Disney and Breaking Down and Half-Marathons, Oh My!

So this is the special post specifically about our grand trip to Florida and all that it entailed.

We planned to road trip to Orlando in Max’s car, which had been having some issues for a while. We briefly discussed the possibility of the car breaking down on the road and what we would do if that happened. Our plan was to leave Friday morning (early) and try to go to Epcot for a few hours, do Hollywood Studios Saturday, the half-marathon Sunday morning and Magic Kingdom the rest of the day. Weeellllll, half way between Durham and Orlando, in a little Georgia town called Midway (convenient) the car decided it had lived a long and useful life and it was time to call it quits. So there we sat on the side of the road in Midway, Georgia baking in the noonday sun. Doesn’t that sound like fun? AAA literally couldn’t figure out where we had broken down in order to get a tow truck to us, so we eventually called a local place and they sent a tow to us. When we got to the shop we decided it was time to part ways with Tom Celica, so we arranged to formally sell the car for parts on our way back from Florida, we would rent a car to finish our road trip.

Here’s a fun fact about rental car companies: when you make a reservation, they don’t necessarily have a vehicle reserved for you. I did not know that until I made a reservation through Enterprise’s central booking (because they pick you up and take you to the rental place, and hey, we didn’t have a car and did we really expect there to be taxis or Uber in this tiny little town?) and was consequently told when I called the local Enterprise who would schedule our pick up that they did not have any vehicles available for the rest of the day. Great. Meanwhile, Max was on the phone with Hertz. He was told that they didn’t have any vehicles *at the moment* but they were due to have some returned later that afternoon. *Technically* there were 18 other people with reservations for the day and only 6 cars due back, *but* if we were actually there when the car got returned… Well… So we managed to find a guy who drove a cab in Midway, Georgia (Thank you, Jesus. I genuinely thought we were going to be stranded.) to take us to the Hertz rental place where we sat for about an hour until a vehicle returned, which we got. All of this I count as a miracle. We drove the rest of the way without incident, and even managed to have dinner with my parents and sister (who wisely drove separately) at my old favorite restaurant in Orlando, Cafe Tutu Tango. If it sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve mentioned it before.

After a restorative and tasty dinner we drove out to stay with our hosts for the weekend. We stayed with my Peru-best-friend’s parents, who graciously hosted us and accommodated the multiple changes to our travel plans that occurred when the car died. It was wonderful getting to see them and catch up a little, I hadn’t seen them since their daughter (my friend) got married in 2013. They were also able to meet Max, which was really neat.

Saturday we returned the rental car and met up with my sister, as planned, to spend the day in Hollywood Studios. We dropped our things off at the hotel we were staying in that night (shuttle transportation to the starting line of the race in the morning), then had a day of fun. Max’s first Disney ride experience was Star Tours, which would have been a winner even if there hadn’t been a terrified little girl screaming throughout the entire ride (He found this hilarious. As did I. And Alex.) We ended the night with Tower of Terror, which was one of the highlights of the weekend. We had dinner at House of Blues before calling it a night and getting a few fitful hours of sleep before the big race.

The alarm going off at 3am was exactly as sad as it sounds. We stumbled out of bed and packed our things, dropped them off with the front desk as we checked out, and staggered onto the bus that would take us to the race. Max parted ways with me and Alex at that point so he could get a spot on the bleachers at the finish line. Alex and I then met up with Kerry, a friend of mine from when I worked at The Carolina Inn, and one of her friends who were also running. We had been planning to run together since about March, which was also good motivation to keep training. Kerry is practically a pro-half-marathoner.

The race itself was a pretty great first half-marathon experience. We were in one of the corrals towards the back so our start time was delayed, and there were also a ton of people who walked the entire way that we had to dodge while running, but other than that it was incredible. We got to stop for pictures with different characters along the way and run through Magic Kingdom and Epcot at the very end. Unfortunately, none of the people who travelled down to cheer us on managed to see us cross the finish line…

We limped around the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom, of course we rode Splash Mountain, mainly trying to keep moving until the fireworks show later in the evening. My parents and sister left after the fireworks, but Max and I had already reserved a FastPass for one of the rides, so we stayed a bit later. When we left the parks we were headed back to my friends’ house to spend the night again (via Uber, no car, remember?), but we decided to stop for dinner along the way. We were in the mood for a Mexican restaurant, which we managed to find about half way between. The most notable thing about dinner was the fact that we brought all of our bags inside with us while we were eating and the hostess had no idea what to make of the two people who were (probably) kind of smelly and extremely sleep deprived by the time we sat down at 11pm.

Max and I spent the next day at Epcot, which was the perfect pace for us. I was still pretty sore, so having an easy day to spend eating and looking at stuff was great. We ate our way (mostly) around the world, Max having fish and chips for breakfast in the UK while I had some macarons in France. We enjoyed lunch in Morocco and dinner in Mexico (we have a thing for tacos). We ended the evening with gelato in Italy and fireworks, which was lovely.

