Life! What an incredible gift this life is. Every day I am so thankful for all of the incredible blessings in my life, from our family and friends, to able bodies and minds, to passions and skills and privilege and the courage and freedom to pursue our dreams and use our gifts as we do.
This week, I’ve had tons of thoughts running through my head. I’m happy to be taking a lot of time to myself today and yesterday, because it’s really been a roller coaster. In addition to working at the recreation center, I was given the task of hiring new employees, and that has easily added at least five hours a week as long as significantly more responsibility into my schedule. On top of that, I’ve applied for a couple of jobs, written my weekly blogs, taught music lessons (Conducting is now in my repertoire) and provided social media work for my clients, and Ross has started editing another podcast in addition to his existing work for other clients and ourselves. We are busy! But I’m so thankful that we have so many income streams, and we’re steadily chipping away at saving money and paying off debt acquired in the leaner times.
We’ve been thinking a lot about the upcoming year, and we’ve got some great goals that we are working towards. Our major goal is achieving financial independence, so that we have enough work employed online that anything extra, like music gigs or workcamping or a local part-time job, wouldn’t be needed, and if we took it, it would just be gravy. We’re lining up wonderful opportunities in New Hampshire this fall. I’ll be directing a reading of a new musical. Ross will be recording a demo CD for the musical. We’ll be performing, of course. And we’ll be teaching a (free!) ukulele class for older adults in both Lebanon and Haverhill, NH.
We’ve got some additional goals for ourselves. We are planning to get enough work while we’re in NH to keep us afloat this winter, which would in turn give us more time to build up our businesses and even build a few sources of passive income through a few projects we’ve got up our sleeves. We’re hoping to book some work in the D.C. area as well as Raleigh in early December, which would finance both a mini-vacation in D.C. and a visit to see family before we head back out west.
We’ll be in the Southwest for the winter (seeking any and all gigs or shorter-term workcamping arrangements in New Mexico and Tucson, AZ), and in April we’ll be in Austin, TX. By June, we’ll be in northern New Mexico, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM.
We’ve got big hopes and dreams, and we’re still figuring out how to finance it all. We pursue great opportunities and trust the universe to lead us. And thank you to all of our friends, family and followers who reach out to us with opportunities and suggestions. Your help is greatly appreciated.
I’ve spent yesterday and today decompressing, and I took a fantastic six mile walk yesterday across Fort Collins, including some of the gorgeous Poudre Trail. We also performed at an open jam at Scrumpy’s (our favorite cider bar), enjoyed watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor? at the Lyric Theatre (with delicious gluten-free eats) and finally visited one of the Fort Collins libraries (best wifi we’ve found in Colorado so far). Sometimes you need to really take a break, and I’m so thankful I forced myself to disconnect yesterday.
We’ve been truly enjoying our time in Colorado. We keep falling deeper and deeper in love, to be honest. But it’s not all fun and games out here. We’re both working full-time jobs and also continuing our variety of remote work to make a solid income.
We’re continuing to actively book work for the fall and winter too. We’ll be in New Hampshire in October and November, and in the Southwest (mostly southern New Mexico and hopefully Tucson) beginning in December. We’re also looking for work in Austin and en route from there to Austin in March, April or May. Let us know if you have any leads or ideas for venues!
A couple of weeks back, we were really blessed to have Ross’ dad visit us from New Hampshire. He flew in early Tuesday, with plans to fly out Saturday evening.
Despite the fact that it was his birthday and he’d flown out to see us, he basically treated us the entire week, so we had to get sneaky if we wanted to pay for anything.
We had an incredible week. Tuesday evening he visited us at the campground and then we headed downtown for an outstanding Brazilian meal that was almost entirely gluten-free. Apparently it’s a chain, but the experience was truly special, with outstanding salads at an epic buffet, an assortment of appetizers (with additional on offer) and then an endless array of meats brought to the table. Finally we saw the dessert tray, and much of it was gluten-free. We highly recommend this experience, even for the less adventurous among us! Outstanding. Also, Happy Birthday, Stephen!
Wednesday wasn’t a teaching day, so we headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming just to say we did. The Visitor’s Center was absolutely outstanding, with amazing exhibits, and then we headed to Dad’s Cafe, an incredible allergen-free cafe where the entire place is gluten-free! We enjoyed our soups, sandwiches and cookies before spending the afternoon visiting local museums. The first was free, and the latter (we treated Stephen) was perfect if you enjoy railroad memorabilia or miniatures.
