Booking Hard or Hardly Booking?

Ross and I have been hard at work. I’m following a weekly schedule I’ve created for myself, and it keeps me busy. Mornings I blog or work on my book and work on building our business, and then most days I do arts admin and Human Resources contracting I’ve been hired for. Teaching in the afternoon or evenings is also a part of my day.

Ross, on the other hand, is hard at work pounding the pavement for short-term employment, remote work as a podcast/audio editor or composer and bookings.

Hence the blog title. Some days, it’s easy to get fed up that we don’t have more success with bookings. I’ve reached out to at least twenty local churches in the past week. Ross had reached out to a similar number of venues, and he’s applied for at least that many jobs. When your rate of return is low, it’s hard not to feel like you’re hardly booking anything. We’re still establishing a name for ourselves in Florida, and it’s not an easy market to break into without contacts.

But from what we’ve read, the key at this stage is numbers. The more we ask, the more we succeed. 1 out of 30 isn’t a great rate of return. But 10 out of 300 could get us enough work for the next 4-6 months, if we got the right types of gigs. And the more we ask, the more those people forward our emails…so things could grow exponentially if we play our cards right. How nice would 50 out of 300 be?

So the effort continues. And in between, we’ll talk to Groot at Disney World.

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Top Five Activities for Adults and RVers at Disney World

As some of you may know, my husband Ross and I are in love with Walt Disney World in Florida. We never thought we would be, honestly, but thanks to a week-long vacation courtesy of Ross’ sister in January 2016 (which I planned almost every detail of far in advance), we realized the magical, even relaxing place that Disney can be and knew we needed to come back. When it became clear that we’d actually be pulling off this crazy plan to RV across the country, we realized we would be becoming Florida residents (for health insurance)…and what would the fun of a Florida visit be without Disney annual passes?! 

We became residents this winter and were able to soak up Disney World off and on for two months while staying in a nearby RV park, the cheap but charming Mouse Mountain RV Resort. We’re now back in the area for four months or so before we head to our next workamping position in Colorado.  

We know Disney still maintains a reputation as a family destination. So here are our top five activities for adult RVers (or any adults) at Walt Disney World. 

5. Find Unique Gifts 

Although much of the shopping at the Disney parks is more uniform than it used to be, there are still some fabulous places to find unique gifts. The best (and most obvious) option is Epcot’s World Showcase, carrying a variety of gifts from around the world. Whether your loved one craves perfume from Paris, a marionette from China or a delicious candy or they haven’t seen since Canada, take a look at Epcot. Will you pay more here? Sure. But there are deals to be had, and there’s so much to see!

4. Explore the History at Disney World 

I’m a big history buff, as are many RVers, and there are some wonderful ways to learn about the history of Walt Disney and his creativity in the parks. Take a behind-the-scenes tour, like the ones in the Magic Kingdom on steam trains or on the history of the park itself. Ride the rides Disney created or played a role in, like Carousel of Progress, The Hall of Presidents or the Jungle Cruise. Lastly, be sure to visit Walt Disney Presents in Hollywood Studios for an exhibit full of historical artifacts from the parks and Disney’s childhood. 

3. Wander (and Eat At) Disney Springs 

Disney Springs is the latest version of Disney’s shopping and dining plaza. It’s centered around a beautiful lake and features everything from a movie theater to a Cirque de Soleil show (through the end of 2017 at least) to live entertainment, shopping and dining. 

It’s free to park and to visit, although some of the experiences cost extra, so it’s a wonderful way to get a taste of Disney without paying for a park day. Many shops offer free samples, and the atmosphere is festive, especially at night. 

Our absolute favorite place is Eliza’s Bakery. It’s gluten, soy, dairy, egg and nut (minus coconut) free, making it a paradise for those with food allergies or sensitivities, like me. Enjoy Mark Bittman’s favorite donuts, plus cupcake tops, brownies, cookies, bagels and more at this outstanding home of deliciousness. And share with me, please?

2. Eat and Drink Around the World 

Epcot’s World Showcase is one of the most popular adult attractions at Walt Disney World. And why wouldn’t it be? The area is gorgeous and transformative, with beautiful recreations of countries from France to Japan, with delicious restaurants and food stands and the option to drink while you shop and wander. It’s so popular, in fact, that local residents can purchase an annual pass that is ONLY good at Epcot after 4 p.m.! We love Epcot. Some days it feels like our favorite place, although that trades off with Animal Kingdom. The World Showcase can get busy, but strolling its shops and streets never gets old, and there are tons of delicious treats, meals and drinks to try. 

