Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorial Day: Not Just A Day Off

  Graduation celebrations are popping up around every corner. Flowers have bloomed and you've turned on the sprinkling system and replaced one or two that didn't survive the winter freeze. The temperatures are climbing the thermometer and we've already been treated to some awesome blockbuster films. With all of this going on you may haven't allowed the thoughts of cabin fever to creep inside your mind but its there. It's been there for weeks. Your work has started to suffer and you've been day dreaming of being somewhere else while your spouse has been telling you about how bad their days have been. Everyone seems stressed and all you want is a break. Well that's when Memorial Day weekend sneaks in and relieves you.
  It's referred to as the unofficial start of summer. It's a weekend that many of us look forward to because we plan camping trips and barbecues with family and friends. We get to be outside and enjoy the company of those that we want to be with. But with all of the fun it's easy to forget why this holiday exists. Deep down we know the reason but we allow it to be overshadowed by all the fun we choose to have. I guess maybe we do remember but we choose not to talk about it. Maybe I just hang with a different crowd. I admit that it's been many a year since someone in my family has been in the military and as far as I know the ones that have managed to get through their conflicts in one piece. But just because I didn't serve doesn't mean I don't understand the meaning of Memorial Day.
  Memorial Day was created after the American Civil War when two competing days of remembrance, one for the Union and one for the Confederates, were combined to create one day that would celebrate all lives lost in defense of their country. If you find yourself needed a few minutes to kill I would suggest looking into to the origins of Memorial Day. It's full of interesting stories of conflict and differing opinions of where it originated. I'm a sucker for a mystery, you know. But I think it's a good thing to know how the holiday came about and it should be passed on to our kids so that they know it and they don't have to go to Google to learn about it.
  I love having the opportunity to spend time with my family and friends. I love to explore this country's nooks and crannies and having the freedom to do so came not from me but from those who came before me who fought, served and died for the country they loved. Although I didn't know you I will think of you each time I see Old Glory dancing in the breeze. We here at Route To Adventure are forever grateful for your sacrifice.
  Hope you had a good Memorial Day folks. See us again on Friday for a story from our holiday weekend. See you then.

Brandan      

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The call of the magic was to strong to avoid.  I promised we would go back and cover more in the first post A Glimpse into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We went back to dive deeper in and loved every minute of it.


 We got to the park just after opening and went straight back to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey right away.  There was a method to the madness here.  Every time I heard about this ride I was told of the motion sickness.  We went first thing on empty stomachs to avoid an embarrassing issue.  

The line to the ride was as enjoyable as the ride itself.  You walk in through a huge stone passage way and it takes you away to a fully immersed trip through the classrooms and hallways of Hogswarts.  

As soon as you enter the doors you are met with an attendant who instructs all with carry on items to use a free locker to store their things in.  This was a lifesaver.  You unlock and lock the locker with a fingerprint which was simple and convenient.
After you lock up your loose things you move on the line that begins in a giant green house.  Its covered from the sun but I could see this getting really warm on a hot day.  As the line winds up to enter the building you can see a row of Mandrakes ready for plucking.  The cry of a Mandrake is fatal to anyone who hears it so lucky for us they remained quiet.

From here we entered Hogwarts and I need to apologize.  The place was awesome.  It was true to the story and plenty entertaining for the wait.  It was also very dark.  This meant that I couldn't take the million pictures that I wanted to unless I wanted to be that one person in the line blinding everyone with the constant flash of my phone camera.  I promise to come back and update these pictures when I can bring a better camera with better light options.  For now you have dark and grainy pictures that with enough imagination can still tell and enthralling story.

The house points were on the wall and it looks like Gryffindor was still carrying a substantial lead on the others. There were also a few statues and paintings on each side to keep you in the magic.  I feel like I should know who or what these are of but I didn't so Ill leave it up to you to tell me the stories behind these.  I've posted a series of pictures at the end of this post.




 As you walked along the hallway you could see the entry to the Headmasters Office guarded by a large Gargoyle.

