Goodbye 2018, hello 2019: A year in review

I can’t believe another year is in the books! I wanted to review my December stats and goals, and take a look back at all the places I got to see in 2018.

December stats:

Number of total posts: 38

Number of total views: 790

Most viewed post: Throwback Thursday:Haleakala National Park in Maui, HI

Most commented post: runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: 4 days, 4 races, 48.6 miles

Number of Twitter followers: 742

Number of Instagram followers: 499

Number of Pinterest followers: 207

Number of blog subscribers: 83

December goals:

  1. Find or make three group boards on Pinterest- I didn’t do nearly as well at completing my goals this month. I don’t regret it because the reason I didn’t spend as much time on my blog was because I was enjoying my holidays with family! I totally failed at this goal- didn’t make or find a single group board aside from the one that I was already part of. I’ll keep this in mind in the future.
  2. Curate my Pinterest boards to 50 pins each- I added significantly to all of my boards but none of them are over 50 pins. I’m ok with this- I want to make sure I’m adding good content and not just pinning things to meet a number quota.
  3. Tweet 4 times per week– I didn’t tweet four times a week but I think I did better at sharing original content and engaging with other people.
  4. Beat out my old record for a post with the most views or comments- Success! I beat my old record for most views this month by writing about Haleakala National Park!

Memories from 2018:

January- I started off 2018 with a massive accomplishment by completing runDisney’s Dopey Challenge. I recently finished a series of posts on the experience that you can read here.

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February- My sister and I celebrated her 30th birthday in a grand fashion by cruising to the Bahamas on Norwegian Cruise Line! We got to visit the beautiful Atlantis resort- read about that here.

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March- I turned 25 this year- a quarter century old!

April- I made my first trek to Hawaii! I got to see so many beautiful things and I have lots more things I want to share from that trip in the future. I’ve already shared about visiting Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm here, and Haleakala National Park here.

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Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

May- Spring was in full bloom in Connecticut this month and I took advantage of visiting the local park to check it out.

June- I did my first yoga at the winery class at Arrigoni Winery- I love that place! You can read more about it here.

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July- This month I enjoyed a week long family vacation in Rhode Island. One of my favorite memories from this trip was seeing Connecticut’s light houses on the Lights and Sights Cruise.

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August- I saw my first MLB game at Fenway park as part of a birthday celebration for my cousin!

September- I started September off by visiting Rosedale Farms and Lost Acres Vineyard on Labor Day Weekend! I also started blogging this month!

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October- This month my mom and I took our girl’s trip to upstate New York. We got to see some beautiful fall foliage and drink delicious wines. I’ve written lots of posts about this trip but one of my favorite’s is this one about visiting the Olympic Ski Jumps in Lake Placid!

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November- I was busy at work so I could save up money for my 2019 adventures.

December- As I mentioned earlier I’ve been more removed from the blog this month as I’ve been spending lots of time with family and friends. My mom and I made a final wine trail visit to Hawk Ridge Winery in Watertown, CT to enjoy their holiday decor.

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My 2019 goals:

  1. Start a Master’s program– I’m excited to go back to school and am hoping to start in the spring.
  2. Travel as much as I can afford– Already have lots of trips on the roster. I plan to enjoy these and add more if the opportunity arises.
  3. Reach my one year anniversary of blogging– I’m comin’ for ya, September 2019!
  4. Continue to grow my blog– Of course I want to continue to grow my blog and related social media but I hope to remember why I started blogging in the first place- for fun, not followers!
  5. Race more half marathons– In 2018 I ran two full marathons which was awesome but I want to scale back and spend more time appreciating the half marathon distance.

Happy New Year! Thank you for your continued support- wishing anyone reading a happy and healthy new year. Stay adventurous!

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Merry Christmas: a holiday throwback to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! Today I’m bringing you a combination of the most magical place on earth with the merriest holiday of all: Christmas time at Walt Disney World!

Christmas at Walt Disney World is beautiful and lasts much longer than just one day. Christmas can be enjoyed at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida as early as November 1st and as late as early January. Today, in the spirit of the season, I’m sharing some of my favorite moments from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party- a seasonal hard ticket event offered in the Magic Kingdom.

