The Tennessee Music Scene Attracts Visitors of All Ages
Tennessee was made for music. The Tennessee Music Pathways program illustrates this best.
Perhaps it’s the singular geographical breadth of Tennessee – a 500-mile span that sees the Volunteer State remarkably sharing a border with eight brethren (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina) – that literally make it a crossroads, a geographical confluence of culture, cuisine, dialect, and maybe most importantly, an enduring and profound crossroads for American music.
For it is in Tennessee where seven genres of music – country, gospel, bluegrass, soul, blues, rockabilly, and rock – found a home, were nurtured and have flourished, from Memphis and Nashville to Chattanooga and Bristol. And, all of that enriched musical history can be explored through a new program from the State’s tourism folks called Tennessee Music Pathways (www.tnvacation.com/tennessee-music-pathways).
Tennessee Music Pathways
Tennessee Music Pathways is a state-wide driving tour program that identifies, interprets, and preserves a broad perspective of Tennessee music events, locations, and stories, some great and well known, and some less so, yet equally intriguing. Working with the state historian and through internal research at the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, more than 500 locations, including birthplaces, resting places, hometowns, high schools, churches, and locations of first-known recordings or performances of the musical pioneers and legends, are being incorporated into the driving tour.
“Tennessee Music Pathways connects fans to the people, places, and genres that make Tennessee the Soundtrack of America,” says Tourist Development Commissioner, Kevin Triplett. “From the largest cities to the smallest communities, this state-wide program identifies, explains, and preserves the legacy of music in Tennessee.”
In addition to the seven genres that have found a home in Tennessee, the state has more musicians per capita than anywhere in the world and is home to world-renowned music attractions such as Beale Street, Bluebird Cafe, Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Dollywood, Graceland, Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and the historic Tennessee Theatre.
The State also has partnered with Rolling Stone to offer a program called Six Degrees, a custom online search tool that allows users to enter an artist’s name to see their ‘pathway’ to Tennessee in six degrees or less.
For instance, enter the name Frank Sinatra and you’ll discover that he was inspired by the rhythmic swing of Billy Holiday, who considered legendary Chattanooga native and Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith, as her mentor for musical phrasing. Look up U2, and you’ll see that the band from Dublin recorded the hit song “When Love Comes to Town,” featuring legendary blues performer B.B. King, at historic Sun Studio in Memphis.
Additionally, for those looking to relocate or retire, the state has designated 22 rural and urban locations as Retire Tennessee Communities, all of which either include or frame some of the iconic landmarks of the Tennessee Music Pathways, and all provide the resources and amenities needed to be a viable retirement community. You can discover these communities online at www.tnvacation.com/retire-tennessee/communities.
So, how did Tennessee come to be the home of seven distinct, yet intricately related musical expressions? For the country and bluegrass genres, we can look to the thousands of Scotts-Irish immigrants who moved to the southern Appalachian Mountains in the 18th and 19th centuries, bringing their fiddles and folk music with them. Over the decades their lyrical immigrant music evolved, often in isolation, hidden on mountain cabin front porches or in humble churches across North Carolina, Virginia, and east Tennessee.
That is until 1927 when Ralph Peer, a record executive in New York City for the Victor Talking Machine Company, was scouting for recording talent in the southern states. Peer set up a makeshift recording studio in Bristol, in the very northeast corner of Tennessee, and put the word out he would pay $50, a fortune in those days, for individuals or groups to record their music. Peer’s groundbreaking efforts there are reverently known in the music world as the Bristol Sessions.
The Birthplace of Country Music
Roughly 30 miles away, in the shadow of Clinch Mountain in Virginia, A.P. Carter got the word, and he, his wife Sara, and her sister Maybelle drove to Bristol to make a record. You could do a Ken Burns documentary on the colossal impact of the Carter family on American music, but on the afternoon of August 2, 1927, the three sang “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow,” with Maybelle on scratch guitar and Sara on autoharp. That afternoon marked the birth of commercial country music in the United States. Fittingly, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is located in Bristol, with Mother Maybelle Carter as its matriarch. Bristol is a Retire Tennessee Community.
The popularity of country music was growing in pockets around America in the 20s, largely through the local radio broadcasts of Saturday night barn dances: staged performances of music, square dancing, and other entertainment. Even Chicago had the WLS National Barn Dance radio show.
