Thursday, May 5, 2022

Looking Back at 13.1 Miles of Memories

I began running in 2009 just to see if I could. I couldn't make it around the block, and the thought of running a half marathon was laughable to me. Fast-forward a bit and suddenly I was LOVING half marathons. I was doing them constantly and always excited to pick out the next one to register for. In 2019  I registered for the 2020 Eugene Half Marathon Doublestack Challenge and was feeling fit and ready to do it. Then Covid cancelled everything. For two years. And in the meantime my Ménière's disease really let me have it. Training stopped being fun because it was a constant battle between my legs wanting to run and vertigo wanting to knock me over. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and realized I need to retire from the long distances. Maybe some day things will improve and I can return, but for now I'll be sticking to shorter races and relays. It was a really hard thing to come to terms with, but now I feel pretty okay about it. So I thought I'd kind of wrap up my half marathon career with a little look back at each and find a highlight to attach to each race!

1. 2011 Disney's Princess Half Marathon in Walt Disney World. It was the first! That is the memory. I ran with Leslie and we had way too much fun sprinting from photo op to photo op. Hello Jack Sparrow! 

2. 2011 the Inaugural Corvallis Half Marathon. My iPod ended up having NO music on it. I was all alone. I was battling vertigo the whole time and kept drinking way too much water and each stop to try to feel normal. I puked my guts out at the finish line thanks to all that water.

3. 2011 Eugene Half Marathon. Amazon Parkway killed my IT band. I still deal with that if I run on an uneven surface! I ran great. I threw up on the track at Hayward Field. Hahaha. Go Beavs!

4. 2011 Seattle Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. I ran this one with my leg all wrapped up because of the IT band issue. My doctor hooked me up with tons of shots in my leg prior to the race so I could get it done. I got to meet Abby at the finish line party!

5. 2011 Lacamas Lake Half Marathon in Washington. I hated it. Absolutely hated it. The course was NOT what it was advertised. I saw no great views. And I had a terrible reaction to my Meniere's medicine which derailed me. Then the medal was seriously the size of a flattened penny. Never again. HATED IT.

6. 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon. Team Jam was born! This was the group race people aspire to have, but no one will ever be able to replicate. We. Were. Freaking. Awesome.

7. 2011 Portland Half Marathon. More memorable than the race was the expo. I met Jeff Galloway. I listened to awesome runners speaking about my running idol Steve Prefontaine. And then I met this woman ... and she was Steve Prefontaine's sister!! And she welcomed me to her family that day instantly. I adored her. AND THEN she introduced me to Frank Shorter - Pre's friend!! I never would have expected any of that. She and I still message now and then! And I got the PR I told Jeff Galloway I was going to get.

8. 2011 Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon. I ran dressed as the Cheshire Cat. I finished in tears because I had hurt myself during the race and was worried it was going to mess up the next race on the schedule. But I did it with a bunch of friends so that was awesome!

9. 2011 Las Vegas Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. It was the cluster f*$@ sh!t show everyone talked about after. I loved the course. I loved that it was at night. I loved the lights. I didn't love that I was one of the many, MANY people that got sick during the race. I collapsed after the race inside Mandalay Bay. A volunteer, Nancy, came to my aid with salt. It was insane. I really really do want to do this race again and have a fresh try!

10. 2012 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Characters galore! And running with new friends.

11. 2012 Inaugural (and only) Walt Disney World Marathon Relay. I surprised myself by running back to back half marathons and doing incredibly awesome on the second one. I was with Corral A runners, so I guess they just intimidated me into running faster. I hit every photo stop without a line thanks to running with the people that never stop!

12. 2012 Heart Breaker Half Marathon. I saw Jeff Galloway again. I PR'd again. Is he the key?? And they gave us strawberries on the course.

13. 2012 Eugene Half Marathon. Another PR for me. I was on fire.

14. 2012 Portland Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. That course was a deceptive beast! So much uphill.

15. 2012 Seattle Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. The first race Shawn and I ever did together. His first race, period. He just followed my lead and we did awesome!! Then I convinced him to run the marathon with me that year. It was our first out of town trip together, too, other than our first date. I guess it all worked out since here we are still together a decade later!

16. 2012 Scappoose Half Marathon. This was essentially a training run for the next full marathon on the calendar. It was sooooo cold. Insanely cold.

