Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chapter 11; Part 4 - Trips

Mom and Dad don’t always go on the trips sponsored by some of the clubs. With Mom not able to easily get out of the house before 10:00 in the morning, she says the trips are often a little too hectic for her. Last year there was a day trip to Pelican Lake State Park, which is three hours away from Harbor View. The bus was leaving the Harbor View clubhouse at 7:30 in the morning (much too early for Mom) and not returning until 10:00 at night. It should have been an overnight trip, rather than a day trip, but Dad says the club didn’t think they would get enough people to spend the extra money to overnight there.

Anyway, despite the early departure, the club still managed to fill one and one-half busloads with people, including Mom’s friends’ Flo and Irv. The next day Mom called Flo to find out how the trip was.

“Ugh, it was a disaster,” Flo said. “About two hours into the bus ride to the park, the engine on the second bus started smoking. We pulled over to the side of the road, while the drivers checked out the problem. They determined that they needed some part, so all of the people on the broken bus came over onto our bus.” Flo explained.

“You’re kidding! How did you all fit?” Mom asked.

“Well, it was very crowded, and some people had to stand. Then everyone started arguing whether we should continue on to the park or just turn around and go home.”

“What’d you do?” Mom asked in anticipation.

“We continued on. In the end, most of the people agreed, and I mean most; that difficult woman, Lila in Building 17 didn’t agree. Anyway, most of the people agreed that since we had already paid for the trip, we might as well go. We didn’t know if we’d be able to get a refund.”

“So how was the park once you got there?”

“Well, I don’t think it was worth the three-hour ride. There were palm trees, a lake, and some birds, which were pretty enough, but frankly, I can see all of the things outside my bedroom window at Harbor View – for free. Besides, there were so many mosquitoes around that I got bites all over my body. And the sun was very strong by the time we got there midday that a lot of people got sunburned, including Irv.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. Did you at least make it home okay?”

“Yeah, they sent a second bus down.”

“Oy, I’m glad I didn’t go,” Mom said. “But, at least you’ll have something to talk about at the pool this afternoon,” Mom said.

And according to Mom, talk about it, they did. She told me that the bus ride fiasco to Pelican Lake State Park actually warranted conversations around the pool for nearly two weeks – a Harbor View record. “Old people love to complain,” Mom informed me. “I believe they actually enjoy incidents like this or else, besides food, what else would they have to talk about?”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chapter 11: Part 3 - Trips

And at least once a year one of the Harbor View clubs will sponsor a day trip to that favorite Florida sport – jai alai. Jai alai is one of those terms I’ve always heard of in conjunction with Florida, but I truly had no idea what it was. I asked Dad about it when he told me that he and Mom had gone to jai alai the previous evening with the golf club.

“It’s basically a sport, like handball, that you can bet on,” he told me. “You go into a big room like a theatre, and there are men on stage throwing a ball back and forth into a wicker basket that they are each holding. It’s pretty interesting to watch because they have to throw and catch the ball in one fluid motion. You don’t have to bet on all of the games, but you can if you want to.”

“Was it any fun?” I asked him.

“Well, the restaurant we ate at beforehand was good. But, as far as the jai alai is concerned, it was just okay. Actually, watching it once in my life was more than enough for me. To be honest with you, the only reason I went is because whenever I tell people that I winter in Florida, many of them ask me if I’ve been to see jai alai and I’m embarrassed to say, ‘no.” Now I can tell them I have,” Dad reasoned.

Chapter 11; Part 2 - Trips

Sometimes the ‘Young in Spirit’ club will sponsor a day trip to one of the many wildlife preserves in the area. The club members will take a boat ride through the swamps of South Florida and peer at all of the alligators. I’m not sure what it is about alligators that the old people in Harbor View like so much. My theory is that alligators are the only things in Florida more wrinkled than they are. Afterwards the residents will dine at a local seafood restaurant (which incidentally usually serves alligator as a menu item – further proof that the old folks are better off than the alligators), and then they will head home, happy that they have gotten away from the other residents of Harbor View for the day.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chapter 11; Part 1 - Trips

Doing the same things day in and day out at a retirement community in Florida can be boring after a few months, even when those ‘same things’ are playing, relaxing, eating, and lounging. When their lives start to seem monotonous, residents of Harbor View often decide to take a trip somewhere else – essentially a vacation from their vacation. Residents attempt to get away from the daily grind at Harbor View so that they can enjoy playing, relaxing, eating, and lounging at another location.

The trip could be a day trip, a weekend jaunt, or a whole week’s vacation. Sometimes they are impromptu trips decided on a day earlier around the pool; other times they are vacations sponsored by one of the Harbor View clubs planned months in advance.

Day trips are the most common for Mom, Dad and their friends to take. Mom and Dad will occasionally drive down to South Beach for a day at the beach and a nice meal in a trendy restaurant. Mom says South Beach is her favorite place to get away to since it is exactly the opposite of Harbor View – it’s fast, it’s hip, and most importantly, it’s young. “You get tired of looking at old people all of the time,” she tells me.