The Traveling Steve's

Birthday weekend in The Villages

After a quick work week in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina,IMG_2384 I flew back to Orlando on Friday afternoon.  My flight to Charlotte left at 1:38pm aboard a Dash-8 prop jet.  I was seated in the front row seat 2F, window, which was an exit row with lots of extra room.  Row 2 is now the former ‘row 1’, as those row 1 ‘backward’ facing seats have now been removed, offering much more legroom.   I had a good chat with my seat made, a nicely dressed gentleman headed home to Charlotte, and we discussed our travels on the short flight.


My connecting flight to Orlando was on an Airbus 321, and I had seat 4C Aisle in First Class.  I slept most of the way to Florida as I was a bit tired out from the week, although I did chat briefly with my seat mate who was an engineer for Boeing, and had worked on the development of the 787.  I told him how much we enjoyed taking it recently on LAN Airlines to Easter Island, although I honestly couldn’t tell the difference in air pressure on that plane that the 787 totes as having better quality air.

DOS picked me up at the Orlando airport as usual and we had a quick half hour drive home at this post-rush 7pm hour.  As we pulled up in the driveway, we noticed two of our neighbors in their driveways doing different activities.  First we went across the street  to Kenny and Mary’s and saw Kenny’s new pride and joy – a 1969 Chenille ‘hot rod’ he had just gotten and is looking to restore.

IMG_2485 IMG_2474 IMG_2475 While he didn’t care for the paint job, he’s looking at Candy Apple Red, or something else – any suggestions?  I thought Metallic Blue would be good too.  It’s been rebuilt from wheels up, and he’s excited to have his ‘hot rod’!IMG_2476 IMG_2486 (1)

Also, back across the street and to the right of my house, my neighbors were helping to send Sara off to Law School at William and Mary.  They were packing the truck up, while she had already packed her car, and were all driving up to Virginia in the morning to get her settled. IMG_2482

Wow – ‘little’ Sara is going off to Law School!  Our next door neighbor, we have literally seen her grow up over the years – and we’re all so proud of her. I was a bit envious she’s going to William and Mary – I wanted to go there for school many years ago having grown up in Virginia, but sadly did not.  We love Williamsburg, and I know she will do very well there.

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After visiting with our neighbors, DOS and I had a quiet Friday night at home and cooked out on the grille, while simultaneously washing my clothes for the week in preparation for next week’s work trip back to North Carolina.

On Saturday, after sleeping in a bit, DOS and I were off on our next adventure; an overnight (and annual) birthday trip to The Villages!  The Villages is a HUGE retirement community (over 55) about an hour and a half north of Orlando, not far from Ocala.

IMG_2543The Villages is an immaculately planned retirement Community, where golf carts rein as the means of transportation, and has 3 centerpiece ‘Village Squares’, with many ‘spokes’ of household residential and gated villages stretching out from them. IMG_2562

The Villages is really some place you have to see; it’s amazing, and not just for seniors; anyone can visit there, although there is a 55 and older requirement to live there (at least one member of the household that is).  Next year I’ll be legally allowed to live there!  TheVillages community has grown to over 100,000 residents over the years, although it’s careful planning and huge space of land, really makes it a wonderful and social place to live, or like us at least to visit.


We stayed once again at the Waterfront Inn, a nice hotel right on the water, in the center of Lake Sumpter Village.  The Waterfront Inn is right by the town square, and walking distance to the restaurants, shops, and all that Lake Sumpter has to offer. It has a Disney-like feel to it, (although there’s no relation to Disney) and the Lake Sumpter Village reminds me of the Boardwalk area at Disney World.IMG_2658

We stayed in room 402 which we had last year, which is a nice 4th (top) floor end suite with balcony overlooking the water.  The room offers nice views of the houses, waterfront, boardwalk, and the golf course across the lake.

