Friday, February 14, 2020

2020 Rock n Roll New Orleans Expo

This past weekend, Rock n Roll held its annual New Orleans Marathon weekend . Despite being on the upside of an injury (and with a half a second of a thought to dropping to the 10K), my friend Melissa and I agreed to run/walk the half that we were initially registered for. 

We stayed at Hilton Riverside which was located right next door to the Ernest N Morial Convention Center (where the expo was being held). Don't let the "right next door" part fool you - this is a HUGE convention center and the walk was a rather long one!

A change that Rock n Roll has made within the past few years is the elimination of race waivers. You basically sign your online waiver when you register, so you don't need an extra paper in hand once you arrive. There's a mobile app where you can look up your bib number and then line up accordingly by bib number to pick up your packet. It's super easy and wastes less paper!

Rock n Roll also always has you walk the red carpet on your way to check in! What a fun touch!

Another fun touch this year was the addition of gold, green, and purple mardi gras beads! I love it when each race experience really hits on the cultural aspect of the area. So fun!

It wouldn't be a Rock n Roll Expo without the traditional Chocolate Milk finish line photo!

After picking up our bags and shirts, we made our way to the Brooks showroom floor to check out the merchandise this year.

My favorite were the light up number signs! (Not for sale, sadly.)

We spent a good 45 minutes or so here, looking through the merchandise and trying things on. I came away with a long sleeved finishers shirt (which I love) and a Rock n Roll New Orleans coffee mug. I've never purchased a coffee mug at their Expo because they weren't race authentic enough. Well, this one had purple, green, and gold insignias all over it so yes, it's now mine!

We made our purchases, then walked over to the Main Expo floor to check everything else out.

A super fun experience was put on at the Humana booth where my friend and I received matching "tattoos"!

Another fun "New Orleans" touch to this race experience were the multitude of Mardi Gras costumes, parade floats, and photo opportunities.

We definitely took advantage of them all!

Oh yes, and a giant crawfish...almost forgot about him!

I also registered for next year's Rock n Roll New Orleans half. If you register for the following year's events at the Expo, you can usually take advantage of special pricing and receive a free tshirt!

After leaving the Expo, we walked back over to our room to drop off our purchases, then made our way to the Riverwalk Mall for some beignets!

Although the "authentic" Cafe du Monde is located in the French Quarter, they do offer various locations throughout the city and this one happened to be inside of the Riverwalk Mall. It was super easy and convenient for us, so we went with it!

Watching them make the beignets was super fun, too! She literally scooped these up and tossed them in the fryer. (See instagram stories for footage!)

The remainder of our day was spent touring a plantation home located just outside of New Orleans and eating pizza at our favorite, Outlaw pizza. It was a fun day in all and ended with an early bed time for the runners.

Up next: Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon race reap!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Disney Dream Day 2: Castaway Cay & The 5K

Our first port day on our most recent Disney Dream cruise was at Castaway Cay. We had plans to run the 5K, then hang on the beach the remainder of the day. Since it was Brayden's first time at Castaway Cay (and the beach in general), we wanted it to be extra special and memorable for him!

Fun tip I never knew: If you have a small child and are interested in running the 5K, there's a drop off point for Scuttle's Cove on your way to the start line. The 5K cut off age is 10 years old, so it was nice being able to drop Brayden off right there on our route. Scuttle's Cove is entirely enclosed with no access to the beach (it's more of a splash pad type area). Super convenient and easy!

As we docked at Castaway Cay, we spent a little time taking in the beauty of the island. It was such a pretty day, too!

Breakfast in Cabanas consisted of (of course), Mickey waffles!

Prior to previous Castaway Cay 5K's I'd run, this one was a little different. Instead of meeting as a group in the Walt Disney Theater and walking to the start line together, we were directed to meet instead on the island itself. As I previously mentioned, we were able to drop Brayden off on our (LONG) walk to the start line. Castaway Cay 5K's seriously bring back memories from half marathons at Walt Disney World and the crazy long walk to the start line!

It's a great way to see the island early in the morning without the crowds, though!

Another change since I last ran this race was the start line! Instead of staring the race at the start/finish line area, runners were directed to continue walking to the air strip to start the race.

I wasn't sure how my IT Band or hamstring would hold up during this race since I had so many issues running the half marathon just two days prior, so I decided to stick towards the back and take it kind of slow.

With the recent hurricane Dorian that hit the area, I could see much more of Castaway Cay than I remembered. It seemed as if a lot of the areas that were usually full of greenery no longer were. It was very nice and clean, but I was amazed at how much of the island I could now see!

The Castaway Cay 5K takes runners and walkers down the airstrip and around the bike path. All along the way, there are various coolers of water with cups and it's so refreshing during a hot run!

They also had a set up of water in cups about midway through and it was manned by a couple of cast members.

I spotted my friends on one of our out and back loops! Hi husband and friends!

With that, it was almost time to finish the race! I love how the course is well marked, too!

Believe it or not, I was worried for nothing. Castaway Cay is SUPER flat, so my IT Band and hamstring gave me zero issues during this run! I was so excited!!

We were all so excited to have another medal to add to the collection!

After finishing our run, we all changed into our beach attire and told our friends to go to Serenity Bay. I wanted them to fully experience the amazingness of that little slice of heaven and since they weren't traveling with kids, it was the perfect opportunity!

In the mean time, we picked Brayden up from Scuttles Cove (where he had a ball) and headed over to the family beach! Life jackets were in abundant supply and we had no problems finding one for him.

He LOVED swimming and playing in the sand. It truly was a magical experience for all of us!

