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

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Dining in Des Moines

We had originally hoped to leave Iowa on Monday, but after a ton of frustration with our car insurance, we didn’t get the word that the car would be totaled (and hence no reason to stick around) until late Friday. After getting our electric step adjusted (will need to order a new motor, but at least it’s all the way in now), we drove back to our friend’s in the crazy wind before some snow came in. So we planned to leave Sunday morning, after the wind fest was over. 

We had an admirable goal of 9 am but by the time we were actually ready to depart it was closer to 11:30. We said our goodbyes to Dan and Aoife, to their cats Buddy and Zoe, and to my adorable dog friend across the street, a collie. We were off. 

We stopped an hour or so in for a quick break in Mason City, which looks walkable from the brief bit we saw. I visited my first Hy-Vee grocery store. They’re quite the experience! This one has pizza, Italian, Asian cuisine (all in mini stores along the outside) as well as a pharmacy, a huge alcohol selection, great deli and bakery and everything you’d expect. I grabbed some additional Thanksgiving essentials since a friend of mine in Texas has invited us to join them!

We passed through Ames, IA, as well, which has a university and a bus system for public transit as well as lots of lakes and nature trails. We didn’t explore, but maybe next time we pass through. 

Our main goal for the day was to visit a food co-op or natural food store. Since we hadn’t been in Des Moines yet, we headed there, only a few miles off our route.

Gateway Grocery was beautiful, with a market cafe attached. Parking was a challenge in the RV but we made it work. Don’t bring a big rig here unless you want to park on the street. The little glimpse we had of Des Moines showed us some very nice neighborhoods worthy of further exploration. 

The Grocery was quite overpriced for most things, but the food was really high end which helped make up for it. Ross was tired and had worked hard all day, so I treated him to some Spicy Pork Belly Ramen. He loved the pork, enjoyed the spicy dish and kept raving about it, so I think I did good!

After our food adventures I grabbed some dinner and we headed to our destination, a rest stop in Lamoni with wifi and walking trails that other RV-ers had found really welcoming. We had quite the adventure getting there – we tried following one of my apps for a gas station and spent way too long amidst corn fields and deer – but we worked it out and got back on course, found gas and found the rest stop. It gets dark so quickly now. We were settled into bed before 8 am! 

The temperature dropped to 25 degrees last night (winter weather camping isn’t our favorite but we are very capable) so we are glad to be heading out of Iowa!

Today we might make a quick stop in Kansas City as we pass through. Time will tell how far we get. We can stay in Texas tomorrow night but we can also wait until Wednesday if we don’t want to rush, so we will see how the driving goes. Thanks for reading!

There’s Nothing Halfway about the Iowa Way

So begins the song that’s been rollin around my head (thanks, Meredith Wilson) since we entered Iowa about a week and a half back. We really came here to visit friends and get some stuff done, but we’re managing to have plenty of fun along the way. 

We are in a tiny town of about 100 people, but there’s a nice neighborhood feel and I usually get out for a walk each day, particularly enjoying the river views. Ross and I have also visited Decorah twice, which is a lovely college town that is home to Luther College. It has some gorgeous architecture, an extremely walkable downtown with fun historic information and murals and all of the chains and big box stores one needs for the essentials. (Including a 24 hour Walmart. Why can’t NH have more 24 hour stores?) 

One museum we haven’t visited yet (it’s pretty pricey for us) is Vesterheim, the four story National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center. It looks like it would take at least four hours, so plan ahead around the guided tours of some of the out buildings. 

The fact that we skipped the museum doesn’t mean we have lacked for activities. We did some shopping (I couldn’t help it – the dress and the cowboy boots were gorgeous and the boots were at an unheard of price) and picked up some goods and goodies at the New Pioneer Co-op and at the bi-weekly farmer’s market. They’ve also got a music store and a game store, so Ross was a happy camper, and we bumped into the headquarters of StoryPeople, a wonderful company that makes artsy books and wooden things that are colorful and with wonderful stories. I’ve always enjoyed their products at fancy galleries/boutiques in New England and have given a few as gifts. Who knew they were based in Decorah?!

We managed to catch a wonderful concert by the community orchestra last weekend. A local professor was the soloist for Rhapsody in Blue, and the concert also included works by Bernstein and Copeland that were very well done. Best part? The concert was free! 

Our first RV puzzle has come up. We have a small power steering leak. So we need to find someone to fix that, ideally before we leave but definitely soon. Stay tuned for that one.

Otherwise we have been super busy transferring prescriptions, lining up health insurance, revising resumes and websites and lots of other important things. Still tons to do, but we are making progress – and Ross booked his first gig from cold calling! 

Lots to do. And the election and the pipeline are making me nervous. But we are blessed and thankful to be here. Thanks for reading!