Our drive into Florida was quick, but in that short time we realized one very hard reality that has plagued us since: Gas in Florida is expensive.
But let's rewind for a second. We got to Florida and it's really the first time either of us have been in the sunshine state (at least in the past ten years). They say a lot of things about judging books by their cover but when you're faced with something the first time you don't think in those terms. You're just jotting down your first impressions.
What I thought about walking towards the Florida Welcome Center off I-95 was: there are a lot of overweight people, kids behaving poorly and big trucks here. I realized that's very judgmental of me of course, so every time I've felt that way in the past I thought: You're missing something here. Look more closely and you'll find that there's more to what you think you're seeing here.
In the case of Florida, and I think I'm speaking for both Whitney and myself here, that moment didn't come until Miami; I'm getting ahead of myself though.
We got our complimentary orange and grapefruit juice and sat back down in the Omimobile to finish our day's trip to St. Augustine.
It's interesting in retrospect that I didn't even think about the historical aspect of St. Augustine on the way there. I mean I know that it's the oldest Spanish settlement in North America, but to us it didn't amount to more than a waypoint on our travels south. That's in no way meant as a slight towards Florida or St. Augustine. It's just the way things worked out.
The really cool thing about our campground in Anastasia State Park was that it was near the beach. For the first time we had the opportunity to go out and swim in the ocean. The whole idea of going swimming in the Atlantic was a sort of gateway into the "summer" part of our road trip.
We didn't much exceed sticking our toes in the water that night, but to me it was the beginning of water, sunscreen, sunglasses and pavement that's too hot to walk on barefoot.
To feed ourselves in the evening we sought out a local supermarket by the roadside, just outside the Anastasia. We got fresh vegetables, a piece of fresh tuna, coals and a bag of ice. Back at the campsite we split the tasks: Whitney prepared (chopped, peeled, seasoned) the vegetables and fish while I built the fire.
Now, everyone has a different idea of what "camping" is. In our mind, it involves a tent and making your own food, I guess. We're not roughing it by any means and it's certainly not about digging a scat hole and making fire with a flint. We wanted to make it manageable for us considering we would be driving for several hours on many of our camping nights. We wanted to get a great night’s sleep so we got a pretty big tent and cots instead of foam sleep pads. We have a mini kitchen in the back of our car.
Anyway, by now we had the essentials down pat: As you can see we got the tent set up and the cots put together. The whole "let's get a fire going" is something I'm still getting used to, though.
In the end, dinner was delicious and we went to sleep under the stars (we left the rainfly off), to a live soundtrack of Dierks Bentley playing my new favorite (no joke) “How Am I Doin’”. We tweeted at him but no response :-(.
We broke camp early next morning. Our next stop was the Pelican Inn on Key Largo, so we didn't want to waste time getting there. The drive down I-95 was awfully boring though. I'm serious, it's the most dreary part of the interstate we'd encountered.
PLOT TWIST!: Julia's in Miami and she's reading our tweets. That meant a spontaneous re-routing through unchartered territory. Did we plan on going through Miami? No. Was I-95 jammed up and did we have any idea that the there are Florida State toll roads? Also, no. So we set off on a happy-go-lucky chase through Miami to meet up with Julia.
Now, remember how I said that the part I'd been missing didn't come until Miami? Well, here it is: driving through town we found ourselves so excited at seeing the colors of the buildings. We saw pink houses and blue houses. Bright green cars with outrageous rims. I swear, Miami has the corner market on custom green paint jobs. Suddenly we were in this weird land of palm trees, bright colors and bad-ass cars!
Back to the story: Julia was in town to work on a commercial and we rolled in, just as they were finishing their day to say "hello".
Aside form an enthusiastic greeting we got so much more though. You see, the woman who ran craft services on this job, Nina, was a culinary goddess. Craft Services, or Crafty, are the stay-at-home mom’s of the film industry. That sounds derogatory, but hear me out! Every stay-at-home mom I ever knew made sure there was tasty food at a moments notice so kids would be able to do homework with full brain power as well as hang out with friends after school without getting hangry (or HALT as we call it — Hungry Angry Lonely Tired).
Now keep in mind that the standard day on a film set is twelve hours with one meal break in the middle and you see why Crafty is so important. Film work is manual labor! Nina was there for her crew all day that Sunday and as they finished their day she offered up her culinary wonders to us, the weary travelers, just because we were Julia’s friends. Now there are two phenomena we could pin this on: Julia’s ability to befriend any person she has ever met; or Nina’s charisma, kindness, and culinary skill. We were so grateful we want to credit both.
Here’s to the best iced coffee we have ever had—hands down, the fantastic flan Nina sent with us for our dessert in Key Largo, and her tasty cookies that got us through a few hangry moments as we drove through Florida.
Strengthened and encouraged, we set out on the road again. At this point the Keys were within our grasp and we didn't want to waste any more time on the road. That however, we'll cover in the next post!