Like many retirees, we travel a lot, but we haven’t taken a vacation in years. When we travel, it is all about experiencing new cultures and cuisines, while learning about the history and geography of a place. We are busy, engaged and on the go.
After returning home from a few weeks in Europe, we have been known to quip, “we need a vacation”. But, it almost seems redundant to the leisurely retirement lifestyle we live. Some of you might remember what a vacation is like; a few days lounging on a beach, sipping margaritas and whiling away the hours until sunset; then back to work!
This year we added a traditional ‘vacation’ to our schedule for several reasons; a beach side resort condo in ‘off season’ doesn’t break the bank, the Northwest Florida location afforded me an opportunity to visit with family who live in the area, we were able to beat the heat of South Florida for a short time, and it was a comfortable way to invite Malcolm’s mom to be with us. She has traveled abroad with us on several occasions in past years, but at 90 the physical and mental exertion is too much for her and staying in one place is a good idea.
I found a two bedroom condo on VRBO and rented it for two weeks. The condo is located within Tops’l Tennis and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, on the North West Coast of Florida. It was very comfortable for the three of us and did not feel crowded when my brother and his wife visited for two nights. My only complaint, and something that I will consider next time is the smallish patio which held just a high top table for two. However, it was nice for the two of us to enjoy an evening cocktail and bit of privacy from time to time.
Tops’l Resort encompasses three condominium buildings (two pictured and the one we were in), an array of town homes and court side homes, several pickle ball courts, an 18 hole putting course, a chipping green, several swimming pools, a beach side bar, Tops’l tennis center with twelve tennis courts and a full time teaching professional, daily exercises classes, a fully equipped gym, a tiki bar for snacks and drinks and a full service restaurant. The resort also offers a full calendar of events like karaoke night, Bingo, bridge and specialty dining evenings.
This area along the North West coast of Florida is commonly referred to as the Emerald Coast – for obvious reasons. The water from the Gulf of Mexico ranges from crystal blue to emerald green and the white quartz sand enhances the color while creating a dramatic contrast. It didn’t hurt that the clouds were amazing on the day I took this shot.
So, what does one do for two weeks while vacationing at a Florida beach side resort during winter with mixed days of sunshine/rain and 40 to 60 degree temperatures? Establish a routine for doing nothing, of course. After about a three day adjustment to the quiet, we found that we were quite good at doing nothing and we continued with that pattern for the remainder of our stay.
The routine went something like this; morning coffee, breakfast, a walk on the beach, lunch, followed by two hours of Mahjong, (the only game that can hold our interest for that long) an afternoon sweet treat, and/or nap, and/or second beach walk, cocktail hour, dinner and a little night time TV viewing; of the nonsensical variety, of course. Avoiding political talking heads and market analyst, contributed greatly to my inner peace. It has been the most perfect ‘head in the sand’ two weeks that I can remember in recent years and returning to my retirement lifestyle will be tough. Poor me!
While I would not recommend a lifetime of the above mentioned schedule, I do highly recommend an occasional reboot.
Our favorite destination to walk to each day was this estuary which spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Without an aerial view, it is impossible to know its origination, but most likely it is a creek within Topsail State Park. The park is protected land and the estuary is part of a delicate ecosystem that you can learn more about by attending a talk with a park Ranger.
The round trip walk from our condo was about two and a half miles. Consider that we walked in sand, mostly in bare feet and you will fully understand that I came home with a bruised arch on my right foot. It was worth it.
In the interest of full disclosure, I did play tennis twice, I took a stretch class, we all played a night of Bingo at the Clubhouse and Malcolm and I enjoyed the 18 hole putt-putt green nearby. One must do something, while one is doing nothing, right?
If you missed our original post about discovering the Emerald Coast, and why we love it so much, you can read that story here. It is so much more than just a beach!
What about you? Have you ever taken a vacation from retirement?
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