A Visit to Winter Park, FL

Street scene in Winter Park, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Ryan, Emily, Ross and Jamie at Animal Kingdom Lodge | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Ryan, Emily, Ross and Jamie at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Ross and I have been extraordinarily blessed to have family and friends visiting us throughout the time we’ve been back in Florida.

For Christmas, his sister Emily and her husband Ryan joined us, and we made the most of Disney’s options outside of the park.

Then my friend Danny visited me while he was in town (on vacation from New Hampshire), and soon my sister will be visiting too!

Jamie and Danny at the Magic Kingdom | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Jamie and Danny at the Magic Kingdom
Jamie, Ria, Robbie and Ross | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Jamie, Ria, Robbie and Ross in Winter Park

But since I’ve gotten to visit Winter Park twice now (once with my dad and his wife Karen, and once with my brother Robbie, his girlfriend Ria and Ross), I wanted to write about it.

Winter Park, Florida is a lovely part of Orlando, with charming streets, parks, museums and a railroad running through it all. It’s very upscale, and extremely walkable (a rarity in central Florida!), with restaurants and shops reminding me a bit of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Further explorations farther from the downtown area further confirmed the Cambridge vibe, as we found quirky vintage shops, music, gaming and an amazing ice cream shop. So here are some of the highlights we’ve gotten to experience. We look forward to more on future visits. Special thanks to all of the family who are really the reason we got to this part of Orlando!

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

Tiffany Stained Glass at the Morse Museum | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Tiffany Stained Glass at the Morse Museum
Original architecture from the home of Tiffany | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Original architecture from the home of Tiffany
The restored Tiffany Chapel from the World's Fair | Ross and Jamie Adventure
The restored Tiffany Chapel from the World’s Fair

Of everything I’ve done in this area, the Morse Museum is probably the destination I’d most recommend a trip to see. I’ve always found Tiffany’s work to be beautiful, but it was only in the fall of 2016, when we visited a museum in upstage New York with a Tiffany exhibit, that I realized how insanely gorgeous Tiffany’s stain glass work is. I’m just completely enchanted with it. The museum is a great place to spend a few hours, with audio and booklets to enhance your tour, two videos and the opportunity to step inside a recreated chapel from the World’s Fair and Tiffany’s recreated home, in part. It’s gorgeous and perhaps best of all? It’s free on Friday evenings! Tip: No food and drink are allowed, so leave them out of site or outside; and if you must wear a backpack, you’ll be asked to wear it across your front. 

Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine

Bosphorous Chocolate Mousse | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine has a to-die-for chocolate mousse. And it’s gluten-free!

Well, if you’re not into good food, you can skip Bosphorous. But this restaurant is really wonderful – it must be good if Karen, a dedicated foodie, was happy to go back when I suggested it as a lunch location! They have a Winter Park location and two Orlando locations, and they have wonderful gluten-free options, but be sure to read the gluten-free menu before you go (or pull it up on your phone) because they don’t have a copy available in the restaurant. I went with lamb shanks and the dark chocolate mousse!

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream in Orlando, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
A few scoops from Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream in Orlando, Florida

When it’s got homemade in the title, it’s time to try some ice cream! Seriously, there’s lots of homemade ice cream out there, but this stuff is very, very good and sometimes exceptionally so. Homemade ice cream is impossibly difficult to find in Orlando. Make a trip for this one. My full review is here. Don’t miss the vintage shop next door!

Mead Botanical Garden

A walkway at Mead Botanical Garden in Orlando, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
A walkway at Mead Botanical Garden in Orlando, Florida

If you need a place for a picnic or to take a walk or what have you, it’s hard to beat a beautiful botanical garden. Orlando has a few options that seem promising, but this one is free, and it’s awesome. Consider some bug spray, wear some sunscreen and go have an adventure.

Cybertron Video Games

Not my thing, but this place is retro and pretty awesome. Ross was in heaven here!

And finally, another place we enjoyed:

Le Macaron French Pastries

This little chain carries tasty macarons and

Gelato at le macaron in Winter Park, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Gelato at le macaron in Winter Park, Florid

gelato from France. There’s also a macaron ice cream sandwich option, although the flavors are pre-made so you’ll have limited options. Great for gluten-free folks and gluten eaters alike. I wouldn’t go out of my way for this one necessarily, but if you’re craving gelato or a macaron, it’s a great spot. 