After our day in Cheyenne, we headed into downtown Fort Collins for some tasty Mexican food (and a great gluten-free menu). We capped it off with dessert at Walrus ice cream because we were too drunk to drive yet! It was okay, but the gluten-free cone was delicious and Stephen loved his sundae.
On Thursday, Jamie spent the morning writing a blog post while Stephen adventured on his own. Then we hit the Museum of Discovery which does an incredible job of creating an interdisciplinary, hands-on museum experience unique to Fort Collins and the area. After the museum, we took a distillery tour, enjoyed a few drinks and went back for more Mexican food.
Friday, Stephen spent the day hanging out while we worked. We had a campfire that night with a singalong, and he helped tend it and took a few train rides with Ross.
Saturday we did more work at the campground while Stephen surprised us and spent the day again. He managed to stay pretty cool despite the heat and we definitely enjoyed the company before he headed to the airport.
We had an amazing week, honestly feeling like it was a vacation for us. Thank you for your visit! It was so great to see you.
We will share further details on some of the highlights in future blogs. Thanks for reading and have an awesome week on your own adventures!
As predicted, we still haven’t gotten our act together on RV repairs, but we’re certainly enjoying our time here. We do get a bit of an employee discount on cabins here, so if any of our readers want to visit us in Fort Collins, let us know and we can get you a discount at the campground. 🙂
One of the best things about Fort Collins is how incredibly bike-friendly it is. There are so many miles of walking/bike/equestrian trails, and if we had bikes, we’d have an easy 3 mile drive to downtown from here. Throughout the city, bike signage is super-clear and bikes are everywhere. They also have a bus system, which is a nice option I imagine, but if we lived here we’d definitely bike 80% of the time – at least until winter!
So this past week, I did some further exploring of the closest bike trail to us. I didn’t walk all the way to Old Town, the historic downtown area, but I walked about three miles of farms, forests, river and housing. It’s a beautiful and very popular trail. It’s also where we buried Bear, the second kitten we lost.
We also visited Dungeons and Drafts. It’s an adorable geek bar where the decorations, menu and activities cater to geeks and weirdos like us. We went to their comedy open mic, which was great. They take musicians if time allows, so we were hoping, but it didn’t. We’re hoping since we stayed until the end and all the comics loved Ross’ laughter, they’ll let us sing some geeky songs when we return.
The bar is fabulous. It’s reminiscent of a medieval castle, with a giant tower of games to borrow and play. (We tried Ticket to Ride, which we loved!) We each had a couple of drinks (which we never do, but it was pretty affordable for a treat) and shared a giant plate of amazing BBQ pulled pork nachos.
We’re looking forward to heading back there. Otherwise, the big excitement might be that Jamie went to Second Friday in Loveland, which was fun but nowhere near as cool as Longmont or Fort Collins, and she ended the night with two chocolate chip cookies with vanilla frosting in between them. Gluten-free goodies from Mary’s Mountain Cookies are legit!
And finally, if you’re looking for a kitten update, we just started eating canned kitten food, but mom is still feeding them too. Stay tuned for cat box adventures….
That’s it from Fort Collins. Have a great week, and thanks for reading!
We’ve been having fun and fixing problems during our travels in New Mexico and to Fort Collins, Colorado, plus kittens!, so here’s what we’ve been up to. Apologies for the length of this one, it covers a lot!
Sunday, April 8 we departed Silver City for Deming, and with very high winds in the forecast and a desire to see Deming anyway, we kept things simple and limited our drive to an only an hour. Deming, New Mexico is a town of about 15,000 people, making it a bit larger than Silver City, and for us, the best part of Deming is its location. It’s an easy one hour drive from there to Silver City or Las Cruces, and it’s an easy drive to El Paso or Tucson too. It also has several state parks within driving distance, and there are several wineries, including the largest in the state of New Mexico.
