Falling in Love Can Be Fun

We’ve fallen in love, friends. With a mountain town in New Mexico. As I write this, we’ve been in New Mexico for about a week and a half, and we’ve got less than a week before we start work in Colorado. We’ve had such an amazing trip so far. After where my last post left off, we spent a few nights in Texas, including our first night at an Army Corps of Engineers park. Ross and Jamie AdventureCampsite | Ross and Jamie AdventureIt was insanely gorgeous, with water views at our site, and I only wished the nature preserve across the street had been open while we were there. (They even had a little conference room I was able to work in the next morning before we left!)

The nice thing about having to plug in every other night (due to our house batteries being too weak to power the fridge) is we’ve gotten to check out all sorts of beautiful campgrounds along our route. We spent one night in Las Cruces, a city we really love in New Mexico, and we liked the campground so much it’s on our list to return for a month this winter. They’ve got fantastic internet and are actually within walking distance or just about to lots of great restaurants and ice cream.

After our night in Las Cruces, we made our way toward Silver City, New Mexico. We had two gigs in Silver City, both on Friday evenings, and when we saw how charming Silver City was (especially the downtown, where we played our shows), we knew we wanted to stay all week. After our gig at Diane’s Restaurant, I decided with the generous tips we’d received we could justify splurging and staying at Rose Valley RV Park, which is definitely the prettiest campground we’ve ever been to. (Especially for a private campground!) Rose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureSilver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureRose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureRose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureThe sites are spacious and feel very private and you’re surrounded by nature, and there’s a walking trail and the nicest bathrooms/showers you could ask for. Plus, the laundry was really affordable and the people couldn’t be nicer, and it’s extremely convenient for exploring the city. So this is another park we’d love to come back to in the winter. (Only complaint is the internet isn’t great, but they have a little hut where it’s pretty usable for email and easy web work like I need it for, and our cell phone signal was fantastic.)

We fell completely and totally in love with Silver City. Ultimately I think Ross and I might be a little bit torn between Silver City and Las Cruces, but with Silver City being at about 5600 feet above sea level, it seems to stay about ten degrees cooler, so that wins major bonus points with us. We love Las Cruces because it has a great downtown and an arts district and a huge local food movement, and between the college, the four local (free!) museums and the local music and theater scenes, there should be plenty to keep us busy…and it’s only four hours from Tucson, and a few hours north of El Paso.

Silver City was new to us this trip, and in addition to the gorgeous scenery that seems common throughout New Mexico, we found a charming, historic downtown with an amazing urban walking trail, a great local music scene that embraces original music, tons of galleries and cafes and fantastic food and drink that we can afford. It’s a college town and seems to check all of our boxes, with the possible exception of theater, but a community theater opened in 2014 and with the support of the local community, there’s a ton of opportunity there. It’s smaller than Las Cruces, but in many ways that means there are more opportunities for us to be a big fish in a small pond. It’s also an easy two hour drive to Las Cruces or an easy one hour drive to Deming, which is a bit of a bigger city, and it’s only 3 hours from Tucson or 2.5 from El Paso (and only 4 from Albuquerque), meaning more culture and airports are available to us easily.

Silver City is on the list. The “yes, we can move here” list. Honestly, Las Cruces is too…but I think Silver City has charmed us even more somehow. We’ve still got lots of exploring to do, but we would be happy to call Silver City home when we’re ready for a stable base.

I feel like I should tell you more about what we actually did in Silver City! Lots of work, of course, between our gigs and our other work on teaching, virtual assistant work etc. Both restaurants that we played at (Diane’s Restaurant and Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery) had outstanding food and drinks. Diane’s definitely has a local focus – we both had outstanding burgers with local green chiles on them – and Ross enjoyed a few local brews while I was a weirdo and drank port! Very tasty. We had to rush to get to Silver City for our gig at Diane’s, so it felt a little bit like eating on the go, but it was really delicious.Ross Malcolm Boyd, Diane’s Restaurant, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie Adventure

Little Toad was a much more laid back experience, thankfully! We checked into our hotel room (it was really cute) downtown at about 3:30 p.m., and after chatting with the local store starting Magic games in the community (Ross) and finding the most charming café for coffee and tea (owned by a former touring musician), we rested up and headed over to Little Toad. They had a basic system in place, so Ross set it up to sound fantastic with our gear and then…we indulged.

