The final leg of my vacation was a solo trip driving with Mom to Nana’s house in The Villages. For those of you who have never heard of The Villages, it is” Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.” It is an active 55+ retirement community. This is where my grandparents have chosen to spend their retirement for the last 15 years. There is always something happening: the never-ending roundabouts, personalized golf carts, and sidewalks that fold up at 9 p.m. This is the first time Mom and I have driven, Daddy usually drives or we take the auto train. Let the adventure begin.
Unlike the drive to NC, I remained in my wheelchair for the trip. We didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn but it was still a 10-hour drive. Mom was concerned that getting me in and out of the front seat would be too time-consuming. She was probably right. Our trip went pretty smoothly, we stopped for gas and Chick-fil-A for lunch. The sun was just beginning to set when we arrived.
Shower or not
We unloaded the car and needed a shower. Usually, we shower in Nana’s big shower but my Papaw was asleep and we didn’t want to wake him. Thankfully, Nana just had her bathroom redone to remove the bathtub. The glass doors hadn’t been put on the new enclosure. This is the only way I could use this shower. To my surprise, I learned I was the first one to use the shower.
Oh No, mom lost the keys
The next morning Mom realized she had somehow lost the spare set of keys. Everyone has lost a spare set of keys but this rattled mom. She looked everywhere and even prayed to St. Anthony to find the keys. I know it was weird that we had both sets of keys with us. See Daddy likes to have the keys in his pocket but Mom just depends on the keys that are attached to my wheelchair. Dad had driven the first part of our trip. How did they get unhooked from my wheelchair you ask? We had made a stop, Mom needed to use the bathroom so she took both sets of keys and locked the doors with the AC running to keep me cool and safe. When she came back to the car she struggled to get the keys back on the hook so she set them on the pillows that were on the seat. They could have fallen out without her noticing at the two rest stops we stopped at or the gas station.
Reunited and feels so good!
She frantically called them but no one had found a set of keys. The next day she began calling around to find out how expensive it was to replace them. The prices varied but it would have been roughly $300 by the time she bought the new fob and had it reprogrammed. Interestingly though Mom didn’t seem to be in a hurry to replace the keys. That turned out to be a blessing because a week later she found them stuffed in the side pocket of a bag that had been in the rooftop carrier. Figures, the only bag she didn’t check. That crisis averted Mom was able to relax except now she had an obsession with checking that the keys were where they belonged.
Taking a Dip
All in all I was looking forward to three things, spending time with my grandparents, shopping and swimming. It was unusually hot, I mean hot this visit. The pool was calling my name. Unfortunately, the water temperature was also very warm. But I did manage to convince my Papaw who never goes to the pool to join me for an evening swim. Again we experienced another first. This was the first time that Nana had been to this pool. The Villages has many pools, some are for families and some are not. This was a no-kid pool.
All they heard was Crickets
There are a few things you can count on at Nana’s. Great home-cooked meals, dessert every night with dinner, anything you want to drink, and Disney movies. Nana knows the words to every single movie we watched. I wore out my glasses watching movies. Speaking of movies we went to the movies and saw The Sound of Freedom. This was an intense movie. It left me with a heavy heart. To think that there are people in this world that would do those things to children. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's one of those movies that gets you thinking and watching. It also is something to talk about, touching on real issues that we all know are hiding in plain sight.
When I am in Florida I try to visit with everyone. My Aunt and Uncle live relatively close so we went to their house for dinner and to hear all about their trip to Hawaii and Vegas. We weren’t exactly prepared to visit their house and thought we would have no trouble getting in, but there was a two-inch lip getting into the house. My wheelchair doesn’t do anything over 1 inch. We had to improvise and think quickly so as not to ruin the evening. We had my Papaws travel wheelchair with us. Mom transferred me from my wheelchair, which stayed outside to the travel wheelchair, which was inside. It wasn’t easy but be made it work. Note to self Bring a ramp next time.
Root Beer Floats
I got to experience something new, Rootbeer Floats! I have never had one, I have no idea why because they were delicious. I also learned a trick that I will share with you. Corn on the cob can be cooked in the microwave for 4 minutes with the husks on. No need to shuck, no mess, and no hair everywhere. I couldn’t wait to share that trick with Dad when we got home. Put it this way he lost the bet. LOL.
Vera Bradley Anyone?
One of the funniest things I got to do was watch my Nana model Vera Bradley bags. It was so much fun. She would strut into the room with a bag, describe the bag, and sometimes a little story about when she first used the bag. She is downsizing yet again and says she needed the space so she gave them all to me to find new homes. To give to people who will love them as much as she did.
Trip with Papaw
I got to take a trip down memory lane with my Papaw. As you all know he has Alzheimer's and doesn’t remember things that happened recently. He was asking me about how school was going and I told him I graduated. He asked me why he wasn’t invited because he would have loved to have seen that. Thankfully I had my computer and the video from my graduation. He must have watched that loop of me getting my diploma 50 times. I was happy I got to share that moment with him. He wanted to see more pictures because it seemed like everything we talked about he wanted to know why he wasn’t there, but he was. I have the pictures to prove it. From the weddings of my cousins to graduation photos in my cap and gown. We got the share them all.
I got to spend time with another of my Aunts who lives in The Villages. While we were having coffee Mom quickly got up from her seat and ran out the door. She saw someone, it was none other than Grandma Church and Ray. As this was my last day I was happy to be able to say hello. They came inside my beloved Starbucks and chatted with us. I love spending time with my family. This trip was full of family.
Sadly our trip had to end and we had to head home. But not before experiencing another first! BUC-EES. OMG, this place was like Cracker Barrel on steroids. The place was a madhouse. Employees giving away free samples and whooping it up at every chance to people looking for food and souvenirs. I could have spent hours there. But Mom had an agenda. So we stopped and took pictures and now I understand what all the hype is about. If you are going to go I would say midnight is the slower time. lol
Since it was a long trip we knew we were going to spend the night. We were supposed to go to Aunt Candi's but mom forgot the ramps so we had to come up with plan B. We routed our trip home through Raliegh NC to spend more time with my cousin and her husband. We went to dinner and called it a night. This hotel was fabulous. The room was beautiful and the door did not block the bathroom.
No ramps, no problem
The next morning we were on our way home but first stopping in Maryland to see my Aunt Candi. Since mom forgot to pack the ramps we had to meet outside of her house. She picked a place called Snickerdoodles Bakery. Here a stranger came up to me and said did you go to the special school, Are you Amanda? To which I told her I was just passing through visiting my Aunt and my name was Allison. This happens to me all the time. People see the wheelchair and think I am someone else. I guess that is kinda of cool that I could be anyone. After filling our bellies with delicious sweet treats and laughter we continued home.
HOME SWEET HOME
I made it safe and sound and am proud to say I didn’t leave anything behind except memories and a few wheelchair dings on the woodwork. This trip showed me how resilient I am and that I can do things I have never done before. Sometimes things don’t go as planned but we just have to change the plan to make it work. I am glad to be home in my bed with my Alexa to answer to my every command. I didn’t think I would ever be happy to hear her say, I’m sorry I didn’t catch that, could you say it again?
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to see how my summer ended and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.