Packing up their WaveRunners and slathering on the sunscreen, Freeport father and son, Bob and Asher Bechtold, set their sights on the Florida Keys Tuesday morning.
It was Asher's high school graduation from Rocky Bayou Christian School that prompted the male-bonding trip.
"He's been working his butt off all summer," Bob said of his 18-year-old son. "He finally said to me, 'Dad, when can I have a summer vacation?' He had already missed our trip to the Rocky Mountains because he was working."
"This is payback," Asher interjected.
Seeing as Asher will be studying electrical engineering at University of West Florida in August, Bob decided now was the perfect time to have a one-on-one adventure with his son.
The only thing left to decide was where they were going.
"We sat down on Sunday with a two-by-four whiteboard and wrote down all of our ideas," Bob recalled.
Asher, who has already traveled to Haiti and Belize on mission trips, picked Australia and Rome as some of his choices. Bob suggested Alaska or whitewater rafting in Colorado.
"Then I said, 'Wait a minute, we have two, brand new jet skis,' " Bob said of their brainstorming session. "We have lots of toys, one thing you don't always have is time. This is our time"
And like that, they made plans for the Keys.
The itinerary is to go as far as the gas will take them, which is about 90 miles, where they will set up camp and continue their trek south.
"These things go 75 mph, but we're not that much in a rush," Bob said. "The gas situation will dictate our trip."
Voted Most Outgoing at Rocky Bayou as well as a five-sport athlete, Asher wasn't about to take a run-of-the-mill vacation. He's just lucky to have a parent that would rise to the occasion, he said.
"My dad's awesome," he said with a smile. "When I told all of my friends about the trip, they all said I was crazy, but then they asked 'Can I come?' "
Loaded up with almost every piece of camping equipment you can imagine and a GPS receiver, the duo plan to catch dinner and set up camp where they can during their two-week trip — although they do have a bag of beef jerky and ready-to-eat meals just in case. Surviving on the open road, or water rather, will only strengthen the father-son bond, Bob said.
"I wanted to see how we can further our relationship — we'll see a lot we haven't see before," he said with a laugh.
They won't be completely roughing it, however. Packed on Bob's WaveRunner is a duffel bag carrying a laptop, iPad, and iPhones. Asher even has a GoPro camera on his handlebar, ready to record.
"I hope these bags are waterproof," Bob joked.
While most 18-year-olds would rather party with friends, Asher said he's looking forward to spending quality time with his father. Bob even believes that the fancy watch he received for Father's Day, complete with barometer and compass, was a sign that Asher was looking for an adventure.
"This is the only time I've gotten to do anything with my dad alone," Asher said.
Back on the docks by Shipyard Road, Bob and Asher are anxious to start their journey to the Keys, but there's one last thing they have to do: say goodbye.
Mom and wife Pamela Bechtold said she'll be crossing a few things of her honey-do list with the boys away.
"The first thing I'm going to do is pray," she said. "Then I'm going to get some things done around the house. I've got a lot of surprises."
Asher and 15-year-old Ryia are the youngest of six kids in the Bechtold household, and the last ones left living at home.
"You only have them for so long, to think 'I wish' or 'Maybe I should have...' Why not just do it now," said Pamela. "You only live once."
Unlike most siblings, Ryia isn't bitter of Asher's special trip.
"I really look up to him, he's one of my role models," she said.
However, in two years, it'll be Ryia's turn to pack her bags in between high school graduation and her first semester in college. She's already planning on a trip to London.
"I'm a big One Direction fan," she said with a smile.
After a prayer with Asher’s youth pastor, Wayne Brown of Grace Lutheran Church in Destin, hugs, kisses, "I love yous" and a few tears — the men snap their safety vests tight and start their engines.
"Are you ready young man?" Bob asks Asher.
And with two quick blows on a bright orange whistle from Bob, the men head out.
Where are they now?
On their first day, Bob and Asher made it 130 miles before they set up camp in the sand. As of Thursday morning, the father and son duo are in Steinhatchee and headed to Crystal River where they plan to find a hotel and wait out an imminent storm.