Five Things Friday: November 30th, 2018

It’s been ages since I did a Five Things Friday! I figure I’m overdue and this will be a good way to round out November. With 2019 barreling towards us I’m going to share five trips I plan on taking next year!

  1. Walt Disney World- January 2019- That’s right, I’m going to Disney World (queue the Superbowl Commercial confetti haha!) My sister and I make an annual trek to Disney for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Training has been rough so I’m nervous about the marathon but excited to get back to Disney!

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    Flashback to WDW Marathon 2018 where we bought beers BEFORE the finish line!
  2. Las Vegas, NV- January 2019- After running the marathon at the beginning of the month, I’m heading to Vegas for the first time at the end of the month with Morag on the Map and our friend Seb. This is my first time in Vegas so I’m really excited- any must-do suggestions?
  3. Adirondack Park, NY- May 2019- Morag is coming to visit for two weeks in May and for part of the trip we’re headed to the Adirondacks for a week in the mountains. This is originally where we met so we’re excited to hit all our favorite local joints.

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    The Adirondacks is so beautiful- it’s why I love to visit so much!
  4. Boston, MA- May 2019- Though not officially planned yet I’d love to bring Morag to Boston for a few days during her visit. There’s a ton of cool U.S. history in Boston and it’s home to many of the North East’s most famous sports teams. What’s your favorite thing to do in Boston?

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    Taking in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston
  5. Paris, France- September 2019- Morag and I are excited to see each other three times this year (which is rare because she lives in Scotland and I live in the U.S.) In September we’re meeting in Paris for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon weekend of races. We’re planning a couple days at Disney before heading into the city for a couple nights. If you could pick one thing to see in Paris, what would it be?

Stay adventurous!

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Hartford Baking Co. in West Hartford, CT

Today I bring you another local coffee place that serves up coffee and so much more deliciousness! Hartford Baking Co. was another Yelp fueled discovery that I found in West Hartford, CT. They have two locations though I like to visit their New Park Ave shop because the parking is easier than the other location on Farmington Ave.

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Walking in I was immediately tempted by their baked good case!

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They also sell bread loaves, rolls, fresh made sandwiches and DO YOU SEE THOSE GIANT PRETZELS?!

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HOLY YUM!

My favorite thing they make (that I’ve tried so far) is the banana chocolate chip muffin.

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I came in close to closing time so I gobbled this down in my car.

One thing I really like about HBC is that they don’t do the typical pumpkin spice for fall- instead they offer a delicious autumn spice latte which I tried on my first visit.

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The autumn spice latte has a cinnamon/spiced type of flavor. It’s really good!

HBC has a good amount of tables so I can usually find a seat if I want to sit and work on my blog while I sip.

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Love to grab a seat in this cozy corner!

I’ve been to Hartford Baking Co. a couple times now. It’s definitely in my coffee shop rotation. They’re open daily 7:30a-3:00p (at both locations, I believe!) Let me know what you think if you’ve checked them out!

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Stay adventurous!

 

runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: Walt Disney World Half Marathon

This is part three of a recap of the 2018 runDisney Dopey Challenge. For part two click here!

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With the 5k and the 10k races complete the distance on the Dopey Challenge starts to get serious. The Walt Disney World Half Marathon starts on Epcot Center Drive, takes you down World Drive and into the Magic Kingdom, by the Magic Kingdom area resorts, back to World Drive and Epcot Center Drive and into Epcot’s Future World before you cross the finish line. The size of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon is considerably larger than the previous races of the weekend so the start corrals are much larger and further from where the race transportation drops off.

Tip: Consider taking the 0.5 mile walk to your start corral early. Each corral is sent off in mini waves so the earlier you arrive, the more likely you will be in the first wave.

At this point in our weekend we had switched to Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge to we were up and in the Kidani lobby by 3:00am to catch a bus for the 5:30 am start.

Today’s costumes were the Toy Story aliens!

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We bought plain blue t-shirts and wore an athletic tech shirt underneath. The pizza planet logos were made by my friend from felt. The headpieces were attached to plastic headbands and made from felt and foam. The gloves were $1 (or something crazy cheap) from Kohl’s. These were simple, effective and comfortable (and made with lots of hot glue!)

We tend not to take too many pictures from the start of the race into the Magic Kingdom because the course can be very dark. It’s popular for people to stop and take pictures with the big mile marker signs but we opted not to do that this year. The sun had just come up as we were going into Magic Kingdom which was perfect timing to stop for lots of pictures.

Once arriving at the park we started by coming down Mainstreet USA and turning right into Tomorrowland.

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Then we followed the path into Fantasyland where we decided to wait for our first character.

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The Little Mermaid has always been my favorite princess!

Tip: I won’t lie- character lines can be long. Make sure to budget your time and monitor your pace accordingly. In total we spent 1 hour in the Magic Kingdom this year (approximately 1.5 miles distance) getting the characters that I’m sharing.

