To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WDWCP: Let's Hit the Snowy Slopes!

Warning, oodles of pale skin ahead. Grab your sunglasses!!!

September 24, 1997 is the date of this adventure! Marcy called in sick, Brenda went to work, and the rest of us were already scheduled to be off. So what better plan than to go to Blizzard Beach? It was my first ever visit to a water park, so I didn't really know what to expect. Being convinced I was fat, I was incredibly self conscious all day, so that was awkward. Sarah and I had each bought waterproof disposable cameras prior to going to the park, so we were the unofficial photographers. It is a rare moment to have us in the same photo during this day!

We took the Vista Way bus to Blizzard Beach, and once we arrived we got some lockers to store our things. You don't really need much if you're going to be in the water the whole time! Blizzard Beach was pretty new, having opened in 1995. The story of the park is that a freak snowstorm came through, resulting in Florida's first ski resort. The highlight of the park is the chair lift taking you up to the top so you can experience Summit Plummet.

The very first thing we did was board the chair lift. Being a skier, I loved this! There are even fake skis below your feet, so from afar it all looks legit! Our first "ride" was Teamboat Springs, the family raft ride. It was such a blast! All 5 of us were in one huge raft, laughing our asses off the entire time!

Back at the bottom of the mountain we went for a float in the lazy river. For a while some of us didn't have anything to float on, but we just went in anyway... see below!

I noted in my journal that I lost my hair tie in the lazy river. I can see that in the photo above. I never wrote how I ended up pulling my hair back again, because the rest of the day it is clearly pulled back. Hmm, a mystery detail I left out? Wow, this is so unlike me!

We did some more slides and then finally lined up for the biggie... Summit Plummet!! From the top we could look over to our left and see the construction of Disney's Animal Kingdom. That was pretty darn cool to see. It feels extra cool to me now since that ended up becoming my home for 3 years after college! I was the brave one to go down Summit Plummet first, so no photos exist. MAJOR WEDGIE!! But it was totally rad!! The slide is 120 feet long, and you can get up to 60 miles per hour. If I remember right there is even a board that tells you how fast you went down. I can't remember my speed. I think at the end I was more focused on getting my wedgie out and getting out of the way for the next person to come down.

After Summit Plummet we went to the snack shack for lunch. Would you be shocked to hear I had a grilled cheese sandwich? Yeah, didn't think so!

Yeah, I was clearly obese. Ugh, let me roll my eyes at myself for a moment.

Here is a cool view from the top of the hill, probably in line for the BIG slide! It is a pretty cool water park, although I don't have much to compare it to. 

We did manage to get a group shot right after Summit Plummet. All suits still in tact!

Sarah, Marcy, Danielle, Zaira, Ronda

This was taken after lunch. Zaira was hiding from the camera!!

We went shopping after lunch since we already had our money out of our lockers. My journal tells me I bought a pin (as I always do), a postcard for my dogs (yes, that's right) and a 25th anniversary beach towel that I still have in perfect condition. Oh yeah, we did get a Cast Member discount on shopping, so that was very handy since we made basically NO money.

What we called "the wavy pool" was so much fun! Periodically a huge wave would come and sorts of fun chaos would ensue. That was probably my favorite area since it felt like being in the ocean, without the worry of any sort of undertow.

Before we left we took another trip down Teamboat Springs and one final float down the lazy river. The park was clearing out, so everyone getting their own tube was a piece of cake. Below you can enjoy this photo of the official photographers together!

By the time we got back to Vista Way we were sporting some serious lines ... and not tan. Some of us pale ones probably needed more sunblock to avoid the burns we got. We finished off that evening by hitting the House of Blues for dinner, and you can read about that by clicking right here!

See ya real soon! °o°

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

WDWCP: Under the Boardwalk

Out of the Sun... Under the Boardwalk... We'll be having some Fun...

My entire Walt Disney World College Program was one new experience after another. I had never been to Florida before, so my life was one new opportunity after another. These things all seem like "home" to me now, but back then it was so grand and new and beautiful! One of these places I grew to love, and still hold dear, is Disney's Boardwalk. Vinny and I would go there quite often, just to enjoy the atmosphere, lights, sounds, and walking around in an area of relaxation. Today we are going to take a look back at my first visit, on October 22, 1997.

That morning I had a required seminar. If I can find my scrapbook I'll delve more into those. Basically we all get dressed in our business attire, head over to Building 26 (??) in Vista Way, and have a seat at big round tables for a couple hours while we learn things about working for a Fortune 500 company, team work, personality traits, etc.. I always enjoyed them, and they are part of what helped me overcome some shyness, although I still tried to avoid actually having to speak out loud in front of the entire group.

