Since booking our flights from Dublin to Orlando for the 31st January, life has been absolutely hectic. I am pretty sure neither Dan or I have stopped to catch our breaths for even a second! There is just so much to do. The house needs to be left clean, tidy, and showable - as its still on the market. Dan has been cleaning out food cupboards in the kitchen today and we are living on whatever in the freezer needs eating. I've cleaned our drawers and cupboards around the house, but we still have to empty the sheds (they were full of CDs), dismantle the trampoline (could turn out to be a full days job), amongst many other things.
This week we have informed the insurance company that we wont be in our house for 6 months, informed phone companies, electric companies, Internet Service Providers; met with the solicitor to give my Mum power of attorney, been to the police station to get background checks for our visit to see E in prison in Georgia, had photos taken for our visas (which were granted pending better photos) written to schools, applied for Barneys place in primary school for September, applied for Annabelles secondary school place, and we must have written/phoned a dozen other people and companies too.
Yesterday I finally got time to sit down and start planning the actual trip. I mean, we have had plans in our head for quite some time, but now its time to actually book things and work it all out for sure. I ought to put a map here of our intended route...
Ok, so here is a map of the USA with all the states on. We are flying into Florida at the south west there. I have marked the states that we will see with blue crosses. So we hope to stay in Florida for 2 or 3 weeks, then head up to Georgia and visit E. Then we will drive down to Talahasse (in Florida) and drive the gulf coast route from Florida, through Alabama, Mississippi and into Louisiana. This drive will take us about 7 days as we plan lots of beach side stops along the way, and fully intend to stuff ourselves senseless with all the seafood there. From that point onwards we have no road plan yet, but will be chasing the weather westwards, trying to avoid the heat of the summer in the desert.
We should arrive in California at the end of May. If we have any money left and are not desperately homesick then we hope to visit the states with the grey crosses, ending in Chicago. But at the moment none of that has even really been thought about yet.
Oh, for anyone interested in what our home for the six months will be, CLICK HERE. This is the RV we are hiring for our trip. It sleeps 5 people. You can see inside it by clicking on the smaller pictures.
So, as I was saying, yesterday I sat at the computer for about 12 hours, with my two huge RV directories and my Passport America membership by my side. It wasn't long before I realised we had a problem. Florida is having its best weather at the moment and is in the middle of it's 'snowbird' season, which basically meant that all the RV parks were extremely expensive, and nearly all of the good ones were booked to capacity. I started to wonder if we would even be able to include Florida on our trip. But then I found this RV Forum and left a message about our trip. Within minutes I had a reply, and within hours I had about 14 replies. They proved to be such a friendly bunch of people who are obviously very passionate about their RVing lifestyles. They answered all my questions, and this morning I got an email to say that they had found a lot for us to park in in Florida. One of the forum owners lives in an RV park in a place called Titusvile, on the east coast of Florida. He knows some people who own a space in the RV park across the road, but they arent living there at the moment, and they have kindly offered to rent it out to us for as long as we need while we are in Florida, at less than the going rate. I was so releived. We now have a firm safe place to stay in Florida, close to the beaches and all the areas that we wish to visit.
He also told me that Cape Canaveral is just down the road from where will be, and there is a space shuttle launch scheduled for the 7th February, while we are there! So we plan to park our RV somewhere with a view and watch that rocket shoot off into space. What a once in a lifetime experience for us and the kids!
It seems there are a heap of families from this RV forum that would love to meet us on our trip, and we wont be short of anyone to turn to for advice or information. The great thing is that Jim will meet us at the RV park and go through everything with us. Which is reassuing as we dont know the first thing about driving an RV, hooking it up, or anything at really! I know Dan is more than a little nervous about driving the big thing on the wrong side of the road. They have given us tons of helpful hints already, including flying a flag from our country in the RV window (apparently its a great way to meet Americans!) I think we will need a Northern Ireland flag and a British flag. I'm not really sure what we are! Seems funny to think we might be flying the red hand of Ulster around America when we never ever participate in anything like that here. LOL.