Yes, I am just as surprised as you are. To semi quote a famous old rock band, “What a long strange trip it has been.” But here I am, at the other end of the world, sitting on an island thousands of miles from the mainland, and enjoying every minute of it.
“So, what happened.”, you may well ask. How did I end up here after all? Well, go grab some popcorn and sit back for the tale. It’s a long one. Ready? Here we go…
For those of you who have been following my adventures over the past 6 years or so, you know I have often talked about going to Hawaii. It was always a dream of mine but seldom did I see an opportunity to actually make it out here. Don’t get me wrong though, Key West was and still is home. Despite all the problems I had with drunken landlords, spotty wifi, and HWSNBN and the shenanigans at the marinas, I still love the Keys and always will. But Hawaii always beckoned.
During the past year, as things progressed I started looking more and more seriously at how practical it would be to go out to Pacific for an extended stay. I searched the inter webs for insights on living in our 50th state. Checked airfares constantly, and searched the ads for places to stay. It became readily apparent for a minimalist like myself, living in Hawaii was quite doable. It closely resembled Keys living in costs, weather, and attitude. So, I slowly began to form my cunning plans to go.
My original plan was fairly simple. I knew my finances would not allow a trip out west for the near term. But come 2017, income would be vastly improved. So I figgered I would leave the hinterlands of Pa. in the late fall or early winter, before the end of the year, go back to the Keys, find something or someplace to live, get my mind back to island living again, lose some weight, cause I put on way too much with all the eating up north, and hopefully save some money. Then I would arrange to go to Hawaii in the Spring or Summer of 2017. But, as with any battle plan, it seldom survives the first shot.
When what passes for summer finally came to Pa., I was stuck in the mountains, depressed, and without hope of escape. The long days of boredom were catching up. I spent many an hour searching the ads for places to live in Key West and Hawaii both, but it was nothing more than mental masturbation at this point. Then something happened.
I suddenly found myself with an unexpected financial windfall. It wasn’t a lot and I won’t get into details, (all legal), but it was enough to finance my going back to the Keys and finding a place, within a certain budget, to live there again. So, I began to plan in earnest.
First thing was to decide on a time to go. I had done the train and bus run to the Keys but I was not eager to go again, given the last ride down and back. Instead I went to Spirit airlines. Spirit is one of those discount airlines. I had flown them before and other than the planes being cramped, it was an okay flight. What was nice is Spirit flies directly out of Latrobe to Fort Lauderdale. Latrobe is but an hour or so drive from where I was staying so it fit in nice with my plans. What fit in even more better with said plans was the airfare. A whopping $40 for a one way ticket. Add on another $45 for my backpack and it was still a bargain. From Ft. Lauderdale it was a $3 train ride to Miami. From there, a $25 bus ride aboard the dog to Key West. In other words, I could get to Key West from Pa., in one day for about $110. I booked the trip to leave the Tuesday after Labor Day.
So, with the issue of getting back to Key West solved, I now needed to find a place to stay, for real this time. I had a temporary place I could sleep at a friend’s apartment but only for a few days. So I needed to get serious. I had a certain budget to work with and I kept most all options open.
I started looking at every possibility. Apartments, rooms to rent, buying another boat and going on the hook, maybe an rv of some type. I even considered finding a vehicle and converting it to camp in. Even though camping was out of budget in the Keys, I figgered maybe roaming around Florida for awhile, staying in the cheaper rv parks and visiting the Keys every so often. Anything to get me out of Pa.
Everyday I looked and looked. I sent out some messages to acquaintances in Key West for any possible deal. One wrote back with news of a boat coming up for sale. It was on the hook off Fleming and the owner had died. The current owner was interested in selling but could not give me a price as he was unfamiliar with sailboat prices. As things progressed I started to realize, given how much I know about ‘affordable’ housing in the Keys, an apartment or room was not going to be viable. So I constipated more on another boat, with the idea of going out to the mooring field where the rent was way more cheap.