I was so excited to have another delicious, free meal, and I wanted to make the most of it. So we started with Cowboy Irish Nachos. Homemade, crispy potato chips as the base, with seasoned beef, cheese sauce (probably the only thing about it that didn’t taste gourmet, but it was still really good), tomatoes, and green chiles….it was insanely delicious. It truly hit the spot. Then Ross had a fun burger and I had a house-smoked salmon plate, with extra tomatoes and cucumbers in place of the rye toast. Delicious and refreshing, not too heavy – which is good because I’d just eaten a ton of nachos! Then Ross was full, but I continued onward, because there was a gluten-free cheesecake! It’s described as having a hint of lemon and a gingersnap crust, and it was absolutely perfect. Perfect. I can’t wait to have it again this fall!Rose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureRose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureRose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie Adventure

We were also treated to some amazing drinks. I had their own tequila as the base for a Paloma, with grapefruit juice and soda with a salted rim. It wasn’t sweet, just sour and salty delicious. I also had two amazing martinis. My favorite was the Lavender Lemon Drop Martini, with their house-infused lavender syrup, but I also enjoyed the Red Chile Chocolate Martini with their own Red Chili vodka, Mexican chocolate, cinnamon and Mole bitters. Ross tried their whiskey and also enjoyed an IPA and a porter of theirs, and he was really pleased with it all.

Our show was a big success there too. The next day, I ran around grabbing a gluten-free muffin, walking the urban trail downtown, exploring the area around the Visitor’s Center (and seeing Billy the Kid’s house for two years) and I toured the local historical museum downtown, which had an exhibit on Flamenco from Santa Fe. Ross took it easy, and then we headed to Cactus Jack’s, an entirely gluten-free restaurant and grocery store, so that I could get a delicious pizza. (I also found gluten-free gnocchi for a future treat. Yum!)

We never actually got to any of the other “tourist” stuff in the area, including all of the amazing natural wonders, because we had to work and we loved taking advantage of exactly where we were for the week. But that leaves plenty for us to do when we return. We did manage a visit to Vicki’s Eatery though. It’s currently the only place to get homemade ice cream in town, but that is changing in a few months! Vicki’s ice cream was outstanding…Vicki’s Eatery, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie Adventure

Now we’re spending a couple of nights in Deming before heading to our next performance in Alamogordo and then north to Colorado. It’s been an incredible trip, despite the challenges.

Oh – and our cat is expecting kittens any day now. I’m pulling for Thursday morning before 10 am. Fingers crossed!

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More Family Fun at Disney Springs

Family Fun at Disney Springs, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure

Author’s note: This blog got lost in the shuffle of leaving Florida. We’re currently in New Mexico and will have new blogs for you soon. Enjoy this one!

What’s more fun than a family visit at Disney Springs? We have had such a wonderful series of visits from friends and family these past few months!. Our latest visitor was my sister Abby, an amazing woman who actually fell for Disney long before I did. Her visit to Florida was for work, and while she didn’t get to visit any parks during her stay, she had some time to visit Disney Springs with us on the day she arrived.

Honestly, we hadn’t been to Disney Springs in quite a while – probably months – because when our annual passes for the parks were valid, the only days we’d consider visiting Disney Springs would have been weekends, and weekends there are often insanely crowded with locals. So it had been a while, and I knew it would be fun to not only meet up with my sister, but share a bit of what makes Disney Springs a special place for us.