One of my very favorite part’s of Christmas time in general at the Magic Kingdom is getting to see Cinderella’s Castle done up in it’s Holiday Dream Lights!

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During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the castle also serves as the back drop for Holiday Wishes. The seasonal soundtrack is a great way to get into the holiday spirit!

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My favorite part of the party is definitely Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. I think this is Disney’s most beautiful parade and the fact that it snows on Main Street makes it even better!

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Sitting under the falling snow!

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The tin soldiers and the dancing reindeer make me so nostalgic for the Disney Christmas sing-along tape from my childhood!

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I hope your holiday is filled with happiness and warmth! I’ll be enjoying mine with family and will be back next week with more updates (both Disney and non.)

Stay adventurous, friends!

 

runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: Walt Disney World Marathon Part 2

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

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When I left off we had just taken a mid race break to ride Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom! I’ll admit that I was crabby when we got off the ride because though my sister was all for it I hadn’t been excited to wait in the twenty minute line. The ride was fun but after I was really cold for the next half mile. We made our way through the Animal Kingdom parking lot and I shook off the bad mood and actually warmed up enough to take off my long sleeves and tie it around my waist.

After marching our way down Osceola Parkway we made it to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. A lot of people complain about this section of the course because it’s a lot of twists and turns so it seems like it goes on forever. I will admit that ESPN seems long but I always love how many character opportunities are available!

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Minnie in her soccer gear!
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Channeling our inner Joy and Sadness from Inside Out!

Next we got to run around Champion Stadium, the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.

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Once we finished up at Wide World of Sports we made the short trek to Hollywood Studios where we entered via backstage access behind Fantasmic and Tower of Terror. Lots of people were buzzing about Oswald meeting here because he usually can’t be found in Florida!

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Anyone checking in?

There was a lot of construction going on in Hollywood Studios in January 2018 (Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge) so it limited the amount of running we could do in this park.

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We exited park’s front entrance and ran down the path that connects the park to the Epcot Resort area. I definitely started to lose steam as we ran by the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts but I tried to remember to keep my eyes on the prize- we were almost there!

We entered Epcot between the Canada and U.K. pavilions shortly before mile 25. Just past mile 25 we stopped to meet Belle and Aurora outside the France pavilion.

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Next we stopped for a picture with Jasmine in the Morocco pavilion.

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Our next stop with Germany- no characters greeting here but we wanted a nice cold beer to finish the race with! Being able to stop for a drink in Epcot BEFORE the finish line is one of my favorite novelties of the Walt Disney World marathon!

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We mostly walked to the end as to not spill our beers!

Tip: If you’re going to grab drinks in Epcot know that characters won’t pose with you with the drinks in your hand.

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Finally we saw the finish line arch ahead- we did it!

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What an amazing feeing- Dopey Challenge done!

So, would I do the Dopey Challenge again? Yes! Am I doing it in 2019? No!

I recommend Dopey for anyone who loves runDisney to try at least once. It was really fun to get to participate in the whole weekend and not feel like I was missing out on anything. However, the four early mornings in a row were really hard. By marathon morning it took everything I had to force myself out of bed. Plus, the registration fee is high and I don’t think I’d want to pay that every year. Ideally, if it’s still around and I’m still running, I’d like to give Dopey another try in 2023. In the mean time I’ll stick to the Goofy Challenge (the half marathon and the full marathon) or the marathon alone.

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Until next time, Dopey Challenge!

I had so much fun recapping my 2018 Dopey Challenge! I’m headed down to Disney World soon for the 2019 Walt Disney World marathon. My training has been riddled with knee problems so this should be an interesting and challenging run to say the least. I’ll be sure to recap it here so stay tuned!

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Stay adventurous, friends!

 

runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: Walt Disney World Marathon part 1

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

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Standing at the start line of the Walt Disney World Marathon meant that I had reached the end of the Dopey Challenge- almost! In reality, with only one race left, I still had more than half the 48.2 miles left to run. However, Disney saves the very best for last!

Before each race Disney has characters out greeting and taking pictures in the start area. We got to the starting area early today and Pluto had a really short line so we jumped in. You can usually see the Fab Five and Dopey before and after each race of the weekend.

