2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: 10K Recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my second recap of the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend. Check out part one here. As you may know, I participated in my second Dopey Challenge, which includes running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. Without further ado…here is my 10K Recap.

Very early Friday morning, Rachel and I headed over to Epcot and the starting corrals for the 10K. Like the previous day, the weather was very cold and windy. We were both very bundled up and ready to go.

After sitting in the warm car for about 15 minutes, we started walking towards the corrals. We were both in Corral B for the race, which fortunately meant we would only have to wait about 15-20 minutes after the actual race started to begin. The 10K course is probably my favorite overall course at WDW. You spend quite a bit of time in Epcot and running around the boardwalk of the Boardwalk/Beach & Yacht Club Resorts.

 

Rachel and I were able to keep a nice and steady pace for the 6.2 miles, which insured we would have plenty left in the tank for the half marathon the next day (which Rachel was running with me as well). Once we finished, we grabbed our medals and water/runner’s box and headed back to the condo to get out of the cold.

 

After we finished cleaning up, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. After riding a few rides, we headed over to Be Our Guest for lunch, which is one of our favorite places to eat. Plus, it’s inside and was a welcome escape from the cold weather.

 

After lunch, we rode a few more rides and actually got a few character pictures as well, including one with Minnie Mouse, who the 10K race is themed after!

 

Later in the afternoon, we headed back to the condo to rest for a little bit before grabbing some pizza for dinner. We were excited to eat at the Pizza Press, which is new to Orlando, but is one of our favorite spots near Disneyland in California.

We called it an early night as we both had gotten up early and we were both running the half marathon the next morning. At this point, I was 9.3 miles down and 39.3 miles to go to finish my second Dopey Challenge!

Stay tuned for the third part of my recap…WDW Marathon Weekend: Half Marathon.

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: Pre-Race and 5K Recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my first recap of the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend. As you may know, I participated in my second Dopey Challenge, which includes running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. Without further ado…here is my Pre-Race and 5K Recap.

Once we arrived in Orlando on Wednesday, Rachel and I headed over to the expo to pick up our race numbers and shirts. The expo was quite crowded from all of the Dopey and 5K runners arriving to pick up their race gear. It honestly felt like we all showed up at the same time. After spending a few hours at the expo, we were able to get everything we needed for the races.

After the expo, we checked in to our condo for the week. We were very fortunate to be able to use Rachel’s family’s timeshare, which is super close to the parks.

Once we got settled in, we headed over to Epcot. We figured the first few days of our trip would be good for park visits, since running would be on the lower mileage side. After walking around for a few hours and grabbing dinner, we left Epcot and stopped off at Publix to pick up some groceries for the week. Once we got back to the condo, I began to get ready for my 1st of 4 races.

Now as with all Disney races, the wakeup time is crazy early. I set my alarm for 3:15 am and tried to get around 4-5 hours of sleep that first night. Very early the next morning, I set off for Epcot and the race start for the 5K.

The biggest challenge this year (besides running 48.6 miles over 4 days) was the weather. Florida is very unpredictable. In January, it can be cold, rainy, mild, hot and super humid. The forecast for the race weekend called for super cold temperatures, especially in the early mornings. Fortunately, Rachel and I were able to grab some throwaway jackets at Goodwill before we left Atlanta.

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However, it was absolutely freezing in the corrals waiting for the 5K. By the time we got started, all I wanted to do was finish as quickly as possible. I ended up running with my throwaway jacket on for over half the race. By the time I didn’t need it, I was less than 1.5 miles from the finish so I ended up carrying it. I figured it would be good to have for the next morning.

I finished with a respectable pace and grabbed my medal and runner’s box/water and headed back to the condo. By the time I got back, Rachel was just waking up.

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For the rest of the day, we hit up Hollywood Studios for a few hours, including meeting BB-8 from Star Wars. BB-8 is Rachel’s favorite!

After Hollywood Studios, we headed over to the Boardwalk/Beach & Yacht Club Resort area for the afternoon. We walked around for a bit, popping in and out of stores and grabbing some ice cream. We actually ended up running into one of my social media running friends, Ken, and his mom. It was great to see Ken again!

