It all came about rather quickly. I saw an appealing house sitting job in Florida. It was only for two weeks. Mark and I had seen more of these before and “ignored” them, because moving all our belongings and electronics for a time period of only two weeks is not ideal for us. Especially if the house sit is 1500+ miles away… But, we had not found any other attractive sitting opportunities for December yet, we could use some sunshine before our next (three month) house sit in cold Connecticut, and we needed a change of scenery. Still, it was a long drive to enjoy our favorite weather…
Then, the prospect became more attractive. Our best cruising friends Sim and Rosie are in Florida on their sailboat Wandering Star, not too far away from our possible destination. The wheels started turning. We contacted them – they would happily postpone their crossing to the Bahamas to spend some time with us. We wrote the home owners of the house sitting listing – they immediately “commissioned” us. And, within 24 hours we had a plan: Mark and I were driving to The Villages, FL for the two-week house and pet sit, Sim and Rosie would join us in our borrowed home over Christmas, and the four of us are to celebrate New Year together on Wandering Star after our sitting commitment. Since we go straight to Connecticut afterwards, we needed to pack all we own in our car – winter clothes as well as summer clothes!
It would take us a little over two full days to drive the 1500 mile distance from Newburyport. We chose the inland route to avoid all the major cities along the east coast. That worked; traffic was not too crazy all things considered. Just around Charlotte, NC, we got stuck a couple of times. Instead of taking the ring road (I-485) around the city, we felt compelled – and adventurous – to take the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane, allowing cars with 2+ drivers to zip by all other traffic. Little did we know that the car in front of us couldn’t handle driving over 35mph, while the speed limit was 55mph (“Aaaargh, driiiiiive!”) – we were held up by him the whole time – and that this prestigious lane would stop in the middle of the city and rush hour!
Mark and I took turns at the wheel, considering night shifts – just like on Irie – but opting to spend the night in a motel along the way. Why push it if we don’t have to? The roads are much more dangerous than the oceans! Pizza delivery and a comfortable king-size bed completed the road trip feeling.
After an initial 4 hour drive on Sunday to get a head start and stay one night with family, we left early the following day. It was still dark at 7am and the days were getting frustratingly short in New England. Monday and Tuesday, we drove for 11 hours with short breaks for fueling up and lunch. The thermometer was climbing steadily to the seventies and the days grew an hour longer. Our winter clothes were happily traded in for shirts and T-shirts again and I stared in disgust at my white skin tone. In Florida, the AC had to get turned on. What a change… It didn’t feel real. We arrived safely in The Villages and were welcomed with open arms!
Speaking of surreal, this place “The Villages” is something else – a cloud of mystery and myths surround it, but I am determined to debunk them all! Stay tuned for upcoming blogs.