Holly Springs, NC: Old Friends Reunited

When Matt was 16, he applied to work on the High Ropes Course at Camp Shamineau near his home in Brainerd, MN. Normally, they didn’t hire anyone under 18, but the ropes course director, Bart, took a chance and hired him anyway. Bart and Matt’s friendship quickly blossomed and Bart has remained a mentor throughout Matt’s life. The last time we saw him was when he stood up as a groomsman in our wedding. We were so excited to reunite in North Carolina after not seeing him in 7.5 years! Bart has recently proposed to Diane, a news anchor in Raleigh. We had a fun time getting to know her better and hanging out with them for the weekend.

Photo album here.

Raleigh, NC: Patrick and Jen

What a blessing it was to spend time with Patrick, Jen, and two of their children (Luke and Lauren) in Raleigh. Jen is a self-professed “former vegan hippie” who is now finding her way back to her roots :) . She’s a homeschooling mama of four who has a kind, generous spirit. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her through Walk Slowly and was excited to meet her in person. We were welcomed with open arms into their warm home and fed amazing, delicious vegan food (check out the photos!). The next morning, Jen made MORE yummy food … and we sipped tea and coffee while looking out the windows to their backyard. They live in a really pretty wooded area…complete with a HUGE (and I mean huge) tree swing that lofts you out into the trees (and tree with colorful leaves STILL on them!). Fun! We are planning on getting together with them again when we fly back into Raleigh after the holidays.

Photo album here.

Moncure, NC: Piedmont Biofuels

Piedmont Biofuels, located near Raleigh, NC is one of the pioneers in backyard biodiesel production…and they are only the second coop we’ve seen that offers B100 (100% biodiesel). We stopped there on our way through and chatted with them for the afternoon. They have a great facility with gardens, a cob house, a straw bale house, biodiesel production house (of course!), intern housing, and a great tree swing (weeeeee!). We had fun talking with everyone and enjoyed the beautifully sunny day. We were delighted when they generously offered to donate 20 gallons of veggie oil to us…as well as a big bag of organic bell peppers from their gardens. Yay!

Photo album here.

Charlotte, NC: Ben and Jenny

When we were in Greenville, I got an email from Jenny asking if we could stop by their house on our way through Charlotte and show them the RV. The timing worked out perfectly, and we were able to spend a night visiting with them. Jenny’s husband, Ben, is a member of the band “Scotty Don’t” and they spend a lot of time touring around the country with their two children. They have an RV already, but they are looking for a more environmentally friendly way to do it. We had a great time hanging out with them…meeting their friends…eating good food…and of course, playing princess.

Photo album here.

Greenville, SC: Chris and Jen

Chris, Jen, and Bryce are fellow travelers AND Volkswagen lovers…so of course we liked them from the start! (For those that didn’t know, we used to own a delightful 1977 Westy). They went on their own cross country journey about a year ago in a VW Bus with their 2 year old. You can read all about it at “We Stay Gone”.

We had a great time in Greenville with them…Bryce and Bella had fun playing, fighting over toys and chasing each other around the yard. They have a gigantic Great Dane as well…gorgeous. They showed us around the beautiful downtown area and took us to the Mellow Mushroom (a delicious little spot) and out for ice cream and coffee. It was so odd to see Christmas lights in all the trees…but no snow! There is a really neat suspension bridge and park downtown. It’s a fun walking area.

I also had the chance to meet another friend while we were there. Kate came over with her kids to check out the RV…and then we all went out for coffee at Port City Java. It was so fun to put names with faces!

Photo album here.

Christmas Mail

One of the most common questions we hear on the road is “What do you miss the most?”. Most of the time my answer is “feeding people at my house!” I love to cook and have people over. There is nothing better than a big pot of soup, crusty bread, and salad…followed by coffee/tea and cookies with some conversation on the side :) We do get a lot of this at other people’s homes…and for this I am SO GRATEFUL. But there is just something special about having people to your own home and blessing them in that way…and I miss it.

However…lately I’ve been realizing that there is something I miss even more than cooking, and that’s MAIL!! I’ve always been a mail junkie. But I never realized how much I loved having my very own mailbox. The thrill of opening up that little box and finding something just for me…a REAL piece of mail with love inside…so fun.

With Christmas just around the corner, I know that many of you are sending out Christmas cards and family updates. We would LOOOVE to receive your letter this year! It’s so fun to “meet” the people following along on our journey…and to get it in the form of real mail would be even more fun.

Now before anyone panics and thinks that I’m going to give out a residential address on the big scary internet…no worries. Our address is merely a business box that collects all of our mail and then they forward it to wherever we ask them to.

We’d love to hear from YOU! Send your greetings to:

Matt and Sara Janssen
110 E Center St. #677
Madison, SD 57042

Happy Mailing!

Ecoerin Sponsors the Live Lightly Tour!

For the rest of our tour, we are going to smell REALLY yummy!! In fact, we’ll smell like Orange Patchouli….and Cinnamon and Cloves…and Lemon and Green Tea. Weeeeee!