But, the granddaddy emerged in 1925 when the WSM Barn Dance in Nashville – renamed the Grand Ole Opry in 1927 – became a sheer gravitational force for country, gospel, and bluegrass talent in 1932. That year, the station boosted its signal to 50,000 Clear Channel watts, allowing most of the eastern and central United States to tune in to the Opry. So important is WSM that in 2001 the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville incorporated the unique diamond shape of the WSM radio tower into its logo.
It’s a bit harder to pinpoint the genesis of gospel music in Tennessee, as the genre covered the southern states like dew, born largely from the music emanating from evangelical revivals. We can, however, look to 1871 when an African-American a capella choir from Fisk University in Nashville first began touring and performing Negro spirituals and gospel music…and they still do today. The Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum is located at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, just down the road from Ms. Parton’s home town of Sevierville.
As Nashville was emerging as the country music capital, Memphis, tucked on the banks of the Mississippi River in far west Tennessee, was doing the same as a home to the blues. Its gravitational force was Beale Street, where blues clubs and juke joints sprouted like wildflowers in the early 1900s. B.B. King moved from Arkansas to Memphis in 1948 and became the acknowledged crowned head of the city and undeniable international ambassador for the blues. The original B.B. King’s Blues Club is located in the heart of vibrant Beale Street. King is also acknowledged as one of the founders of the R&B and soul genres.
From the Tennessee Music Pathways website, “They say Country and Blues had a baby, and they called it rock ‘n’ roll. Stand in the delivery room at Sun Studio and watch it grow throughout Tennessee.”
Indeed, The King of Rock ‘n Roll, Elvis Presley’s first hit recording had the African-American blues song “That’s All Right Mama” on the A-side and the classic Bill Monroe bluegrass song “Blue Moon of Kentucky” on the other. But, the tempo and virility of each song was vastly increased from the original, and therein, Elvis took a giant step in blurring genre lines on his way, along with others, to create a brand new one.
We’ve only scratched the surface here of the vast depth of Tennessee’s musical legacy, iconic landmarks, songwriter inspirations, countless performing arts sites, and renowned music festivals. The 500-mile breadth of Tennessee awaits to share with you and your family the Soundtrack of America.
The main road that frames the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi and stretches west from downtown – first through college-town neighborhoods, then past modern suburbs, and ultimately into endless acres of pine forest – is called Hardy Street.
The street is named after Captain William Harris Hardy, a civil engineer who breathed life into a couple rutted dirt roads in 1882 by bringing the railroad through and making the region a hub for transportation and timbering. Only thing was, the burgeoning town needed a name. Turns out Capt. Hardy had a wife back in Meridian, who was as Southern and gentile as a magnolia blossom, and her name was Hattie. And a town was born.
Over the decades since, Hattiesburg has become an oasis in south Mississippi for students and their educators. Entrepreneurs have taken the Southern culinary scene by storm. This city is the heartbeat of health care, and a community of folks who won’t stop until anyone moving into their silver years is engaged, healthy, and has a myriad of learning opportunities.
Favorably situated just 90 minutes by interstate from New Orleans, and the pristine gulf coast beaches of Alabama, Hattiesburg is built on three community pillars: military, education, and a sprawling medical system that provides care to a 19-county region.
While the university itself offers broad continuing education programs, some of its faculty and graduate students also teach at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), part of a nationwide network of centers that offer intellectual and cultural experiences for people in their retirement years. Located on the Southern Miss campus, OLLI boasts 176 annual classes, from beginner arts and crafts to expansive learning field trips to Mackinaw Island, the Biltmore Estate, and even an architectural dig in Scotland.
Thanks to the earnest vision of a handful of local physicians more than 50 years ago, Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic are today a national-class network of four hospitals, eight regional clinics, a sparkling Orthopedics Institute, a new Hospice House, and 60 satellite locations. If the greater Hattiesburg statistical area correctly has a population of 150,000, then likely one of every 16 people in the region works in the health care industry. Suffice to say, you’re in very good hands in the Hub City.
Complementing those two pillars is a bundle of community leaders who throw challenge on their backs and mold it into progress. Among them are Rob and Craig Tatum, real estate entrepreneurs whose great-great-grandfather was a former mayor of Hattiesburg.
Recent projects of theirs include The Claiborne, a top-of-the-line independent-living and assisted living/memory care community offering every possible amenity to its residents. In downtown, the duo has transformed two century-old buildings into stylish residential lofts. And, in the burgeoning Midtown District, they just opened Hotel Indigo Hattiesburg, a luxury property that is part of the InterContinental Hotel Group.
