Estrella Del Norte Vineyard is just down the road from us here on our sit in Nambé, New Mexico. Owners Richard and Eileen Reinders are friends with one of our favorite Colorado people, Jen. Jen came for a quick visit just before Christmas. Our dear friend Sadie was here at the same time, and the four of us went to visit Estrella Del Norte Vineyard, fell in love with the wines, and next thing you know, I have a job. Synchronicity!
Award-Winning Estrella Del Norte Wines (Photo Courtesy of Estrella Del Norte Website)
I love to interview interesting people doing interesting things with their lives, and who better to interview than those who have provided yours truly employment? Thank you for answering this first round of questions, Eileen. I am sure I will have plenty more for you in the coming weeks and months…
Eileen Reinders at EDNV
1) So many people I know are fascinated by all things wine. I would say it is up there in the top ten dream ways to make a living. Who or what gave you the inspiration to create Estrella Del Norte Vineyard? How long did it take you to go from vision to conception?
Our inspiration to develop a winery came to us when the house we bought in Nambe’ had an old run-down vineyard of pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon grapes on the property. My husband, Richard, immediately saw the potential that reclaiming the vineyards and developing the property could bring as a winery in our beautiful valley. I was born and raised in Santa Fe and our return here was “coming home” for me. When Richard talked about the vineyard possibilities, I immediately felt that, indeed, the soulful thread of my history, culture, tradition and upbringing could be braided with our vision and our vineyard could become something truly special that could be shared with others.
Now that we were like the “dog that chased the car and caught it” our next step was figuring out how we were going to make the wine side of the business happen. Richard sought out the other wineries in our area and got working with them, voluntarily, to understand the practical end of the business. He also became a student of “Google University” and learned as much of the theoretical as he could. Using his successful history of business development, very hard work, and discipline we soon got our license and opened our doors as Estrella Del Norte Vineyard.
Jen and Valynne, Visiting Estrella Del Norte Vineyard (December 2012)
2) Tell us about the name of your vineyard.
My maternal great great grandmother’s name was the inspiration for naming our estate Estrella Del Norte Vineyard. The Ute called her Nah-oh-kohs, the White called her North Star and the Spanish version we selected was Estrella Del Norte. The property is very deserving of its namesake because it truly is very special — mostly because it’s unexpected in our mostly dry area. With the beautiful 200-year-old cottonwood trees and lush vineyards and gardens when everything is in bloom, it is an oasis in the north.
3) Everyone I know romanticizes this lifestyle. Is it as romantic as it seems? What do you find most fulfilling about it? Most challenging?
There’s a tremendous amount of work involved with the winery – from growing the grapes to retailing the wine in the tasting room and working all functions of the business to make it effective and prosperous. We are a true “poster child” for agritourism.
There are challenges to all part of our work that come with owning and managing a business — regulation, signage, human resources, marketing, IT, etc., — and realizing that you are all of these departments and solely need to get it all done — especially for myself coming from a corporate background where these things were handled by others! From the agricultural side, making sure we have water in the drier seasons, managing our three vineyards, orchard, and gardens with mother nature’s unexpected events, and making sure we stay ahead of the curve. The rewards are tremendous. Our estate Pinot Noir took a gold medal at an international wine competition where wines from all 50 wine-producing states, 19 countries and six Canadian provinces competed. We entered our Pinot Noir 3 times and we medaled 3 times! In fact, all of the wines that we’ve submitted for this competition have medaled. That is such an honor and a badge of excellence for us.
Importantly, we’ve met so many wonderful people and it’s gratifying to be able to share the results of what we are working on with them in the form of the vineyard experience i.e., the wine, a vineyard dinner, a volunteer harvest, or a stroll through the property. The other part of our rewards is the “winery family” that we have with our tasting room and vineyard employees and our pets. We have been blessed in so many ways and for all things we are so very thankful.
4) Paul can’t get enough of your Zinfandel. I am crushing big-time on your Barbera and Mourvèdre, and everyone loves Holy Mole! What are your current favorites?
I stand by the cliché “our wines are like children – I love them all differently”! Right now, for red wines I am enjoying our estate 2010 Pinot Noir and our 2010 Cabernet Franc! For white wines our 2011 Riesling (Alsace-style off dry) and our 2011 Symphony! We have over 26 Estrella Del Norte Vineyard wines, plus our Santa Fe Vineyards and Black Mesa wines which gives us over 65 wines to pick from – hey, it’s tough living in the “candy store” and having any one favorite!
