On the Road Again: A Summer 2021 Recap

phish gorge
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They say time flies when you’re having fun, and that old adage proved true once again this summer. It went by in the blink of an eye as we traversed the country seeing live music. Now that fall is upon us, it’s time for a quick recap of the rest of our summer. Read about the first half of our summer here.

Table of Contents

Life

After spending July between Johnson City and Asheville working a ton, the rest of summer was spent on the road. We left Asheville on July 31 and aside from a week and a half in my hometown, we were in go mode the whole time.

As a result, we don’t really have any huge life updates for this post. Our life basically revolved around shows and continues to do so. I did get a year older in August as I transition into my late 30s. Ugh…

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My 36th birthday dinner in Detroit.

The only important thing we have to report is that we’re probably only going back to Mexico for a month this year. We love it in Puerto Vallarta and would gladly spend the whole winter there again, but we’re trying to save money. It looks like we’ll be spending most of the winter in JC/Asheville.

Obviously, we’ve got a lot of travel stories to share from the last six weeks of summer, so I’m just going to dive right into that!

Travel

We definitely logged some miles this summer, traveling down south, around the midwest, out to the Pac NW, and back to Colorado. Here’s a rundown of what we got up:

Phish Tour

After nearly two years, we finally got to see our favorite band again! As a matter of fact, we saw 13 Phish shows in 5 different states!

We skipped the first two shows of their 2021 summer tour, but we saw the next seven in a row. It started with a 2-night run in Alpharetta where we stayed with friends and had a fantastic weekend.

Next up, we drove to Nashville for two more shows at the awesome Ascend Amphitheatre. It’s an intimate venue that only fits around 7,500 people and is one of our favorite places to see Phish.

It was a bit of a phamily reunion for us in Music City, as we saw so many old friends. We had a cookout before the show one day and then raged a friend’s hotel room until the wee hours of the morning both nights.

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Phish Southern tour was a blast!

We left Rachel’s mom’s old car in Nashville and flew up to Detroit. My dad took us and my brother out for an early birthday dinner for me.

Then we packed up all the camping gear and drove the 4.5 hours down to Noblesville, IN for the 3-night run at the legendary Deer Creek.

I’ve seen Phish there in ’03, ’04, ’09, ’12, ’16, and now ’21. It’s always a great time camping out there, and it was so nice getting a 3-night run again after 18 years.

The band must have known it was my birthday on 8/6 because they played the show of the tour that night. And I’m not just saying that because it’s my birthday. Phish fans have literally voted it the best show, mostly because of the huge “Blaze On” and “Simple” jams.

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Birthday weekend at Deer Creek!

Summer Camp

After Deer Creek, we had about a week in Grosse Pointe to catch our breath and catch up on work. Next up on our travel schedule was a return to the Summer Camp Music Festival.

SCamp had to cancel its 20th-anniversary last year and then had to postpone from the usual Memorial Day weekend to mid-August. It was worth the wait, as this was honestly the best SCamp ever.

After parachuting in from Mexico the past few years, it was nice to finally drive ourselves there. We went down on Wednesday night to stay with some friends and then got into the festival on Thursday afternoon.

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Cheers to 20 years!

It was a magical weekend seeing some of our favorite bands and discovering new ones. Of course Umphrey’s and moe. both crushed it, as did SCamp regulars STS9, Andy Frasco, and Spafford.

We finally got to see Billy Strings and it was one of the best shows we saw all summer. That boy can pick! We also finally saw GRiZ and had a blast getting down to his unique blend of untz and sax. Oh yeah, and freaking Ween was there too!

For my full detailed recap of the weekend, head on over to the Campfire. I just finished up a massive 30-minute video as well that I’ll be uploading soon so stay tuned for that!

More Phish Tour

After Summer Camp, we had one day to unpack, do laundry, and pack again. We slept for two hours and caught a ride with my dad at 4 AM to the airport.

It was a long travel day, with a layover in Chicago on the way to Portland. We caught the train to the city center, then a bus out to Lake Oswego.

When our usual crew backed out of going to see Phish at the Gorge, we weren’t sure what we’d do. Rental cars have been insanely expensive this summer and we didn’t want to fly with a bunch of camping gear either.

Thankfully we have amazing friends who saved the day. They literally let us borrow everything – a tent, lawn chairs, coolers, a grill, and even a car. Huge thanks to the Wolfe fam for helping us make it to the shows!

