Too dead for a full report at this time, so I'll just sum up what I learned during this trip -
* always check your tires (including the spare) before you go anywhere
* know how to change a flat
* never put all your trust in the weather report
* save up more money than you think you'll need
* always carry a passport (or your birth certificate)
And having said all that....
It was worth all the insanity.