Return To Disney World

Life is great here in Florida – unfortunately we just spent $1,100 on needed maintenance on our car (time for a timing belt, and the water pump was leaking), but besides that we’ve had cooler, sunny days, plenty of work and great times at Disney World.

We are back as annual passholders at Disney thanks to our Florida residency, so I wanted to share some photos from our holiday visits to the parks. We enjoyed holiday flavors (like the gluten-free cookie butter sundae!), beautiful decorations, special puppets in Animal Kingdom and of course I had to ride the Jingle Cruise.

Hope you’re all having a great January so far!

Disney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureDisney World, Kissimmee, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure

Thanks for reading!

_______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com.

Happy New Year and Next Steps

Wow, it’s hard to believe 2019 is ending and 2020 is beginning! We have managed to fit so much into this year, it’s really been a banner year for us. So here are some of the highlights of where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished this year, with a few musings for the future.

We started the year off in New Mexico, and we actually spent almost six months there, with ample time in Tularosa/Alamogordo and Deming, where we threw down routes with a state park pass for hiking and history and trips to Tucson, AZ (the desert museum is always our favorite), El Paso, TX (free theater, yoga and flying out of the airport to NH), Las Cruces, NM (ukulele festival and of course all of the free museums and parks) and Silver City, NM (performing, good eats, amazing shops and ice cream). We also spent time in neighboring cities, including a few visits to Roswell to perform, explore and eat excellent ice cream. In May and June, we shifted north, basing ourselves south of Albuquerque mainly, with visits to ruins, time in Taos (the best chocolate ice cream ever!), Santa Fe art explorations for our anniversary and of course a full week falling in love with Albuquerque during the Senior Olympics. We performed a lot throughout New Mexico, with the anchor being at yoga studios, which meant meeting people and, for Jamie, lots of free yoga classes!

At the end of June, we headed north, dusting off our Harvest Hosts path rather than going the campground route, and fell in love with new parts of Colorado, including Pueblo, Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs and a variety of Denver suburbs, with an RV park bordering a huge park perfect for Jamie’s walks. While staying there, Jamie flew to Slovenia, and while Ross’ promised work fell through, he took advantage of the location to see more of the music and comedy scene in Denver and get further work done on his ukulele course. We also performed together in Denver at Your Mom’s House.

After Jamie returned, having said her goodbyes to her grandfather, it was a quick dash out of Colorado, with the next month spent exploring Boulder, CO (complete love and wonderful performing experience!) and a visit to Tillamook and the coast for a few days. We also stayed at a winery with hookups, washer dryer, an open schedule and the nicest people imaginable, and our Tillamook location was perfect for the beach and had absolutely amazing food and drink for purchase.

From Boulder we enjoyed the gorge as we headed north (oh, we also boondocked on the gorge, just amazing!) and spent wonderful time with family in the Eastern part of the state. They catsat for us while we spent almost a week in Seattle, having an absolutely incredible time with Jamie’s cousin, enjoying a Star Wars stage show, outstanding ice cream and our first pho in addition to a great performance. We also fell in love with Seattle, made easier with a gorgeous week of weather, and Ross bought a new game system. When we returned to Ross’ family, via some delicious ice cream, we had some RV trouble, and a generous gift made it easy to get back on the road quickly.

Then it was time to head back. We spent a great night at a brewery in Missoula (with okay beer but tasty seltzer and a great location), and Jamie and Ross went into the town and walked her old haunts, getting ice cream too of course. The next day, Jamie got a call that her grandfather had passed away and the funeral would be in four days. So it was time for quick decisions.

While Ross would take a more typical pace across the country, with a stop to see friends in Iowa, Jamie raced, loading up on a gluten-free bagel sandwich with lox in Missoula, MT before departing at noon Wednesday. She made it with minutes to spare to an 11 a.m. funeral on Saturday in New Hampshire! She also got some tasty ice cream and a nice walk in Wisconsin as well as tons of city driving experience along the way. Ross’ mom acted as her travel agent, booking motels as needed on her path.

Jamie was reunited with Ross and Squeak about a week later, and the fall was full of teaching artist work (ukulele for Ross, theater improvisation for Jamie), performing for yoga and at Amphora (so much delicious food and drink!), teaching, socializing and of course producing the musical Goblin Market at the Hatbox Theatre.

