The Road to runDisney – Princess 2018

Next month we’ll be on our way to the much-anticipated, long-awaited Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World.  Raymond, Megan, Joseph and I are really looking forward to all the fun and excitement runDisney events hold.  Raymond will be there to cheer us on for what will be Megan’s first runDisney experience.  (Go Meg!)

The Road to runDisney – Princess 2018

When the three of us registered for the Fairy Tale Challenge (10k Saturday, Half Marathon Sunday), I remembered how I felt when Raymond and I flew to Disney World in 2015 for my own first runDisney experience.  We flew from our local airport in Louisiana which is tiny and flights to Orlando always involve a trip west to go east.  So, if memory serves we changed planes in Dallas. Lo and behold, there were a big bunch of other (mostly women) runners headed to Disney World!  How did I know?  They were wearing EarHats,  tiaras, and Disney shirts.  They were carrying Disney tote bags and backpacks – all were as excited as I was and I struck up a conversation (you know me) with a few of the other runDisney people.

Many were repeat runDisney participants, most were as excited as I was.  One lady in particular stood out in my mind and had an impact on how I thought we should prepare for this year’s events.  This particular woman was about to run her very first 10k.  At Disney World!  She wasn’t excited, but super worried instead.  Her apprehension stemmed from the fact that she didn’t know if she could complete the distance.

When it came time for Megan, Joseph and I to make our training plans for Princess 2018, I couldn’t shake the memory of the worried women I’d met in 2015.  I suggested Megan run her first 10k to use for proof of time and then we could run her first half marathon together in December.  That way, she wouldn’t be worried a bit about her ability to complete 13.1 miles and she’d be able to focus instead on the fun and excitement of runDisney events.

So, in early December, we ran the Cajun Country Half in Lafayette, Louisiana.  It was a great course – flat with beautiful scenery and excellent places for Raymond to meet us along the way and cheer us on.  Santa Claus theming created a bit of fun for running wear and the weather was cold and crisp – perfect for Megan’s first half!

We weren’t in a hurry, having already submitted our proof of time to runDisney, so we spent our time along the way enjoying each other’s company and listening to the eclectic music I played out loud for our entertainment.  When we crossed the finish line, I could tell Megan felt great!  We had a wonderful family adventure for the weekend – Lafayette has some of the very best food in the state!  Megan put her first half marathon successfully behind her.

I understand for many Princess Half/Fairy Tale Challenge participants, part of the fun and excitement is participating in a 10k or half marathon (or both) for the first time.  For our family, we believe knowing we can complete the distance comfortably and stress-free will allow us to confidently immerse ourselves in the Disney magic that is especially plentiful in runDisney events.

Are you participating in any Disney Princess runDisney events?  We’d love to hear from you!

 

Disney Cruise Excursions – Nassau Scuba Diving Adventure

We’re a family that likes outdoor activities…A LOT.  You may have noticed this if you’ve been here before.  We’re into running, bicycling, hiking, and we once had that interesting sea kayak adventure in Norway.  In an effort to keep challenging ourselves and have even more fun at the same time, 2017 was the year for scuba diving.  Like we do most things, it was a family affair and we’re now proud PADI Advanced Open Water Scuba certified.  Of course that meant that we looked for opportunities to try out our newfound skills.

Disney Cruise Excursions – Nassau Scuba Diving Adventure

Raymond and I signed up for the Certified Scuba Dive at Stuart Cove to add an activity to our 4-night cruise on the Fantasy in September (other than eating!).  Let me disclose right now that we missed Megan and Joseph every minute we were on this excursion – they would have loved it so much!  If you have your open water scuba certification and are sailing with Disney in the Bahamas, we highly recommend this adventure.

As with every other Disney cruise excursion we’ve taken, we met our tour group at the designated area on the ship.  In this case, it was at the D-Lounge where we found out our entire excursion group consisted of four people.  Raymond and I, along with a father and his tween (8th grade) daughter.  You know me, so you know I did try to make friends, but they were a hard pass on virtually any conversation – with us and with each other.  To each their own, we say, so we respected their preference for silence throughout the adventure.  Raymond and I kept our discussions to ourselves, the boat captain, and the dive master.

We’d been asked shortly after boarding the Fantasy to stop by the Excursions Desk to present proof of scuba certification and verify our BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) sizes.  So when we arrived at D-Lounge and checked in, we were on our way off the ship almost right away.  We were met at the pier by some representatives from Stuart Cove Scuba who led us through the crowded port area to our transportation.  We boarded a clean, well-kept van with plastic-covered seats and found a seat among other cruise line passengers also headed to Stuart Cove.

If you’ve been to Nassau before, you may have already experienced what I’m about to describe.  The trip from port to cove was an indirect route that took us through lovely, manicured properties and trash-filled razor-wired areas by turns.  The driver directed our attention to points of interest along the way, but there’s no disguising Nassau’s…well, I’ll call them warts.  Luckily, Stuart Cove is lovely and the dive shop well-equipped and professional.

In short order, we’d gotten our equipment together and boarded the boat.  Raymond and I had brought along our own regulators, masks and snorkels for comfort, but all necessary items were available.  We were off!  This was a two-tank dive and our first stop was Mike’s Reef.  What a fantastic spot!  Visibility was great and I don’t know who Mike is, but his reef was teeming with life.  Colorful fish of all shapes and sized swam among beautiful corals and plants.  There were sharks!  Black-tipped reef sharks swam around us, but not close enough to be anything other than thrilling in a fun way.