After the seminar, Marcy, Sarah and I returned to the Magic Kingdom. (This is the day after the night out at California Grill.) I remember it felt like forever in this store. It was on your left as you enter the Magic Kingdom. Sarah found this really cool artwork and wanted to buy some. $300 later we were done with one piece of new art! Marcy and I walked across the way to the opposite side so we could visit the Magic Kingdom Welcome Center. We picked up some free 25th Anniversary posters. One hung on my apartment bedroom wall, and I still have one framed in my room at home!

Finally, it was time to go visit the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is located right next to Epcot, and very close to the then Disney-MGM Studios. If you wanted to walk between the two parks it is very easy, and you just cut through the Boardwalk and walk along the water. *I highly recommend it - it feels faster and more scenic than waiting for a bus!

We decided to eat at the ESPN Club. I mean clearly we are three jocks and the ESPN Club was calling to us... Yeah, uh huh. Funny enough, I loved it and have been there countless times. I went all the time when I lived there after college, and I visit on every vacation!

The ESPN Club is awesome! We were seated in the lower part of the main dining area. One wall is a giant window, looking out to the rest of the Boardwalk and the water. I love a view with water! The walls are lined with memorabilia - photos, sports jerseys, autographs. The menu has a little bit of everything... everything for the meat eater. However!! This one visit I was delighted with what I found on the menu that is sadly long gone. A triple-decker grilled cheese sandwich! Heck yeah, that's what I'm talking about!! If you order a side of fries they come in a huge cone that looks like a mini-mega phone, complete with 3 saucers for dipping! Nowadays I like to get nachos since that is basically all I will eat on the menu. You can get Boo-Yeah Chili, which always makes me giggle. And enormous hot dogs! The vibe is always fun. On some nights you'll actually get to see athletes on the main stage being interviewed, and can even ask them a question if you know enough about sports to talk and not make an ass out of yourself. I've never asked a question. If you check out  the photo to the right you can see the entrance, and the lines to get in. This is not rare. You can arrive during the day at walk right in, but once it is evening, and especially on a game night, be prepared to wait!

After we finished our dinner we walked around the entire Boardwalk, taking in the twinkly lights, visiting random photo ops and shopping.

If a warm night in a rocking chair outside doesn't scream life in Florida, I don't know what does!
Eventually we were back at Vista Way with another typical evening. What would that mean? Probably the Weather Channel was on. And we sat around looking at and putting away newly developed photos. I could be rich had I not bought so much film and then developed it and bought photo albums for them. But then what fun would these blogs be without photos??

See ya real soon! °o°

Monday, September 18, 2017

WDWCP: Dining Like The Rich People Do

On October 21, 1997, I spent my morning with my roommate Danielle. We went to Pool #1 and worked on our Florida tans. According to my journal I DID get a dark tan. Ha, who knew!?! Danielle worked at the California Grill, the fancy pants restaurant at the top of the Contemporary Resort. She made some phone calls and was able to get Sarah, Marcy and I dinner reservations for that evening! So again we had to bring out some of our nicer clothes so we could fit in with the setting.  Prior to going out, Marcy, Sarah and I went to Pool #2 to hang out for a while. (I didn't realize I spent so much time at the pool during the day!

We had 5:30 pm reservations, which would allow us time to enjoy the view, but also experience the sunset from high above the world of Disney. 

Check out some daytime views below:

Upon our arrival at the California Grill, Danielle was waiting for us. I thought her "costume" was cute. I mean she pretty much got to wear normal attire, as opposed to the majority of us in our apartment. She was the one to take us to our seats, and I don't think I'm wrong when I say we had the best seats in the house! We were situated right in the center next to the window looking out over Bay Lake. Bay Lake is the big body of water that you may see in front of the Magic Kingdom in certain publicity shots. It houses the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resort as well. If you take the ferry boat to get to the Magic Kingdom, you're on Bay Lake!

I'm laughing as I look at my journal. Apparently I thought our dinner was "way over-priced". For the three of us girls it cost about $70. I'd hate to know what that same dinner would cost in 2017! I am so happy I found my journal. Because of it you're going to get nonsense details that are giving me a good chuckle. I had a three-cheese flatbread thing. I remember being nervous because of the goat cheese incident at Epcot. I didn't want to repeat that! This flatbread was alright, I didn't complain! For dessert I had cheesecake, and who is going to complain about that? Certainly not this girl!
Sarah and I, all dressed up!
It was during our dessert that we got to sit and actually watch a Florida sunset for the first time. In Hawaii the beach was always filled with people sitting and absorbing the sunset. In Florida, well, there is so much going on, I never actually see people stop to watch it. So this was a nice thing to actually experience, and from such a fancy location!