The next morning we said goodbye to our hosts and headed to the airport (via Uber) to pick up a rental car to take us home. Incredibly, it was a very simple process. The Orlando airport has way more rental cars than Midway, Georgia (WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS? WHAT A SHOCKING TURN OF EVENTS) so getting a vehicle was a matter of going up to the desk, saying, “Hey, I want to rent a car,” putting down your credit card, getting the keys, and leaving. Amazing. Our drive home was almost completely uneventful, other than stopping in Midway to officially sell the car the drive back was forgettable in almost every way. I say almost because my best friend called to tell me she was pregnant(!), so that was pretty memorable and awesome.

The weekend itself was overall really fun and we made some exciting memories, but I think the two biggest takeaways were these: 1) Max and I kept it together and didn’t fight at all during the break-down fiasco or while operating under sleep deprived conditions on Sunday 2) I actually ran a half-marathon.

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Catching Up Again

*insert your own captivating and clever opening sentence here*

The first sentence is always the hardest so I’m just gonna let all (ha, what all? Like two of you) readers fill in the blank for me.

So. Life. The last time I wrote anything on here was June 2014, and it was a deeply insightful recipe for Maple Bacon Doughnuts. Most of you probably know what’s been going on in my life since then, but what would this blog be without me providing a “quick” recap?

In June of 2014 I was dating this guy, he was pretty cool and life was good. When we started dating the year before we decided that neither one of us was interested in dating just for the sake of dating. If we were dating, then we were going to be serious about it. With that in mind, we made a decision shortly after we started our relationship that over the summer leading into our senior year at Johnson & Wales University we would either break-up or take the next step. I can’t tell you with any certainty whether that conversation took place before or after the mighty Maple Bacon Doughnuts, but we came to the conclusion that since neither one of us was crazy and we still liked each other after a year we should get engaged. Other things were also discussed (minor things), like where we were spiritually, any concerns we actually had, where we would live, what life would be like in a sort of general sense after we were married… You know, that sort of stuff.

So Fall of 2014 was the beginning of Senior year and my constant anxiety that I’d be wearing something ugly when Max proposed (oh, spoiler alert, the guy I was dating was Max). July, August, September, October, November passed…. At this point I was worried that I wouldn’t get a chance to go wedding dress shopping with my sister (who was going to be home for two weeks for my best friend’s wedding) and my best friend in January. There was a discussion and I finally at least knew I would be engaged by January. Cause no one wants to be the lady who goes wedding dress shopping before they’re engaged. Or maybe that’s just me (really, I don’t know).

December rolls around and my best friend suggest we take a day to set up her wedding registry, so we went out for the day. Max and I were supposed to have fun and fancy date night that evening, so naturally there were discussions about what to wear. Eventually I headed back to my apartment to get ready for the date. As soon as I opened the door to the apartment I saw candles and flowers and Max kneeling in the hallway with a ring box. Cue the tears (so many tears). I really don’t remember what he said (sorry) except that he used my full name and asked if I would marry him at the very end. Obviously I said yes. With more crying. You know the funny thing? I have no idea what I was wearing when I got home. I guess that wasn’t so important after all.

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January was my bestie’s wedding, and it was great.

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February was ~engaged~ Valentine’s Day, which consisted of going to see the Broadway cast of Phantom of the Opera in Charlotte and taking a day-trip to Asheville to see the Biltmore Estate. March and April were spent thinking about where we were going to live after graduation and where we would work. Max had a connection with a hotel that was going to be opening in Raleigh, so I started looking for a job in the area while he was talking to people about that. In the end he decided that he wasn’t interested in that particular hotel, but I had already accepted a job offer at The Carolina Inn located in Chapel Hill, which meant that we were headed for The Triangle. Through some fun connections at the first hotel where I worked, Max ended up getting a job offer for a hotel that was going to open that summer (July 2015) called The Durham.

Graduation rolled around, I packed up and moved out of my apartment that afternoon, and moved to Cary, NC the very next day. Over the summer I lived with my aunt, and Max lived with family in Garner. Very conveniently for us, Cary and Garner are only about 15 minutes away from each other. We spent the summer settling in to our new jobs, looking for an apartment for the fall, exploring Durham (where we were planning to live), and spending as much time together as we could.

In September I went on a cruise with my family. For anyone who is planning their own wedding (or just getting married), I highly recommend taking an internet-free vacation a couple weeks before the wedding itself. It was so nice to get some time off work to relax and spend time with my family without thinking about wedding stuff constantly.

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When we got back I worked for a couple more weeks, started moving stuff into our apartment where Max got to live as a bachelor for a little while, then heading down to Waxhaw for the wedding.

What can I say about the wedding itself? It was (in the understatement of the year) great. We got to see friends who travelled in for the wedding, spend time with extended family, and collect all sorts of stories about Janice (if you want to know, ask). We are so thankful for everyone who worked together to make it such a wonderful day, including our friend-tographers, Rob + Kristen.

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We went to Charleston for our honeymoon where we ate our weight in delicious food and spent some quality time getting pampered at the Wentworth Mansion spa where we stayed.

