Who am I? A question that is not always easy to answer. I would say, I am a world explorer and adventurer, a seamstress and designer, an all around artist, an event coordinator and hostess, a caring friend, most of all a loving mother and wife. How we see ourself often changes through the passing years and I am do different in that regard. To learn about me we should start from the beginning.
My path has taken many turns and it all began in the 1970’s when I was born in Florida to a very loving and encouraging family that seldom prevented me from doing anything. I had always been a responsible and well behaved child. I was active in marching band and color-guard, preformed at variety of sporting events and parades including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and several at Walt Disney World, I maintained an after school job and made good grades throughout all my school years.
Coming of age in Central Florida can be a bit rough, not saying it’s Compton but several childhood friends have spent multiple stents in jail, or met a worst fate and were killed in drive-by’s or murdered in a home invasion. I spent the 90’s partying it up at all night raves in Orlando’s renown Club Firestone, before curfews went in to effect. I went out dancing almost every night of the week for about six years, pretty impressive when I look back.
My first oversea travel happened when my girlfriend, Stacey, got married in Bermuda. Then a trip to Czech Republic, in my early twenties, to visit a friend’s family. These two trips were just the the beginning in my globe exploration. However, things changed in my mid twenties after a run in with the law when I was busted for possession of marijuana, back before it was legalized. My party lifestyle took a 180 and I submerged myself into work.
I have always worked in the hospitality field. Spent a few years working for the Walt Disney World hotels, had been a bartender and server at a variety of bars, restaurants and clubs around central Florida, spent five years managing a local catering company, as well as helped develop and write training manuals for the Palm Corporation and Brinkers. I often would accept jobs that I was over qualified for, just to get my foot in the door, within months I would be promoted due to my dedication and hard work. I always strive to be an asset. I worked whenever needed, would come in on my days off and pulled overtime when called for; I would have called myself a workaholic.
In April 2000, a group of friends introduced me to the jam band scene, they told me they were going to see this band, Widespread Panic, play for three nights at the House of Blues Orlando and I should join them. I thought they were crazy, “I can’t take three days of work to see a band.” So they talked me into going one night, the Sunday show, they said it would be best to go the last night because if I went one of the other nights and couldn’t get the rest of the weekend off I would be upset.
That Sunday my life was set on a new course, the music and community of Widespread Panic grabbed me and pulled me in. I asked, “where was the best place to see them play?” The answer was undeniably Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado at the end of June. So I loaded up the car a drove the 31 hours cross country, without tickets to the shows, in hopes to get in. I had no place to stay or any idea of what was in store except an adventure. I set up camp at Chief Hosa, a campground a few miles west of the venue, along with a few thousand other Panic fans. The whole experience was eye opening and life changing.
I was almost arrested at Red Rocks Park for peddling hemp necklaces that I was selling to help compensate for travel cost. Thankfully, I scored tickets to all three nights of shows. Met some amazing friends that welcomed me into the circle and had the time of my life. During the Sunday show, I was walking up the stairs in a ragged patchwork hand embroider dress that I had bought at the campground the day before and was stopped by a young woman, Shay Berry. She wanted to know if I had made the dress? Our meeting was kismet and lead to one of the most amazing friendship of my life. Her boyfriend and now husband, Keith “Scramble” Campbell was painting live during the concert, they traveled the country attending shows and festivals painting to live music. Shay and I discovered we had so much in common and a passion for many of the same things. Coincidentally, we lived 20 minutes from each other in Florida. From that day on they have been an integral part of my life and we have shared in unforgettable memories together.
The next five years my jam band family grew both in Florida and across the country. I traveled the States every chance I could get seeing music. Finally, I had made the decision to move to Colorado and haven’t regretted a single moment of it. Shay and Keith had moved out west about a year before I did, and with the connections i had established in Colorado the transition was easy. We spent the summers attending concerts at Red Rocks, we would see around 30 shows a season. Life was great! Shay and I traveled to Thailand to visit our girlfriend Nan. The three of us along with a couple other friends to a trip to Cambodia, one of the most spiritual and peaceful places, in my opinion, on this planet. This trip awakened something in me and the country would call to me for years to come.
