The Joys of Retiring in Seneca

When you are looking at choices of locations where you’d like to retire, Seneca in South Carolina might well be one of the places that will catch your fancy. Here is another spot that seems to have everything, making your decision that much more difficult!

Seneca is often referred to as ‘City of Smiles, City with Style’ because it has become a major draw for active adults who want to enjoy a good life. Seneca is yet another place that seems to have just about everything anyone could ever want all in one place. The natural beauty of this place has caught the attention of many people who are on the lookout for a suitable place to relocate to.

Seneca is situated in Oconee County, along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is flanked by the Keowee and Hartwell lakes, both of which are substantial in size. The town has the advantage of being located in a naturally beautiful setting, so if that’s what you are looking for – you’ve got it – along with a whole lot more.

Seneca has a number of opportunities for recreational and cultural pursuits, so you can be sure that you really will enjoy a good life here. Take a look.

Apart from the beauty of its natural surroundings, Seneca actually has a naturally formed recreational area to call its own. The town enjoys a mild climate throughout the year, with temperatures varying between 32°F in January and 88°F in July.

The population of the town is around 8,000. Cities close to Seneca include Spartanburg, Anderson and Greenville. Among the smaller towns located near Seneca are Clemson, Salem and Walhalla. The Chattanooga River is close by, as are the metropolitan cities of Atlanta and Charlotte.

Because it enjoys an equable climate the whole year round, the residents of Seneca are able to enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, such as fishing, boating, white water rafting, hiking and bird watching. Golf and tennis are popular sports here. Residents also take a great deal of interest in college events here.

If you can live in Seneca, you should consider yourself very fortunate. This is one place where you really have got yourself a package deal. Take just about anything at random – you name it, it’s there, whether you are talking about banking, shopping, restaurants, clubs or medical care – and that again is apart from the wide range of outdoor activities that we’ve already talked about.

You’ll find historical attractions along the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor and the Foothills Parkway. You’ll also find the South Carolina Botanical Gardens at Clemson – another big draw. If you are looking at educational opportunities, there it is once again – the reputed Clemson University, located 7 only miles away at Clemson. There are also a number of cultural hotspots.

Downtown Seneca is a lively and interesting area where the residents often meet their friends, do their shopping, attend to bank work etc. There are also churches and civic clubs, many of which are suitable for older residents. They also offer scope for activities involving the community at large.

As for housing, again, there is a wide range of choices in different price ranges. You’ll find older homes in downtown Seneca, as well as golf villas and retreats by the lakeside. The average price of a home here is about $ 90,700. If Seneca does strike you as an attractive choice for retirement and you’d like further details, you could contact the Seneca Area Chamber of Commerce.

If you decide to live in Seneca after you retire, you could almost call it a dream destination. Just think about it, how often do you find practically everything you want in one place. Aren’t you lucky!!

Optimal Focus for Racing – Carrie Cheadle

The ability to focus allows you to maintain concentration over a period of time and tune-in to what you need to and tune-out the rest.  There are many different factors to focus on while you are on your bike.  Figuring out what cues to tune-in and which ones to tune-out can be challenging.  To be a successful racer you need to be able to control your thoughts and focus on the things that help you perform your best.

Dealing with Distractions

Your ability to control your focus and deal with distractions can make the difference between having a great race and being miserable.  There are two types of factors that can break your focus (if you let them!): external factors and internal factors. 

External Factors: These are things that are outside of you that can break your focus. 
External factors include the weather, crowd noise, other competitors, etc.

Internal Factors: These are things that are inside of you that can break your focus.  Internal factors include negative thoughts, emotions, past performances, etc. 

“There comes a time in every race when a competitor meets the real opponent, and understands that it’s himself.”  Lance Armstrong

Oftentimes the things that distract you the most are completely out of your control.  If you choose to focus on things that are not under your control, you are wasting precious energy that could be better used for the next climb. By focusing on the things that are in your control, like your attitude and your reaction to the situation, you are focusing on the things that will help you to ride your best.  Try this exercise: 
1.     Brainstorm a list of things that are likely to distract you during a training ride or race. 
2.     Think about how you would normally react in those situations. 
3.     Now think about how you would like to react in those situations.

If you have trouble figuring out how you would like to react in those situations, think about a cyclist that you admire; how would they react in that situation?  How does a cyclist who is confident, professional, and successful deal with adversity? 