Seeing as we were right next to the Magic Kingdom and nobody had to work, we decided to wander next door and enjoy some rides! We spent most of our time in Fantasyland. Whoa, this is going to date us here ... we went on Mr. Toad!! Mr Toad is gone, and became the Winnie the Pooh ride. We also had some time in the Tea Cups and the carousel. The carousel was more of a challenge given our attire, so Sarah and I decided to ride side saddle!
From there we went to Sarah's territory, Tomorrowland. We took a ride on Space Mountain, where we saw the cute Alejandro working - but he didn't see us. Oh well. As we were leaving Tomorrowland a Cast Member named Drew stopped us. We ended up talking to him for nearly an hour. He was a Florida Gator apparently. We also spent time with a manager that was a former Miami Dolphin. You can thank my journal for this entire paragraph.

The park was starting to close, so by the time we got to Main Street USA we were the only ones left. If you know me, what happened next shouldn't be a surprise. The music was playing, so we danced our way right down the middle of Main Street USA! I couldn't resist, and I would totally do it again. And again.

By the time we got back to Vista Way Danielle was off work. Sarah is the good girl that likes her sleep, so she went to bed. Danielle, Marcy, a co-worker of Danielle's and myself all went across the lot to the pavilion for the party going on. I guess it was kind of boring, so there wasn't much to report. Except Ryan from my seminar said hi to me. So that was nice, I didn't blend in so much that I was ignored! At this point I'm wondering who Ryan is. I think he is a tall guy I have a photo of Danielle with - you'll see that later. 

That's all I have to say about this night out. It always stuck out in my memory as a really fun night. California Grill is one of the nicest restaurants on property, the nicest back then. So for us little ol' interns to get to eat there and have the best seats, well that was pretty darn special. And then to play around the park at night in our dresses, that was truly a unique experience!

And because she is so cute, we will end this post with two of my favorite photos of my favorite roommate!

See ya real soon! °o°

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Prefontaine Memorial - Take EIGHT!

I've said it so many times, so I'll say it again.... my inspiration for running is Steve Prefontaine! He was freaking awesome. Every September I participate in the Prefontaine Memorial Run. After my first time running it I declared I would ALWAYS do this race, no matter what. Sure enough I ended up pregnant, so in 2015 I did the 2 mile race, and in 2016 I again did the 2 miler with a stroller. Now we are in 2017 and I was so happy to feel confident enough to return to the traditional 10K distance. This race is NO joke, so I knew this was going to be a challenging welcome home!

My mom and daughter came along as my support crew this year. The drive over was so easy with only a couple of cars near me the entire way. Of course those cars I did encounter went way too slow, especially since my bladder was exploding! TMI? Psh, whatever, you've read worse. Getting to the church for check-in was a breeze, and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this year's race shirt. It has a very different look compared to prior years. 

Next we were on our way to Marshfield High School to park and get me all ready with braided hair, compression socks and a charged Garmin. After a brief walk we were in downtown Coos Bay and the start line. As I do, I went into the Art Museum for a final potty trip (why use a honey bucket when you can go inside and flush and wash your hands??) and a visit to the Prefontaine room. I always pop my head in to pay my respects and get focused for the race.

The start line didn't feel as congested as usual. There was a 10 minute delay to the start, so that is when my nerves finally kicked in. I should know to not be nervous. I KNOW this race course is ridiculously hard, so it isn't like that is a mystery to me and I don't know what to expect! For some reason I ended up really close to the front of the pack when we lined up. Ha, like I belong up there? Not even when I'm in top race condition do I belong by those runners! BUT the nice thing is, at this race you never feel judged or like people are competing against you. I always feel a sense of comradery and support. That's one reason I love it!

AC/DC was playing over the loud speaker, Linda Prefontaine raised her hand in the air, she pulled the trigger to the start the race and off we went! Holy adrenaline, Batman! I've been running hills and pushing a stroller so much that now that I was momentarily on flat land and without a stroller I was suddenly going fast. Too fast. I mean I had over 6 miles to go and I had to save my energy for all of those hills. I worked myself over to the side of the road to be out of the way and then tried to slow to a more manageable pace. 