Around the next corner the halls were lined with paintings, many of them moving like in the movies.  They did a great job on these.  I expected them to look like TV's playing a video but they really looked like a moving painting.  Great job props department!


Harry Potter: "What is it?"
Albus Dumbledore: "This? It is called a Pensieve.  I sometimes find that, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind."

We all need one of these at home.  A place to store all of our memories would come in handy.








Across the room the Headmaster himself was there telling us about the goings on in the school.

From there the line got darker.  There was a point where Harry, Ron and Hermine were telling us about the ride but I couldn't get a decent picture.    The sorting hat looked down on us as we walked in and we were loaded onto a flying bench and fitted with 3D glasses.

It only took a few seconds on the ride for me to know that the glasses needed to come off.  It was probably my mind telling me I might get sick but the 3D was not sitting well with all the swaying movement.  We were taken through the grounds past the Whomping Willow, through the forrest filled with spiders and we even came across some Dementors along the way.  We followed Harry on his broom and it was a fun journey for sure.  At the end of the ride I was hit with a slight scent of vomit and I was thankful I thought to take off my glasses.  Faith took hers off as well but the boy child is tough and managed to keep his on the whole ride. There are garbage cans all over at the exit of the ride in case you aren't lucky enough to skip the motion sick part of it all.

After the ride we went over to the Flight of the Hippogriff. The line there is complete with giant pumpkins and Hagrids Hut.  You can also see the back of a giant nest but you cant see inside it until the ride.

 Its a fast moving roller coaster that takes you past Buckbeak's nest and on a quick flight.

We continued to tour the world of Harry Potter for the next while.  There really is a lot to see here.

Honeydukes and Zonks Joke Shop are connected at the front of the area and brightly painted.  This is where you can get all the tricks and treats from the stories like chocolate frogs and jelly beans with disgusting flavor's mixed in.



The windows in the park are a whole story on their own.  They are filled with magic you can be a part of.  We even got videos of this to upload to our YouTube page.  I cant wait to share them with you.  But for now you will have to wait.  They will be covered in their own post since there is so much to cover there.  Just know that you too can wield a want and be a witch or wizard in this magical place.  

Life is either a great adventure or nothing- Helen Keller

XOXO- Misty
The days not complete with out a doughnut the size of your head. 



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Planning the Most Fun of Runs.

TSometimes the fun of adventure is the planning of the adventure. I am beyond excited to plan this next fun excursion.  I am a runner of sorts.  I am not the kind of runner that runs because I love it.  I am the kind of runner that runs because I love what it does to my body.  I am the kind of runner that loves the organized races for the excitement and people watching.  I am the kind of runner that has been begging my sweet hubby to be my running buddy.  It may be time to buy that lottery ticket guys.  My one in a million chance has arrived and Brandan agreed to run the RunDisney Star Wars 10K.

I wish I could find the pictures.  It was one of my funnest memories.  My first half marathon was with my mother.  We dressed as matching Oompa Loompas.  We even won a prize for best dressed team.  We were cheered on to the stage where we did our best impression dance while people cheered.  Pure magic in the air. If there is a chance to dress in costume and have a blast I'm all over it.  To me the outfits are half the fun of the run.

My second half marathon was RunDisneys inaugural Tinkerbell half marathon.  Of course I dressed as Tinkerbell.  That was a no brainier right? And again no pictures.  Sorry guys.  Ill get better I promise. This race was when I learned how a race should actually be.  Disney has this figured out.  About mile 6 of the 13 I would run that day I got injured.  I limped and cried through the last half but the whole way there was an energy lifting me through.  I finished the race just in time and as I crossed the finish line I could hear the crowd yelling my name.  Did you catch that?  They were yelling MY name.  The park wasn't yet open for the day.  The finish line was lined with Disney employees getting ready to start their work day and as people crossed the finish line they would see their name on the sign and cheer them on.  I couldn't run for about a year after that race and I haven't been able to do an even since then, but I will never forget how great that race was.

