Friday, October 20, 2017

"This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever. In it's place is something that you have left behind. Let it be something good."

Slept in late... nothing beats not having to set an alarm
Went to Yoga at Westgate
Watched the sign-ups for next summer's HSE YL Wilderness trips fill up in a matter of minutes

Sat by the pool
Played putt-putt at Westgate and only mildly got destroyed by Justin
Explored Disney Springs and discovered Sugar Boo

Picked up a pizza on the way home and ate it on the couch while we watched The Golden Girls

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"Listen, you don't get to cry when you're at Disney World." Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

We took Katie and Nick's advice and showed up at 7:40 for Animal Kingdom's 9:00 opening. 

We were near the front of the line once we got through the ticket gate and then the waiting began as the crowd grew. We walked to the Pandora section of the park right with the cast members again and immediately got in line for Avatar Flight of Passage. 

We got on our banshees for the first ride of the day and it was phenomenal. With the same set up as Soarin in Epcot, you fly through the world of Pandora as an Avatar on the back of a banshee. They actually let us on the ride early so we were done with our first ride at 8:45 and immediately got in line for Na'vi River Journey and only waited 15 minutes.

It was our first time to the Animal Kingdom so everything was new to us. I loved just seeing how everything was decorated, especially the India section of the park. We had FastPasses for Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest and Dinosaur.

We watched the Festival of the Lion King...

Walked the Discovery Island Trails...

 and the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail before heading out of the park.

And we got to meet Russel in his Wilderness Explorer Club House before we exited.

Next we entered Hollywood Studios, our 4th and final park of the week, where we were greeted by Stormtroopers and Darth Vader.

We went on the Star Wars ride, watched Indiana Jones, dropped on the Tower of Terror, rode the Rockin' Rollercoaster and a movie about Walt Disney himself. But my favorite ride was the Toy Story Midway where I just may have beaten Justin all three times that we played.

We came, we rode, we conquered. We left Hollywood Studios just after dinner and headed back to Animal Kingdom to finish the day.

The Animal Kingdom's nighttime finale, River of Lights, is amazing and I really couldn't capture it in photographs, but it was well worth our trip back into the park. We scooted over to Expedition Everest for one more ride to finish out the day. We're so exhausted but the whole day was totally awesome.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Here's the secret, you put on a romantic comedy and she'll end up making a big bowl of popcorn."

While Justin was a student at IU he got to know Jim and Val. They became his second family and shaped his time at CSF and in Bloomington. Jim and Val taught him about life, about his faith and who he wanted to become. They're incredible people. I'll never get the honor of meeting Val, she has since passed away, but I've been eagerly waiting to meet Jim. Today we drove East to Cocoa Beach to spend the day with Jim. 

Immediately I fell in love with Jim's house--I could happily live here forever.

We sat by the pool outside and chatted for awhile and then headed to the Marina to hang out on the boat. The water was too choppy to sail but we got to sit in the cabin and on the top and enjoy the sun and the wind.

Next Jim took us to the Exploration Tower at Cape Canaveral. 

In the distance we could see the Disney ship, the Kennedy Space Center and surrounding beach.

It wouldn't be a trip to Cocoa Beach without actually going to the beach. It was windy and overcast but we got in a long walk talking and picking up shells.

Jim is all about cool treasures and finds like this one that washed ashore. He's calling it the sea monster and it now has a spot at his house.

Jim took us to a Cajun restaurant in Cocoa Village for dinner-- fun food like crab mac and cheese, live music, Jim playing along with the drums with a pair of knives and a belated birthday sundae for Jim. It was the best day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"This is how fast I drive. My family calls me Maria Andretti." Magic Kingdom and Epcot

MAGIC KINGDOM DAY!!!! HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH!!!! Everything is fun here. 

We made a bee line through the park right to Thunder Mountain at the rope drop and got on the first ride. We did Magic Kingdom like it was our job-- Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blaster, Tom Sawyer Island, Swiss Family Robinson, Haunted Mansion, It's A Small World, Whinnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain.

What's better than watching a Magic Kingdom parade?
Watching a parade while eating a Mickey Mouse Ice Cream. 

In the middle of the afternoon we park hopped over to Epcot. We picked up a kid along the way too. We met her on the monorail when she told us that she was going to eat dinner with Belle. She asked to be in our picture and we couldn't resist.

Justin's last time at Disney World was when he was 5 and he wore emojii pants (before emojiis were a thing) and a really cool visor. In the Magic Kingdom we found Goofy but we found Pluto in Epcot a few hours later.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of Swiss Family Robinson. How cool would it be to live in a crazy, complex treehouse.

Epcot is currently hosting their international Food and Wine Festival. I was pumped to ride Soarin', Test Track and the Anna and Elsa Frozen ride. Justin and I shared a giant ice-cream sundae in a waffle bowl in Paris. Then we split some beer-braised beef with gouda mashed potatoes-- I still can't believe how incredible it was.

Between walking the parks, waiting in lines, riding the rides, eating special treats and meeting characters we got the most possible fun out of Disney today.