We found an extremely affordable RV park for two nights. We knew we’d be seeing the arrival of kittens soon, so we wanted to be prepared with hookups just in case. This park is actually pretty awesome – although the wifi wasn’t usable at our campsite, it was in their lounge/conference space area, which also has a TV, tables and a chairs and a full kitchen and half bath. There’s also a hot tub – it’s great, although I managed to almost pass out after using it! – and there are roomy bathrooms and super affordable washers and dryers. The owners live on site and the care they take here at what could be a very simple, boring park is really lovely.
The first bit of excitement was that when we arrived, Ross realized he’d left the surge protector in Silver City! So he hopped back in the car while I hung out with the cats and enjoyed the crazy wind. We discussed adventuring out that night, but we were both very tired, so we took it easy…which turned out to be a good thing because at 1 a.m., the blood on my pillow told me the kittens were coming! Ross hopped out of bed and made Squeak comfortable and the babies started coming.
We had three in the first few hours. Ross took a break to sleep (I had laid down after a couple of hours) and I took over assisting Squeak at 6:30 or so…I couldn’t figure out what she wanted, but eventually it was clear a fourth was coming. She’d already moved the first three to a new location (her favorite box) instead of the corner she’d initially found. After a few more hours, there would be a fifth kitten, a runt, although the sweet thing didn’t make it longer than three days. (Squeak’s instinct was to move the runt to the catbox….Ross caught her and stopped her. But maybe mom instinctually knew this one just wasn’t going to be able to make it.)
We then spent the day trying to get some sleep and (in Jamie’s case) still get some work done. By mid-afternoon, we decided we were up for exploring a bit, and the cat situation was under control…plus Squeak had been reluctant to just hang out with her kittens, so we wanted to give her some alone time with them.
I’d done a lot of research on Deming because the monthly rates here are extraordinarily affordable. It will be a good place to come back if we need to save some money and perhaps still do some work in our favorite places this winter. So we visited a great music store/pawn shop (it really was nice), made friends and learned a lot at the Visitor’s Center, attempted to get ice cream (it was closed), saw a bit of the downtown area (it’s seen much better days, unfortunately) and visited Peppers Supermarket, which was honestly probably our favorite part of Deming! We scored some amazing clearance deals and loved the fantastic selection of Mexican products and alcohol here – I found a pineapple hard cider I can’t wait to try.
The quirkiest thing I found in my research is that the library keeps interesting hours….it’s closed Saturday through Monday, but the plus side is it’s open almost twelve hours the other four days.
After our supermarket visit, our plan was to celebrate the birth of kittens at the winery. But we were both very hungry. Rather than distract Squeak with our return, we went to Sonic for a quick bite (there were very limited options for fast food) and then proceeded to St. Clair Winery and Tasting Room.
This place is really beautiful, and we’ll be reaching out to inquire about playing there on Friday evenings. They host yoga and sip and paint and tours (we want to save up for one, it’s a day-long adventure) and they offer 6, 1 ounce tastings for $6. But we were in luck. At the Visitor’s Center, they gave us passes for free tastings! So we could get 6 free 1 ounce pours….and then when you go to the winery, everyone is given two free pours, plus a third that is their featured wine of the day. So we got 9 free pours at our visit! Each!
The wine here is really fabulous. We tried a ton, were offered additional free stuff, chocolate to go with the sweet wines…it was amazing. Realizing how much we were drinking, I suggested to Ross that we buy some cheese (they have some food for purchase, but only the mousse was gluten-free), so we got an outstanding strawberry champagne hard cheese from the Finger Lakes region of New York that paired perfectly with our drinking. We also picked up a bottle of red chile wine that we look forward to enjoying.
The next day we traveled to Alamogordo, and besides an excursion to Walmart when I realized we had a tire losing air, it was a pretty beautiful and uneventful trip. (We’ve been having Walmart Auto Centers fill our tires, and they’ve been amazing!) We did visit a silly travel stop on the way too.
Alamogordo was nice, overall. There were things we loved and things we didn’t, but we’d be happy to visit here for a week or even a month to play tourist or escape to this beautiful RV park in Tularosa, where we ended up saying goodbye to our little kitten. The campground views and nature walk cannot be beat, and with amazing restrooms, decently priced laundry and useable wifi, it’s a really great park.