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Later that evening, we grabbed a quick dinner and headed back to the condo to try to get to bed early. Rachel was set to run the 10K with me the next morning.

Stay tuned for the second part of my recap…WDW Marathon Weekend: 10K Recap.

 

 

 

2018 Dopey Challenge

48.6 miles over 4 days. That’s pretty much all that’s on my mind at the moment. As I’m working today, I found myself coming to the realization that my training is complete. It’s time to trust the training and run.

The Dopey Challenge will start this Thursday, January 4th. I will run 4 races over 4 days.

  • Thursday, January 4 – 5K
  • Friday, January 5 – 10K
  • Saturday, January 6 – Half Marathon
  • Sunday, January 7 – Full Marathon

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Now I don’t have any specific time goals for the races this weekend. Running that many miles over 4 days, the goal is to finish upright with a smile on my face. Also, it’s supposed to be quite chilly in the mornings, which can make it difficult to push it too much.

We leave later today and will drive to Tifton, GA for the night, before getting to Orlando the following morning. Probably won’t be able to blog during the trip, since we will be busy running, hanging at the parks and seeing friends.

Make sure to follow me on social media to stay up-to-date on all my amazing adventures this weekend!

Instagram: @allenwhittaker
Twitter: @allenwhittaker
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allenwhittaker

Best of List: Top TV Shows of 2017 (Guest Post)

Rachel is taking over the blog for the final “Best of List” post and last blog post of 2017.

Over the last couple of days, Allen provided two of his “best of” lists for 2017: movies and personal moments. I don’t know about you, but I felt that 2017 was a strong year for TV shows as well.

I’m going to mix up the format of this post, as I felt various strong feelings – good and bad, expected and unexpected – about TV shows this year. Therefore, I bring you my TV superlatives of 2017 (in no particular order).

Proof Damon Lindelof Can End a Show Well (or, The Best Show You’re Not Watching): The Leftovers

Oh, man. I can’t give enough praise to this three-season masterpiece. The premise is that 2% of the world’s population has disappeared (religious and non-religious undertones ensue). The series ends with an amazing monologue from the incomparable Carrie Coon, telling a story that I 100% believed simply because she was telling it. The fact that no actor on this show was nominated for an Emmy (save for a guest star nod) is criminal.

A Good Twist Is Hard to Find: The Good Place

I won’t spoil the season one-ending twist here, because everyone should be watching this delightful show, brought to you by the man responsible for the amazing Parks and Recreation, but suffice to say I did not see it coming. And it was a game changer. Season two is almost like an entirely new show, in the best way.

Aziz Ansari Is Master of Everything: Master of None

Yes, this season was ultimately a love story (and a compelling one at that). But along the way were some of the best episodes of TV in 2017. The Thanksgiving episode alone is completely worthy of every award it amassed this year. And what a risk to air an episode almost entirely devoid of your main characters – and what a success, too.

Best Gilmore Girls Successor: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Amy Sherman-Palladino’s famously fast talking characters are back in this 1950s-set hysterical, charming show about a woman who embarks on a standup comedy career after her husband leaves. It’s also a very good-looking show – I very much envy Mrs. Maisel’s wardrobe and want to live in their lavish apartments.

Best TV Acting by Heavy Hitters of Film: Big Little Lies

The gang’s all here in this drama-filled limited series, mostly courtesy of Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon (with a dash of Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern). Kidman’s abused housewife is hands down one of the year’s best performances. Lucky for us, there will be a season two.

Most Emotions Caused by a Cartoon: BoJack Horseman

I can tell you’re skeptical, but I have never been so moved by animation (except for your pick of Pixar movie, of course). This show makes me FEEL in the truest sense of the word, as these characters are just trying to find themselves and be good people in a messed-up world. It’s worth a watch, I promise!

