Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Port Orleans French Quarter Beignet Dash

Hi there and happy Wednesday! I'm interrupting my Royal Caribbean Alaska recaps for something near and dear to my heart - running at Disney!

My husband, son, and I recently spent the weekend at Walt Disney World where we jam packed as many "new to us" experiences in the weekend as possible. We stayed at Old Key West (new to us), had breakfast at Trattoria al Forno with the characters (also new to us), we saw Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy and the newly re-imagined Disney Jr Show at Hollywood Studios (all new to us), and I ran the Port Orleans French Quarter Beignet Dash for the first time.

Did you know that several of the Disney resorts host fun runs during the week? These runs are usually around a 3K distance and cost a small fee. After the run, participants are given a reward of some kind - such as a pin, medal, food item, etc. Oh yes, and walkers are welcome, too! (Please note, these runs are not available during runDisney race weekends.)

Ever since these runs began, I've been carrying around a list with a list of the race names and days of the week they take place, cause I knew I wanted to run one eventually. When we initially planned this trip, my first thought went to which days of the week we would be on property and which races would be available. Much to my delight, the Beignet Dash at Port Orleans French Quarter is held every Sunday morning and it just so happened to fit into our schedule!

At first I was hesitant to run this race as I am currently injured and going through physical therapy, but my PT encouraged me to run it (slowly) to see if I've made any progress. I also realize I haven't given any updates here on my PT progress, so I'll plan to give that update sometime next week!

Even though we were staying at the resort next door, we still had to take a Lyft to French Quarter as there is no walking path between the two resorts. Our driver picked us up at our building (instead of us having to take the 10 minute walking path to the front of Old Key West) and brought us directly to the front of French Quarter!

The race was set to begin at 8 a.m. and we arrived around 7:20 a.m. or so. Registration was set up to the side of the pool area, near the Disney Springs boat dock. During the registration process, a cast member told us that there were approximately 100 runners that morning!

According to the map, we would be running out of French Quarter and through Riverside! I was super excited to see this as Riverside is one of my favorite resorts on property!

My little cheerleaders were out to cheer me on!

At exactly 8 a.m.,  the race began. I scooted towards the middle of the pack as I didn't want to take off too fast and not be able to keep up running the whole time. I also didn't want to anger my hamstring any more.

This race was really nice and I enjoyed it a lot! My one complaint was the heat and humidity - and yes, I'm from Louisiana but I'm in the AC all day and not out in this craziness!

One thing I definitely appreciated about this race was the signage and cast members located throughout the course to cheer runners on. If you aren't familiar with the Riverside property, you wouldn't have a problem running this race as there's a ton of signage!

This race was approximately 1.4 to 1.5 miles per the runkeeper app on my phone and it really was a great way to start the day! My hamstring didn't give me much trouble during my run which was nice. The pain has gotten significantly better since starting PT! (More on that next week.)

I loved that the French Quarter greeter was out there to congratulate runners at the finish line as well!

After the run, we received our medals and a bottle of water (which was much needed)! We also had a chance to take pictures with a few of the signs that were provided.

Kimberly and her mom ran this race, too! It was so great to see them again and catch up!

At the bottom of our bib was a tear away tag which was good for 1 order of 3 Mickey beignets, which runners could pick up inside the French Quarter food court.

This little guy had Mickey waffles while I enjoyed my beignets!

These beignets were delicious and definitely comparable to those at Cafe DuMonde! They are also Mickey shaped, so how can you go wrong with that? I greatly enjoyed them and they were the perfect treat after having run 1.5 humid summer miles!

If you're interested in more Disney resorts fun runs, check out this post over at The Mouse For Less for a more comprehensive look at other fun runs that are available!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Alaskan Cruise: Seward and Anchorage [Part 7]

I hope this week finds you doing well! Welcome back to another recap from our most recent cruise to Alaska! We last left off on our final day on board the ship and a stop by the Hubbard Glacier. On today's recap, we disembark the ship in Seward where we spend a few hours exploring the town, then we take a bus to Anchorage and visit the Alaska Zoo!

When we arrived in Seward that morning, the fog was so thick, you could barely make out the boats in the photo below. It was super interesting to watch the fog thin out!

