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?

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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!

History and Mystery on the Outer Banks – Part 1 

Ross and I always make a point to explore the local history and culture during our travels, and our stay on the Outer Banks is no exception. So we make sure to investigate the local points of interest with an eye toward contextualizing the places we visit and the things that we learn. 

We are staying in the Waves/Rodanthe area, which is a great central location for exploring all that the Outer Banks has to offer. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve learned of the perseverance of people here. When you live on a small island on the ocean, nothing is really permanent or certain. Locals lived without electricity into the ’50s and beyond here. Their tenacity and love of the land and water here are remarkable, and even more powerful than what we experienced living in the mountains of northern New Hampshire. When you decide to visit, you’ll have lots to do. Today I will outline some of the best places to visit – but I will continue my update in an upcoming blog. 

Gallery Exploration 

There are many galleries on the island showcasing local artists and crafters. Some of this work is relatively simple – beach shell crafts, woodwork and other work that caters to tourists is most of what you’ll find. But if you search for it, you’ll find that there are some astounding, unexpected pieces to be found by local artists. Our favorite gallery so far is Pea Island Art Gallery in Kinnakeet. Whether you’re searching for fine paintings, jewelry, abstract pieces or unique cards or prints, this is a must-stop that more than holds its own against galleries in big cities and towns in artistic communities. I found a wonderful coloring book by a local artist here. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t point out the gallery of Michael Halminski. His photography is stunning, but the stories behind them are what really made it special. There are galleries up and down the island here, so just drive in either direction and you can expect to find one or two in every larger town. And if you visit Manteo (which you should), we loved this gallery by John Silver (and his stories) too. 

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum 

This museum houses some of the most professional, polished exhibits we’ve seen locally, and on a given visit you might learn about shipwrecked boats, local naval history, the history of scuba diving or the history of the local lighthouse. This is the most comprehensive source of much local history, and since it’s FREE, it’s well worth your time to visit. 

Frisco Native American Museum

Although this museum didn’t have the local focus we were hoping for, it’s a very nice overview albeit in a dated environment that will benefit from continued improvements. But the staff is extraordinarily knowledgeable and happy to answer questions, and the nature trails/outdoor exhibits are a MUST – just don’t forget long pants and bug spray! 

Ocracoke Island 

It’s not every day you visit an island. Particularly an island that requires a ferry to visit it. Ocracoke is one of those islands, and if you’re traveling from the island north of it, the ferry to visit is free! Timing the ferry is tricky – it was suggested to us that we should take the earliest ferry possible (we made the 7 am ferry), allow a little over an hour across, and not be in a rush to return. On the way over it was full of commuters, and on the way back it was tourists, so take your time and enjoy the ride. Also be careful – tourists and children can be really dumb, so be prepared to babysit your car to keep it safe from people opening doors or running around. 

Once you brave the ferry, you’ll have a full range of activities to fill your day with. The National Park Service cares for the wild horses – they used to be truly wild on this part of the island, but for their own protection they have barriers from people now. We also recommend a visit to the Preservation Society and Museum and the site of Fort Ocracoke. The museum is excellent, especially the video on the Ocracoke language and dialect. The Working Watermen’s Exhibit is another free glimpse into the local history and culture, as is the cemetery, and there are some really fun shops, particularly the amazing Books to Be Read, a true standout anywhere for their selection and variety. 

Of course, many people rave about the beaches, some saying they’re the best or nearly the best in the world – so be sure to pause for a beach visit while you’re here too. 

Be sure to bring your bug spray. Even in the sun, this island was significantly buggier than we expected. But Okracoke is a fascinating glimpse into what’s almost another time and place, and it’s a beautiful day trip. Stick around into the evening and you’ll have some fun dining and entertainment options too on many nights of the week. 

Pirates and Captain Kidd 

This area is full of bits of pirate lore and history. There’s a small exhibit on Ocracoke that seemed too expensive for us – $10 – but we definitely recommend seeking out a book or doing some advanced learning on this subject if it interests you. On such small islands, the sea is truly a force here, and these stories are a complement to that world. 

We still have LOTS to cover about the Outer Banks. We will tackle that in part 2 in the coming weeks! 

Summer on the Outer Banks

Ross and I are spending the summer on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. If you’re not already aware, this popular vacation destination is an extremely unique geographical phenomenon. It’s a series of very long islands, with the sound on one side and the beach on the other. From above, it looks like one very long and tiny landing strip.


We’ve been here since May 1, which has given us lots of time to explore these beautiful and still generally remote (if not entirely isolated) islands during our stay. 

We will continue to share our favorite must-dos for the area, but for today, I thought we could share our top 5 positives and negatives for our visit so far. 

Two Months In: The Best About Living On The Outer Banks

1. The beach is always a couple of minutes’ walk away. 

2. The sound (and its glorious sunsets) are always a couple of minutes’ walk away. 

3. There’s almost always a nice breeze. 

4. The pace of life is relaxed here as people do their best to enjoy themselves. 

5. Not relevant to all, but we have the best co-workers and management we could imagine. Also, wild horses! 

Two Months In: The Worst About Living On The Outer Banks 

1. Sand in everything, including your shoes and your bed. 

2. Worrying about hurricanes and other bad weather. 

3. Ditto the crazy wind sometimes, messing up activities and keeping you awake. 

4. Some of the people we interact with take for granted how lucky they are to be here and ask the impossible (fix the weather, etc.). 

5. There isn’t really a great downtown for when you want to get your city fix – Manteo is fun but small, and that’s about it!

Overall we highly recommend a visit to the Outer Banks. I’m sure we’ll have more thoughts to share soon. Thanks for following our crazy adventure! 

Quick Stop in Charleston, SC

I’ve always heard great things about Charleston, SC, and we’re hoping to spend a few days there this fall. But earlier this spring, as we made our way toward North Carolina, I realized we’d be practically passing through Charleston. So we planned it as a fun mid-way stop in our travels. 

Charleston Visitor’s Center, like Savannah, GA, offers overnight parking for RVs. Believe it or not, it’s in a parking garage! It normally costs $1/hr or $16/24 hours, but if you manage to arrive during a special event like we did, you may end up paying $5/vehicle. If you tow a car, I’d highly suggest unhooking before parking in the garage. 

It was a beautiful (lots of water) but tiring drive into the city, after a quick walk of downtown, Ross decided to take it easy while I explored further. I know Charleston has lots of music venues, and it looks like there are a few theatres as well. Day drinking was also definitely a thing here on a weekend! 

After grabbing lots of brochures and reading a bit about the history of the area at the Visitor’s Center, I decided to get ice cream. I’d passed a very hipster-looking place whose reviews said they don’t even post prices and the ice cream is good but way over-priced. So I did a quick Google instead and saw I was only a few minutes from Jeni’s! I have read amazing things about Jeni’s ice cream and innovative custard-type technique, and I was really excited to try it. Each location makes their own ice cream and the staff here is extraordinarily helpful, friendly and patient. 

I left with some fabulous ice cream – be sure to stop in! And there are lots of other nearby ice cream places to check out if you’re interested. 

Charleston is an extraordinarily walkable, charming city. I can’t wait to return!