Says Rob, “For generations, Hattiesburg has been very good to our family, so our goal now is to spare no expense in giving back to the community. If there is an extra dollar to be spent to ensure quality, we will spend it.”
Certainly the most visible of Hattiesburg’s community leaders is 36-year old Mayor Toby Barker, a former state legislator whose youthful exuberance is contagious. Mayor Barker recently established the first Director of Customer Service position, a unique role, indeed, for government.
The city’s culinary credibility is embodied largely in the native soul of Robert St. John, a nationally acclaimed restaurateur, author of 10 books, a Cooking Channel celebrity chef, and owner of five local restaurants, including Tabella, Crescent City Grill, and Purple Parrott (where the bread pudding is heavenly), all located in midtown near the Southern Miss campus.
And, there is much more to recommend Hattiesburg for a visit or longer. A certified retirement community, Hattiesburg was ranked one of the “8 Tax Friendliest Towns” in America. And, its 25-block downtown Historic Neighborhood District has one of the best collections of Victorian-era houses in Mississippi and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also on the National Register is the Saenger Theater, opened in 1929 and a rare example of a vintage Art Deco-style vaudeville and movie theater. Downtown is also said to be home of the first guitar riffs of rock and roll and boasts a live music scene that some say rivals Austin, TX.
The Hattiesburg Zoo is regarded as the #1 tourism destination in the state and houses 100 animal species, plus interactive educational programs, a High Ropes Adventure Course, and train and carousel rides. The city has also reclaimed 44 miles of historic rail line and transformed them into the Longleaf Trace, a 10-foot-wide paved trail for biking, hiking, bird watching, and more.
You just might even run into gun-slinging Super Bowl champ and legendary Southern Miss quarterback Brett Favre at the hardware store. He’s the kind of hero you could name a town after. But, the gentile, magnolia blossom that is Miss Hattie has a much nicer ring to it.
To many it is a sanctuary, the most wonderfully versatile piece of recreational equipment ever conceived. A thing that allows you to close your eyes and connect to the ancient swells and rhythms of the sea. A thing that can silently transport you to secret coves and unimaginably beautiful places. A thing that allows you to work as hard as you’ve ever worked and race 32 miles out to Catalina Island in the sport’s iconic championship. Or express your inner “devotional warrior” on your floating yoga mat … your paddleboard. While every long pull on the paddle carries you farther and farther away from the stress of the day.
Jump on Board
Sound inviting? Then seek out a place near you to learn to paddleboard and you’ll begin to understand the enriching hold of the fastest growing water sport in the world and an elixir for those in their silver years…both from a fitness standpoint and an aesthetic one.
Tom Lawn got hooked on paddleboarding as a newcomer five years ago when he bravely decided to paddle out to a shrimp boat trawling just off the tip of the North Carolina coast where he was unexpectedly adopted by a pod of some 80 dolphins following the boat for free snacks. So close Tom could touch them, the pod let him paddle along for a mile or so. And then the board had him.
At 66, Tom is a fixture at St. James Plantation, a 6,000-acre planned community of beautiful coastal landscape in Southport, NC, where he is unmistakable driving the mint condition, aqua blue Dodge van he and his wife Sue bought new in 1977. His paddleboards ride on top of the van, surfboard inside, with the couple’s Llewellin Setter, Esker, calling shotgun.
According to Tom, “Paddleboarding is so many things. It can be spiritual while paddling alone through the pristine backwaters of the bay. Or just family time, with Esker perched on the nose of the board and Sue paddling beside in her kayak.”
Sometimes Jenna Chenevert and Susan Goodwin will just sit down on their paddleboards and eat the lunch they packed earlier back home. Neighbors at Eastman, a welcoming four-seasons community in New Hampshire, the two thrive on the fitness and aesthetic benefits of paddleboarding on the community’s miles-long lake, and all around New England.
Jenna shares that, “It’s amazing how much stand up paddling exercises your core and legs, plus it requires excellent posture. But for seniors, perhaps the biggest benefit is how it enhances your balance abilities.”
Susan particularly embraces the natural beauty that comes with the activity. “I love paddling through the early morning fog on our lake, or for 30-mile stretches on the Connecticut River, where the fall foliage reflected in the water is just stunningly beautiful.”