Here we are.  I am ready to run again.  I am ready for an event to add to my memories.  Our fun little family of four will be training to run our first 10k together.  Will there be costumes? For sure!  I haven't got them planned yet but there will be a Star Wars theme family photo coming soon.  Brandan is the photographer in our family and he will make sure of that.

Anyway, exciting news right? A trip to Disneyland, a fun family run, a lot of training adventures and Star Wars costumes for this years family photo.  I know what you are all thinking.  I should be either Yoda or an Ewok.  I've thought that too.  ;).  Should Brandan be Chewy?  The possibilities are endless here guys! I can't wait to see where this adventure takes us!

Live your life so that you have memories instead of dreams!

XOXO
Misty

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Glimpse into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Someday's are just plain magical.  I guess that is how I would describe our half day at Universal Studios Hollywood.  As soon as we walked in the gate as annual pass-holders there was a feeling in the air like this was going to be a great adventure.  Okay, not as soon.  I guess the security line wasn't as awesome and the hike from the parking lot was eh.  All part of the fun though.

We walked in the gate and headed straight through the gates of Hogsmead into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  There was a fair number of people in full costume visiting here.  I couldn't help but be in awe of their dedication to character with the black robes and the sunshine that must have created some heating up.













There was even Hogwart's Express waiting to take passengers on to their school year or for our photo enjoyment.

One of the hits of the tiny town was Olivanders want shop.  There was a 25 minute line to enter this shop that we didn't make it in but we were told that you could enter the doors here and see magic happen right before your eyes.  After seeing the magic you would be chosen by the wand destined for you and you could take it home to be yours forever.  It really sounds so fun but since we got to the park late and only had a bit of time we decided to save this part for later.


Of course while in Harry Potters world you need to have a Butterbeer.  They offer two kinds here.  One regular and one frozen.  When there is an option for frozen or not then frozen is always the answer. It was sweet and creamy at the same time.  I could describe the flavor but that might ruin it for you later. Let us know if you want to know the secrets and we will let the cat out of the bag. This frozen concoction was the cause of the worst brain freeze I have ever had.  It pierced my forehead and ran down my spine then forward to my lungs.  It was awful and debilitating for a few minutes.  Of course this lead to my group of yahoos drinking up to see who could get the next freezing pain.
While we were there we had lunch at the Three Broomsticks.  It had the feel of  stepping into a diner in Harry Potters world and the menu of what felt like maybe a quaint Irish pub.  Our table ordered the fish and chips, the shepherds pie, half a roasted chicken and bangers and mash.  All of them were amazingly good.  Helpful tip: dont eat before you ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  We did eat first and were too nervous to go on the ride.  I have been told that even those without a tendency to get motion sickness will feel the effects of this ride.  No worries though, we have a plan.  Our annual passes will let us in over and over again.  We will use these to the fullest.  Part two of our trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be coming soon complete with a trip to Hogwarts School of Wizardry, Honeydukes candy store, Zonk's Joke shop and Hagrids Hut. Here are a few more random snaps of the land to hold you over until then.




And one of my mom hanging out with her bestie Betelgeuse (Beetlejuice) just for fun.
Thanks for the adventure!
XOXO - Misty

