Life in the Fast Lane: Sun City Center Style

Three years ago, Kay and I, along with our family luv “Emmy dog,” left Tampa with a new 4-wheel drive Jeep and hit the trail to the Rocky Mountains, settling in Loveland, Colorado. (Yes, there is a Loveland in the U.S.A.—actually two with Ohio the home of another.) Excited about living on the “Front Range” in Northern Colorado, we were certain we had found our “forever home.” Alas, three years later, we purchased a small house in Sun City Center, Florida, where sun & fun gush galore. Of course, getting there on I-75 heading south from Tampa is a challenge with 90 mph bumper-to-bumper traffic that turns into “How slow can you go?” when you get off the Interstate.

So, what’s it like living in the fast lane in Sun City? That’s the tale I am going to share with you. Well, to begin with, it’s a truly new adventure. We have always lived in mixed age communities—Tampa, Dayton, Morgantown, West Virginia, State College, Pennsylvania. Mixed is not to be in Sun City, where elders are everywhere, and I mean everywhere—wall-to-wall. A visit to anywhere—Walgreens, Publix, Walmart, doctor’s office—means standing in line. And don’t think drive-throughs are any different. Walgreens has two drive-through lanes—so get in line, please.

Driving in Sun City is yet another story. Congestion, congestion, congestion! Then watch out for the maniac golf cart drivers. Special lanes and parking for golf carts are all about—Wahoo! But safety requires that the driver of an actual car be equipped with a swivel head and three eyes.

Golf Cart Paths

The golf carts are configured to transport owners, friends, pets, groceries and, sometimes, golf clubs. They are a delight to watch and to avoid. Fortunately, I have yet to see one smashed to smithereens. Halleluiah!

Occasionally, I get to see a “first,” and there are a lot of “firsts” in life if you are an octogenarian. Here goes! I was parked in Walgreens Lane to pick up a prescription, when I noticed the adjacent lane was not moving. Then I noticed that the car next in line for the window didn’t move forward when the car ahead sped away. Time passed and still no movement. Now impatience raised its head with car horns blaring away, still no movement. Alarmed, Walgreens’ clerks dreaded the worst—a dead driver at the wheel. The two clerks at the dispensing window raced outside to find out what was happening—and they did. Was she dead? They surely thought so, given the urgency and the looks on their faces. But, no–a little gray-haired lady behind the steering wheel of a giant automobile was sound asleep! Fast lane Sun City style! This is a true “first”; I’m not making it up.

So, I hope you don’t think that living in an elder community is a “downer,” although I must confess that a recent media story did resonate. A New York Wall Street banker who expressed interest in moving to Florida exclaimed, “the main problem with moving to Florida is that you have to live in Florida.” Not to close on a downer–here’s an “upper”.  At age 82 the elders here make me feel like a 50-year-old playboy. Go figure!

Okay, where’s the fun in this story? I’ll let you know when I buy golf clubs for my golf cart! By the way, golf carts are not cheap; new ones can go for $16k.

In case you might be wondering why we left Tampa for our great Colorado adventure, see my OLLI CONNECTS story “Taking the Y in the Road.”  If you are wondering why we purchased a home in Sun City, you will have to wait for my next story.  –Don Menzel

Don Menzel is a past president of the American Society for Public Administration, author and international speaker on ethics reform. Before his move to Colorado, Don organized OLLI-USF’s China Special Interest Group. He also served as an OLLI-USF faculty member for over 10 years.

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