Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Visit to Highland Lakes for Pickleball

Several month's ago when I was doing an article for USAPA on the UpstatePickleball Group in Greensville, South Carolina, Lynn and Ken Corbett introduced me (on-line) to Manny and Marie Cardoza who are the Chair Person(s) for Highland Lakes Pickleball. Yes, I did an article on that group as well; they were just featured on the website and in our USAPA newsletter this month.

Manny and Marie invited Rich and I to come to Highland Lakes and play with their group. From here in The Villages, it's just over a 1/2 hour drive, so we headed south on 441/27 this morning and found our way(almost by ourselves!) to the Clubhouse and the Pickleball Arena!! As you
head south from The Villages 441 and 27 split, and not sure of which way to go..........I made a phone call to Manny for directions before we got lost!! And we arrived without further incident.
(this picture (compliments of Marie Cardoza) Talk about making you feel welcome! When we arrived, there was a welcome banner for us. I mean - we are just everyday pickleball players - but the folks here made us feel like celebrities. We had posted pictures of Manny and Marie previously, so we recognized both of them immediately when we arrived. There were 25 people or more that came to enjoy the game today. We were also pleasantly surprised to meet several players from Legacy, which is another active adult community that neighbors Highland Lakes.

One of the first people that we were introduced to were Joe and Marie Falcon. Unable to play, they enjoyed watching from the sidelines. The picture is of Cal Blenis (left) having to sit out for a while after a partial knee replacement along with Marie and Joe Falcon. Pickleball was introduced to Highland Lakes way back in 1993 by George Hasting, a gentleman visiting from up north and Joe and Marie were one of the first to be introduced to the game and they were the very first "leaders" of the pickleball group and responsibile for continuing the growth of the game in the community! I'm sure they are very proud of what it has become today.

Here are some pictures of their "pickleball arena", their players and Rich and I thoroughly enjoying ourselves! Here is picture from the stage. As you can see, there are four courts set up for play. The indoor noises take a little getting used to, but we acclimated to the air conditioned comfort very quickly.
Serving is Sue Clark, visiting from Legacy, and partnering with Bob Miller of Highland Lakes

Waitng for the next play is Richard Ekstrand of Highland Lakes

Here's Rich partnering with another Legacy player, Nancy Custard. Actually - Nancy is a very good player, and I think it was a little later that she and I were playing against Rich and had a really fun close game.

And here's Manny Cardoza. Rich and I played our first game against him and Marie. Can't remember the score, but I THINK we won!! Tough to remember the score when you're having fun! This is Bob Miller (left) from Legacy and Dick Mell from Highland Lakes. The first thing that Dich asked us when we met him was to guess how old he was. I'm not good at guessing anyone's age......but Dick will be 84 years old in November and still enjoys playing the game!!!

Here I am partnering with Bob Miller from Higland Lakes. I remember this one, and yes we lost. I know Rich was playing on the other side of the net!!!

Remember, we told you that Ken and Lynn Corbett from SC, introduced us to Highland Lakes? Well Lynn's MOM, is a resident there and stopped by to say hello to Rich and I before we left. Ken and Lynn were in Florida in May and spent time at her Mom's timeshare on the gulf coast. We had hoped to hook up with them, but unfortunately it didn't happen. They will be back in Florida in September, so we hope to get the opportunity to finally meet them! Here is a picture of Rich with Lynn's mom Nancy. I thought I would surprise Lynn, so I sent her this picture not long after we got home. She wrote back to say that Mom had excitedly, already called her!

Not only are the people here at Highland Lakes very friendly, the community is absolutely lovely. It is located just south of Leesburg, is resident owned and boasts all kinds of ammenities. Manny and Marie took us for a short tour of the clubhouse and adjoining fittness center and pools. The indoor pool is just beautiful and was soooooooooooo inviting after playing pickeball.

As we entered the gate to the outside pool, this couple saw my camera and stopped their lap across the pool to wave for this picture. I asked if the water was warm. Only 84 degrees! Not sure how much that would cool me off on these 95 degree afternoons. If we ever sell our home in Wesley Chapel.........this is definately a place to consider settling down in.

This posting would not be complete without a picture of our new friends Manny and Marie (M&M) Cardoza. We look forward to seeing all of the players again, perhaps sometime in September. In the meantime we have set a date for Saturday August 15th for dinner with M&M. They are taking us to a place just south of the community for Prime Rib and a bottle of wine for $25. Can't beat that! We'll let you know how good it is!