The 3 W’s for Optimal Focus

There are CRITICAL MOMENTS during your performance; key points and transitions when you need to have optimal focus in order to perform your best.  They are not only specific moments during a race, they are also times when you are likely to become distracted and lose focus.  Grab a piece of paper and divide it into three columns.  The heading of your columns will look like this: 

Critical Moment
WHEN
Focus
WHERE
Cue
WHAT

WHEN
The 1st step in developing awareness for optimal focus is knowing WHEN you need to focus.  In the 1st column, list all of the critical moments for your race.  Some examples are:
*  at the starting line  *  getting a flat tire  *  feeling pain or fatigue  *  when cars are on course
*  after a crash  *  at the feed zone  *  dropping a water bottle

WHERE
In the 2nd column write out WHERE your focus needs to be.  Be specific.  What do you need to be thinking and doing in order to succeed in that moment?  Planning for WHERE your focus needs to be during these CRITICAL MOMENTS allows you to choose your focus in order to take control of your performance.  Tip:  Think about what you want to have happen vs. what you don’t want (i.e. instead of “I don’t want to be in the back.” think “I want to be in the front.”).

WHAT
FOCUS CUES are tools that help remind you of WHAT you need to be focusing on and can help you to refocus.  There are three types of FOCUS CUES:

Verbal:  These cues are powerful words or phrases like “Focus”, “Power”, “I’ve trained hard”, and “I love to sprint!”.  Remember to keep verbal cues positive and constructive.

Visual:  A visual cue is something that will always be with you, a piece of equipment that you can look at to help you refocus (i.e. your handlebars or shifters).  A visual cue can also be an image in your mind that helps you to relax or feel confident in order to regain focus.  Think about a scene from your favorite funny movie to help you relax after getting a flat tire.  On the starting line, think about your favorite cyclist to and how they would look and what they would be thinking at that moment.

Physical:  You can also use physical cues like taking a few deep breaths, or stretching out your fingers and relaxing your “death grip”, in order to take control of your focus.

FOCUS CUES need to be practiced and used consistently in order for them to enhance your performance.  You can also pair cues together like taking a deep breath and saying “I’m confident and in control” or looking at your handlebars and saying “Be here now.”, in order to get yourself refocused on the race and the task at hand.  FOCUS CUES help you to figure out WHAT you need to do to bring your focus where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. 

EXAMPLE of OPTIMAL FOCUS WORKSHEET:

Critical Moment
WHEN
Focus
WHERE
Cue
WHAT
1st few laps before prime bell.

Keep to the front of the pack, be aware of riders moving up from behind, no gaps, be willing to ride in the wind.
“How’s the view?”
Sprint for the prime.
Timing sprint.
Sprint through the line.
“Dig deep.”
Getting a flat.

Changing flat calmly and quickly.  Get to pack and start moving up towards front.
Breathe deep.  Relax.  Let it go and get back on track.

If you can’t control your thoughts, then YOU have become your own biggest competitor.  You take the time to tune your bike; you should also take the time to tune your brain!  A lapse in focus can be the difference between just completing the event, and finishing knowing that you gave it everything you’ve got, that you left it all out on the course!  Take the time now to plan for your optimal racing focus.  Sometimes the difference between you and the cyclist next to you is how you have prepared for the race.  Awareness of distractions and planning your optimal focus helps you get the edge and get control over the mental side of racing. 

Tacoronte – last stop on the tram line from Santa Cruz

The town of Tacoronte lies on the north coast of Tenerife and, up until the early part of the twentieth century, was the place where anyone wishing to explore the island would begin their journey; it being the last stop on the tram line from Santa Cruz.

Today, this is food and wine country. The heart of the Tacoronte-Acentejo region, it has the largest density of vineyards in the Canary Islands and its beautiful hillsides are cloaked in lush vines, a marked contrast to the banana plantations of its neighbour, La Orotava Valley. As befits the home of Viña Norte award winning wines, Tacoronte also reputedly contains the best restaurants on the island; as one local told me: “If the King of Spain comes to Tenerife, he eats in Los Naranjeros.”

Popular guide books are surprisingly scant on this pretty, historic town with such a big reputation. Its fine beach at Mesa del Mar, fishing village of El Pris, splendid churches, well preserved traditional architecture and ancient Laurisilva forest of Agua García are all waiting to be discovered. Round your visit off with a meal fit for a king and a bottle of the best wine in the Canary Islands.
¡Buen provecho!

History
The municipality of Tacoronte was one of the original nine Mencey kingdoms of the Guanche; the natives who inhabited the island before its conquest in the fifteenth century. Their King, Acaymo, was known for his bravery and his love of his people and he aligned himself with five Menceys who fought to protect the island from the Spanish invaders. Many of the citizens of Tacoronte were involved in the defeat of Alonso Fernández de Lugo at La Matanza de Acentejo in 1494. The brave tradition of Tacoronte’s people was again brought into service in the eighteenth century when the infantry regiment stationed in the town helped to repel the attack of Santa Cruz by the British Navy under the command of Admiral Nelson.

