Last Days at the Disney Parks

Well, it’s arrived. The day we dreaded one whole year ago.

What is this dreaded day, you may logically be asking?

Well of course – it’s the day that our Disney World annual passes expire.

Alberta Bound performs in Canada at Epcot, Walt Disney World
Our final chance to watch Alberta Bound, our favorite performers at Epcot (and maybe Disney World).

Some of you may be thinking, finally! We’ll get a break from this Disney stuff! And if that’s you, yes, you’ve got lots of non-Disney posts to look forward to. Others may be saying – wait!? Why would you let them lapse! Go renew them, and enjoy them while you’re still in Florida!

Well, we could certainly do that. And if money weren’t so tight for us, we probably would! After all, our current plans have us in the area for another month, so we’d get more use out of them for sure. But the passes, even for Florida residents, still aren’t that cheap. We pay more than $500 for annual passes. Compared to a day rate to visit Disney World, that’s pretty great (It would only buy you 5 individual tickets, at best) but for people without a lot of disposable income, $500 can go along way toward other fun adventures. (One of them will be the Kennedy Space Center!)

Epcot Festival of the Arts, Walt Disney World
A gorgeous day for our final Epcot visit for 2018.

Plus, you may have noticed that while we’ve been in Florida, we haven’t done much that isn’t Disney. Sure, we’ve performed a few concerts, attended a few open mics, shopped for sneakers and for a video game…but have we seen a concert? Visited a state park? Checked out a museum? Negative on all fronts, so far, although we plan to do at least two out of three in the next month.

Jamie's brother Robbie, his girlfriend Ria, and Ross and Jamie
Jamie’s brother Robbie and his girlfriend Ria made sure to visit us while they were on vacation in Florida. Thanks for the company and for the museum visit, and for the gelato – it was delicious!

We’ve also got lots of social time scheduled with visiting family and friends, and when you’ve only got one or two days free for adventuring, that can be a challenge. Without the impetus to go to Disney and use our passes, we can visit the beach or grab lunch with friends and not feel like we’re missing out on something.

So will we miss Disney World. Yes! Definitely. But we are estimating that we’ve visited the parks at least fifty days this past year. How amazing is that!? Disney World will be there in the future. And in the meantime, we’ll be enjoying everything else life has to offer.

Like friends.

And family.

And planning for the future.

If you want to learn more about RVing at Disney World, I wrote about that here.

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day!

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A full year on the road: So long, 2017!

