Sunday, August 31, 2014

Disneyland Half Marathon

Back in February, I received an email from RunDisney warning me that tickets for the Disneyland Half Marathon were to go on sale the following day.  It is a race that I have always dreamed of doing, I mean who wouldn't want to run at the happiest place on Earth?  Call me crazy, but we registered the next day.  Yes, we know orders always change, and we could have ended up staying in Virginia.  We knew we would have just arrived, and we wouldn't know anyone.  And we didn't even have a plan for the boys, since they couldn't come with us.  But we registered anyway.  Call it irresponsible, but, I mean, come on, it's DISNEY!  We love Disney!  And who really gets to run through the park before it opens?  

Well after arriving in California, we quickly realized that we had no plan for the boys.  We tried to defer the race to 2015 with no luck.  Eventually we learned that Daddy Step's brother was to come Labor Day weekend.  It was perfect!  The boys love him, and he graciously offered to watch them.  
So we headed out to Anaheim for our packet pick up the day before the race.  

The only thing I can say about my first impression of Disneyland in California is that the staff were horrible.  Not the race volunteers, (they were wonderful) the actual Disney staff.  This is the third Disney park we have been to (Florida, Tokyo, and now here) and we were absolutely disgusted.  At race Expo, I overheard one woman pointing out guests and laughing.  I then heard her say, "Look at this one, he's too fat to be at an Expo.  You're supposed to be fit to run a race.  There are so many fat people here."  I kid you not.  As if that was not enough, much of the rest of the staff were completely unfriendly and rude.  I was crossing my fingers that the race day would be better, but they remained the same.  I suppose it is the Southern California way, but I still thought it was unacceptable.  
Packet pick-up in downtown Disney

That evening, we went to bed very early.  We were up the next morning at 2am to get ready and head out the door.  The race began at 5:30, and we had an hour drive to get there.  We parked in the Daisy lot (how ironic) and headed to a little pre-party they had.  Basically it was lots of photo opportunities, and potty breaks.  
Waiting to go, and posing with some toy soldiers
We were told to go to our corrals (again, rude people!) and we waited, and waited, and waited.  We wanted to go to the end of the line, because we just wanted to have fun with this race.  Our intent was to walk and take photos through the fun parts, and run the rest of it.  We ended up starting at 6:15, and jogged for awhile before entering the park.  
Waiting to go.  Leave it to Disney to have a fireworks show before a half marathon!  
Once we entered the park, it was just a leisurely stroll and lots of photo opportunities.  I honestly don't think anyone could run through this part.  There were people stopping every which way to snap photos.  We had a blast seeing the characters and sights.  And we are really looking forward to our visit in October.  

Running by Toy Story things.  The boys are obsessed right now, we had to snap a photo for them.

In Cars Land

Mainstreet, some character sightings, and more cars land.  

Looks like I added some of these photos a few times.  It is late

There were lots of performers along the course.  Those guys on the top left were my favorites.  Very funny and animated.  

Yep, that would be my husband!
Running through the castle!  It was the smallest one I have seen, but so pretty!
 Eventually the excitement ended, and it was time to run some of the boring stuff.  We ran through the streets of Anaheim for awhile.  We were eventually excited to stumble upon a bunch of people who brought their old fashioned cars out along the course.  They all cheered us on, and we got to look at some really cool cars.  Keeping it with the Disney theme, Lightning McQueen was there.  

Stopping for a potty break!
We made it past the cars and were nearing our next exciting sight.  First up was the Anaheim Ducks stadium.  
We finally made it to the Angels Stadium, where a crowd of fans were there to cheer us on.  It was really cool being able to run on the stadium, and they even video taped and put it on the jumbotron.  What a cool experience!  

Arriving at the stadium

Lots of cheering.  

All of the bottom stands were full!  It was so cool!  

The last part of the run was full of entertainers and music.  I don't think we went more than  5 minutes without entertainment on this race.  

Finally we finished.  I have no idea what our time was, (that time up there was not ours) and frankly I don't care.  This was for fun, and we did just that.  
They had trouble getting it over Daddy Step's hat.  His bill was too big!  

The coolest medal I have gotten from a race!
In the hours that followed the race, I had gotten to become pretty sore.  I am still recovering from knee injuries, and unfortunately it was giving me a very difficult time on this run.  I was limping for 2 days.  After a quick shower and an attempt at a nap, I ended up on my feet for a few hours cooking dinner for a bunch of Daddy Step's friends.  I think being on my feet and the exhaustion was not good at the time (I was limping pretty bad at this point and was in a daze of exhaustion), but probably helped my recovery in the following days.  

And now, we are home, enjoying a week or so of quiet.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Joshua Tree National Park

Twentynine Palms isn't exactly a duty station many people want to come to.  In fact, when we were still in Virginia and would tell friends where we were going, their first response would usually be something along the lines of, "Oh no!  The stumps.  I'm so sorry."  After warning us of things to watch for, and telling us all the bad, we were usually told the good.  The first "good" people would tell us about is Joshua Tree National Park.  Just a quick google search will show you exactly why this is one of the best things about this area.  There really isn't much else to see or do within a 30 minute drive, but this park almost makes up for that.  

When D Step's brother came in on thursday, we decided to finally make the trek there and do a bit of exploring.  Unfortunately it was around 1pm in the desert, but luckily we got a "cool" day- 101 degrees is actually pretty cool for an afternoon in this area!  

Our first stop was the visitors center.  The boys were both fast asleep already.  The guys got out and asked about a suggested place to visit with two toddlers, who were both sleeping.  They gave a few different ideas, and we were on our way.  This park is absolutely huge, so 15 minutes of a drive later, we were at our first stop.  

Our first stop was to "skull rock."  I really don't think I have to explain this further.  As you can see in the photos, it really does look just like a skull!  
We walked a bit on some of the trail to explore a bit.  It was absolutely stunning, everywhere you looked.  

Our next stop was to see an old mine shaft.  It was a quick walk and lots to see.  We learned that this area held more gold than the San Francisco Gold Rush, and has hundreds of mines.  These particular ones closed in the 80's.  

On the walk- Cactus Flowers

I could not imagine living in this.  
You can see the mines in the bottom photo
Our last stop was to a dam, where after quick walk, there was actually water!

More Joshuas

My boys

Daddy Step and E Step

Daddy, Z Step, and E Step

Old watering hole for cattle

4 Steps.  

Love this one!

This photo cracks me up.  If you know the story, and look close, you will laugh too!

This park makes you really appreciate the desert's beauty.  I cannot wait for the weather to cool off, so we can return again.