Raglan Road, Disney Springs | Ross and Jamie Adventure
A street view of the outdoor seating at Raglan Road, Disney Springs

Probably the most exciting thing about the visit for us was getting to go to Raglan Road, a sit-down Irish pub. It has some beautiful, intimate-feeling rooms inside with dark wood and fancy plates, and it also has some great outdoor tables with umbrellas. We managed to snag a table completely shaded by the buildings around it, and it made our visit feel much, much cooler than the 86 or so degrees it actually was. It was lovely.

Gluten-free onion rings, Raglan Road, Disney Springs | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Gluten-free onion rings at Raglan Road, Disney Springs

Being gluten-free, I’ve heard some pretty fantastic reports of the food at Raglan Road, with the number one highlight being that they have a dedicated gluten-free fryer! That means you can order fish and chips and onion rings, all gluten-free! Abby was generous enough to share her fish and chips with us – the fries aren’t crispy, but they’re decent and nice if you love the taste of potato, and the fried fish was crispy – you’d never guess it was gluten-free! The onion rings were equally crispy and delicious, standing up perfectly to the outrageous horseradish mayo type sauce they served them with.

Both Ross and Abby seemed happy with their beers. I drank all of the water and ate all of the fried deliciousness, and it was good.

The Bakery Sink, Erin McKenna's Bakery, Orlando | Ross and Jamie Adventure
The Bakery Sink (4 donuts!) at Erin McKenna’s Bakery in Orlando

As Abby said of Disney Springs, “So it’s basically just a mall,”, and that’s certainly true. We showed her our favorite stores (including the one where I got my Snow White-inspired dress from Ross for my birthday last year) and pointed out the live music and the Lego sculptures. And we stopped at Eliza’s Bakery, which I was thrilled to see is now carrying chocolate coconut soft serve (in addition to vanilla) and making some amazing-sounding flavored shakes! All vegan/gluten-free/soy-free/dairy-free etc.

I wasn’t in the mood for coconut soft serve though. I was in the mood for baked goods, and Eliza’s always delivers. I got a thin mint cookie, which was delicious (hard interior covered in chocolate) but started melting as soon as I walked out of the store, and this outrageous container of extra donuts, called The Bakery Sink. Yes, they sell you a pile of four donuts when they have extras in the morning. I’m limiting myself to one at a time. So far I’ve had chocolate covered and a lemon poundcake type one.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our incredible performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the middle of the WonderGround Gallery. Trust us, it was store-stopping. (That’s clever talk for show-stopping.)

It was wonderful to catch up with Abby and hear about her adventures in Austin. It was also fun to see her reaction to fun merchandise and clever theming. Thanks so much for the visit, Abby!

Wherever you are this week, I hope you find something to smile about and enjoy like we are.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Last Days at the Disney Parks 

An International Soda Adventure

Top Five Activities for Adults and RVers at Disney World

Making Tracks And Losing Power

Traveling in an RV is the perfect anecdote to complacency and taking niceties like running water and electricity for granted. I’m writing this post on March 26th. We left Florida a few days ago, and we’re feeling some mixed emotions.

Our house batteries have been on the fritz, at least in part, for more than a year. We started having issues over a year ago when we first arrived in Florida. When we visited our mechanic, they said we could milk them for another year.

It turns out that might have been optimistic. Even if you don’t use the electricity for anything else, a little bit is required to run your fridge on propane, so when the batteries are dead, you lose your fridge.

Unfortunately we’ve been testing that. We get the fridge back for a bit when we drive, but it doesn’t let very long when we stop. So while we could purchase coolers, we’ve decided to deal with it, at least as long as we can. So we bought a Passport America membership and our goal is to plug in every other night to keep the fridge and our food happy.

We’ll be in New Mexico by the end of the week, and their state parks are supposed to be awesome and easy to walk into, so fingers crossed that by Friday or so, we will be plugged in. We will then commute to our gigs (in Silver City and Alamogordo) from there.