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Tip: Arrive early if you want character pictures before the race. Lines get long and cast members will stop allowing people in line.

Following suit of the half marathon we didn’t take many pictures in the beginning of the race as it was cold (so we were layered up) and it was dark. We did grab a selfie as we ran under the gates of the Magic Kingdom parking lot!

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Tip: Don’t let the distance overwhelm you. I try to think of a marathon in small parts- cover this section, then that section, etc.

We ran under the Magic Kingdom train station and headed down Main Street, USA.

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We choose not to wait in as many character lines this visit to Magic Kingdom. We were wearing our custom ‘Think I’m Dopey? Meet my sister!’ t-shirts so we had to stop for Cinderella’s not-so-favorite sisters.

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The course follows the same path as the half marathon out of Magic Kingdom and past the nearby resorts. However, instead of heading for Epcot, the course turns just after passing Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course and Shades of Green resort. On our way to make that turn we stopped to visit with Tourist Genie!

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Next stop: Animal Kingdom! On the way we saw Hades and his minions. Pain and Panic.

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This is the section of the course where we passed Disney’s (smelly) water treatment facility and horticulture facility. The later is responsible for all the seasonal topiaries you see throughout the year on property. As I’ve mentioned in my half marathon report we don’t usually stop for mile marker pictures but because today was ‘sister-themed’ we stopped for a picture at mile 12.

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A little past mile 12 we were running into the backstage entrance to Animal Kingdom. On the way there are usually animals out to greet you with their own race bibs on.

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There weren’t as many out this year which makes me wonder if the cold kept some of the animals away. Once in Animal Kingdom we stopped for a picture with Timon and Rafiki!

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Our next diversion was the highlight of the half way point of the race: Expedition Everest! That’s right- the Walt Disney World marathon offers the unique experience of a mid run roller coaster ride!

Tip: Animal Kingdom typically opens at 9am on marathon Sunday so plan to be in the park around that time if you want to ride Expedition Everest.

Riding Everest has become an increasingly popular experience with runners in my opinion. The first year we road we walked right on and sat on a train. This year it was a short line and took us about 20 minutes to get through the line and ride. The downside to this was I got cold waiting in line and riding. Despite that I’m still glad we did it!

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The best part: Magic Band RFID technology with automatically send you your ride photo!

Stay tuned for the second half of the marathon recap where we cross the finish line and complete the Dopey Challenge!

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Stay adventurous!

 

Fat Orange Cat Brewing Co in East Hampton, CT

Where my feline friends at? While I admit I’m team-dog all the way even I can get behind the cat themed brewery that I’m going to share with you today: Fat Orange Cat Brewing Co in East Hampton, CT. FOC, for short, is perfect for animal lovers of all types (goats included) who like to drink some great craft beer.

FOC is located in East Hampton, CT-if you feel like you’re pulling into someone’s back yard you’re in the right place! Parking is ample and you just follow the crowds inside the open garage where the beer is flowing!

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Behind our glasses was the bar which was inside the garage. The garage doors were open but covered with those industrial plastic strips to keep the temperature very comfortable inside despite it being in the 50s the day we visited! We spent our time wandering in and out- there were fire pits and heat lamps outside so either location was comfortable.

$7 gets you your tasting glass to take home plus four pours.

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The wooden tokens we got with our glasses were what we used to cash in for new beer pours each time we finished our glass. I love this format because it’s just like getting a flight without having to worry about finishing the beers before they get warm!

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You’re welcome to bring in a picture of your own fat cat (or dog) and tack it to the wall!
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If you’re not in the mood to drink four tastings you can always take your tokens home and use them on a future visit.

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As you can see there are lots of cat themed beers to choose from. We generally tried to pick different beers so we could each try each other’s. My friend Aubree and I both really liked the Jalapeno Jack cream ale- it tasted like a jalapeno popper!

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One of my favorite parts about FOC was admiring all their label artwork while we drank. We visited in fall so they had festively decorated pumpkins on the counter.

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As promised- the goats! FOC had chickens and goats outside that we watched while we drank. What more could you ask for?!

