Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Visiting Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World

Throughout all the years and many trips we've taken to Walt Disney World, a water park was never in our plans. It's not that we didn't want to go - we just never had a true reason. As Brayden got older and discovered his love for water slides and all things swimming pools, we decided a visit to Blizzard Beach on our recent August trip was the ticket!

Getting there without a car wasn't super difficult, but it wasn't a straight shot either. If your stay includes Coronado Springs resort or All Star Movies, a direct bus is available to Blizzard Beach. From all other resorts, you must first take a bus to Animal Kingdom park, then transfer to a Blizzard Beach bus from there.

We made it just as the park was opening! Perfect timing!

We were excited for our first visit to a Disney water park! To be honest, it felt strange being on Disney property and having no clue where we were going!

Goofy was out to say hello!

Our day began in the gift shop and we also rented a locker to hold our bags and things we wanted to keep dry.

I loved all of the theming around the park!

We started off in the little tykes area (which was too small for Brayden), so we moved on to the intermediate kids area. It was perfect for him! 

We also rode the ski lift to take the raft ride down. I wish we had a chance to ride the raft ride one more! It was a lot of fun! (Next time!)

Mid day, we stopped for lunch and both Jason and I ordered a chicken sandwich which was very good. Brayden had his usual chicken nuggets! :)

After stopping to enjoy the wave pool (and finally figuring our way around the park), bad weather came rolling in...of course. This caused everyone to have to evacuate all pools and slides.

We spent a lot of time hiding under a cover for rain that never came. In total, we missed out on about 2 hours of water park time. We were disappointed but totally understood due to the safety concern from the thunder/lightning/and dark ominous clouds. It really looked like it was going to downpour!

While hiding out, Brayden played in the sand and had a total blast doing so! 

That bucket came from his kids meal. Good timing, right? :)

We decided to call it a day, around 5 p.m. (park closing time was 6 p.m.)  Our dinner reservation was for Ohana that evening and we didn't want to be late, so we took an Uber back to our resort to shower. Also, the bathrooms at Blizzard Beach include showers, so I was able to give Brayden one while there (mostly to get all of the sand off of him). 

Would I return to Blizzard Beach again in the future? Most definitely!! I felt like we were just getting the hang of the park when the bad weather rolled through. 

Our current debate at home? Return to Blizzard Beach on our summer 2022 trip or try Typhoon Lagoon for the first time? Help us out - What would you do?

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon 2022

Over the weekend, Jason and I traveled to New Orleans to run the Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon. (I ran, he spectated!)

This was our return to "big" racing since you-know-what shut the world down, and it was all around an amazing weekend!

Usually, I also include a synopsis about the Expo - but this expo was super small and there wasn't anything vastly exciting about it, except they did include a few fun photo ops inside the convention center floor.

Dressing for this race was a bit of a fiasco because I couldn't decide what to wear. A friend reminded me not to overdress but I also didn't want to under dress either. It was in the 30's which is COLD for us southerners, y'all!

Ultimately, I decided on layers - a long sleeved shirt under my Raw Threads New Orleans shirt, plus a throw away sweatshirt on top. I could have skipped the sweat shirt altogether but oh well. I also skipped the compression socks and went instead for capri length tights. Overall I was happy with the decision!

I also woke up to see two cruise ships docked just outside our window! Hello return-to-normacly!

Dressed and ready to go!

I also went into this race with somewhat of a funky attitude. Rock n Roll changed the course COMPLETELY this year and I was panicked on how to get to the start line. I used to be able to wake up, get dressed, and walk right out of my hotel to the start line. Now the start line was at least six miles away, at the University of New Orleans. Thankfully, Rock n Roll came through with busses to transport runners to the start line. 

All was super organized and very impressive!

Something new this year was the inclusion of the red light/green light system. Corrals still existed (so runners knew where to line up) but instead of releasing corral by corral, runners would line up in a chute, one by one all the way across, and start running whenever the red light turned green. It was super quick but also very different and I wasn't expecting that!

This new course was 100% on the campus of the University of New Orleans and on Lake Pontchartrain. 

The weather was BEAUTIFUL and we couldn't have asked for a more perfect day!! Somewhere around mile 1.5, I took off my sweatshirt which messed with the buttons on my watch and reset the dang thing! So, I ran this race without any idea of my overall time, I could only see my pace. My original goal was to run it in a 2:05. Could I have broken the 2 hour mark again? Maybe. But, I stopped to take off my sweat shirt which took precious seconds and I stopped for photos at the beginning which also took precious seconds. In another day and another time (and with the right mindset), I could have likely done it. I seriously felt SO great during this entire race and around mile 11.5, I was sad it was almost over. The overwhelming gratitude of being back, running again with a large crowd, doing this thing I love on such a gorgeous day - you can't beat that!

The course atmosphere on this race route was great, too! I just love the overall atmosphere of New Orleans! It's so much fun!

I do have two grievances about this race...

With the course change, came in the added HILLS. Oh, the hills. I sure hope they didn't advertise this as race as a flat course because I'm from Louisiana and I know flat - this wasn't flat. I seriously lost count of how many overpasses and bridges and roadways we ran up and down. It was seriously too many to count. However, I made it a goal to power up all of them and I made it every time!

Second - this course was WAY too crowded. In the past, the 10K'ers started before the half marathon. This year, it was all looped in together. I understand why they did that, and I was happy when we split at mile 3. I didn't care for the fact that we looped back in with the 10K'ers at mile 8 or 9. I seriously thought I took a wrong turn and had to scan other runners bibs to make sure I was still going the right way. The two lane roads were way to crowded and congested. 

Traditional mile 12 photo!

I LOVED the medals this year!! Aren't they beautiful!

I seriously love how much they put into this overall race from start to finish (Expo to post-race). There's so much rich history and culture with New Orleans, it's fun to see it showcased at the race!

I also knew of a runDisney friend running this race, Jackey! I hung around the finish line to say hi! It was so nice to meet her!

Remember the watch debacle? Well, I knew the "overall" time when I crossed was around 2:10, but I had no idea if I'd reached my goal time or not. After finding a spot to sit and relax, I opened my app and.....

I got it!! I couldn't believe my eyes! 2:05!

Thankfully our hotel let us have a noon check out, which gave us a few extra minutes to hang around the finish line. The buses were also taking runners and spectators back to the Convention center area which was super convenient!

After showering and checking out, we made brunch reservations at one of the Ruby Slipper locations and took a Lyft to the restaurant.

This dish was SO good. I would go out of my way to go here again, just to eat this dish!

Chicken and waffles is a southern staple, but this dish switched it up and added french toast instead. It also included a sweet heat sauce and I drizzled it with syrup. So so good, y'all!

I absolutely loved this past weekend. I had a blast being back in New Orleans with my husband, eating the good food, seeing the sights, and running the half marathon. I'm already registered for next year! Can't wait to be back again! 

Laissez le bon temps rouler - Let the good times roll! 

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