Monday, October 1, 2012

Heading home

Sunday was a busy day -
Check out was at 10... which came way too early :)
But we made it and were pulling out of the hotel parking garage at 10:05. We foolishly thought we would be able to have breakfast on property this morning... silly tourists, breakfast ends at 10:30.
So, after a few failed attempts we just headed to the Magic Kingdom... surely they have food somewhere over there ;)

Main Street on a low crowd day!
The park is all decorated for fall and the Halloween party they have each year. Pumpkin a-plenty.
We hit the Main St. Bakery for some food and coffee. Then we were off - we haven't been on our own in this park for a long time. So we enjoyed the time riding rides together and taking pictures.
Here come new area pictures and construction pictures!

The new Circus area with 2 Dumbo rides!
Barnstormer is back! 
Casey Jr, as a water feature? But the kids are having fun.
New construction, looks like Prince Eric's castle?
Soon to be a 7 dwarf mine coaster!
New walls around Fantasyland
Standing where Dumbo used to be.
And don't you LOVE low crowd days!

After our fun in the Magic Kingdom and a fabulous lunch at Liberty Tree, we headed to the airport.
The flight home was good.We noticed a handful of people on the plane who had run the race the night before. And as a very special treat, as we were flying over Wyoming, we saw the Northern Lights!
Out our window in the distance! I have never seen them before... well, in movies or pictures of course, but never live, with my own eyes! So we were pretty excited. Amazing. 

It was a great fun adventure. And we are happy to be home again with our kiddos. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

So that's what 10,000 people look like! - Race Night

Our day was relatively lazy. With resting up for the race and getting gear in order, add in lunch and that was our day. At 7 pm we needed to be to the Wide World of Sports to get on buses. Which took us to the Studios park, parking lot - which was our home for just under 3 hours. This is where/when runners check in their bags, take pictures and a FABULOUS DJ warmed up the crowd.
We people-watched and clapped along, while the time passed. It went surprisingly quickly.
Runners needed to be in their pacing groups by 9:15 so that was when I headed to the spectators area. Then it was more people watching til 10 when the race officially began.

How many port a potties do you need for 10k people?
My favorite runner.
Our little piece of the parking lot, where we listened and watched as the DJ warmed up the runners.
Theses ladies were good at the Electric Slide
The starting line... before the runners 
The starting line + 2500 runners
The official start of the race!
The second wave of runners
The last wave of runners line up to start. 
And they are off!
Hollywood Studios park.... very very empty.
Runners pass "the Hat" with only a half mile left to go..... look closely and see the two at the front of the stage....
getting engaged!
Here comes our Runner! Half mile to go! You look great!
After the race we rested. And decided that a night in the park with 10K people wasn't what we really wanted. A soak in the tub and sleep sounded a lot better. So we returned to our hotel and settled in.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Day before the race - things to do and things to eat

Today was packet pickup day for probably more than half the runners. And how many runners are there? you ask..... over 10,000! Yup. That's right, tomorrow night's race is completely sold out and I have no idea how I will spot hubby in the crowd as he cruises around the course :)
We woke up about 10 am when the phone rang and then took our time getting up and ready to go. 
The first order of business today was getting a rain layer for our runner.... just in case. With the following criteria... layer must meet the needs of the runner, but be disposable - so if said runner doesn't want it anymore... they can drop it along the way. All items of clothing left on the course are collected, laundered and given to charity. So, it took us a while to find just the right thing... but we did and set course for Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. 

Oops, I guess it's now ESPN Wide World of Sports complex
This is where final waivers are turned in and packet pickup takes place. All participants get a bib and bib number, a bag to "check" at the time of the race, their free event t-shirt and final race instructions. This is also where the EXPO is... a large room full of race related vendors.
You need anything from shoes to pain relief, sweat bands (cute ones, with lots of sparkle) to running skirts - this is the place to look. Lots of gear and the place to get your commemorative t-shirts etc. 

They also have a number of speakers over the weekend and this is where they present. From what I can tell, all races like this have a beneficiary - this race, it's Autism Speaks. I popped by their booth and got a couple fun flashing wrist bands for the kids. But we are getting hungry so its time to move on.