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The Gorge really is the best.

This was our 4th time seeing Phish at the Gorge and our first 3-night run there. We ended up having a bunch of friends there after all and it was an incredible weekend.

We spent a few days hanging out in Portland/Lake Oswego after the shows. Rachel had to work a bit and I was busy working on our travel plans, but we did manage to make it to the Japanese garden again and went out for some killer ramen.

Of course, you know we also hit up a couple of breweries. Our friend Chris took us to Ancestry where he works, and we also checked out Breakside. Both were really good and our favorite beer was probably the Rainbows & Unicorns Pale Ale.

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Portland and Lake Oswego

When tickets to Dick’s started popping up, we decided to change our plans and head to Denver. It was the 10th-anniversary of Phish Dick’s so we knew it would be a joyous occasion.

We saw Spafford play downtown at the Sculpture Park on Thursday, which was a nice warmup for the big weekend. As is usually the case, Phish delivered the goods for the summer tour closer.

It was a super fun weekend as always and it went by way too fast. We got to hang out with a bunch of friends, including plenty of late-night shenanigans.

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Phish <3 Dick’s.

The Party Bus Came by and We Got On

To wind down another huge summer of live music, we got back to Detroit in time for the Dead & Company show there. My brother’s friends arranged a party bus, so we figured we’d join and have one last hurrah before summer came to an end.

Unfortunately, the bus was 45 minutes late and the line to get into Pine Knob was insane. I was once again reminded why I hate that venue. Seriously y’all – that place sucks.

On the bright side, it was still a fun evening hanging out with friends and dancing to the good ole Grateful Dead. We may rag on them and call them “Dead & Slow,” but it’s still a good show.

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Last show of the summer!

Heading Back Down South

About five weeks after we left the car in Nashville, we flew back down there to pick it up. We went out for BBQ and beers with friends and stayed the night, then had a 4.5-hour drive to get back to Johnson City.

We’re hanging out down here in Rachel’s neck of the woods until it’s time to get back on the road for the Phish fall tour. After a crazy month and a half, we’re both excited about being somewhat sedentary for a bit.

For the last official weekend of summer, we had a nice little family reunion. We booked an awesome house on VRBO near the Hanging Rock State Park and most of her family joined us to celebrate Rachel’s grandma’s birthday.

And just like that, summer came to a close. It was definitely one for the books!

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Fun times with the fam!

Work

It was a pretty slow month of work for us in August as we were on the road for most of the month. That being said, we did get some pretty big news. And it wasn’t good news…

The End of VIPKID

For the past five years, we’ve been teaching English online with VIPKID. It’s been our main source of income that entire time, and it’s how we became digital nomads.

While it’s been a great ride, it’s been on the decline for a while now. It started with the loss of the last hour of classes. Then there was a change in our incentive pay, leading us to get a pay cut after several years on the job.

To top it all off, the Chinese government recently announced new regulations that basically spell the end of the after-school tutoring industry. We are still teaching at the moment, but it won’t be long until there are no more classes at all.

We got the news while on Phish tour so we didn’t really have time to deal with it. As far as what the future holds, we’re really not sure.

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The end of an era…

Thankfully Rachel’s other job teaching for Langu is not affected at all. She’s actually gotten some exciting new opportunities with them. I think it’s finally about time that I set up my profile and get started on there as well.

If you’re interested in teaching online on one of these “create a profile” platforms, Rachel will be holding a webinar and a workshop soon. Be sure you subscribe to our newsletter to get all the important details. We’ll send you our e-book 7 Tips to Help You Travel Smarter as a thank you!

Final Thoughts

All in all, it was a pretty amazing summer. While it kind of sucks that our job is disappearing, we’re both ready for a change. Plus, when one door closes, another one usually opens.

We’re trying to maintain a positive attitude and use this opportunity to do something different. We’ve realized that our lives basically go in 5-year cycles. We lived in China for 5 years and now we’ve been nomads teaching with VIPKID for another five.

For now, we’re just trying to enjoy our time with family here and get ready for Phish fall tour. We’ll figure out the rest when we get back from yet another epic Halloween run in Las Vegas!

I’d like to end this summer recap by saying thanks to all our family and friends who helped make this summer so amazing. There’s no way we could have pulled it off without all your generosity and support. We appreciate y’all so much! Hope to see some of you on the road this fall. Until next time…

 

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