|View from Cindy and Jim's penthouse condo|
My final leg of the massaging insole journey was the Volusia County Fair in Deland, Florida. After having spent the past month in trailer parks, sleeping in a tent, on the fairgrounds usually far outside of the nearby towns along the highway, and close to the livestock, it was a very welcome change to be staying with my Dad and Lorraine's friends in a two bedroom condo, directly on the beach in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
We arrived in Deland at the fair on November 3rd, after a hurried two days at home in Leesburg. After we set up at the fair, we landed at the condo in New Smyrna Beach to the sound of waves crashing and the smell of ocean in the air. That's basically all I needed to feel immediately relaxed after a long day of errands, travel, and set-up. That evening we all relaxed, knowing it was the final stretch before we went home for the rest of the year. I sat on the balcony, staring at the faint outline of the white tips of the breaking surf, sipping on a hot chocolate.
The next ten days were a far cry from the past 30. New Smyrna is basically Daytona for seniors - you can drive on the beach, there are lots of little beach-side bars and attractions, and the people are happy and generally in great shape, only everyone (for the most part) is 50-plus.
Honestly, as much as I was aching to have someone my age to hang out with, the age-gap between myself and the residents of New Smyrna didn't bother me at all. Our first full-day in NSB was spent getting settled and grocery shopping. To give you an idea of the personalities I consistently came across in NSB, I'll tell you a nice little anecdotal tale.
So, we're getting groceries. As per usual, my hair is air-dried, I'm not wearing makeup, and I'm wearing shorts and a tank-top. Now, as we're casually strolling down one of the aisles, I hear an elderly woman yelling (yes, yelling), "Excuse me, miss! Miss! Excuse me! Miss!!". Knowing full-well that I know no one in town, having never been here before, and also knowing that all of my belongings were securely located in my purse, so they hadn't fallen or been dropped, I assumed that this "miss" who was being called after surely couldn't be me. I was wrong. Finally, at the end of the aisle, after running after me, this kind little 70-something old lady caught up with me and tapped me on the shoulder. "Excuse me, miss," she said once more, "but you've got my body from 40 years ago, and I'd like you to give it back!" I, of course, laughed hysterically, blushed approximately 10 shades of red, and agreed kindly with her that I did indeed miss out on poodle skirts and saddle shoes (although the latter is making a comeback!).
This interaction boded well for the rest of my time spend in NSB: cheeky, fun, relaxed and well-aged (or aged well perhaps).
Most days in NSB began with a run down the beach where I was greeted happily by residents, walking, running, or biking past. This was one of my favorite times of day to be on the beach. The pre-nine-in-the-morning folks reminded me of the all-day-folks in Nova Scotia. So happy. So friendly. So unafraid of seeming like they're enjoying life - because they are. I would usually get a comment or two from older couples passing by, from "well, you sure do make that look easy!" or, "whatever you're doing, it's working!" Starting the day with a run in NSB was definitely one of the highlights.
The condo where we stayed also had two pools, one heated and one unheated. I went for the odd swim, but spent most of my time near the pools, laying on a lounger, soaking up the sun. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.
The remainder of my time, for the most part, was spent in one of my new-found favorite places: on the back of my Dad's Honda Goldwing motorcycle, the travel bike, of travel bikes. We cruised to Daytona Beach, stopped at the Last Resort Bar (from the movie "Monster" where Aileen Wuornos seduces her victims), got harassed (half-jokingly) by Harley owners whom we parked next to near the beach, walked the boardwalk, grabbed some pizza and Greek salad at Stavros (for which they're famous), chatted about this and that, then headed back to NSB for the night.
|On the Ormond Loop|
Another day we drove the scenic Ormond Loop (or, as known by the biker community, just "the Loop") where we drove past lots of nature, drove through canopies of trees, palms, and Spanish moss, and stopped in Flagler beach for some beach-front snacks (I had the homemade crab dip, if you're wondering).
