Home Again: Our Great American Summer Begins

by Sasha Savinov

Can you believe the year is already halfway over? As we head into summer, it’s time for another update here. What started as a monthly post has become a bi-monthly one. Last time I gave an update on March and April in Puerto Vallarta. We left PV exactly a month ago so now seems like as good a time as any for the next one!

Table of Contents

Life

Whereas I started the last few recap posts talking about work, this time around the life and travel updates are a bit more important. I’ll get to the work stuff at the end of the post.

Hasta Luego, Mexico

After 8 months, we said hasta luego to our home away from home in Puerto Vallarta. It was the longest we’ve stayed in the same place since we lived in Bali several years ago. We actually had to pay to extend our generous 6-month visas for the first time in Mexico!

For the first few weeks of May, we stayed pretty busy doing our usual routine. Since our time was winding down, we made a point to get out and try some restaurants and bars we had never been to before. One of the best was Mezcal y Sal, which has some incredible cocktails and small plates that are great for sharing.

Mezcal y Sal

In our final week, we had lots of going away festivities. A bunch of people came out on our last night in town to see us off. Not surprisingly, we partied way too hard and struggled to pack up and move out of the condo.

Typical!

We’re working on some new Puerto Vallarta-related content, so stay tuned for that. We’re also planning on heading back again this November for round #5.

Cocktails with friends!

Taking a Finance Course

In the last update, I mentioned how I started learning about the FIRE movement at a nomad taco talk in PV. Well, the couple who gave that talk also ran a 10-week personal finance course for free and I signed up.

It’s been a bit tough having the course on Mondays with our hectic schedule, but I’ve managed to tune in to every session for most of the 1.5 hours and have gotten a lot out of it.

While I wish we had gotten started years ago on planning for our future, it’s better late than never. We are now tracking all of our income and expenses very carefully, putting money in an emergency fund every month, and contributing to IRA accounts.

We’re not exactly the best at #adulting, but we’re trying…

The course is run by Alan and Katie and they have lots of great resources on their website. Click here to check it out!

A Long Stint in the USA

When we booked flights back to the US, we weren’t sure how long we would stay. We were still waiting for an update from Phish about their summer tour, which is always crucial to our life plans!

When they went ahead and announced the rescheduled summer tour and tacked on a fall tour, we decided to stay awhile. It’s rare getting that much advance notice about a tour. This gives us several months to save and plan. More on that in a bit when I get to our travel plans…

Although travel is opening up in much of the world, we still felt things were a bit too uncertain to go flying across the globe. We’re pretty happy with our decision to spend several months in the US visiting family and friends, and getting back to seeing live music.

Speaking of family…

Back in ‘Merica for a while.

Becoming Aunt Rachel and Uncle Sasha

Just last week, we got the news that we are officially Aunt Rachel and Uncle Sasha! Rachel’s brother and his wife had a baby boy and we’re excited to meet our nephew in July.

I for one am excited to teach my nephew about all the cool things my uncles taught me, mostly pro wrestling. Maybe I’ll take him to an AEW show when he’s old enough!

Getting Vaccinated

Another reason we decided to come home was to get the COVID vaccine. We weren’t going to be eligible to get one in Mexico for a while, but we were able to walk right in and get one back in my hometown of Grosse Pointe.

I’m absolutely terrified of needles and hate getting shots of any kind. Seriously you guys, I act like a big baby. That being said, I was happy to get the vaccine and start to get back to normal. We feel much more comfortable traveling now and gathering in crowds.

Travel

Alright – now on to the fun stuff! We actually took one last trip in Mexico before leaving and have spent the last month traveling around the US. Here’s a rundown of what we got up to:

Mayto, Let’s Go!

Before we left PV, we took a road trip with a group of friends. We all rented a van with a driver and had him take us south to the remote beach of Mayto.

There’s literally nothing down there but a few hotels. Other than that it’s just miles of virgin beach. No touts, no vendors, no loud music from beach bars. It was a nice change of pace from the usual scene in PV.