Richard Reinders at EDNV
And, Holy Mole’ is such a fun wine! Richard wanted to make a signature wine that was characteristic of our area in flavor but vinted as a quality wine. Holy Mole’ is a blend of Zinfandel and other quality red wines with a little hint of almond, a bit of chocolate and a spark of red chile’. It’s become our fastest growing wine! Customers who try it love it because it’s very unique in its taste and not too sweet. In fact, I had a doctor from Pennsylvania send me a great email. He wrote, “A couple of weeks ago my wife and I stopped by to purchase some of the SFV Rojo Dulce and ended buying a nice selection of Estrella Del Norte Vineyards wines. As a joke, I bought a couple of bottles of Holy Mole Red Wine. Wow! The joke was on me! What a lovely wine. It is exactly as described and goes well with anything grilled, pizza, pasta, etc. It is a perfect accompanyment to any chocolate dessert. My wife says it is easily her favorite red wine. I offer my most sincere and humble apology for even thinking about purchasing one of your “from the heart produced” wines as a joke. This wine is no laughing matter and anyone who enjoys a pleasant surprise must try Holy Mole Red Wine.”
5) I am so excited to learn everything I can about wine and to meet new people. I know people come from all around to visit your vineyard. Where is the furthest someone has visited from, that you know of?
Antarctica! A lovely lady who had been working at a bio lab as a researcher visited Estrella Del Norte Vineyard during her visit to Santa Fe. We’ve also had visitors from Croatia, Africa, Europe… I’d say almost every continent! And, Valynne, we are also excited to have you coming on board to work with us! You’ll learn so much about wine and other wine business things, and I know we’ll benefit from your great personality and talents.
Holy Molé by Estrella Del Norte (Photo Courtesy of Estrella Del Norte Website)
6) Ever since owning my own small bath and body products business, I am a bit of a label fiend. Tell us about your gorgeous labels.
Our Estrella Del Norte Vineyard label represents my great-great-grandmother reaching for the North Star with the vines behind her! Our Holy Mole’, Luna Pera Especial and Geronimo’s Gold wine labels are done in a Dia De Los Muertos art style. Our labels are designed to reflect both our personal and winery culture with some fun creativity. When someone purchases a bottle of our wine we want them to get a sense of the terroir, the care and craftsmanship that went into the making of our wine and the influence of our Santa Fe culture in its presentation.
7) There is more to your vineyard than wines. You have a sculpture garden, wall murals, a gift shop, and a new community garden coming this spring. Did you know you wanted to bring all of these facets together from day one, or have they evolved over time?
These items evolved over time. Richard, has the gift of seeing the full potential of an opportunity, the talent, discipline and back-bone (hard work) to bring it to fruition. With the balance of the things that I do well, our strict focus is on bringing fun new things to our vineyard for our customers to enjoy. There is nothing more important to us than delivering excellent customer service in our business.
Wine Tasting with Friends Tom & Stephanie
8) Tell us about some of the events you are excited about this coming season.
We have four vineyard dinners scheduled for this summer season, each featuring a top chef from Santa Fe’s finest restaurants. The chefs use our wood-fired ovens and wood-fired grills for the meal preparation, they talk with the guests about the foods they are preparing and a host of other culinary information. They are really special and so much fun and they always sell out early. More information about these events is available on our website www.estrelladelnortevineyard.com.
Also, through our partnership with Santa Fe School of Cooking we are scheduled for 7 cooking classes at our vineyard. The chefs use our wood-fired ovens and wood-fired grills and we serve our wine with the meal. We will also host some private events.
9) What is the easiest way for our out of town friends to get their hands on your wine?!
We have an awesome online store that lists all of our Estrella Del Norte Vineyard wines, Santa Fe Vineyard wines and wines from Black Mesa Winery. Customers can mix their orders from the different wineries and create an excellent selection of different New Mexico wines.
We love when guests are able to visit our tasting room so we can meet them and provide the full Estrella Del Norte Vineyard wine experience. We also have a fabulous Wine Club which gives them an opportunity to try our wines based on their preferred wine types (red, white, both or sweet) and we select wines for them monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually — and it doesn’t cost anything to join our wine club!