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Strange And Wonderful Fry's

   I've mentioned in the past that I love roadside oddities. I can't help it. I'm naturally attracted to the strange, unique and unusual. So during a quick shopping adventure in Burbank, California I found myself near a place that a few people had mentioned that I needed to visit if the opportunity presented itself. Well here I was so we decided to head over, after all it was just a few miles from where I was wanting to go anyway (which was West Coat Customs.)
  We pulled into the parking lot of Fry's Electronics and was greeted by a crashed UFO above the entry which sold me right then. Anyone with the guts to have such an elaborate entrance deserved my business. But that wasn't the end of it. Walking through the doors one is greeted by an armed soldier standing in a Jeep that had been sliced in half by an alien death ray of some kind. Above you stands the grotesque little culprits poised to finish off the soldier. Once you take that scene in and scan the store you see giant ants, a Gort the robot kidnapping a woman, and a very large UFO that has landed in the store. Taking it all in I realized that I was standing center stage in a 1950's B movie.
  Of course this is a working electronics store and it didn't disappoint either. As we walked through the aisles we found everything you could dream of from televisions, video game systems, CB radios, and if you're more of a hands on geek you can pick up parts to build your own mini robot or even your own PC.
  Hungry? They have you covered with a small deli tucked away in the back corner where the day's of the old drive ins are represented complete with black and white movies and a few old cars converted into the ultimate dining experience. We passed on the food this day because just outside the local football team was selling hot dogs as a fundraiser so we chose to support them but next time I'm sitting in one of those cars because they're just too cool.
  One thing I found in this store that surprised me was a rack of vinyl records and the players to go with them. Some were older albums, some were very recent and I honestly didn't know that they still put anything on vinyl so that was pretty cool to see.
  So Fry's isn't exactly what I would consider a roadside oddity since it's in the middle of a large city but who cares? The nostalgic atmosphere calls to those looking for something a little special and this place is just that. If you're in the Burbank area you should swing in here if nothing else but for taking in the theme or you could pick up a washer and dryer or something. See you on Friday and Happy Trails!

Brandan





Friday, May 13, 2016

What's The Rush?

  It has now been just over one month since our relocation to Southern California. We've finally gotten our furniture moved down and the mind numbing task of unloading boxes has begun. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that most people would think we were crazy to come down here and live for a month out of hotels and then an empty house. Most instances I would agree. But it takes patience to make the proper moves when executing a plan, especially when plans are rushed and not really well thought out (oops.) However, from what I've seen here in Los Angeles this craziness we're living may be more common than I expected.
  I grew up in a quiet town south of Salt Lake City. To me Salt Lake was the big city for most of my life. All of our big events happen their. We have conventions, baseball and a professional basketball team.  We have light rail trains running through our streets, but only since 2001. Our traffic has grown exponentially for the last ten years, houses are being built at a disgusting rate and crime also continues to grow. Looking at that list you would think we might be be time. Boy was I wrong.
  I'm not going to compare Salt Lake to L.A. because it's not the same. Nor am I so naive to think that the two cities would even resemble each other. But the thing that has surprised me the most is how much of a hurry everyone seems to be in and how it seems to have sucked the patience right out of people . I'm not sure if it's just that people are under so much pressure here to perform or whether it is the horrible traffic that causes it. Whatever it is, it's sad. I have never heard so many car horns used in one place in my life. Car horns should be the official sound of L.A. Traffic lights haven't even changed to green before someone is honking at you for being in their way and heaven forbid you wait for pedestrians to clear an intersection before making a turn -hooonk! What the heck? My favorite move by far is what I've started to call the stiff arm. You know the one, roll down the window and place your arm straight out, indicating that you are moving over while at the same time cranking the wheel left without checking whether there is room or not. It's really neat to see this move in action I promise. I wonder if their would be fewer accidents around here if people would stop to think about each other a little bit more than they think of themselves?
  The quirks that each city has is what makes them unique and I wouldn't want to change them for the world. If people didn't like the craziness then they wouldn't be here I suppose. Los Angeles, you may seem strange to a guy from small town Utah but you are who you are and that's good enough. Just don't ask me to like it. I'll be gone soon enough so I'll just have to exercise that patience thing I referred to earlier. Until our next adventure, farewell and have a fun, safe, and relaxing weekend wherever you may visit.

Brandan

Monday, May 9, 2016

Who Feeds Rocks Anyway?

 Today I am pleased to bring you another guest post, this time brought to you by a Mr. Josh Rowley. He and his wife are currently on month 8 of living just outside of Chicago, Illinois and are having fun exploring the area. If you are interested in sharing stories of your own simply send them to me at routetoadventure@gmail.com. Without further ado here is Starved Rocks State Park in Illinois!