From there I just had one method of operation. I would haul ass going downhill, run strong on the mild hills and then power walk up the steep hills. I didn't worry about other runners and was I passing people, was I being passed, who did I want to beat. That wasn't in my head at all. I was just taking in all of the surroundings, listening to my music and focusing on the path ahead of me.

There was one point that I had wished I had a camera in my hand. The front runners had already made their turn and were coming toward me.Two older men were neck and neck. They didn't appear to be running together at all, just maybe having their own competition and pushing themselves. They were probably the age Steve Prefontaine would be now, maybe only a little younger. The front runner of the two was in an Oregon singlet and green shorts. The same outfit Pre ran in. The runner right behind him, he was in blue shorts and a USA singlet. The same outfit Pre ran in. It was a picture perfect moment. It was like Pre racing Pre. That right there was the highlight of my race!

When I got near mile 4 I started updating my mom on my status. I felt okay texting her since I was climbing Agony Hill. I had six tenths of a mile to continuously go up with no break. I find this is the section of the race where fellow runners and spectators really give me the encouragement I need and help me smile and laugh when am putting my body through a lot of work! 

Once I hit mile 5 I told my mom this was it, I am in that last mile, most of it downhill! I put my phone away and just focused right in front of me. As I turned on Elrod and was rounding the corner at Pre's childhood home, I didn't even see my mom or baby cheering for me! I was totally in the zone. I knew my finish line was coming up soon and I wanted to cross it.

I got on the track and although I told myself I wasn't competing, I couldn't help it. I was running along, almost casually (for me), thinking I was fine at this pace. Well then I heard a woman coming up behind me. A child ran to cheer her on and I could feel her getting closer. Sure, I could have let her pass. But I also know me, and I couldn't let her pass!! I came around those last turns and my legs did what they love to do... my finish line sprint. It felt so good! I could have passed 2 people, but they had themselves lined up just right (or wrong) so I wouldn't have been able to enter the shoot easily. Oh well, I was happy with what I did!

My family and I reunited rather quickly on the football field. It was such a nice sight to see faces that I know so well! And even though I was sweaty, my little girl was very happy to give me a big hug! I grabbed my finisher results and was stunned when I saw it. I guess I misread my Garmin when I was hitting stop, because I finished nearly 10 minutes faster than I had thought. Cool! I was stunned, and felt awesome. This was what I needed to see, and now I have the drive to go run and keep getting back at it so I can return to the 13.1 miles that I love so much! *Don't bother asking my finish time. I don't discuss because I don't compete with people and people are always so full of judgment with regard to pace. I ran the best race I could and I am excited for more!!

Post-race recap: We went downtown again to get some lunch to see the new Prefontaine mural. Oh my gosh, it is pure awesome!! If you get over to the Oregon Coast, go check it out. There was also a parade, so we got a front row spot and really enjoyed experiencing an old fashioned small town parade. I mean they had the cheerleaders, marching band, and even the football team being pulled on a big trailer. It was really cute, and my daughter even got a high quality book for free! People tossed candy to kids, but my girl went home with a book. THAT is a real win!

On the way out of town we stopped by Sunset Memorial to say good bye to Pre, again, another tradition I like to maintain. I also visited my great-grandma with my sleeping baby... who is partly named after her. The drive home was nice and easy, and all seemed to be a nice ending to the day.

Then I came home, put freezer packs in the freezer, turned and saw my little girl almost under my foot. I had on my running shoes and couldn't risk stepping on her. We bumped each other and she tumbled (not hurt at all), BUT she landed where my foot was about to go. I'd have stepped on her torso. I tried to keep turning and it all became a blur. My temple area hit the tile counter, then my jaw hit the wooden cupboard door immediately after. My body went crashing to the hard, tile floor. So yeah, I won't be running for a few days since I can hardly open my mouth, my head has a huge bump, and I just flat out hurt. I declined the offer for the ambulance, but for a while I was pretty sure my skull was cracked out and I'd be bleeding everywhere in no time. Thankfully that didn't happen!

What a day, right?!?

WDWCP: Happy Birthday to ME

I was born at 4 o'clock in the morning, so I guess getting up at 5:15 on my birthday morning shouldn't have been tough? But what about the time change? I mean that was then 2:15am in Oregon. No? Doesn't work that way? Well either way, I was up very early on my birthday, and for a pretty good reason. All of us students from Oregon State University were getting our photo taken together in front of that awful birthday cake castle. I guess it made sense to have my birthday with the biggest cake in the world! You learned in an earlier post about the Utilidor at the Magic Kingdom. A big purpose of the Tunnel is to keep costumes out of the wrong land. This day was the exception, although we were doing this before the park had opened to guests. I had a blast wearing my Frontierland costume into Tomorrowland... just because I could! For the lifelong fan of Disney theme parks, finally getting to spend my birthday IN one was beyond exciting!!