Thank you again, Eileen. I can’t wait to get started at my new job! And thank you all for reading along. I am looking forward to sharing many more stories and pictures with you in the coming months.
Use Your Social Connections to Find Trusted Pet Sitters at Stayhound
A few months ago, I clicked a link to this PBS video on Portland entrepreneurs via the facebook page of Barbara Winter, author of one of my favorite books, Making a Living Without a Job. That is when I found out about Alexis. I contacted her soon after and we have had two great brainstorming sessions over coffee since then. I am excited about what she is doing for the pet sitting community and can’t wait to share this start-up with you…
1. Alexis, in a sentence or two, what is Stayhound?
Stayhound makes it easier to leave your pets with friends and other carers.
Right now we’re helping people connect to trusted pet sitters using their
existing social connections, and we’re working on ways to help you track
and share details about your travels, your pet’s extended family (vets,
walkers, and other carers), medications, feeding schedule, and other important information.
2. Who or what inspired this great start-up?
My own hassles with finding and communicating with pet sitters to care for
my dog, Jake, and cat, Toby. I found myself spending more time interviewing
people I found through online directories than actually traveling! And when
I asked my friends to pet sit for me, I was driving all over the place to
drop off Jake before going to the airport. I knew there were people –
friends, professional pet sitters, and others – who lived closer to me and
I would trust, but I didn’t know how to find that sweet spot of social
proximity and location proximity.
3. What do you think makes Stayhound stand out from other online sitting services?
Trust. I interviewed dozens of pet parents and all of them wanted a better
way to find people they would trust with their animal companions. One told
me that she wouldn’t use Yelp to find a pet sitter because she didn’t
personally know the reviewers – she wanted a word of mouth referral. By
using your existing social connections, we make it easier to find pet
sitters who come with recommendations from trusted friends.
Jake and Alexis
4. What do you believe pet parents really want from sitters/walkers like Paul and I?
No one wants to have another thing to worry about, and when I trust the
person caring for Jake when I have to travel, it’s one less thing to worry
about. That comes from knowing – and liking – my pet sitter, but also
getting email, text messages, and photos of how Jake and Toby are doing. It
makes me feel like I’m with them.
5. What’s in it for the pets?
While all pets are different and many thrive in different environments, I’m
not a huge fan of kennels for Jake. Most kennel and dog daycare owners I’ve
talked to also realize that not all dogs do well in that environment. For
dogs who are more human-identified like Jake, staying with someone else in
their home or having someone stay in my home with him is so much better.
Kennels can also be dangerous for dogs – distemper, dog flu, and other
diseases are always a risk.
On a less tangible level, I believe our pets pick up on our anxieties. When
I feel confident dropping Jake off with someone I trust, he knows that and
feels more comfortable.
6. How have you gone about getting the word out on Stayhound?
Largely through friends and other people I’ve worked with who are
interested in what we’re doing. Partnering with the Oregon Humane Society
to donate a dollar for every pet profile created has been a great way to
get press from news outlets like the Oregonian.
7. What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
Strangely, introducing people to others who can help them! I’ve never
considered myself an extrovert, but running my own business forces me to
get out and talk to people more than I would otherwise. I love being able
to connect someone I meet to a potential customer or mentor. I recently
spent the weekend at Reed College helping college students work on their
startup ideas and pitch to a panel of investors. I loved being able to help
students the way others have helped me.
8. What can we do here in the sitting community to support Stayhound?
If you’re friends with your clients on Facebook, tell them about us! Anyone
can sign up for a Stayhound account and find out how many of their facebook
friends (and “friends in law”) are already there. There are so many people
who are involved in our pets’ lives, and we’re working on ways to keep all
of them in the loop. We’d love to hear feedback about how we can make that
communication easier for carers and their clients.
Alexis, thank you for taking the time to talk with me and share Stayhound with everyone…you are definitely onto something, here. As always, we welcome feedback and questions from all of you pet parents, sitters, and otherwise curious readers!
Last Spring, I took my first online class. It was a travel writing course through Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Initially, I was reluctant to go this route. I did it anyway and found it to be just as effective, if not more so than the traditional classroom setting. Andrew Collins was my travel writing teacher. He is a bit of a hero in my book. You are about to find out why.
Andrew Collins in Alaska
1. Andrew, when and how did you figure out that you could travel, then write about your travels, and (gasp) actually get paid for it?
