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Digital Nomad Life Month 105

Month 105 has been an incredible month of travel, experiencing extremely different cultures, and temperatures.

We started the month in Austin where we had one last morning to enjoy the city before hitting the road again. Over the next few days, we traveled up through Dallas and Grapevine and over to Amarillo, before entering New Mexico where we visited friends and family in Albuquerque and Espanola.

Santa Fe Plaza

Then we were back in Denver to drop Joni off with a sitter and pack for our five-week trip.

The first place we visited was Alaska where we spent eleven days enjoying winter activities and seeing the Aurora for the first time. We traveled to Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs, Talkeetna, and Anchorage and had a few hours in Juneau as a stopover when we left.

Next up we had a night and day in Cancun where we squeezed in a visit to the beautiful (but touristy and built up) beach before flying to Cuba, where we spent the rest of the month traveling to Havana, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus and Cienfuegos.

Now onto the stats!

Trinidad color

Countries Visited: USA, Mexico, Cuba

Places Visited:

Texas: Austin, Dallas, Grapevine, Amarillo
New Mexico: Santa Rosa, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Espanola, Ojo Caliente
Colorado: Fort Garland, Brighton, Aurora
Alaska: Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs, Talkeetna, Anchorage, Juneau
Mexico: Cancun
Cuba: Havana, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos

National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Three UNESCO Sites in Cuba – Old Havana, Trinidad and Valle de los Ingenios, and the Historic Centre of Cienfuegos.

Islands Visited: Cuba

Best Meals: Smoked turkey, fried potatoes, and mac and cheese from Vaqueros Texas BBQ Food Truck in Grapevine; Chile Relleno with green chili and refried beans with sopaipilla and honey butter from Tomasita’s in Santa Fe; Tom Yum noodle soup with vegetables from Yes! Noodles in Fairbanks; Halibut with apple honey sauce, mashed potato and vegetables from Lavelles Bistro in Fairbanks; Sriracha fried chicken sandwich from Denali Brewpub in Talkeetna; Parmesan and Asiago crusted halibut with mashed potato and lemon butter sauce from 49th State Brewing in Anchorage; King Salmon with lemon butter sauce, mashed potato and asparagus from Red Dog Saloon in Juneau; Lobster tails with garlic butter, Cuban black beans, rice and sweet potato from Dona Etumia in Havana; Fish croquettes from La Botija in Trinidad; the incredible meal our host made us in Cienfuegos – lentil stew with yucca, sweet potato, fried plantain, rice, and salad.

Halibut at 49th State Brewing Co

Best Craft Beer: Wicked Stout Hazelnut Chocolate Stout from Hop and Sting Brewing Company in Grapevine; Raspberry Chocolate Stout from Canteen Brewhouse in Albuquerque; Apple Fritter Ale and Rockless Murmur Sour Ale from 49h State Brewing in Anchorage.


For the first month since I started recording these recaps, I didn’t do any hikes. I did go snowshoeing and walked around a bit but didn’t actually hike this month.

Watching: The best things I watched this month were Good Grief, an excellent movie about love and death and grief, and Society of the Snow – an incredible, incredible movie about the Uruguayan soccer team whose plane crashed in the Andes in 1972 and their almost unbelievable survival story. Very tragic but also so beautifully depicted. An absolute must-see.

I also saw Poor Things and Maestro and enjoyed both but didn’t love them.

Juneau waterfront

Reading: So many great books this month, and I loved all of them. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstein, Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, and my favorite – Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton.

Birnam Wood is one of my new favorite books of all time and took up a lot of space in my head for days after reading it. It is absolutely incredible, dark, insightful, and a must-read.

Using Libby so I can easily check out books from the library has been a game-changer for me and I am reading a lot more than I have in years.

New Posts: No new posts this month but I did completely overhaul my Things To Do in Talkeetna post, adding lots of winter activities after my recent visit.

Cancun Beach


Swimming at Barton Springs in Austin

During my first visit to Austin, Barton Springs was closed due to algae, and on the second time we tried to visit, during this trip, it was closed for the day for cleaning, so I made it my mission to finally swim there on the morning we were leaving. It was worth the wait.

Barton Springs in Austin

It definitely wasn’t as warm as I thought it would be (there is no way that the water is the 88 degrees that they say it is!) but it was super refreshing and I felt great after my swim. It is a beautiful spot and I loved seeing all the regulars hanging out and swimming.

If I lived in Austin I could definitely see myself swimming here at least once a week.

Visiting a New-To-Me Meow Wolf

I was so excited to see that there is a Meow Wolf in Texas now and that we would be passing right by it. We spent a couple of hours there and it was so fun, as Meow Wolf always is.

Meow Wolf in Grapevine

This one is very similar to the original in Santa Fe which I liked because the original will always be my favorite, but it was different enough that it was still full of surprises and fun to explore.

