Visiting A Botanical Garden in Fort Collins, CO

As you may know, I’m a sucker for flowers, nature and gardens of all types. The older I get, the more I realize this is true and seem to embrace it.

For instance, last night I was stressed and tryin to avoid a panic attack. My solution was to take a walk on the nature trail here in the park.

When I started walking, I was wishing I had a friend who’d take my call after 10 pm. By four minutes in, I was filled with gratitude, pure and simple, for my surroundings. It was almost an immediate fix. Telling, right?

So Thursday morning, I made a trip to the City of Fort Collins’ botanical garden. They suggest a donation of $5 for admission, although that felt a little steep to me today. (By next year, that would be a steal, once the construction and expansion are complete.)

I could tell you stories about their outdoor kitchen and Garden of Eaten, and rave about the colors and flowers I saw. But instead, I will just share some photos, so you can enjoy too. Thanks for stopping by! Gardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureGardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure

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Live Updates and Live Music

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. Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureWe also performed at an open jam at Scrumpy’s (our favorite cider bar), Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventureenjoyed 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). Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureSometimes you need to really take a break, and I’m so thankful I forced myself to disconnect yesterday.

Thanks for reading, and if you haven’t read it yet, you might enjoy this blog on how to find live music while you’re on vacation. I hope you’re enjoying your summer, wherever you are.

Daytripping with Dad

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!Brazilian at Rodizio Grill | Ross and Jamie Adventureimg_2930Ross and Dad | Ross and Jamie AdventureDessert at Rodizio Grill, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure

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!

Pizza Victory in Fort Collins

When you’re gluten-free, any pizza is a treat, but we recently hit the holy grail of pizza places in Fort Collins. For food reasons alone, Colorado is going to be very hard to leave!

Trigger warning: pet death

I’ve been gluten-free for almost two years now for health reasons. Way back when, I’m search of relief from auto-immune issues (both known and mysterious), I began an elimination diet, and the auto-immune protocol really helped me. Gluten was quickly proven to be extremely problematic for me, and as my favorite foods were bread and dessert, going gluten-free was tough.

Honestly, on a day to day basis, it’s become pretty easy, but in social situations and going out to eat, eating can still be really stressful (instead of enjoyable, as it should be). So every once and a while, I enjoy gluten-free indulgences.Gluten-free Whoopi’s Pie at Aime’s Love, Longmont, CO | In Search Of A Scoop

This past week has been challenging. On top of training and being trained at work, we lost another kitten, Bear, which was really sad. Bear, small kitten | Ross And Jamie AdventureSo Sunday evening, before our grocery shopping run, we decided to treat ourselves to pizza. A quick search of the Find Me Gluten Free app showed excellent reviews for The Garlic Knot in Fort Collins. There are lots of places to get gluten-free pizza here, but when I saw that their menu offered a large gluten-free pizza (you usually can’t choose sizes) and gluten-free garlic bread, I was sold.

They warn that the pizza will take a half hour (if it’s gluten-free), but since we ordered garlic bread, the wait wasn’t bad. Ross got amazing glutenous garlic knots, and I got their gluten-free garlic bread. Gluten-free garlic bread, The Garlic Knot, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureWow. The texture of the bread wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it was crispy and quite good, covered in delicious mozzarella and with their homemade marinara for dipping. It was outrageous. It reminded me so, so much of the calzones I’ve been craving since going gluten-free, and it took all my self-control to save half for home.

Gluten-free Pizza, The Garlic Knot, Fort Collins | Ross and Jamie AdventureRoss and I then shared a 14″ pineapple and “breakfast bacon” pizza. The bacon was delicious and very finely chopped. Best of all? It tasted almost like a real pizza crust! The crust is my favorite part, so that is such a big deal to me. Heaven.

Service was great, atmosphere is beautiful but casual and it’s laid out well for pickup or eat in. They also have ice cream available for dessert, as well as other delicious options.

So I think we found our pizza and garlic bread place!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Garlic Knot.