I sort of lucked into the perfect job right out of college, as an editorial assistant for the guidebook publisher Fodor’s. I worked my way up to Associate Editor in about two years, but realized early on that I’d rather be out traveling and writing than in and office editing. So at age 23, too young and foolish to know any better, I quit to embark on a freelance career. I’ve been working for myself ever since.
2. Who do you currently write for? How does it work? Do you go where they send you, or do you go where you want, write about it, and submit the article? Or does it vary?
It varies greatly. I still work on several Fodor’s guides each year, both as a writer and editor – the New Mexico, Arizona, Pacific Northwest, France, and Ireland guides are the ones I most recently worked on. For some clients, like the website About.com for whom I run the “gay travel” channel – I’m basically free to produce as much content as I’d like, and pretty much on any part of the world. I’ve worked for other guidebook companies, too, and right now I’m working on my first app, a guide to Portland on food and restaurants. I’m hoping to finish that this spring.
Then there are the occasional one-off jobs – writing stories for certain magazines or, more commonly these days, websites. And finally there are the custom-publishing clients – everything from tourism offices to travel services companies, like Orbitz and TripAdvisor, for whom I’m often hired to write editorial copy. Much of the latter is without a byline and not especially glamorous, but it tends to pay relatively well. I find it all pretty enjoyable, though. As long as I’m able to support myself traveling, and I’m able to do so with relative autonomy, I consider myself very fortunate.
3. You just introduced your own blog, The County Hunter. What do you hope to accomplish with said blog? And what camera do you use?!? I want one.
I did – well, I kicked things off anyway, with four posts this fall. Then, as I feared might happen, I became caught up with too many other work projects and had to set it aside. I hope to start it back up again very soon. My aim is simply to write more in my own voice, and according to my own interests, about what I see in my travels – I’m on the road about half the time, and I spend a good bit of that driving across country.
As the name of my blog The County Hunter suggests, my goal is to visit every county in the United States (I’m up to about 1,960 out of 3,168), but that’s really just a fun (to me) excuse for trying to take plenty of back roads and visit a variety of both major and more out-of-the-way communities. I’ve always most enjoyed writing in my own voice, as an end in itself, but to pay the bills, I obviously have to take on quite a few consumer-oriented jobs – the guidebooks and custom publishing, for instance. As I mentioned before, it’s all enjoyable to me, but I’m happiest when I get to write simply as me.
I use a couple of point-and-shoot cameras – both Canon. One is a smaller one that I tend to use more in restaurants, bars, and tighter spots where a compact size is important. And the other is larger and has more bells and whistles – a good mix of manual settings. Increasingly, I shoot pretty decent images with my Droid. Honestly, I don’t think much about cameras and equipment (I couldn’t even tell you the models off the top of my head) – I take hundreds of pictures, everywhere I go, and some I spend more time setting up than others. But mostly I just snap away, and in the end, I usually end up with a few pretty impressive images from every batch. If you can knock out two or three stunners per every hundred, you’re doing fine if your goal is simple to document your adventures compellingly on the Web.
Of course, I also use my camera to take notes, visually – I take pictures of signs and exhibit markers, I shoot in poor light knowing full well sometimes that I’m going to end up with some blurry or poor shots. But in these cases, I’m just shooting to capture details I’ll need when I get down to writing.
4. Tell us about a couple of your favorite places to visit. What do you love about them? Do you always work when you travel, or are some trips dubbed “vacation only”?
There’s always an element of work to every trip, even if the main drive is, say, getting away with friends. Every summer I rent a beach house on the Oregon coast, in this cool little town called Manzanita, for a week with a few friends. I guess that’s as close to a vacation as I do, but even on that trip, I’m always working a fair amount – a couple of hours most mornings on the computer, at least. But there’s always the opportunity for work, wherever I go, and that’s a happy thing to me – it’s ideal. I can be in some of my favorite places – the mountains around Taos and Santa Fe, the Oregon coast, the Sonoma Wine Country, northern New England, New Orleans, Buenos Aires, just about anywhere in Spain – and I’ll always be able to create content for the About.com site, and potentially for other outlets, wherever I am.
I have a very hard time narrowing down any sort of definitive list of favorite places – those I just named are some of the top ones for me. I can live anywhere, and the last two places I’ve lived – Portland, OR for the past three-and-a-half years and northern New Mexico for seven years before that – I chose simply on the basis of my having loved visiting them.