We’ve also been having issues filling our RV tires. We purchased sensors to make it easier, but they’re very finicky. But it turns out Walmart is really nice about helping us to check and fill tire pressure – so far for free. What a blessing!

We’ve enjoyed our travels so far. The weather has been beautiful and we’ve seen tons of lakes/rivers/the Gulf so it’s been lovely.

We also stayed at two wonderful campgrounds we’d be happy to return to or even workamp (especially the first): Pine Lake RV Park in western FL and Martin Lake Resort outside Biloxi, MS. Both have somewhat usable internet, gorgeous water features and places to walk, and the latter has a jacuzzi and gorgeous pool and a swim beach/place to fish and kayak (and lots of kids and teens). The former is quiet and secluded and has a workout gym and a piano in their rec room. Luxuries!

Photos of Pine Lake:RV in nature, Florida Ross and Jamie Adventure

Photos of Martin Lake:

Ross and Jamie Adventure at the beach

I was lucky enough to visit with my friend Eric who was performing in Pensacola Beach for a wedding. It was a great excuse for me to visit the area, which is very reminiscent of the Outer Banks. We found a nice Walmart to park at, even over spring break, so Ross stayed with the RV while I wandered. A few beach photos:

We’ve got a bit of work to do this morning before continuing on. Hopefully by the time you read this, we will be settled or almost there. Safe journey wherever you are!

A Quick Visit to Crystal River, Florida

A view from behind an ice cream shop on Crystal River, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure

We recently found ourselves in Crystal River, home of the manatees, and it’s a sweet town that makes for a great outing. We barely dipped our toes in here, but here are some ideas for your next trip!

Things we did:

#1 Visited the Downtown

Free museum at the Old City Hall in Crystal River, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Free museum at the Old City Hall in Crystal River, FL

It’s adorable, and there’s a free museum in the old City Hall to explore. You can even see where the old jail cell used to be in the back! I was especially excited to see the diverse residents who’d found success in Crystal River. It’s always nice to learn about successful people of color, particularly in areas with less diversity today.

#2 Visited the River

You can pay to park at one of the city parks or at the local state park, and they’re easy to find with the signage. There are many ways to visit manatees, and they generally involve a boat rental or tour. We actually stopped at a local ice cream place (priorities) and they had a gorgeous area to sit outside by the water. So we did that for a while, and then we grabbed a seat on a bench and watched the birdlife and sealife for a while. It was awesome.

Ice Cream by the River in Crystal River, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Ice Cream by the River in Crystal River, FL

#3 Visit a Local Cafe

There are tons of local shops to browse (it reminded us of Maine, if Maine had palm trees and the like) and many cafes were calling out to us. The one that we wandered into had great coffee, friendly people, and amazing-looking pastries.

#4 Visit the Local Mall?

Okay, so maybe this isn’t exciting…but we ended up at a local mall that included a chain called Rural King, a movie theater and some local businesses, including a great music store where we found a reasonably priced speaker for our arsenal.

Of course you should check out the local seafood while you’re here, and visiting the Gulf is a good idea. We look forward to visiting again in the future!

Enjoyed this post? If so, you might enjoy reading about our visit to one of these other great places:

A Visit to Winter Park, FL

The Cutest Place You’ve Never Heard Of

 Affordably Awesome in Delaware

An Artist’s Paradise in Bisbee, AZ

Packing Up Is Hard To Do

Super frog, Orlando, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure

Well, it’s almost arrived. Time to pack up and finish our to-do list before we hit the road.

We will be moving at a quick pace, taking a week or so to get to New Mexico, but we’re hoping to take it easy once we get there, exploring and playing a few gigs.

I’ve heard that the State Parks in New Mexico are beautiful and easy to get a space in, so we will be putting that rumor to the test too.

Florida has been great to us. From Disney to visits with friends and family and from our comfy campsite to our new cat, Squeak, life has been fun and full of adventures.