Birthday girl & the birthday cake!
After changing from my costume into normal clothes, I was so excited to meet most of my roommates at the Crystal Palace for my first ever character dining experience. It is pretty self explanatory, but that means you get to have breakfast, this was a buffet, and characters come around to interact and do photos. We will cover characters later, but basically they terrified me back then! For the Crystal Palace the characters are those from the 100 Acre Wood.

Marcy, Sarah, Brenda and Zaira all joined me. Danielle was, she was somewhere else. She worked in the evening, so she wasn't at work. But she wasn't with us either. I don't know. This made for a better breakfast dynamic anyway.

You may notice in the following photos how red I turn as this goes on. Basically, believe it or not, I get nervous in front of cameras and when all attention is on me. And this is before I could have rum to add to the mix, so yeah, nerves and redness!

Because it was my birthday, Cast Members brought me a cute Happy Birthday card and sang to me. I was also given the most delicious cupcake. I am not kidding. I can still remember how it tasted. Second to a different Disney cupcake I had (strawberry lemonade), this was the yummiest cupcake ever!

Really, that isn't a sunburn. I just turned That red.
Eeyore was fun to see. I enjoy that cute, mopey little guy.

Eeyore was a group favorite, so we were sure to get this photo before we left!

With regard to the Crystal Palace... I love it! I've had more birthdays there since this first visit. It is totally my kind of food, being breakfast.  I can have as many eggs as I want. And French toast. And Mickey Mouse pancakes. And potatoes. This is all I really need. There are so many things to pick from, but I keep it simple. Love, love, LOVE!!

Some of my roommates got me presents, so we had extra there for that. Extra time meant more time for socializing with each other and more character photos ops. I left a bunch of them out because do you really want to see every single photo? Probably not. As it is I probably went overboard, but it was my birthday, I was 19 years old!

Danielle had sent along a gift for me to open. She wasn't there, but she did get me a gift, so that is pretty darn cool of her. Nobody had to get me anything, so I was extra appreciative that they were so thoughtful. I still own every single gift you'll see, and still in great condition. My little daughter now owns the gift Danielle gave me, as I use them as part of her Disneyland nursery decorations.... the Mickey Mouse shoe slippers! The one thing we didn't think about while living there was that all the stuff we bought, we had to get home. Oops!

Sarah got me this cute, super comfy red night shirt with Mickey on it. I just wore it not that long ago. I love how it comes down nearly to my knees! This was a good find on her part, totally something that goes with my lounging around the house style!

I was extra stunned at Marcy's gift because it was something I had mentioned while we were there but it was just too spendy for my blood. It was a Mickey Mouse bath robe. Anyone noticing a theme here??

Eventually we had to finish our breakfast, but not without a quick good bye with Winnie the Pooh himself! Some had to work later, but we had a little time to play in the Magic Kingdom before parting ways. We decided to go on the world famous Jungle Cruise together. Dang it, Brenda and I actually did get wet from the backside of water!!

After our cruise through the Jungle, Marcy and I went to Mickey's Toontown Fair to ride on Goofy's Barnstormer, the cute mini roller coaster for children. We might be older, but we are still kids at heart! Back at Vista Way, Marcy and I watched Sleeping Beauty, which I bought in the Magic Kingdom the day it was released on VHS. Ooh yeah, we were excited about our VHS tape. And watching Sleeping Beauty was a nice break from the Weather Channel.

Later in the evening I got to have a birthday date with Vinny. He picked me up and surprised me by taking me to Downtown Disney Westside to watch Kiss the Girls. Once that was done we went to another favorite place of ours, Disney's Boardwalk. While sitting on a swinging bench in the sand a roomie and friends came walking by. He was quite nervous when meeting them, but he was a hit. They all gave their seal of approval!

To make up for unexpectedly meeting my new Orlando family I was taken to Disney's Grand Floridian to meet his dad, who was at work at the time. I was so nervous. I mean in my head I was about to meet Tony Soprano, even though the Sopranos didn't exist yet. But that is the image I had in my head when I was about to meet the Italian dad from New Jersey! The nerves were really for no reason. He was great and so nice to me!

That was my birthday! Incredibly long, but also incredibly memorable and worth every minute!

See ya real soon! °o°