Over the last several months I’ve become aware of several things. First and foremost, it is utterly impossible to sum up this trip in any kind of meaningful way. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve had a final blog post partially written for going on 7 months now, but for some reason I could never get it to come together. I’ve begun to realize that the entire scope of the trip is so all-encompassing that I truly can’t comprehend exactly what it meant to me in its entirety. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have the tendency to fall back on words like “amazing”, “incredible” or “life-changing”. While those are far from inaccurate, it is difficult to adequately describe how utterly stupendous the trip was for me, when I routinely use the same words to describe the Dominos pizza that I had last night. With that in mind, you will hopefully forgive me for going in a slightly different direction. A few lapses into such platitudes are unavoidable, but I will primarily try to offer a few anecdotes of the waning days of the trip, as well as from the last few months (in a separate post, as I still apparently possess a purely theoretical grasp of “concision”), that provide a more tangible record of the way in which this trip changed me.
All in all, the journey ended on an anticlimactic note. We unloaded our things, went out for a celebratory steak dinner, and immediately crashed from exhaustion. We could hardly drive off into the sunset just yet, as we still needed to haul the boat and put her on the market. It is staggering how much time it takes to put a boat up for sale. We were informed in no uncertain terms that the boat was a mess, utterly unfit to be sold to anyone who possessed even a passing semblance of taste (though perhaps not in so many words). If you have read just about any portion of the blog up to this point, you will probably recognize that that may have had something to do with our myriad weather, grounding, and sewage (among others) related mishaps. What transpired over the next week and a half was pure hell. We put in 15-20 hour days: cleaning, washing, teaking, painting, folding and stowing, only sleeping when we were finally driven into our beds by exhaustion. As you may well imagine, that schedule had an…adverse effect on the overall mood, and it all came to a head (sorry) a few days after Ellen left, on the night John and I were supposed to depart.
However much or little you read the blog, you have probably had some indication by now that we had a questionable relationship with our head, as it had the tendency to spit its contents back at us at the least opportune times (always). So while we cleaned and prepped the boat for sale, it was entirely unsurprising that a bit of liquid had trickled back into the bowl, and I felt it only gentlemanly to pump the head dry before leaving it. Oh, what a fateful decision that was. In one pump, one totally innocuous, everyday pump, the head pump’s outer casing split, depositing a thin stream of sewage onto the painstakingly sanitized floor of the head, as well as the leg of its hapless inhabitant (Me. It’s always me). At this point, I believe John was notified of our new predicament by the emphatic and vociferous stream of…impolite words that I directed at the head, the boat, and the universe in general. It was, obviously, too late to do anything about it that night, so we closed the boat up for the evening and returned to my grandmother’s apartment to address our frustration in the most productive and mature way possible (which I will leave to your imagination).
The one benefit of our little snafu was that we had an extra day to revisit portions of the boat that needed a touch-up. So while I went over the boat with the hateful gaze of a prison inmate cleaning the stalls of Alcatraz, John went looking for a new head pump. Naturally, this turned out to be more difficult than we had predicted, and he had to drive all the way to Fort Lauderdale for the replacement piece, only barely returning before sunset. Now, we had a fairly straightforward plan. replace the pump in an hour or so of work, at most, retire for the evening, and set out early the next morning. Care to guess how that plan went?
As it turned out, the piece that we had purchased was simply the casing to the pump. We had to take apart the entire pump system (and the 40 or so pieces of which it was comprised) and reconstruct it in its new casing. Needless to say, this news upset me, and John’s first indication of my displeasure as he watched from the ground was to see the entire pump fly out of the boat’s cabin and over a nearby fence. It was followed soon after, I understand, by my own person, who descended from the boat in the midst of a profanity-infused diatribe, and walked around the fence to pummel the cracked casing with the heaviest hammer I could find, punctuating each swing with the type of language that could get me arrested in 34 states. John did his best to restrain me, although given my mood and implement of choice, he wisely elected to do so verbally from the other side of the fence. As unorthodox as my approach was, it was remarkably successful, as the pieces of the pump were much easier to extract from their shattered casing. Unfortunately, no amount of beserker rage could help me put the pump back together more quickly, and it may have in fact impeded my efficacy, as I rarely exhibit my finest mental acuity in an apoplectic fury.
Ultimately, what we’d hoped would take an hour took 5, and John got about an hour and a half of sleep before we got on the road up the East coast. It’s hard to say how we felt on that drive. The emotional scarring from the previous few days was still a bit too raw, and our brains were too exhausted to fully comprehend what we were leaving behind us. All the way up the coast we saw signs for the cities we’d visited, and the sights we had seen. It felt, in many ways, like a fitting end to the trip, seeing in a few hours what had taken us a month of travel to accomplish. Still there was a vague, almost intangible feeling of loss as I said goodbye to John and we went our separate ways back into the real world that we had so assiduously (and successfully) avoided for so long.