Midway through the day, we snagged lunch at Cookie's BBQ. This is one of my favorite parts of a Disney Cruise as the food is so delicious!

This child still talks about these banana ice cream cones, too!

Back on the beach, Jason and I took turns relaxing and playing with Brayden. While Jason played with him in the ocean. When we swapped, I took Brayden over to the splash pad area to play.

This kid seriously loved everything about Castaway Cay!

It truly was a magical day for our family!

We spent as much time as humanly possible on Castaway Cay before heading back to the ship.

Our friends loved Serenity Bay, too!

That evening, we had dinner in Enchanted Gardens. I know it's silly, but we bought these matching outfits on Castaway Cay several years ago and this was our first time for all three of us to wear them! 

It's a little, right?! :)

Back in our room that evening, we literally crashed after such a long and fun day on the island. None of us wanted to leave and can't wait to return!

If you've visited Castaway Cay, what's your favorite part of the island?

Disney Travel Day: Wine and Dine Expo & Animal Kingdom
Disney Day 2: Wine and Dine 10K & Kids Races & Hollywood Studios/Epcot
Disney Day 3: Wine and Dine Half Marathon & Magic Kingdom
Disney Day 4: Boarding the Disney Dream
Disney Day 5: Castaway Cay
Disney Day 6: Nassau
Disney Day 7: At Sea Day
Disney Day 8: Magic Kingdom and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Disney Dream: Day 1 - Boarding the Ship

On the morning we were set to board the Disney Dream, we woke up with a mission - to ride the Skyliner one final time. Disney's Skyliner quickly became my toddler's favorite "ride" at Disney, soaring even above Dumbo, the Tea Cups, and the Carousel.

Well, we had plenty of time to spare, so we took a quick ride from Pop Century over to Caribbean Beach Resort where we snagged breakfast at the Joffrey's kiosk.

Full disclaimer: I really do think the Skyliner is pretty darn neat, too!

While ordering our toffee flight coffee, Brayden happened to see the giant blue donut and well...vacation.

I ordered the Toffee Flight warm and Jason ordered it cold. We both agreed that the hot version had better flavor.

Before long, it was time to leave for the port. With our large group size, we realized that it would be more cost effective to take a Happy Limo over to the port and (bonus) with our own mode of transportation, we got to choose our port arrival time!

They even had an option to include a child safety seat (for a small extra fee).

We enjoyed having the opportunity to chat on the way to the port and while checking facebook, we soon discovered that official boarding time had been pushed back by an hour due to a coast guard inspection that morning. Whomp whomp. Although it was a little sad, we didn't let it ruin our great day!

By the way, Happy Limo comes highly recommended! They were prompt, had plenty of place to store our luggage, and super friendly!

Look at this madhouse!

One little disruption in our boarding process happened when we officially checked in. Since Jason and I were Castaway Club members, we went to a separate check-in line from our friends who were first time cruisers. Well, our two groups of friends were all given boarding group 7 and Jason & I were given boarding group 15. After asking around, we realized there was nothing anyone could do to help us or change our boarding group to align with our friends. We didn't want to board separate and it may seem like small potatoes, but when you're ready to be on the ship and your boarding time has already been delayed once, it kinda stinks to wait around and watch as everyone else boards. Our friends were nice enough to sit back and wait with us so we could all board together!

In all, that was really the only "issue" we ran into with our cruise. First world problems, right? :)

Our first stop after boarding the ship was Cabanas for a little lunch!

After lunch, we all took a little time to explore the kids club. Since this was Brayden's first cruise and he had all of this extra room, we were a little worried about how it would go for him. He loved Andy's room, though and didn't want to stop playing!

Before long, our rooms were ready and we were ready to drop off our bags.

This was our first cruise since becoming DVC Members and we were so excited to see the "Welcome Home" signage on our door!

We booked a verandah towards the front of the ship and didn't have any issues with our room.

It was so neat to see how they literally just flipped the couch over to form a bed for Brayden!

So simple and easy!

Around 2:30 p.m., we said goodbye to our friends for a few minutes to attend a DVC Member Celebration. Since we became DVC Members mid-way through our last cruise, we didn't get to attend all of the fun events, so we wanted to take advantage of as many as possible here.

It was also here that we discovered our adult cruise staff was Tisa! She has seriously been on at least four of our nine Disney Cruises (not intentionally on our part) and I was so excited to see her!!

After our DVC event, we reunited with our friends for the boat drill and Sail Away Party!

We were so excited to begin our cruise and 4 magical nights at sea!

I love waving to the port cast members as the ship sails away!

Dinner on our first evening was in Animator's Palate.

Brayden was zonked, so our head water got him a table cloth to use as a blanket. So sweet!

Mickey bars for dessert, anyone? :)

We deemed dinner on our first night as "romper night" so of course we had to take a picture!

On the way back to our room, we made a little pit stop at our friend Kim's room to decorate it for her birthday.

Last but not least, a lovely sand crab was waiting to greet us good evening!

Want to check out more from our Disney Vacation? Click on the links below!

Disney Travel Day: Wine and Dine Expo & Animal Kingdom
Disney Day 2: Wine and Dine 10K & Kids Races & Hollywood Studios/Epcot
Disney Day 3: Wine and Dine Half Marathon & Magic Kingdom
Disney Day 4: Boarding the Disney Dream
Disney Day 5: Castaway Cay
Disney Day 6: Nassau
Disney Day 7: At Sea Day
Disney Day 8: Magic Kingdom and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Up next: Castaway Cay!!

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