Next we continued through Fantasyland and through the castle.

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On our way through Frontierland we stopped for Woody and Bullseye!

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Tip: See those people running behind Bullseye and Woody? They’re coming back from the Frontierland bathrooms. We stop here because it’s indoors (no port-o-potties!) and there are tons of stalls so there’s never a line.

After spending about an hour in Magic Kingdom we knew it was time to hit the road and take Floridian Way by Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. This is an under appreciate part of the course. People often complain it’s narrow and crowded but Disney will put multiple photo opportunities here and guests from the hotels will come outside to cheer runners on!

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We stopped for Mary and Bert’s Penguins at the end of the Grand Floridian’s drive way.

Generally there will be character greets at the Grand Floridian and on the golf course that’s on your right as you run. Over the years I’ve seen Lilo and Stitch, the wedding pavilion gentlemen, Tourist Genie, and Golfing Mickey or Goofy make an appearance (among others) on this stretch!

We took World Drive to Epcot Center Drive and were headed back into the Epcot parking lot. While crossing through the backstage area we stopped for Tink and her fairy friends.

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The Epcot portion of the course takes you past the Fountain of Nations towards World Showcase Lagoon where you make a U-turn and run back towards Spaceship Earth and out to the finish line.

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We stopped for Stitch on the U-turn.

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Almost lost my ears at the finish line!

With this finish line crossed we had completed 22.4 miles of the Dopey Challenge! What I find a little daunting about this challenge is that even with three races down we still hadn’t complete half of the distance. Just speaks to what a beast a full marathon is! As we get closer to the 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon keep your eyes peeled for the final installment of this series: the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon recap!

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Stay adventurous, friends!

 

 

Prospect Mountain in Lake George, NY

During our girl’s trip week in Lake Placid and Lake George it rained…a lot. In fact, it rained almost everyday but despite that we had a good time and made the best of it! I felt like we were rewarded for our positive attitude because on our last day the clouds parted and the sun shined over a beautiful blue sky! This made the perfect day to drive up Prospect Mountain as a final goodbye to upstate New York. I’ve been lucky enough to spend two summers living upstate and have spent lots of time in Lake George but until this trip I never noticed the highway entrance up Prospect Mountain tucked in between business along the strip. While there are hiking trails to the top we opted to pay $10/car to drive up the paved road. While traveling up the Veteran’s Memorial Highway there are three scenic overlooks to view:

The First Overlook: The Narrows

 

The second overlook: Lake George Panorama
Million Dollar Beach can be seen on the right side of the lake.
The third overlook, the Eagle’s Eye, was a little overgrown and didn’t offer much of a different view than what we’d seen so far. Upon almost reaching the top, we parked in the parking lot and got in line for the shuttle that makes the final drive to the summit. The shuttle runs continuously back and forth during highway open hours.  
Views from the very top of Prospect Mountain! On a clear day you can see 100 miles in each direction.
Plenty of room to picnic at the top
Stunning views no matter where you stand!

We decided to take the walking trail back down. It was interesting that the color wasn’t that bright on the Lake George side but was much more brilliant on the opposite side.

Views on the way back down
Before getting in the car we stopped for a seat on this natural bench on the rock face!
I can’t believe I didn’t see Prospect Mountain before this trip but I’m so glad I made the drive up. I would put this down as a must-do if you’re in the Lake George area especially if you want to get out and see nature but you’re not a hiker. I bet the views are beautiful in all seasons!

Stay adventurous!

Throwback Thursday: Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk Bar Crawl

For today’s Throwback Thursday I want to share one of my favorite Disney things to do: crawl! Bar crawl, that is! One of my favorite arguing points when people say Walt Disney World is only for kids is all the food and drink experiences to be had. I love to suggest people try to the Monorail Bar Crawl, or the Boardwalk Bar Crawl which I’ll cover today.

Like the Monorail Bar Crawl, the Boardwalk Bar Crawl doesn’t require you to have a park ticket so it’s a great option for a day or night you won’t be hitting the parks. The Boardwalk Resort area is easy to get to by Uber, Minnie Van, or by taking a bus to nearby Hollywood Studios and following the walking path. While it would take more time, you can also take a bus to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs and take a Boardwalk, Yacht Club, or Beach Club resort bus to get there.

First stop: Big River Grille & Brewing Works

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Big River serves up American pub favorites in a family friendly setting. You can see 6 specialty beers being handcrafted on site!

We started our crawl with some nachos and beer:

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Second stop: AbracadaBar

AbracadaBar invites you into a 1940s magician’s lounge with a few tricks up its sleeves. With a selection of old fashioned cocktails to choose from we went with the Conjurita and Seahorse Sweet.

