04 March 2016

Let The Games Begin!

3 Mar 2016--We have lots of pictures here, documenting 2 solid weeks of more fun than most of us have had in our adult lifetimes.  Every 2 years they hold what they call the Rainbow Olympics, and while this is our first of hopefully many, they have been doing them here since 2009!!!  They used to do them every year, but it is such a massive undertaking they now only do it every other year...in the off years, they have what they call the Winter Games, so we will be reporting on that next year.

We started on 15 February with the Opening Ceremonies, where all the participants march through the streets based on what street they live on.  Every street is named after a famous woman, from Golda Meir to Martina Navratilova, so those are the banners we are carrying.


The march ends at the club house, where the torch is lit and all 203 participants go inside for a little food, music, announcements and general camaraderie.


We opened with the house band playing the national anthems of both the US and Canada, and then a grand sing-along of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame!"  (Clearly there are a lot of ex-jocks here--everyone knew all the words!!!  haha)

The organizing of the events is a massive undertaking, as we had everything from relay races to billiards to water polo and even scrabble.  I don't have pics for all the events, but I have most of them, and certainly at least a few of all that Cathy and I were entered in.  haha

We were in the Relay Races as a team with Mary Gay and Yoli, along with 8 other teams.  We had to compete in several different games, where you got points in each one based on where your team finished, and then at the end all the points were added together for the overall winners.

Here is a team of our competitors, pumping themselves up for the races;  Gayle and Yvette from Canada along with Jenny and Chris from Ohio.

We started with a hula hoop run where we had to run the field end-to end, gathering a team mate one at a time along the way, and then all getting in the hula hoop at the finish.

Mar Gay gets us started on the bubble gum blowing segment.  Here we had to put a pair of ill-fitting gloves on, unwrap 2 pieces of double-bubble, bubble gum, chew it up and blow a 3 inch bubble before we could run to the other end and get our next team mate to do the same.  Mary Gay was a little slow out of the gate as she struggled right off the bat with the gloves and bubble gum wrapper. haha


Trying to chew and then blow a bubble with 2 fresh pieces of bubble gum in your mouth is far harder than it sounds...especially when someone like Ann, who is filming here, is making you laugh as you try to do it.

The funniest by far was at the end where we all had to gather and blow one final bubble together to get credit for the event.  Notice that in the 2nd row of pics Mary Gay already has a very respectable bubble, while Yoli struggles mightily (and what looks like painfully) to get hers to pass muster.  haha I was having the hardest time blowing a bubble myself because I was laughing so hard at the faces Yoli was making.  haha


Carrying a golf ball on a spoon the length of the field and back was a little harder than I had anticipated...I was the only one on my team to drop it and have to start over, but fortunately Cathy took up the slack and made up some time for me.

The water balloon leg of the race was by far the funniest leg.  We had initially gamed this out and practiced a little where we thought Mary Gay and I would team up, and then Cathy and Yoli would team up, based on our respective heights.  But then we decided it might be better to go with me and Cathy together...a big mistake!  haha

The premise was that you had to run as a team, back-to-back and with a water balloon between you, the length of the field without dropping the balloon, and then at the end break the water balloon between your backs so your other team pair could then go and do the same.  Forgetting that we are a bunch of old ladies, some of us almost killed each other trying to either run and/or break the balloons. Cathy and I ran the length of the field with no problem, but at the end, with the balloon in a comfy spot at the small of our backs, we about put ourselves in the hospital trying to twist and turn and do whatever we could to try to break the darn balloon.  haha

Here we go back and forth, both seemingly trying to take charge of the process, and darn near kill each other.  haha

We did finally break it, and even finished in the money...although it took us so long I have no idea how that happened!  Here you can see in the video Cheryl and Gail drop their balloon, then Cathy and I killing ourselves trying to break the darn balloon.


Here we must fill the cups with water, with a sponge that first must be passed overhead so that everyone gets wet.

Then another leg we had to run the length of the field and fill a bottle that is placed on your head with water.  No one got out of these events unscathed!  haha

Here Mary Gay tries to take off from her interaction with Cathy, but initially forgets to take the cups with her.


And finally, like a bunch of kids, a water balloon fight breaks out.  Cathy and I chased Connie down the street with buckets of water to get her back for her and Jean beating us in the doubles pickle ball final!  Jean stayed safely at home, so Connie had to take both buckets!  haha

The 2 most fun, and funny, events of the games were the relay races and the water polo competition. Only 3 teams entered the water polo, so like kids today 'everyone got a prize'!  haha  The water was still too cold for Cathy and I, so we enjoyed it on the sidelines.  No one seemed to have more fun with this than Jenny (in the blue shirt), while no one was more of a monster defensively than Nancy (with the red vest and long outstretched arm in the 3rd pic).

