My Van Life: Day 51
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Kingsland, GA – Jacksonville, FL – St. Augustine, FL – Decatur, IL
We kickstarted this Sunday morning with a workout at Planet Fitness in Jacksonville, FL. This was the first time that I saw those delicious (YUMMMMY) fogged up, dripping with condensation windows at a Planet Fitness and outside of Wilmington, NC of course. Not only that but this was the first time I did not stop sweating throughout my entire workout. I know I know that’s not a bad thing by any means but usually I do my cardio then by the time I move over to weights and abs and stretching, my body temperature regulates itself and I’m able to cool down. Not today friends, not in Jacksonville, FL at 9am. Nevertheless I was grateful to get some movement in and start the day on the right foot. We’ve gotten to the point now where we have to leave the car on if one of us is working out and the other is waiting inside the van with Coco. It’s gotten progressively hotter and more uncomfortable as we’ve made our way south along the East Coast. So leaving the car running is an absolute necessity to remain even moderately comfortable.
From there we were only about a 45 minute drive to St. Augustine, FL, a city recommended by family and friends. However, from the time we left the gym I was feeling off. A lot of things were weighing on me from the heat (typical), to not having an established place to stay for the week (of course not) to realizing how much money we’d spent over the last two weeks ($3k on the van repairs did not help matters), to feeling anxious about returning to work after two weeks off and taking on new responsibilities in the coming three weeks. I was not feeling it. That feeling of being on the edge of tears or a total breakdown - I was there - occupying that space physically and emotionally. Of course the heat does not help when it comes to placating your emotions – did I mention it was hot?
Anyway, we made our way to St. Augustine which is just as beautiful and captivating as one is led to believe the first established colony would be (although according to our Charleston walking tour it’s actually NOT the first – Paris Island in South Carolina is the first thanks to the French settlers that landed there and laid claim to it). Anyway, we arrived to tourist filled streets, no parking, thick, wet air and hungry stomachs (ours) no less. The breakdown was officially here ready to make its grand, uproarious debut. We sat in the car with the air conditioning blasting and talked about how we were feeling over the course of the last couple of weeks (since being on the East Coast and dealing with the trials and tribulations that came with most of that journey) and thought about our next course of action. We laid out all the options, all the paths we could take at this point on a Sunday afternoon and made the decision to drive to IL and stay with Adam's family. I will tell you it wasn’t an easy decision. We had so many plans for Florida – Orlando (Disney of course), Miami (a personal dream), and Key West (somewhere Adam was excited for me to see) - and as someone who’s never even been to Florida to really only see Jacksonville and St. Augustine felt like a big let down. It felt like we were giving up because of something as seemingly trivial as the weather. Unfortunately we had to admit defeat. Simply put, the weather beat us.
When you’re living in a van and don’t have the luxury of escaping to air conditioning after being outside unless it’s during the drive to your next destination, it’s hard. Brutal in fact. Then imagine sleeping in that same space with nothing but a little, portable fan blowing on your face at night to get some kind of air circulating while you try to get a good night’s rest before waking up and doing it all over again. Add on top of all that working, and eating and conducting morning and evening routines in that same cramped, hot, static space day in and day out. Claustrophobic is the word I’ve been using lately and the one that comes to mind when thinking about it. While I felt defeated and like we had given up after almost two months of van life, we both decided that this was the best course of action. It didn’t mean that we were giving up on van life, we were merely taking a moment to regroup before deciding our next course of action and hopefully allowing the world to cool down a bit before taking that next step. So at approximately 4:30pm (on a Sunday mind you) we started the 14 hour drive to Illinois and when I tell you a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders once that decision was made, a gargantuan sized weight was lifted off my shoulders. Of course I’m moderately stressed because tomorrow is a work day and we’re going to be landing at like 8am in the morning after driving through the night but we can both rest (not physically rest, more like emotionally rest) easy knowing we have a house, a big comfy bed and air conditioning waiting for us on the other side of this 14 hour journey...