Family Fun and Feeling Sick

The bad news? We are still sick! I’ve managed to fight it off pretty well, but Ross has been really hit hard by this thing. He saw a doctor today and was told the sore throat is caused by a sinus infection…so he’s on meds for that. Super annoying.

The good news? We felt healthy over the weekend, so we got out to the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, and on Sunday, we had a delicious meal and visit with my dad and his wife at Bird of Paradise in our favorite part of Orlando. Amazing fresh food, great desserts in the same shopping area and of course excellent company.

I’ve been well enough to work and mostly walk outside daily, so that’s been great, and we are thankful to have what we need to get through illness, frustrating as it is.

This weekend I’m leading a musical theater performance and history workshop for adults – it should be a blast!

We are seeing great growth in our virtual businesses, and we are gaining clarity on our next steps. We have so much to be thankful for.

Also, a special shoutout to my brother Scott and his partner Kailey – our Christmas gift is amazing and we will share it as soon as we have a place to hang it.

Hope you all have an illness-free week! Bird of Paradise, Orlando, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureBird of Paradise, Orlando, FL | Ross and Jamie AdventureBird of Paradise, Orlando, FL | Ross and Jamie Adventure

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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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.

Goblins and Parties in Concord, Oh My!

Well, as we’ve mentioned, Ross and I have been super busy here in New Hampshire. This past week, we had the final classes and “final sharings” where our ukulele and theater improvisation students, respectively, got to share what they’d learned with the community. Both celebrations were a huge success, and we are extraordinarily proud of the work we’ve been doing with older adults. If you have any leads on venues for us or potentially funding sources, please let us know!

Next up we are diving even deeper into our production of the musical Goblin Market. Get ready for puppetry and poetry, in a take inspired by the world of Jim Henson fantasy films and with an astonishingly talented cast of singers and actors who move. It’s a beautiful and unique show, and you can learn more and purchase tickets here. It’s at the small Hatbox Theatre in Concord, a fantastic venue, and we’ve got an amazing VIP party on the docket for Friday evening. (You can save big if you purchase your ticket for that now!)

Otherwise, we’re plugging away at our work, teaching and helping our clients as virtual assistants. Life is good and we’re thankful for all of the opportunities!

A Quick Solo Jaunt To New Hampshire

At the end of February, I had the opportunity to return to New Hampshire for a visit. The main reason for my trip was to accompany the auditions at the NH Professional Theatre Auditions, but I managed to squeeze in a social night with the Actorsingers teaching a couple of songs, many outings with friends and family, returning to play a church service at the Congregational Church of Henniker as well as a few online voice lessons.

Snow In NH | Ross and Jamie Adventure It was also a good reminder of why I escaped NH – in major part, the weather!

Robbie and Mom, Manchester, NH | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Dinner with Robbie and Mom

It was such a busy and fun trip. My friends and family were incredibly generous, and I had amazing meals, hugs and conversations. People truly went out of their way to spend time with me, and those conversations and the love have continued to fuel me since then.

Dad, Concord, NH | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Breakfast with Dad

Thank you so much to everyone who made time for me, and my sincere apologies to those I didn’t have time to connect with. I look forward to seeing you all on a future visit. The Puritan, Manchester, NH | Ross and Jamie Adventure

The Puritan Backroom does gluten-free very well.

Much love from the Southwest!

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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.

How Did We Make Money This Fall?

The most common question people have as we spend time with people this fall is an essential one: how did you make a living this fall?

I write this from Raleigh, NC. We’ve got some really generous family members hosting us during our East Coast adventures as we head south and then West to New Mexico.

We are currently in relaxation mode, taking a few weeks to continue our online work but mostly relax and recuperate from our extremely busy fall in New Hampshire.

So here are all of the ways we made money this fall, if you’re curious!

1. Ukulele Classes

The number one way we made money this fall was teaching group ukulele classes. Thanks to grant funding, Ross taught three groups of about 15 people an eight week series of classes for older adults. The classes taught them to play the instrument and gave them a social outlet, and many of the students are committed to continuing to play in a group or individually in the future.

In addition, Ross taught a couple of classes to last year’s Littleton group, who have continued to meet weekly, and he taught an additional series of classes for students 12 and older as well.Ukulele class, New Hampshire | Ross and Jamie Adventure

2. Music for Yoga

Ross played music for yoga classes while we were here. He improvises ambient music on keyboard and guitar, and it’s the perfect soundtrack for a yoga class. We look forward to doing more of these wherever we travel in the future.