What a year it’s been! We hit the road in October, and we’re so overjoyed that we’ve been able to make this crazy adventure work for another year. How amazing is it that we were full-time travels for all of 2017? And we’re cautiously optimistic that 2018 will be the year we see our income increase and our lives become more sustainable. (Believe me, we have some serious plans to make that happen.)
2017 was the year we:
Celebrated the New Year at the most amazing Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum aka the only way I’ve found to get the equivalent of my Disney fix outside of Disney. (It’s that great!)
Visited Austin and participated in the Women’s March.
Visited New Orleans and the one and only Eric Bolivar after WAY too many years of saying we’d get down there.
Stayed at a Walmart with views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Experienced wonderful museums & historical sites.
Visited Savannah and Charleston (we’ll be back) and got tastes of many other cities, including Brunswick, ME, for the first time.
Spent many months visiting Disney World, experiencing Flower & Garden Festival, Festival of the Arts, Festival of the Holidays and Food & Wine Festival. We also had a truly special Christmas dinner and some amazing treats and fun at Disney Springs. Plus Jellyrolls and Sanaa with Ross’ sister Emily and her husband Ryan.
Ate a ton of homemade ice cream, custard, gelato and frozen yogurt!
Spent an outstanding summer visiting all there is to see on the Outer Banks and making the best friends we’ve met on the road so far. Way too many moments to name, but a few include our first blue crabs, beaches, all the historical sites, lighthouses, a seafood buffet for our third anniversary plus wine, whiskey, a first martini and more with our friends.
We made friends with multiple cats.
We purchased a car, an adorable Chevy Sonic that we’ve nicknamed “Hedgie”.
Explored Delaware for a weekend, including John Dickinson’s plantation and Dogfish Head Brewery.
Played music in assisted living facilities, senior centers, preschools, bars, churches, theaters and open mics, including one with outstanding homemade ice cream.
We got a few enjoyable tastes of upstate New York, including Rochester, Albany and Binghamton.
Jamie played keyboard in a genuine praise band at a contemporary Methodist church service.
We led a ukulele workshop for seniors that was literally a dream come true – we were paid to teach music for free!
We visited with family and friends and despite the distance, had Christmas with a few family members too.
Jamie finally updated this blog to make it easier to search and follow our travels!
We held our first music recital in Bethlehem, NH!
We’ve continued to build our businesses, from teaching online music lessons to working as a virtual assistant (Jamie) and as a podcast editor (Ross). We even auditioned at Disney (Jamie, two times) and entered a competition to handle social media for Cancun.com (both of us). We’re thinking big and bold as we head into 2018.
Ross got a Nintendo Switch after patiently waiting until we had the money for it! Jamie got a Groot (from Guardians of the Galaxy) that she enjoys dancing with.
In addition, Jamie flew back to NH to lead the band for the musical The Drowsy Chaperone in Littleton and Ross held down the fort in Florida for almost a month without her. Jamie also had a birthday party while on the Outer Banks that included homemade ice cream cake and some of her favorite people – thank you Ross for the nudge to make that happen!
We are so lucky that we’ve been able to do this, and we’re so thankful to all of you who’ve supported us, whether in promoting our work, purchasing an EP, taking lessons or sharing gifts that have helped make all of this happen. What’s amazing about this lifestyle is that these things have almost exclusively happened as a part of our normal week. We rarely take “time off” for more than a day or two each week, and yet we’ve been able to have an incredibly fulfilling year with tons of adventures and even some relaxation (thank you, Outer Banks beach access!). We realize every day how incredibly fortunate we are.
As we look ahead to 2018, we’re setting goals, designing schedules and finding ways to make even more success in the upcoming year. We hope you’ll follow along and join us now and again.
With love,
Ross & Jamie

Holiday Touring at the Disney Resorts

Surprising as it would be to Ross and Jamie of 2014, Ross and Jamie of 2017 are addicted to Walt Disney World. So faced with a few weeks where our annual passes are blacked out, I wanted to check an item off my bucket list: visiting the Disney resorts during the holiday season.

All of the resorts (aka hotels) decorate for the holidays, but while some of them keep it very simple, others are known for going all out, from Christmas trees and wreaths to gingerbread houses and trains.

I knew that realistically, I wouldn’t get to see them all. (Could I? Sure. But it would get old and I don’t want to spend all of my free time driving to busy parking lots.) So I narrowed my list down to a Top Ten, with the goal of seeing at least two resorts and more, depending on how much energy Ross and I had this past Wednesday.

The day got off to a slow start. We both slept in. I was ready to go by 11:15, but Ross needed another half hour or so, and ultimately after some stress and discussion and debate we decided yes, we’re doing this, and we’re in the car by about noon, with a cooler for lunch, lots of water and a sunny day to explore.

If you decide to do this, I recommend a car (even if it’s a rental) because Disney doesn’t have direct buses from resort to resort. I also recommend bringing lots of water because most resorts don’t seem to have very good water fountains.

My number one choice was Port Orleans – French Quarter. I fell in love with the beautiful, Mardi Gras-inspired color scheme and decor here. The resort itself is really well themed and Christmas made it even more special. I had heard it was a pretty walk by the water to Riverside (during the daytime, a boat is also available, and the boat goes to Disney Springs all day too) so we walked there to check it out. Their dining hall and bar looked amazing!

After walking back, we headed to my real reason for wanting to come here. They have gluten-free beignets! The kitchen staff were perfect, making me feel so safe, and I got hot chocolate sauce to pair with it. You can order 3 or 6, and though I planned to share half, I ended up eating 5 out of 6 because my husband loves me.

The beignets are outstanding. Not quite the melt-in-your-mouth texture you’d expect from the gluten kind, but out of this world delicious, and even better paired with chocolate.