Here is another picture below, compliments of the talented Marie. This is a great group picture. If you click on this link (Highland Lakes) it will take you to their website where you can enlarge these pictures for a terriffic view. Click this link (Highland Lakes Photos) to see more pictures of the arena and players or watch the slideshow we've put on the right sidebar.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Birthday! A Day of Line Dancing and Another Pickleball Clinic

The first thing on the agenda today is to wish our daughter-in-law a very very
CRYSTAL - Wishing the very best birthday ever. Love and Kisses from Dad and Mom Donald!!

Today was pretty much another typical day at The Villages. Pickleball and Line Dancing. I've been switching off between line dancing at Mulberry Rec Center, and the Laurel Manor center, and today was three hours of pretty much non-stop dancing at Lauren Manor. This recreation center is about 1/2 hour golf cart ride from the villa, but today I decided to drive, since Rich had returned a little earlier than normal from pickleball. This is definately one of the largest and prettiest rec centers.

Dancing started today at 10:00, and these pictures were taken about 12:45 PM. There were probably more than 50 people in the class today, but by this time the dances had elevated to the intermediate advanced level, so the crowds had dwindled.

See the lady in the back row in the yellow shirt? Well this is an interesting story. Remember a few weeks ago I told you about Rich and
I running into 4 or 5 elderly gentlemen, who were great pickleball players, very good friends, and an absolute riot to watch o n the courts? One of those guys was John Tucci ( although we didn't know his last name at that time). That same day John's son and daughter-in-law had also come to the courts to watch their day play.

Well, today this lady in the yellow top looked very familiar to me - like the lady who had been the line dancing instructor at Mulberry last summer while we were here. So during a short break from dancing I went over to talk with her. She was in deed who I had thought. But what is so funny is that during our conversation, I learned that she, Clair Tucci - was the wife of John Tucci - the pickleball player!!! What a hoot!! We laughed at the coincidence of us meeting her husband and son just a few weeks ago, and us just happening to start talking today. I guess that's how friends are made. She's a great insturctor and a great dancer.

As for Rich today...........It was pickleball at Lake Miona, where the level of play is probably the most advanced here at The Villages. Another open tournament is being scheduled for Villages Residents only in August, and Rich plans on playing. ( Yes - the consider us residents during our stay!) Tonight was another pickleball clinic for intermediate/advanced players down at Churchill Street Rec Center, and Rich went over again to help Mo. Another good group of players out to improve their game. Mo tells us that most of the clinics are full within hours of being posted. That's great news, but not surprising. He's such a great teacher of the game.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dinner With Friends

Time flies when you're having fun.....Can't believe it's been a week since I've updated this. Actually there hasn't been a whole lot to update. Just so much you can write about playing pickleball. But we have been out most every morning. We've decided that before we leave The Villages, we'd like to play at as many rec centers as we can. Earlier in the week we headed down to the Bacall Rec Center to visit with fellow USAPA Ambassador, Al Rosati and the group that he plays with every day. What a great group of people. They made us feel very welcome. ( Linda Kramer - we forgot to ask him if he had a relative that lived there next to you......but we will the next time we see him.) We had a great time. We left there and headed for Coleny Cottage, but there were only a few people playing so we didn't. stop. We passed by Canal Stree and saw a large group playing, but then realized it was "Coach Mo" doing one of his Clinics. This one was for players 70 years and older.

Both yesterday and today Jeannie (mo's wife) and I had plans to meet at Churchill Street Rec Center, but we've been rained off both mornings.

Remember Kilwins? The ice cream and chocolate store we showed you down in Spanish Springs Town Square? Well we went for a ride one afternoon for ice cream. A $10 bill will buy you about 2 single dip cones.........WOW! Not worth it. A nice treat I guess........but we'll settle for Friendly's Ice Cream from Sweetbay!

Tonight, Monday, we met our friends Coach Mo and Jeannie for dinner. The last time we had dinner together was at Homers Smorgasboard in Sebring, so we decided to head for another All You Can Eat Buffett. So we met at the Golden Corrall.

This is Mo and Jeanne. The food was very good but the company was definately better. It was really nice to see them again, and spend some time catching up. Their daughter and son-in-law had just left after spending ten days with them. After dinner we went back to their home for a little while where we enjoyed a cup of coffee and more great conversation. I'll meet Jeanne on Wednesday morning for pickleball at Churchill, and Rich is going to help Mo with another Clinic ther on Thursday evening.

We've already made plans for dinner time is Giovianni's Italian!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Few More Pictures of The Villages

On Monday Rich was meeting the group of guys for Pickleball at Saddlebrook. (Well, there are a few woman who play there, but not too many.) Today Yuka was there. I wanted to go back down to the Churchill Street Rec Center for pickelball. The group of players here are just so friendly and as I said before, I knew a lot of them from last year. We arrived at our courts right around 7:00 am. I left Churchill St. about 10:15 and by the time I got back to Saddlebrook, Rich had just finished his last game.