All we did was hang out on the beach drinking beers. We went for a nice seafood dinner with a view and then came back for a bonfire. It was a great way to wind down our time in PV and a reminder of why we love the place so much.

Beautiful and quiet Mayto.

The Return of Live Music

Our first stop in the US was Detroit. Of course, I wanted to see my family, but the main reason to start there was a 2-night Umphrey’s McGee run.

They played a pod-based show in Pontiac about 40 minutes up the road. We shared a pod with my brother, cousin, and a few friends. There were several other pods full of friends surrounding us as well.

It’s so cold in the D…

It felt so amazing to be back at a show with our favorite people! There were lots of high fives, hugs, laughs, and tears of joy. After both shows, we walked around the corner to an after-party with a Grateful Dead cover band. It was such a fun weekend in (sort of) Detroit Rock City.

Click here to check out my recap of the show for the Summer Camp Music Festival’s Campfire Blog!

From there, we decided to send it out to Colorado for the last night of the Disco Biscuits 3-night run at Red Rocks. It was our 6th time at the venue but our first time seeing Bisco there.

We got closer than we’ve ever been (9th row) and had an amazing night dancing with friends. Red Rocks is definitely one of the country’s top venues, and we’re always happy to get to a show there. If you haven’t been yet, we can’t recommend it enough!

Sorry if you don’t!

Oh yeah, and the Goose is loose! We were so excited to finally see Goose live at Legend Valley in Ohio last weekend. We watched all of their live streams during quarantine and they got us through some tough times.

They have been our most-listened-to band of the last year and it was awesome to go to a show. Plus, it was our first time camping out for music since Summer Camp in 2019! It felt so good dancing under the stars and partying at the campsite with new friends.

These shows were so much fun that we’ll have our own write-up of them coming soon.

There was a dinosaur at the Goose shows…

Family Vacation Out West

We had planned to go to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons last fall, but a cold front and wildfires derailed those plans. Instead, we hit the national parks in Colorado with a friend on that trip.

When my mom said she wanted to do a family trip to Yellowstone, of course, we were down! I played travel agent and booked us three different Airbnbs for a total of 11 nights around the two national parks.

We’ll have a few blog posts and videos about our trip as soon as we get the time to put them together. For now, here’s a quick recap…

Hanging with the fam.

We started in Island Park, Idaho, and spent four nights there. It was our base for exploring West Yellowstone as well as some scenic places in the area like Mesa Falls.

Next up we drove to Livingston, Montana where we checked into a beautiful house for three nights. We spent a day checking out the sights in North Yellowstone and the Lamar Valley, which were both epic.

While there, we also did a great hike to a Pine Creek Waterfall, hung out in Bozeman, and saw a great night of live music at the Pine Creek Lodge.

Pine Creek Lodge is a great place to see a show!

We had a long drive to the next spot as we went all the way through Yellowstone, past Grand Tetons, then through Jackson, and over the mountains to Victor, Idaho.

From our base in Victor, we spent a few days hiking in Grand Tetons and taking in the views. We also got to hang out with a friend who lives in Jackson, cycling around town, drinking beers, and playing mini-golf.

It was definitely a bucket-list trip and one we’ll remember forever. We can’t wait to share more with you, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it! For now, you can check out our Instagram page for a highlight reel.

Just a casual bison gathering.

Viva Las Vegas!

To get back to Detroit, we were faced with spending $700+ on a one-way flight. Instead, we did a bit of clever travel planning and gave ourselves a stopover in Vegas.

This allowed us to book flights to Vegas then onto Detroit with points, saving us tons of money. We put that towards an Airbnb, some amazing Chinese food, and tickets to Meow Wolf.

If you haven’t heard of it, definitely look it up. The place is a psychedelic dream world and one of the coolest things we’ve ever done!

Inside Meow Wolf

Other than Meow Wolf, we just walked around the Strip with beers people watching. It must have been really weird in Vegas at the height of the pandemic. We were happy to see the place packed with ridiculous people on a weekend, as it should be!

