Making the Old, New Again…PhotoBin Review

So a few years ago I started a very long, tedious project. I collected all the photos in my house and started to organize them. It took a few months and a lot of trying to figure out what years things were taken, but I did it. After that my goal was to scan all the images so I had a hard copy of the photos. That took even longer.

While going through boxes and bins looking for photos I also found a lot of old slides, negatives, movie reels and videos. I bought a converter to digitize all my old movies (still working on that project) and my dad bought something to put the movie reels on VHS (which I digitized).

It’s crazy how technology has changed just since my parents were teenagers!

I put all the old slides aside in a box. I only had a photo scanner and I was trying to focus on one thing at a time. Well time has gotten away from me. I have most of the images scanned and some movies, but the project has just grown and grown.

In April I saw an Amazon Local deal for a company called PhotoBin. The deal was for 350 images (photos, slides or negatives) that they would convert for you. I looked up reviews and they seemed pretty reputable. I decided to buy 2 of the deals since I had so many slides and no way to convert them.

In May I packaged up 350 (of my over 1,000) slides and sent them off to get converted. I really wasn’t sure what was on the slides since holding it up to the light you can just barely make out faces. I did know most of them were pretty old.

PhotoBin ReviewHow cool is this old slide case?

PhotoBin Review

So I waited…and I waited…and I waited. Finally last week I got an email saying my conversion was finished! First they sent me a link to all my images so I could see them while waiting for my original slides and the disk to come back. The website option was great because I could click through the images and send the link to friends and family if I wanted.

PhotoBin Review

I looked through the images online, but they were out of order (whatever order I attempted to put them in) so I was excited when I finally got the disk.

Korea during the Vietnam War

The photos I was most excited for were the ones my dad had taken during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in Korea as an airplane mechanic and some of the photos are amazing.

Korea during the Vietnam War

I am going to do an entire post just of these photos because there are so many and they are all so cool!

Korea during the Vietnam War

A lot of the older slides came out great considering how they were stored and how old they were. I love looking at pictures of my parents when they were younger.

My parents

Look at this gem I had never seen before of my parents! Also look at those cool old cars. Punchbuggy!

My parents

Some of the older slides also did not come out so well. A lot had dirt on them when I was looking at them so I knew some were going to be bad. I can definitely try to clean them up in Photoshop though.

Grand Canyon

Disneyland

I have a lot of prints of our baby photos, but a bunch of these I had never even seen before.

Baby Photos

Thug babies with our bottles.

Baby Photos

Our first Halloween!

Baby Photos

We loved (and still do) rides when we were little.

Baby Photos

Do you want to build a snowman?

I was very pleased with PhotoBin and the quality of the images. It did take about 2 months for me to get everything done and back, but with the voucher I am sure they got inundated with orders. I am now going to put together another 350 to send to them and see if I can make a dent in this pile! Definitely a lot easier than sitting on the floor for days months doing it myself.

Where in the World…St. Louis

So last year I went to St. Louis to celebrate my friends, Jill and Kate, at their wedding. That was not my first trip to St. Louis though. In 2008 I went when Jill first moved out there for grad school. We went out in October so it wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t hot either. Cheryl and I went with our two other friends, Kier and Melissa.

When we got to town it was the afternoon. We decided to get lunch at a local favorite called Fitz’s. I could have sworn at the time they had something topped with Frito’s (maybe a burger?), but the menu doesn’t seem to showcase that so who knows! I do remember they are know for their root beer which was fantastic!

Then we walked around on Delmar Blvd. I discovered something new on my first trip to St. Louis. Panera Bread was founded in St. Louis and there they just call it Saint Louis Bread Co. (or as the locals say Bread Co.). How cool is that!

Saint Louis Bread Co.

After we went to decided to go to…The Budweiser Brewery.

Anheuser-Busch - Budweiser Brewery

My uncle worked for Miller (he still is a consultant so I guess he still does) and we have loyalty. I wasn’t super excited to go to the Bud Brewery, but it’s nice to see how other breweries operate…and I like beer. I actually really hate Bud and Bud Lite though, gives me a headache. Maybe it’s a mental thing?

Anyway the brewery tour was cool. We got to see the famous Clydesdale horses and the stables they are kept in. The brewery tour itself was lame. We were put in a glass observation room to look down at the lines. To be honest I think the regular Miller tour might be lame too, but we get the private tour so I can’t compare.