Brandan


  About an hour and a half outside of the bustling metropolis of Chicago lies a secret oasis just off the southern shores of the Illinois River.  
  A few miles down the road from the quaint village of Utica, Illinois sits Starved Rock State Park.  The park features eighteen sandstone canyons carved from glacial meltwater and over thirteen miles of hiking trails.  As you explore these trails you’ll encounter vertical moss covered sandstone walls, waterfalls, seasonal run-offs, natural spring, and amazing overlooks.  Unfortunate for us we ran out of time, so were not able to explore the canyons as well as we would have liked.  We’ll have to go  back and do a part 2 on the canyons.
  If wildlife is more of your thing you will not be disappointed.  For the avid bird watcher, you’ll discover avians of all types From the House Finches to the majestic American Bald Eagle.  Bird species vary throughout the year.  The park does have families of Bald Eagle that live there year round, but the population rise as winter months fall upon it.  We just happened to be there during the White Pelican migration.  A bird that is usually associated with places like Florida.  These pelican migrate during the spring to nest In Canada and some northwestern states. Truly something to see.
  For the anglers out there, you’ll find spectacular fishing off the banks of the Illinois River.  Boats are also permitted, but be careful not to get to close to the dam.  Strong current and undertows can be very dangerous.  Catfish, bullhead, white bass, sauger, walleye, carp and crappie can all be found in the river.  You can find many tournaments throughout the year.  Unfortunately you have to take the good with the bad or vice versa.  The invasive Silver or “Asian” Carp has been introduced to the river system and has impacted the native species and has put some fish populations into decline.
  Looking to camp at the park?  You’ll be happy to find the Starved Rock Campground. Located about a mile from the visitor center.  The campground has about 133 sites, single and group, ready for booking.  Electricity, showers, toilets, and a children's play area are provided.  If you're more of a “glamper”, you can book a room at the Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center.  Originally built in 1930’s, you’ll feel like you step into the past when you set foot through the door.  A historic feel with modern amenities.  A great place for all occasions.
  The park was founded in 1911 and encompasses 2630 acres of forest and river land.  Don’t be fooled by the pretty scenery, there is a lot of history that took place her as well.  Researchers have found artifacts from native peoples dating back to around 8,000 B.C..  Native American people populated the area unmolested until 1673 when European explorers and missionaries, Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette, made contact.  Ten years later Fort Saint Louis du Rocher.  The fort last until the early 1700’s when it was abandoned as the territory transferred from Canada to Louisiana.  The fort was used by trapper, traders, and natives until falling into complete disarray.  Today there is no sign that the fort ever existed upon the rock.
  There are many legends on how the rock got its name.  The widely excepted one is the revenge story for the assassination of the Ottawa leader Pontiac.  Legend has it that a group of Ottawa and Potawatomi attacked and pursued a group of Illini.  The Illini fled up the Illinois River until they came upon the rock, which the climbed seeking refuge from their pursuers.  This decision would turnout to be their downfall.  The Ottawa and Potawatomi besieged the rock.  The Illini held out as long as the could, but eventually their food supplies ran out, which led them to starve to death. Hence the name “Starved” Rock.
  From here the land has switched hands between private and public parties, until eventually being bought by Illinois State Parks Commission. With over 2 million visitors a year the park has become a testament of the beauty Illinois has to  offer.

Adventure is out there, find yours and explore.

