than Ontario (or Nunavut!) in the winter.
Our goal of relaxation continued to be met during our stay in the Villages, and our family members who didn't know we were coming were shocked and thrilled to find us there. We arrived a day before my family did, so we set up camp at the house and waited for them to arrive. As they walked up, we hid behind our bedroom door. My brother Adam was the first in, and remarked that the renters had left the lights on, and left their iPad behind (we forgot to hide it). Dad said that was part of a surprise he had for the family (Adam later told me he was disappointed to learn he wasn't getting an iPad, but seeing us there was a decent alternative), and we walked out and my siblings were thrilled to see us. Adam mentioned they spent half an hour arguing on the ride over because Mom let slip that we had stopped by at their place earlier that week (to introduce the dogs), and Adam went crazy. He could not believe that we had flown all the way home, spent a day with our parents, and neglected to let him know. Mom tried to cover by saying it was only a short visit, but Adam was fuming. Thankfully, all was forgiven as we reunited.
I mentioned that one of the reasons we like Florida is the weather, but this trip was a little different - it was actually cold during our time there, such that we regretted not bringing our sweaters with us. Still, cold weather in Florida is still a heck of a lot nicer than the deep freeze we call winter in Baker Lake, so we layered our golf shirts and bravely weathered the elements whilst drilling holes in the lanais (screened back porches) of homes silly enough to back onto the golf courses we played. I speak for myself of course - my cousins and my brother/father are far more accomplished, although the wind played havoc with everyone's game at times. While I was out hacking up the golf course, Lily was busy bonding with the other ladies, via intellectual pursuits such as shopping, and uh...shopping. It is always remarkable to me that the prices and selection of goods in the United States are so much lower and higher, respectively, than in Canada.There is also a lot more selection in the American grocery stores than in Canada (we brought back a box of Dulce de Leche Cheerios; I'll let you know how good it is when we open it.) and we walked around the aisles of the grocery stores just basking in all the choices available.The few days we were there also afforded us the opportunities to go out to a few restaurants - something that is not so easily accomplished here in Baker (being as there aren't really any choices unless we feel like fast food, or stopping in at one of the hotels).
After one of our dinners, our group headed to the local square to see if anyone was out dancing. That's another event that is relatively unique to the Villages - there are three "town squares", which have a large gazebo surrounded by an outdoor dance floor in the middle. Each night, residents come to the square to line dance, and on a warm night, the floor will be packed with people all dancing in unison to all kinds of different songs. Alas, it was still too chilly to draw much of a crowd when we arrived, but there was a show choir from Pennsylvania making some serious grooves, and the legendary Scooter was headlining that evening. Scooter is a resident, and one of the most popular DJ's in the Villages. I could see why when he was performing, because he was cracking jokes while motivating everyone to dance. When he found out there was a Canadian contingent in the crowd, he played 'Oh Canada'; cheesy, but we all sang along and cheered at the end anyway.
cousins insisted that he play a song he had performed earlier, just so we could
experience it. And I'm completely serious when I say, 'experience'. I don't
remember the title, but this song combines the best elements of the Chicken
Dance (I didn't know there was anything 'best' about that song either), the
Village People's YMCA, and fast-food restaurants. There are hand and arm
movements to accompany the chorus, along with the required line dancing for the
rest of it. There is only one lyric, which is repeated over and over, and sheds
some light on why this tune is so popular:
|The legendary Scooter|
"McDonald's, McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut!"
Truly, words cannot do this epic song credit. On the downside, like the Macarena, it is infectious, and once it gets into your head, you're stuck listening to it over and over. As I type this, I am concentrating very hard on blocking it out my conscious thought, with limited success.
As funny as that song was, the highlight of the evening came a few songs later, as Scooter busted out a recent cult favourite, Gangham Style, that Korean hit that recently took North America by storm. Seemingly out of nowhere, my father jumped onto the floor and rocked out, followed by his brother. Put sunglasses and a white suit on him, and he was the living embodiment of the Korean pop star who sang that smash hit. I have never been more astonished, or proud of my father's antics before. That event will become legend in the family lore for years to come.
Like any vacation, this one came to an end far too quickly, and before we knew it, we were saying our goodbyes and headed back to the airport for our trip to Toronto, and the continuation of our vacation with Lily's family. More about that part of our trip next post.
|Sad to say goodbye :(|