For seven years before I moved to New Mexico, I didn’t live anywhere. Just floated around, drove across country for months at a time, took house- and pet-sitting jobs, crashed on sofas, stayed with relatives and friends, and so on. I loved every minute of it, but in the past decade I’ve come around to the idea of having a home base again. Now I make it a goal to spend at least 15 days of every month at home – as you know from my constantly posting pictures of them on Facebook, I have three cats back there in Portland, not to mention many good friends there. So I balance travel and home now, and in my travels, I just go wherever I feel like going.
Outside Salvador Calatrava's Hemispheric, at the City of Arts and Sciences, in Valencia, Spain
5. What is your preferred method of travel? What makes it better than the others, in your opinion?
I’m a huge fan of road trips. Few activities make me happier than driving someplace scenic, and I also feel a certain sense of happiness just from learning a city or region well, to the point of not needing maps or GPS. That’s gratifying to me. So the cross-country trip I’m currently in the middle of, that’s been a blast. And this past summer, I spent two weeks in Spain with a friend, and we rented a car. I drove, and we logged the equivalent of driving from Vancouver to San Diego over those 14 days – loved it. I like the freedom that a car affords you.
I fly often, too, and I like trains but don’t use them especially often, mostly because although I enjoy gazing out the window, I don’t find they’re as liberating as a car – in terms of just setting off when you feel like it, and turning down whatever little dirt road or remote highway looks interesting.
On a more localized level, I jog a lot in my travels – it’s a good way to balance all that I’m eating (which is a lot), and an excellent way to “tour” a neighborhood or explore a beach or trail.
6. Like Paul and I, you house and pet sat for some time. How did you go about finding the gigs? What were some of the pros and cons for you?
I did sit for quite a few years, mostly for a good friend in Greenwich Village with two cool cats and a beautiful apartment. Her work took her on the road for a couple of weeks every few months, so this was a perfect fit for me. And then sporadic opportunities came up – all just word of mouth, and nothing longer than two weeks. I’m too much on the move to commit to anything longer than that, and these days, because I do like to be home half the time, I take on house- and pet-sitting jobs far less often. I sat for friends with a place in Santa Fe for a week last June, which was great – that’s one city I get back to as often as possible. But mostly, these days, I visit a town or city for not much more than two to four days before moving on.
7. We are considering an apartment or something simple and inexpensive to call home in between sits. Would you recommend this?
That’s hard to answer – for me, I like having a home base now, as I mentioned above. But back when I had no home base, I was fine without one. I had no pets, and the lifestyle just suited me well. Even now, I have a one-bedroom, and that’s as big as I could want. I rent and have no desire to own, and I have an informal policy of not adding anything new to the house (furniture, books, etc.) without getting rid of something comparable to offset the acquisition. I come from a family of pack rats, and I’ve sort of broken away from that tendency, which was actually very strong in me years ago.
Again, though, it just comes back to what you’re comfortable with. I would recommend your current approach sometime before you decide.
8. Do you think you will ever want to settle down in one spot permanently? If so, do you have an idea of where this spot would be?
I’m very much at home in Portland – I could see that remaining my base indefinitely. But I’m not overly attached to the idea of staying in one place for long – there are plenty of places I could live happily for a year or two, or even several years. I couldn’t even begin to guess whether I’ll still be in Portland in five years, but I’d say that of all the cities I’ve visited, and certainly all those I’ve lived in, it’s my favorite in terms of being a happy home headquarters.
9. What advice do you have for those of us looking to break in to this line of work? Has the internet made it more or less difficult to be a travel writer?
The answers to these questions are both potentially a bit complicated – well, let’s just say I could probably write a long book to answer the first one, and at least a long article to answer the other. In a nutshell, as far as breaking in, you just have to be persistent and dedicated to the objective of writing for an audience – of getting your words before as many sets of eyes as possible. It’s not easy to break in, and it’s exceptionally difficult to make a living solely from writing about travel. I had the advantage of getting a job first in travel publishing, and that’s definitely one very good way to get your foot in. Had I simply tried striking out on my own, with no connections or workplace experience, I’m not sure I’d have succeeded.