Food and Wine Festival here we come!
Oh, yummmy - Once we got into Epcot we hit the Info pavilion before hitting the food. We also picked up a guide so we could read about what each booth had to offer. Our first food was the Terra booth, which is new for this year's fest... it's a vegan booth and both hubby and I really enjoyed it. He got a Chili Colorado and I had a Chicken Curry with rice. These were probably our favorites of the savory foods we ate today. We hit about half the booths open, sampling food from Argentina, Mexico, Australia  China, South Africa, Germany and Ireland. Plus we hit the Cheese booth :) Ymmm. 

Lamingtons... yummy, who knew? 
The Cheese Booth offered a trio of cheeses and a fondue... yum
Our timing was almost perfect - we finished world showcase (and were full) just about the time the rain started. We hurried over to Spaceship Earth and missed the heaviest part of the storm.
Hubby and I haven't ridden this together since they added the interactive part so I had to get a picture. 

Us, in the future! 
Well the rain wasn't quite done, but we were - we wandered out of the park and headed back to our room for a break. Mostly just to get off our feet. They will be used plenty tomorrow, might as well give them a break today.

Can you see the full rainbow? As we walked to the car to leave Epcot... pretty cool. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

RunDisney - or a trip to Orlando without the kids!

This trip is just hubby and I! And what a culture shock to travel across the country to Disney World without the kiddos.  We started our love of Disney World long before they were born so it's kind of deja-vu to return without them.
This weekend is the Tower of Terror 10 miler race at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Hubby will be running the race and I will be cheering him on.
The run is Saturday night - it starts at 10 pm and the park will stay open until 4 am for race goers and their guests! So we are attempting to stay on west coast time so the late hour doesn't get to us.
But honestly I will be shocked if we make it to 4 am.

Today was all about travel.
We headed out early this morning and caught a flight across the country. Grandma and Grandpa are watching our kiddos, so we know they are in good hands. Our flight was uneventful. Hubby listened to podcasts and I started watching the final season of Being Erica - which I have been waiting and waiting to get my hands on... Come on Canada, share! So the almost 6 hours passed rather quickly and we were driving to the resort before we knew it.
We typically stay at Disney when we are here, in part because we "know the secret" and own a Disney timeshare and in part because we love staying on property. This trip our timeshare wasn't an option so we got to try something new. We are staying at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek. Which is on property, but not a Disney hotel.
The unit is lovely, but getting in and settled was kind of crazy.

view as you enter
another view of main living area
bath, which has a door on the other side that goes back into the dining/entryway

As it's on the same grounds as another Wyndham hotel and there are 6 plus buildings - we covered a lot of ground between our check in and finding our real room.
The real fun was getting the parking pass. Part of the reason our room is so big and has such nice amenities is that it's a timeshare. They book rooms for cash, which is what we did.
No where online was there any indication that attending a presentation would be required. (Do you see the writing on the wall here?) Well, "getting your parking pass" is code for talk to a sales person to set up your 90 min. introduction to Wyndham timeshares... oh and we will get you a parking pass while we are at it. We talked with a very nice representative named Keith for about 10 minutes... where are you from, what brings you to our fair city, how did you find our hotel? etc. Then he began "encouraging us" to set up our appointment with him, because he doesn't want us to miss out on our free gifts. YIKES!
Hubby knew this was coming about 3 minutes before me, when he realized the guy was putting notes on our resort map upside down... we learned several years ago that a true timeshare sales person knows how to write upside flawlessly. And Keith did! Well we don't really have 90 mins to dedicate to a sales pitch we would say no to, so we politely side stepped it. We don't want/need the "free gifts" and we have paid for our room in full. So I don't feel guilty. I am hopeful that that was the last of it for this visit - fingers crossed :)
Well, after all that we ran out of here and found dinner.
Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney did the trick.... wow, what a great sandwich. Maybe it was the best turkey sandwich ever, or maybe I hadn't eaten since breakfast on the other side of the country? Hard to say. We ate and wandered a bit. I got to shop a little in the BIG store and then we hit a real grocery store for breakfast supplies, water, etc.
The room is very comfortable and provides plenty of room to relax and unwind, which will be great.
Tomorrow is packet pick up for the race and the first day of Epcot's annual Food and whine (tee hee... it's really wine, but since we don't drink, I like my way better) Festival.