That afternoon, we decided to take the golf cart out and head back down to Saddlebrook. I am just amazed at the golf cart roads here at The Villages, so I took the camera along. Hope you enjoy our road trip..........

Here, we just pulled out of our Community onto El Camino Real, which will take us to Buena Vista Blvd. The golf cart trails, are two way, as you can see another cart approaching us ahead, That is the entrance to The Savanna Rec Center on the left.
Once you get to Buena Vista Blvd., you have to get to the other side! Some of the roads in the Villages have golf cart lanes, or there are signs that remind drivers that they are sharing the roads with golf carts. But on the main roads, golf carts are not allowed. It is necessary however to cross those main roads, and so they have built these tunnells that go underneath the road. This is one of two tunnels we'll pass on the way to Saddlebrook.

Here we are on the other side now headed south on Buena Vista. As you can see, the grounds are immaculately maintained. It's a beautiful ride. That's Buena Vista Blvd, just to the left.
This is the rec center at Saddlebrook. The grounds here at Saddlebrook are huge, with tennis courts, pickelball courts, a baseball diamond where they play softball, as well as the Polo grounds. Yes you can actually watch them play Polo. I believe the stable for the horses are also somewhere here at Saddlebrook. As for the actual rec center building, it is probably one of the smallest.
In the billards room, there are five pool tables. Here's Rich beating me big time!!

Tom and Rich playing a game of 8 Ball. Tom comes here most every afternoon to shoot, so the two of them made plans to meet again for some Straigt Pool. This guy was very good.
The skys were starting to cloud up and we had about a 15 minute ride back to the Villa. So we headed back before the rain.
OK - Time to head back to the Villa.........Here we are headed up the hill, coming out of the tunnel crossing back across Buena Vista. Reminds me of an amusement park ride!! Hope this oncoming moves to his side of the road pretty soon.
This is the entrance to the Village we are staying in. Village Santiago. So let's go on through the gate........

Oh.....this is interesting too. Each Village has multiple "post offices". Post Office Boxes here for each home. There are also boxes for outgoing mail, and you can purchase your daily newspapers here as well.

Here we are back home............Within Village Sanitago, we are located in Villa Vera Cruz. About 1 minute from home.
Well, we made it back before the rain. But not by much. It wasn't long before we got our afternoon shower.

Monday, July 13, 2009


From the Quad City River Bandits, Multimedia Website, July 13, 2009

Congratulations to Crystal Donald, who submitted the photo below featuring Dalton and Chauna showing you just how large the big leaguers' jerseys really are! The photo was the first Photo of the Week winner in 2009, and was displayed on the Modern Woodmen Park video board on July 12!

Do you consider yourself a bit of an amateur photography buff?
Have you visited Modern Woodmen Park recently? If so, we would love to see your best work! Submit your photos today to the River Bandits Photo of the Week contest and you could see your shot on this page and on the Modern Woodmen Park video board on U.S. Bank Family Sundays! There are no limitations on content. From ballgames and events at Modern Woodmen Park to appearances throughout the community and everywhere in between, the River Bandits are asking for anything and everything. In addition, weekly winners will receive four free tickets to an upcoming River Bandits game!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pickleball, Rain, Line Dancing, Rain, Pickleball Clinic and More Rain

No, I didn't take any picture of the rain this week, or the lightning, and we haven't seen a Rainbow since we left home. For Rich, every morning is Pickleball. On Tueseday he played at Lake Miona and I did my walk for about 45 minutes. It rained most of the afternoon on Tuesday.

Wednesday Rich enjoyed his pickleball play at Pimlico. I went walking again. The laptop has been giving us a little trouble and I've got some work to get done, and a newsletter to finish.......and it rained most of the afternoon on Wednesday.

