Driving to Charleston was really straight forward and we arrived in the afternoon to find a town that we loved immediately. The architecture and vibes were amazing and we sat down at a bar to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. When we first arrived we thought we would definitely stay the night, how could we not? but after spending a few hours there the novelty began to wear off and we agreed that yes it was a cool city but we didn’t want to stay there just for the sake of it so after dinner we drove through to Savannah. In the van it was nice and cool with the air conditioner on so I convinced Mark that we would be totally fine to just pull into a Walmart and sleep there. A couple of hours later I woke up feeling like I couldn’t breathe so moved to the front of the van to open the door and get some fresh air. The stuffiness inside just didn’t seem to go away which was when Mark woke up and told me how hot it still was outside. Neither of us could sleep after that so we drove around looking for a hotel to stay in. We ended up finding a really dodgy looking one, got a room and slept in our clothes on top of the bed linen for a few hours before we woke up and left straight away. Safe to say that will be the last time I try so hard to convince Mark that we will be ok sleeping in the van in that heat.
Our next stop was Florida, Daytona Beach to be exact and what we found there was just like what you see in the movies. It just so happened that there was a huge truck convention going on across the road from where we were staying so there were all of these trucks (Utes in Australia) with raised suspension, intense looking paint jobs and flags flying out the back. Walking along the boardwalk in Daytona was my favourite part of our stay there. The weather was still warm, there were rides and carnival games, music playing everywhere and people galore, walking around enjoying the summer. But like a lot of places these days, one day was enough there so we left and headed straight for Cocoa Beach. Along the way we stopped at this small independent surf shop where Mark bought a surf board and we met some really nice locals who gave us some tips on where to go. We booked a stay at a camp ground right on the beach and made our way there. After we had set up camp we ate dinner and Mark went out to surf before it got dark. I decided to enjoy the alone time to read. Mark made his back back just before it got dark and his answer to my question “How was it?” was simply “Someone stole my thongs.” I laughed and couldn’t believe it. Who wants someone else’s old thongs when they already have the foot groves worn into them? Luckily we were in Florida and finding a new pair of thongs wasn’t going to be difficult. On our drive the next day we stopped off at Melbourne Beach to check it out before continuing on to a small inlet. Along the way we stopped at 4 different surf shops and none of them sold Havaianas. After the first 2 shops we had to ask for them specifically because the first 2 directed us to a wall of “flip flops”, none even remotely looking as comfortable as Havaianas do. We gave up on the search for new thongs and just chilled by the beach for a couple of hours. Again, Mark surfed while I read. We drove along the Florida coast and pulled into our hotel in Miami Beach late in the afternoon. After sorting out the van and all of our stuff we went out for the night. Miami was just as I expected but also completely different. I was shocked with the amount of different types of people there. Most other places we had been to there were only a handful of different types of people, but not in Miami. In Miami you can find people from all different nationalities, from all different walks of life. I was definitely pleasantly surprised and more so the next day when we were riding around on bikes and finally found a Havaianas shop! Mark walked out with a huge smile on his face wearing his brand new thongs. As much as we enjoyed Miami we had more plans down south. We were going to Key West.
The drive down south was uneventful and along the way we stopped off at a local golf course where Mark played 9 holes of golf for $10 and then went back to play the holes he liked a second time. The golf course itself was just a piece of land amongst some houses that anyone could walk onto. Their club guidelines were some of the most relaxed Mark had experienced.
We spent a relaxing few days in the southern most point of the USA. Cuba was just 90 miles away! Each day we would wake up, sit by the pool, walk around for a bit and then I would go and sit by the pool again to read usually while Mark went out to play more golf. On our last night in Key West we went to the boardwalk by the water to watch the sunset and were amazed at how many people were around. To top off the amazing sunset we bought homemade lemonade, pina coladas and guacamole from food stands and sat by the water to eat and drink as the sky got darker and the crowds thinned out.
On the drive back up north the next day we stopped by a wakeboard park where Mark spent half an hour on the water. When he got out his arms were killing him so I took over the driving. Our aim was to make it to our friend’s parent’s house in Naples, Florida. We arrived just in time for dinner and sat down to home cooked BBQ ribs, corn and coleslaw. Their plan was to give us a “typical American meal” and it was amazing! To further relax we spent 3 days in Naples just hanging out and also because Mark’s arms were still so sore he could barely move them and we thought long hours of driving probably wasn’t the best idea!