17. 2012 Run to Stay Warm Half Marathon. No memories of this one. It was also a training run for the Disney races coming up.

18. 2012 Reindeer Run Half Marathon. Not enough aid stations along the way. I got so thirsty I was debating drinking water from a ditch.

19. 2012 Eugene Holiday Half Marathon. They had gingerbread man cookies and electrolyte drinks on the course that, when taken together, tasted like delicious dessert! And free Cliff Shot Block packages, too. We left with soooo many in Shawn's pockets.

20. 2013 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Shawn and I ran as Jessie and Woody from Toy Story and ended up on the news! The next day we ran the marathon as Batman and Batgirl and we melted.

21. 2013 Inaugural Hop Hop Half Marathon. A girl my age collapsed and an ambulance came. She looked lifeless. Her eyes were rolled back. She survived but I hear was hospitalized. It was really scary to see.

22. 2013 Portland Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. I was better prepared since I knew their elevation charts were deceptive. Andy Grammar was the post-race concert.

23. 2013 Grapes of Half. Gorgeous. Nature. Wineries. Killer hills at the end. Gravel road, going downhill. I had to sort of walk sideways down so I wouldn't slip.

24. 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon. Part of the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare weekend. We ran as Mario and Luigi! And found many friends along the way.

25. 2013 Women's Running Half Marathon. This was in Arizona. There were maybe 5 dudes, Shawn being one of them. The altitude and change in air completely shocked me. I wasn't expecting that!

26. 2013 Eugene Holiday Half Marathon. I forgot my tech shirt at home and had to wear the cotton race shirt we all got. This is soooo NOT me.

27. 2013 Portland Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. At the finish line the announcer saw us and said, "Always be yourself, unless you can be a pirate. Then be a pirate!"

28. 2013 Seattle Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. I got to see Sir Mix A Lot!

29. 2013 Eugene Half Marathon. I actually began this race with my DAD and Shawn. I ditched both of them somewhere along the race and waited for them at the finish line. Ha!

30. 2013 Vancouver BC Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. Shawn had to walk it - doctor's orders - but we both went dressed as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police! We even had police officers stop us to compliment us on our outfits as we walked to the race! My first time in Canada!! 

31. 2013 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon. The 5th anniversary of the race. That morning we were on RunDisney's social media for our Jack Skellington and Sally costumes in the 5K. For this night race we were Pinocchio and Gepetto. This would be the last half for a while because we were about to start the whole IVF process.

32. 2014 Inaugural Shamrock Half Marathon. Did not do it. Doctor's Orders! NOT allowed!

33. 2014 Corvallis Half Marathon. Did not do it. Doctor's Orders! NOT allowed!

34. 2018 Eugene Half Marathon. Felt so good to be back at my favorite distance again and running with a new friend I had just made at Ragnar the year before!

35. 2022 Eugene Half Marathon. The final race. I'll never forget it. Emily let me be with her the entire time and we had so much fun! The poor guy by us having to hear all of our stories. I didn't train at all. I wasn't sure I'd do it. But I am so glad I did!

Is it the end? I really don't know. I hope not. But if it is, I had a great ... run! 

Eugene Half Marathon: My Final 1/2

My FINAL half marathon? Is it?? I think so. Or is it, I think so? I spent so much time during my training just struggling. When I could run I was doing great. My legs were happy, my mind was happy, training was awesome! But just as awesome as it was, it suddenly kept shifting to being really difficult and scary. I never wanted to run too far from home or Katura's school because what if something happened? Ménière's Disease was taking over and the joy was fading. I felt a bit of relief when I finally accepted that I needed to just retire my half marathon shoes. I am NOT done running. I LOVE relays. I can still run a lot of miles, just broken up into 3 different chunks. 13.1 miles has always been my favorite distance once I finally did it, so having this be my last was kind of emotional and sad. BUT I had a happy surprise that changed it so I didn't run a sad race!

I completely abandoned training for this race. Who goes out and runs 3 races in a row with zero training? Apparently ME!! Going into the Eugene Marathon weekend I still didn't know if I would run or not. In my head I was visualizing the course and trying to figure out a game plan if I couldn't finish or if I had a terrible Meniere's attack and needed to stop or get help. I wondered if I was going to drive up to Eugene and end up turning around and driving home. I WANTED to run, but was also scared. So finally it was race day. At 3:30am my alarm went off and by 4am I was on the road to Eugene. When I arrived I was super early, which I prefer, and settled in my parking spot. I walked to the porta potties and then to the start area to see them setting everything up. That solidified it. I was ready to race!

