We woke up this morning in Florida, and for the first time in days we were able to sleep in and take it easy. It is surprising how fatigue sets in while traveling cross-country!  We have spent a full week driving in our little Prius C, loaded with:  all the gear from home that we think we will need on the boat (snorkel gear, books, dock lines, life vests, cooking gear, folding bikes, folding bike trailer, etc.); a duffel bag of clothes and shoes for each of us; a cooler for breakfast and lunch food; our Beagle and his doggy bed squeezed into a little open space behind the passenger seat. (Poor Buster – but he definitely wins the awesome traveling dog award!).

Here was the quickest path across the US that GoogleMaps could find for us:

  • Night 1 – Bend OR
  • Night 2 – Twin Falls, ID
  • Night 3 – Laramie, WY
  • Night 4 – Lincoln, NE
  • Night 5 – Marion, IL
  • Night 6 – Macon, GA

And now we are in Tampa, FL – the last time we were here, in January, we were tucking the boat away for the winter/spring/summer: putting her up “on the hard” at Snead Island Boat Works in Palmetto – making sure she was strapped down and stowed away for the hurricane season to come.

It’s just as hot, muggy and moist feeling as I remember it!  The heat and humidity started up in Georgia, and hit us hard by the time we got to Tampa! Last night around 8 pm it poured – the big fat tropical drops you only see in the south. It’s like a garden hose pouring down from the sky, and it’s still probably 90 degrees out at the same time. You’re standing under the eaves, in a tank top and shorts, watching the heavenly reservoirs open up, and sweating like you’re in a sauna. I thought “hello again, deep south.”

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Florida Sky

It’s hard to believe that we are really here and starting something that we have been dreaming about and planning for so long now. Part of me wonders if I’m really still back in Eugene, sitting at the kitchen counter with my coffee and just imagining all of this -but then I open the door, feel the humidity, and think how real it all is! Sadly, we can’t get to our boat yet – the storage yard closed yesterday at 4:30, and we didn’t get here until 5 (so close yet so far)! Today is Saturday and they are closed on weekends. We fly out of Tampa early Monday morning to head up to Maryland, so we will have to leave all the equipment, books and crap we lugged with us for the boat locked in the Prius while we’re gone.

We will be in Maryland from October  3rd to the 13th. The first few days we will be attending a Whitby/Brewer boat-owners rendezvous, and then we will visit the Annapolis boat show. The last 4 days will be filled with a Cruisers University (classes geared towards cruising sailors). Meanwhile, the sailboat storage yard is supposed to paint the bottom of our boat with anti-fouling paint, and check out our propeller. Hopefully she will be ready to get in the water by the time we return from Maryland.

Before we left Oregon, we had gone up to Corvallis with our daughter, to pick up our son from his apartment, and take both of the kids out for a last dinner together. Lots of food and kisses and hugs later, we reminded each other that we would reunite in a short two months, when Joe and I were back for the holidays. Our kids are both so soft-hearted and sweetly sentimental. But they are also very practical and have full lives of their own – our daughter is embarking on her new season as a college student and can’t wait to get started, and Noah is returning to his now familiar and more predictable life in college with two years already under his belt.

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Noah and Eden
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Fun at Noah’s Pad
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The four amigos

We love our kids so much – this is by far the hardest part of doing what we’re doing. Not getting to see them regularly will be really difficult. At least we’ve been able to talk and text all this week as we’ve been traveling, which is some small consolation.

Some random social observations as we headed east:

  1. People tend to drive very politely in the west. This ended somewhere around Kansas City. Then things got a little crazy as we drove through miles of Atlanta-area traffic and south into Georgia. You have to be on your toes behind the wheel, and not just in big cities. Everywhere. And yes, we saw a few traffic accidents along our route.
  2. People in the West are more reserved and independent. People in the South are more friendly and talkative. West Coasters have a wider, firmer personal bubble around them, and in the South the bubbles are much smaller and easily popped.
  3. I also noticed that once we hit Nebraska, men everywhere we went would hold any and all doors open for women. They must have that trained into them hard. For example, last night outside our hotel, as I was getting the duffel bags out the cargo box atop our car, another hotel guest – a young man with BB shorts hanging down off his hips, with his cap on backwards, tattoos inked from head to toe, smoking a cigarette – stopped and very politely asked me if I needed any help with my bags. Amazing!
  4. Speaking of cargo boxes – we are the only car in Florida with one.  I’m sure of it.  No one has one here.  I wonder why?  In Oregon, you see them all over the place.

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