So this is our top recommendation to adults who feel there isn’t anything for them at Disney. Like to shop? Like to drink? Eat? You’re all set. Without any of the inconvenience of international travel. 

1. Visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom 

This park…seriously, our top recommendation is to spend time at Animal Kingdom. The atmosphere here is outstanding, especially in the immersive Africa and Pandora (Avatar) sections. 

There is a ton to see here, with animals from gorillas to exotic birds everywhere you turn, as well as free shows like Flights of Wonder and Kilimanjaro Safaris, giving you a glimpse of elephants, lions and much, much more. If animals aren’t as exciting to you as they are to us, don’t worry. The live entertainment in this park is outstanding, including two fully staged musicals (Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King), with a variety of musical acts showcasing music from around the world and our favorite evening performance, Rivers of Light. 

Animal Kingdom is also our favorite place to eat. You’ll find outstanding counter service options in Africa, serving the most interesting ethnic foods in the park, and we can’t wait to try Tiffins for a fancy meal. Be sure to try a Dole Whip with rum or a fancy mixed drink here too. 

You may notice I didn’t make many ride suggestions. This park really isn’t about the rides, although there are plenty to try, including a few great roller coasters. What makes this park special is that you can wander everywhere and never visit a ride, or even purchase anything, and still have an amazing experience. 

What’s your favorite part of Disney World? And if you haven’t been, what would be first on your list?

Back in the Swing of Things

Well, Ross and I just spent the night parked at the Harrisburg Mall in Pennsylvania, so I think it’s time for an update! We are back on the road again and are thankful to be traveling. 

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge all of the wonderful family and friends who hosted us, welcomed us and made time for us in New Hampshire. And what a fruitful time it was too! We performed our family show in Littleton, NH after a day of preschools and a senior center performance, and we performed at a bar in Fryeburg, ME called Top of the Ninth. We also led an incredible ukulele class for seniors and enjoyed some in-person lessons and a recital with some of our New Hampshire music students. And we shared our duo show in Concord and I performed with the amazing Jocelyn Duford in our Broadway show, Jocelyn’s ABC: Adult Broadway Cabaret. 

The time flew, as we knew it would, and after some repacking and repairing/checking on ourselves and our vehicles, we headed out again. We left Wednesday mid-afternoon and made it all the way to Glen Falls, NY. The next day we drove all the way to Harrisburg and enjoyed wandering the mall after we arrived. The hills and foliage in VT, NY and PA have all been beautiful. 

Our next leg of our journey will take us a few hours south. Beyond that, we need to determine how far east or west we will keep as we head toward Florida. We may connect with family on the way, and we may just keep trucking toward FL.

Last night it was below freezing here, but the RV is still at 55 degrees, so I am not complaining! PJs, two layers of socks and heat warmers and I was good to go. 🙂 Our house battery is still struggling to regain its charge when we drive, unfortunately, despite a “normal”ish report from our mechanic. So we may need to plug in tonight or tomorrow, which is fine.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day! 

 Affordably Awesome in Delaware

When Ross and I were planning our route north to New Hampshire from the Outer Banks, I noticed that we’d be driving through Delaware. Since neither of us had ever been there, we decided to stay out there for a weekend and see what there was to see. 

Most of our days in travel mode, we stay for free or almost free at Walmarts, truck stops, Cracker Barrels and rest stops. But when we will be exploring more fully, a campground frees us to leave our RV in a safe space while we adventure. 

By far, the best affordable option seemed to be a state park. We had a few to choose from, but Killens Pond State Park in Felton was ultimately our choice. For $27 per night, we had water, electric, a bathhouse (with lukewarm showers) and a shady site in a beautiful natural setting. There’s also a nature trail, which we didn’t have time to check out. 

We were in the area for about 48 hours – not a lot of time, but we really made the most of it. I began the adventures with a visit to the John Dickinson Plantation. (There’s even bus/RV parking!) This is a fabulous, free historic site, with a great video, exhibits (including one focused on the lives of slaves and servants and information on how they were eventually freed) and an incredible tour (a personal one, in my case) where you can tour almost the entire house and the surrounding plantation, including some outbuildings. I’m still in disbelief that this is free to visit. Thank you, taxpayers! I consider this a must-see if history and the lives of our founding fathers interest you. 

(If you’re in the area, consider a visit to the free Air Mobility Command Center down the road.)