Best Sophomore Season: Stranger Things

I read a review of season two, noting that one of the reasons season one was so great is that it was so unexpected. I am here to tell you that lightning can strike twice. All of our Hawkins friends are back in season two, this time with an extra dose of Will Byers, played to eerie perfection by the adorable Noah Schnapp. They’re all growing up in this Upside Down-infested world, and it’s awesome.

Most Improved: Mr. Robot

Allen included this show in his Top TV of 2016 list, but season three was far and away better than last year’s go-round. A true testament to how much better an ensemble show is when the characters are actually assembled. (And, despite what the name might imply, it’s about hacking – not robots.)

Shows Not Living Up to My High Expectations

Girls: The final season was, to be blunt…not great.

House of Cards: A weak season made weaker by the news that Kevin Spacey is not just an on-screen creep.

Veep: Selena Meyer has always pushed buttons, but I think she went too far this year.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: I still love this show, but this season has been a little too intense for my taste. Despite being a good depiction of mental illness, it lacks the fizzy fun of previous seasons.

Also, since Allen didn’t a chance to write this post, I also wanted to include some of his top shows of 2017:

  • Better Call Saul
  • Fargo
  • Game of Thrones
  • Mindhunter

It was a good year! Here’s hoping 2018 will be even better!

Best of List: Top Moments of 2017

Yesterday I started my “Best of 2017” lists with “Top Movies of 2017.” I always enjoy taking a look back at the last 12 months in regards to the best personal and pop culture moments in my life.

Continuing with my personal top moments of 2017. Quite a few of these will include running and Disney because I love both of those things.

This list is in order chronologically, not by importance.

  • “Running” the WDW Half Marathon in January, which technically got canceled for bad weather. However, I was able to get in my 13.1 miles the next day. Plus, Rachel’s parents spent several days at the parks with us.
  • Celebrating Dad’s 70th birthday and engagement with my family in February.

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  • Running the Princess Half Marathon in late February with Rachel (and about 15K other women).

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  • Spending the weekend in the Dalton/Chatsworth, GA area in April and running the Tear Drop Half Marathon.

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  • Going to California/Disneyland to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in May. This was our 4th straight “coast to coast” year (running at least a half marathon in Florida and California in the same calendar year).

 

  • Visiting Pandora (in Animal Kingdom) less than 10 days after it opened in early June.

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  • Running the Peachtree Road Race (the world’s largest 10K) with my good friend Meredith on the 4th of July.

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  • Celebrating and helping officiate my Dad’s wedding to Suzanne in Enterprise, Alabama in early August.

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  • Running the SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver in mid-August with my good friend Justin Stone. Justin’s wife Devin and Rachel came and cheered us on!
  • Spending an amazing 16 days in Europe celebrating 10 years of marriage. We hit up Disneyland Paris, Paris, Barcelona, Disney Cruise, Pompeii, Naples, Rome, Florence, Cannes and Nice.
  • Renewing our season passes to WDW in late September for another magical year.

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  • Visiting Disney World in mid-October and hitting up the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot and the Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom.
  • Running in the Atlanta 10 Miler (October) and Thanksgiving Half (November) to complete my second consecutive Triple Peach (which includes the Peachtree Road Race in July).

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  • Spending 5 days in November with Rachel and our good friend Janell in San Diego and Disneyland.

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  • Seeing most of my family 3 different times in 5 weeks, including celebrating Thanksgiving in Enterprise, seeing my brother’s Christmas concert in Buford and early Christmas celebrations in Auburn.

So…How was your 2017?

 

Best of List: Top Movies of 2017

I love a good “Best Of…” list. So for the next several blog posts, I will be sharing some of my favorite things of 2017. Today’s post will feature my favorite movies of 2017. It’s an interesting list because Rachel and I used to be big moviegoers. We would go 2-3 times a month. However, over the past few years, we don’t get out to the movies as much. With the high ticket prices and the fact that you can stream movies so quickly after they are in the theaters, we end up limiting which movies we see to the ones we really want to see sooner rather than later.

