Driving South to Florida

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Author: Pete

Location: En route from Green Bay, WI, to Naples, FL

 

After our ‘victory lap’ of Lake Michigan to say goodbye to all of our families, we made ready to head south. Miranda and I loaded up the red 1993 Plymouth Voyager minivan with shovels and rakes and implements of destruction all of our worldly belongings and drove towards Florida.

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The Wisconsins rolling hills gave way to (boring) flat corn fields of Indiana, then to the curves of the Smokies. Miranda and I listened to audio books and hoped the Voyager didn’t fall apart. The old girl didn’t put up too much fuss on the long, arduous journey and neither did the van, bwa-hahaha!)

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Clunked twelve hours to Nashville where we stayed with Miranda’s college buddies, Lilly and Brandon. We arrived there a little later than intended due to Trusty Rusty’s approximate top speed of 42 mph. Still got to go out to eat at a fantastic spicy fried chicken place. Finger-lickin’ fan-frickin-tastic!  Took a little tour around the music-rich city. Really great history and a constant supply of great live tunes to be had!

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The next morning we hit the road a little later than anticipated. Some strange time changes put us an hour behind for the second half of the journey. So again on the road we found ourselves!

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Cruised steady throughout the day first passing Atlanta, then finally into the Orange Tree License Plate State: FLORIDA!

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Florida is a funny state. I forget that it’s extremely long! We went over the border at seven and didn’t get into Naples until 1AM! Could’ve been due to heavy rain, navigating in the dark, and a pretty old van. She got us there though! Three cheers for Trusty Rusty!

Hip hip! HUZZAH!

Hip hip! HUZZAH!

Hip hip! HUZZAH!

Boat Hunting in Florida: Day 2

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Author:  Miranda

Location:  Jacksonville, Florida
[26°8′N 80°9′W]

 

Slept like the dead.  What a glorious feeling to be able to sleep horizontally after spending a night scrunched up in a pseudo-inclined airline seat.  Went to bed early so we could wake up early and get on the road.  We decided to do a long push to Jacksonville to see a 35’ Wildcat Mark II, and then make several stops along the way back to Fort Lauderdale, looking at other boats we’d been eyeing.

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The five hour drive got significantly better when we realized the rental came with XM radio, and that meant several stations devoted to the formidable jams of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s.  Heaven!  I won’t tell you how many ridiculous Bon Jovi songs that we belted out at the top of our lungs… but it was many folks.  Many.  A lot.  A lot for love, you might say.  Oh, how Pete loves that lyric.  Oh and this sweet treat really got us grooving..

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We met Al on the docks, and he took us in the dinghy out to Quest, which was on a mooring in the river.

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Al and Caryl were gracious hosts and very knowledge about their boat, which they helped design when it was built new, and then sailed it across the Atlantic from South Africa.

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We could have spent hours chatting with them about their travels, their sailing knowledge, and their cruising stories, but, alas, eventually it was time to head out, as we had more boats to see that afternoon.

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On our way back to south Florida, we stopped in Merritt Island to meet with Valerie and see her 35-foot Jeaneau Lagoon catamaran.  Valerie is one of those people you meet and immediately say to yourself, “wow, I want to be friends with this person!”  Even as a young sailor, she has many years of experience boating in the Caribbean, and her boat looked much newer than the 18 years that it had.  Three tiny, adorable dogs also greeted us as we stepped aboard.  Somehow a 35’ foot cat with a 16’ beam seemed to fit three adults, three dogs, and enough equipment to live aboard just fine.

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Valerie regaled us with sailing stories, as well as stories of her fiancé Chris’s time spent living in Colombia.  Wish we could have met him as well, but we are crossing our fingers that fate will pull us up next to them on a barstool in Caribbean someday, where we can share sundowner and talk about living in a country we now love so much.

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Got stuck in a thunderstorm on the way back, which meant that we missed seeing boats on the hard in Titusville and also in Fort Pierce.

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Just got too late in the day, and the marinas were closed when we passed through.  Unfortunate, but these menacing, afternoon thunderstorms that come out of nowhere are just so darn cool… when you have an enclosed car to hide in, of course.  As we were oh-ing and ah-ing one storm, I thought out loud to Pete, “boy- these are definitely not going to be as fun and exciting when we are out on the boat.”

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Had a burger and a couple of beers to top off a long day of looking for the perfect boat.  Lots of searching…

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