Dispatches from a Child Bride

That’s what I feel like here in this Imperial Bonita Springs RV park because it’s limited to residents age 55 and over. In other words, everyone is old, and apparently some people can tell I’m not.

When Tracy and I come and go from the Airstream, which is right by the horseshoe courts, the rowdy folks playing and talk-trashing each other shout out to us,

Hello, children!

And my new pool friend, Mike, who likes to chat while he jogs under water to the hits of the 70s (he’s lost 60 pounds since April just doing this), told me,

You’re suspiciously young to be retired.

“It’s a long story,” I tell him.

The deal is that only one of the residents of your campsite needs be older than 55 (Tracy is 58), so technically I’m allowed to be here. It’s just that so many people here are retired and therefore in the older range.

It’s true that some still work, like Mike who does local construction in the winters, then goes back to New Jersey in the summers and my dental hygienist who also lives in an RV here during the winter, then goes home to Michigan and her home dental office for summer. But from the looks of the folks playing shuffleboard and swimming laps at 7 am, it’s mostly older retired folks here.

Living the RV Resort Lifestyle

Why buck the trend? Turns out we’re having fun embracing this lifestyle.


I discovered there’s several sets of cornhole boards and bags inside that shed, so we warmed up our game last night. Seeing as how we can walk over there any time (without shoes even) and play (as long as the place isn’t crowded with the more traditional horseshoe teams), we’re a gonna. And I need to look up the rules for alcohol consumption while on the courts, but, dude, there are cup holders at each end of the pitches.

Exploring Bonita Springs

It’s true that most people here get around with three-wheeled bikes or golf carts, but we’ve seen a few regular bicycles around town. We followed suit yesterday by riding to the local farmer’s market, which turned out to be a non-local, overpriced scam for tourists, but it was a start. We have leads on small farms nearby who sell their stuff directly, which we’ll try this week.

We also drove along the coastline to check out public beaches and the huge beach houses. Almost as fancy as Naples!

Our one hike so far was along an abandoned construction site for a housing development (there sure are a lot of gated neighborhoods here) that’s been turned into Lovers Key State Park.

This huge gopher tortoise was out of his (her?) borrow when we first spotted it, but Banjo got all excited so he retreated.

This tree is nicknamed the Tourist Tree because the bark is red and peeling. 😁

Mangroves, sea grapes, fig trees that begin at the top of a host tree then grown down to establish roots later: a nice walk in general.

Not Playing the Part

So the one time we broke from the 55+ mold here is when we spotted manatees feeding and floating in the Imperial River right behind the trailer.

Tracy was wandering around looking at birds while I was sitting on my beloved outside couch reading, when he frantically waved over at me. Dang if there weren’t three manatees right there: a momma, a baby, and the biggest animal I’ve ever seen in person (other than a horse, I guess, although maybe not by weight).

I flailed around and took pictures, and Tracy ran to tell the couple who had previously asked us “if the manatees had shown up yet.” We didn’t bother telling our neighbor Liz, since she’s totally used to the wildlife around here. But Tracy and I loitered around the manatees until we lost sight of them. Good lord they are amazing.

More Plans for Acting Old

There’s a putting green here that I’m determined would be fun if you treat it like putt putt, and I do actually want to learn to play horseshoes.

And I plan on putting every outside lightstrings we have around the trailer for the Christmas golf cart parade next week.

In the meantime, I’ll try to remember that the version of myself these people seem to see is me in the very top picture, the tiniest one.

Except I have flamboyant tattoos (Mike in the pool commented on them; did I say he’s chatty?) whereas any I see here are military-related. It’s funny: I didn’t realize how popular large tattoos are with younger people until I became the only one with them. It’s a refreshing change to feel young!

5 thoughts to “Dispatches from a Child Bride”

  1. Great entry Shelly and I’ve seen live manatees too in the so called wild, in one of the many Miami channels, they are a treat. But what about that old photo at the entry top, the guy in the middle and the three girls? Do I recognise two of the girls?

    1. My mom, dad, and sister and I dressed up for that old photo when we were at the beach – it’s a common touristy thing to here. It’s the only photo I could find of myself young!

  2. I have a photo like that with my family, taken in Sydney 😄 And how amazing are manatees in the wild?! I remember how gobsmacked I was the first time I saw big parrots or an emu in the wild in Sydney (all good things happen in Sydney apparently). It didn’t seem possible that these animals I’d only seen in captivity could be surviving in the wild! Which is stupid of course