I did more sightseeing than Ross in Alamogordo. I visited White Sands National Monument (it’s as amazing as I’d hoped), found the local supermarket options (the Albertson’s Market might be the most beautiful supermarket I’ve seen), visited the library, got so-so ice cream at a highly rated local cafe in the historic downtown (most of the town’s charm is in this area, it seems) and visited Nature’s Pantry, which I will be returning to for breakfast (New Mexico gluten-free bagel, please!) and for its insane selection of gluten-free treats. Albertson’s also has a better gluten-free bakery section than I’ve ever seen at a supermarket….pretty great.
After my morning to mid-afternoon wandering session, I headed home to relax for a bit before our gig. Although the wind made us nervous, we had a successful performance at Heart of the Desert Winery & Pistachios (I tasted a couple of wines and a pistachio chocolate, and they were very nice) and we wrapped up the night with a visit to Caliche’s for a hot dog (Ross), nachos (both of us) and a hot fudge sundae with strawberries (me).
The forecast for the next day of driving called for insane winds, more than 35 miles per hour plus gusts. We knew we had to get to Fort Collins soon, but we wanted to be safe. We decided we’d try it and see how we did. We actually did very well, and we found a nice rest stop in the middle of nowhere to teach. Given how windy it was, and how we were truly in the middle of nowhere (Cline’s Corners was the stop), I said to Ross, let’s stop driving and quit while we’re ahead. We also had a great signal here.
Well, that was probably a good call. First we realized there was a hole in our battery compartment (it had rusted to pieces, basically) so we had to figure out how to fix that for the drive. And later we realized we also need a couple of tires filled. So driving really wasn’t an option…and we were in the middle of nowhere…and the winds were predicted to keep getting worse into Friday!
Ultimately, we stayed put for almost twenty four hours. We mostly made due with truck stop food (Subway and gas station fare, but they had great fudge!) and I went to a fabulous, casual restaurant called the Encino Fire House which apparently won an award for best new restaurant in New Mexico last year. I had some delicious gluten-free pulled pork corn tacos and a side salad, and the owners were extremely nice and easygoing. The next day, we picked up bungees and a fake license plate and used them to put our RV back into place…and we called Good Sam for help with the tires. Thankfully, once that was all taken care of, the wind calmed down a bit, and mid-afternoon we drove through the incredible pines on our way to Las Vegas, New Mexico.
(Note to self: don’t drive Route 3 in an RV. Jamie had a pleasant drive, but Ross did not!)
Las Vegas seems like a really nice place. It’s a college town, and we stayed at a very convenient RV park, Vegas RV Park, about which my only complaint was that if there was free wifi (instead of paid), we couldn’t figure out how to access it. We had 2-3 bars of T-Mobile and great Verizon though, so that was good. We were within walking distance of many businesses, including the local gaming store, Playerz, for Ross (he enjoyed it) and it was extremely easy to get to everything in town, including a cute downtown where we had dinner at Dick’s Pub & Restaurant. (The service and food were fabulous!) It doesn’t seem like a big arts town, but it’s only a little more than an hour to Santa Fe from Las Vegas, so it might be an affordable base to check out Santa Fe in the future.
From Las Vegas, we had about a five and a half hour journey ahead by car, so in our RV, with a few stops for gas, lunch and resting, we headed out at 10:30 a.m. and arrived in Fort Collins at our campground a few minutes before 8 p.m. Along the way, we visited an awesome travel center with a retro feel, a Subway, another restaurant, ice cream and antique cars and other fun stuff.
Ross wasn’t feeling Subway, so we sat down at the diner-style restaurant for what turned out to be a very tasty meal. (I had very limited gluten-free options, but my Hot Rod green chile burger and fruit were tasty, and Ross’ breakfast skillet with green chile was pretty fabulous.) We passed through some cute Colorado towns, saw the Rockies and arrived safely. What else could we ask for?
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. It 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!) The 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.
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!
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…
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!
Hi friends! We need a few good people with an interest in good entertainment to help us out.
Will you be a beta tester for our podcast?
Ross and I have created a new podcast that centers around the idea of creating a musical theater season within certain constraints that change each week. We think it’s fun and funny, and we’d love to get some feedback on our pilot episode before we release it to the world!
If you’ve got a half hour or so to listen, and another five minutes or so to share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment here or send us a message with your email and we’ll get you on the list as a beta tester! This isn’t just for fans of musical theater, although that doesn’t hurt. We look forward to hearing from you!