Oh - Did I mention the rain? It's the tail end of Hurricane season here and well, Florida has amazing rain storms. So this is what we saw and then encountered on our drive to the resort.
And yes, we did get wet!

Storms in the distance... we are heading towards that bright area
between the big bands of rain
But we didn't miss the rain.... Lots and lots of heavy rain.
Yup, it's lush and green here :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hey, wanna go to Canada for the afternoon?

This was roughly what I said to hubby this morning before Church. He pondered it for a few seconds before jumping in, with questions - when would we leave? where would we go? etc.

We pretty much ruled the whole idea NUTS when we realized there was a big.. BIG concert thingy today, happening in roughly the same place we wanted to be - Stanley Park. Granted we wanted to go to the Vancouver Aquarium and the concerts were in the park somewhere... they were planning on crowds and crowds mean traffic and time wasn't in our favor, so we dropped it..... mostly.

After church the notion hits us again. We are home earlier than we planned and it's a beautiful day - why not be spontaneous? So we change clothes, grab lunch to eat on the road, passports and the assorted Canadian change we had lying around - and we're off!

Estimated time of arrival at aquarium was 3:45 pm.
Our first hurdle is the border. When we left home it was reported to have a 52 min wait to get through the border - which means we wouldn't make it to the Aquarium. Because, while they are open until 5, they close the doors at 4:30.... now your seeing how nuts we are, aren't you?
A wait of that long would put the whole trip in jeopardy. But we watched the times and when we arrived our wait was about 15 mins. So, we are feeling very optimistic. Its a smallish aquarium, and while you can't see everything in an hour, it was enough time for what we wanted... yay! Now into town...... and TRAFFIC.

6 year old said this sign said "No Octagons" 
At this point it was like a roller coaster ride, We will make it! - we won't make it. The traffic was all over the place. The people of Vancouver were out in force today, walking, riding, driving, shopping, eating - people everywhere. We entered Stanley park at 4:10, we had 20 mins to make 1 mile, and at this point we didn't think we would. It was bumper to bumper concert goers. Volunteers in matching t-shirts directing the snail's pace traffic... to keep going. It took us 12 minutes to get to the Aquarium, and now we needed parking. The kids and I hopped out, leaving hubby to hunt down a spot. And we ran to the members entrance. Well, hubby had a spot and had joined us before the pass info was updated and our hands were stamped! We were in! Shocking, I know... but we made it and now we had a leisurely 35 minutes to explore - Eeks!

They have a new penguin exhibit.. so that was our first stop. Followed by the required visit to the Belugas. We had time to walk though most everything else and pause at our old favorites. The kiddos had mixed reactions to the hasty nature of our visit, but at dinner declared it was all worth it.

We dined at The Old Spaghetti Factory on our way out of town and enjoyed the drive out a bit more than the drive in. After dinner I was able to go to Tim Horton's, it's a favorite guilty pleasure and the closest ones are in Canada, so I don't indulge often. Then it was back to the border and home.

We got home about 10. The kids sleep walked to bed and now it's our turn. It was crazy, but lots of fun.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

a slight delay heading home

Our journey home took a bit longer than we planned :)
We arrived in Greely Hill early evening on Saturday.
We had a great evening catching up with family and stayed up late telling stories and talking.
Our plan was to head north after breakfast and goodbyes, drive to Roseburg, OR and spend the night. Allowing for a reasonable drive the following day to get us home.
We hadn't planned on husband/dad waking up really sick on Sunday.

It didn't take to long to realize he wasn't going to be able to do our planned day. We were able to take the day and let him rest and recover. Not sure what the next day would bring, the kids and I headed out with our guide for the day: our Amazing Cousin. We explored Sonora and surrounding roads to and from. She took us to Railtown, which was a huge hit with both kids.

It was the end of the day for the train they were using so we got to see it go to the round house. It was a fun outing. We wrapped it up with dinner and headed back to check on our sick one.