3. Music for Libraries & Senior Centers

Ross and I perform a variety of originals and covers in different concerts for different audiences. This fall we performed Splish Splash, music from the 50s, 60s and 70s, at a library; and Ross performed his solo Christmas concert at a senior center. We have a variety of offerings and perform at concert venues, cafes, libraries, senior centers, schools and more.

4. Produce & Record Demo CD

Our friend wrote an original musical and hired us to produce and record a demo CD for it. We hired musicians and did a live recording during one mammoth day. It was an absolute blast! I cast it and played piano, Ross played guitar and he was the audio engineer.

5. Direct & Accompany Musical

For the same musical, I was hired to direct a staged reading! I also played piano for it and Ross played guitar. It was a big success and I’m extremely proud of this, as I was the demo CD. It was a wonderful chance to get some of our favorite people together for a project, as was the demo.

6. Music For Church

I’ve spent about ten years of my life accompanying church services, and I’ve also got a concert that I perform at churches with Ross. I love accompanying services on piano and organ and enjoy working with church choirs too. I played the organ for a recent church service.

7. Online Music Lessons

One of our main sources of income while traveling is teaching music lessons. We teach voice, piano, ukulele, guitar as well as music theory and technology, songwriting, conducting and even drums.

8. Virtual Assistant Work

I work as a virtual assistant for a variety of clients. I work with entrepreneurs and small businesses and nonprofits, helping with marketing and social media, grantwriting, writing and editing, research, data entry, customer service…any kind of office assistance that can be done remotely.

9. Blogging

The final way we made money this fall is that I wrote blogs for one of my clients. I blog about travel, food, ice cream and RVing.

Hopefully you found that interesting! This lifestyle is challenging but extremely rewarding, and this fall we were blessed to truly be doing what we loved and making a living at it.

Thanks for reading!

Will You Preview Our Podcast?

Hi friends! We need a few good people with an interest in good entertainment to help us out.

Will you be a beta tester for our podcast?

Ross and I have created a new podcast that centers around the idea of creating a musical theater season within certain constraints that change each week. We think it’s fun and funny, and we’d love to get some feedback on our pilot episode before we release it to the world!

If you’ve got a half hour or so to listen, and another five minutes or so to share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment here or send us a message with your email and we’ll get you on the list as a beta tester! This isn’t just for fans of musical theater, although that doesn’t hurt. We look forward to hearing from you!

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A Place to Live – But No RV?

I’ve drafted so many blog posts in my head recently. Blogs about dealing with the extra levels of stress of planning combined with chronic illness & the related battles to figure that out. Blogs about how hard things are. Blogs about simplicity. Blogs about pulling through adversity. Blogs about the fact that Ross was rear-ended and now on top of RV repairs, we have to car shop, but I am really uncomfortable buying a car when we don’t know the status of our RV.

But I finally have some good news to share, so that’s more fun, right?

Jean’s Playhouse agreed to allow an ad trade for a discounted or free campsite for us this summer. Part of the compensation when we work there is housing, but the idea of living in dorm style housing, presumably single-sex and with other people, didn’t seem that appealing to us given that we’re married and much older than many or most of our co-workers will be. So finding a campground seemed like the perfect thing – we get a place for our RV and can try things out and learn with less pressure, and Jean’s gets to save money by not having to house us.

So I sent out a bunch of emails, beginning with the campgrounds in Lincoln and North Woodstock (the next town over), about housing us for a few months. Two out of my three top choices replied – one was positive, but didn’t have any space left (maybe next time); another just couldn’t accommodate a longer-term visitor (KOA). So I emailed our other choices, who were 20-30 minutes away but mostly great options. One of our top choices in terms of livability, Tarry Ho Campground in Twin Mountain, called me within a day or two of sending the email. I was so excited! The more we talked, the more we realized we’d met at a networking events a couple of years back, she knows my father, she had fantastic memories of our conversation, etc…

So after meeting her in person with Ross and touring the campground, I’m thrilled to say that we have a home for the summer! God willing our RV will be drivable and livable so that we aren’t tenting it. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. As soon as our RV is ready (or as soon as we want to move in), we’ve got a campsite with our name on it. And get this – we’re working for our site! No cash at all. Their seasonal sites rent for $1,950, so between Ross and I, we’ll be putting in 195 hours before the season is over on November 2. (We hope to leave by the beginning of October, but it’s awesome to know we can stay longer if we want to.) We’ll be doing a mix of marketing/social media work (me) and music/working the new food truck (Ross) and possibly whatever else needs to be done. We know it’s a lot of hours to fit in, but we’ll be coming up with a plan to make it feasible, and we can absolutely stay for a couple of weeks at the end to knock out the rest. (After all, if we each put in a couple of 40 hour weeks, the work would be almost complete!) Although there’s a 30 minute commute to Jean’s, it’s only 11 minutes to Ross’ studio, which is great for him and great for us if we need to escape camping for a bit.