A Little History
Today’s paddleboarders carry on a legacy that some suggest dates back 3,000 years to Peruvian fisherman who paddled reed boats out past the surf break, then stood up and surfed the fully stocked boat back home. But the earliest actual evidence shows a Polynesian paddleboarder heading out to greet Captain James Cook off Hawaii’s Kona coast in a famous engraving dating back to 1779. It would be his ancestors who brought paddleboarding to light two centuries later on the north shore of Oahu.
You will want to do a lot of research before buying a paddleboard, but generally you’ll be looking at a board that’s 10-12’ long and costs between $500-1,500. A lighter graphite paddle will be worth the investment to your hands and arms on long rides. Make certain, also, that the weight of the board (generally 24-30 pounds) is manageable and that you’re able to lift the board, or comfortably load it on a car rack for transport. There are even inflatable paddle boards that are lighter and easier to manage.
So, if the idea of enhancing your physical and spiritual health, while meeting new friends sounds inviting, just look for the mint condition, aqua blue van and say hi to the explorative new world of paddleboarding!
For a couple interested in residential offerings, it’s fun and instructive to rent a private water taxi for several hours and tour the coast, stop for lunch, and maybe pick out your favorite oceanfront lot.”
— Matt Brown
As Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula stretches toward the Caribbean Sea, it signals the southern edge of the country, where it then shares a border with Belize. An otherworldly place of sultry beauty, ancient Mayan relics, and flourishing culture (and eco-tourism!), it’s all framed by the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and dotted with luxury resorts and communities tucked on tropical cays and islands.
Belize is an adventurer’s paradise, with the teal waters of the Caribbean Sea beckoning on the east and a fascinating rain forest ecosystem in the highlands to the west. The country is only 68 miles across, so it’s easy to spend the morning drifting with sea turtles on the reef and the afternoon exploring the ruins of the ancient Mayan pyramids of Caracol and Xunantunich.
But most importantly, Belize is a place intently balancing its emerging and bountiful popularity with its boundless commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. National Geographic recently released its list of “Best Places to Visit in the Upcoming Year,” and Belize received high praise for its protection of the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve coral reef by banning all offshore drilling, passing a law to phase out single-use plastics, and taking steps to protect mangrove forests, home to the endangered manatee and countless other aquatic species.
That commitment will have to be girded as resort operators like Marriott, Wyndham, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville have plans to build resort communities in Belize within the next several years. Even Leonardo DiCaprio and a business partner have purchased a private island called Blackadore Caye for $1.75 million with plans to sensitively develop a restorative, 68-villa eco-resort.
Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, gained its independence from the crown in 1982. But, Queen Elizabeth still graces the dollar, English is the official language, and the government is a parliamentary system that believes in contract law like Australia and Canada. Unlike some other Caribbean countries, real estate purchases are fully titled and deeded (rather than leased for 99 years or not allowed at all). There is no inheritance tax, no capital gains tax, and residency is relatively easy to gain.
The country is easily accessed (just a four-hour flight from Chicago and two hours from Miami or Houston) through the international airport in Belize City (BZE). The islands are reached by a short 20-minute airplane ride or water taxi.
Much of the popular resort and residential activity resides on Ambergris Caye, a long narrow strip of land (you’re never further than 500 yards from water) and the largest of Belize’s offshore islands. And although the Belize mainland is essentially a rain forest, the island only gets about 1/5 of the rain as inland (to be safe, the dry season runs from January to May). Ambergris Caye also restricts cars and trucks to commercial purposes, so everyone drives a golf cart or ATV.
Among the existing island resorts is the opulent Grand Caribe just north of San Pedro, the main city of Ambergris Caye. The waterfront Ramon’s Village Resort in San Pedro is an elegant slice of thatched-roof heaven, and the Grand Baymen Condo Resort also beckons on the Ambergris beachfront.
Local Coldwell Banker realtor Matt Brown suggests a creative idea for exploring Ambergris Caye. Brown reveals, “For a couple interested in residential offerings, it’s fun and instructive to rent a private water taxi for several hours and tour the coast, stop for lunch, and maybe pick out your favorite oceanfront lot.” Matt Brown moved to Belize in 2011 from Canada and saw the potential in this English-speaking country for an easy transition into an incredible new life in a pristine location.
On the mainland, the family Coppola (as in Francis Ford) offers two embracing resorts: the waterfront Turtle Inn near the charming Creole fishing village of Placencia in south Belize, and the Blacaneaux Lodge, which actually was the Coppola’s tropical paradise hideaway in the rain forest from 1980 to 1993, when they opened it to the public as a 20-room luxury resort.