Meow Wolf Grapevine

An Evening in Grapevine

We only added Grapevine to our itinerary once we found out there was a Meow Wolf there but I am so glad we did because I really enjoyed the evening we spent there, sampling local beer and BBQ at buzzy Hop and Sting Brewing Company, and checking out the lovely main street with its beautiful buildings and interesting shops.

Grapevine at night

If I ever visit again I definitely want to eat at the Harvest Hall food hall. We had a quick look around and it is so beautiful inside and there are lots of cool bars and restaurants.

An Afternoon Soaking at Ojo Caliente

Every time we visit Toby’s Dad in Espanola, we have to add in a visit to Ojo Caliente, a luxurious hot springs and spa in middle of nowhere New Mexico.

It is expensive but I think it’s worth it because I always come away feeling so rejuvenated. There are numerous pools that all have different minerals added as well as a sauna, steam room, and natural mud you can cover yourself with.

Ojo Caliente

The buildings are adobe and there is a cozy bar/restaurant in the attached hotel where you can grab a drink and some cactus fries after your soak.

Sledding and Ice Sculptures in Freezing Fairbanks

On the coldest day of our time in Alaska (-22F!) we visited the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks. There were some incredible, intricate ice sculptures and we got to see ice sculptors creating new sculptures too.

Ice sculpture in Fairbanks

There were also some really cool ice slides that you could sled down and it was so much fun, if not a little scary! We couldn’t stay outside for too long at a time because it was so cold but there was a warming room where you could get hot drinks and sit for a while to warm up so with a few breaks in there, we had a really nice evening.

Aurora Hunting in Fairbanks and Talkeetna

The main reason we wanted to visit Alaska in winter was the chance to see the Aurora Borealis, aka The Northern Lights. There is no guarantee that you will be lucky enough to see them but we ended up seeing them three times, with one of these times being an incredible display.

We first got to see them, very faintly, on the plane when we were flying in late to Fairbanks. We saw them again when we spent an evening from 10pm-2am at an Aurora house just outside of Fairbanks but it just looked like a slightly green line above us (it looked much more impressive in photos). It wasn’t as good as I was hoping for but I was still happy to have seen them.

Aurora House in Fairbanks

But then, we got to see them one more time in Talkeetna and that time was incredible. A little after midnight we walked a few minutes outside our accommodations and were treated to about ten minutes of bright, dancing, green Aurora before it settled down again to a greenish haze.

It was short but oh so very sweet.

Aurora hunting is one of the best things to do in Talkeetna

Taking the Alaska Winter Train

The best way to get around in Alaska during winter is to take the train. It’s an adventure unto itself with beautiful scenery and wildlife spotting, and there is a really good restaurant too.

Train view in Alaska

We took the train all day (nine hours) from Fairbanks to Talkeetna and the scenery around Denali National Park was incredible, we saw a handful of moose and even a wolf! We chatted with other passengers and had a delicious lunch onboard too.

The next train journey from Talkeetna to Anchorage was much shorter at three hours but we saw some more moose, had a delicious dinner, and saw a spectacular sunset.

Alaska Winter Train

Exploring Talkeetna in Winter

I could have easily split this into different highlights but I’m just going to be short and sweet about loving pretty much everything about our four nights spent in Talkeetna (well – not the last night, see lowlights).

After visiting in summer nearly ten years ago, it was so nice to experience this incredible town in winter too – and so different. There were massive drifts of snow almost reaching the shop roofs in places, something I haven’t seen before.

Downtown Talkeetna in Winter

Quite a few restaurants and shops were closed but we loved Denali Brewpub and kind of felt like regulars there by the end of our four days.

We LOVED where we stayed the first three nights, Susitna River Lodging, where we booked a suite. It was like being in a cute little cabin and it was super cozy. We looked out onto the frozen river where we saw a moose only a few meters away from the lodge when we first checked in.

Moose in Alaska

We did a couple of fun excursions, including guided snowshoeing, riding a snowmobile, and dog sledding. And seeing the aurora outside our lodge was very special.

I also really enjoyed seeing the Roland Roberts band play at the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar, the band was great and the people-watching was even better.

Snowshoeing in Talkeetna

I just love this little town and can see myself visiting for a third time sometime in the future.

Havana Explorations

I was so entranced by vibrant Havana and it was everything I dreamed it would be and more. The faded glamor of the buildings, the colorful 1950s American cars, the music, the art, the shaded plazas – I loved everything.

Havana street scene

It is one of the best cities I have ever been to just wander and so many locals engaged with us and welcomed us to the country.

Trinidad and Valle De Los Ingenios

Trinidad is a beautiful town and although the constant power cuts were frustrating, I enjoyed our time wandering the cobbled streets, swimming at the nearby beach – Playa Ancon, and horse riding in the Valle de los Ingenios where we swam in a clear water hole and tried local sugarcane juice and coffee.