While I visited the plantation, Ross set up our RV. When I returned, we ate dinner and then headed out for one of the most highly rated ice cream parlors in the state. Hopkins Farm Creamery was very tasty, although the overall experience left a bit to be desired. (Maybe it was the time of day…) But it was an affordable night out, and we then turned in to rest up for the rest of the weekend. 

On Saturday, we had our eyes on the Dogfish Head Brewery. Ross loves beer, and Dogfish Head was his first, enlightening experience with craft beer, so it meant a lot to him to visit. Their free tour, which takes about an hour, is free and seriously awesome. You get two free samples chosen by them, two you choose yourself, and there’s a separate liquor tasting available as well. Did I mention it was all free? Ross and I both enjoyed it all, and being gluten-free, I appreciated the hard cider and birch soda (“beach beer”) offerings available at the bar. The tour was really inspiring – such a wonderful success story about building a business and following your passion! Kiana was our amazing tour guide. 

If you’re curious, we sampled Seaquench Ale (a light offering), India Brown Dark IPA, Sick Cider, Beach Beer (birch soda), Pompous Hippograff, and Palo Santi Marron 2014. 

The brewery is in Milton, Delaware. There’s an adorable food truck out front and they have a restaurant elsewhere by the beach. Milton reminded us of Portsmouth, NH, very walkable with really cute architecture. 

We were prepared to leave town, but Ross indulged me and we stopped for ice cream on the way out of town. King’s Homemade Ice Cream is a no frills, cute parlor with excellent ice cream. Worth a stop here or in Lewes!

Our next stop would take us far afield, but Ross was particularly eager to find some city life in Delaware. We headed toward Wilmington, which was nearly two hours from Dogfish but we were up for an adventure. We had fun following our noses, eating some delicious gluten-free pizza, wandering a “farmer’s market” that felt like an underground flea market (technically in Pennsylvania!), and lamenting that the comics shop we came in search of had closed early. We then spent some time in 2nd & Charles, a wonderful music/gaming/books/what have you chain we had enjoyed previously elsewhere. 

On our way back, we passed Nemours, which sparked the idea of me exploring solo the next day while Ross played video games. So we packed up the camper, I headed out to see this amazing mansion and gardens that has become a museum, and Ross headed to a rest stop to play games. 

Nemours is truly an amazing place to visit. If you love ornate architecture and gardens, you will be in heaven. Pack a lunch and make a day of it if you’d like, but do plan to spend at least three hours, minimum, exploring it all. I was in heaven! 

When we found out we couldn’t stay overnight at the rest stop, we headed another hour north to a fabulous rest stop with great wifi for the night. It was a wonderful weekend that filled us both up with some awesomeness! 

Delaware is a great place to vacation. There are tons of breweries we didn’t get to nearby (into Maryland as well) and lots of other fabulous museums and beaches we will have to check out next time. 

And if you happen to head there from the south like we did, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is awesome! There is a gorgeous seasonal restaurant and gift shop, with an outdoor historical exhibit with amazing water views all around you. Make sure you stop as you cross the bridge, it’s such a neat experience. 

Have you been to Delaware? If so, what did we miss?

Concord, NH This Weekend!

Hello, New Hampshire friends! (Other friends, hello to you as well!)

We just wanted to send out a quick note to make sure you know we’re back in New Hampshire for a few weeks. We’re teaching and performing a lot while we’re here, but the most exciting weekend is THIS weekend, where we are in Concord for three days in a row!

On Friday, September 29, you can see Ross and I sing and play at the Hatbox Theatre in Concord. It promises to be a fun and silly event – and you’ll get a free double album with your ticket purchase. How awesome is that?

On Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1, I’m accompanying the phenomenal actress and singer Jocelyn Duford in Jocelyn’s ABC: Adult Broadway Cabaret. It’s recommended for ages 12 & up due to some adult language; and trust me, you’ll love it, whether you love musical theater, hate it, or don’t really care either way! It’s a show you won’t forget.

Jamie is also performing in downtown Concord as a part of the Piano Project from 9:30-11:30 AM. Stop by if you’re around, it should be very fun. At the Capitol Commons building.

Thanks for reading, and we hope to see some of you soon!

A Tiny Taste of Norfolk, VA

Usually when I write about a place, I’ve had a pretty thorough visit, whether it was a day or a week. Our plans had me spending a full day in Norfolk, VA when my flight came in. Unfortunately due to a “security breach”, all Southwest flights were canceled for a while, and I ended up flying out four hours later and arriving six hours later than originally planned. 

