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Update: July 27, 2004

Florida is less than 2 weeks away!

  • The house has a boombox. She did not specify whether it has a CD player or not, but she also cautioned that she doesn't know if it working or not. So, we will definitely need to bring someone's speakers with us.
  • The house has a TV in the living area and one in each of 2 of the bedrooms. VCR in living room. No DVD, we will need to bring a PS2 or XBox w/ DVD capabilities with us.
  • I figured out the key-pickup arrangements (not posted here for privacy/security) and I have her cell phone number.
  • The house has a washer that is not coin-operated. She didn't answer about a dryer, but I can only assume that the house has a dryer if it has a washer.
  • The house has a dishwasher
  • The kitchen does have pots and pans, etc.

Start getting finances together! We're leaving soon! :)


Update: July 20, 2004

Hey guys, Florida is less than 3 weeks away!

I'm going to be sending the owner of the house an e-mail soon (like, Monday, probably), and I want to get a list of questions going that I need to ask her.

Right now, these questions are on the list (please IM, call, or e-mail me with any others you can think of!):

  • Stereo - is there one? CD player?
  • TV - is there one? (I'm almost positive there is, just want to make sure)
  • Where do we need to meet her to pick up the keys?
  • Washer & Dryer? (almost positive there is, just want to make sure)
  • Is the kitchen fully stocked (by that I mean, plates, pots, pans, etc)?

Remember to check out the dates/prices in the below post if you haven't already!

Update: July 13, 2004

Just wanted to quickly mention the driving arrangements:

3-5 people driving with us (total): We'll be taking Frank's truck only

6-10 people driving with us (total): We'll be taking Frank's truck & Gabe's car, splitting drivers as evenly as possible between the two cars

These driving arrangements should prove to minimize gas prices per person, while maximizing the number of drivers per vehicle.

Quick Summary of Upcoming Dates/Costs

  • $208 = Housing Payment & Deposit for Trip, Due NOW
  • $117 = Gas Money Payment, Due before August 7 if you are driving with us ($15 late fee if not turned in on time)
  • $90+ ($200 recommended minimum) = Spending Money, Bring with you on August 8 to Frank's house. You will not turn this in to Frank - you will just keep it on you.
  • Frank (and Gabe, if we are taking his car too) need(s) to get an engine oil change on August 7 or 8.
  • Everyone driving with us to Florida should be crashing at Frank's house on the night of August 8. We will be packing the truck (& possibly Gabe's car) that night.
  • We will be leaving for Sarasota by noon AT THE LATEST on August 9. Anyone who did not stay over on August 8 needs to show up at Frank's house before 10 AM on August 9.
  • It will be about a 21-23 hour drive (stops included) to Sarasota, so we should be arriving in the morning on August 10.

Any questions? Call me


Update: July 6, 2004

Gabe's deposit & final housing payment is in.

For those of you who are considering flying to Sarasota, the current price for roundtrip tickets is:

  • $194 from O'Hare
  • $192 from Midway

Keep in mind that those prices are from Expedia. You might be able to find a cheaper price if you look elsewhere, but I didn't want to get that in-depth.

If you fly, your dates of travel are August 10 - August 16. If you are driving with me, our dates are August 9 - August 17. If you are flying and do not fly on the 10th/16th, you will have to stay in a hotel because we only have the house RSVPed on the 10th-16th.

If you get a rental car, you are looking at spending AT LEAST $160 for the rental fee alone. This is for a crappy economy car, keep in mind (probably a Kia or something).

I'm not totally trying to discourage flying, but I do want people to be aware that it is going to be much more expensive to fly.

For comparison, if you are flying (with current airline prices), expect to spend at least $275 per person for the plane & rental car (that is if 2 people split the rental). If you drive/caravan with us, it is only $117 per person.

More to come! If you haven't already read it, read my June 29 post below!

Q: I haven't turned in my deposit/additional housing payment ($208) yet. When is it due? How late can I turn that in?

A: The $208 is past due. If you are signing up late for the trip, I'll accept money until August 7th, 2 days before we leave. If you are driving with us, you will ALSO need to turn in $117 for the gas money payment by August 7th. Otherwise, if you are flying, be prepared to spend around $275 for tickets + car rental. You will also need to bring $90+ for food plus money for other expenditures (for reference, I am bringing at least $200 in cash plus my ATM & credit cards).


Q: I turned in my deposit & additional housing payment ($208 total). What other money do I need (I am driving)?

