I still haven’t made any concrete decisions on the summer as of yet. The only thing I know for sure that I will be doing is going up to visit family for a week over the Memorial Day holiday. When I return to Key West I have nothing planned as of yet. Finances are, as always the key and while I have found some pretty good deals on airfares to the Pacific, unless something extraordinary happens, I will most likely stay put in Key West for the time being.
I should be able to retain my current living arrangements. The room I am renting is more than adequate for my needs. Basic, affordable, and decent location. No lease to tie me down, and good internet. Hard to walk away from this one. But if something more better comes along or something shiny shows up to attract my attention, I can go and not worry about leaving anything behind.
I’ve decided since if I am going to remain here then I will go ahead, again finances allowing, and renew my Captain license. I looked into what is needed and it’s not much. The biggest hurdle will be passing the physical. I will go in search of a doctor person after I get back and get it done first. If I pass, the rest is easy. Renew a couple of things, send in some paperwork, and done. A Captain for 5 more years. It’s not vital I get this but I may as well. Having the rating gives me the occasional option to do a charter now and then, or if I should get another boat, make a buck with it. But, if I don’t pass the physical, it’s not the end of the world. I had my run, and I can move on. Since I will be staying here, might as well give it a shot.
As for future travel it’s been more mental masturbation than making actual plans. Again, issues with the money, but it’s fun to make said plans and plot out different scenarios. I still have no use for, nor a desire to own a vehicle. Traveling around the country in some sort of rv set up is definitely in the cards but not for now. So, I have been looking at what it takes to get around the country and over land and sea, by mass transit.
Flying: Like it or not, it’s still one of the easiest ways to get from one end of the country to the other. While sitting in a cramped plane with 200 other strangers is not a lot of fun, I do enjoy hanging out at the airports, watching all of humanity go by, looking at departure signs to different locations and wondering what it would be like to go there.
Finding good deals on flights is always a trick. For years I have used Orbitz to book all my flights. I searched around all the travel sites and found that they are all pretty much the same. There is not a whole lot of difference in prices and Orbitz’s website is pretty easy to navigate. I keep hearing about all these special deals here and there on flights, when to book, when not to, etc. I’m comfortable with Orbitz for the moment. And addition to flights they can book hotels if I should be in need of one.
In the past, I rarely flew more than once a year, usually the same trip I am taking next month. So I never bothered with any frequent flyer programs but recently I signed up with Orbitz’s program. Might as well seeing as how I may be doing more travel in the future. And even if I don’t, the program don’t cost nothing.
Bus: As with Orbitz, I also signed up with Greyhound. Greyhound offers some decent pricing on getting around on land. They have a station right here in Key West at the airport with daily trips to the mainland. I haven’t ridden on the bus yet, but they appear to be comfortable, some have wifi, and if you don’t mind long trips on the highway, it looks like a cheaper alternative to get someplace.
Train: I loved trains when I was a kid. I grew up near one of the largest rail yards in the country and my grandfather worked 45 years for the old PRR as a fireman, shoveling coal into the old steam engines. Amtrak is the go to rail line now. The closest station to the Keys is in Miami. I’ve yet to ride the rails but I hear if you are taking a long trip, rent a sleeper room so you are more comfy. Trouble is, said sleeper ups the cost tremendously. But the idea of traveling across the country by rail sounds kinda cool. Amtrak doesn’t offer any major programs but they do allow you to buy a month pass for so many rides at a set price. So if one were to want to travel extensively, it might be a good deal. I noticed though that the routes are somewhat limited. Still, it’s a viable option if nothing else, just for the experience.
Add into the mix, taking advantage of city transit like bus systems, commuter trains, and occasionally walking, with a little bit of planning ahead, and a sense of adventure, getting around to different places is not a big deal.
For example: I can fly out of Orlando to Maui for about $300 to $500 cheaper than flying direct out of Key West. So, I could take the Greyhound, which has a bus that leaves Key West every day around 6:00pm, to Daytona Beach, arriving the next morning. Cost, about $50. Take the Votran over to a friends house in the north east part of Orlando. Cost about $4. Stay for free at said friends house. Take the commuter train to just outside Orlando airport. Cost, $2. Bus to the airport for another $2. Big savings and not that much of a problem with catching all the rides. As for Maui itself, they have a handy bus service from the airport. So I can get a pass when I arrive and travel about the island as needed.
All of these travel options are online and in some cases, in app form. This makes it extremely easy to plan out a trip or do something on the spur of the moment. As long as you don’t mind adhering to schedules for busses and such, you can get around pretty easily and not have to worry about fuel, parking, traffic, driving, nor vehicle maintenance.
And there are other alternatives to those mentioned above. There is a ferry that travels daily from Ft. Myers and Naples to Key West and back. While not the cheapest boat ride in the world, if one wanted to get to the mainland and not have to go through Miami, it is a viable option.
When all else fails, a taxi may work also, but they tend to be expensive.
And, if you have a credit card, a rental car is always available. Perhaps later. For now, I have need of neither.
Half the fun of a trip, at least to me, is planning it and doing the actual travel. The destination itself becomes secondary. I have run many different journeys just to see what they would cost, and how difficult, or easy they would be to put together. In doing so you find out things. For instance, the Greyhound and Amtrak stations are in the same building in West Palm Beach. Handy to know as opposed to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale where the stations are several miles apart across unsafe territory. Greyhound also has a direct ride from Key West to Miami International airport for $22 one way. It’s little things like these which you find out as you travel or make plans to travel which may come in handy at some point should you need to get someplace in particular or cut some costs. I’m sure I will find more details down the road and if I do, I will surely post them here.
As for now, I will continue to plot and plan. I’m on no particular schedule. If I can get the Captain renewal out of the way, and finances allow, I may do something later in the summer. It may not be Maui, yet, but something else. Perhaps a month section hike on the AT. Something a bit less strenuous just to see how well I do with some hiking. Get some less expensive gear and try it out. If it agrees with me, then I can do more later on.
I do want to look at the Tbex convention coming up in October in Ft. Lauderdale. This may be an important source of future income. If so, it means making sure I am in Florida when it happens. And there is also the usual nonsense going on in Key West around that time so I may want to hang around for that.
Some other things I will be looking at are things like festivals, concerts, maybe even a trip up to Green Bay to see my beloved Packers play. I got the time, I got the ways to get there, I just need to figger out how to finance it all. It will come, soon enough.
I will be paying particular attention to how my family is doing up north on the upcoming trip. I may go back up there during the holidays at the end of the year, and assuming everyone is ok, perhaps fly directly from there out to Maui for the winter and spring. If not, then plans will change if I am needed to spend more time taking care of said family. Priorities you know.
None of this is set in stone. If by chance, some sort of opportunity should arise to do something even more better, or a chance to make some quick money comes about, I will be able to go and do it. I’m not bound by leases, contracts, obligations, responsibilities, nor possessions. The very idea of getting up in the morning, boarding a plane, bus, or train, and carrying all your worldly goods on your back, leaving a place that you do not have to return to unless you want to, and going on a journey to someplace vague, for no particular reason other than because it’s an adventure and a chance to see or do something new, is to me, the ultimate in minimalism.
Key West is, and will remain home. I enjoy living here as much as anything. But I have no qualms about leaving. Because I can always return at anytime of my choosing. The island ain’t going anywhere. I will never own property here so I won’t have to worry about leaving anything behind. When the cold of winter moves about the northlands, I will be here, or Hawaii. And perhaps someday, I will decide to stop traveling. Then I can settle back on the island and start a new adventure.