One more non-food update. I’ve been asked to write more blogs for Outdoorsy. 🙂 This paid writer thing is pretty great!

Have a great week, friends, and thanks for reading.

Lots of kittens | Ross and Jamie Adventure

Settling in and Kitten Adventures

We’ve now been in Fort Collins for about a week and a half, and we’re happy to be stretching our legs a bit after a month or so of RV travel. It’s always nice to settle in…not having to pack up regularly and having full hookups (that we don’t have to pay for) are major perks that make giving up regular travel easier.

Of course, we aren’t the type to sit still! We’ve already visited local music and gaming stores, sampled homemade ice cream and gelato, and today, we visited Longmont, CO’s great downtown and explored a bookstore, music store and a dedicated gluten-free bakery and cafe. (It’s definitely a town we will return to. The cafe was fabulous, and there’s a homemade ice cream place we haven’t tried yet!)

Bakery Display at Aime's Love, Longmont, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Bakery Display at Aime’s Love, Longmont, CO
Alley art, Longmont, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Beautiful alley art in Longmont, CO
Gelato & aMore, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure
All the deliciousness at Gelato & aMore, Fort Collins, CO
The Woodshed, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Visiting one The Woodshed in Fort Collins, CO
Walrus Ice Cream, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure
The bright exterior of Walrus Ice Cream in Fort Collins, CO
RV Site in Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Settled in for the summer!

We’re truly enjoying being so close to great food and services with a view of the Rockies in the background. Today the kittens went to the vet…we’ve got a couple of infections to treat and have a couple of medications to give out daily. Squeak was cool as a cucumber the entire time, and there’s really not much cuter than a cat carrier full of kittens and mom.

Cats in an RV, Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Squeak and Bear (formerly known as Groot)
Kittens in Colorado | Ross and Jamie Adventure
What a face, right?

Kittens in an RV | Ross and Jamie Adventure

Kittens in an RV | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Haley Joel Osment in repose

The campground work is off to a good start, and we’ve got some great employees to work with. It’s a beautiful campground, and I’m especially excited about the nature walk, which I typically walk twice a day. Here are some of the gorgeous photos from my walks around the campground.Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureFort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureFort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureFort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureFort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureFort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureFort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventureimg_2169Fort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie AdventureFort Collins, CO | Ross and Jamie Adventure

We’re hoping to make quick trips to Boulder and Denver, as well as Colorado Springs, while we are here for the summer. We’d also love to book some gigs on our days off.

Want to host us for a night? Have ideas on where we need to visit? Let us know.

And if you enjoyed this, perhaps you’d also enjoy hearing about our adventures settling in Orlando or visiting Austin. We’ve also got a fun post on Disney for adults. Thanks for reading!

Falling in Love Can Be Fun

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. Ross and Jamie AdventureCampsite | Ross and Jamie AdventureIt 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!) Rose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureSilver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureRose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureRose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureThe 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.Ross Malcolm Boyd, Diane’s Restaurant, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie Adventure

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!Rose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureRose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie AdventureRose Valley RV Park, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie Adventure

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…Vicki’s Eatery, Silver City, NM | Ross and Jamie Adventure

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!

Packing Up Is Hard To Do

Super frog, Orlando, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure

Well, it’s almost arrived. Time to pack up and finish our to-do list before we hit the road.

We will be moving at a quick pace, taking a week or so to get to New Mexico, but we’re hoping to take it easy once we get there, exploring and playing a few gigs.

I’ve heard that the State Parks in New Mexico are beautiful and easy to get a space in, so we will be putting that rumor to the test too.

Florida has been great to us. From Disney to visits with friends and family and from our comfy campsite to our new cat, Squeak, life has been fun and full of adventures.

We’ll keep reporting in with new updates along the way. For the latest, you can follow us on social media, including our Facebook page.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend! Ours will be full of hard work and preparation. Happy Friday!

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.