After stuffing myself with sugar, we headed out to the car to make our way to my second choice resort: Grand Floridian.

As you can tell by those two photos, our initial attempt failed. We tried to park at Grand Floridian itself, but their lot was too full, so it was restricted to those with a reservation. Instead, we parked (with ease) at the Polynesian, one of our favorite deluxe hotels thus far. It was a good excuse to tour an old favorite and visit Stitch before taking the monorail to our destination.

Grand Floridian is extravagant and old-fashioned and too fancy for Ross and I. Nevertheless, there are parts of it (like some of the architecture, and the orchestra) that I love. They host some very special holiday decorations. Last Easter we visited the incredible Easter egg decorations their chefs had made. This time I had to see the gingerbread. They also carry a variety of gluten-free treats (most made fresh), but all except for one had run out by the time I got there.

After GF, Ross needed a break from the crowds, so instead of taking the monorail (and going through security a second time), we followed the walking path to the Polynesian. It’s a nice walk along the water mostly, so we enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure if Ross would be too tired to continue, but he eagerly put the Boardwalk area into his GPS. First stop: Beach Club!

I have passed the outside of Beach Club many times. It has the most epic pool and bar area, with a giant pirate ship and a sandy bottom, all shared with Yacht Club, and it has a beautiful beach.

When we walked into the lobby, I was pleased by the decorations. Not a ton of character, but they looked really pretty. And I enjoyed the carousel gingerbread display a lot! The smell was really delicious too.

Next up was Yacht Club. It reminded me of my grandfather. I’m sure my mom’s parents would have loved vacationing here, with the nautical influences, proximity to Epcot and the Boardwalk and even a miniature village and train for the holidays.

Our final destination was Boardwalk Inn. They had a fun gingerbread display that recreates many of the shops at Disney’s Boardwalk. They also had some treats for sale.

The Boardwalk Inn feels a bit like a less fancy version of Grand Floridian. It’s pretty, but in a fairly non-descript way, and it feels too fancy for me. But the reality is I’d love to stay at any of the Boardwalk resorts. You can’t beat walking distance to Epcot (and Hollywood Studios and Boardwalk as a bonus) in my book!

After our final stop, we walked the Boardwalk and visited the beach, where Ross recorded a video for Instagram. Then we made our way back to the car.

I loved our resort tour and I’m so thrilled we were able to fit so much in. Next time, Wilderness Lodge is a priority, and I want to see Fort Wilderness and Pop Century lit up too.

And of course we skipped Animal Kingdom Lodge, our absolute favorite. But that’s because we are visiting there on Christmas!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Peace, Joy and a Happy New Year to you all from Ross and Jamie. Wishing you a wonderful 2018.

Enjoying the perks of “settling”

We’ve been staying in the Orlando area for almost two months now, and in settling down for a while, there are a lot of perks. We’re enjoying full hookups and access to high-speed internet (we never thought we’d be so thankful to have Comcast), and we’ve been Squeak tonguebefriending a lot of cats, including one who has adopted us that we’ve nicknamed Squeak due to her adorable squeak instead of a meow.

We’ve gotten tons of Disney parks time in, seeing the Halloween decorations in the Magic Kingdom, enjoying the Food and Wine Festival and experiencing the holiday magic throughout the parks. Probably the biggest highlight was our gift from Ross’ parents – dinner at San Angel Inn, Mexico at Epcot followed by a reserved seat for the Candlelight Processional with Jodi Benson (the voice of Ariel, the Little Mermaid) as the narrator.

  

Jamie has also auditioned twice for roles at Disney – once for Finding Nemo: The Musical and once to be an improv performer. No luck thus far, but it doesn’t hurt to try! The absolute dream would be a role as a musical director or performance coach, but we hope this gets me noticed at least.

We’ve also done a wee bit of performing (an open mic here, a few church services) and have been booking future gigs like our lives depend on it – which they kind of do! And we’ve got a new website up for teaching online music lessons! New students can save big with our “holiday special” if you book before the end of December.