Fat Orange Cat Brewing is open weekends April-December. Check their website here for exact hours. This is a ten minute drive from Arrigoni Winery (which you can read my review of here) so they make for an easy day trip! FOC is cat, dog and child friendly so it’s a great place for the whole family!

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Stay adventurous!

 

Throwback Thursday: Haleakala National Park in Maui, HI

Today I’m throwing back to my Hawaii trip from April of this year to talk about Haleakala National Park on Maui! You can read my last throwback from this trip here.

We almost skipped visiting Maui’s volcano because the sunrise/sunset trips to the summit are so hyped that we didn’t know if a midday trip would be worthwhile. I’m so glad we went because Haleakala is out of this world!

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It was a cloudy day on the beach but we ended up driving through all the clouds for clear views.

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Volcanic rock formations

It’s much colder at the summit than it was at our condo so we made sure we wore pants and jackets.

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If you start at the beach (aka sea level) it’s a 37 mile drive to the summit which makes Haleakala one of the greatest elevation gains in the shortest distance in the world!

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Haleakala crater

The most stunning part of the trip was seeing the volcanic crater. The different colors of the dirt and sands were beautiful and really made me feel like I was looking out at a scene from Mars!

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It was amusing seeing planes go by because it was like I was looking down on them! Haleakala was amazing and I’m so glad that we didn’t skip it! If you’re not a morning or a late night person don’t let that deter you from visiting. I would love to go back and see a sunrise or a sunset next time but I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all this visit!

Having done the drive up and down in daylight I would HIGHLY recommend doing a tour bus to the summit if you want to do a sunrise or a sunset tour. The roads are winding and narrow so personally, I’d be uncomfortable driving them in the dark.

If heights aren’t your thing consider visiting the coastal area of the park called the Kipahulu District which can be found just past the town of Hana. Make sure you dress appropriately for either side of the park you visit as weather can be vastly different!

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Stay Adventurous!

Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT

With the holiday season gearing up I definitely fell off the blogging wagon a bit. I usually keep all my blog ideas saved as scheduled drafts and I make sure I write them up before the schedule posting time but I felt so unmotivated that I procrastinated writing one and accidentally posted a title with no post body! Whoops! Before you go looking- yes- I deleted the post and tweet out of complete embarrassment.

I’m feeling back on track today so I’m going to write about my hands-down favorite Connecticut winery: Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT!

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Every good winery needs to have a giant shrimp statue outside!

Not only do I really love Arrigoni’s wine but it holds a lot of sentimental value as the first Connecticut vineyard that I visited. I’ve also visited here the most and made a lot of fun memories that set it apart from the rest. Arrigoni is open year round so I’ve been in the spring as the trees start to bloom, the summer for yoga by the vines, and for fall which is complete with a fire on the back patio! They have a Christmas shop which makes them a perfect destination to sip wine and shop this holiday season!

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My favorites are the Orchard Valley and the Sugar House (bottom left corner.)

 

To be fair the one thing I don’t love about Arrigoni and that’s their tasting set up. Arrigoni uses a set tasting list so as a repeat offender I’ve tried those five wines many times! However, I like that they allow you to add on additional pours off the extensive wine list for $1/each. Often everyone in my party will pick one more to try and then we all share a sip which makes for a cheap way to try a bunch of new wines!

During summer months Arrigoni has wine slushies available in Mango Madness, Blackberry Sangria or a swirl of both flavors (my favorite!) During the fall and winter Arrigoni Winery serves mulled wines available in an apple or red flavor.

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I thought their slushies were good but HOLY MOLY THIS MULLED WINE IS AMAZING!

My most recent visit was my first one trying the mulled wine and it was amazing. Lucky for me Arrigoni is willing to share their secret by offering the mulling mix for sale!

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Arrigoni’s spacious grounds- during the summer they offer monthly yoga classes on the grass complete with a tasting on your yoga mat afterwards!

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If I’ve interested your enough to try Arrigoni Winery out make sure to check Groupon before you go. They offer a Groupon for first time visitors for a tasting for two or four people with a cheese plate. Exact hours and special event info can be found on their website here.

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Stay adventurous!