Thursday morning we both headed out for El Santiago to play pickleball. The skies were cloudy. We got there just a few minutes before seven. None of the women had arrived yet - just seven other guys and me!! The skies got darker and darker and you could hear thunder in the distance. I finished one game, Rich just two games, and it started to rain!! So we headed back home............... At noon I headed for the Mulberry Rec Center for line dancing. I can't belive how many people attend these classes. There had to be somewhere between 60 and 70 people there. The dances here are more difficult than those we learned in Tanglewood, more challenging, but still a lot of fun. People were talkng about the DJ that would be at Spanish Springs Town Center on Friday night - and planning on dancing in the Square. The rain cleared in the early afternoon. Good News, because Rich was scheduled to help Mo with his Pickleball Clinic at the Churchill Street Rec Center that evening. Mo is doing his clinics at many of the rec centers here and says that the registration lists are filling up within minutes of being posted.
Mo sent the participants to the four courts and sent a trainer to each court. Here's Rich working with his group.
All of the people who work with Mo, are tournament gold medal winners The man and lady closest to the net are Judy and Paul Kelley. Judy is one of The Villages top female players.
Now about half way through the clinic, I saw this couple standing on the other side of the fence, observing what was going on. A second look and I recognized them. Last year when we stayed here at The Villages, we rented a villa withing walking distance of the Churchill Street Rec Center, so we got to know a lot of the regular players here. This was one of my favorite couples, Casey and Lourdes. Both of them are pickleball players, were too late to register for this clinic, so just came over to watch. Lourdes is a hairdresser and with here "Traveling Scissors" comes to your home to do hair cuts. She cut both Rich and my hair last year while we were here It was so nice to see them again. I promised them we'd make a trip down to Churchill Street one morning to play.

Meanwhile - Here is Rich with his next group of participants, wearing his favorite pickleball t-shirt..............and working with the group on the overhead shot.

That's Mo - with his back to us........demonstrating several pickleball strategies with Paul Kelley and Peter McNamara.

Rich watches - He had a lot of people comment on his Pickleball Bug T-shirt tonight. Louann - maybe we should set you up a store in The Villages???

When we got back to the house that evening, George (the owner of the Villa) had left us a brand new barbeque grill. Nice we can cook out!! Rich does great Calzones on the grill.

Today - Friday, We both played for a little while over at El Santiago. I came back home, while Rich headed for Saddlebrook. A few of the old players from last year were there including Bill Freeman. So he got in some real good matches today and will probably head back there again on Saturday morning. Hey Linda (Kramer).......looks like Rich is tracking down the old we just need to find Deb Harrison and you guys will have a game!!!!!!

I needed to get out ans drive the golf cart, so I would feel comfortable driving it alone, while Rich took off for Saddlebrook with the car. Throughout The Villages there are roads set up specifically for the golf cart, complete with tunnells that go under the roads. Rich is absolutely terrible at directions, so we thought we would do a trial golf cart run to Saddlebrook, so he could find his way in the morning. I got to drive!! About half way there, I missed a turn and took the wrong tunnel, and had to give Rich the wheel to get us turned around. A very nice gentleman gave us directions to get back on our intended route. Sure wish they put adjustable seats in golf carts. I'm so darned short, I have to sit on the edge of the seat to reach the pedal!!!!

Later in the day - I made it back from grocery shopping just before the afternoon storms......... Last night we watched Mo's new DVD which is absolutely great!! Today. Rich put on the Alan Christianson Pickleball DVD's and then we watched our Tampa Bay Rays win their ninth straight home game shutting out the Oakland A's 6 zip. !!

.........................and then the smoke alarms started chirping. We think the batteries probably need to be changed...........That will be the first phone call tomorrow morning.

Monday, July 6, 2009

This Weekend at The Villages

On Saturday, I took a break form morning picklball and took about a 45 minute morning walk after Rich left for Saddlebrook for the first time to play. Only three guys were there so they all headed down to Lake Miona. I think Lake Miona has eight courts. They were all full with players, and I think Rich said there were about 12 or 14 waiting to play. He ran into Al Rosati, and some of the Saddlebrook gang ( Tom, Paul and Jeff), played a couple of games, but decided it was way to croweded so hopped on the golf cart and headed for Pimlico. George Brewer and Mo were there. Got in some great games and came back to the Villa about 10 lbs. lighter!! Not really.

While he was gone, I finished my walk, did a little cleaning in the Villa, and watched Serena beat Venus at Wimbleton. That afternoon, Mo called and invited Rich over to watch his new DVD. Should be out on his website for sale this week!!!
On Sunday Rich headed out for more pickleball but made it back in time to catch the men's Wimbleton finals. What an awesome match!!!! Great to see Federer win , great to see Pete Samprass there........but really felt bad for USA's Andy Roddick. We relaxed the rest of the day........I made a Chicken Casserole and we had dinener in. Watched the Tampa Rays get beat and called it a day.

Today(Monday - we headed back to El Santiago for pickleball. Denise and Terry (first picture) are playing on Wednesday in the Intermediate tournament over at Chula Vista so played together today to get some practice time.