We’re excited to announce that Ecoerin will be providing natural, fabulous handmade soaps for us to take on the road. If you are a bar soap lover (and if you aren’t, you should be!)…you will love Erin’s soaps! Be sure to check her site out…she is offering a 10% discount for Live Lightly blog readers…so be sure to get your order placed in time for Christmas delivery!

Asheville, NC: More Fun with Friends

I had been looking forward to our visit to Asheville for a LONG time! Everyone had been saying for months how much we would love it there…how fun it was, etc. It didn’t disappoint. We met Charlie and Angela (from Johnson City) there for a Saturday of fun. It was quite chilly out…but we bundled up and enjoyed the brisk autumn breezes. The first stop was The Laughing Seed. Oh…the deliciousness abounds. All vegetarian…all yummy. I ordered the hemp seed burger…and it was great! The restaurant was SUPER busy (they said it was their busiest weekend of the year!)…but that just added to the experience. There were more dreadlocked people in there than I have ever seen in one place, ever. :)

After lunch, we just walked around the downtown area and checked out all of the little shops. My favorite store was Terra Nova Decor…with decor, clothing, and other goodies from all around the world. I completely fell in love with an amazing Mongolian bed and platform couch. Oh…the love. We saw many other cool things…from art to incense…before stopping for some coffee and pastries at World Coffee Cafe.

We had so much fun running around town with Angela and Charlie…it’s always more fun to do things with friends!

Photo album here.

Clyde, NC: Kris and Natalia

As we headed to Asheville from Nashville, I emailed my friend Becky in SC and asked her what we should do while we were there. She immediately told me that we HAD to stop and see her friends Kris and Natalia!! Natalia was a “friend” of mine on MySpace and a real-life friend of Becky’s. And boy am I GLAD that we made plans to stop and see them…it was such a blessed time.

We arrived in the dark…we should know better, but it just happened that way. The dark made it a little hard to locate their house…but we kept driving and talking to Natalia on the phone until we saw her waving at us in the middle of the barely lit street. I jumped out and helped Matt get the RV all situated…and then we all headed inside where a delicious dinner was being prepared. My first impression of Kris and Natalia’s home was “I want this house!”. It’s so cute, warm, and homey. The colors are so rich and wonderful…you just want to stay forever. They have a beautiful property…with the perfect spot for our RV. We really COULD have stayed forever :) Bella made friends with the girls quickly and they were soon exchanging shoes and clothes and hugs. They have a great playroom in the basement…it made me want to be a little girl again!

Natalia is Portuguese, but grew up in France…she and Kris met when she was back visiting a friend. They have a great story and have two beautiful children, Carla and Maya. We so enjoyed our time there…we ate, drank tea, ate more, drank tea again…and talked and talked. I went to a “mama’s night out” with Natalia…which was a nice getaway for me. We attended their church on Sunday and spent the weekend relaxing. It was another stop that God had planned long in advance for us…knowing exactly what we would need at that point in our travels. It was a spiritual, mental, and physical “recharging” time for us. I hope our paths will cross again…

Photo album here.

Murfreesboro, TN: Shawn and Erin

Shawn and I met in Akron, Iowa when I was…well…young. I can’t even remember how long it’s been. I think we’ve probably known each other for over 20 years. Scary. Our families lived across the street from each other…and when we moved to Waverly, Iowa, Shawn’s family moved there too. Our lives and families have been intertwined for as long as my memory goes back. We even went to prom together…as friends :) We have always kept in touch…but he’s been all over the world since he and Erin got married, and we have rarely been able to see each other. So when the opportunity came up to spend Thanksgiving with them…we jumped at it.

Shawn and Erin have a cute little house just outside of Nashville in a town called Murfreesboro. He is currently the manager of a Starbucks there during the day…and at night he morphs into a rock star. :) Shawn Fin and The Flipping Birds. Check him out. Erin in a fine arts professor at Middle Tennessee State University. She was particularly glad to see us pull up…she was hiring Matt to build a wall in their garage to complete her art studio. They did indeed complete the wall…I’ve never seen Erin so happy :)

We had such a fantastic, leisurely time with them…Shawn made “authentic” Starbucks caramel lattes for us whenever our little hearts desired and Erin and I cooked up a storm :) Potato Corn Chowder, Tofu Tacos, Fresh Spring Rolls (yum!). Kelli, Erin’s sister came over on Thanksgiving to spend the day with us. I had met her many years ago in Iowa, so it was great to see her again. The weather was so beautiful…and Bella loved being outside with Athena the Dog and swinging on the tire swing.

Matt and Shawn (and Bella) had fun playing in the music room. Shawn has a recording studio in his house…complete with a sweet harmonizing machine that automatically harmonizes with you when you sing into the microphone. It was crazy! Bella was pretty delighted with this little contraption and spend many hours in their singing with her daddy.

Erin is pregnant with their first child :) so we had fun talking about all things birth and baby. We are so excited for them to reproduce…what fun to have a little mixture of them running around. It was such a blessing to have all that time to spend with them…it’s been so long. Reunions are great!

Photo album here.

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