All that to say, I am behind on quite a few films that I was hoping to catch this year. But I still saw some excellent films this year. In no particular order, here we go…

  • Wonder Woman Easily the best DC movie since Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
  • The Big Sick Loved this movie. It was sweet, funny and very well written.
  • Baby Driver One of the most original movies I’ve seen in a long time. And the soundtrack was excellent!
  • Dunkirk Intense, compelling, visually stunning. Christopher Nolan at his best.
  • Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri Loved it. Felt like a Cohen Brothers movie. Dark, funny and very well acted.
  • Thor: Ragnorok My favorite Thor movie for sure. One of the best Marvel movies, which is saying something.
  • Coco Gorgeous visuals. Great story. Pixar at its best.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming The best Spider-Man since Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man 2. And probably the funniest of the Marvel movies.

Several movies that I haven’t seen yet, but hope to soon:

  • The Post
  • The Florida Project
  • Lady Bird
  • I, Tonya
  • All The Money In The World
  • Blade Runner 2049

What are some of your favorite movies from 2017?

2017 Running Year In Review

2017 was another solid year of running. This year consisted of multiple half marathons as well as 2 different challenges. As of this morning I crossed 1,125 miles for the year, and I’m hoping to get in a couple more runs this weekend to close out 2017.

Here are my running highlights of 2017…

WDW Half Marathon I started the year by heading down to Walt Disney World to run my 5th consecutive WDW Half Marathon. Unfortunately, they actually had to cancel the race the night before because of weather concerns. However, they still gave out medals and gift cards in the amount of the race fees. While I was disappointed they had to cancel the race, I totally understood Disney’s reasoning for keeping everyone safe. I ended up getting in my 13.1 miles in that weekend by running in Celebration, which is the town across from where we were staying.

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Princess Half Marathon Originally Rachel was going to run this race solo, but I decided to join her once runDisney canceled the race in January. There is a reason this is called the Princess Half Marathon as about 90% of the runners were women. I enjoyed this race as the weather and course were great; plus, it’s always a bonus when I can run with Rachel.

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Publix Half Marathon This was my second year running the Publix Half in Atlanta and the first year for Rachel. This is one of my favorite race courses as it takes you through a lot of great spots in Atlanta, but it is quite hilly for sure. Rachel and I had a great race!

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Tear Drop Half Marathon The Tear Drop takes place in Chatsworth, GA, which is about 90 minutes north of Atlanta. This is billed as the fastest half marathon in Georgia. Runners start on top of mountain and run about 7-8 of the miles down the mountain. I ended up with my second fastest half marathon time and Rachel dominated her race as well!

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Tinkerbell Half Marathon In May, we headed out to Disneyland to earn our 4th consecutive Coast to Coast medal by running the Tinkerbell Half Marathon. This was especially meaningful for us as runDisney is taking some time off from hosting any races in Anaheim after 2017. I’m glad we were able to get in one more half marathon/coast to coast before they took a break. 

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Peachtree Road Race July 4th brought me back to the world’s largest 10K with the Peachtree Road Race. I ended up running with my good friend Meredith this year while our respective spouses met us at the finish line. This race is the first part of the Triple Peach Challenge.

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SeaWheeze Half Marathon In August, I won a free race registration to SeaWheeze in Vancouver for my first international half marathon. Running this race on this beautiful course was one of the highlights of the running year, plus it was my 25th overall half marathon!

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Atlanta 10 Miler In late October, I completed the second part of the Triple Peach Challenge by running the Atlanta 10 Miler. This year the race course went the opposite direction from last year and took you down Cardiac Hill, which is about a mile long. I definitely prefer to run down Cardiac Hill versus up it. It was a great race again this year!

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Thanksgiving Half Marathon My final race of the year was the Thanksgiving Half Marathon and it completed the Triple Peach Challenge. The course this year was one of my favorites. Plus, the weather was almost perfect! I ended up breaking my half marathon time from the Tear Drop Half by over 2 minutes and came within 4 minutes of my half PR. And while I plan to take next year off from running the Thanksgiving half, I definitely plan on coming back in the future. 

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All in all, I completed 7 half marathons and 2 different race challenges (Triple Peach and Coast to Coast). Plus, I averaged over 95 miles per month and served as a running ambassador for Nuun Hydration.