After a full fall, with amazing Hatchland soft serve and Sweetly Offbeat gluten-free cheesecakes, we spent a quiet Thanksgiving together before heading south. We spent time with Ross’ sister and husband and Jamie’s cousin and wife and new baby, visited an awesome cheap winery, had an incredible visit to Savannah where Ross declared we could move there based on the dessert cafe alone and then made it all the way to central Florida, where we are now, in time to visit Galaxy’s Edge, eat a cookie butter sundae and eat a s’mores sandwich, amongst other things, at Disney World before year’s end.

We’ve accomplished a lot this year. We’ve quadrupled our virtual income. We’ve seen tons of bucket list places and found several new places we’d consider moving to. We produced a show we are incredibly proud of.

We also hit a few snags along the way, as Jamie learned the importance of narrowing her focus as a VA and of putting excellent business management practices in place to make her as successful as she can be. Meanwhile, a ukulele course we’d hoped to finish in quarter one is still in process a year later. We’ve also had to let some of our projects, like this blog, slide sometimes to meet our deadlines. But we’ve learned a lot, grown a lot and truly accomplished a lot along the way.

Thank you to everyone who has taken lessons from us and hired us for work this year. Thank you for all of the generous gifts and for cheering us on along the way. We’ve passed the three year mark and while our path is still somewhat unclear, we are narrowing in on next steps as we prepare to settle somewhere, at least part-time, in the relatively near future.

As we gear up with ambitious plans for growth and fun in 2020, we thank you and wish you an incredible year. Happy New Year!

Ross and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie AdventureRoss and Jamie Adventure

_______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com.

Disney World For RVers

For those of you who’ve missed it, at the beginning of this year I was inspired to start my own Facebook group – Disney World For RVers. I started it because there are thousands of groups about Disney World, and tons about RVing, but based on my research, ZERO groups that combine the two.

It’s a relatively small but growing and FUN group of Disney nerds and RVers and aspiring RVers and I’d LOVE for you to join the group yourself. All are welcome! Join us!

Not sure if it’s something that would interest you?

Lately our conversations have included topics like:

What should you pack in your backpack/purse for a day in the parks?

Disney World For RVers I Ross and Jamie Adventure

Which is the best park for food?

Which is the best resort to stay at?

Plus we just love sharing our stories. Our members share their vacation photos or their day visit photos, and each week we share where we are in the country and post a throwback from a past vacation.

Disney World For RVers I Ross and Jamie Adventure

In other words, it’s a blast.

Hope to see you real soon!

__________________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com.

Visiting Roswell

Most of my stay in the Alamogordo area has been focused on two things: working and walking. I walk every morning and sometimes fit in an additional walk or two. It’s gorgeous.

Beautiful view, Tularosa, NM | Ross and Jamie Adventure

But on Friday, Ross and I had a meeting with a yoga studio about collaborating. So we took a trip to Roswell!

We aren’t usually that interested in the tourist stuff, but the UFO Museum was an absolute must for us. It was fun, and silly, and fascinating.

Alien Museum, Roswell, NM | Ross and Jamie Adventure

We also visited a game store, where Ross got a treat – a Sony PSP, with two games! That should keep him busy for a while.

In addition, we roamed the downtown and hit up a frozen custard place (only okay) and a homemade ice cream place (outstanding!) downtown named Siggy and Opal’s. I highly recommend a stop!

Ross and Jamie Adventure

We also caught some views on our drive back. It’s a beautiful, if sometimes bleak, landscape in this part of the state.

Ross and Jamie Adventure

Squeak took a walk outside for the first time in about nine months! You can see video of it on our Facebook page.

Speaking of Facebook, I’ve started a group! It’s called Disney World for RVers. If that interests you, please check find us there!

I think that’s it for now. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

extended membership.

__________________________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com.

More Family Fun at Disney Springs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Last Days at the Disney Parks 

An International Soda Adventure

Top Five Activities for Adults and RVers at Disney World

Disney World Freebies: Resort Touring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dole Whip Dilemma

Last Days at the Disney Parks

Holiday Touring at the Disney Resorts

Last Days at the Disney Parks

Super frog, Orlando, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure

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!

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.