We’ll keep reporting in with new updates along the way. For the latest, you can follow us on social media, including our Facebook page.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend! Ours will be full of hard work and preparation. Happy Friday!

Disney World Freebies: Resort Touring

Wilderness Lodge, Orlando | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Entrance to the Polynesian Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Entrance to the Polynesian Resort, Walt Disney World

One of my favorite, free things to do at Walt Disney World (yes, you can go without a park ticket!) is visit some of the beautiful, immersive Disney World resorts. In the past, we’ve fallen in love with Animal Kingdom Lodge (in fact, we spent Christmas there with family), and we’ve decided our other top picks to stay at would be Yacht Club and the Polynesian Resort.

One of the reasons we keep going back to Animal Kingdom Lodge is that there’s just so much to do there. Walk into the lobby and it’s almost like a museum, with artifacts from many African countries and beautiful works of art. Walk out back and you’re on the African savannah, viewing wild animals during the day and at night too. At all of the resorts, you can take advantage of free movies and activities (we roasted marshmallows at the Animal Kingdom Lodge on Christmas), and many of the resorts have gorgeous places to read a book or have a meal.

This past week, I checked another resort off my list: Wilderness Lodge. I also returned to a favorite, Port Orleans: French Quarter. Both are beautiful places to pass some time – free! – without the busy, more stressed energy of the parks.

Lobby of Wilderness Lodge, Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Lobby of Wilderness Lodge, Disney World Resort

Wilderness Lodge is designed to feel like a grand lodge in the Northwest United States. The views inside have some parallels to the feel of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, with beautiful displays, intricate artwork and detailing and running water and a bridge in the lobby!

Waterfall at Wilderness Lodge, Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Waterfall at Wilderness Lodge, Walt Disney World

Outside you’ll find a waterfall, a geyser that erupts hourly and beautiful theming that makes for wonderful places to have a meal or read a book. I’ve shared some photos to help capture the atmosphere here. There is also a boat from here to the Magic Kingdom, which is a wonderful thing if you have park tickets, but a tease if you don’t!

Port Orleans: French Quarter is a wonderful moderate hotel (mid-range pricing and amenities, in Disney-speak) with fun and beautiful decor (it’s Mardi-gras coloring, and music is ever-present) and a food court that serves beignets – including gluten-free ones! You can follow a nice walking path or take a boat from the French Quarter to both Port Orleans: Riverside (a much larger resort in the same tier) or to Disney Springs, Disney’s outdoor mall area.

In search of my 10,000 steps for the day, I followed up my visit to Wilderness Lodge with a visit to the French Quarter, a walk to Riverside, a walk back and then some beignets to cap it off. You can probably tell from the photos that French Quarter’s theming is quite different from Riverside and vice versa. They’re both pretty charming, but I prefer the former.

It’s easy to spend a day or two of your Disney vacation exploring the resorts. Heck, if you wanted to, you could spend a week without a parks visit! I don’t necessarily recommend that, of course. But there’s great food and gorgeous views and more to be had at some of the fancier resorts, and provided they have space for their guests, you’re welcome to stop by for a visit.

If you’d like to learn more about our visits to Disney, these might interest you:

The Dole Whip Dilemma

Last Days at the Disney Parks

Holiday Touring at the Disney Resorts

A Visit to Winter Park, FL

Street scene in Winter Park, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Ryan, Emily, Ross and Jamie at Animal Kingdom Lodge | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Ryan, Emily, Ross and Jamie at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Ross and I have been extraordinarily blessed to have family and friends visiting us throughout the time we’ve been back in Florida.

For Christmas, his sister Emily and her husband Ryan joined us, and we made the most of Disney’s options outside of the park.

Then my friend Danny visited me while he was in town (on vacation from New Hampshire), and soon my sister will be visiting too!

