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!
It was a cloudy day on the beach but we ended up driving through all the clouds for clear views.
It’s much colder at the summit than it was at our condo so we made sure we wore pants and jackets.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Wow- I can’t believe it’s already December! It feels like November was over in the blink of an eye. I swear I was just passing out Halloween candy! I really enjoyed trying to meet my goals from last month so I wanted to take a post and reflect on my stats, goals, and make new goals.
Focus on growing my Pinterest account– Success! I increased my followers and joined one group board though I’d like to join more in the future.
Grow my Twitter followers to 600– Success!
Participate in four blogger chats– Success! Squeezed some in late in the month but I made it.
Comment on one blog every day– I fell flat here. I did comment on a lot of blogs but I didn’t end up with 30 comments.
Stick to planned posting schedule– Success!
Find or make three group boards on Pinterest- Anyone interested in joining a group board? I think this would be a great way to boost my engagement.
Curate my Pinterest boards to 50 pins each- Despite getting more followers I neglected building my boards which I’ve heard is key to success. I want to find meaningful pins that I enjoy for each of my boards to build them to about 50 pins each. If you keep a Pinterest board for your build posts please send me the link. I like supporting other small blogs!
Tweet 4 times per week– I want to write/post original tweets 4 times per a week. This doesn’t seem like much but lately I’ve fallen into the rut where I’m using Twitter just to like/retweet other people which is a great way to support but doesn’t do much to show more of my personality.
Beat out my old record for a post with the most views or comments- Just for fun I’d like to write a post that beats out the aforementioned runDisney post for most comments or most views. I’m hoping that a combination of a popular topic and a lot of publicity will do the trick!
What are your goals, blogging or otherwise, for December?
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!
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!
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
Walking in I was immediately tempted by their baked good case!
They also sell bread loaves, rolls, fresh made sandwiches and DO YOU SEE THOSE GIANT PRETZELS?!
My favorite thing they make (that I’ve tried so far) is the banana chocolate chip muffin.
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.
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.
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!
This is part three of a recap of the 2018 runDisney Dopey Challenge. For part two click here!
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!
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.
Then we followed the path into Fantasyland where we decided to wait for our first character.
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.
On our way through Frontierland we stopped for Woody and Bullseye!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
During the summer months you can see young jumpers training using the pool.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
I selected the Wedding Breakfast tea. Morag isn’t much of a hot tea drinker so she asked for some iced tea.
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!
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!
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.