Josh
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Friday, May 6, 2016

Regrets, I have a few: The Burger

   It's no secret in my circle of friends that I love a good hamburger. They are a major staple of my diet. They're sold practically everywhere in the world, you can put any kind of topping you want on them. They come skinny and they come fat. Some are bite sized while others are stuffed with cheesy goodness. When you go into a retaurant and scan the menu you're very likely to find a burger on there just in case you don't like anything else. They are versatile and flavorful and that's why I love them but is there such thing as too much when it comes to a burger?
  While exploring our new California hometown we found ourselves walking into a Southern California based burger joint called Fatburger. The name alone was sucking me in. I skimmed the menu and while others made up their minds I told my wife what I wanted and began checking my phone like so many technozombies do these days. She asked me a followup question to which I gave the typical male "grunt." You know, the one that indicates you've heard someone talking but you really weren't paying attention but you pretended to be. Most of the time it serves me well but on this day it back fired. Even now I'm not sure what was asked but when I sat down at the table she informed me that I had just ordered a burger that if consumef in it's entirey one must get their photo taken and placed on the wall of fame. At first I was shocked, then I was nervous and in the end I thought it was funny. 
  The XXXL Fatburger has three 1/2 lbs patties (24 oz) topped with mayo, onions, pickles, tomato, lettuce, relish and cheese. It stands roughly 4" tall and is 6" in dismeter and it is dripping, no pouring with grease. But when I held it in my hands I smiled. Not only was this a funny mishap but I was pretty sure I got this.
  I'm in no way a competitive eater. I like to enjoy food and stuffing yourself to the point of discomfort or sickness is in no way enjoyable but as far as I can tell this burger was small town on the list of food challenges. I never doubted that I would finish it and really didn't get too uncomfortable. In the end only three of us at that table were impressed while I was not. In fact I felt more shame than pride. I had just consumed nearly 2 lbs. of food in one sitting while in public. We cleaned up and snuck out the door while someone called for the camera. There was no way my face was going on that wall. I still have to live here. Of course now I've put the story on the internet for all to see but you guys can keep a secret right?
  Adventure comes in many ways and food is always a part of it. Whether you're preparing it out on the trail or trying out local dining experiences, it's just part of the fun. I'm now placing myself on a diet and will retire from taking food challenges. The burger was good but I'll keep the dosage smaller next time. Have a safe and fun weekend!

Brandan



Tuesday, May 3, 2016

No Place Like Home

  Home. It's where we feel comfortable. It's where we feel safe and where we make memories. Our home is where you can make mistakes and not be judged (although you may get teased a little.) We look forward to going home to see our families and sit in our own chair or tend to our own gardens and hobbies. This week we're going home.
  This week marks our fourth week in California and while it hasn't been the easiest transition to make, I can't really say that it's been horrible. It's just different. Our biggest challenge has been not having our things here. Cooking can be challenging when you don't have a refrigerator to keep ingredients and left overs cold and with no ice maker to chill the tap water it leaves a lot to be desired. I'm not complaining. Just noting the details. As a matter of fact, I think this experience has been a good learning experience for all of us in this household. We learned how to adapt. We learned more about what we can live without and we redefined what is a necessity versus a need. But each of us would tell you that we're done with our little experiment and we're ready to have our creature comforts returned to us. Having said that, this week we're going home.
  I wish I was coming home for good but there's still a job going on here so we'll just come home to get our things and we'll be on our way. It's too soon to say whether we'll like living in California or not but deep down I know that it will never be home. I've enjoyed seeing fancy cars pass by me daily. The air quality is better than I thought it would be and I can no longer think of a better place to people watch then Los Angeles. I can't see the rocky mountains from here but I can be at the beach in an hour so that's cool.
  It may sound like I don't like this adventure but that's not necessarily the case. It's just been a different experience that's all. I'm excited to explore the thousands of different locations around here but there's just no place like home. The mountains, the quiet, the 34 million fewer people are all contributors to what makes Utah great which is why so many Californians are moving there each year. It's the place I know better than anywhere and it's the place I want to show off to the world the most. I suppose the silver lining in all of this is that when I do get to go home it will be to either visit family and friends or to explore the back country on an ATV like a tourist. No matter what we do we'll be talking about here on the blog.
  Home is a different place for each of us but wherever we call home there are things to see and do near it. I encourage you to explore your local travel and not take it for granted because the things closest to you are the most important. Be safe this week and we'll see back here on Friday!

Brandan