Rich worked with them a little showing them how to serve from the sameside of the court, like he and Linda did, since Terry played left handed. They picked it up real quickley. Heres Rich, playing with Paulette with Terry and Denise on the other side.

We got a nice rain shower this afternoon.......took a little nap listening to the rain hit the skylight, then headed out for dinner. Nothing special tonight, dinner was at the New China Buffett over on US 441. Lots of seafood on the buffett tonight which was great.
The best part of the day was catching up with what some of our friends were doing. Travis called us earlier in the day. He's in Toledo, Ohio now and was looking for a place to play pickleball..........we hooked him up with a couple of Ambassadors there in Toledo. As it turnes out the guy is the brother to one of his friends back in Tennessee. What a small world. We called Marcel and Louise to see how they were recouperating from their recent surgeries. Marcel still tires out quickly, but is improving. Louise will know on the 16th if another breast surgery is necessary. We called Bob and Kathy Hughes to catch up on their summer in N. Carolina. Happy 65th Birthday tomorrow Bob Hughes!!! Then we talked with Stan and Sally - who are at a Thousand Trails Park out in Oregon. Can't wait to see them back in Florida in November. The last call of the day was to our friend Linda Kramer down in Sebring, where we learned that Bill had a very close call with new medication that slowed in heart beat way too much. Glad to hear he's doing better. Sorry Linda to hear that pickleball is so slow there this summer!!! You'll need to come here for a day or two to get in some good play!!

It's always great touching base with friends. Can't wait to see them all again.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

And Who Are Those Good Looking Ball Players

We got these in the mail today..............They sure do look like a couple of All-Stars to us!! Could they be those two good looking grandchil'n out there in Iowa?


Dennis said they are both playing outfield in the All-Star Games. Dalton won his game tonight 9-6. Way to go!!

Update: On Monday they both won their games. Dalton 12-7 in extra innings and Chauna 8-1

Here they are after the ballgame on the 4th, with smiles as bright and beautiful as the fireworks!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Spanish Springs Town Center

Like most days here..........the mornings are pickleball. This morning we took the golf cart and headed to La Hacienda. When we arrived there was only a group of five men there playing. These guys were excellent players and they were so funny. They were like watching the five stooges when they were out playing. Guessing their age, we'd have to say they were probably in their 70's. You could tell they were all good friends, out having a great time. While four of them played we sat and talked with the fifth player. As a group they have been playing together for more than ten years. They play every day at seven in the morning before open play starts at eight. After talking with Rich for a few minutes, he got the OK to go out and play with them. But as soon as more players started to arrive, they wanted their own group of players back together again. It was really a pleasure to meet and talk with them. You could tell they were close friends and enjoyed each other's competition and daily ribbing.
We played there for a little while and then headed back over to El Santiago where we played yesterday. We were the last to leave !

Now everyone will tell you that The Villages does things their own way. Well, there were instructions on the refrigerator that told us which days were garbage pick-up. The note said to put the garbage out on Thursday night for early morning pickup on Friday. We did just that. When we returned from playing pickleball everyone's garbage had been picked up. BUT.....our bag was still sitting in the driveway???? Why? We have no idea. Guess we need to check to see if you have to use a specific color bag, or see if we should have placed it on the right side instead of the left side of the driveway. Hope we find out soon!!

After dinner we took a ride (in the golf cart) down to Spanish Springs Town Center. Here in The Villageas there are two Town Centers. The other is called Sumter Landing with more of a nautical theme. We are located closer to Spanish Springs. This is what the town center looks like most every evening.

When we arrived, we parked just across the street from Kilwin's Chocolates, Fudge and Ice Cream. As I said, we had just finished dinner.........but Rich is sure to remember this place. I know he had a difficult time just walking by!
This was the scene as we approached the town center, where in the very middle of the circle was a raised stage. Tonight there was a DJ.

Chairs were placed all around the circle for people to sit and listen to music. A great dance area and beautiful water fountains.

It's pretty hard to see all of the dancers to the left of the stage. But they were all doing line dancing. This reminded me of the Bash Area and Fire Ring in Sebring. Where is Nancy and Barbara and Kathy???
It was amazing how many people were out enjoying the music. And it's this way almost every night!
Of course there is always a place to buy your favorite beverage. Prices weren't too bad. Beer was reasonable..........and Marguarita's were only $1.75

Really like the water fountains. A view from behind .

And more fountains.

Before we leave we both want to go to Katie Bells. This is located in Spanish Springs just across the street from the center. This is one of the favorite eating places. Casual, Breakfast and Dinner Buffetts, with music and dancing. So we are sure to be back here.......dinner at Katie Bells and Chocolate and Ice Cram at Kilwins!