We’re also enjoying the opportunity to visit with family and friends. So far we got to see our friend and performer Judy Pancoast and we’ll be seeing Ross’ sister Emily and her husband Ryan for Christmas. We also plan to visit with some of our friends from the Outer Banks while they’re in town early next year, and we’ll be reaching out to my grandparents and aunt for a visit soon too. And there’s the chance for other family and friends visiting in early 2018 too! So all of that is really wonderful. If you’ll be in town by the end of February, please let us know!

I’ve been loving being a paid blogger for Outdoorsy, and my most recent article documents why I think ice cream should be a popular RV and road trip activity. In a similar vein, an opportunity to apply to manage the social media for Cancun.com has taken the world by storm, and it sounds so perfect for Ross and I (as a team) that we have applied for it. If you want to help us pay off our debts and spend six months living and working in Mexico, we’d greatly appreciate you voting for us here. No need to sign up for anything and voting is super easy – just click the button! And if you really want to help in an extra, above and beyond way, you can actually vote for us DAILY. Sharing our link and our story with your friends and family helps us get additional votes too!

Happy Hanukkah if you’re celebrating, and if you’re celebrating Christmas, we wish you a merry one. Lots of love and peace to all of you this holiday season, and thank you for your support and for following along on this journey with us!

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?

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?

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!

Settling Down in Davenport

Many of our New Hampshire (and other) friends believe that we’ve moved to Florida permanently. Not true! We may have settled in Florida for a few months, and we may have become “Florida residents”, at least by name, but we are still full of the travel bug and eager to keep exploring all this country has to offer. 

So why, you may be wondering, did we spend about three months in Davenport? We had a few major reasons. 

1) We were running out of money. When we originally planned this trip, we hoped we would be having significantly greater success booking along the road than we actually did. Our first few gigs didn’t come until Bisbee and Tucson, and neither paid much. Booking is hard work as it is, but when you’re still establishing yourself as an artist it’s even tougher. And despite contacting more than fifty churches, only 1 booked us to perform – and that was unpaid! So we’d been living off of savings and knew our savings were coming to an end. Staying still for two months (or three, as we ultimately decided to do) meant we could limit our gas expenses, pay a cheaper monthly rate ($430-$460/month plus electric in this case) and pick up part-time jobs to help us bridge the gap in our incomes. 

2) We decided to become Florida residents, which is a complicated proposition. From new bank accounts to a new “permanent” mailing address to registering vehicles, health insurance and voting, there’s a ton to do when you move to a new state, particularly if you’re self-employed. Since we plan to be on the road for at least another year, it made sense to become Florida residents. We won’t have to go back for annual renewals as almost everything can be done by mail, including registering vehicles. We use a service called St. Brendan’s Isle which is pricy but so far very helpful in managing our mail as we travel. Also, because we were becoming residents, purchasing a car in Florida was the way to go. 

3) Why Davenport? It’s outside of Orlando, where we booked a few gigs. But the reason we chose it, honestly, is its proximity to Disney World! Ross and I were blessed to visit the parks last year thanks to an incredibly generous wedding present from his sister. We received six nights at a cheap Disney hotel (All-Star Music), five days in the parks (we were able to add a sixth day for about $20 each if memory serves) and were then gifted some spending money by family, so all we had to do was provide our airfare and food/spending money for the trip. Absolute heaven! We honestly went in thinking it might be awkward as we weren’t “Disney people” and the idea of dropping our own 2K on a week’s vacation felt like an indulgence we couldn’t afford. But the reality was, we had such an amazing time that we wanted to go back again as soon as possible! 

When we finalized our RV travel plans and needed a new state of residence, access to Disney on the cheap was a definite plus for us. For less than $300 each we can access all four parks Monday – Friday with only a couple of months of blackout dates total. So we had more than seven weeks in the parks this winter, and we will back this fall for even more fun.Davenport is a great area to visit if you’re a Disney fan. There are many other parts of Florida that are prettier and less stressful (avoid I-4 at all costs! State highways are your friend!) but you can’t beat this area for convenience to the parks. There are also plenty of places that you can pick up a part-time job, even as a snowbird, if you play your cards right. And Kissimmee and Orlando offer great local cultural opportunities. 

Are you a Disney fan? Have any recommendations for places we need to visit when we return this winter?