A: $117 Gas Money Payment (due before August 7th); bring $90 for food + money for other expenses (for reference, I am bringing at least $200 in cash plus my ATM & credit cards).


Q: I turned in my deposit & additional housing payment ($208 total). What other money do I need (I am flying)?

A: According to current ticket prices, you will need $275 per person for the flight + rental car. I am not making flight/rental arrangements for anyone - you'll have to do that yourself! I'm only telling you the price for reference. You will also need to bring $90 for food + money for other expenses with you (for reference, I am bringing at least $200 in cash plus my ATM & credit cards).


Q: Joe Blow & I want to drive down to Sarasota and meet you guys there, but we want to take my car with just the two of us. Do I still have to turn in gas money? What are the policies about that?

A: If you have a vehicle that you can drive with us down to Sarasota, great! However, to "officially" be a part of our caravan, you must be driving at least 3 people (including yourself) in your vehicle. For instance, say there are 6 people going on the trip. The logical way to transport them would be to split the six people between 2 vehicles. In this case, there would be no reason to take a 3rd vehicle, so the person who was insisting on taking the 3rd vehicle would be on their own, moneywise. In other words, if Joe Blow & his friend want to drive separately from the group, they don't have to turn in any gas money, but they don't get any gas money to cover their expenses either.
The way the gas money payment works is:

  • ($117 X # of people driving in the caravan) divided by # of vehicles officially in caravan = Amount of money each vehicle gets

It is to your advantage (financially) to be a part of the caravan. To participate, plan on taking 3-4 people in your vehicle (including yourself)

Even if you are driving/supplying a vehicle, you must still turn in a gas money payment before August 7.


Update: June 29, 2004

Hey guys, it's been awhile - so I figured I'd give you an update on the trip.

First, the bad news: Jackie & Katja have cancelled. Since I haven't heard from him at all for a couple months, I'm also assuming that Chris is backing out as well, even though he said he was going. They've all cancelled before the deadline, so they will be receiving a full refund on their deposits.

Well, that sucks for me, especially since I paid the 2nd half of the housing payment (for a grand total of $1250).

Since the money I've paid (all $1250 of it) is not refundable, rest assured the trip is still on! I don't care if I have to go by myself, the Castuluccis are still going to Florida. I'm definitely not going to piss $1250 down the tubes.

OK, here's the way I've decided to work it: I don't want anyone else to cancel or back out because the trip has gotten too expensive. Therefore, I will be running the trip under the posted worst-case pricing scenario. In other words, I am pricing the trip as if 6 people are going (even if only 3-5 end up going). So, I may end up eating as much as $625, but it's still better than eating $1250 and not going at all.

So, in summary, that means that housing deposits (including the additional housing payments) are $208. That $208 covers your end of the house. Where did I get $208? Well, $1250 divided by 6 is about $208.

What other money needs to be turned in? I am collecting $117 for gas money from each person. It MUST be turned in before August 7th. Any person not handing in the gas money before August 7, 11:59 PM will be charged a $15 being-late-and-a-pain-in-my-ass penalty. So yeah, $117 before August 7. Don't forget that August 7 is two days before we leave for Florida. Where did I get $117? Check out the Cost Breakdown page

What other money do I need to bring with me, but not turn in? You should bring at least $90 for food. Consider $90 a bare-minimum (keep in mind that what you bring has to feed you for nine days!). You will also need to bring money for alcohol or other expenditures. How much you decide to bring is entirely up to you. For reference, I will be bringing about $200 plus my ATM card & credit card (just in case I need more).

Quick Summary of The Costs

  • $208 = Housing Payment & Deposit for Trip, Due NOW
  • $117 = Gas Money Payment, Due before August 7
  • $90+ = Spending Money, Bring with you on August 9

If you have any questions, call me.

Oh, one more thing. I am working on bringing a digital video camera with us, to maybe make some kind of film documentary (for fun) on our trip.

Wait, one more thing: I get first dibs on a bed, unless at least 6 people go on the trip (since I'm going to be putting up so much money) :)


Update: May 3, 2004

As an incentive for people to get their Florida deposits in early (i.e. at least a few days before the May 20 deadline), I am offering a $15 EARLY SIGN-UP BONUS to anyone who signs up and turns in a deposit between now and 11:59 PM (central time) on May 16th, 2004.