Perhaps the most valuable asset for all of these resorts is their relationships with trusted dive shops, fishing boat captains, and interpretative eco-guides who help Belize’s wonders come to life.
One of those wonders is the Great Blue Hole, the largest aquatic sinkhole in the world that spans three football fields in diameter and over 400 feet deep, located about 40 miles off the Belize coast on Lighthouse Reef. The Great Blue Hole came to modern attention when Jacques Cousteau explored it in 1971. Just this last December, Cousteau’s grandson Fabien joined with billionaire Richard Branson to fully map the hole and discover its coral fringes and ancient stalactites. Needless to say, the Great Blue Hole is on many a recreational diver’s bucket list. Search the Discovery Channel to view the December exploration.
Another wonder was stumbled upon in 1989 when the rain forest revealed to researchers the Actun Tunichil Miknal (Cave of the Stone Sepulcher or ATM), a Maya sacrificial burial site hidden nearly a mile underground and the resting place of the “crystal maiden,” a complete skeleton of a 20-year old woman that sparkles from crystal calcification. Accessing the cave requires precarious rock climbing and underwater swimming and is accordingly highly regulated. National Geographic ranks ATM at the top of its new list of “Sacred Places of a Lifetime.”
You will also want to explore the Altun Ha and Lamanai Mayan sites, visit the tidy Belize Zoo, where its lush landscaping will have you thinking you’ve stumbled into the jungle. There is also cave tubing on rushing underground rivers, plus myriad zip-lining options. Try hiking the lush jungle trails of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the only jaguar reserve on the planet. Or, just luxuriate in the old-world charm and secluded stretches of beach on Caye Caulker.
To live where you vacation is more accessible now than ever.
Let’s take a quick look at history. It’s not something you really ever think about, but who actually were the first Americans to take a proper vacation… other than the ultra-rich Vanderbilts, et al. According to research by the Smithsonian Magazine, they suggest that the first American vacationers were lured to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York by a Boston preacher, who in 1869, wrote a widely-read treatise on the spiritual and health benefits of time spent lakeside in the forest. An unusually wet spring that year, however, meant the mosquitoes and flies were abundant in both numbers and aggravation. City slickers who had never slept in a starched, white tent under the stars were underwhelmed at the prospect of their vacation.
This is not so much a problem in 2018, when vacation possibilities are endless and luxurious. And with repeat visits, vacation destinations become ever-more comfortable, familiar, homey, and sometimes even soul-transforming. So much so that a vacation destination might just grab hold and say, “You know, this would be a wondrous place to relocate or retire.”
Just ask the couples we spoke to about their transformation from vacationers to residents.
Nick and Diane Karbonik first started bringing their girls to Ocean City, MD, and Rehoboth Beach, DE, 40 years ago during summer vacations from their home near Baltimore. So there was no learning curve when the couple decided to retire at The Peninsula, an artfully-sculpted 800-acre community tucked between those two historic beaches and framed by the expansive Indian River Bay.
Diane reveals, “A couple years ago we were visiting our daughter and son-in-law, who is the head golf professional at a country club in Rehoboth Beach. One day he managed to get us a tee time at The Peninsula. I remember driving through the community that first day and saying, ‘Gosh, I could live here.’ And now we do!”
The Peninsula offers gracious waterfront living, a predictably spectacular Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, and a stunning new clubhouse that just opened last year. Amenities also include an eight-court tennis center; an indoor, outdoor, and wave pool complex; athletic club; a protected nature reserve; the restorative Calmwater Spa; and gourmet fare from the Terrace Grille.
“When we first started coming here on vacation, Rehoboth Beach was a sleepy, little summer town. But now it has year-round vibrancy, with plenty of great restaurants, quaint shops, civic activities, and of course the historic boardwalk, which is great multi-generational fun,” explains Diane.
One of the added benefits of The Peninsula’s central location is easy day-trip access to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia (all just over a two-hour drive), and Historic Williamsburg and Jamestown are just over three hours away.
“When we first started coming here on vacation, Rehoboth Beach was a sleepy, little summer town. But now it has year-round vibrancy, with plenty of great restaurants, quaint shops, civic activities, and of course the historic boardwalk, which is great multi-generational fun.”
— Diane Karbonik
We thought the Karbonik’s 40-year vacation history with Rehoboth would hold the record until we met Gail Mitkoff, who has been vacationing in Ocean City from her family home in metro Washington, D.C., since junior high, a full 50 years!