I searched the ads every damn day and not just in the Keys. I searched up one side of Florida and down the other. There were plenty of boats for sale, and many within my budget. But, to quote an old colleague from the motorcycle business, “Every deal had hair on it.”. This boat had no engine, this one needed major repairs, and most of them had title issues. A big no for anyone looking for a boat. I sent out messages to a few but seldom got replies. Craigslist, with it’s reputation for scams, has become nearly useless. But I kept going, checking the rv ads also, but to no avail.
Now time was growing short. With about two weeks until I was ready to go I hadn’t found anything I really liked. I wanted to avoid just buying anything only to find out it was junk later. My budget for this was a one time only purchase. So, as I was perusing the ads, it dawned on me to take a look at what was available in Hawaii. Craigslist does cover the islands, so I started looking. What I found amazed me.
It seems despite being 3000 miles out in the middle of the Pacific, the Hawaiian islands have a rather interesting and affordable market for places to rent, at least compared to what they were charging in the Keys. I found all sorts of spots all over the islands ranging from platforms with tarps where one could pitch a tent, to tree houses, to rooms for rent, and the occasional apartment. Boat and rv living is non existent out here.
As I was looking at all these possible domiciles I also checked airfares out of Florida and found it was not out of my budget to be able to fly out.
So, I decided to make a decision. I had a couple of emails out on some boats in the Keys. I also ran an ad in the Maui Cl looking for a place. Whomever answered first, would win.
I got a nice email from a lady on Maui with a room to rent in her condo. It was at the top end of my budget but included all the goodies like wifi. It was also in a nice location, about a block from the beach, right on the bus route, with shopping a couple miles away. We talked back and forth and finally, I decided to take it. I mean, why not? Nothing was happening in Key West and even if I missed out on a nice boat this time, there would be plenty more for sale later. I committed to the room, and booked my flight.
Even though I had booked the Maui flight I still had to go to Key West. I had to go back to get my mail and collect some cash from some clients. I gave myself a day to take care of all the stuff before heading back to Miami and flying out.
As I waited the last two weeks to go it was not without it’s moments. Hurricane season is in full gear both in the Atlantic and Pacific. Several storms threatened to delay my trip to Florida. As if it wasn’t enough, a couple of storms in the Pacific were making a beeline for the islands at the same time. I took out flight insurance in case I was delayed by bad weather.
So, just so you know how the week went:
On Monday, Labor Day we had a get together with family for one last party. Lots of good eats and visiting, but it was time to go.
On Tuesday we got up early, drove to Latrobe. From there I flew into Ft. Lauderdale, then by rail to Miami, then bus to Key West, arriving around 10:30 in the evening.
On Wednesday, up early and ran around the island getting all my little details taken care of. Said one last goodby to the place where I had been living most of the last 6 years. It’s still home.
On Thursday got up early and rode the bus back to Miami. The flight left early evening going to San Diego for an overnight lay over. I deliberately took an over night flight to help deal with the change in time zones. Hawaii is 6 hours behind Key West.
On Friday, took the early flight to Los Angeles and then the flight to Maui, arriving around 11:00 in the morning Hawaii time. 7:00 in the evening my time. Met up with the new landlord who even picked me up at the airport and off we went to the new digs. Got everything set up and now I can start to relax. I am living in Maui.
And to recap, over 4 days I traveled by plane, train, taxi, automobile, bus, and foot, about 7000 miles. Yeah, it plumb wore me out.
The plan is to stay here until late Spring, depending on how things go. I will return to Pa. over Memorial Day as per usual but only for a week. From there most likely back to Key West but if Hawaii really works out, I will return. Staying here permanently is not out of the question.
In the meantime, I will be exploring the island and seeing all I can see. I am on a budget so I will be doing whatever I can which is free or cheap, much like my ex-girlfriend. Hopefully the room works out and I have no problems there, but first impressions are it’s going to be just fine. Not like the other place.
And of course, the Fritter will now be dedicated to all I see and do here in Hawaii. I’ll give my impressions on life here, I can’t wait to sample the local cuisine, and how realistic it is to stay. I promise lots of pictures of course, and who knows what else may come up. Thanks again for everyone’s support over the past few months. I appreciate it and hopefully, this little blog will be a lot more entertaining. I got plenty to write about.
It’s going to be quite the adventure so come along for the journey.