He was feeling a bit better but we would know more in the  morning.
Well, morning brought good news and we packed up. Once we had a chance to visit a bit more we said our goodbyes and started our journey home.
With the sun shining and happy passengers we decided to drive until Roseburg or when we were tired, whichever came second. And with ample Starbucks along our route, we made it all the way to Vancouver, WA. Which allowed us to sleep at my in-laws house - and they have a VERY comfy guest bed.
The kids did great on our all day drive. With movies, audio books, music and car games, we kept them entertained.

We took the last few hours on our final day. And home was right where we left it.
The trip was great, filled with wonderful memories.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Days 12 through 16 - Disneyland

Overall this has been a really good trip to Disneyland as far as crowds go.
With the exception of a few rides, lines have been shorter than I expected.

We have been all over both parks and had a chance to ride almost everything we wanted to.
Had we been willing to get up a bit earlier today we could have done it all, but sleep won out :)

Tuesday morning we rolled in after another wonderful breakfast at King's Hawaiian in Torrance. It still holds its place as my favorite breakfast spot. Sadly its in Torrance, not at home. But I had a great breakfast Tuesday! We were at Disney's Grand Californian before Noon. Our room would be ready after 4, so we hit the park for a few hours.

Just chillin. 
Hi Mom!
chatting at lunch
Once we heard the room was ready, we picked up some picnic dinners and headed to our room. The picnics came with preferred viewing for the nighttime water light show "World of Color". So that was our evening plan.
On a side note, whatever had me feeling off Monday night lingered faintly in the background for several days.... oh bother. The family left me to nap in our room and went out to hit some more rides. They returned a few hours later to get me for one last ride before the show.
We enjoyed the show... but if you are going to go see it with kids, either be prepared to hold them so they can see, or get there early enough to be able to stand in the very front. We didn't do the later, so we did the best we could holding them up, on my part it was on and off, but they saw the bulk of it and it was really cool.
Then we hit the hay.

Wednesday was our get-up-before-the-roosters morning. We were in line to enter the park before 7 am! The reason for this is the new ride, in the new CarsLand: Radiator Springs Racers, which we had heard has an over 2 hour wait and fastpasses for the ride are gone by 9:30 each morning. So the park opens at 7 for resort guests... perfect! Right?
Tee Hee.... haa ha... silly planners. Wednesday, once we entered the park at 7 am, we saws signs saying "Radiator Springs Racers will open at 10 am today". WHAT? Huh? But, I got up early, just for that! And I don't know where the Starbucks is.... yet ;)

go ahead, click on the picture to read the sign... ugh ;)
We adapted, Hubby got fast passes for later and the kids and I hit a few rides.

So to give you a feeling for the nuttiness of the lines for this particular ride.... Hubby got in line for fastpasses around 7:10, the passes aren't distributed until 8. He got our passes at 8:05 and the time on our tickets was 11:20. By 10 am they were gone for the day. And the standby line was over 90 minute wait the rest of the day (and up to 2.5 hours). It's really the most popular attraction in the park. And it's a really cool ride. You are transported to Radiator Springs and it's pretty amazing.

Pretty cool, huh?
All of us, except our little lady, loved the ride. She isn't a fan of speed... and the racing part kind of killed the whole thing for her. We took a short break after our race and then split up for lunch. Us girls had lunch with the princesses at Airel's Grotto and the boys hit some fast rides and had Italian on the pier.

We came back together to change shoes... (just us girls) and go to Disneyland for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
I asked the kids to stand next to each other so I could take a picture... this is the result. 
We hit many of our favorites in DL that evening and stayed through til the fireworks! Yes, it was a long day :)
I have a new favorite place to watch the fireworks, and I will tell you since not very many people read this and its unlikely your knowing will fill it up :)
If you hang out in front of It's A Small World you have a lovely, uncrowded fireworks experience. Granted, you don't get the castle in front of the fireworks, and 10% of the fireworks happen at the castle, so you are occasionally glancing back at the castle. But the bulk of the fireworks are in the sky above toontown/small world. And you don't have to get there early to have a place to sit. And the kids have room to be kids and still see... but, shhhh. Don't tell anyone :)

Sleep in! Yay! no alarm clocks!
And we did. We were all awake by 10... tee hee. It was decadent.
Hubby went to the hotel's quick service restaurant and grabbed some chow for breakfast. After dining in the room and getting all ready, we hit Downtown Disney. Our kids had plans to make some souvenirs to take home. So, the boys hit RideMakerz and the girls went to Build-A-Bear.
We had a great time putting things together and each kid has a fun toy to bring home.
At this point it was NOON! I couldn't believe it myself, but thats what happens when you are lazy ;)
So we hit the parks and had a light lunch between rides and shows.