The sun came up and I made my way to the start area. As I was walking around just taking it all in I was so excited to see Emily! This was going to be a great retirement race! We decided we'd get through it together, and I am sooooo so glad we did. 

I conducted an experiment during this race. Okay, if you missed my pouting .... I had tickets to see Hamilton. I didn't let myself get excited about it until I was there. I was not even a block away and said to my mom, "Well, now I can get excited! We are here! It's happening!" Less than one minute later I learned the show was cancelled due to a flu outbreak among the company. Instant tears. I was heartbroken. **I now have tickets again for later this year.*** So to celebrate my new tickets I had decided to listen to Hamilton during the race and see how far could I get in the course before the show ended. This was my plan before I saw Emily, but I decided to stick with it because why not?!?

Once we crossed the start line I hit start on my Garmin and start on Hamilton! And we were off for 13.1 miles of non-stop chatter. Seriously, Emily, I had so much fun. Thank you! We talked about so much. Crazy medical things, races, Broadway, traveling. We never shut up except for when we were drinking water I think!

Run wise I don't really have things to report. We did it! Emily had her Garmin beeping at us in ratios so we'd rotate between running and walking. Thank goodness we had that. I honestly don't know what I would have done solo. I mean clearly I'd have been that girl performing Hamilton alone, but would I have remembered to start running if I walked? Would I have survived that last 5K?

The last 5K. Ugh. I've said this every time I've run the Eugene Half Marathon. The first 10 miles are the physical part. The last 3.1 is the mental challenge. The course gets quiet. No spectators. No hills. Just you and the half marathon runners since the marathon course diverts at that point. Around mile 8.7 you actually pass the finish line. From that point on it is just this mental battle. You get tired physically and you need your mind to help you, but it gets hard. Thank goodness for teamwork and laughter!! Another bonus, we found Jenn on course during this rough spot. Sometimes you just need to see a happy, familiar face to help revive a bit of a bounce in your step!

The last mile actually seemed to fly by now that I think about it. We entered Hayward Field and oops, costume fail. For some reason it seemed like I needed to put my sunglasses on. I don't know why. My brain was dead. When I tried it made my pirate bandanna fall off. So yeah, I totally had us stop so I could fix it for the finish line. I don't know!! I think we did a great job on the track keeping smiles on for the photos and coming in strong to the finish line. I even heard them say my name! I never hear it because I'm usually in a fog. I'm so glad that for this final race I actually heard it!

At the finish I really noticed my Meniere's battle, and thank goodness I found a fence I was able to grab on to. I didn't even grab my medals right away! And what I noticed and really appreciated was nobody tried to shoo me along. Sometimes at the finish they try to get you out ASAP. I physically couldn't do it. Heck a volunteer even brought me a barf bag (that I didn't have to use thank goodness). They were all so nice and patient then smiled when I was finally ready to grab the bling.

Yeah, we got TWO medals! Both Emily and I were doing the Doublestack Challenge which meant the bonus medal. Hot dog, I like ending with a bang and bling! Lots of photos happened before we made our way to the post-race party. I indulged in grilled cheese sandwich squares at the end and collected some yummy cookies. From there it was a mission to McDonald's for salty fries and a Coke! 

I'm so glad I did the race! It got hard at the end, but felt so dang good once I hit the track and got to see the end in sight. It's been a great run of great runs, and I am happy they aren't all done for good. Maybe some day I'll be back reporting on 13.1 miles. We shall wait and find out!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Eugene 5K

This was the race I expected to run in 2020, back when I was feeling great and planning on training for another marathon. Covid happened and races all came to an abrupt halt. I had to defer to 2021. And then I had to defer to 2022. Finally it was race day.... and I wasn't trained.

