After seven months and 10,000 miles of driving, we returned back to our #Vanlife beginnings in Florida. During the seven months, we drove through 24 states and slept in 21 of them. We completed eight house sits, with eight different cats and 14 different dogs. After completing our American #Vanlife road trip, I feel so much more connected to my home country and the people who live in it. Which made our final stop on the route particularly special, because we headed back to Mom’s house for the first time since her surgery.
Our first stop was to a friend’s house with Mom in Ocala, Florida. They have a beautiful home among the trees. I saw some new birds and more lizards than I could count. Our friend has three dogs who allowed us plenty of cuddle time while we weren’t house sitting. We spent most of our time in Ocala socializing with friends and family, swimming in the pool, and working. By the time we reached Ocala, I was full-force into my new job as an English teacher with VIPKID.
VIPKID is a Chinese company that hires native English speakers with any degree to teach English to Chinese students. I write my own schedule and am given a lesson plan, so it is all pretty easy. Most of my students are between four and twelve years old. I spend about two hours a day doing this and am making about $280 per week. I can’t complain… except when Mom would laugh at my funny faces during class and take my picture.
We were also lucky enough to visit one of the main attractions of Ocala, Silver Springs State Park, a nature preserve with beautifully clear natural springs. Silver Springs began as an amusement park that imported “wild” monkeys and acted as a popular filming destination for TV and movies. Now, recognized as a state park, it is home to manatees, alligators, and yes, monkeys. We spent the day exploring the miles of walking trails and took a ride on the glass bottom boat over the crystal clear waters of the park’s namesake springs.
Mom really enjoyed her time house sitting in Hilton Head, South Carolina with us, so we booked another sit less than an hour north from her house. We had a two bedroom apartment right off the beach. It rained nearly every day, so we didn’t get much exploring done, but we did enjoy our time playing with one of the cutest dogs we had ever met, Ollie. OMG, that guy stole all of our hearts from the second we walked in the door. I was really worried Mom was going to take him home with her.
After a couple of days with Ollie, we headed back to Mom’s house to officially wrap up our American #Vanlife adventure. We visited the beach, helped with a yard sale, won the local trivia night, and sold the van. Spending our last week of the road trip with Mom back in Florida was a really special ending to a very special adventure. But all good things must come to an end… to make room for even more great things!
That’s right! The traveling duo isn’t done yet. Stay tuned for our next big adventure!