I'm moving to a community not unlike Pine Lake. The three big differences are 1) it snows there; 2) the people talk funny; and 3) there are no grits. In fact, I will be doing a blog about my experience there called, ta DAH! No Grits For You! Here's the link; I warn you, though, nothing is posted yet.
The photo above is Cupsaw Lake. It's a two to three minute walk from our house, and have a lovely view of it from the hill upon which our house rests. If we opt to join the lake association we can house my canoe there and use the lake and its facilities year round. Of course we will do so.
Our town is Ringwood, New Jersey. Here's the Wikipedia entry and here's the town's website. Population is about 8,000 and there are at least four lakes. The area is sparsely populated because most of the land for miles around is state park, botanical gardens, and protected reservoir. There's a lot of wildlife, including an eagle reservation within the city limits, and brown bears abound; it's necessary to keep garbage inside or in a bear-proof enclosure. At night the stars are breathtaking.
Amazingly, Ringwood is only 25 miles or so from Manhattan. Distance by car is 37 miles (53 min.) and transport time via public transportation is an hour and a quarter. There's a free parking area at the town's library with a shelter,and that's where the bus stops. The library is about a mile-and-a-half from the house. The New York state line is just two to three miles away. So is the Appalachian trail. There's first-class hiking everywhere.
There are just enough business in town to make things convenient: the aforementioned library, a grocery, a branch of my bank (Wells Fargo), a drugstore, a dollar store, an animal hospital, medical and dentist offices, two liquor stores and a bar, and a car wash, assorted gas stations, and automobile repair places. Restaurants include a steak house, a couple of pizza/Italian restaurants, Thai and Chinese places. a deli, and a great luncheonette that's a town favorite. The only franchised restaurant is McDonald's. All this is just a little more than a mile from our house-- and there are a half-dozen larger towns within ten miles or so which offer far more. State Hwy 17, home to big malls, hundreds of big box stores, and franchised high-end eateries, is less than ten miles away. Gas prices are a little lower than they are in Atlanta, and by law attendants must fill fuel tanks. That's easy to get used to!
All is not rosy in Ringwood, however. In the 60s and 70s a nearby Ford plant hired truckers (reportedly via the Mafia ) to dump thousands of tons of heavy-metal bearing paint sludge in abandoned mine tunnels (before it became a resort community in the 1920s, Ringwood was home to many iron and zinc mines. The materials were dumped miles away from our house in a community that is comprised primarily of Ramapough Mountain Indians, a closely-knit mixed-race community of some antiquity that has been recognized by the state of New Jersey (but not yet by the Federal government), as a tribe. The far side of Ringwood has been a SuperFund site since 1980s and is still the EPA's largest . Fortunately, the tribe has had some success in court. Unfortunately, the tribe, which was once known as Jackson Whites, has a long history of being discriminated against and most of its members continue to live in a toxic environment and in poverty.
I'm looking forward to learning more about my new home town. The rest of the state? Not so much.