So after 30 years of flying around airplanes, I too have some spillovers to deal with. This last trip up the west coast of Florida was a perfect example.
One thing pilots always have in the back of their minds is a backup plan. Doesn't matter what the situation, we are always thinking 'what if'. What if the weather is bad? Where we going to go? Better have a plan.
What if something breaks? Where you going to get it fixed? Better have something in mind.
What if? What if? What if? It is enough to drive you (and your spouse) crazy.
So, me being the itinerary planner, I seem to worry a bit too much about the schedule. Originally, we were going to go to the Bahamas. I don't know how many schedule iterations I went through before we finally scrubbed the trip, but it was a ton. Granted, there are a lot of 'what ifs' involved with a trip like that. I mean you just can't fire up the engines and take off across the ocean, can you? Well, I can't.
The western Florida cruise should have been a piece of cake. From Fort Myers, where the trip began, until we reached our destination of Clearwater, there are many great anchorages, marinas and attractions for us to visit. If there is anyplace on the water that you can just wing it and be safe, western Florida is it.
We started off thinking we were going to take three weeks to a month to visit all the places on the agenda. We were going to spend three days here and two days there. I had us staying at a marina in St. Pete for a week and an anchorage in Useppa Island for 4 days. I poured over the guidebooks and internet for every scrap of information I could find. After a few days I proudly showed Kim the fruits of my labor. "Huh!" she remarked. "I bet we don't do a quarter of all that," she said.
"No way!" I told her. "This is going to be great."
"Well" she said, "let just provision for a week to start. We can always buy more food as we move up the coast." I was fine with that because, what if something happened and we had to abort the trip, etc. etc. etc. I was at it again. The 'what if' syndrome.
We left Ken's house and started up towards our first destination - as planned. As it turned out, that was the only day that went off as envisioned by me. We were going to spend three days at the first anchorage, exploring the beaches and restaurants in Useppa Island. Each night as we sat on the back deck of the boat thinking about what we would do tomorrow, it seemed like we would lose a day off the itinerary. Our first stop ended up being two days instead of three. We skipped stop number two and went straight to stop number three, thinking we would just add a day on at that destination.
I think I drove Kim crazy going over every possible variation in the schedule we might undertake. "We can stay an extra night in Tampa if we skip night number seven in St. Pete," I would tell her. Or, "there's a great band playing on Wednesday in Sarasota but that would mean we would have to skip the Venice anchorage," I said to her. This was a daily event for us, this schedule gerrymandering. I think I was taking a lot of the spontaneity out of our trip as scheduling became more of a chore than something to look forward to.
One night the phone rang and it was our daughter. She had been in an accident and while, thank goodness she wasn't hurt, her car was totaled. Since the car was in my name it meant that I would have to fly back to Cincinnati and deal with insurance people. I also needed to help our daughter get another set of wheels. This was a 'what if' I hadn't anticipated.
Out came the paper and pencil and within a few minutes I had another itinerary ready for Kim to review.
"Okay" I said. "We can turn around tomorrow and still make it to the last half of our original trip if you want, or if you would rather, we can stop in Cabbage Key for blah, blah blah. " Peeking up from my handywork, I could see that Kim's eyes were glazing over. "Lets just get back" were her words of wisdom.
So we did. It took a another week to get Maya back to Fort Myers and tucked away in her slip but we had a good time on the way.
As we sat at the airport waiting to board our flight home, I turned to Kim and said, "You know, if this flight cancels, we can take the one thirty flight to Atlanta and connect to the four thirty back to Cincinnati. And if we don't get on the one thirty, we can......"
Judging by her response, I don't think she appreciated my due diligence.