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IMG_2585We met our friends Ben and Tom from Orlando (who were also staying overnight and down the hall at the hotel) for lunch next door at the Roadhouse Grille.  We had a nice lunch, careful not to eat too much so as not to spoil our dinner later at the Arnold Palmer Country Club.

IMG_2515 IMG_2505IMG_2512IMG_2504 (1)After lunch, we meandered around Sumpter Landing Square, and repeated what we did last year, going by the wine shop and tasting room, olive oil store, and chocolate store.


At the wine tasting room, we each had a different flight of three reds. We would normally get a the cheese board, but were too full from lunch, so we skipped that one in favor of a big dinner meal for later.

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Our waitress even remembered us from last year – I guess 4 ‘younger’ guys in the Villages are memorable!  LOL!  We enjoyed the tasting, and I had a follow up glass of the last cabernet as well.


Next we went to the ‘Ancient Olive Oil’ store and sampled a few of their many olive oils and balsalmics. They had some new ones this year, and quite different.  We tried, and bought the Pineapple balsamic, and Vanilla balsamic, along with the oregano olive oil – all quite different, and tasted great!

IMG_2532 IMG_2531After the olive oil tasting, we stopped by the chocolate store, Peterbrooke. Again, so many choices, but we selected a variety, including sugar free, dark chocolate, and Ben and I got two each of the sampler chocolates varieties you pick out: Coffee, Champagne, Amaretto, and Salted Carmel.  We took these, as well as our previous olive oil purchases back to our hotel before moving on to the ‘music in the Square’.

IMG_2539 IMG_2536Yes, the 5 o’clock hour is ‘Happy Hour’ in the Square; a nightly fixture at The Villages.  There is a ‘live’ band each night from 5pm – 7pm, and from 5 to 6pm it’s happy hour in the square with half priced drinks.

IMG_2564 (1)IMG_2545A large Bud Light breswki is only $2.75 – a bargain (i.e. senior priced)!

IMG_2557 (2) IMG_2551 (1)And those Village Seniors really make some motion with their dancing and swaying on the dance floor, or from their plastic chairs, or even from their golf carts!  We had a fun time listening to the music and people watching for an hour or so, before we walked back to the hotel and changed for dinner.


Around 7:15pm we went to the nearby Arnold Palmer Country Club for dinner; our third annual birthday visit here.  While we didn’t get the same waitress as the last two years, we did receive great service from Melissa, and had a fine night of elegantly casual dining.

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IMG_2592 (2) IMG_2593DOS and I shared appetizers of Ahi Tuna and Shrimp Cocktail, while Ben and Tom shared a baked brei platter.

IMG_2594 IMG_2595Our appetizers were followed by a huge salad of our choice.


For the main entree, DOS and I had the Chateaubriand for two, which was carefully carved for us table-side by the manager.

IMG_2610IMG_2619We paired our Chateaubriand with a wonderful 2011 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, which made for an exquisite meal.

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We were too full from dinner for dessert, so we finished the vino and then headed back to the Village Square for a bit of a walk, ending up at Red Sauce Restaurant and Bar for a nightcap at 10pm – a late hour for The Villages!

On Sunday, we slept in a bit, and met Ben and Tom for breakfast at Bob Evans restaurant, a short drive from the Lake Sumpter town square.  This too, was a three year tradition, and the guys all had a full breakfast, while I had a healthy and huge cranberry/chicken salad.

IMG_2663 IMG_2664IMG_2670IMG_2668After lunch, we went our separate ways for the week, with Ben and Tom heading back to their home, while DOS and I went on to the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport where we were staying for the night, as I had an early flight in the morning.


So, yet another fun birthday weekend stay at The Villages!  Next year I’ll be legal to live there!  Thanks again, gents for a wonderful birthday weekend at The Villages!

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IMG_2554 IMG_2573 IMG_2567P.S. Look forward to seeing you again next weekend at the Orlando Hyatt for the Capital Grille ‘Generous Pour’ promotion!

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