I had started my training plan and was feeling really excited about following my full calendar with short runs, long runs, cross training on my spin bike. It felt great to finally have racing becoming a reality again. But I was also faced with another reality... Ménière's disease. I've been dealing with this for close to 20 years and it seems like when it comes to running my desires are losing the battle to what my body wants. I was finding it more and more difficult to train. I'd sometimes only make it to the end of my street and I'd have to turn and walk back home. I'd always tell people where I was running and have someone on alert in case I needed picked up. Vertigo was dominating my runs and it just wasn't fun anymore. It was frustrating and scary at times. So after a lot of thinking I came to the realization that I can't fully train for the half marathon and I'd need to "retire" from long distances. 

Clearly the 5K race I was doing was not what I'd call a long distance. BUT the fact that I didn't train for the half meant I also didn't train for the 5K! Fortunately when it comes to racing I'm pretty dang casual. I don't set time goals for myself. I don't compete with other runners. I just go out to enjoy myself and the people. I didn't want to do virtual races during Covid because my idea of racing is having spectators, water stations, other runners. And that is exactly what I wanted from this 5K - to just enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie that comes with these big races.

I stood at the start line by myself, listening to some music and getting myself mentally prepared for the challenge ahead of me. Then I looked up and boom, there was Emily! We were both surprised to see each other, and also super happy. Emily and I have a knack of finding each other without trying when we don't even know we will both be somewhere. This has happened in Oregon multiple times, California and Washington. Clearly we were meant to be friends!

So we began the race together. For a little time we were separated because I think I just had the whole Eugene vibe rub off on me and I pushed harder than I should have. Add in that downhill and I hauled ass. I enjoyed that they changed up the 5K route. I was kind of over the one I have already done so many times.

Half way into the race I was bringing out my phone to vlog and Emily was back! We spent the rest of the race together and it was so much fun. It has been so long since I ran with a friend - and one that isn't Shawn. I think the last time I ran with someone that wasn't Shawn would be Dustin and I doing the Holiday Half in Portland back in 2018!

Time flew by and soon we were approaching Hayward Field ready for our big finish. I don't even know if they said my name because I was too busy waving at Katura and she stood at the side by the finish line cheering with her cowbell! That is a great way to finish a race!!

We got our medals, took our finisher photos and then parted ways. As I went home I was optimistic about the half marathon the next day, but still also not really sure if I would do it. And if I didn't, I at least had a blast doing the kid race with Katura and the 5K with Emily!

Spoiler alert... I DID do the half marathon!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Eugene Kid's Duck Dash

Well here's a first... a race report for a KIDS race!

In 2019 Katura and I registered for all of the 2020 Eugene Marathon weekend races. Well life had other plans. In 2020 and 2021the races were cancelled. Finally, in 2022 we had our change to have our first race together without a stroller!

Katura's race began at 8am right outside of Hayward Field. She was lined up and excited for her first race, a 1K. The plan was to just let her do her thing and I would follow. It was HER race, not mine.

She was a bit hesitant at the start, I think because she had no idea what was actually going on. I tried to encourage her and started showing her how sometimes you need to weave around other people to get an open path. Once she figured that out she was having a blast and on fire!

Let me tell you, she was awesome! There were times I had to work to keep up with her. After the race she said I was holding her back and next year she will do it all on her own without me. **All kids 6 and younger HAD to have an adult with them, as per the race rules.

We got to the entrance of Hayward Field and I could tell she felt the energy. The crowd was roaring and all of the kids were smiling and ramping up their pace. I deliberately stayed pretty far behind because I wanted her to have her own experience. I was just there as her documentarian.

I've got this girl trained without even trying. She didn't want to wear her medal because it was a Duck Dash medal, and not a Beaver Dash medal. She humored me and wore it for one single photo. 

It was pure chaos at that finish line. Kids. Parents. Volunteers. Medals. Water bottles. Goody bags. Too much in one little spot that all had to exit UP the stairs into the grandstands. Then the post-race party... yikes! I left Katura and Shawn to head to the start line for my next race and they tackled the crowds to get some free pancakes and a cowbell.

She had a great time and definitely seems interested in next year's race. I told her as long as she wants to do them, I will happily be there and let her race!

Castaway Cay 5K and a Half?

During our 2022 Spring Break cruise on the Disney Fantasy we were lucky enough to stop at Castaway Cay on our final day. I say "lucky enough" because we were already behind schedule the night before at dinner, then the weather wasn't good in the morning. Word on the pool deck among crew members was that they weren't positive we'd be able to dock. But we did! That meant running my fourth Castaway Cay 5K race on the island.

