The first time we came to The Great Outdoors, the resort where we are spending the winter, we did not fully understand where we were even though we ended up spending six weeks and buying a lot here. The first things that caught our eye were features that are common to many geezer resorts in FL: huge swimming pool, golf course, restaurant, tennis and pickle ball courts, bingo, card games, movies, exercise classes, music performances. The name of our resort seemed a bit pretentious, in keeping with the massive entrance gate and the lodge which looks more like an Antebellum plantation house than a gathering place.
But for us especially in these COVID times, the great outdoors, the animals and wildlife are the real drawing card. We are surrounded by wetlands and with the exception of a few feeble attempts to drain the land and farm, this land has remained quite undeveloped. When we walk out the door in the morning we are greeted by a sandhill crane couple standing four feet tall, striding down our street as if they own the place. When we go inside at dusk to avoid the mosquitoes, deer gather and graze. TGO has a Facebook page (who doesn't?) where people post pictures regularly of the wildlife outside their front doors. Last night someone saw a large bobcat standing on their picnic table. Alligators festoon the golf course, making an occasional errant ball unretrievable. Vultures, nature's garbagemen, make lazy circles hundreds of feet overhead constantly looking for their next meal. Their sense of smell is phenomenal. I put out a garbage bag with leftover checker bones inside to be picked up, went to the store and came bag to find what was left of the garbage strewn far and wide. A herd of wild turkeys travel from neighborhood to neighborhood, totally unaware of the significance of this week.
The Nature Center houses all manner of stuffed animals, snake skins, shells, and examples of flora and fauna that can be found here. We meet our nature guide Betty there regularly for hikes and golf car tours. A few days ago she showed us where the woodpeckers hang out. We love Florida birds because they are so big and showy, not small and drab as most birds are at home. The woodpecker was looking for grubs beneath the bark as you would expect, but he was large enough to fly off with a small dog. When we golf carted to the water treatment plant next door with Betty, we saw many old familiar friends, mostly coots, egrets and herons. But we had never gone there so early in the winter and all the blooming flowers were new to us. I expected showy flowers here to match the birdlife, but most of them are dainty.
We have just been officially notified that the cruise we planned to take to Europe from here in spring has been cancelled. We had rolled it over from spring of 2020. Two more cruises linked to it are still on the books. Until it seems safe to venture forth once again, we'll wait here in this great spot until the world returns to normal.