September 17, 2005

Start: St. Simons Island, Georgia
End: Poinciana,
Mileage: 248 miles
Route taken: Interstate 95 to Interstate 4, exit at Orange Blossom Trail, south to
Cypress Parkway, exit at Poinciana.


        When my aunt and uncle moved to this little community south of Orlando 20 years ago, there was no one here.

        There house was the only one on a cul-de-sac and the neighbor behind them were my uncle’s sister and her husband, who moved with them.

        It was perfect for both couples. They both cherished privacy and solitude and this community provided both in abundance.

        My joke was that you better not need an ambulance because it would take them four days to figure out where they lived.

        Going to the store took 20 minutes and it seemed to get to Orlando was much more than the 30 miles.

        My aunt is now a widow, as is her friend, Joan, and the two face an uncertain world.

        It is even more in doubt because of the housing explosion that is occurring.

        The town is spread over two counties in central Florida and developers have found the land desirable to build upon. Families have found the commute to Orlando tolerable and are willing to sacrifice a little time in the car for affordable housing.

        “The honeymoon is definitely over,” my aunt said. She sees the daily construction on her block as well as others.

        There are four homes on her small street now and hundreds of other dwellings being built around her. The main street has a stoplight, the Wal-Mart opened two years ago and golf courses built around housing developments are already taking away marsh land.      

        The very congestion of people and traffic my aunt sought to avoid has found her and invaded her life. Going to the small post office is now a two-hour ordeal because of the boom in people. Driving anywhere has to be carefully planned. If an evacuation is needed because of a hurricane, it would be disastrous since there is still only one road out of the town.

        Her car has been broken into and locking the doors to the house was a necessity long ago. It has been supplemented by an alarm system and firearms.

        Her two dogs can no longer roam the neighborhood because of the increased traffic. They are as disturbed by the commotion as my aunt.

        Her choices are slim. She doesn’t want to move, but fears the crowds will win. Where to go, however, is another quandary. It seems like finding your own slice of paradise is difficult these days and as soon as you do, others discover it as well.