We’ve still got plenty of exploring to do in the greater Orlando area, and our time is running low, so we know we won’t be able to see it all. If you’ve got a recommendation for us or for others, please let us know!

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!

Quick Stop in Charleston, SC

I’ve always heard great things about Charleston, SC, and we’re hoping to spend a few days there this fall. But earlier this spring, as we made our way toward North Carolina, I realized we’d be practically passing through Charleston. So we planned it as a fun mid-way stop in our travels. 

Charleston Visitor’s Center, like Savannah, GA, offers overnight parking for RVs. Believe it or not, it’s in a parking garage! It normally costs $1/hr or $16/24 hours, but if you manage to arrive during a special event like we did, you may end up paying $5/vehicle. If you tow a car, I’d highly suggest unhooking before parking in the garage. 

It was a beautiful (lots of water) but tiring drive into the city, after a quick walk of downtown, Ross decided to take it easy while I explored further. I know Charleston has lots of music venues, and it looks like there are a few theatres as well. Day drinking was also definitely a thing here on a weekend! 

After grabbing lots of brochures and reading a bit about the history of the area at the Visitor’s Center, I decided to get ice cream. I’d passed a very hipster-looking place whose reviews said they don’t even post prices and the ice cream is good but way over-priced. So I did a quick Google instead and saw I was only a few minutes from Jeni’s! I have read amazing things about Jeni’s ice cream and innovative custard-type technique, and I was really excited to try it. Each location makes their own ice cream and the staff here is extraordinarily helpful, friendly and patient. 

I left with some fabulous ice cream – be sure to stop in! And there are lots of other nearby ice cream places to check out if you’re interested. 

Charleston is an extraordinarily walkable, charming city. I can’t wait to return! 

Tucson Nights and Delights

Ross and I really loved our visit to Tucson. So much so that we kept extending it! Unfortunately we have been having persistent battery issues, so while we were there Ross installed a new battery for us. (That hasn’t fixed the problems, unfortunately, but that’s for another blog.) When we weren’t working or problem-solving, we found plenty of fun things to do in Tucson. 

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has been number one on my list to explore in Tucson since I began reading RV blogs. It’s very pricey – $20.50/person – but it includes an aquarium, phenomenal gardens, a zoo full of exhibits and special presentations, a butterfly place, a hummingbird place, cafes, a cave and much more. Since a year’s membership is only $80 and includes unlimited admission, free coffee or tea at every visit and more, I knew we should just get an annual pass so we would have multiple days to explore the wonderland. 

I haven’t enjoyed a place that much since Disney World. I kid you not. Just ask Ross! He loved it too. I think I went at least 5 or 6 times – they have RV parking to make it even easier – and Ross went nearly as many. You drive through a park full of saguaro cactus to get there and Saguaro National Park is just past it – but I will be honest and say we had all the saguaros we needed at the museum. Ross even chose to spend his birthday at the museum – well, the afternoon anyway. (The morning was spent at Toys ‘R’ Us, where I surprised him by decorating the RV with Star Wars. See the feature photo.) But I digress; spending time at the museum was such a gift. 

We visited a few other places in Tucson too. We performed at a local nursing home and a local church (St. Mark’s Presbyterian) while we were in town, and everyone couldn’t have been friendlier. In fact, the church told us we’d always have a home in Tucson, so sweet. We also visited a few stores in a neat part of downtown, including a local food co-op. And we spent an evening visiting a great bookstore and two ice cream places – unfortunately neither were up to our usual standards, but we enjoyed them nonetheless, and the second had coconut milk gluten-free ice cream so it was basically good for me. Right? 

We really fell hard for Tucson. Although we imagine the heat would be too much in the summer months (after all, we saw temperatures in the 80s in December), we could definitely see ourselves here even if it became a popular vacation destination if we end up in the southwest. The music scene didn’t seem to be much of a “scene” to Ross, and left hand turns are awkward, but the people are so nice, the public transportation is great and it’s really an affordable, charming place from what we can tell. 

Thanks Tucson – we will definitely be back! 

Headed to Tucson this year? Let us know. We have a couple of passes to the Desert Museum to give away!