Back State side, I decided to enroll at University of Colorado, Boulder where I earned my Bachelors degree in Economic focusing on the development of third world countries and minor in theatrical design, for fun. I spent my thirties in college, because I wanted to, and took full advantage of the study abroad programs. I wanted to study in Cambodia, something was drawing me back there, however there were no programs offer when I first visited the study abroad office. So I spent a Semester at Sea, a program that was hosted by Virginia University, where the students lived on a cruise ship and attended class everyday they are at sea and had free time when in port. That semester I travel to Nova Scotia, Norway, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece, Egypt and Croatia. It was absolutely amazing! A couple years later I found myself back in the study aboard office and much to my surprise there was a program in Cambodia, I knew I wanted to go and there was no need to look any further. I would spend the summer semester studying economic and history of this beautiful developing nation.
Since I had traveled to Southeast Asia before I knew I wanted to take sometime to see more of the region. I booked my flights to arrive a few weeks early and stay a few weeks later then my program lasted. At the being of June I bordered a plane bound for Vietnam, my first night in the country I met the love of my life, Daniel Bernhardt, a story that deserves it own page (Our Love Story). That summer changed my life. A year and half later Daniel and I were married over looking the Red Rocks Park and Dinosaur Ridge. Six months after that we accepted an offer to be the proprietors of a boutique bed and breakfast in lovely Morrison, Colorado. Our lives were one and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Over the next five years our community grew large and strong, we were an integral part of the town and infamous for transforming a failing business into a prosperous endeavor. I helped organized and head Morrison’s event committee and was president of the town’s nonprofit. I established a yearly festival that honored Morrison’s rich history in music and community. The bed and breakfast was a hot spot to stay for any concert goer attending the events at Red Rocks. We coordinated all inclusive events, hosted weddings, birthdays, baby showers, holiday dinners, late night parties and our weekly summer Sunday fun-day. We not only worked at the hotel but we lived there, we open our home and hosted families from around the globe. Our short vacations to Dominican Republic or Mexico revolved around music and promoting the business but we wouldn’t have had it any other way, the hotel was like our child.
That is until January 2016 when our precious daughter, Francesca, was born. Continuing to run a flourishing business and raise a baby took a bit of juggling but we had hoped to acquire the property in future and it was our lives. We were blessed to live and work at the same place and happy to be raising Francesca in a social atmosphere. Entertaining was ingrained in everything we did, hospitality was our life. However, we did wanted to make sure our little one shared our love for travel so we went on several trips during the slow season. We visited family in Israel for the holidays and took a trip to Spain and Portugal with our friends Rod and Andrea. Francesca’s first birthday was spent at Kundalini Yoga Retreat in Jamaica hosted by my dear friend Jacki Brown. In early spring we spent my mother’s sixtieth birthday in Mexico seeing Widespread Panic and traveling the coast. When we returned from our adventures we received word that the owner of the bed & breakfast would be returning, our life was going to change drastically and we knew our time in Morrison was coming to an end.
This announcement made us evaluate what we wanted to do when the season was over and we been laid off from our jobs and had no home. We decided that we wanted to travel, we wanted to take our daughter on a worldwide adventure. We hoped that along the way the energies would guide us to our next gig. With help from our amazing friends and family we stored our belongs and left the States to circumnavigate the globe. Now we are trying to figure out where we travel to next, how to make money on the road and how we continue to see the world for as long as we can. If you have any ideas feel free to message me with insight or amazing job opportunity, we are open to travel pretty much anywhere.
Our stories and pictures of our adventures can be found under Travel Stories. Locations were we have been or plan on seeing are under Destinations. I hope you enjoy the stories and share them, become part of our community and family. Because traveling is always better with friends and people to share your adventures! Thanks for reading.