An International Soda Adventure

We’ve been visiting Disney World for about a month, and prior to this we’d spent a few months visiting this past winter. So we feel like we know it pretty well and don’t experience a lot of surprises, beyond things like the festivals in Epcot.

So when we visited Club Cool and were treated to a delicious slushy, we were shocked and excited to hear that if we visited Coca-Cola at Disney Springs, there was a rooftop bar where Ross could get a mixed drink called Beverly’s Revenge, with the base of his favorite soda, Beverly! We had read the Beverly is only made for Club Cool at this point so we didn’t realize that was an option ANYWHERE.

Armed with this knowledge, I did some further research and learned that there are some amazing samplers available at this rooftop bar. Samplers are literally one of my favorite things. I’ve enjoyed wine flights, ice cream flights and appetizer platters. I love samples and wandering places like Epcot for miniature tastes of deliciousness. So I got really excited about this.

Note: If you really don’t care about reviews of international sodas, I won’t be offended if you stop reading now!

 

 

Unlike our attempt to go during Thanksgiving weekend (the lots were full), Disney Springs was downright pleasant this past Wednesday. The garages had tons of parking, and while there are always crowds, they were very manageable, both in shops and outside of them.

img_8365-1We had two major goals: to visit the Christmas Tree Trail and the Coca-Cola lounge on the top floor of the store. We also shopped a few of our favorite stores, but the focus of our trip was elsewhere.

img_8371-1The Christmas Tree Trail features a variety of themed Christmas trees. I especially enjoyed the ones that had wrappings that were unexpected, like the octopus legs on the Villains tree. This area got a little crowded, but it was a blast to see what they’d come up with, and it was a fun and free holiday activity. Santa is also here for visits.

img_8378-1After we walked the trail, we headed to Coca-Cola, resisting the pull of a burger or Eliza’s Bakery. The store itself is more fun than I realized. I managed to find an adorable shirt on clearance – it’s lavender so a purple pastel color with a rainbow on it, so it’s basically perfect for me. I paid less than $10 with our discount.

They also carry some awesome glasses and glassware, including some smaller Tervis styles we had fun debating. And you can meet the Polar Bear here.

img_8381-1

img_8382-1The walkway to the rooftop bar is awesome. It’s handicapped accessible and has fun facts about Coke throughout. So fun! The rooftop bar is beautifully done. White tables and countertops, plus see-through ones you can stand at on the outside edges for the full view.

Ross’ goal was to get Beverly’s Revenge. If you haven’t sampled the Beverly at Club Cool in Epcot, be sure to. It’s super bitter and a bizarre soda that some hate but Ross loves, and he knew it would be the perfect base for a mixed drink.img_8405-1

 

 

Ross of course ordered his dream, Beverly’s Revenge, for $13. It includes Hendrick Gin, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur and Beverly, Ross’ favorite (very bitter) soda.

Ross’ Beverly’s Revenge was pretty perfect! Mixed drinks are pricey at Disney, but Ross found this on to be very reasonable overall. It was everything he wanted in a mixed drink! Fun and the bitterness of the Beverly so it already had a very complex flavor…and then the orange, though sweet, is citrus-y so it’s not a sweet drink. Tastes like it means business. Doesn’t try to take away what the Beverly is, just compliments it and puts the bitterness into context. Done excellently and he can’t wait to have another one.

If you’re interested in a sampling adventure, you’ve got three highly-recommended options.

Float Tray – $10.50: This includes 8 different sodas with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Coke, Sprite, Fanta Grape, Cherry Coke, Pibb’s Extra, Barq’s Root Beer, Barq’s Red Cream, Fanta Orange

International Tray – $9: This includes 16 different sodas from around the world, including Inca Kola and Beverly, available at Club Cool in Epcot.

 

Combo Tray – $16: This is both the float tray and the international tray. 24 delightful beverages for you to consume. It takes 3 trays.

img_8401-1Of course, being the crazy sampler that I am, and someone who loves a bargain, I had to get the Combo Tray, which would retail for $19.50 individually but which costs $16 together. And given that we’re Annual Passholders, we saved 20% on the combo tray on top of that!