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Seahorse Sweet on the left and Conjurita on the right

If you’ve peeped the menu you might have noticed the Seahorse Sweet and it’s disappearing cotton candy are technically non-alcoholic  but when I used the magic word (please, in this case) the bar tender was happy to add some vodka. The conjurita is poured table side so you can enjoy it’s color changing trick!

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Once we had our drinks we enjoyed the ambiance and checked out the magic memorabilia. Pay close attention to the posters on the wall- you never know who’ll disappear!

Third stop: Jellyrolls

After crawling up and down the Boardwalk, the dueling piano bar Jellyrolls is the perfect place to sit, relax, and belt out your favorite music! While Jellyrolls serves typical bar drinks (we ordered Bud Light) its really the music that you visit for.

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A couple things to know about Jellyrolls:

  • Cover is $12 per person and only those 21 and older are admitted (sorry kids!)
  • Songs are played by request and requests are submitted with a cash tip (usually the better the tip, the more likely your song is to be played)

Other options to try:

  • Trattoria al Forno is a great place to start your crawl if you’re looking for dinner as you go! The drink menu includes a large assortment of wine, Italian brandy and cocktails. Dinner is served 5p-10p, reservations recommended!
  • ESPN Club is an excellent choice for a sports fan to take in a game mid crawl. Lounge seating is first come, first serve. Dinner hours and reservation needs vary so check the Disney website prior to your visit!

Have you done the Walt Disney World Boardwalk Bar Crawl? Or, would you want to try it?

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Stay adventurous!

Visiting the Olympic Ski Jumps in Lake Placid, NY

Today I bring you another one of my Lake Placid favorites: the Olympic Ski Jumps! The Lake Placid Club originally opened the jumping area in 1920 and it still operates today after two Olympic games and multiple rebuilds and raising of the jumps. This is a great place to learn some Olympic history, take in beautiful views of the surrounding high peaks and, if you’re lucky, see some live jumping!

We picked up our tickets first. For $11 we got to explore the complex and take the elevator ride to the top of the 120-meter jump (the taller one.) After getting these we walked outside to observe the jumps from the landing point.

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During the summer months you can see young jumpers training using the pool.

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Too cold for a water landing today!

During my past visit we rode the chair lift to the top. That wasn’t running today- perhaps this is also seasonal? We hopped back in the car and followed the little driving map we were given with our tickets around the block. This took us to a back road entrance where we could park right next to the base of the jumps!

Before heading for the elevator we walked onto the observation platform. During jumping competitions coaches stand to watch their athletes fly by!

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Beautiful view looking out from the platform

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The judging tower can be seen just behind my head

After taking in the views we headed to the base of the 120-meter jump where we picked up the elevator to the glass viewing room.

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I love the horizon guide maps on the ledge of each window that show you which mountain peaks you’re looking out on. We followed the path the jumpers would take and headed out to the launch platform.

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Yikes!

The platform skiers jump from is adjustable and can be raised or lower depending on conditions. We stood on the platform in the lowest position. I admit- CANNOT picture flinging myself off this thing on skis! I’d love to visit the jumps for a third time and see jumpers come down live! Until then, I’ll have to settle for more grounded views!

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Stay adventurous!

Throwback Thursday: Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason in London

It’s time for another #throwbackthursday and today I’m throwing it back to my October 2017 adventures in London with my international bestie, Morag! We first met back in 2014 when she was in the US with Camp America and we’ve maintained a long distance friendship ever since. In 2017 she played tour guide for my first U.K. trip! Check out her blog about her travels here.

Before I was in to coffee tea was my first love. Afternoon tea is something that seems quintessentially British to us Americans so I was dying to try and Morag was happy to indulge my curiosities. She choose Fortnum & Mason for our tea experience. I’d describe F & M like a home goods department store that also sells dried food goods (tea, packaged biscuits, wines, etc.) The store is so beautiful its worth a walk through on its own! We took the elevator to the top floor where the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is located.

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Waiting for our name to be called in the lobby (photo credit: Morag)

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We started off by browsing the tea menu to select what we’d like to drink. I really liked how they had made special blends to mark occasions for the Royal family!

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I selected the Wedding Breakfast tea. Morag isn’t much of a hot tea drinker so she asked for some iced tea.

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I love the custom of tea being served from a small tea pot so much that when I got home I purchased myself one to make looseleaf in!

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Photo credit: Morag

We also ordered the champagne pairing because why not?! When in London, am I right? As we sipped our drinks, the beautiful display of food arrived!

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We went with the afternoon tea menu and everything was delicious! They do offer a gluten-free option, shown at right in the above picture. The finger sandwiches aren’t something you typically see in the US so a lot of those combinations were new to me but I enjoyed them all!

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I love the blue china with the pink accent flowers!

It’s hard to pick a favorite thing from my U.K. trip but this experience is definitely towards the top of the list. If you’re ready for your own afternoon tea adventure you can make reservations with Fortnum & Mason online. Menu prices start at £52.50.

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Stay adventurous!