In all 4 times of running this is has never been 3.1 miles. Maybe I'll find the sweet turnaround spot next time?

I enjoyed the course, as usual. It was raining off and on. And crazy humidity at the same time.

I was running great, but the humidity always knocks me down. Oregonians and heat and super wet humidity don't mix, okay?!?

One thing I noticed very different during this race than the one in August was the amount of people. So many people this time! All ages, skills, sizes. It was really cool to have us all out there together. But what I also noticed was they all vanished. I followed the signs. I took the right hand turn and went toward the cabanas. And then I never saw another runner.

I also never saw a turn around sign. So I went to the end of the path and turned around when I hit the end - but not before taking in the views of the ocean and a nearby island. Back to the bicycle rental shack I went and hurried to the finish line.

3.6 miles.

A 5K race is 3.1 miles. I had an extra half of a mile. That's a lot when you want to just hurry and get back to the beach to go swimming! And all those other runners? Heck, I can tell you then didn't even get close to 3 since they didn't even make it to the cabanas at all. But you know what, I don't care! They were the smart ones. They got to the beach faster than I did. Smart!

At the end I was given my medal and a lady I had been around a lot during the cruise was getting hers. So we figured why not celebrate each other and get some photos!?! I seriously love Disney Cruises and the people I meet!

As per usual I loved it - even if it was long. Will I do it again? Yes. Very soon!

Friday, January 7, 2022

Looking Back at 2021

Well it is that time of year again... the time where I act like a blogger and recap my prior year. Honestly, if you had to sit and try to remember your 2021 month by month would you be able to do it without cheating? I can tell you I can't!

So I turned to my 2021 Facebook photo album for help. There are some memories I have and at this point I can't remember the month or if it even was last year. This might be entertaining for me!

I know this was the year of cancellations, unplanned plans, last minute tweaking of plans, new things, saying goodbye to old things... and a whole lot of mystery in the process. So as Hamilton would say, Let's go!

: Nope. My memory right now isn't giving me one single thing. Wow. Time to cheat. I hit 15 Years of Service at my job. That's pretty big I'd say! I am NOT a job hopper!! Katura discovered our Nintendo Wii and we began bowling and dancing a lot at home. I built what used to be my biggest Lego set yet. I vividly recall I was doing that on January 6th...

February: For the first time in my life I happily tuned in to watch the entire Presidential Inauguration. Such relief. My sweet little girl dared to grow up and turn FIVE!! She was supposed to turn 5 in Key West during a Disney Cruise on the Wonder out of New Orleans. We were going to be at Mardi Gras, too. Obviously that didn't happen. BUT instead of doing nothing we just changed our destination and took my mom with us on a girls trip to Walt Disney World! Like I did for my birthday in 2020, Katura spent her birthday in Epcot doing spin art before having dinner at a restaurant she loves, Enzo's Hideaway Tunnel Bar! Ooh - and then our flights were messed up because of a storm in Oregon, and we ended up in San Diego and driving all the way back home. Sheesh, what a trip!

March: I got my first Covid vaccine shot!! And according to Facebook photos we lived on our trampoline in the sunshine!

: Clearly I then got my 2nd Covid vaccine. Woohoo!! Shout out to my fellow Moderna peeps! We were outside A LOT. We had a girls trip to the coast to play around with vlogging and a fun day at the beach. Katura spent a lot of time playing with friends. And she discovered the joy of driving around our property in her pink Jeep. She got that for her 1st Christmas, now she can actually use it!

May: Yeah, May. This was a month. We had some high highs. And we had a low low. I don't want to cry, so I'll keep this month short. We had a wonderful family vacation at Aulani in Hawaii for Mother's Day. It was beautiful and we can't wait to go back! And the night before we flew away, the world said goodbye to my step-dad. Ugh.... okay, moving on...

June: Graduation!! It was the month of parties! Multiple birthday parties for preschool friends. And then we had preschool graduation!! I'm sad the little trio of girls had to split up for new schools now, but I am so glad to not have to go near that church the preschool was attached to anymore. Love the school and Director Kathy. Despise that church. Graduation means a party, and we hosted a big party for the entire class. It was so much fun! And not to be ignored, our new life began in June. Katura became a gymnast! Gymnastics has taken over our whole house and we all love it!