Take 2: I again, asked them to stand next to each other for a pic.... are they getting better at this?
Such funny kids :)
For dinner we met some longtime friends at an Anaheim resturaunt called Fire+Ice. Kind of like a Mongolian grill, but they make everything. All kinds of pastas, hot dogs, burgers, mex, asian, and its all cooked while you watch on a crazy big grill. It was lots of fun. And our little lady even decided she liked the fire..... after a while :) It was great to see our friends and hang out for a meal.
Then it was back to the hotel and to sleep.

We could have gotten up before the roosters again today, but we were too lazy ;)
We did book a tour for 10 am today, so we went to Disneyland around 9 for some window shopping before the tour started.

Discover the Magic Tour -
We met our guides in the tour garden at the front of the park at 10 this morning.
Tim was on time and Tiane (not sure that was her name, but it's close) was running late.
She found some odd keys on her way in and needed our help to figure out what they went to.
Once we established they were not keys to a brand new car, we all started to look around.
(Our group was us, another mom and her 9 year old son, and another couple.) Sitting up on a ledge was an old box with a lock on it... hmmmm.
Inside that box was a puzzle piece, with a clue - leading us to Frontierland. So off we go!

Kiddo with one of our Tour Guides headed down Main St.
Once inside Frontierland we re-read our clue and started looking for another box.

Opening the second box.
with our Pirate hooks
One of the kids found it and inside we found a pirate map! and some pirate swords and hooks. This lead us to Tom Sawyer's Island and Pirate's Lair. We had to commandeer a raft... but we said "Pleaseeee". Once we found the Lair we found another box!

opening box 3
This third box had another puzzle piece leading us to a house in the trees... Tarzan's Treehouse. So back on the raft and..... wait, they had a suprise ride on Pirate's of the Caribbean for us. We walked in through the exit and right onto the ride.... our kiddo wasn't to keen on this - in part because he likes more prep for rides and in part because we came in through the exit. But we all settled in and enjoyed the antics of those crazy pirates. Now, on to the treehouse. We found yet another box - this one had another puzzle piece.
opening box 4
This one directed us to Buzz Lightyear (now were talking, you should have seen our kiddo perk up at this). Our tour guide told us she had a great "short cut", which turned out to be a ride on the Jungle Cruise ;) funny girl. Again we got to enter through the exit and skip the line.

Then we all rode Buzz Lightyear. Our little lady wanted to ride with the tour guide so I got to go on my own... its been ages since I got to ride a ride on my own. She is so funny. After the ride we found our next box and puzzle piece. This one lead us to the Matterhorn and told us to look for a footprint. Which turned out to be a cast of the Yeti footprint. Near there the kids found the last box, which contained the last puzzle piece.

putting puzzle together
telling the tour guide where Mickey lives
The kids put all the pieces together and it made a big Mickey Mouse head. And told us to find him for our last thing. So off we go to Mickey's house in toontown. The big cheese was in and our little group had a private audience with him, while the tour guides told him everywhere we went and then put the puzzle together for him.

putting puzzle back together for Mickey
And then he gave us each fancy lanyards with medals saying the name of our tour. We had some time for pictures and hugs and were off... but wait, there was one last surprise - frozen apple juice from our guides. Which is pretty darn good.

with the Big Cheese
The tour was lots of fun and the kids did great. It was a challenge for our young man at times, but he got through it and enjoyed it. Our guides Tiane and Tim were great.
We hung out in Toontown for a little while after. The boys rode Gaget's Go-Coaster and the girls played in Goofy's house. Then we had lunch.
After lunch, our young man said he needed to go back to the room and we thought a break sounded like a good idea.
As it would turn out the kids seems to be suffering from whatever was bugging me earlier in the week, or something similar.
Hubby and the kids hung out the room the rest of the day watching movies and resting.
I got to do a bit of shopping and updated the blog ;)
Hopefully everyone will feel better in the morning.
Good night.