On the balance, the Internet continues to make it easier and easier for writers and readers to find each other – through blogging, commercial sites, and so on. Has the Internet made it easier for writers to earn a decent living? My guess is it’s no harder or easier now than it was a decade ago to earn enough as a writer to support yourself. But the Web has provided countless more opportunities to write semi-professionally – that is, to get published, and to earn at least a modest return on that writing.
10. What are your plans for the next year or two? Any dream projects you are about to embark on? Let me know if you will be needing an assistant…
Haha…I always get asked, albeit mostly jokingly, about the assistant thing. Honestly, I’ve tried hiring assistants here and there, on a very limited basis. I’m terrible at delegating. And I’m happiest doing things on my own, even though I do travel about half the time with friends, some of whom are also travel writers.
I can’t really say I have a dream project per se – I’d like to work more on my CountyHunter blog, and perhaps develop that into a book of some kind (maybe purely an online book, or just keep it as a blog, or develop an app…you see? the Web really has opened plenty of doors for distributing information – for reaching readers). I’ve never sat down and worked out specific goals and objectives, though. I want to travel about half the time, and I want to share what I discover in my travels with any who might be amused or interested. And at the end of each year, I’d like to have earned a nickel more than I spent. That’s all. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d still probably approach it all about the same way.
Arches National Park in Moab
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, Andrew. I really appreciate it! Can’t wait to see your Portland food and restaurants app, especially as it looks like we will be sitting in your neck of the woods this summer : )
Meet Sean & Kristy, the Long Long Honeymooners!
A lot of you have heard me mention (with great enthusiasm) Sean & Kristy and their site, www.LongLongHoneymoon.com. I don’t know when or how I found them; I just did and am now happily hooked on all things Long Long Honeymoon. Seeing as these two never cease to inspire me, I thought it would be fun to find out a little more about them, and introduce you all while I am at it…
1) I know it was Sean’s idea to take the Airstream on your honeymoon, but whose idea was it to buy the Airstream in the first place?
S: It was Kristy’s idea to get an RV. I was a little reluctant. I’m a pretty tall guy and was afraid I wouldn’t be comfortable in an RV. But after browsing a bit, we fell in love with Airstreams. You trade a little spaciousness for coziness and style!
K: He’s right, it was my idea! We went tent camping in Yellowstone National Park a few years prior to buying the Airstream and we about froze to death one night in the Canyon campground. The next morning I looked around at all of the campers and motorhomes and thought, “Wow! Those people really know how to camp!” I also thought that having a private bathroom when tailgating at football games would be absolute heaven.
2) Where did the inspiration for turning your honeymoon into a Long Long Honeymoon come from? How did it evolve?
S: We started with the idea of our “road trip” honeymoon lasting several weeks — we thought six would be plenty! But after six weeks passed, we found ourselves 2000 miles from home. So we just kept on going as long as it felt right. We were having fun with our website (LongLongHoneymoon.com), so we decided to offer tips and information to others who might be interested in RV and Airstream travel.
K: Honestly, it was just something that kind of fell into place. The website was originally created to let our family and friends follow along on our trip. Before long, they were passing it along to their friends and co-workers and eventually we started getting comments and email from people we’d never even met! It continued to grow from there, and it’s still growing every day.
3) Did either of you need convincing when it came to the concept of Long Long Honeymoon, or did it just make sense to both of you?
S: I think that Kristy understandably had a few reservations about this journey being our official “honeymoon” because we’d previously discussed visiting exotic places overseas like Tahiti and Greece. As time passed, I began to view our “Long Long Honeymoon” as a brand that everyone could enjoy — it’s a happy thought, isn’t it, that life should be a honeymoon?
K: I did have reservations in the beginning, but once the adventure started I didn’t want to stop! Also, I think that lots of people believe that a honeymoon only lasts for a week — that it is a “once in a lifetime” thing. We wanted to show folks that a “honeymoon” is a state of mind. Whether you’re in Tahiti, the Grand Canyon or your own backyard; as long as you’re with the one(s) you love, that’s all that matters.
4) Were you nervous to do something so radically different than your peers? What was the overall response from your friends and family?
S: Our friends and family were very encouraging and supportive. In the past I had pursued unusual travel experiences (for example, volunteering in early 1990s Czechoslovakia) so this was just another one on the list.
K: (laughs) Yes, we are sort of known for random,wacky adventures so this was a fairly tame travel idea in comparison to some of the others that we’d already done (volcano climbing in El Salvador anyone?). I think my parents were just glad we were staying the United States for a change.