That's right, turn in your deposit on or before May 16th, and I'll put $15 out of my pocket toward your deposit. That makes your deposit only $105 (instead of $120).

Deposits must be turned into myself or Gabe. If you are paying via Paypal, you will be forced to give $120 + the paypal service charge. But, if you pay your deposit via Paypal, I will give you $15 via cash or check as soon as I see you.

Thanks guys, let's get signed up! Please spread the word to people who do not have the Internet (or don't check this website on a regular basis).

Thanks guys. More info coming soon....


Update: April 2, 2004

Sorry it's been so long since the last update! I've been kind of busy!

We have a lot of people down as "definitely going", but we still haven't received most people's deposits! If you are definitely going to Florida, please get your deposit in ASAP. If I don't have at least three more deposits in by the middle of May, I might have to cancel the trip because I can't float the entire housing payment by myself. Remember: your deposit is 100% refundable! So, if you're interested in going, but you're not sure if you are able to go, there's no reason not to turn in your deposit! It'll guarantee you a spot for the trip, and if worse comes to worst, you can get a full refund on your deposit.

Deposits are $120 and can be turned in to Frank or Gabe. We'll accept cash, check (made out to Frank Lesniak), or credit card (credit card via Paypal). Also, please make sure to fill out our signup form, regardless of your method of payment.

Update: Feb 24, 2004

Florida 2004 site is pretty much done. All I have to add is "Sarasota Area Info" and the rest of the policies.

3 people are signed up w/ deposits. 7 spots left! Get yours in! :)

Frank Lesniak
Branch Manager

Update: Feb 21, 2004

Website work is underway. Sorry all the pages aren't up yet! Signup section will be on very soon.

The housing situation has been squared away. Check out the rest of the site for details on the new place.

2 people are signed up w/ deposits. 8 spots left!

Update: Feb 17, 2004:

I know many of you are waiting to see the information from Florida, and I am eager to post it, but I am still having communication problems with Seaside Villas.

Gabe Caliendo (Senior Travel Rep) and I have discussed this problem, and we have decided that either:

  • The person we are contacting doesn't know much about the Internet, and certainly has no idea how to use e-mail
  • OR Seaside Villas simply does not want our business.

So, we have been in search of a reasonable alternative, and luckily one has popped up.

This one has 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, a pool and Jacuzzi, and an outdoor shower! I have just contacted the owner and hope to hear back from her within the next 24 hours. I will keep you guys informed as much as I can in the meantime.

This place is priced about the same as the original place. There will only be an increase of $5 per person if we switch lodging to this place, so we don't feel that it is even an issue.

If you have any questions, e-mail or call me!

Thanks again for your patience,
Frank Lesniak
Branch Manager

Update: Feb 12, 2004:

I have finally gotten in touch with Seaside Villas (the new lodging company). Apparently, they have been out of town or something... (yeah, I don't get it either). Anyway, they have finally received my e-mails and should be replying within the next 24 hours, so I hope to be accepting deposits by the end of this weekend.

I know many of you are eager to sign up, so I thank you for your patience!

Also, just as a side note: 2 people have already registered (personally with me) and turned in their deposits. That means that the trip is already filling up! We have room for 8 more people. So, be sure to register and get your deposit in as soon as you can (after I get all the information up on the web!)

-Frank Castulucci
Branch Manager

Dear Florida Enthusiast,

I am currently in the process of finalizing all the information regarding our lodging. As some of you may have heard, we have been thinking of switching "houses". I have found different lodging that seems to be much nicer than the one previously offered (not that the original one wasn't nice!).

But, before I present any information to you, the enthusiast, I must verify everything with the lodging company. They have been rather slow in returning e-mails for whatever reason, so that is why I am unable to post all the information about our trip. In the mean time, I want to offer you a link to their website so you can check the place out for yourself.

I hope to receive all the information from the lodging company soon. As soon as I receive it, you can expect to see all of it here, as well as signup information and signup forms.

I would further like to ask that no one contact the lodging company. I am their contact for our group, and I will be handling any transactions that take place with them.

Some people have asked if there is a price difference between the "new" place and the "old" place. The answer is: yes there is. But, if in fact we do switch to the new location, the price for lodging will only increase approximately $20 per person (estimated at 10 people). So, we do not see the price increase as a major issue.

Link to the "New" lodging destination. If we do switch to this lodging company, we will be renting out the 3-bedroom upscale property, so that would in fact include the Jacuzzi!

Frank Lesniak
Branch Manager