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Friday, February 27, 2015

4 Girls in Florida

Last year at this time as Erin was completing her Princess 1/2 Marathon in Walt Disney World, she said, "Hey, let's invite the girls for next year's race?" So we did.




The WDW Princess sponsored by RunDisney is a banner race for princesses of all ages, shapes, and sizes. There's a 5K, 10K, a 1/2 Marathon, and spectators galore. Our trip planning was a year in the making starting with hotel bookings (Port Orleans French Quarter!)




airline reservations (USAir) and entry forms. Erin and Maria ran the 1/2 Marathon and Kris and I "ran" the 10K. What a weekend!


The House of Mouse was at the top of its game last week, though refurbishment and construction are the bane of winter visiting. A new parade showcases quite a few embellishments utilizing steam-punk features. Check out Malecificent's dragon.




The Magic Kingdom sported it's newest ride, "Snow White and the 7 Dwarf's Mine Train" that winds it's way along a track similar to Big Thunder Mountain with swaying mine carts. Very fun and the animatronics are amazing. But it was chilly! The girls and I were bundled up to face the 39 degree mornings and this was Florida, folks.




I can't say enough about the great dinner we had at 'Ohana in the Polynesian Resort. I'm thinking we'll stay there next time ... Excellent appies - dumplings, chicken wings, and sweet bread. It's an 'all-you-can-eat' kinda place with deliveries of steak, chicken, and shrimp. All washed down with an unbeatable Banana Bread Pudding. This dessert was worth the 2 pounds I came home with!

Erin and I loved introducing Kris and Maria to all the fun of EPCOT, catching Test Track and Ellen's Energy Adventure, munching on a Norwegian smorgasbord, shopping in Great Britain, and lifting a pint at the Biergarten. Prost!!


 
 


 
Check out Kris & I sporting our 10K Medals!
 




The alarm sounds off at 3am on race days and that's 1am to my Arizona body. But up we get and traipse on over to the start of the race. For the 1/2 Marathon morning it was a brisk 43 degrees at the start. Brrr..... So proud of these princesses for running the race they did - Way to go Erin & Maria!!




The Disney Studios truly held our attention all afternoon and into the evening with a very memorable dinner at the 50's Prime Time Diner - thanks Nick!! There are terrific rides, shows, attractions, and sing-a-longs here at the studios and we enjoyed it all. From "Singin' in the Rain" ...




To Grauman's Chinese Theatre...



All the way to a Brownie Fudge Sundae ...




We managed to squeeze in a few hours at Animal Kingdom on the last day. This park continues to grow like nobody's business. The Everest Expedition is an exhilarating roller coaster, the Kalahari Rapids will drench you, the Safari introduces to some spectacular African animals, and the shows are phenomenal.







Seriously - don't just take my word without doing your homework. Check out Walt Disney World and all the hotels, parks, and attractions at www.disneyworld.disney.go.com. If you're interested in any of the Disney Runs, their website is www.rundisney.com. Or drop me a note. I'd love to help you plan a trip of any kind!

It's hard to leave this magical place but home was awaiting.



Gotta run....
Deb :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Query From a Friend...

People know I love to travel, and research travel, and plan travel, and talk about travel. Last week I had a query from a good friend of mine. She wanted to plan a little trip to Philadelphia, a city with historical significance aplenty. Searching my blog, I could find nothing - nada - zip - zilch. Wait. Erin and I visited Philadelphia before I began this blog. Shazaam - gotta recreate that trip through my raft of pictures. Here goes...

Erin's a high school history teacher, and a history graduate of the University of Arizona. Philadelphia was our destination for October Break of 2010 so we could soak up the history of our American patriots. Amidst cold and rainy weather, midnight fire alarms, lost earrings, great food, and loads of public transportation -  we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.




We stayed downtown at the historic Courtyard by Marriott. Our room was comfortable with a view of the entire downtown area - so lucky. This graceful building was erected in 1926 directly across from the Philadelphia City Hall and within walking distance to just about every place we wanted to visit.

