“Let’s take our backpacks and go somewhere, together.”
That’s how basically how it started.
Adam, my boyfriend of a little over two years, and I had expressed how we both wanted to travel and we decided we wanted to take a trip together. Neither of us had been out of the country beside our neighbor country, Canada. (And I had been to the Bahamas when I was 8) So we had talked about destinations, put together half way plans and never made it too set in stone but we knew we were working towards hopping on a plane with just us and our backpacks. Costa Rica was talked about a couple times and because it is more westernized there, it seemed like a good place to go for a first trip to a foreign country. After it was decided, Costa Rica was the place, then started the hustle. We had to make the trip before Summer because Adam had to be back in Texas for work, so that narrowed down our money-making time frame to about 2-3 months. Which is a decent amount of time but with someone like me who wasn’t very good at saving, never budgets and gets a $4 coffee every day, it’s not a cake walk. At one point I was working three jobs but stuck with two for the majority of the time. I was working at The UPS Store in my hometown and a newly renovated and new owned espresso stand, The Brim. Paychecks were nice and it all seemed like it would be easy as long as I managed the hours and kept looking forward towards my goal. Then it hit me, PASSPORT. I needed a passport! $300 dollars later and it showed up in time. Shoes! Tent! Vaccines! All of these things I had to get in a short time, but also save money for the trip. I was looking up basic Spanish and trying to regain some of my knowledge from 2 years of classes in High School. I was researching everything I could about Costa Rica. “Can you camp on the beach? Which city should we visit first? How much is the average meal, hostel, bus ride? What vaccines should we get? How many deadly spiders are there in Costa Rica?” Very reasonable things to research but nothing will prepare you for the first step into a new country.
I’m sure you can imagine how those few months went. Work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep. Repeat. So instead I’m going to skip to the fun part. It wasn’t enough for us to fly to a foreign country. We were going to add driving across the country to the mix.
Okay…. It wasn’t that spontaneous. A friend had moved to Florida and left their car in Seattle. So as a friend, Adam of course was all about taking their car to them and I thought, the tickets will probably be cheaper flying from Florida! Logical.. Until you add up all the money you’d spend taking a month or more to cross the US. But hey, why not? So it was a plan, we were doing it.
March 7th 2016
We said our goodbyes to the parents and a couple friends. Jake picked us up as we only had an hour or so until our train was leaving to Seattle, WA. We made sure we were prepared for this 10 hour train ride and many more countless hours on the road. Essential items consisted of: Bottle of Jack, Carton of American Spirits, Backpacks. We were set. We yelled goodbye to Jake and hopped on the train with our hearts about to explode. The moment had come, we were off on our adventure that we had been dreaming of for the past few months. One that was going to change our lives. 10 hours on a train began… If you’ve ever been on a train, you probably know that feeling. The feeling that you’re back in the sepia photo days, drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes with a gambler days, the train bound for nowhere days. It’s like a nostalgic feeling of memories that aren’t yours. Though those feelings were great and we were overly excited, the train isn’t always so glorious. It was freezing, the two ladies in the seats near us snored louder than a freight train (yeah), and forgetting to bring food for when we got the drunchies was a big mistake. We cuddled up with our one small blanket and tried to get some shut eye long enough until the next stop where we could get off the train for a couple minutes. Around 6 or 7 when daylight hits, most of the time the train is just passing through Snohomish County. Taking a train is one way to see the parts of places you don’t see often. I’ve drove from Sandpoint to Seattle plenty of times, but the train has a railroad path through some of the most gorgeous forests, on tiny bridges overlooking the river, and through the little towns you miss out on when you take the freeway. It’s the long way, but it is beautiful. We finally made it to the Amtrak Station on King Street. It’s about 10:00 am and we start walking downtown. If you remember right, I am a coffee fiend. So that’s the first thing I am thinking about. We found a nice cafe, Homegrown. Got our coffee and some breakfast sandwiches. On top of that, an employee noticed we had backpacks and were traveling so he brought us a “free sandwich” coupon. Score! We made sure to take advantage of that before leaving Seattle. Off to Cameron’s house we went. The usual Seattle get down, we hung out, we drank beers, we conversed about all things ordinary and extraordinary. It just so happens we couldn’t get ahold of Tucker to make a plan on when to get the car so we spent a good 2 weeks in Seattle which dwindled our money a little bit. Although we did take a trip to REI and stocked up on some essentials for the trip.
- North Face Tent
- Light Sleeping Bags
- Water Filter
- Dry Sacks
The day finally came when we set off to the Edmonds Ferry, picked up the car, and we were headed to Bakersfield for Adam to work a week. Pit stop in Portland, a week spent in Bakersfield, a few days in LA with Bailey, a few days in Alamogordo (New Mexico) and straight to Panama City Beach from there. We had traveled the entirety of I-10 from Los Angeles, CA to Jacksonville, FL by the end of our road trip, and the longest stretch of Texas. I was confused at points, wondering if Texas is its own country. That is about 2,500 miles plus the xxx amount of miles prior to arriving in LA. Exhausting, to say the least. And if you think you have a lot of music that you would never run out of or get sick of, try driving across the country. You will think again. It was redbulls and white knuckles through sketchy, narrow lanes on the bayou in Louisiana and strange encounters in the bathroom with ladies trying to sell me their half empty bottles of perfume. All in all, road trips are fun.
We finally made it to Panama City, it’s actually a smaller town in Florida named St. Andrews where Tucker and Sarah lived. We had a great time there. Went to an art show for the free food and wine, Panama City Beach, antique shops, camping and fishing in the ocean, the list goes on. We just ended up staying a little too long and money kept dwindling. I also had to try and get my vaccines and money was short, the places who had the vaccines didn’t take my insurance, the places that took my insurance didn’t do those vaccines and to top it off I got a bill from the hospital when I returned home even though they did nothing but a check in and told me information on where to get the vaccines which I already knew. Oh well, life goes on, I eventually got the vaccines and I don’t have a disease! Yay.
Adventure time. We got a ride to Tallahassee to get on a bus, which took us to Jacksonville instead of Orlando as planned. So we spent a few hours there killing time. We were sitting outside the greyhound station, smoking only the 10th cigarette I’m sure, when a man with a draw string bag across the street hollered at us. He came up and we were small talking. He said to call him “Doc.” Well Doc was quite the guy, an interesting soul. I’d assume that he was a wealthy guy but he chose to travel in a different way. He’s gone from staying at Salvation Army’s to the sleeping in the Miami Airport for days and had lots of stories to tell. He held out his hands, each one with a different necklace. One was a black leather rope with a turquoise pendant and the other was black string with an arrowhead. “Which one belongs to whom?” He asked. It was pretty crazy that they both happened to be just perfect. I am in love with turquoise so I pointed it that one and said “this would definitely be me!” It’s nice to receive gifts from strangers on the road. We ended up seeing him around the station until our bus was finally ready to leave. Off to Orlando! When we got to Orlando, the bus station was a ways from the airport. It was also 3 or 4 in the morning and local buses were not available. We didn’t have too much money to spend on a taxi but thankfully through some strange promo and too much time sending invites back and forth to eachother, Adam and I got 15 dollars free through Uber and got a ride to the airport. We had a couple hours to kill in the airport so we found the cheapest thing to eat…Mc Donalds and I was not proud but desperate times called for desperate measures. Boarded the plane to Miami. Arrived in Miami, slept on the floor by our gate until it was actually, for real, the absolute last little chunk of travel until we would land in a different country. So there we we, boarding the plane to San Jose, Costa Rica with our backpacks and 53 dollars.