Craig and Jan McLanahan's search for their next home took them from one coast to another.
"We looked at retirement communities in California, where our two daughters live, as well as communities along the East Coast," says Craig, a retired professor at Salem State University. "Ultimately, we decided it made the most financial sense to stay in Massachusetts."
The couple visited half a dozen communities, weighing the pros and cons of each.
"Brooksby Village was the largest place we visited and had the most resources," says Craig. "Jan looked through the monthly calendar of activities and saw it was 17 pages long. Every other place we visited had two or three pages of activities each month."
Jan, for her part, liked the on-site continuing care options.
"My parents had to live in separate facilities once my dad needed additional levels of care," says Jan, also a retired college professor, who taught at North Shore Community College. "That was hard on them after 60-plus years of marriage. It was important to me that Craig and I could be together, even if our health care needs should change in the future."
The couple had joined Brooksby's priority list early in their search, putting down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve their place in line for the apartment home of their choice.
"You can't lose with the priority list," says Craig. "Either you move to Brooksby and the money is applied to your entrance deposit or you change your mind and get your money back."
As it turned out, the couple's priority list status proved its worth when they decided on a two-bedroom, two-bath Lancaster floor plan.
"The Lancaster is a popular floor plan, along with many of our other two-bedroom layouts," says Sales Counselor Jane Kiegel. "Joining the priority list is the best way to ensure you'll find your perfect match when the time is right for you. Jan and Craig joined several years before they wanted to move, which truly helped them find their gorgeous space."
Craig and Jan chose the Lancaster for its open layout, natural light, and ample living space.
"We had certain pieces we knew we wanted to bring with us to Brooksby, including our grandfather clock and grand piano," says Jan. "The Lancaster accommodates them nicely."
Enjoying Brooksby's amenities
Craig and Jan moved into their new apartment in August 2017, and Craig didn't waste any time finding his way to the on-site woodshop.
"I had a woodshop in my garage in Marblehead and a machine shop in the basement," he says. "I was astounded by the quality of the Brooskby woodshop. It's extremely well kept and can accommodate all sorts of woodworking projects."
Craig's affinity for woodworking dates back to his early years as a homeowner when he was continuously fixing and adding on to their family home.
"Our youngest daughter is an architect and jokes she chose her career path because she grew up on a construction site," says Jan.
Craig's first undertaking at Brooksby was to build additional shelves and storage for the master bathroom. Then he set his sights on a project of greater scale. He built a row of bookcases for the living area, in part to accommodate the couple's substantial book collection, as well as offering more storage within the base of cabinets.
"The great thing about working in Brooksby's woodshop is the fact you've got other woodworkers who can share their expertise and experiences," says Craig. "I was recently inspired by fellow woodworker Bruce Wedlock to build a floating shelf for our entryway. Bruce frequently uses different wood tones in his work and helped me design an elliptical-shaped shelf using black walnut, holly, and white maple."
From east to west on a tandem bike
Craig and Jan had one other key belonging that came with them to Brooksby—a tandem bicycle they rode across the country in 2004.
"I retired in 2002, and Jan retired in early 2004," says Craig. "To celebrate, we decided to ride our bike from California to Massachusetts."
Both avid bikers, Craig and Jan have taken bike trips in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. After Jan broke her hand on a ride, the couple borrowed a tandem bike from a friend and found they liked it, so they bought their own.
"We like the presence of a tandem bike," says Jan. "It's easy for cars and trucks to see."
At the outset of their ride across the country, the couple dipped their tires in the Pacific Ocean next to the Santa Monica Pier before heading out on April 3, 2004.
"We timed it so we wouldn't get too hot crossing the Mojave Desert, and we wouldn't get too cold in the Rocky Mountains," says Craig.
The 3,601½ mile journey lasted 89 days. Craig and Jan followed the old Route 66 to St. Louis before switching over to U.S. Route 50.
"We didn't make any hotel reservations before we left because we didn't know how far we'd get in a day, what the weather would be like, or if we'd get a flat tire," says Jan. "We had a small Toshiba laptop with us, and I kept a digital journal of our trip."
The couple averaged 50 to 60 miles each day, with their longest daily ride clocking in at 73 miles and the shortest day ending after 13 miles. Friends and family assembled to greet them when they rolled into Marblehead on June 30, 2004.
Craig and Jan keep topographical maps, newspaper clippings, and photos from their trip in their apartment home at Brooksby Village.
"They're valuable to us," says Jan. "They recall a lot of memories."
Now at Brooksby, the couple is still hitting the trail on their tandem bike.
"We rode to the Cherry Street Fish Market in Danvers recently to pick up some fish for dinner," says Craig. "It's fun to get on the bike and go."