Saturday, 4 June 2016

Our Epic Detour: The End of the Road

Our EPIC Detour:
The End of the Road

The Drive from Austin to Florida took some time but we managed to make it into Tallahassee by early afternoon. We had spent the night passed out in a parking lot somewhere in Alabama but another nights sleep in the car wasn't as bothersome as the other times since we were all too tired to care or notice. I think spending the majority of our time in the car had made us accustomed to the lack of comfort or maybe we had just accepted that it wasn't going to get better than that...either way, it made the night's sleep tolerable.

Since Becca and I were dead set on going skydiving, our new goal for the day was to find a place to do so and this required calling places that offer last minute skydiving gigs (as usually people plan this stuff ahead of time..who knew?). We managed to find a Groupon deal for a skydiving place outside of Jacksonville Florida, but when we called ahead to ask if there were spots left to skydive for the next day, they informed us that the only available spot was in 3 weeks time (which was OBVIOUSLY not going to happen). It's a good thing that we checked before we purchased the Groupon because it would have been a useless purchase and a waste of money - and when you are traveling on a shoe-string budget, you want to avoid spending money when it just goes to waste (but that's just common sense).

Luckily we found a place in Titusville, Florida just outside Orlando that offered skydiving jumps for $199 per person (which is still very expensive but it wasn't like we were going to find anything better than this, especially last minute). We scheduled our jump for the next day and then got back on the road to drive towards Jacksonville where we planned on camping for the night. 

Finding couchsurfing hosts in Florida turned out to be slightly more difficult than normal as not many people accepted last minute requests and the only confirmation we got happened too late for us to accept (which is a darn shame since the guy lived on a beach...oh well, next time!). So instead we found a place where we could camp on the beach (or at least SUPER close to it)...yeah we were trying for a round two of beach camping since Galveston was an absolute failure and a half. 

We stopped off at a Walmart to grab supplies and snacks before we headed over to the campsite but it was only after setting up the tent (much easier this time without the hurricane winds) and making ourselves at home when we noticed that we didn't have any firewood to start a campfire. While the most obvious solution to this problem would be searching for wood and branches, unfortunately the proximity to the ocean made it so any available wood was too wet to use. And any seasoned camper knows that wet wood will not spark a fire...but I think that's just common sense as well. 

With this new predicament, we found ourselves back on the road in search for the nearest gas station to purchase a starter log (not ideal but it would get us a small fire started at least). Afterwords we headed over to a nearby restaurant for a proper meal.

During our delicious seafood dinner - of which I can't remember what I ate but know that it was delicious - we met this group of guys sitting at a table beside us who worked on a ship that was docked close to the restaurant. One of the men looked like a captain off a pirate ship, long white beard and all...actually I think he might have even had an eye patch...but that may just be my imagination running wild. Either way, I like to think that he had an eye patch. Anyway, he was sitting next to two younger guys (around our age) and after we discussed plans and shared travel stories, they offered us a place to sleep on their ship for the night. Now normally, one might find this request slightly fishy (ha!) if it happened under normal circumstances, but seeing as we had a genuine conversation with them before hand, we had a pretty good idea on each of their characters. Honestly, if they had asked us sooner before we already set up camp and figured out our accommodation, we would have been totally up for it...however, it was bad timing so we had to respectfully decline. But sleeping on a cool is that? Okay, yeah I've been on a cruise before and I know that it isn't such a big deal BUT it would have seemed cool regardless. Geez can't a girl dream?

After a lovely dinner we returned to camp with our starter log and proceeded to find kindling and tinder in order to properly get a fire going. As I had mentioned before, much of what was available near our campsite was too damp but we managed to gather a good enough pile to get a small fire going - which ended up being perfect as we were able to roast our marshmallows over it and make s'mores. I was a little disappointed that the campsite wasn't as rowdy as it is known for as we were hoping to meet people there. There was a small group of guys we had met earlier but they had already gone to sleep by the time we got back (which was like 9:30/10pm so that was super lame of them).

As such we decided to get ready for bed so we could lounge around for a bit. I had gone to take a shower and as I was walking back this one guy stopped me  and asked if I had a flashlight he could borrow as he was looking for the batteries for his which had fallen on the ground. I gave him a light from my phone and we made idle conversation when all of a sudden a large boom sounded out from above and when we looked up we saw a fireball shooting over our heads. It all happened in the span of like 5 seconds but after it disappeared and the sky went silent around us, we looked up at each other at the same time and said "did that just happen?" It was one of those things that happened so fast, you need to pinch yourself afterwards to convince yourself that it actually occurred. After we confirmed to each other that it did in fact happen I returned to my tent to ask if Jelena or Becca had heard and/or seen the fireball. They looked at me like I was insane and said that they heard nothing which completely baffled me as it was SO loud when it happened - like I almost I thought it was a bomb. 

I actually had to google the incident when I returned home to find out if I dreamed it up and found out that YES, it did happen. I was not crazy. See here: Florida Fireball . Either way, it was such a surreal experience that it continues to baffle me even just writing about it now. It's definitely one of those things you have to see to believe it but even then it doesn't seem real.

After this strange occurrence I settled back into the tent and curled up in my sleeping bag with a beer and a good book. Jelena had fallen asleep quite early so Becca and I decided not to wake her and because the beach was completely dark and empty, we went for a cheeky streak. Eh, when you are on a trip streaking or skinny dipping is a right of passage plus it is incredibly freeing...this must be how nudists feel every day!

The sleep in the tent was one of the best nights sleep we got on the trip, mostly because the waves hitting the shore was so incredibly peaceful. Seriously, a girl could get used to this!

The next morning we woke up early and drove south to Titusville for our skydiving appointment. I won't go into detail about the actual dive as I am going to write a separate blog about it but do know that it was a great day.

Overall, Florida was an excellent choice for a detour and an experience we won't soon forget. Now it was time for us to head back to cold and snowy St. Catharines but not before a cheeky detour to straddle the state lines between North Carolina and Virginia -for an actual Walk To Remember experience...sans Shane West unfortunately - and then a cheekier detour to Washington DC to say a quick hello to my man Abraham Lincoln.

As we left New York and crossed back into Canada, we each looked at each other and took a collective breath; it was finally over.

However, while the road had reached it's destination, it wasn't the end but rather the beginning of a new one. 

And so the countdown began.

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