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Whispering Oaks Resort

I’m pacing around the office, on the telephone with Gary Moore, owner of Whispering Oaks Resort, relating to him my journalistic intent, when he says, “Hang on, let me find something to write with,” and I realize … Oh. Yeah. He’s naked right now. He is not checking his pockets for a pen; he doesn’t have pockets. Gary Moore is not wearing any pants.

Admittedly, this makes me feel a little strange for a second, as though I’ve caught him at a bad time; with his pants down, if you will. Then I remind myself that Gary’s a nudist. That’s why I called in the first place. So, Gary finds a pen, takes down my number and gives me permission to come visit him and the rest of the folks at Whispering Oaks in a couple of days. We hang up our phones. I go back to my world, he to his.
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A few days later, as I turn off of I-75 and begin driving the 13 miles up Baldwin Rd. that will lead me to Whispering Oaks Resort, I notice I’m looking closely at the various people in cars next to me. Is she heading to the nudist resort as well? What about those two? Alas, I find myself flying solo as I turn down the gravel drive and approach the front gate.

I stoop in front of the closed-circuit camera, identify myself and return to my car, as the electronic gate slowly swings open. Strains of the Jurassic Park score swell in my head as the gate creaks open the final few inches, permitting me access down the wooded path leading into the heart of a lifelong enigma: the nudist resort. I drive slowly, hunched over the wheel and find myself peering left and right, through the trees, as if on safari. Where are the nudes? Will I spot one flitting through the trees, skipping by in naked bliss?

As I round a corner and pass by the front office, I do spot eight naked adults engaged in a game of volleyball. It’s a unique image, but it doesn’t arrest me quite as much as I would have expected. I watch for a few seconds, process things and park. I gather up my things and exit my car as I notice an approaching golf cart. Behind the wheel is a man wearing a blue captain’s hat, a blue T-shirt and … yup, no pants. No underpants. I’ve spotted my guide for the day.

“Hi, Kirk. I’m Gary Moore,” he declares with a smile, extending his hand to me. “Hey, Gary, great to meet you,” I reply, shaking his hand. “Hop on, I’ll show you around,” he offers. Normal impulse is cast aside and I find myself boarding a golf cart being driven by a man with no pants.

We’re driving around Whispering Oaks' 52 acres, exchanging friendly waves with other naked strangers as Gary points out some of the resort’s many amenities. “Over here we’ve got the volleyball courts and we’ve got two tennis courts over there. Shuffleboard courts right there. We have a bathhouse, got indoor, outdoor showers.” He gestures toward the resort’s many RVs, “You see all these units here?” Units … Units … Oh! Yeah, RVs. “There’s about 60 units here on a permanent basis” he continues. I ask him how many people live onsite year round and he laughs, "We’re only open in the summertime. People running around here throwing snowballs at each other in the middle of winter is not too good of a concept as far as I’m concerned.” Plus, you know, shrinkage …

I’m surprised at how comfortable I’m starting to feel here. It really isn’t nearly as off-putting as I’d imagined it could be. Gary is so affable, so pleasant that I almost immediately feel at ease. I’m still wearing my pants, but, you know …

I meet an executive chef, a troubadour and some ordained ministers, all of whom greet me freely, happily, as they tell me of their love for Whispering Oaks. Everyone is so friendly that I almost stop noticing the fundamental difference between this world and the one I’m used to: exposed genitals.

“You know, there’s a lot of strange people out there and we watch out for ‘em,” Gary tells me when asked about concerns over potential new members' motives. “What you will not find around here is any lowlife or riff-raff, because we screen everybody that we have as members,” he explains as we bound along wooded trails in his golf cart. There may have been a time in my life when I would have considered nudists to be “the strange people” to whom Gary is referring, but he’s rapidly changing my mind.

He stops the cart so I can snag a few photos of him in it, then he sits at a picnic table near a pond for a few more. After I snap my pictures, I sit next to him at the table. I picture this image from an outsider’s perspective. Kinda weird? Maybe. But when it boils down to it, I guess clothes really are just clothes. As Gary puts it, “Once you try and experience it, it’s a great freedom thing. That’s what the concept is: When everybody is nude, everybody is equal.”

Gary takes me to the clubhouse, introduces me to his wife, shows me a photo board of numerous members and events and takes me back out for one more cart ride, showing me the baseball field and The Center of Light, the non-denominational spirituality center onsite. He drops me off at my car and I shake his hand, thanking him for inviting me in and being such a courteous guide.

As I’m exiting through the front gate minutes later, I think about something Gary Moore said to me earlier: “The weight of society just falls off your shoulders when you come through that gate.” I wonder if maybe there’s some truth to that …

So, I take off my pants and drive home happy.  | RDW
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