Wrapping Things Up

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Howdy folks,

It was a strange feeling having no Steffie for the last few days of my time here in the US, but I wasn't going to do much without her. On Monday, Matt left for work and I had the day with Kai and Kailee. After a trip to the park, it was time for a nice cool dip into the pool. I went for a walk down to the shops and the weather was quite warm so I stopped in for a milkshake at McDonalds. By the time I got back, Matt was about due home from work. I suggested that I could help him out at work if he needed it and he accepted. We spent the night carving a Jack O'Lantern from a pumpkin for Halloween.

The next day I got up early so that we could drive into the boatyard. Matt is a captain on a luxury cruiser and as such he has the responsibilities of maintenance and getting the ship ready to cruise the Carribean. We spent the morning cleaning out the back deck where all the toys were and getting things organised. Matt had to pick up a friend to do a favour, so I tagged along for the ride before stopping for lunch at a boatside cafe called Rendezvous.

The rest of the day was spent preparing and sanding so it wasn't so interesting, but it was a good insight into the glamourous life of a sea captain. We stopped at a South African deli to buy some meat pies on the way home and had a few beers at the South African bar next door. I don't think that I've been to either before so it was a different experience. One thing you can't complain about is the price of beer here, at $2 for a pint it would make any alcoholic smile. Needless to say that we had pies for dinner!

And so here I am today on my last full day in Florida, taking it easy sitting on the lounge watching American television in English. I guess I should be making the most of it because in 2 days time it will be nothing but German. It is hard to sit here and summarise everything that has happened in the last 4 months, but I do have some advice for those people considering that they should do a roadtrip of their very own.

1. Transportation. We bought our own car because we were planning on using it for 6 months and I guess it was cheaper than renting one. But that wasn't the only factor because we had a few mechanical issues and also the stress of buying a car in one location and selling it in another. We couldn't sell a Canadian car in the US and in fact it wasn't easy selling it in another province. We got lucky, but we took a hit for it.

2. Accomodation. When you're only budgetting a $100 per day, the price of accommodation can eat right into that. We saved a lot of money by camping 50 times, up to 6 nights in a row. But that brings a whole other set of issues such as buying all the gear, getting used to living out of a van and trying to get rid of it at the end. Couch surfing was also a good way to save money and meet people, but it took a long time to find hosts and it wasn't always a sure thing.

3. Navigation. We were cheap and didn't buy a GPS because we thought that we could make do with Google maps and a big road atlas from Walmart. In the end that worked out fine because we had access to a lot of free Wifi at McDonalds, Starbucks and Tim Hortons. But I'm sure the time it took to navigate and find wifi could have been saved by just punching in an address into a Tom Tom. I'm a little bit old school; I like being a control freak and having a map in hand.

4. Gear. We needed a lot of gear because we wanted to camp and save money by cooking our own food as well. That meant we needed a electric cooler, cooking equipment, camping and sleeping gear. We made the mistake of buying a camp table and chairs which we seldom used and taking too much 'what if' gear just in case. At the end of the trip, we had to donate whatever was still good because we just didn't have the time to sell it.

5. Activities. It just isn't possible to fit as many fun things in as you would like to if you want to stretch your money out over several months. There were plenty of free things that I liked doing such as playing cards, frisbee, sightseeing or going hiking. Things start adding up if you go into museums, art galleries and observation decks, but you can save money by buying a CityPass.

I guess the biggest point I need to make is that a roadtrip is not a vacation; it is HARD WORK. But hard work pays off and we had some pretty memorable experiences. Should I write a book about it?
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