Anheuser-Busch - Budweiser Brewery

After the tour we headed to the Biergarten and I had Rolling Rock since I can’t drink Bud.

Later that night we went to get food and drinks at a local martini bar. The drinks were good.

St. Louis 2008

After we headed to a unique place down the street called Pin-Up Bowl. It’s a bowling alley where you can eat and drink and their decor are old pin-up models. It was really cool and very crowded. We didn’t actually get to bowl since the wait was so long, but we hung out with some of Jill’s friends and had a few more drinks.

Pin-Up Bowl

The next day we decided to hit a few more tourist spots. We took the train downtown to the Gateway Arch.

Gateway Arch

You had to pay to go up in the arch and also wait on a very long line. The arch was made in 1965 (it was started in 1963) and the “elevator” system to get people to the top is pretty antiquated. The arch is 630 feet and the ride to the top is in an enclosed “pod”. One side brings you up, the other side brings you down. It says it takes 4 minutes. I am sure it does if they don’t load other people in and out. A word of warning. If you are claustrophobic, don’t go!

Gateway Arch

We waited in line for a while and then finally got to our pod door. We assumed 5 grown people could not fit inside, but they insisted we all take one pod so we all hopped in. It was VERY cramped, but fun on the way up.

Gateway Arch

At that top we saw some amazing views of the city. It is really freaky to look down from the windows up top. You are so high up! Then we headed back down in our little cramped pod.

Gateway Arch

That night we headed back out on the town to Blueberry Hill. They usually have a lot of bands and live music there. We were exhausted so we didn’t stay too long.

St. Louis

When we left the bar we decided to stop by Fitz’s for a late night Coney Island hot dog. Yum!

St. Louis was a fun place. There are a lot of different sections to visit and I am glad I was able to go more than once. The first time up in the Gateway Arch though is a memorable one!

Running in Washington D.C.

So on Friday morning at the crack of dawn (5am) we headed down to Washington D.C. My little cousin hasn’t done long car rides before (he just turned 1) so there was some unexpected stopping along the way. We finally made it to the hotel around noon and then headed out to explore. It was a fun day with my family (more on that later this week).

Cheryl and I had decided we were going to go for a run on Saturday morning. We made sure to pack all our running essentials. We were exhausted from the day before so we didn’t set an alarm. Luckily AJ was my alarm when he woke up around 6am. We got dressed and headed out to run around 6:30am.

I follow a D.C. runner blog called Fannetastic Food. I am always jealous of the amazing views she has on her city runs. Cheryl and I decided we were going to try and run to as many landmarks as we could.

We were staying at the St. Gregory on M and 21 Street in DuPont Circle. We decided to head straight down 21st Street until we got to Constitution Avenue. Then we went down Henry Bacon Drive to the Lincoln Memorial.

Washington D.C. Run

The only people at the memorial at 7am were runners, bikers and a few random tourists. We headed up the steps and took a few pictures with Mr. Lincoln.

Lincoln Memorial

I even tried out my Party Party app again to show the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool.

Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Reflecting Pool

Really the mornings in D.C. belong to the runners. No one here!

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool

I was so glad the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool were finished. Last time I was here they were under construction. We headed back down the stairs and ran along the Reflecting Pool (avoiding a lot of goose poop) and toward the World War II Memorial.

Washington D.C. Run

Some of the World War II Memorial is still under construction, but it’s so nice with the fountain in the middle.

Washington Monument and World War II Memorial

We headed around the outside of the memorial and Cheryl was able to find an open bathroom nearby. Then we headed toward the Washington Monument. There were a lot of bikers and runners on this path too.

Washington D.C. Run

Once we passed the monument we headed left down 15th Street. We saw a huge line of people waiting along the street to go into the White House. I am pretty sure you need a ticket or invitation to go. Maybe one day I will try for one! We decided to head to the back of the White House since the front lawn is so long you are so far away. We made a left down Pennsylvania Avenue and there it was!

White House

Again we were the only ones there. How crazy is that!?!

White House

We continued along Pennsylvania Avenue and made a right on 18th Street and headed back up to the hotel. It was a 3.5 mile run all together. We did stop A LOT for pictures and it was overcast which was nice. Perfect morning for a run!