Here is Chris trying to strip the ball from Cheryl, while Nancy plays octopus over Kay!  haha

Flo gave it her all and looked like a pro!

Jenny covering Flo, while neither Gayle nor Yvette can decide who wants the ball! haha

Pat lays out in a futile attempt to stop the ball!

Cheryl's team celebrates a win...they played very well the 1st 2 days, but ultimately had a sudden death playoff game that they lost, so came in 2nd overall!

Maureen, in other venues is an absolute star, and probably the most competitive person we know here, seemed to struggle at this event.  While I'm not 100% sure, I think it may have been due to a wrong tube selection, as she just couldn't seem to get situated properly to be her normal competitive self.  She made me laugh like I hadn't laughed in a long time.  So thanks Maureen, you were a star in your own way here!  haha


Here Yoli uses a good tactic on Cheryl as she keeps the ball away from her.

Nancy about malls Kay, while Gayle then gets a shot on net!

Anita scores!

And the only penalty of the game...Gail dumps Tricia and has to go to the penalty box!

Anita plays prevent defense on Kay!

The ball scores, but you look good missing it Pat!  haha

Jenny still smiling, while Yvette almost drowns!

Toni's team is still all wet!  Came in 3rd place in a 3 team competition, while Gail's team performed heroically in a come from behind, sudden death thriller for overall 1st!!!

And a star in her own right...Ann, referee with a whistle and a beer!!!

Here, Maureen seems to be blamed for the goal, and gets kicked off the field of play! So unfair, Maureen, so unfair!  I really feel that with the right tube, you coulda been a contender!  haha

Mary Gay, head cheerleader, forgets how to spell Carefree in a 'call and response' exercise...really MG?  haha

Now on to Pickleball...our obsession here. haha  I played Gayle in the singles final.


My sister Ellen tells me she can't remember me showing her pickle ball last year, so here is a video Ellen so you can see how it is played.  Almost like tennis with shorter rackets...and some different rules.

Warming up and ready to go!

Cathy and I lost in a 3 set heart breaker (haha) to Jean and Connie in the doubles final.  They played great and we were in the position of always playing THEIR game...not successfully I might add.
haha  (That's why we chased Connie with the water buckets!)

We play against Gayle and Yvette just about every day, but didn't get to play them in the doubles matches this year.

And although Cathy and I won against Kay and Dana in our doubles match, we worked harder than we ever have and were all EXHAUSTED by the end of this 3 set match.  I kept saying to Cathy between points, "Hey Cathy, no matter how tired we are, they are more tired because we are better acclimated to the heat...keep playing and never let them see you sweat!"  haha  Great Game, ladies!!!


Random shots, and me trying to keep Cathy calm between points.  haha


Cathy entered the beginner's billiards tournament, and WON!

Here is the winning shot of her 1st round match!  "The crowd goes wild!"  haha

I was a last minute substitute for Jenny's injured partner in the beginner's table tennis.  I told Jenny that I had never played before and that I really stink at it, and she said that as beginners we ALL stink (haha), so I agreed to join her.  Jenny was right, at least as far as she and I were concerned, because in a double elimination tournament we played 2 games and were OUT!!!   We really stunk!  haha

Gayle and Yvette won 1st in Beginner's, Kay and Flo won 2nd in Intermediate, and Dana and Cynthia...well, they played, too.  haha


And then there was my favorite, "Maureen the Entertainer"!  Now I said earlier that Maureen is a real competitor (except, of course, in water polo-haha), and she doesn't fail to entertain here.  The best play of the games I didn't get on video, and I could spit about it, because Maureen actually hit the ball, spun 360 degrees, and got back just in time to return the next shot that came at her.  It was incredible!!!  (Another shot that would have been great was when she broke her fairly expensive paddle slapping herself on the butt with it...live and learn, Maureen!  haha)

Here she is playing Cheryl in the advanced group (notice the different level of play here verses me and Jenny--haha), they are in the 3rd set, and Maureen decides to play her mind games with Cheryl as she goes for the win....Maureen takes the 3rd set 15-13!!!!  Maureen, you are SOOOO much fun to watch!

Cathy and I didn't play volleyball, but we were there to support our friends.  Here are 3 shots that include Gayle, along with Shelly making the rounds with the score during a time out.

And here is one of my 2 heroes here at Carefree...This is Ellen hitting the ball.  Ellen is originally from Germany, plays pickleball with us almost every day, and is, I think, 82 years old!!!  She is exactly what I want to be when I grow up!!!