IMG_2741We hope some of you will come up and visit us. They have gorgeous river front campsites with water and electric as well as other sites for tents and RVS, plus bath houses, a pool, an ice cream stand, a food truck as of late June and supposedly great wi-fi. They’re also being super-nice about accommodating both of our vehicles. So besides metered electric, which I think we’ll be paying for, we will be living rent free this summer, which will really help justify our 30 minute commute on a tiny salary. 🙂 My goal is to keep saving money even on our tiny income. Whether that’s possible or not will largely depend on what our health insurance costs are. Really hoping they’ll go down significantly when our income changes at the end of the month!

My last day of work at my current job is May 27. I’ll be so glad to be able to move on. Thanks so much for reading, and please send us happy & inspected quickly RV vibes, as well as a good cheap car for Ross!

Gearing Up for the Long Haul

Well, the long-shot job was just that, a long-shot, and it didn’t happen. Bad news for the part of me that was nervous about the craziness ahead, but great news for the part of me that is anxious to get on the road and do something different, and figure out what is next for us in this crazy life.

So I’ve been busy in the past few days now that I have a clear goal in sight again. I’ve created lots of spreadsheets, including touring locations, budgets (current and when we’re touring), charts comparing the advantages of a Class C vs. Class B vs. a glorified van, tips for traveling, a packing list (including both must haves and wants, to help us discern just how simply we can do this) and perhaps most importantly for right now, an outline of the money we’re making and how we can save over the next year and four months, if we want to stick to the plan. Which is the goal, of course. I have another job interview on Monday – this is for a local, part-time church gig. It pays well, I’m incredibly qualified for it, and they seem really nice – and perhaps most amazingly, it is practically always a one-day-a-week gig.

I figure if I can get this job, keep up my part-time freelancing for as long as that pays and help Ross get some steady employment for at least a year before we leave (enough that he can sock a little money away and help a little with expenses would be perfect), we can save a LOT of money. If some of those things don’t happen, it will be harder – and in particular, if something doesn’t change quickly, we’re in trouble, as we’re currently losing $300-$500/month.

But I absolutely know we can do this, and boy, it sure seems easier to motivate myself to work (and give up some of the fun stuff) when there is clear goal and start date for the new adventure on the other side! I hope we can both keep each other motivated and be willing to make the tough choices. Ross is almost done his EP (whoo-hoo!) which will give him some extra time to devote to making money in the arts, getting the business side of things up and running and whatever else needs doing to make this thing happen.

So far I think the toughest part is keeping all of this to myself for the most part. I’m seeing big changes in store for the theater (in all likelihood, we’ll stop everything but the tours and special events, like wine dinners, after 2015) so that Ross and I can do awesome things like write shows and record CDs together. Worth it? I definitely think so!

Feeling really thankful for all of the amazing blogs and articles out in the world to help us with the planning. Will have lots of resources to share here in the coming months.

Oh, and did I mention we’re going to Disney in January for our wedding present from Ross’ sister and husband? Cannot wait. One more thing to save for, of course, but we can do this.

Thanks for reading!

Feeling Groovy

Okay, maybe not Groovy, exactly. But certainly healthier than I was a couple of weeks ago. Today I have a “preliminary” interview for that long shot job opportunity. Still a long shot? Absolutely. But it will be good for me to have a conversation that looks ahead.

The minuses if I were to get this job are obvious – no motorhome tour, at least right away, we’d have to move to a city that at least on the surface wouldn’t be our favorite thing, and I’d have all the typical challenges of becoming a teacher.

The pluses? A built in simplified life that combines my theater work and my need for income (at least for as long as I can keep it that simple) and maybe even a summer vacation, which would make returning to Canada for regular visits more feasible. Not to mention good benefits and a clear next step.

In any case, it’s got me thinking more about teaching and how much I like it. Whatever the ending is, I’m sure teaching will be a part of my work moving forward. Wish I had weeks to devote to cleaning and organizing my life – so much to do, so little time!

My groovy feeling usually involves rainbows -I love them – and my closet is oddly becoming less of a rainbow than it used to be. Why? Well, I’m realizing that my favorite ways to dress now involve a color palette that lets me interchange clothes and dress easily. So I think when I’m done decluttering, my goal is to have two palettes, with only an occasional dress or shirt to mess with the vibe. The colors? Probably blacks (for theater and music, of course) and brown/pink/purple/tans, which has become my go-to and I absolutely love it with my complexion and my vibe. We shall see if this holds, but I think the writing is on the wall.

Have a groovy day!