Jamie and Danny at the Magic Kingdom | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Jamie and Danny at the Magic Kingdom
Jamie, Ria, Robbie and Ross | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Jamie, Ria, Robbie and Ross in Winter Park

But since I’ve gotten to visit Winter Park twice now (once with my dad and his wife Karen, and once with my brother Robbie, his girlfriend Ria and Ross), I wanted to write about it.

Winter Park, Florida is a lovely part of Orlando, with charming streets, parks, museums and a railroad running through it all. It’s very upscale, and extremely walkable (a rarity in central Florida!), with restaurants and shops reminding me a bit of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Further explorations farther from the downtown area further confirmed the Cambridge vibe, as we found quirky vintage shops, music, gaming and an amazing ice cream shop. So here are some of the highlights we’ve gotten to experience. We look forward to more on future visits. Special thanks to all of the family who are really the reason we got to this part of Orlando!

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

Tiffany Stained Glass at the Morse Museum | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Tiffany Stained Glass at the Morse Museum
Original architecture from the home of Tiffany | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Original architecture from the home of Tiffany
The restored Tiffany Chapel from the World's Fair | Ross and Jamie Adventure
The restored Tiffany Chapel from the World’s Fair

Of everything I’ve done in this area, the Morse Museum is probably the destination I’d most recommend a trip to see. I’ve always found Tiffany’s work to be beautiful, but it was only in the fall of 2016, when we visited a museum in upstage New York with a Tiffany exhibit, that I realized how insanely gorgeous Tiffany’s stain glass work is. I’m just completely enchanted with it. The museum is a great place to spend a few hours, with audio and booklets to enhance your tour, two videos and the opportunity to step inside a recreated chapel from the World’s Fair and Tiffany’s recreated home, in part. It’s gorgeous and perhaps best of all? It’s free on Friday evenings! Tip: No food and drink are allowed, so leave them out of site or outside; and if you must wear a backpack, you’ll be asked to wear it across your front. 

Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine

Bosphorous Chocolate Mousse | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine has a to-die-for chocolate mousse. And it’s gluten-free!

Well, if you’re not into good food, you can skip Bosphorous. But this restaurant is really wonderful – it must be good if Karen, a dedicated foodie, was happy to go back when I suggested it as a lunch location! They have a Winter Park location and two Orlando locations, and they have wonderful gluten-free options, but be sure to read the gluten-free menu before you go (or pull it up on your phone) because they don’t have a copy available in the restaurant. I went with lamb shanks and the dark chocolate mousse!

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream in Orlando, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
A few scoops from Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream in Orlando, Florida

When it’s got homemade in the title, it’s time to try some ice cream! Seriously, there’s lots of homemade ice cream out there, but this stuff is very, very good and sometimes exceptionally so. Homemade ice cream is impossibly difficult to find in Orlando. Make a trip for this one. My full review is here. Don’t miss the vintage shop next door!

Mead Botanical Garden

A walkway at Mead Botanical Garden in Orlando, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
A walkway at Mead Botanical Garden in Orlando, Florida

If you need a place for a picnic or to take a walk or what have you, it’s hard to beat a beautiful botanical garden. Orlando has a few options that seem promising, but this one is free, and it’s awesome. Consider some bug spray, wear some sunscreen and go have an adventure.

Cybertron Video Games

Not my thing, but this place is retro and pretty awesome. Ross was in heaven here!

And finally, another place we enjoyed:

Le Macaron French Pastries

This little chain carries tasty macarons and

Gelato at le macaron in Winter Park, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Gelato at le macaron in Winter Park, Florid

gelato from France. There’s also a macaron ice cream sandwich option, although the flavors are pre-made so you’ll have limited options. Great for gluten-free folks and gluten eaters alike. I wouldn’t go out of my way for this one necessarily, but if you’re craving gelato or a macaron, it’s a great spot. 

We’ve still got plenty of exploring to do in the greater Orlando area, and our time is running low, so we know we won’t be able to see it all. If you’ve got a recommendation for us or for others, please let us know!