Retirement Talk for Boomers, Seniors and Retirees

                                                                                                                                            What to do with the Rest of Your Life?

Episode 119 Part 12: Sarasota

Apalachicola was our next unanticipated stop. The name alone forced a stop. “Apalachicola” is so much fun to say. This was the home of John Gorrie pre civil war. He was a doctor and somehow connected malaria with heat. He thought about how to cool things down and invented refrigeration and the ice making machine. Just try to imagine the world without refrigeration and ice machines. Amazing, huh? I had never heard of the guy. They have a nice monument to him including his grave set just behind a historical old church: lots of big oak trees and hanging Spanish moss. We read the interpretive signs and enjoyed the solitude. Then we had to leave this quiet place and make time if we wanted to get to Sarasota before dark.

Beautiful white-sand beaches lined our drive. We took turns driving and biking right along the beach. No wonder we never get any where. We can’t seem to stay focused on going from A to B. We never made Sarasota by dark. We stopped in Chrystal River just a couple of hours short and spent the night. No need to rush life.

Our friend, Roy Ingham, welcomed us with a great lunch and then a trip to the beach. There was white sand as far as we could see. We walked on the beach around sunset. It is a popular thing to do. If you would like to lie on a sandy white beach this would be a good choice. That is one of my better memories of Sarasota; although, I’m not a beach kind of guy. An even stronger memory is of traffic – lots of traffic. It was so busy; and noisy, at least where we stayed. Or I should say, just to be honest, as soon as we left our friends place. Roy lives close to the busiest road in Sarasota and it still haunts me in my dreams: ten lanes of fast traffic in places. It made me nervous.

Roy moved to Bellingham, Washington at age 65 when he retired. He had been a professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee. At age 75 he returned to Florida, Sarasota, to be near his daughter who had cancer. She died a few years later and Roy has now made Sarasota home. He just celebrated his 84th birthday.

His retirement has run in four different directions at the same time: creating clay pots, political activism, the Unitarian Church, and swimming. He pretty much does these things on a daily basis and with vigor.

Roy took several classes after retirement in the art department at Western Washington University. He continues to ‘throw pots’ on a weekly basis. His political activism has centered around left, liberal causes. If there is a cause that needs assistance Roy is quick to send some money, lend a hand, or in many cases assume a leadership position. The church work has been important to Roy’s retirement life. It has provided a place of spiritual comfort and social contact. He’s met a lot of people at Unitarian services and events. He seems to always have a fund raiser or dinner to attend with this group. The swimming has provided Roy with good exercise and another community of friends. He swims in the masters swim program and competes in a class now that don’t boast a lot of competitors. He has lots of medals.

Roy likes Sarasota. He likes the warm weather. However, he doesn’t like the hot weather and leaves every summer for the Pacific Northwest where he stays with friends.  

Sarasota boasts a lot of coast line and sunshine; good fishing and great golfing. If you like those features it may be the place for your retirement. It is a car centered culture in many respects. You want to be willing to drive a car to get anywhere. We did find some nice neighborhoods close to downtown that seemed very amiable to walking and biking. It’s a beautiful place, but – too many roads and cars to suit my taste. Sarasota has lots of shopping centers, restaurants, and parking lots.

We did see alligators at Myakka River State Park. They were big and they were wild. That was exciting. We also saw deer, wild pigs, turkey vultures and plain old wild turkeys. We walked high above the forest canopy on cable suspended bridges and platforms. That was interesting – and fun.

We did enjoy a lunch with a couple of Roy’s friends in the Selby Gardens; a beautiful place. His friends – she is a swimmer - are retired and love living in Sarasota. He returns to New Jersey each summer too escape the heat and humidity of Florida. She stays. She likes the heat. A lot of people like the heat. You have probably noticed that older people like to keep their thermostats turned up. They like a house temperature of 76 or 78. Perhaps I won’t mind the heat so much if I am lucky enough to grow older. I know that on this trip; in January, at 8 o’clock in the morning, I was dripping with sweet while doing Tai Chi. I didn’t like it. We enjoyed Sarasota but wouldn’t want to live there.

We buzzed through Tampa and Orlando on our way to Savannah. Of course, we didn’t make it. We had to stop and take in the famed beaches at Daytona. We spent that night in Saint Augustine. We loved this place. We walked the old city and biked through much of the area. It has character.

Savannah is our next stop and we look forward to seeing this historical city in all of its’ southern charm. The trip is proving exciting day after day.


This is Retirement Talk.