Trinidad in Cuba


Packing For Every Season

I am usually a fast and efficient packer but I really struggled packing for this trip while also getting the RV organized and cleaned up after our six-week road trip.

Visiting Alaska in winter and then Mexico and Cuba where it is hot and humid meant that we had to pack for two completely different climates, sharing one suitcase for our winter gear and taking carry-on only for our time in Mexico and Cuba.

In the end, I managed it but it felt like pulling teeth.

Seriously Cold in Fairbanks

This is both a highlight and a lowlight for me because I love new experiences, and experiencing -30 F temperatures for the first time ever was definitely an experience.

The cold literally took my breath away when we exited the airport in Fairbanks at 1am, and it was that cold again the next evening when we went to see the ice sculptures and Aurora hunting.

Cold in Fairbanks

I’m proud of myself as well though because we didn’t let the cold stop us exploring – walking for miles outside on the coldest day of our trip (with a daytime high around -15 F), and staying out as long as we could that evening when it got down to -30 F.

Now I know that even though it is really cold, that I can handle it.

Our Stay at Chena Hot Springs Resort

Although I enjoyed our multiple soaks in the hot springs themselves, I was disappointed in our room and the food quality at the restaurant. The furnishings in the room were old and worn, there was a smell of mildew, a broken window (the inner of a double pane), and water damage on the windowsills.

This would all be fine if the price reflected the facilities but when you are paying over $200 to stay a night there, it was definitely not worth it.

I would recommend visiting Chena Hot Springs on an Aurora tour or if you are renting a car, driving there for a day, but it’s not worth staying there unless they upgrade their property.

Chena Hot Springs

A Sleepless Night in Talkeetna

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay at our lovely river suite for our whole time in Talkeetna. It was booked out for our last night, a Saturday night, because of a popular ski race that day.

The only accommodation left in our price range was the Fairview Hotel in town and despite the warnings that the bar is super rowdy, therefore, it’s hard to sleep when there is a party going on downstairs, it was even worse because the clocks jumped forward an hour, meaning the bar was open and blasting music until 4am.

I didn’t get much sleep and was pretty unhappy with what we paid and the facilities. We didn’t even have our own bathroom. I would definitely not stay there again, even if it was on a quieter weeknight.

Nagley's Store in Talkeetna

Upset Stomach in Anchorage

I must have eaten something that disagreed with me in Anchorage because when we were walking down to the Westchester Lagoon, I started having some serious stomach issues that took a few hours to right itself, and caused a couple of close calls.

Back to Back Flights and Turbulence

If you know me well, you know that I hate flying. We had seven flights this month taking us up to Alaska then down to Mexico and Cuba, and it was too many. The flight times weren’t great either, getting us into Fairbanks after midnight, at 2am to Cuba, and flying through the night to Cancun.

We had pretty bad turbulence on our flight to Cuba too and I was already strung out on no sleep and jetlag.

Trinidad square

Constant Power Cuts in Cuba

We didn’t have any issues when we were in Havana but the power cuts were really bad in Trinidad and Sancti Spiritus, with many hours without power every day. There is actually an electricity crisis in the country right now and I feel so bad for the Cuban people.

Trinidad has restaurants with generators so we could still find places to eat when the power was out but we had trouble sleeping when the power would go out overnight because our room would get so hot.

Food Poisoning

I ate some bad lobster in Trinidad and I was up all night feeling nauseous and throwing up. I still felt rough the next day too and ended up paying for an expensive private taxi to Sancti Spiritus rather than taking the bus because I just wanted to get there fast to relax.

Luckily I was good again within 24 hours but then Toby also got sick, I think it was a delayed reaction to the same lobster. We are both better now and fingers crossed we won’t get sick again.

Sancti Spiritus

Serious Lack of Food Options in Sancti Spiritus

After having delicious meals in Havana and Trinidad, we thought that the bad food/food shortages reputation that Cuba is famous for must be a thing of the past – until we arrived in Sancti Spiritus.

Sancti Spiritus is more off the beaten path and we had a lot of trouble finding restaurants that were open and not only serving pizza. I love pizza but the pizza in Cuba is the worst pizza I have ever tasted in my life. I ended up eating it because that is literally all we could find one night.

We also had trouble finding lunch in Cienfuegos but we were lucky our host invited us to dinner and we had an incredible meal.


I don’t include international flights in my recaps. Some of my costs are shared with Toby.

Total: USD$4785

A very expensive month and this doesn’t even include my flights to Mexico (my flight to Alaska was on points). I knew it would be a spendy month with Alaska never being cheap, but especially not in winter. And now we have a kitty so that means paying for a sitter.

It was worth it though. Next month will be a lot less.