: This month can be summed up easily. Katura has a social life. I just tag along! Play dates all over the place, gymnastics, vacation Bible school, safari camp. She was a busy girl and I was the exhausted mom taking her everywhere. And while doing all of that for her I was busy behind the scenes working on what would happen in August....

: We had a very special unveiling of a memorial bench at Legion Field in honor of Jim. It was really nice! And right after that our family was off to Florida and somehow ended up being part of the few people that were on the very first Disney Cruise after the long covid shutdown. It was surreal, unexpected, completely awesome! We had the best time and I legit cried walking off the ship. The crew was incredible. I became Facebook friends with one of our servers and am hoping to see our serving team again in a few months!

: Kindergarten begins!! Katura became a Panther just like her mom and her grandma and all the rest of the family! She had an immediate love of school, and I have had this whole new discovery of mom things to take care of - homework, drop off, pick up times, early release, library day, book fairs, school lunches, racing from school to the gym. So much. I sleep pretty well every night now because I'm always tired! Ooh, something freaking awesome happened in September..... Alanis Morissette concert!!! And I now have her autograph!!! It. Was. The. Best. !!!!

October: October was basically 3 things. School. Gymnastics. Halloween. We lived at the Spirit Halloween store. We went to multiple Halloween costume events. Katura and her bestie were the same character from two different movies and HAD to trick or treat together. And we all had a blast doing it!

November: Hahahaha. I think my whole month was just one long vacation, right?!? We did a last minute tweak to our original vacation plans, and ended up having the best time! Not having a set agenda, and just relaxing on a golf course was so so cool. My mom and I always have Thanksgiving together at home with the parade and dog show. This time we just did it in a new place and let Mickey Mouse cook dinner for us! Could this be a new annual thing?!?

December: TMI - I'm a grown up and had my first mammogram. I passed! I also got my booster shot, and Katura got her first vaccine shot. By the time you read this she is already fully vaccinated! Our December was pretty quiet. After all of the November travel we just needed some downtime. Katura and I got our ears pierced together and went to gymnastics all the time. That and school is pretty much it. And then Christmas happened.... and we were spoiled! Harry Potter toys AND the gigantic Lego Titanic. It sold out instantly when it became available, and Shawn was one of those lucky people to get one! And somehow I was completely clueless. I stared at that wrapped gift for one and a half months dying to know what was inside. I was completely stunned! Construction HAS begun and you'll be seeing that soon, FYI! To finish off the year I had the most wonderful night with my number one person. Katura and I had our own little party at home with Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper, some popcorn, ice cream and tons of games! We even made it up until around 1am!!

So that was my year. Like I said, some great highs and an unexpected very low low.

What does 2022 have in store? Ha! Who really knows, right?!? Things that are supposed to happen look cool though. Races, cruises, HAMILTON!!!! My mind went blank after typing Hamilton. How did I manage to score tickets to Hamilton???? I don't even know. But I refuse to get all excited because we have seen how things go. They get canceled. In 2021 a cruise was canceled, the Alanis concert was one that had been delayed twice, the Hawaii trip was one that had been delayed. You just never know anymore, so now I have tons of exciting things lined up but my excitement level is actually just flat. Hopefully it will rise and things will happen, but I'm just going to go a day at a time and stay optimistic, but just be chill at the same time.

Here's to 2022. Let's all try to make it a good one!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Dear Disney, Please Get Your Sheet Together.

You might think I have nothing but glowing things to say about Disney. Umm, No! I don't focus on the negative in our vlogs, probably because we are too busy dealing with something to bother recording it. But we did have an incident (and sadly I somehow lost that footage during an Airdrop to my computer I guess) that was infuriating and very disappointing.

Is it going to be a new Disney trend given their non-stop excuse of changes being made because of Covid? Changes meaning "we are taking things away and charging you more."

Here's what happened. . .

We were staying at Disney's Caribbean Beach resort. Since it is not a Disney Vacation Club Resort and we just paid cash for it we were going to have housekeeping every other day. At DVC resorts you get housekeeping every 4 days, but they come in daily to take your garbage. So we are very familiar with not having our beds made each day and fresh towels daily. And that is fine.