Decades of blissful vacationing at Ocean City over the years finally led to a more permanent villa purchase there in 2015, overlooking a rare eagle’s nest near the beach. But a year later, retirement took hold and Gail decided to seek life in a more formal community and a single family home, where friends were easier to meet and recreational amenities were in abundance.
Enter Bayside, a welcoming planned community on Fenwick Island, just a stone’s throw over the Maryland border north into Delaware, and a new chapter in life.
Gail had to stop and gather herself prior to describing all the activities in which she participates at Bayside. “Well, first there is the golf course, which I don’t use a lot, but it sure is beautiful to look at. And I certainly take advantage of the new health and aquatic center, biking trails, crabbing, and fishing, not to mention the miles of sublime beach strolls that can only come with a coastal life. And I even joined the mahjong club,” she said with a twinkle.
Gail is also in regular attendance at the Bayside Institute, a catalyst for bringing community residents together in wellness, creative writing, heart- healthy cooking, kayaking, flower arranging, and loads more. And she thoroughly enjoys concerts at the community’s outdoor Freeman Stage, featuring musical artists like Vince Gill, Smokey Robinson, the Celtic Tenors, a theatrical performance of Mary Poppins, and more.
The same central location travel benefit go for Bonnie and Tom Nelson, who purchased a vacation condominium 15 years ago at Bay Creek in Cape Charles, VA, overlooking the historic waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Turns out Bay Creek was just far enough south from their permanent residence in Kinnelon, NJ, to get close to water and enjoy a more temperate climate, while enjoying all the benefits of living among both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus golf courses.
Three years ago, the Nelsons graduated from vacationing in the condo to a more permanent residence in a single family home wrapped by holes 3, 4, and 5 on the Palmer course, which the grandkids have turned into a kind of five-hole loop to play after dinner when the course is quiet. Now in high school, those kids learned to play golf at around age five from the assistant golf professional at Bay Creek, and one of them has made his high school varsity golf team as a freshman!
Bay Creek is predictably rich in amenities, most noticeably a two-mile stretch of sand beach, one of the few beaches on Chesapeake Bay’s eastern shore. There’s also a marina, beach club, and fitness center, plus bayside dining at the embracing Coach House Tavern.
Bonnie is an accomplished gardener, as evidenced by their home’s recent selection for the 2018 Eastern Shore Home and Garden Tour. “What attracted us to Bay Creek in the first place remains what we love today: The great vistas, the beach, the golf, and the amazing sunsets,” offers Bonnie.
Cape Charles is a vintage seaside town overlooking the Chesapeake Bay on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Founded by a railroad magnate in the late 1800’s, it was said to be designed around New York City, with even a small “Central Park.”
Dorothy and Marv Gelb | St. James Plantation, Southport, NC
Some folks are more quickly smitten than those who have waited 50 years, like New Yorkers Dorothy and Marv Gelb, who bought a pre-retirement lot on their very first visit to St. James Plantation in Southport, NC, in 2006. The pair was visiting Dorothy’s best friend since third grade, Linda Jenkins, and her husband Bob.
Dorothy describes that, “The Jenkins gave us a glorious tour of St. James and coastal Southport as only locals can, then took us out on their boat for a picnic cruise on the Intracoastal Waterway. And we were sold. It’s that wonderful here.”
The Gelbs have had a lot of time to reconsider their lot purchase, but repeated vacations over the years confirmed their love of the area, and in 2016 they built their dream retirement home and have quickly become engaged in the local community.
Bob is an adept piano player and has become in high demand, playing ‘standards’ at charity fashion shows, art galleries, the local hospital, and fundraisers for the St. James Service Club. Dorothy is very active in the Southport Presbyterian Church, when she’s not playing tennis or taking a tennis clinic.
St. James Plantation is just an idyllic 6,000-acre planned community of beautiful coastal landscape tucked at the very southeast tip of North Carolina. Life at St. James is all about being outside and being active. The community has 81 holes of golf, 13 tennis courts, a marina, a beach club, four fitness centers, and 36 miles of hiking and biking trails. Naturally, there is also the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean beyond for boating, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
“We are completely embracing the active lifestyle in Southport,” remarked Marv. “We are on the Atkins diet, we’re bicycling every day, going to the beach and pool, and living as active and healthy a lifestyle as we can in this beautiful setting.”
And, of course, they can always grab a can of bug spray at the marina store in the event of an unusually wet spring!
“We are completely embracing the active lifestyle in Southport.”
— Marv Gelb