Thanksgiving Half Marathon Recap

Hey peeps! Just realized I never got around to writing my Thanksgiving Half Marathon recap from last month. In order to keep it a little shorter and simpler…

The Thanksgiving Half this year was the 3rd part of the Triple Peach Race Series that the Atlanta Track Club puts on. This was the second year I completed my Triple Peach.

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I picked up my race number and runner’s hoodie the weekend before at the Big Peach Running Store up in Alpharetta. It was good to run into Karen and Brandi while grabbing my stuff.

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On Thanksgiving morning, I made my way down to the Georgia State Stadium (formally Turner Field) very early. They suggested getting down there by 6am due to the number of runners and spectators. After grabbing a good parking spot, I ended up sitting in my car for a while just staying warm and killing time before the race start at 7:30.

By 7ish, I jumped in line for the bathrooms before making my way over to the corrals/race start. I ended up in corral B, which would put my start time about 5 minutes after the official start.

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My goal for the race was stay injury free since I was using this race for Dopey training. I figured the hills would probably slow me down, but was hoping for a nice solid pace if possible.

Once I got started I knew I was going to have a good race. Sometimes I just get that feeling where my energy is high and I feel like I’m on cruise control.

Even with the hills, I enjoy this course quite a bit. It takes you through Georgia State, Downtown Atlanta, Atlantic Station, Piedmont Park, Peachtree Street, Georgia Tech, and various other spots in Atlanta.

I ended up maintaining a 9-10 minute pace most of the half marathon. I felt really good almost the whole time, including the final few miles, which can be quite hilly. Once I crossed the finish line, I ended up with my second fastest half marathon ever! I was super happy to have such a great race!

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Once I finished up, I grabbed my medal/water bottle and Powerade/food/runner’s jacket and made my way over to the Triple Peach area to pick up my extra goodies. The Triple Peach medal and long sleeve shirt are awesome this year! Once I got everything, I headed back to my car and home to shower. I had a pretty short window to get ready before heading down to Alabama to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family.

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All in all, I was super pleased with the race this year. The weather was almost perfect and the course/crowd support was excellent! Thinking I will take a year off next year to spend Thanksgiving away from Atlanta, but I definitely plan on coming back again soon.

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(GUEST POST) Pourquoi J’aime Paris (Or, Why I Love Paris)

As most of you probably know, Allen and I took a 10-year anniversary trip way back in August and September. We traveled throughout various cities across three countries and had an incredible time. You can read Allen’s recaps here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

After we returned from our trip, I went into hyperplanning mode to prepare for my company’s annual conference in San Diego and found myself exhausted each day when I got home from work, and thus too drained for blogging.

Therefore, I’m just now writing this: my super late but still relevant recap of one of my favorite parts of the trip.

My love of Paris started as soon as we stepped off the train from Disneyland Paris. Close your eyes and imagine a quintessential Parisian street. Do you see gorgeous stone buildings, window boxes filled with flowers, and awnings of intimate cafés? Because what I saw was that and more: the Paris of my hopes and expectations.

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We stepped onto street level at the Monceau station in the 8th arrondissement and I was already in heaven. It only got better from there.

I first glimpsed the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc de Triomphe (the size of which, by the way, I am still not over. It was SO MUCH BIGGER than I thought it would be). I was giddy about seeing it, even from a distance. The closer we got, the more excited I became.

When we finally glimpsed the entire tower in all its glory, I realized how much I had truly been waiting for this moment. I finally saw in real life what my favorite 12 little girls in two straight lines saw every day. (If you don’t know that reference, you might be a male who has never read female-centric children’s books, and for that I am deeply sorry.)

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This is the face of a giddy American.

A guide took us through the tower, and I found myself engrossed by the information. (History is not usually my jam, so this is a big deal.) For instance, did you know that the prideful French added an antenna to the top of the tower in the early 20th century when the Chrysler Building surpassed its height? Or that the elevators built in 1889 are still in use today (with some modifications, I’m sure)?