On the last ride we took in the area we went to the Merrit Island Nature Reserve, got as close as we could to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, and went to Dixie Crossroads in Titusville where we proceeded to eat four dozen rock shrimp, french fries, and chicken flavored rice. It's a good thing I went on those runs, let me tell you that much.
|Outside Dixie Crossroads in Titusville|
Part way through the week, Dad and Lorraine's friends, Cindy and Jim came and stayed at the condo, too. They're a very hip couple of 50-somethings that are the perfect example of NSB: they're both fit, Cindy is a "sun bunny" and Jim is a surfer, they have a Harley and great spunky senses of humor. They also brought with them their two malteses! Simba is eight years old and is the larger of the two fluffy little white guys. Rocky is the older boy, he is eleven, still a runt, and has a solid 3/4 inch fat roll around his mid-section and his tongue is always hanging out of his mouth. Needless to say, I kind of liked Rocky the best. They were great company and Rocky's little face brought me a great number of smiles and laughs.
Although most of the "action" in NSB took place, for us, during the day, one night stands out in my mind. I decided one evening to take advantage of the warm breeze, and heated pool. I changed into my bathing suit, put on my gym clothes on top, grabbed my yoga mat and towel and headed for the pool deck.
After completing 12 sun salutations and twisting every which way in the hopes of releasing any built-up toxins held in my spine, I peeled down to my swimsuit and hopped into the pool. I splashed around for a while, breast-stroking and back-stroking my way around the pool. Then, I heard a noise. I looked around, then up, to see a couple standing on their penthouse balcony, about 5 doors down from the condo where we were staying. They were both waving frantically and yelling, though over the sound of the waves I couldn't make out a word that was said.
Their franticness made me nervous.
Immediately I thought there was a viscous axe-murderer nearby, patiently waiting for the right moment to slash me up and turn the pool red with my blood.
I believe I mentioned before that my imagination sometimes carries me away.
After surveying the area and confirming that there indeed was not a murderer nearby I considered the thought that they feared I had drowned, since just previous to acknowledging their cries I was floating on my back, relaxed as can be, entertaining myself with my change in buoyancy by breathing extra deeply and exhaling fully.
The woman eventually went scuttering inside, while the man continued to mind my business. Eventually I was so troubled by the whole ordeal that I cut my swim short and headed upstairs for another hot chocolate on the balcony.
I still can't figure out what they wanted my attention for.
On Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day), I got up, went for a run as usual, and headed up to the condo. I was waiting until late afternoon to call my Grandmother to thank her for her service in WWII and for being a generally stand-up and awesome human being and passed the time by laying on a lounger next to the pool. I had my phone with me, as I almost always do, and took it out from under my towel randomly to check for messages even though I had it on vibrate. There was a message on Facebook from my mom. My grandmother had a stroke and was on her way to the hospital by ambulance. It's times like this that often remind us how fleeting life is and force us to possibly regret decisions we've made (usually about not having done something). I thought, "I shouldn't have waited to call Nanny. I should have called before the ceremonies instead of after." These situations, whether you're close by or far away, make you feel helpless. Thankfully, after several hours of waiting for an update, I found out Nanny was doing well, eating when she could, and carrying on with family. Phew!
That Sunday we put in our last Sunday at the booth in Deland, packed up (mostly), and headed back to the condo for our last sleep in NSB. The next day, we got up bright and early, helped Jim and Cindy clean the condo, then headed to Deland to pick up the rest of the stuff. I drove back to Leesburg on the bike with Dad, blaring the 70's and 80's station and singing along to my hearts' content, hoping I didn't catch a bug in my mouth on a long note.
So now we're back in Leesburg for possibly the rest of the year. The house has been brought up to speed, the laundry is done and the Suburban is unpacked. We're still catching up, mostly Dad and Lorraine, with errands, mail, appointments, check-ups, and bookkeeping. We should be into a normal routine by the weekend.
On Sunday I get to cash in on my foreign acquisition. CHA-CHING! (For those of you who know what I'm referring to).
Up next, more state-wide travels including, but not limited to: Disney World, Orlando Metro Area, Fort Lauderdale and the Keys! Details to come.