Coincidentally, it's around the corner from the fabulous Reading Terminal Market (www.readingterminalmarket.org.) Talk about great food!! The food stalls here service up tasty deli sandwiches, cool and creamy ice cream, rich chocolatey fudge, delectable Amish goodies (yes, we tried scrapple!) fresh fruit, veggies, fish, and much more. If you're visiting Philly you MUST stop into Reading Terminal Market.

It's a good thing we had a whole week in this beloved city - there is SO much to see and do.

Some of the highlights of Philadelphia include...

The National Constitution Center (www.constitutioncenter.org) and USS Constitution Museum (www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org) for starters.




Terrific architecture near Independence National Historic Park, home of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Franklin Court (www.nps.gov/inde.)








An extremely creepy place (especially on a rainy day) was the Eastern State Penitentiary (www.easternstate.org) where notable inmates include Al Capone.




The Philadelphia Zoo (www.philadelphiazoo.org) is a very walkable zoo with exhibits that bring you up close and personal to your favorite animals.



The Philadelphia Museum of Art (www.philamuseum.org) is one of the largest art museums in the country filled with gorgeous pieces from around the world. It was truly a special treat if you're an art-lover. Catch my Erin grabbing a pose at the top of the steps outside, just like Rocky Balboa!!




You won't want to miss Elfreth's Alley, constructed in 1702 and one of the country's smallest streets. And there's the famous LOVE Park, The Betsy Ross House, and scores of late night haunted street tours. There are also loads of great eateries, pubs, parks, and sporting opportunities here in Philadelphia. You may want to check out McGillin's Olde Ale House, built in 1860 - Philly's longest continuously operating pub (www.mcgillins.com.)

Looking for good eats? Check out www.philly.com/philly/food or head over to www.yelp.com for creative ideas. We found a whole lot of yum at City Tavern (www.citytavern.com), an 18th century tavern that features crab cakes, fried oysters, West Indies pepperpot, corn chowder, braised rabbit, and homemade-style pot pies. John Adams and Paul Revere have dined here, shouldn't you??

You can catch live local theatre and touring Broadway productions as well. We saw "Jersey Boys" when we visited, and a smaller local production too (can NOT remember the name!) You can check out the theatre scene at www.philadelphia-theater.com or www.theatermania.com/philadelphia-theatre.

Planning a trip to the "City of Brotherly Love?" Check out www.visitphilly.com for help in planning your grand adventure.

Lastly, don't miss Christ Church Cemetery where Benjamin Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried. Cool little place where people toss pennies at Ben Franklin's grave ... "a penny saved is a penny earned."

 

 


Cheers to another grand adventure!!
:) Deb

 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Traveling ... Buddy-Style

Can it already be more than 30 years since I first met my buddy, Heidi? Yes, yes it can. Heidi was a toddler when she first met my husband. Their respective mothers shared a shaded front porch and a few cigarettes between conversations about diapers, bottles, and the wisdom of child-rearing. Fast forward to New Year's Eve 1982 and Jeff's party where our friendship began. Bridesmaid duties, weddings, babies, dogs, divorce, relocations, hot cocoa, travel, and grandchildren... we've been buddies through it all.


 
Hot Cocoa & Jameson in Dublin
 
 
 
Tripping Shore-side in Oahu
 
 
 
St. Patrick's Day in Walt Disney World
 
 
Anticipating a very big birthday for my buddy, I suggested (and coaxed, and pleaded, and begged) for a little cruise as our next adventure. YES!! And here's how it all went down...
 
There is no airport friendlier and easier to navigate than Long Beach Airport. There aren't a great deal of choices for eats, but the people here, including the TSA agents are truly the nicest people around.
 
 
 
 
No trip is complete for me without a cemetery along the way, and wouldn't you know there was one halfway between the airport and our breakfast destination?!?!
 
 
 
 
 
Bridges freak me out. It all started around the age of 7 when we were stuck on an open bridge on a rainy night near the port of San Pedro. Yikes... here's that bridge!
 
 
 
Safely Across!

 
 
Now, there's no better way to start a trip out of Long Beach than a visit to Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles. We met up with my niece Kristen and enjoyed the delectable goods prepared for us. If you are in the area, check them out at www.roscoeschickenandwaffles.com. A lot of folks don't understand the pairing, but it is scrumptious!  
 
