Hey, you are not that far away, you need to get a combat wing and come and fly with us sometime. We have a very loosely organized club that is very active. You would be welcome to fly the Champ or any other electric plane you might happen to show up with.
I'm still sort of a newbie too, at any time there's a good chance I may be full of crap
If you are looking for the next step I would highly recommend the HZ Supercub LP.
There are other planes out there that would be fine too. My son and I taught ourselves to fly with Slow Sticks and did OK. Learned a lot but fixed a lot too. When other son started flying with us we chose the Supercub. Great manners and very fixable. Still may not roll on grass w/o bigger wheels but tons of fun. Keep up the great work!
If you are ever down this way