But what we received at Caribbean Beach was NOT acceptable. For our week long stay we had housekeeping TWO times. And that was not typical housekeeping. What that meant was they gave us fresh towels and took our garbage out. Two times in one week. That is all the service we received. Nothing more at all. No vacuuming. No straightening of a bed sheet. Just towels and trash. Twice. In a week.

And here is what happened that caused me to decide to never stay at this resort again....

One night we had a spill in one of our beds. It did not go down to the mattress (which I think was plastic anyway.. sure sounded like it). I stripped our sheets and we grabbed the bag on the "closet" shelf that had a spare blanket and pillow. First off, the comforters are sheets. The spare bedding ... sheets. They do not have anything at all above what you'd expect at the lowest tier resort. So we put the spare sheet on the mattress and called it good for the night. In the morning, knowing it was one of our housekeeping days, I stripped the bed and put the dirty linens on the floor by the door. The top sheets were pulled back showing a bare mattress. Clearly we needed some new bed linens. There is absolutely no way you wouldn't be able to figure this out.

We had our day in the theme park, stopped by the main dining area on our way home to grab food and then took the long walk to our room to finally sit, relax, and enjoy our dinner.

That isn't what happened.

Upon returning to our room a housekeeping cart was outside of our door. Were they still there that late at night? It was already dark out! I opened the door and saw the dirty linens were gone. Great! Then I looked... and our remaining sheets were still draped off the bottom of the bed partly on the ground and the mattress was bare.

Are you kidding me, Disney?? We couldn't even have ONE bed made during our entire week stay, especially when a guest clearly needed the assistance?? I was absolutely disgusted. My mom and Shawn ended up making the bed with the bedding we took from the cart that was outside. This should have never been an issue. We should not be having to go find our own materials to rectify something that housekeeping could have done very easily during their one of only two visits to our room that week.

That cart was still sloppily sitting outside of our room when we left the following morning to go to another theme park. And I can tell you it was wiped clean. Clearly others passing by needed things and helped themselves to it, and rightfully so!

I was happy to leave that resort, which is never really the case unless I am staying at an All Star resort. My comment card at the end expressed all of this. I never had a reply from them. Don't ask for comments if you don't want them. And I guess don't go to Disney expecting to get any sort of housekeeping service for the $$$ you're paying. (I want to make sure it is clear that every other aspect of our stay and every Cast Member we encountered there was fabulous!!)  Let's just see something... hold on....

I can't get an exact quote for the 2022 equivalent of our room, but doing some calculating based on what's available and our military discount, I'd guess around $2,000 or more (definitely more for guests without that sweet military discount!) .... and they couldn't put sheets on our bed ONE time in that week. Leaving us a completely bare mattress was what they chose to do. 

Do better, Disney. It is absolutely inexcusable.

I love pirate things, but I will not be staying in the most uncomfortable bed of my life in a resort that doesn't care about us ever again. And I am here to recommend to you to save your money and skip this particular resort.

We are currently figuring out accommodations for our next Florida visit. I'm really eye balling some Universal Orlando resorts if a DVC room isn't available once I can use my remaining points in holding. 

Do better.

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Ego of Vlogging

I have nothing in the works vlog wise, so I figured I'd head on over to the blog! Hello and welcome back!

As you probably know, I've been having fun playing around with vlogging during our family vacations. We were talking about it the other night, how instead of making scrapbooks, as a family we have fun creating video memories we can go back and watch whenever we want. I have scrapbooks in the closet that are not complete because scrapbooking takes up so much time and supplies. I can whip out one of those Shutterfly photo books in a day or two and call it good. So much faster and cheaper that way. But our vlog is a whole different creature.

Some might think vlogging our trip means I am just staring in my phone or camera the whole time. Ha! If you watch them you'll possibly figure out that isn't true. You might recall I lost my phone for about an hour during our August vacation right before we were about to head to Port Canaveral. Oh my, the stress, the drama, the tears! To prevent that from happening again my lovely mother suggested I get a lanyard for my phone. Of course I laughed at her idea.... and then went and got a phone lanyard. So now, as we are wandering around I just have it hanging at the ready for me. When something seems like maybe a moment we want to capture I just have to grab it, slide my finger across the screen and boom, I'm in video mode in probably one whole second. Do I stare at it when I record? Not that often. I just kind of hold it up and what you see is what you get. I do use video mode to take photos, so that would be when I do pause to actually look and get a nice shot. But part of the fun is once I start to edit I actually see what I recorded. On attractions? Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest are excellent examples of me turning the video on and letting it just hang on the lanyard and we see and hear the results of all the fun we have. On Soarin' I did the same. Turned it on, held it against my chest and just enjoyed the ride without even looking at my phone one time. That video came out awesome! I was pleasantly stunned! So no, I definitely live my vacation and experience it and don't have my face buried behind a camera.