So I will share with you some of the things I had hoped to do (and certainly hope I can return for) as well as what we actually did. 

Norfolk is near Virginia Beach, which seems to mean you can do the tourist on a busy beach thing as well as get your taste of the biggest, most diverse city we have seen all summer. It’s a part of the larger Hampton Roads metropolitan area, so there are lots of water-based things to do nearby. It has lots of history and culture worth checking out while you’re in town, and much of it is for free or cheap. It has lots of beautiful river and bayfront property which makes for some excellent photo opportunities amidst the city and skyline. 

Norfolk is definitely the cultural hub of the area. Whether you’re looking for museums and historic homes or for concerts or theater, this is the place for it. Town Point Park downtown hosts lots of events. The Pagoda Garden looks like a free, pretty location for a visit, but if you’ve got time and a little money, you definitely won’t want to miss the Botanical Gardens. They include exhibits that can really take some time to explore, and they seem a steal at $8/person. It’s my first choice for when we return. 

History buffs won’t want to miss Fort Norfolk. It’s free to visit and will give you a chance to take a trip back in time to this important location in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. 

Wondering what we managed after my flight into Norfolk? Ultimately, all we had time for was a quick visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art, known for their glass exhibit. We’re so glad we came to this free museum. We saw phenomenal exhibits, including a visiting one that captivated us with its combination of glass, light, video and sound. We only had time for a short visit, but allow at least a few hours to exploring here. And did I mention it’s free? If you’ve got extra time, consider taking a class or observing the glass studio!

Norfolk looks like a great city and we are eager to return again in the future. And you’ve got lots to explore in the area too, including maritime museums and of course the beach. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Choosing Our Next Steps 

It’s mid-August already. Can you believe it? We are in shock at how quickly the summer has flown by. But everything they say about time flying is pretty true, in our experience.

And there isn’t much we can do about that. But we can be deliberate with the time we have. Some people work extraordinarily hard to save so they can retire early. Or just retire someday. And we respect that. But since we haven’t found lucrative gigs that excite us and make us want to wake up every morning, our approach is to make the most of our time by seeking adventures and pursuing our passions to the fullest. It’s so hard. And we still have to do the boring stuff, like laundry and battling ants. But we’re incredibly blessed to be doing what we are doing, and we are thankful for it every day. So the adventure continues.

We’ve reached that time in the season where we are being asked to decide if we are coming back next summer. And boy, are we on the fence! This place is seriously amazing. Our bosses and co-workers are awesome (even with a few good friends no longer here) and these jobs offer us creativity, flexibility and fun in a way that basically can’t be beat. 

But there are downsides to staying, of course. We’ve done the sight-seeing thing, so year 2 we won’t really have anything new to explore within an hour’s drive. Even more of our friends won’t be back, although we will meet new people of course. And while being on the beach is awesome, we still have lots of this country to see, and May – early September is a big time commitment. 

But there are some serious positives here, and we know that if we do decide to move on, we’d come back again in a heartbeat. It’s always nice to know there’s a place for us!

So what is next, you might be wondering? Well, we head back to NH for 4-6 weeks or so this fall. We will visit doctors, hopefully get our RV looked at by our favorite RV mechanics, visit family and do some performing and teaching. After that, it’s back to the Orlando area for the winter. We will return to the same RV park as this winter – it’s cheap and has nice people, even if the maintenance/cleanliness is not ideal – and hope to return to part-time work while we build our business. Oh, and Disney. We’re excited to see what Halloween and Christmas and the Food and Wine Festival look like at Disney World, and since our annual passes are good through mid-February, we will plan to stay until then. 

After that, we will see where the wind blows us! It could be the Outer Banks (in which case we would consider FL for another couple of months), or it could be New Mexico or Colorado, both high on our visit list. We’re currently reaching out to campgrounds and researching the cost of living in the places we’d like to land. And it seems likely that even if we return to the Outer Banks in 2018, we will be out west by the fall. 

Adulting is hard. Planning is hard. And we are so blessed to be making these choices. Thanks for reading and supporting what we do! And if you haven’t found us on Facebook yet, check it out! Ross and I are performing live every week or so now, so follow our page for the updates. 

Safe travels and have a wonderful day, wherever you are!

Accidents Happen

And sometimes they’re caused by construction companies.