And the view! You can see the entire city from the top (or, more accurately, the second level), along with its many famous landmarks. I’m just sad we weren’t able to visit them all in this trip.

After we visited the tower, we took a cruise on the Seine at dusk. It was extraordinary. One interesting thing I noticed on the cruise is that the riverside is a hangout locale for young Parisians. Many were having a picnic on bridges overlooking the river. How lucky they are to be able to spend idle time in such a remarkable city.

The next day, we visited Notre Dame. Talk about your historic landmarks. If the churches in the U.S. were a fraction as incredible as the churches in Europe, perhaps more people would attend. It gave me all the feels, as they say.

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We also had a private tour of Musée d’Orsay that day, which was awesome and ended up being more enjoyable than the Louvre, in my opinion (and Allen’s). The museum is housed in an old railroad station and is just really cool to look at (as is the beautiful art inside).

And French food! Bon appétit indeed. Before the museum tour, we stopped for a delicious baguette and San Pellegrino (how French!). I also ate probably the best chocolate mousse of my life that day, from Angelina’s. I devoured my delectable snack in Jardin des Tuilieres, which connects the Louvre and Place de la Concorde and is simply spectacular. The next day, we ate some macarons from Ladurée. Desserts like macarons aren’t usually my go-to, since I prefer something richer (ahem, chocolate mousse). However, these particular macarons were mighty tasty.

I haven’t even mentioned Galeries Lafayette, which is a French department store chain (like Saks or Barneys here). In the middle of the 10-story building, there is a massive stained glass ceiling display, alongside ornate designs dotting the various floors. Why can’t department stores here look like that?! It’s all beauty, all the time in Paris.

On our last day in Paris, we finally visited the famed Louvre. (On the way, we walked down Rue Saint Honoré, where many boutiques are located. We even saw people outside of Hermès waiting to buy a Birkin bag! Très chic!) Is it uncouth to say that I preferred the outside of the Louvre to the inside? Once again, a beautiful French building knocked my socks off. It was totally stunning, complete with glass pyramid in the center.

Ultimately, I wish we had spent more time in Paris. I could not stop marveling at the absolute splendor of the city. I was impressed by everything I saw, right down to the side streets and alleyways – everything was exquisite.

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I hope to visit this amazing city again someday. There was so much we didn’t get to see, but honestly, I would be perfectly happy to wander aimlessly and breathe in the city.

2017 California Trip Recap Part 2

In early November, Rachel spent a week working at a conference in San Diego. At the end of the conference, I flew out to meet her and our friend Janell (who also works for the company) and we spent several days in San Diego and Disneyland! Check out part one here! Today’s post covers the second part of our trip in Disneyland…

On Thursday morning, the crew (Rachel, Janell and me) grabbed our rental car and headed up to Anaheim for the remainder of our trip. We had 3 days remaining and were ready to get in some good quality time at the parks. Once we got to our hotel (fortunately the rooms were already ready), we dropped our stuff off and made our way over to the parks! We were excited to show Janell all of California Adventure, Disneyland and Downtown Disney.

Here are the highlights from our 3 days at Disney…

  • Christmas Decorations The parks were already decorated for Christmas and it did not disappoint! And at night it was even more spectacular.
  • Festival of Holidays California Adventure was set up with multiple booths serving food and drinks celebrating holidays from around the world.

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  • Beautiful Weather As to be expected in November, the weather was absolutely wonderful. It’s always nice to be walking around in the parks and not sweating all day.
  • California Friends While we didn’t get to see our California friends for as long as I would have liked, we still got to see them for a little while. Very happy to have some more time with them at WDW in January for the marathon weekend. Please enjoy this picture with my friend AJ…my brother from another mother.

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  • Holiday Themed Rides Several of the rides had changed their theming for the holidays, including It’s A Small World and Haunted Mansion.

All in all, it was a wonderful time at the Disneyland Resort. Very grateful for the opportunity to get out there for the second time in 2017. And while we don’t have another trip to Disneyland planned yet, you know our hope is to be back in 2018 if at all possible!

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