For the past two years, my Dad and I have been wintering at the Encore Winter Quarters Pasco RV Resort in Lutz (just north of Tampa), Florida. I had been looking for a warm climate for my Dad where he could spend the cold Canadian winter months. One evening at a dinner with some friends, the discussion of wintering in Florida soon led to a trailer rental from a mutual friend who was familiar with Encore’s Pasco Winter Quarters location. So there we were, transformed from frigid northern temperatures to the sunny south and part of the Snowbird migration to Florida.
When Dad flew down the first year by himself, my brother, sister and I had many apprehensions. We were concerned about how he would cope – he was eighty five. Dad is very mobile and can look after himself, but you always wonder how things will turn out. During his first telephone call he informed us that he was having fun and had met some wonderful neighbours who were taking care of him. This sounded too good to be true and we figured he was just trying to alleviate our concerns. Each phone call he insisted that all was well and he was enjoying the RV park way of life.
This was my first year of retirement and I had just returned from three months in S.E. Asia, so I flew to Florida to join my father two months into his stay. Well, from my first moments at the park, I could see that Dad had been sincere in his earlier phone conversations. The lifestyle was more that you could ask for. The location was central to all the amenities (airport, shopping etc.), the park size gave a very family oriented feeling and there were more than enough activities to fill your day. Of course you may expect that, but what was so overwhelming were the people, both residents and staff. I could not believe the love and warmth of the neighbours. They could not do enough to make Dad feel at home and he was never short for anything. I was quickly accepted in the same manner, a home away from home with a loving family thrown in. There were also many Snowbirds present if you felt you required some northern conversations.
I have to say the weather is a treat as are the local bird (cranes) wildlife, more like pets than wild. They sort of epitomize the lifestyle. One has to remember that a trailer park stay is not a vacation, but day to day living in Florida instead of at home in Canada. With all the activities your days / weeks just fly by, I will take this lifestyle any day.
One of our neighbours has a pontoon boat, so we have boated around and through Tampa and on other occasions gone fishing. It is such a relaxing way to spend a day. Golf is available at so many locations and the prices are very reasonable, especially since they always include a cart.
Going out to eat has turned into an adventure. We (Dad and his gang) all cram into a couple of SUV’s or vans and head to one of the local dining establishments. It could be Asian (so many to choose from), Greek, Italian, Mexican or some local cuisine and of course there are always burgers or pizza. Now and again they venture to all you can eat buffets, thank goodness there is always plenty of fruit and salad bars.
I must add that my brother, sister and a friend have come down to stay for a week on separate occasions and all have been treated with the same warmth as Dad. This really is one big loving family who sincerely care for one another.
Written by Alan Brown, Seasonal Guest at Winter Quarters Pasco RV Resort in Lutz, FL