That all leads me to the negative, since clearly I assumed that everyone thinks I'm not really living my vacation when I'm vlogging. There are so many professional vloggers. I am far from being that and I am not trying to be one. Like I said, this is just our way of making our own scrapbook and if people watch and enjoy, well great! But in vlog world people also "hate watch" people just to make fun of them. As I edit I do this to myself. I "know" that "you" (meaning anybody in the entire world that might see it) are seeing all the bad. Trust me, any negative thoughts you have about me and my videos, I have them but wayyy worse. 

I hear my awful voice, which finally I am used to after more than a year of doing vlogs. I see my gross face. I notice my tired makeup at the end of the days. I roll my eyes every time I say "happening" or any variation of that word. I know I'm judged for what I eat. I'm sure people hate my commentary. Die hard Disney fans might not enjoy my opinions on some things.  My list goes on and on and on.

In vlog world viewers can be cruel. Nobody is safe from it. 

Being a vlog that doesn't get watched I guess spares me from the mean comments being actually typed on my YouTube page. But I know they are thought. It is human nature. So that makes me wonder.... Do vloggers have big egos and feel super confident when putting out their videos? Do they have poor self esteem so they make videos trying to seek positive comments and attention from others? Do they just not even care? Do those "famous" vloggers read the comments, good and bad? Do they secretly read the gossip forums where people dissect them and trash them? 

Where do I fall in all of this? I definitely do not have high self esteem, but I also don't have super low. I just pretty much don't care. All those negative thoughts people would have about me, like I said, I am way harder on me than anyone else ever could be. At one point I apologized for emphasizing my T's too much - and then I promptly took it back because it is just me. Watching yourself on videos, you learned things. And I say my T's clearly, so there! Yeah, I am a vegetarian and I don't eat a lot of strange things. That's fine. I'm okay with it, it is my mouth and taste buds. Does my Disney opinion bother you? Fine, that's okay. Yeah, I'm happy a horrible attraction that was always 101 is finally torn down and I very much celebrated it! I think being a Cast Member for so long in a variety of roles probably has me see things through different eyes. 

And add in being a Disney Vacation Club member now, that probably adds a different spin. Suddenly we are in much different accommodations than I ever thought I'd be staying in. But with that comes us paying annual dues and monitoring the status of our home resort - a probably high expectations. Aulani had a chunk of pool tiles missing. We pay for that upkeep, so yeah, Shawn did bring it up. I'm still in awe of those resorts, and maybe that annoys people that I get so excited when I see our rooms. That's fine. I stayed at Value resorts for so long, you're damn right I'm going to be stunned when I walk into a freaking villa at a new resort!

So yeah, we vlog. We share our lives during our vacations or other little outings we might do around Oregon. We know we will be judged. I lean toward thinking it is a harsh judgement, but I'm sure some watch with kinder eyes than I watch myself. I have fun playing around with footage, picking out music, inserting old photos that match the video, laughing at things I forgot had happened. I spend a lot of time doing this, too! On average I had about 1 hour and 15 minutes of vlog footage per day. The exceptions to that would be Sea World and Universal Studios. I won't say how much I had on those! I go through every single tiny video and edit, combine things, and then present it in a little package. A 22 minute video to you is much longer than that for me. I don't know times but I'd guess 2 hours would be how much time it takes to create depending on interruptions. The compilation video? Yikes! I watched every single completed video again, writing down which moments to go back and find and put in the video before doing major trimming to create the final product. 

It is so much fun! I slaughter my own ego in the process and at times can't even look at myself (notice who you see on camera the least.... that would be ME!), but still I love it! Seeing Katura dancing in the "snow", my mom pouring champagne into a kid cup, Shawn dancing in the mirrors, capturing the monorail spiel... all these little fragments make it all worth it!

So there's the messed up psychology of my vlog. 

And if you haven't watched any of them, here is the recap from our most current adventure!