We enjoyed a visit from Torontarians… this is not a group of Rotarians that got lost, but folks from Toronto, Ontario. Larry and Lucy had attended Suzanne’s S.O.A.R! Workshop when we visited that fair city in Canada last summer. They have a condo in Canada’s southernmost city, Fort Myers, Florida. (You think I am joking, but you would be amazed by the number of Canadians in south Florida, with many banks and businesses supporting the Canadian diaspora there; word has it that a Canadian donut chain, Tim Horton’s, will try to buy out Dunkin Donuts soon… what is the world coming to?) Anyway, Larry and Lucy were great fun; My Lovely Bride gave Lucy a reading while Larry and I swapped stories on the lanai, and then we went out for a nice Italian dinner at Red Sauce. This was their first visit to The Villages, and we hope it will not be their last!
Our neighbors Bob and Jan Blythe joined us for a trip to Ocala for an RV Show that was touted to be the largest in Central Florida. It was sort of disappointing, because we had hoped for more vendors of electronics such as satellite Internet systems for our upcoming trip to Alaska, when Wi-Fi and cell phone service could be unavailable for days or weeks at a time. The show was 95% new RV’s and trailers, and since we both already have American Eagle motor coaches, we weren’t really interested in RV’s themselves. The day was saved in two ways. First, we had a great lunch at Chick-fil-A, with regular and spicy chicken sandwiches and their Most Excellent Milkshakes, some of the best we have ever enjoyed. We think that they are as good as Newport Creamery’s Awful Awfuls from Bob and Jan’s home area, Rhode Island/Southern Mass. (You can tell Jan is enjoying hers!)
After lunch, Bob and Jan took us to the Florida Horse Park where their daughter-in-law Hillary was competing in carriage driving competitions with several horses from her farm in Massachusetts. Suzanne and I had never even seen a competition carriage before, so it was really fun and interesting. This stallion “Orrin” from Hillary’s farm is just heading out to compete. (Coincidentally, my grandfather’s first name was Orrin… small world!)
Here are a couple of shots from the “water hazard” part of the competition… the “groom” on the aft end of the carriage leans out over the side and counter- balances the forces trying to overturn the carriage as the driver makes sharp, fast turns.
There was also this little Jack Russell, whose owner was either overly optimistic or a bit deranged thinking that he could pull this carriage…
If you needed fancy hats, tack or other equipment, it was available from vendors right there at the show. You could even buy whips to knock flies off your horses’ ears or get them to move faster. (I will not go into potential uses to get husbands off the couch…)
We plan on attending the next International Driving competition at Live Oak Plantation in Ocala 20-24 March. It should be spectacular!
In the header for this blog, I promised never to make political rants, and I have kept that promise. Political jokes, however, are another matter. As many of you know, I do not care for Socialists or Communists. (Perhaps that is why I was a bit uncomfortable in California, Oregon, and Washington state… hmmm…). Socialists are known for not having a sense of humor and being greedy devils with regards to other peoples’ money. For those of you (few) who may not be aware of what a snowbird is, it is not a avian creature at all, but a human who has the good sense to migrate south during the months that their home states in The Frozen North are covered in snow and ice.
A recent news clip really made me laugh. The Governor of the Peoples’ Republic of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, has proposed a tax on all income from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and capital gains, of former Minnesota residents who have moved south but spend more than 60 days in their former home state – aimed particularly at Snowbirds who return to Minnesota during the very brief summer thaw to visit grandchildren. The photo at right is of a golf cart owned by a snowbird from Minnesnowta who obviously drove his cart all the way to The Villages, approximately 1,517 miles, to (a) avoid the frigid weather in his former home state, and (b) avoid the governor’s foolish policies. “Good on ya, Mate!” (Sorry, Terri, but blame this post on your gov, Mark.)