5) What do you say to people that tell you they would love to do what you two are doing if only this or if only that…
S: As John Lennon said, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. You may as well pursue your dreams now, because the future is not guaranteed. Most of our impediments are of the mental variety — we let fears about “what if” keep us in our place. While this sort of experience is not for everyone, I hope that everyone is engaged in their own unique pursuit of happiness, however they define it — that’s what this country is all about!
K: I tell them that they can do it! It all goes back to the honeymoon state of mind. Take weekend or one night honeymoons; even if you’re just camping in your own backyard it can still be an adventure. I also tell them about the numerous people we’ve met on the road living a similar lifestyle to ours. Many people have overcome just about every “this and that” you can imagine: “we have small children,” or “we don’t have enough money” or “I’m too old” or “I have physical limitations.” These people have shown me that if you really want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make your dream happen.
6) Tell us about one or two of your favorite places to visit with the Airstream. What makes these places stand out from the rest for you?
S: My pick would be Yellowstone. I worked in Yellowstone while in college, and it’s just a magical place. It proudly boasts of being the “oldest and best” national park. There’s just so much diversity to Yellowstone, an incredible variety of experiences await. My advice is to go beyond the typical tourist stops (Old Faithful geyser) and spend some time on the hiking trails. You can hike a desert canyon one day and climb a snowy mountain peak the next, all while sharing the park with bison, moose, wolves, and bear. Just steer clear of those wolves and bear. 😉
K: Yellowstone is also one of my favorite stops. So is the beach. Pretty much any campground where you can park next to the beach is a winner, but the stand-outs for me would be Bluewater Key in Key West, Florida and Camping on the Gulf in Destin, Florida. At Bluewater Key our waterfront campsite included a private tiki hut, complete with bar and ceiling fan AND a private pier! The campground in Destin has gulf front sites that have you stepping out from your camper into sand. The water is maybe 30 yards from your door and the sound of the waves crashing at night is the best lullaby ever. Also, Disney World is always a magical and sentimental experience for me. As a child my parents took my there every summer and going back as an adult really does make me feel like a kid again.
7) Your plan is to hit most, if not all of the states that you haven’t been to yet (in the Airstream) this summer. Do you have a route planned or will you simply see where the road takes you?
S: When we started, we had no itinerary. But now we sketch out a loosely planned route of our journey. Even so, we usually travel without set deadlines. If you’re not careful, deadlines will quickly suck the fun out of travel. When we feel like going, we go! When we get tired, we stop and rest. That’s the upside of RV travel.
K: We don’t wear watches, so the RV lifestyle suits us well!
8) How do you subsidize this amazing lifestyle you have made for yourselves?
S: We script, shoot, edit, and deliver original video productions while we’re on the go. After many requests, we now offer compilations of our “Long Long Honeymoon” videos on DVD! Our DVDs are a lot of fun — you get ALL the videos that aired on our website (including never before seen footage) plus original audio commentary tracks by me and Kristy. It’s much better watching these videos on a nice TV, and we hope the new commentary soundtracks help aspiring RVers learn “what it’s really like” to live on the road. It’s like having us sitting right there with you on your couch!
K: Yes, the Internet and the growing availability of Wi-fi makes telecommuting a much more viable option. We meet quite a few freelancers and consultants out on the road.
9) What advice can you give to people (such as myself) who would love to hit the road and make a living while we are at it as well?
S: Consider “work camping.” Many campgrounds will allow you to stay for free in exchange for doing some work. Even better, consider working in one of our beautiful national parks. Those who proudly call themselves “parkies” do just that, working in various national parks around the United States. I did so in college and had a blast. You won’t get rich doing it, but you will enjoy a wealth of awesome experiences.
K: Again, I think any job that allows you to telecommute is the way to go. Who says you can’t participate in that conference call from your camper, OR from the beach? 😉
Amen, Kristy! And Sean, I love the idea of living the “parkie” life…Thank you both so much for taking time out to be interviewed. Can’t wait to experience some vicarious LLH summer adventures and hopefully catch up with you on the road…ideally at Alumapalooza in June (fingers crossed). And to all of you Caretaking Couple readers out there, be sure to visit Sean and Kristy at www.LongLongHoneymoon.com. Oh, and please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or two… I feel another prize drawing comin’ on…
“Honeymoon is a state of mind”