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The rest of the “quick” update is actually pretty quick from this point forward. Married life is great. Married life is wonderful. I used to think it was cheesy when my parents said they were each others’ best friend (sorry, mom & dad), but now I get it. Married life is super fun and crazy quirky. Getting to start our own holiday traditions has been super fun, and something I really enjoy. Holidays are difficult when you work in the Hospitality industry, but so far we’ve been finding ways to make it work.

Moving to a new place and getting married at the same time is a big change, and one that made me realize how difficult it is to make friends as an adult. Seriously, how do people make friends?? Thankfully, Max already knew people in the area (benefits of moving near a place you grew up) and that helped me meet some people. I also eventually met some really great people through work, even though it took a while.

In January of 2016 I decided that the only reason I didn’t run was because I didn’t run, and that seemed silly. So I set a goal to run a half-marathon. The half-marathon was for a couple reasons. 1) I knew that if I wasn’t running to actually accomplish something, then I wouldn’t be disciplined enough to do it regularly. 2) I hadn’t been to Disney in a long time, so I thought “go big or go home,” I’d sign up for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. Max is not a Disney theme parks kind of guy, but he said if I could run 13.1 miles he could go to Disney with me. That was all the motivation I needed.

I started babysitting on a regular basis for a local family in March that I still work with today. They’re a really sweet family and it’s been so fun to watch the youngest, who was only two weeks old when I first met him, grow over the past year.

Over the summer I got to go to the beach a couple times with one of my wonderful new friends, which provided some much needed time away from work. It was incredibly relaxing to be able to roll out of bed in and the morning and step off the porch and on to the beach. We also celebrated my birthday in June and Max’s birthday in August with festive activities.

Max pretty much went all out for my birthday, throwing a family party and a friends party a couple days before, complete with a birthday crown and gallons of guacamole. The day after the party we went down to Wilmington to spend the night on a boat. Yes, a boat. Did you know that you can AirBNB pretty much anything? Apparently you can. We spent the afternoon exploring the downtown area, seeing The Shallows with Blake Lively, visiting the Museum of the Bizarre (you get your money’s worth in laughs), and having a tasty seafood dinner before heading back to the boat where we enjoyed watching the sunset over the water and toasting to 24. We spent the next day at the beach and then stopped at Flaming Amy’s (you can’t go to Wilmington and not go to Flaming Amy’s) and Kilwin’s to get some fudge before heading home. Definitely my favorite birthday to date.

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In October of 2016 we celebrated a (very successful) first year of marriage by taking a quick trip to Charlotte to watch the Panthers lose in their magnificently typical fashion and eat some slightly stale freezer-cake. We also decided to forego anniversary gifts and instead go on a shopping spree at Southpark Mall with “treat yo’self” motto. All in all, a pretty great weekend.

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At the beginning of November we celebrated the start of my new job at The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. For several reasons I had decided it was time to move on from The Carolina Inn, and so far I am incredibly glad to be where I am.

In December we were able to celebrate Christmas Eve with Max’s family for the traditional gathering they have, and on Christmas Day we met my family half-way between Durham and Charlotte for Christmas Dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was a unique experience, that’s for sure. We were then able to go down to Waxhaw a couple days later to celebrate Christmas full scale, which was really nice.

January was spent recovering from the holidays and gearing up for the half-marathon/Disney trip at the end of February. For more about the trip (it’s really a whole thing in and of itself) click here.

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Since then, I’ve been recovering from a (suspected) IT Band injury, which has actually been pretty frustrating. Over the course of the last year or so I’ve become really accustomed to running and being more active, so having limited mobility for a while and not being able to run for well over a month has been a challenge. My goal at the beginning of the year was to run a race every month, unfortunately, is no longer feasible. BUT today I was actually able to run for a quarter mile completely pain free, which is a huge improvement from barely being able to walk up a half set of stairs. I’m trying to look at this time as a chance for me to learn more about weight-training and cross-training in general to help prevent future injuries, which has a helped a little. Anyway, if you could be praying for me about that I would appreciate it.

We also bought a car, which is pretty cool. We then sold my truck (farewell, Style), so we’re a one car family for the time being. It’s actually working out really well so far, Max only works a couple miles down the road from me, so we can usually ride to work together. If our schedules don’t match up, Uber has been filling in the gaps.

What’s next? I think that’s how I usually end these things, but it’s been a while so I might be wrong. Anyway, right now Max and I are both gearing up for the Duke Graduation Weekend here in Durham, as it’s the busiest time of year for both of the hotels where we work. The summer will be pretty slow once that’s over, so I’m going to take advantage of that and visit Evelyn in Hawaii! As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about this little adventure, and if I don’t wait three years to write something on here again I can bet you’ll hear about it.

On a different note, I’ve been trying to find a way to handle a unique situation that’s somewhat emotionally complicated. Again, if I don’t wait three years to write again you’ll probably hear something about it, but I would appreciate some prayer for that.

If I’ve left anything out or you want to know more about something, let me know! I’ve realized that I treat this platform more as a diary than anything else, but I’d love to have a conversation about it if it starts one. If you’ve read this much, you’re a more dedicated person than I am. Good for you.