Pros: no chafing, no body sunburn, no goggle fogging, filling, or pressure problems, pretty sea life, stayed well hydrated, FINISHED! (Also: just got an e-mail from Nika, and I quote, "You're my role model. I can't even imagine running that far, let alone swimming it!" LOL.)
Cons: shoulder issues, shallow hot water, seasickness, bad facial sunburn (goggle and cap marks - I look like a clown!), slow time (due to six miles of breaststroke).
Overall impression: a good, worthwhile experience for me, even if the actual swim wasn't 100% fun the whole time.
Decision about Boston: I definitely want to do it. It'll be simpler in many ways - cool, deep water, good current assist, and only 2/3 the distance of Key West - and it sounds truly enjoyable. The problem is the finances. The swim fee is $100, but I can deal with that because it seems to be a pretty 'high-class' race; it's apparently the oldest open-water swim in America, so it gets a lot of attention. That fee includes a pre-swim dinner, a press release, the standard T-shirt, etc. etc. etc. However, it does NOT include an escort. Christine volunteered to do KW for free (I just took her to dinner as a thank-you), which is why that worked out so well. But I don't want to pay $250 for a boat escort in Boston. Christine says she has a sister in New York who might kayak for me, but the question now is, will the swim even allow kayakers instead of boaters? I'm working on it.
Money, money, money!
I know we're constantly told that money does not grow on trees... but it would be so much simpler if it did! I'm starting to go nuts here.
I have to pay for:
a semester abroad (~E3100, or ~$3750, which should be almost, but not quite, covered by UF)
a plane ticket (~$950 round trip)
a Eurail pass (~$250) plus hostels, food, etc. (~$350)
the fee for the Boston Light ($100) plus the boat escort fee (~$250)
a trip to England in October (~$100 plane ticket, $200 miscellaneous)
... plus I was sort of hoping to save at least a LITTLE money this summer! Geez. I'm scouring the internet for low plane fares, but the lowest I can find is $469 one-way from Jax to Boston to Amsterdam. (Oddly enough, it actually works out better if I include Boston - a straight-up Jax-NL trip is almost a thousand dollars, as is Orlando.) There's also a $660 Boston-Amsterdam round trip (plus ~$200 for the Jax-Boston leg), which I might do, but I need to wait until my next payday. (By which point it all will have changed again... sigh.) And I'm not asking my parents for help; they ended up paying a lot of stuff for me last time when the exchange rate skyrocketed right after I got over there, and I promised this wouldn't be a repeat performance. Money's tight around here right now anyway, in anticipation of football season. I wish the UCU packet would hurry up and get here; it's supposed to have an invoice in it, so I can figure out some hard numbers, along with some other goodies.
Eurail, I rail, we all rail against Eurail!
The original plan was to do France, Italy, and Greece, but I'm starting to look at other options, too, like chopping off Greece and going only to France and Italy, and then not staying as long. I wish I could spend more nights on trains - saves money - but that just doesn't really work out. The only line long enough for that is Paris-Rome (plus the ferries between Greece and Italy and, if I push it, the Athens-Thessaloniki train) - so that means I'll be paying $30 or so every night for a hostel, and that'll add up quickly. I guess I need to re-evaluate all this. Bah.
Something new for a change.
Grad school. The online applications will be up in mid-August, so I need to get cracking, seeing as I'll already be gone by then. I wanted to take the GRE again (oh, great, another $115 gone) just to make sure I've done my best - I was around the 89th percentile, but I don't think Harvard and Yale will like that - I think they want at least a 95. Then I have to do a personal statement plus get 3 people to write letters. Seven schools: Harvard, Yale, U Pitt, Georgetown, Brown, UNC Chapel Hill, and UF... am I forgetting anyone?
Anyway, this was just a glimpse into all the twisting, turning thoughts that have been racing through my head all day.
Now to take a break.