Since there is not a large airport in Seward, cruisers usually elect to take a bus to Anchorage and fly out from there. We weren't sure how the timing of everything would work, so we extended our trip by a day and had a little fun exploring both Seward and Anchorage.

Airport bus times included 8:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. (or somewhere around there). Since we were on the 2:30 p.m. bus, the burning question revolved around what to do with our luggage while we explored the town.

After a little searching on my family's part, they found the Alaskan Bag Lady!  She seriously met us at the port terminal, held on to our bags for the morning, then had them waiting for us when we returned! I was seriously impressed - super sweet people, too!

The town of Seward also includes a small bus loop of its own where you can ride to various points of the city without a charge. Our first stop was Starbucks followed by a local city park!

For real though - how about those park views? It was absolutely breathtaking! 

A bald eagle flew over our heads while we were at the park and landed in this tree. It sat there forever, just looking around. So incredibly cool!

After the kids had their park fix, we walked over to a local cafe for a little grub!

I had the seafood chowder and it was really tasty.

Seward was just so picturesque! 

 While waiting for the next bus, I couldn't help but snag this picture. :)

The bus ride to Anchorage was painless and lasted about 2 hours. Our driver also acted as a tour guide and gave interesting facts along the way. Some of us might have napped, myself included.

The bus dropped us off at the Anchorage airport where we then snagged a hotel shuttle to our hotel. We had to laugh - they didn't have AC! It might sound silly, but it was a bit warm in Anchorage while we visited. One of our drivers told us that they'd already had 14 days of temps in the 70's this summer and that's incredibly unusual for them. About 2 weeks after we left, Anchorage hit their record high temperature of 84 degrees. It sounds wonderful when coming from the 100 degree south, but a little AC would have been nice. Not complaining - just sharing my experience!

Since our flight wasn't leaving until 6 p.m. on Saturday night, we decided to spend our Saturday morning at the Alaska Zoo! What intrigued me about the Zoo was the fact that most of their animals came to them from conservation efforts. I also loved that we could see animals you wouldn't see at your typical Zoo here in the south!

They had a ton of cute little setups like the one below. We had so much fun!!

I was super excited to see the Peregrine Falcon at the zoo - it's a fun story so stay with me here....

So, I once met a man who worked with the Walt Disney Company in film.  He worked mostly on the conservation and film documentary side and was sent to Alaska to study the habits of the peregrine falcon. This was back in the 1960's or 70's when these falcons were on the endangered species list. After studying their day in and day out, they discovered that if you took an egg from the momma falcon, she would lay another one. It sounds harsh but when you're trying to help the species thrive, it's not. After 8 months there, they completed their project and moved on with their lives.

Fast forward to 1999, he received a phone call that he was being invited to a banquet. He had no idea what the banquet was about, but he went. Much to his surprise, it was a ceremony where the peregrine falcon was officially removed from the endangered species list and he was one of the honorees that helped contribute to this success!  What a life accomplishment, huh? He told me that if he never did anything else worthy of accomplishment in his life, he was ok with that because this was such a huge one for him...and all because of his work with the Walt Disney Company! Pretty nifty!

Seeing one of these falcons in person was truly touching, especially knowing his backstory!

At this zoo, we saw wolves, cariboo, brown bears, black bears, bald eagles, and the list goes on!

Speaking of the brown bear - can y'all see those claws? I definitely don't want to run into him in the wild! 

A petting zoo was also a part of this zoo where kids could pet goats, bunnies, and chickens.

You see my husband's grip on that kid "leash"? Yeah well, that's cause my child would have been the one rolling around on the ground, trying to lay on the goats. He LOVES animals of all kinds!

About 3/4 of the way through the zoo, we spotted a restroom and snack stop. Jason and I split a pretzel while Brayden had some Cheetos!

In all, we spent about 3 hours at the zoo and truly had a chance to see everything!

There was even a little park at the end which Brayden loved immensely!

The Alaska Zoo was seriously the perfect end to our trip! If you have a chance to visit, you should! 

...and just like that, our week in Alaska had come to an end. We took a red eye back home and boy was that exhausting. We had so much fun overall and wouldn't trade a moment of it!

I had several of you ask, so stay tuned for a couple more recaps - a ship tour, a comparison between DCL and RCCL, and my thoughts on the kids club on RCCL!

Have a wonderful day!

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