Our second dive was to see Two Sisters – a double wreck site.  The swim there was as devoid of life as Mike’s Reef had been abundant.  Except for the lone shark that we saw when we first entered the water, this area of the cove was like an underwater dessert – sand, sand, and more sand.  Finally, one of the Sisters appeared out of the dark.  Fish were abundant all over both wrecks.  We were able to explore each sunken boat from stem to stern and as a novice diver, I was blown away.  They were like haunted houses, but covered and filled with amazing (instead of scary) sights.  Once we’d used up most of the air in our tanks, it was time to head back to shore.

This was, to date (and by far), the best of any visit we’ve had to Nassau.  Given the chance, we’d do it again for sure.  Once home, I made like my mother and ordered the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes so Raymond and I could show Megan and Joseph all the cool sea life we’d seen.  And we could revisit the adventure by looking at fish pics again and again.

I highly recommend two things for your first (or next) Disney Cruise to the Bahamas.  Get your open water scuba certification and give the Stuart Cove Scuba excursion a go!  It ranks up there with some of the best fun we’ve ever had on a Disney cruise.

Have you sailed with Disney?  What were your favorite port adventures?

 

New Year, New Disney Plans

2017 was such an exciting, action packed, fun-filled year!  So much so, 2018 has a lot to live up to.  I believe in you, New Year!  You can do it!  Adventure is out there and we’ve got a big Disney to-do list ahead of us.  Since I’m not one to make official New Year’s resolutions, this is as close as it gets…Magic Picture with Tinker Bell

New Year, New Disney Plans

Disney Park Firsts – Raymond and I have an unbelievable four Disney trips planned this year with opportunities to try some things for the first time.

  • New Festival:  We’re excited to have a couple of days to experience Epcot’s Festival of the Arts later this month.  The festival’s 2017 inaugural year went so well, we heard nothing but glowing praise for this brief, but fun event from everyone we knew that attended.
  • Tiger Cubs! It’s no secret that I’m an Animal Kingdom fan & have often touted the joys of the Maharajah Jungle Trek…these new babies are yet another reason to spend all day in this park!Maharajah Jungle Trek Artistic Details
  • Disneyland (Finally!):  After last year’s anniversary trip was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and 2016’s family vacation was interrupted by Hurricane Matthew, Raymond and I are taking no chances this year.  We’ll be celebrating our 29th anniversary on the West Coast and we couldn’t be more excited to finally get to explore Disneyland’s parks and restaurants.  I’ll be working on my must-do list shortly and welcome any and all suggestions you may have!

Disney Movies to See – Nick, Dave and I just talked about Disney’s 2018 movie line-up on The Disney Exchange (Episode 159).  There’s a lot to look forward to!  Honestly, I’m pretty stoked about Solo: A Star Wars Story (May) and Wreck-It Ralph 2 (March), but if I narrow down the list to my top three, I’m most excited about these…

  • Avengers: Infinity War (May) – I’m geeking out about this one!  It had better be as good as it looks because my expectations are really high.  Avengers and Guardians…how could that not be awesome!?!
  • The Incredibles 2 (June) – We’ve only been waiting 14 years!  That’s practically forever.  The original has always been one of my all-time favorite movies and with the way it ended, didn’t we all thing the sequel was right around the corner?  It’s about time!
  • Mary Poppins Returns (December) – I didn’t care for Saving Mr. Banks at all, so I’ve got my heart pinned on this movie to recapture the magical, whimsical wonder that was the original Mary Poppins.  C’mon, Disney, don’t let me down.

Disney Recipes to Try – I’ve barely tried anything from the Raglan Road cookbook I got for Mother’s Day last year, so cooking up some Irish dishes is high on my priority list.  I’d also like to try Sanaa’s Naan Bread, ‘Ohana’s Stir Fried Noodles, Jiko’s Macaroni & Cheese.

RunDisney 2018 – This year, Megan will be joining Joseph and I for her first runDisney events.  The three of us are headed for Disney World in February for the Enchanted 10k and the Princess Half Marathon (now called the Fairy Tale Challenge).  Of course, Raymond will be there to cheer us on.  (I feel like the luckiest mom in the universe.)

West Coast Disney Cruise:  Before we go to Disneyland, Raymond and I are sailing on the Disney Wonder’s 4-night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego.  The last time we sailed on the Wonder was in 2011 on an Alaskan cruise and that was an outstanding vacation.  I’m sure this trip will be fantastic as well…can’t wait!

Still here?  I’ll let you in on something – there are a couple more things planned for 2018, but I can’t share them quite yet.  Check back in about two weeks and I’m sure I’ll be able to elaborate then on what special secret adventures our family has coming up soon.

Your Turn!  What are your 2018 Disney plans?

 

 

Merry Christmas One and All!

It’s hard to believe how fast the time has flown!  Once again, I find myself full of thankfulness along with Christmas Spirit.  You, yes YOU, are the reason for my happiness.  It doesn’t matter if you’re friend or family and I don’t care if we know each other only through social media or we see each other everyday.  I have been blessed by the love and support you’ve shown and find myself humbled and somewhat overwhelmed with gratitude.

Merry Christmas One and All!

I’m thankful for your acceptance, for the stories you share, the glimpses I get into your life.  I love seeing pictures and hearing about your Disney vacations, your children, your hobbies, your pets – all of it!  I appreciate the advice you give, the debates we have, and the times, more than you know, when you’ve lifted me up and reminded me that the best things in life are never things.

In a hundred ways, big and small, you’ve touched my life and not a day goes by that I don’t feel like the luckiest person in the world – I very truly have the best, most loving family and friends anyone could hope for.  I’ve celebrated accomplishments that could never have been achieved without your support and I will never take that for granted.  I’m excited to see what the future holds.

May the peace and happiness of this holiday season be yours and may 2018 be a joyful, healthy and prosperous year for you and your family.  From our house to yours, Merry Christmas One and All!