The settlement of Tacoronte was founded by Sebastián Machado, a Portuguese who had fought alongside De Lugo during the conquest and been rewarded with a large piece of land. In 1508 he founded the small Ermita of Santa Catalina Mártir around which the settlement grew.
In 1911 the title of city was bestowed on Tacoronte by King Alfonso XIII in recognition of its endeavours in agriculture, industry and commerce.

What to See

The old, historic quarter of the town is easy to discover on foot starting at Carretera Tacoronte-Tejina which runs down by Plaza Estación to Plaza del Cristo; the main square surrounded by the church of El Cristo, the cultural centre housed in the former convent of the Augustine order and the ayuntamiento (Town Hall).

The hewn stone façade of the church of El Cristo de los Dolores (Patron Saint of Tacoronte) dates from the seventeenth century. Over the door is the crest of arms of the Castro family, the church’s founder, flanked by a couple of fierce looking gargoyles. Inside there are three naves arched in local stone and an eighteenth century altar and tabernacle, beautifully worked in silver.

Carrying along Carretera Tacoronte-Tejina, the road crosses Calle El Calvario where a small wooded park houses the three figures of El Calvario; a line of Canarian pines stand as sentries either side of the group. Above, you can see the seventeenth century grain warehouse of La Alhóndiga which used to act as a communal warehouse in times of need. Today it continues to bring people together by hosting International wine festivals and regional wine tasting contests.

Opposite El Calvario is the tranquil little Parque Hamilton; open every day except Monday. Inside there’s an information board showing the seven different ways that vines are cultivated in the Canary Islands and a sample of each method for you to identify.
Keeping Parque Hamilton on your left, continue along Calle El Calvario to the stunning church and plaza of Santa Catalina; Tacoronte’s oldest church and site of its birthplace. The church dates originally from the fifteenth century and was extensively refurbished during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Inside, there’s a substantial collection of valuable paintings and carvings as well as some beautiful Mexican silver work.
The plaza has a fountain and is surrounded by picturesque traditional architecture. A walk along the pleasant Calle Teobaldo Power will take you back to Plaza del Cristo.

What to do

Coasting along
Start at the small fishing village of El Pris, with its cluster of houses clinging to the steep hillside, fish restaurants and natural swimming pool and then follow the path along the coast. Magnificent views of Puerto de la Cruz and beyond will keep you company until you reach cafes, boardwalks and another natural swimming pool at Mesa del Mar. A tunnel through the cliff leads to a long sandy beach where, if you fancy a night on the beach, you can stay in a small wooden cabin at Playa de la Arena.
(+34) 922 564 236; €18 per cabin per night

Bodega Comarcal
Wine connoisseurs should enjoy a visit to this Bodega, surrounded by verdant vineyards, which produces wine on behalf of 660 local growers in the Tacoronte-Acentejo area, including the Viña Norte label. Gleaming steel vats stand alongside Bordeaux style wooden casks, still used to age wines by traditional methods; treat yourself to one of the award winning wines available from the Bodega’s shop.
(+34) 922 570 617; Vereda de Medio, 8-b; www.bodegasinsularestenerife.es; open 08.00-13.30 and 15.00-17.00; Bodega tours morning only

Straight down the middle
A must for golf lovers; Real Club Golf El Peñón, one of the oldest courses on Tenerife, has narrow fairways lined with mature trees and is set in lush countryside. If your game’s a little below par, the impressive views of Teide may compensate.
(+34) 922 636 607; Calle Campo de Golf, 1; green fees €75 for 18 holes; open to non-members 08.00-13.00 Monday to Friday

Park and ride
Take to horseback at Los Brezos riding school to soak up the atmosphere of the ancient Laurisilva forest of Agua García; alternatively, if you think ‘neigh’ to this suggestion, the visitors centre at Agua García is a good starting point for walking trails.
Riding School; (+34) 922 567 222; Calle de Candelaria-Monte, 101; from €12 per hour
Centro de Información de Agua García; (+34) 922 584 560; open 09.00-13.00 Monday to Friday

Shopping
For a Tacoronte shopping recommendation, priority must rest with food and wine:

Mercado del Agricultor
This is one of the largest agricultural markets on the island with 110 stalls groaning under the weight of fruit, vegetables, cakes, pastries, locally produced wines, honey, preserves, ornamental plants, cheeses and herbs. There’s even a pretty little tea bar with numerous varieties of herbal and natural teas for you to try before you buy. Today’s prices scroll around an electronic screen suspended from the ceiling so you always know what your ‘best buys’ are.
Calle Tacoronte-Tejina, San Juan; Open Saturday and Sunday 09.00-14.00