For those of you who haven’t been seeing us in the national news, the islands in the Outer Banks that we are living and working on have been without power since Thursday thanks to an unfortunate construction mistake. Our campground has been running on generators ever since, and the KOA next door had to close due to sewage issues when the outage happened. Meanwhile an evacuation order was issued, but those currently on the island (even short-term visitors) can stay if they’re self-sufficient like most campers are.

So we’ve been making due with a generator and the best staff and management we could ask for. There’s still a beautiful beach, which we took advantage of until the ocean ate Ross’ glasses. But we will be back there and taking it easy while working to stay cool at a much emptier than usual campground. 

Today’s plan was to handwash our clothes, but the limited power that came back yesterday is enough to power our washers and dryers, so I am thanking the powers that be for modern technology!

I’m sure when all of this is behind us, I will have more insight and tips for dealing with situations like this. But for now we’re just taking it one day at a time. (Photo is of the almost empty beach at 8 a.m.)

Note to future folks – in an emergency here, T-Mobile is apparently Talk and text only. Luckily Ross has Verizon and the campground has internet!

Do you have any power outage tips? 

History and Mystery on the Outer Banks – Part 2 

There’s so much to do in the Outer Banks area. I discussed much of it in my last post. If you’re intrigued by the history of this isolated, beautiful area, you’ll definitely want to explore some of these areas. 

Manteo

Manteo is honestly one of the best places to dig deep if you enjoy history and/or mysteries. The island was the home of the Roanoke Colony, also known as the Lost Colony. Before the thirteen colonies existed, this would have been England’s first colony. Hundreds of men, women and children attempted to make a life here, with some assistance from the Native American population. What happened to the colonists here remains an unsolved mystery, although there are solid theories. So grab a book, watch the play of The Lost Colony, and most importantly visit the national park that houses a fabulous visitor’s center, Fort Raleigh Historic Site, the play and the can’t miss Elizabethan Gardens. Manteo also has a charming downtown with a beautiful waterfront to explore. It’s the closest you’ll get to a city feel in this area. And be sure to stop in the Bluegrass Theater shop for more free exhibits about the history of this area, including communities that have since been lost to history. 

Manteo can easily fill a day or two or three – there are lots of places offering reenactments and other cool stuff – but now I will move on to some of the other places you may want to visit in the area. 

Uncle Eddy’s Frozen Custard 

Everyone loves a good ice cream or custard, right? And this ice cream blogger is happy to report that Eddy’s hard ice cream is delicious. And their soft-serve? It’s legitimately the best soft-serve I have ever had. There isn’t a lot to do in the area (Buxton) but it should be a destination. Play a game or two while you’re there. Seriously. 

Scoops

If you’re heading in the opposite direction to Nags ahead or Kill Devil Hills, you’ll want to stop at Scoops for your hard ice cream needs. Delicious, creative and homemade with outstanding staff. They also make an epic birthday cake! 

Donuts-on-a-Stick

Apparently fresh, made to order donuts are a thing. Seriously. (I honestly didn’t know.) This area has a few options, but this one is the best. Need a gluten-free or vegan donut? Come here for an outstanding one. But call a day ahead to reserve it as the vegan and gluten-free are not made on site. Donut sundae, with their homemade chocolate chip or vanilla? Yes, please! 

Duck

While donuts should be on your list, don’t miss the rest of the town! There’s a phenomenal walkway along the sound that connects you to everything from an adorable chapel to shopping to free yoga and music during the summer. This would be our top destination if we returned for a vacation and wanted to be within walking distance to both the beach and all sorts of other fun stuff. Making a day trip? Get there early to park and plan to walk around. Traffic here is pretty crazy!

Captain George’s

They’re a chain, apparently, and much of the seafood isn’t local. But if an all-you-can-eat buffet appeals, or if you want lots of fresh, made to order gluten-free options, don’t miss this

Corolla 

Known for its beaches and its proximity to the wild horse population, this area is isolated and tiny – not even incorporated – but it has some charming history and wildlife. One day is plenty to see it all if you’re on a limited time table. 

Lighthouses

There are four beautiful lighthouses – plus a baby one – with lots of history to them on the Outer Banks. You can walk to the top of all but one of them too. We’ve enjoyed discovering the history of them here

Next on our list, we have three more destinations. The Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, the Life-Saving Station Museum, and probably a further exploration of the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge trail. Anything we’ve missed? Anything here on your bucket list? 

Thanks for stopping by, and have a wonderful day!