Trinidad sunset

Accommodation $876

My 20 nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of three nights at a hotel in Fairbanks, one night at Chena Hot Springs Resort, one night at an Airbnb in Fairbanks, three nights in a suite at a lodge in Talkeetna, one night at a hotel in Talkeetna, two nights at a hotel in Anchorage, two nights at a Casa Particular (homestay) in Havana, four nights at a Casa Particular in Trinidad, two nights at a Casa Particular in Sancti Spiritus, and one night at a Casa Particular in Cienfuegos.

My nine nights of unpaid accommodation for the month consisted of one night free camping at Cracker Barrel in Grapevine, one night free camping at a Walmart in Amarillo, one night free camping outside a friend’s place in Albuquerque, two nights with family in Espanola, one night free camping outside a family member’s house in Brighton, one night with family in Aurora, one night on a flight from Seattle to Cancun, and one night (paid with points) at a hotel in Cancun.

Food and Drink $1108

Clothing $31

  • PJ pants $31

Fort view in Havana

Transport $994

  • Gas $255
  • Flight tax for Denver to Fairbanks flight $5.50
  • Uber to Denver Airport $21
  • Taxi from Fairbanks Airport to hotel $14.50
  • Taxis/uber in Fairbanks $47
  • Return shuttle from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs $191
  • Alaska Winter Train from Fairbanks to Talkeetna to Anchorage $252
  • Uber in Anchorage $12.50
  • Buses in Juneau $4
  • Taxi from Cancun Airport to hotel $15
  • Taxi from Havana Airport to home stay $20
  • Uber in Cancun $15
  • Taxi from hotel to Cancun Airport $13.50
  • Bus from Havana to Trinidad $29
  • Taxi to and from Playa Ancon from Trinidad $10
  • Bus from Trinidad to Sancti Spiritus $11 (didn’t catch)
  • Private taxi from Trinidad to Sancti Spiritus $60
  • Taxi from homestay to bus station in Havana $2
  • Bus from Sancti Spiritus to Cienfuegos $13
  • Taxi from Punta Gorda to homestay in Cienfuegos $3

Paseo del Prado in Havana

Activities $813

  • Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas $25
  • Meow Wolf in Grapevine $54
  • Ojo Caliente Hot Springs and Spa $45
  • World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks $17
  • Aurora House in Fairbanks $90
  • Museum of the North in Fairbanks $20
  • Snowmobiling and Dogsledding tour in Talkeetna with shuttle and tip $330
  • Snowshoeing tour in Talkeetna with tip $114
  • Roland Roberts concert in Talkeetna $20
  • Talkeetna Historical Society Museum $10
  • Bar tour with cocktails in Havana with tip $43
  • Horseriding tour in Valle de Los Ingenios from Trinidad with tip $44
  • Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta in Havana $1

Other $871.50

  • U.S. Phone plan $35
  • Spotify $12
  • One Drive storage $2
  • Toiletries $22.50
  • Cat stuff $44.50
  • Garmin monthly subscription $7.50
  • Hand and foot warmers $15
  • Cat sitter for 5.5 weeks $512.50
  • Souvenirs $44.50
  • Checked bag for flights from Alaska to Mexico $17.50
  • Grocery bag $10
  • Travel Medical Insurance for Cuba $50
  • Tourist card for Cuba $20
  • Bag storage for 3 weeks in Cancun $62.50
  • Laundry $4
  • Music tips in Cuba $5.50
  • Charity $6.50

Website Costs $12

  • Monthly payment for Keysearch $12

Van/RV Costs $79.50

  • RV and van insurance for the month $40.50
  • RV oil change $39

Havana street

What’s in Store For Next Month

I will be spending the first half of the month exploring more of Cuba and I am excited to see more of this vibrant country.

We are starting the month in the UNESCO-listed city of Cienfuegos before traveling to Playa Larga on the Bay of Pigs for beaches, tiny hummingbirds, and diving (for Toby).

Next up is touristy Varadero to see one of the most beautiful beaches in the country (or maybe the world), back to Havana for a night, and then Vinales where we want to explore the valley by horseback and possibly the beach at Cayo Jutias on a day trip.

Then we will spend our final two nights in Cuba back in Havana.

We then leave Cuba for Mexico where we have one night in Cancun and three nights in Puerto Morelos, a small fishing village turned chilled-out beach resort just south of Cancun. There are numerous cenotes close by so we’re hoping to hire a scooter or a driver to take us around a few.

Then it’s back to Denver to pick up our kitty, and spend nine nights by the river in Golden at one of our favorite RV parks. I am excited to see family and friends and just hang out in one of my favorite little Colorado mountain towns/Denver suburbs.

We will begin our road trip on the last few days of the month, ultimately taking us to the Gorge to work for the season. We plan on stopping in Glenwood Springs for a night before moving on to Moab and Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here

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