Summer Down South: A July Recap

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Our last few updates on here covered two months at a time. Check out the last one to read about our last month in Puerto Vallarta and coming back to the States. July was actually a pretty big month and we have a brief bit of downtime at the moment, so now seems like a good time for the next one! Read on to find out what we got up to down south visiting Rachel’s family.

Life

I’ll start with some life updates, as there isn’t a whole lot to report here for July. The biggest update was a change of location for the month, as we left Detroit and headed south.

Tennessee, Tennessee, Ain’t No Place I’d Rather Be!

Rachel always loves quoting that line from the Grateful Dead song “Tennessee Jed” when we head back to her neck of the woods. Traveling between Detroit and Johnson City is usually a pain, but it was quite simple this time around.

We used American points to fly there with a few hours in Charlotte. As far as trips between our hometowns go, it was one of the easiest. If you want to learn how to score free flights easily, check out our recent Travel Hacking 101 post.

We got back to Johnson City on June 30th and spent the next month bouncing between there and Candler (right outside of Asheville). Rachel was happy to have her bedroom back, and it’s gotten a nice facelift since the last time we occupied it.

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Good times in Johnson City!

Although we were really busy with work, we still found time to do the usual things we love in JC. We got beers at Yee Haw and tried a new rooftop place called Watauga. Rachel was even overheard saying “Johnson City is actually cool now!” Oh my, how times have changed!

We also finally checked out the Rocky Fork State Park. It’s located between JC and Asheville, so we pass it all the time. We only had time for a short hike, but now that we know what it has to offer we’ll be coming back frequently for longer visits.

Hanging Out in AVL

As I just mentioned, we spent a good portion of the month hanging out near Asheville. If you will recall from last year, that’s where we ended up living that quarantine life for several months. It’s only about an hour drive between the two and we made it several times.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to do things like cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway or play disc golf, but we did visit the River Arts District a few times. It’s a great place to take a stroll or a bike ride along the river and there are several excellent breweries nearby.

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AVL

Over the course of the month, we checked out some old favorites (New Belgium, Wedge, Burial, UpCountry) and added a few new places to our list (Archetype and Whale). There are so many good breweries in Asheville it’s a bit ridiculous. We spent way too much money on craft beer in July, but hey – when in Rome!

If you’re planning a trip there, be sure to check out our 3 days in Asheville itinerary and our Asheville breweries video:




Spending Time With Family and Friends

We were really busy with work (more on that later), but we still managed to spend lots of time with family. This included a visit from her grandparents and a trip to see her uncle and his family in Charlotte. It was great getting to see them all, as the last time we had spent time together was Christmas 2019.

There were also many nights where we got dinner or went out for beers with her mom and stepdad and we went over to her dad’s house a few times. Her brother was pretty busy being a new dad and working, but we did get to meet our nephew and look forward to getting to watch him grow up.

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Hanging with our friends on the 4th of July.

We also got to spend a lot of time with friends in the area. This included a 4th of July cookout/slumber party with our friends and their two kids. Rachel also visited her best friend in Johnson City several times and we got to hang out with one of my old friends in Asheville here and there.

Traveling all over the world is great and all, but it’s also nice to be at home surrounded by people you know and love. We’re trying to find a balance between the two and think we’re finally getting there!

6 Years of Marriage

We got married on Cloud 9 (seriously, that’s the name of the place) back on July 18, 2015. To celebrate six years of marriage, we traveled down to Atlanta with some friends to see one of our favorite bands.

While sharing an Airbnb with friends and seeing the Disco Biscuits live may not seem very romantic, there’s no other way we would rather spend the occasion!

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A great way to spend our anniversary!

We actually ended up going out for music three nights in a row. Despite being exhausted on our actual anniversary, we still went to downtown Asheville to catch a local band. That’s just what we do! We’ll save the candlelit dinner for another year. I did get Rachel a nice pair of earrings from a vendor at the show, though!

In case you missed the post a while back, here’s a recap of our DIY Asheville hippie wedding.

Work

That about does it for the life updates. July was a busy month for work, as it has been for the last few years. Here’s a quick update:

Teaching Triple Time

On most weekdays in July, we ended up teaching triple time. We each did a shift with VIPKID in the morning and another one at night. Rachel had her Langu classes in the early afternoon as well.

I also joined the BookNook reading program through VIPKID for a month. It was pretty easy, as I was only on the schedule for one hour three days a week and I was a sub. I actually only had students a few times but enjoyed the classes and hope to get more.

At the end of the month, I had taught nearly 200 classes. It’s the most I’ve taught in a long time. Rachel wasn’t too far behind. That was a relief, as our bookings had been fluctuating a lot the last few months.