 
 
 
We boarded the Crown Princess on a Monday afternoon for a 4-day whirlwind trip to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. The ship was absolutely beautiful and we had a blast exploring her from aft to stern and all the way up to Deck 19. Good food, good service, good entertainment, a lovely balcony, and all the fun that goes with a Princess Cruise (www.princess.com.)
 
 
 
 
Our first port of call was Catalina Island and the little city of Avalon. This tiny enclave is home to some of the cutest homes, shops, eateries, hotels, and adventures galore. Check out what Avalon has to offer at www.visitcatalinaisland.com.
 
 

 
You can rent bicycles or golf carts (very few cars are permitted on the island), kayak, parasail, tour the island by land or sea, or zipline through the canyons. We went for three adventures, count 'em three adventures! First came our tour of the island up to the very tippy-top where the little airport lands guests and local planes alike. They are serving up a few little cafĂ© items as well, and the very best cookies you've ever tasted. No joke!
 
 
 
 
Next we hopped into a semi-submersible (kind of like the Disneyland submarines) and floated around this quiet bay filled with marine life. Well... fish anyway.
 
 



Most surprising of all - Heidi wanted to Zipline. A last minute reservation was available through ECO-Zip Line Tours and www.visitcatalinaisland.com. For a mere $85 we were outfitted, instructed, shuttled, and zipped from platform to platform to platform. This screamingly amazing adventure kept us giggling from start to finish. Our guides, Jewels and Kris, were informative, entertaining, and safety-minded all the way. This was truly one of the most enjoyable escapades ever!




After a leisurely day at sea, we stopped in Ensenada, Mexico. This day became our "shopping for trinkets we really didn't need" day. Though we did enjoy a beer at Hussong's Cantina (est. 1882) in downtown Ensenada.




Quite a few "firsts" for my buddy this week. First cruise, first trip to Catalina, first trip to Ensenada, first time trying escargot, first time trying Baked Alaska, and first time nearing her 60th Birthday!!
 
Happy Birthday Buddy... and many many more.
 
Cheers,
Deb



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Deb's Real Life

It's the middle of January and we're feeling like springtime here in the Valley of the Sun. Temps were in the 70's and Papago Park beckoned for this week's quick 3-mile hike with Jeff and Wyatt.




Papago Park is situated smack-dab in the middle of our glorious city. Check it out for yourself right here:  https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/papago-park and then get out there!




You can see how the cave-like formations and red-rock buttes were conducive to home-making for the ancient Hohokom who lived in this area thousands of years ago. But here's what I didn't know... German prisoners of war were held nearby during World War II. So much information to glean online!



 
The trails are pounded gravel and quite easy, especially for a novice like myself. There were a few mountain bikers out on the trails and families with children making a morning of it.

 



The crevice above was a rocky climb up and through to reveal the whole of downtown Phoenix.





Gorgeous, right? The younger me used to dream of a real life such as this. Blissful marriage (check), loving family (check), career (blech), and unmitigated joy from sun-up to sun-down (mostly.) Living here in Phoenix with my hubby - I have it all, I truly do. I've never received an Academy Award, a Grammy, a Nobel Peace Prize, a pay-raise, or recognition for being a fantastic toilet bowl cleaner. But this is my real life and I love it.

My real life self...

Wakes up every morning by 7am with a sun-shiney smile.
 
 
 
I tidy the house,
Read a few books, blogs, papers, and magazines.
 
 
 
 
Most days I research new travel ideas.
 
 

 
 
I Facebook, Tweet, Instagram, play a few games and
 
Phone my mom.
 

 
Hanging out with good friends is a pleasure and
Exercising is not! (but a necessity to be sure.)
 
Volunteering at a local school keeps me busy.
 
Around here I'm also known as the Pool Boy, Yard Man, Housekeeper, Chef, CFO,
Wife, Mom, Auntie, Sister, and Grandmama to a couple of sweet pups!


 
 
I'm blessed with good health and know that I'm living the real life of my dreams.
 
 
Living My Real Life
:) Deb