I started by sipping each international soda for a quick overview. Then I focused my attention on the floats. I drank most of them, but Ross helped me out with a few of them. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with a float. They were all delicious. I was especially excited about the Sprite float – unexpected and refreshing – and the Grape float, a taste of my youth combined with vanilla ice cream. And I’d never had Barq’s Red Cream, so I enjoyed that one a lot. But honestly, they were all delicious.

For the international sodas, I thought you might want the full run down. They do give you a cute booklet with the info on all of the sodas. So here you go!

 

Tray 1: 

1 – Stoney Tangawizi from Tanzania – This is an amazing ginger beer. My favorite!

2 Fanta Exotic Fruit Punch from Uganda – This is tasty fruit punch; it’s not really fizzy.

3 Bon Bon Anglais from Madagascar – This is sweet, almost like bubble gum

4 Frestea Green Honey Tea from Indonesia – Wow, this was refreshing, Light and palate cleansing, definitely a tea. Lovely.

5 Minute Maid Joy Apple Lychee from Korea – This is sweet and light. Apple flavored plus the lychee awesomeness. It’s really great.

6 Fanta Apple Kiwi from Thailand – This is super fun, you can taste both fruits. Kiwi a bit artificial like a Jolly Rancher but very fun.

7 Smart Watermelon from China – This was one of my faves. I’m a sucker for watermelon.

8 Thums Up from India – A cola, with a little something else. I’m not big on normal colas so not my favorite. Ross liked it a lot.

Tray 2

1 Beverly from Italy – This is so bitter…but that does make it great for mixed drinks!

2 Aquarius Libre from Spain – This is like a nice lemon-lime soda.

3 FUSE Berries Tea from Georgia – A delicious, somewhat sweet tea. Definite berry.

4 Sunfill Black Currant from Mauritius – This is awesome! Fizzy and currants is a delicious combination. It has a slight bitter and sour richness to it.

5 Lift Manzana from Chile – A very light apple flavor with fizz; reminds me of sparkling cider.

6 Bjare Lingonberry from Sweden- This is a favorite. Sweet and sour lingonberries is fabulous!

7 Inca Kola from Peru – I adore this bubble gum stuff I discovered at Club Cool. So sweet.

8 Delaware Punch from Honduras- This tastes like fruit punch made with Dimetapp (artificial grape) as the base! Pretty bizarre.

So in conclusion, this is an awesome way to spend your day. My stomach still hasn’t recovered from the carbonation two days later, but it was so much fun! And this would be amazing to share with an entire family or a larger group. For the two of us, it was probably a little too ambitious. But we had to try it once!

Do you have a favorite soda? Is it listed here?

 

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Thank You

As I lie here unable to fall back to sleep this Thanksgiving morning, I’m thankful. Thankful for friends and family who support us and are patient with us as we travel, follow our bliss and work to piece it all together. Thankful for the incredible opportunities and privileges we have that allow us to travel freely and relatively safely, and the resources and experience (and faith) to figure things out as we go along.

I’m thankful for all of the experiences we’ve had thus far, for the gigs and work and people we’ve seen. For those who’ve cleared their schedules and offered us a meal or a hug. Who’ve taken lessons from us and told people about our work.

We’re almost a year and a half since I ditched my full-time job. More than a year into fulltime RVing. And we’ve been together for almost eight years, 3.5 of them married. We’re so grateful to still be in love, happy and inspiring each other.

We’re thankful to be relatively healthy, both mentally and physically, and to have a fridge full of delicious food and the means to buy more too. We’re thankful to have work opportunities this winter, a great job lined up for April and the chance to fill the in between times with whatever work we choose.

We are incredibly blessed to have a wonderful home and a car to get around town and wherever we need to go. To have resources to fall back on when we need them. And to always have the ear of family and friends.

We love you and we thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

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.

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!