We landed in the USA with a long list of things to repair and buy. In our first couple of weeks here, we have spent an absolute boat load of money (pun intended). If you are wondering why the Amazon stock price has sky rocketed recently, you needn’t look any further. We are single handedly helping the economy reach new record highs. But, spending money is tough for us. Every penny we spend on repairs or additional gear cuts into our cruising budget and shortens our adventure. Needless to say, we think twice about any expenditure, especially big ones. And, we have made not one, not two, but three big purchases recently. We agreed adding these items would be worth it to us even if it means we have to cruise for a shorter period. We would rather be comfortable while cruising. We are adding and arch, solar panels and a new dinghy. (More on why and our decision process in later posts)
We went shopping! The deals were made over email a week or so before the trip. Our challenge was getting our new stuff to the boat. Ft Lauderdale is the home of anything boat related. Just about every company selling goodies to boating enthusiasts has an office or store in Ft. Lauderdale. We are 250 miles from Ft. Lauderdale so it is easy to make a day trip. We rented a car and drove to Ft. Lauderdale. Actually, we rented two cars. About once a month we do a weekly car rental. We can often get a weekly rental for about $100. During this week, we do all the errands not in walking distance from our marina. Costco is always on the list. I think we probably save enough money by buying groceries at Costco to pay for about half our rent car. Our trip to Ft. Lauderdale was to pick up solar panels and a new dinghy (the arch was delivered). Since our weekly rental coinciding with this trip was a tiny clown car, we needed a bigger car. So we also rented an SUV for a day. Renting the $49 SUV was much less than paying freight for items to be delivered across the state to Tampa Bay.
As all good road trips begin in the South, ours started with Waffle House. I love Waffle House. Where else can you get breakfast 24 hours for a price making you wonder how they make any money? In the southeastern USA I do not think there is a single exit off a highway that doesn’t have at least one Waffle House. I say “at least one” because often there are two. They are everywhere. Many folks turn their noses up at these fine dining establishments. And, I agree some of them can be pretty nasty inside. But for the most part I find them somewhat decent. The real value is the food. It is possible for two people to eat a fresh cooked breakfast for under $10. Dining at a Waffle House is always …..an experience. On this particular exit we found a waterside Waffle House.
Our trip reminded me about a scene in the movie Blaze. In the 1989 movie, Paul Newman plays Earl Long, “the fine governor of the great state of Louisiana”. During a pre-election period, Earl Longs goes on a road stumping trip when he visits the rural parishes. While talking with the local business he made a purchase from each to show support. As the trip progresses with the police escort, the governor’s limo has stuff tied all over it and looks more like a chuck wagon than a limo. By the end of the trip, the car was barely visible. This is how we looked leaving Ft. Lauderdale.
On our way home we encountered some heavy rain. We felt very prepared. If it flooded we thought we could flip over our SUV. Instead of an SUV with a dinghy on top we could have a boat with an SUV on top. Always prepared!