Cathy and I really stunk at bean bag...2 games played, 2 games lost...and out of the competition!

And we weren't any better at washer toss (ugh)!  Gayle and Yvette got ribbons, but Cathy and I were out early...very early!  haha

Cathy won the intermediate singles shuffleboard...I won my first game where I couldn't miss if I tried, and then quickly lost the next 2 and was eliminated.  I think the moral of the story is that I should stick to pickleball!  haha

Or maybe Scrabble.  Scrabble is the only game during the Olympics that doesn't allow spectators...some people need quiet, I guess.  So for my 1st game, we had to take a picture outside as we entered the art house...the field of play (haha).  Sue, with the hat, explains the rules of the game outside to Nancy and I.  I had a couple pretty close (and lucky) wins, and got to the finals where I played Rita (from Provincetown).  In a slug fest of a death match she beat me, on the last play of the game...by ONE point!!!!  It was a great game, and now she and I are playing Words with Friends electronically...I'm gonna be the 'little engine that could', and keep playing till I get my dignity back. haha

Seven teams competed in Trivial Pursuit, and a whole bunch of people showed up to play along and cheer them on.  Renee is contemplating an answer in the 3rd pic...she got an incredible amount of the answers right, so Ann and I are competing for her partnership in the next games.  I'll fight you for it, Ann!

Gayle got another ribbon in the putting contest, taking 2nd in a playoff!

Gaye's playoff was with Linda here in the 1st pic, so she took 3rd place and Jan took 1st.

Kay and Dana are in the forefront here playing Texas Hold'em...And that is Ann in the background with the "bubble girl" sign around her neck.  That means she was the last player eliminated before the players for the final table of competitors were determined.  The sign indicates that being the bubble girl is not a happy place for our Ann!  haha

My other hero here...Mary Gay, sandwiched by Kay and Renee, who painted their hair like Mary Gay usually does for special events...like in the relay races with me and Cathy.

And after a full 2 weeks of exhaustively good competition and fun, we got to the Closing Ceremonies, where the cheerleaders cheered and the organizers presented the ribbons.

These weren't titled, but they are the water polo teams...3rd, 2nd and 1st place!

A final cheer, and a ribbon count...Gayle and Yvette cleaned house, being especially strong at the bean bag and washer toss...I think they were padding their stats!  haha

Out the door for the final dousing of the torch, bringing the games to their official end.

The camera battery runs out right before the dousing (UGH)!

Roe does the dousing honors.

And now the sun sets and all is quiet again at Carefree, with another successful games under the belts of some of the most fun and amazing women we have ever been around...we have had the time of our lives, and truly appreciate all the efforts of the coordinators, organizers and volunteers who spent so much time and effort in putting this all together. Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!!!

Can't wait for the Winter games next year!!!


  1. What a wonderful place to live !!!! All retirees should be so lucky to have so much to do and with so many friends !!!

  2. You really caught the manic magic of it all! We live in a place where we have a good chance of being healthy for a very long time

  3. Again, Thank you Paula! I love this blog....you guys looked like you were having a blast. I couldn't stop laughing while I watched and read. This is what retirement should be:)

  4. fantastic capture of the fun of Carefree!

  5. Mary Gay's 'manic magic' really captures how much fun we have here. And time really flies when you're having fun...been here 3 months already, with a month to go before we leave again...already don't want go!!!

  6. beautifully captured and written-thank you for sharing it. Now, when will you be making a Lily for 2018? -you can do it all!

  7. Maureen GetcliffeMarch 05, 2016 6:08 AM

    good stuff! I'll be back for water polo- haha!

    1. And I'll be looking for you, Maureen!

  8. Cindy Clear EmpeyMarch 05, 2016 6:09 AM

    Wonderful Blog - wonderful pics.... Brings it all back in TECHNICOLOR. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  9. Wow, that was a lot of activities going on. What a wonderful life and great people to live with.

  10. Wow! Great bog. Made me smile BIG.

  11. An amazing depiction of two weeks of hilarity! Thanks for sharing. It looks so good and so familiar even though we are 1400 miles north of Fort Myers this season. Took work to get this together. We appreciate your efforts! Thanks again.

  12. Paula
    You have to warn me when you are sending a blog like the last one. I was like an idiot on the subway this morning. I could not stop laughing. The woman trying to blow the bubble and the best for me was the woman on the tube in the water. Glad you and Cathy are having a great time.

  13. Very funny. Your joy comes thru in your writing.

  14. Just reading this had me lmao! When I get home I will see if I can get it on my tablet, so I can hear the videos.
    As I told you before, I want to come and watch the next ones!!!
    Oh, doesn't the women taking the pictures of the cheerleaders look like Marie???