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Teaching triple time!

That being said, there was bad news for our industry. We heard lots of rumblings about new regulations on after-school tutoring in China throughout the month but just kept chugging along. The picture is becoming a bit clearer now, but I’ll save that for the August update.

If July ends up being our last big month with VIPKID ever, at least it was a good one that helped propel us to do what we love doing best – going on Phish tour!

A New Writing Gig

I’ve been writing a few posts here and there for Sam at My Flying Leap for the past few months. This includes an epic 3-day Las Vegas itinerary that I’m pretty proud of.

It’s nice to get back to it after losing a lot of my freelance writing work last year due to COVID. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things writing these SEO-heavy posts. It’s fun but it’s also a lot of work with all the research involved.

We’re working on a list of posts for me to put together over the next few months, so stay tuned!

Travel

There’s not much else to say about work for July, as we spent the vast majority of the month in class. That brings us to the most exciting part of the update – travel! Since we were so busy working, our travel experiences for July pretty much revolved around visiting family and seeing shows.

Asheville 4th of July

As I mentioned earlier, we visited our friends for a little 4th of July get-together. We stayed at their place on the 3rd and had lots of fun hanging with them and their adorable kids.

It’s fun being Uncle Sasha, and you know we rage when I’m there!

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America, Funk Yeah!

The next day, we finally checked out a venue in Asheville that’s been high on our list. It’s called Salvage Station and they have both an indoor and outdoor area. It’s right by the French Broad River and a super cool place to see a show.

On the 4th of July, we were there to see local funk bands – the Get Right Band and the Fritz. We loved that the show was billed as “America, Funk Yeah!” A few friends joined and we had a great time boogying down to some funk and sipping on some local brews.

Biscuits at the Ballpark

As I said, we spent our 6th wedding anniversary going to concerts with friends. The Disco Biscuits played two nights at a minor league ballpark in Lawrenceville – a suburb about 20 minutes outside of Atlanta.

It was originally supposed to be a pod-based show, and our friend scored a front-row pod in the on sale. With the easing of restrictions, they were able to remove the pod setup. They still created a VIP section though and honored our tickets, so we got to hang out on the rail all night without fighting for a spot there.

Our friends hadn’t traveled for a show without their kids since they had their daughter six years ago. We used to go to shows all the time together, so it was such a blast to get to rage like old times!

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Home runs all day!

Actually, we saw TONS of friends there. Rachel went to school in North Carolina and lived in Atlanta. She also interned with a live music company and went to countless shows over the years. As such, we were bumping into people we knew all weekend.

There was a rain delay on the first night, which was a slight bummer, but it gave us plenty of time to congregate in the hall and hang out with friends. After a year and a half of social distancing and a serious lack of concerts, this weekend was much needed!

DMB in Charlotte

You probably know us by now as huge jamband fans. We’re always following around Phish, the Disco Biscuits, Umphrey’s McGee, and the like. Well, that obsession all started for me back in high school with a Dave Matthews Band concert.

In Grosse Pointe (my hometown), the DMB show was the place to be. It was almost bigger than the prom. People took limos, got smashed on cheap liquor, and all that good stuff.

I saw several DMB shows in high school but then stopped seeing them when I got into other bands. In fact, I even skipped their set at a few festivals over the years.

Well, after over a year with very little live music, I was thrilled to give them another chance! Plus, the band is entirely different now than it was back in those days.

We figured we’d add the show to our plans when we saw Charlotte on their tour dates. We wanted to go visit Rachel’s uncle and his family anyways, and they live just 10 minutes from the venue.

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DMB on the lawn.

The show was sold out with a packed lawn, which was a bit weird after over a year of distancing. We found a spot at the top of the lawn three songs into the show and settled in for the evening.

I grabbed a beer and a White Claw for the shocking price of $33 and vowed to not drink much at shows this summer! Not at those prices…

It was a great show and they even finished the set with my favorite DMB tune (Tripping Billies). It was a nice dose of nostalgia and brought me back to all those wild nights in high school with my friends.

Final Thoughts

That’s a wrap for our July recap. As you can see, it was a month full of family & friends, classes & concerts, brews & Biscuits. It was super busy and a bit hectic, but then again that’s the way we like to live! We’re not very good at sitting still…

I’m writing this post in a very brief window of downtime for a jam-packed month of August. We’re spending most of this month running around the country seeing shows and festivals, so make sure you subscribe to our posts to get the update in a few weeks!

We hope everyone is having a great summer and staying safe wherever you are. We’ll see you at a show somewhere!


 

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