Some people hate on Vegas, but we love it. Sure it gets hot AF (it was pushing 110 while we were there), but it’s such a fun city. We’re actually headed back there in October, which brings us to the next point today…

Going for 21 in ’21

If you know us at all, you probably know we love the band Phish. We started dating on their 2009 tour, got engaged at a New Year’s Eve concert, and generally plan our lives around their tour dates.

Not getting to see a single Phish show for almost 2 years has left a void in our souls. We’re so happy that they’ll be back on the road soon and we’re going big this year.

The plan is to see 21 shows in ’21 – 10 this summer and another 11 on their fall tour. If it all works out, the last show will be Halloween night in Las Vegas. It will also be Rachel’s 100th show.

How cool is that?!

Phish Behind Stage

The view from behind the stage at Phish.

Flying for Free

The only way we’re going to pull off seeing that many shows in a year having a ton of Southwest points and their Companion Pass. It’s a little thing called “travel hacking” and we really nailed it this time!

We earned the companion pass last year by taking advantage of their credit card sign-up bonuses. To be clear, we had big necessary expenses and we paid them off in full. We do not advocate for travel hacking if you cannot pay your bill off right away.

The companion pass means Rachel flies for basically free every time I book a Southwest flight. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take advantage of it while in Mexico, but we’re making up for lost time.

I’ve booked about a dozen flights in total with it already, all of them with points for my fare and just the taxes and fees for Rachel. I estimate we’ve already saved well over $2,000 in flight costs this year.

Because of the companion pass, we’re going back to the Gorge for Phish in August. We’re also headed out to California, Oregon, Arizona, and back to Vegas to see them this fall. We even got flights back to Puerto Vallarta for November and still have some points left!

If you’d like some advice on travel hacking, please feel free to reach out. We’re happy to help! We definitely recommend the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. Right now you can get 65,000 points with their personal card or 80,000 with their business one. Just click here to get started.

Work

Since we took 2.5 weeks off for the family vacation and Vegas trip, we really didn’t work that much in the time since the last update. As such, this section will be very short…

Time for a Job Change

We’ve been teaching English online for VIPKID for 5 years now and have had a great run. That being said, many of their recent policy changes have negatively impacted us.

It’s still a great job for someone just starting out in the online ESL world, but we’re starting to think it’s time to move on. Our schedules don’t fill in like they used to, and we actually got a pay cut after several years on the job.

For now, we’re not really sure what comes next. I will likely apply for Langu and start teaching with them as well. We are both looking into other platforms like Outschool, too. We’ll see what happens and will keep you updated.

Teach English online

Might be time to hang up the orange shirt…

Another Successful Launch

Even though we were super busy at the end of May, Rachel still launched her course Teaching for Freedom again. She put a lot of work into updating all of the content and running a few webinars.

Once again, she got several new students enrolled in her course. She’s helping them get started teaching English online and transitioning into digital nomad life and she can help you, too!

On the Cover

In the last update, I wrote about how I got assigned another cover story for Live & Invest Overseas. This one was all about Puerto Vallarta, mostly geared towards people who want to retire there.

The story clocked in at over 9,000 words and was a ton of work. I also added my own photos, edited a short video, did an ex-pat interview, and did a Q&A session on a webinar. It was a lot of work but the story looks great and I got some solid feedback on it!

That was the third cover story I’ve written for them and the second this year. It’s been really exciting getting these big assignments and not having to worry so much about my teaching schedule. Hopefully, another one is coming my way this fall!

It was so fun writing about PV!

Well, that does it for this update! It’s been a pretty hectic month and a half moving out of our PV condo and hitting the road. We’re a bit exhausted but happy to be doing what we love again. July will give us the chance to slow down, as we’re spending the whole month in Rachel’s neck of the woods.

Thanks as always for reading! We hope everyone is having a great summer full of adventures again. Until next time…

 

More Posts Like This:

 

0 comment

You may also like

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Shares
Share
Pin
Tweet
Share