The Greatest Great Aunt

by | Mar 29, 2019 | Destinations, United States

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Right now, Tiffany and I are cruising down the Tamiami Trail in Florida on our way to Key West. But we recently left the Villages Retirement Community in Florida. Tiffany is driving and I’m typing from the passenger seat. We’ve been a bit behind on our posts, but we’re going to try something a little different from here on out. Each day, we’re planning to do a short update-type blog. We will then sprinkle in more of our longer destination articles.

This way, we will hopefully keep updating more regularly. This will spur us on to finish some of our more in-depth blog articles. That’s the theory, anyway.

So, this is what we’ve been up to recently.

The Florida Connection

Back in 2004, I spent a summer living in a tent at a baseball stadium in Florida. Until that point, I’d spent very little time in Florida and the only people I knew that lived down there were my Great Uncle Jim and my Great Aunt Ann. Luckily, they were two of my favorite people on the planet.

Growing up, I was quite fortunate to be close to many family members, even great aunts and uncles. So, when I learned I would be moving to Florida (before the whole tent thing came to be), I stopped by to see Jim and Ann on my way to my internship.

That was my first introduction to the Villages retirement community in Florida, where they lived. As a man of leisure myself, I was blown away by this amazing, active, vibrant retirement community. At the time, I secretly wished I was 55 years old so that I could move down there.

If you’re not familiar with the Villages, imagine a Disney-style themed community that revolves around golf, activities, food, shopping, and the enjoyment of life. Complete with a made-up history found on plaques throughout the town centers. It’s really pretty cool.

Revisiting the Villages Retirement Community, Florida

Once Tiff and I decided to travel the country in our van, we made sure to pencil in a stop to see Ann. Several years ago, my Great Uncle Jim passed away, which was truly saddening. He was an amazing man. He graduated from the Naval Academy, was a naval pilot, and had one of the best senses of humor the world has ever seen.

A few years before he passed away, after he’d gotten sick, he showed me his new cane. It unscrewed on the top and turned into a flask. Then we drank some Tennessee moonshine together. Even in his old age, he always had a trick up his sleeve.

Jim and Ann never had any children, but their love ran (and continues to run) deep. They were together for many years, and their absolute affection for one another is inspiring. While Tiffany and I have our own connection, the love Jim and Ann shared is never far out of my mind.

On this visit, we just wanted to catch up with Ann and, honestly, try to keep up with her. Not only is Ann active in the Villages community, she’s what I’d call a firecracker. She manages a recreation budget for her section of the Villages, essentially runs the choir at her church, and has even coordinated trips to Israel and Italy to sing with her choir. We were simply pleased to find some free time on Ann’s schedule.

Family is the Best

While we only had a day with Ann, we got a great tour of the Villages, had a nice lunch out, and heard so many wonderful stories. Ann went overboard, of course. She got us a few local Florida brews (even though she doesn’t drink). She bought enough food to feed a small army. And, sweetly, she even put together an early Easter basket for us.

All in all, it was a wonderful visit with a wonderful woman.

Stay tuned, as tomorrow we’ll talk about swimming with manatees, seeing monkeys, and nearly sinking a kayak. You know, typical Florida stuff.

We’re Tiffany and John, a couple of childfree, DIY travel enthusiasts from Montana and we just can’t get enough of life on the open road. If you’re anything like us, then you feel the same way! We love exploring new places together and finding unique things to do everywhere we go. Read more about our story here.

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