Vinoteca Canaria
This small specialist shop has wines from all over the Canary Islands as well as every possible accoutrement to ensure you enjoy your purchases to the full.
(+34) 922 570 039; Carretera General del Norte, 106; Open Monday-Friday 10.00-13.30 and 17.00-20.00, Saturday 10.00-14.00. Closed Sunday; www.vinotecacanaria.com

Where to Stay
There are a number of rural houses in the municipality offering a good standard of accommodation, usually in refurbished traditional Canarian houses. Amongst them are:
La Deseada- a small working farm set amidst vineyards in countryside outside the village of Caridad.
El Adelantado – excellently located in the old town, this seventeenth century refurbished finca also gives lessons in Bonsai!
Houses are bookable through ATTUR (Asociación Tinerfeña de Turismo Rural). You can turn up on spec’ but don’t be surprised if nobody’s there, it’s wiser to book in advance.
(+34) 922 215 582; www.ecoturismocanarias.com ; prices start from €65

Club Parque Mesa Del Mar
Located at the top of the serpentine-like road down to Mesa Del Mar, offering apartments with coastal views, swimming pools, gymnasium and tennis courts.
(+34) 922 561 300; Urbanización Mesa Del Mar; Apartments from €66 per night

Where to Eat
Los Limoneros
The stretch of road between Tacoronte and Los Naranjeros boasts many excellent restaurants, the most prestigious of which must be Los Limoneros, the choice of Kings and Princes, well Spain’s anyway. Classically elegant décor, scarlet rose petals scattered on white tablecloths and unique dishes such as Eels, Salmon and avocado makes dining here a right royal treat.
(+34) 922 636 637; Los Naranjeros-Tacoronte; open 13.00-midnight, closed Sunday; average cost of a main course €30

El Calvario
Extremely popular restaurant in the picturesque old part of town; a modest exterior conceals a surprisingly stylish dining area. The menu consists of whatever fresh produce is available that day; simple, but delicious fare.
(+34) 922 563 734; Calle El Calvario, 65; open 11.00-22.00 Tuesday-Saturday, 11.00-17.00 Sunday, closed Monday; average cost of a main course €6

La Vara
Immaculately designed traditional house with polished wooden floors and exposed beams, serving international cuisine; a favourite local choice is Vieja (parrot fish).
(+34) 922 563 820; Carretera General del Norte, 398; open 12.30-17.00 and 20.00-23.30, closed Sunday evening; average cost of a main course €12

Peccati Di Gola
Imaginative Italian dishes in another charming, traditional casa. Irresistible offerings include mozzarella empanadas with honey and tagliatelle mar y monte, consisting of local ingredients from the sea and surrounding hills.
(+34) 922 570 954; Carretera General del Norte, 342; open 13.00-16.30 and 20.00-midnight, closed Wednesday; average cost of a main course €10

Nightlife

Fiesta Canaria
Fiesta Canaria provides a second chance to admire close up this year’s beautiful Carnaval queens with their spectacular costumes. Carnaval themed shows, traditional folklore, exhibition hall and Canarian cuisine in a large traditional mansion should satisfy any Carnaval cravings until next February.
(+34) 922 571 668; Las Toscas, 99, Santa Catalina

M30
For a more contemporary night out try M30; this bar claims to be one of the best of its kind in Tenerife. Coffee shop during the day, it puts on its party outfit at night, with music and dancing from nine o’clock.
(+34) 922 570 995; Los Naranjeros-next to supermarket Mercadona; open 08.00-01.00 for coffee and snacks, music from 21.00-late

Transport

Buses
From Puerto de la Cruz, the 101 route runs every 30 minutes from 06.00 to 21.00 (€2). From Las Americas and Los Cristianos catch the 110 service to Santa Cruz (€6), and then change to the 101 to Tacoronte (€1.50).

Taxis
The taxi rank is beside Plaza Estación on Carretera General del Norte; telephone number 922 570 800.

Useful Information

Tourist Information
There’s a very good tourist information office opposite Plaza Estación, where the road forks to Tejina, which can arrange free guided tours of the town.
(+34) 922 570 015; Carretera Tacoronte-Tejina; open 09.00-14.00 Monday to Friday

Parking
The best chance of finding a space is in the streets around the quieter old part of town, or along the road leading to Tejina. Be sure to check whether the area is pay and display.

Fiestas
The most colourful fiesta is Corpus Christi in May/June, when Plaza del Cristo is carpeted with elaborate tapestries of coloured sand and flowers while smaller carpets occupy the surrounding streets.