When we got back we showered and got some breakfast with my cousins. They also wanted to see the memorials so around 10am we headed back down and WOW what a difference a few hours makes!

Lincoln Memorial

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool

It was really nice to be able to see D.C. in a calm atmosphere with really no one around expect fellow runners. I would definitely recommend running the memorials the next time you are in D.C. and make sure you are up early!

Eye Problems

How was everyone’s weekend? I was down in Washington D.C. on Friday and Saturday with my sister and my cousins. We had a good time, but getting to do a lot in D.C. is pretty difficult in a day and a half! Cheryl and I took the train home Saturday evening which was nice to just relax and not have to drive. Sunday morning I had planned on going for my long run of the weekend. When I woke up I felt like I had something in my eye. You know that feeling? I went to the bathroom and looked around my eye to see if there was any eyelash or anything, but I couldn’t see anything. Then I used a water eye cup and tried to flush it out. Nothing came out and it still hurt a little.

I figured I might have a stubborn eyelash under my lid. I am not good with stuff like that (touching my eyes) since I don’t wear glasses or contacts. I figured I would just let it move itself out. I hung out in my room for a little, but it slowly got worse. Going in bright light started to really hurt and make my eye tear up. I must admit I was rubbing it a little (so difficult not to), but that probably was just making it worse. My sister had a scratch on her cornea a year or two ago and said my symptoms sounded like what happened to her….great.

I went to bed hoping it would clear up over night. Sadly when I woke up I could barely open my eye. It was bright red and bloodshot and the smallest amount of light put me in pain. I called out of work then tried my eye doctor’s office (once it finally opened). The receptionist told me they were booked solid at which point I got upset and pleaded with her asking if she knew of any other doctor’s because I was in so much pain. She took pity on me and told me to come down as soon as I could.

You know what’s difficult? Taking a picture of your eye with a phone. I tried taking a picture of my eye in pain on my walk to the office. I wore sunglasses (even though it was cloudy) because it hurt so much.

Eye Problems

Doesn’t look bad from the picture, but trust me. BRIGHT RED!

I got to the office and signed in and kept my sunglasses on. It made the harsh fluorescent light bearable. Finally a nurse took me in to get my details. She had me attempt to read the eye chart, which was kind of evil. I cannot see and you want me to read little letters on a light box. I probably walked out with a vision scale of close to blind. Finally the doctor called me in a checked out my eye. He said not only did I have a scratch on my cornea, but I also had an infection in my eye. GROSS! I did realize how squeamish I am when people touch certain parts of my body. He flipped my eyelid up (many attempts I kept freaking out) and I broke out in a sweat and felt like I was going to pass out.

After 2 hours he sent me how with 3 prescriptions and that I had to come back on Wednesday to check and make sure it was healing. My mom luckily works close by so on her lunch break she carted me around to get the meds. Being sick is so expensive! $80 later I had my medications and this cool eye patch.

Eye Problems

I had already taken off the end of the week so I knew I would have to go to work today. I figured staring at a computer screen all day would be painful so I needed something to ease the light in my eye.

This morning when I woke up it was slightly better. I got ready for work and got in my car. Driving was horrible. I had sunglasses on but I had to keep closing my eye because the sunshine was a lot to handle. My fault for keeping myself in my room cave for 2 days!

Now at work I am rotating between wearing my pirate eye patch and sunglasses. The patch kind of gives me vertigo and makes my left eye hurt since that is the only one I am using.

Eye Problems

Hopefully the meds kick is soon and I can see better and not be so light sensitive. I would not wish this upon anyone! Guess running and crossfit are out of the question until this is healed.

Have you ever hurt your eye? Tips please!

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! I am off to Washington D.C. today with my sister Cheryl and my cousins. They have been wanting to visit DC for ages, but our schedules have not coordinated. We FINALLY nailed down a date, and even though it’s a Friday in summer I think we will still have a blast. Less people than Saturday at least right!?!

Favorite Food: Grilled Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Melts with Sun Dried Tomato-Basil Mayo
It’s no secret how much I love Iowa Girl Eats. Her family is adorable and her recipes are amazing! I have tried a few, but this sandwich has just moved to the top of my must list!

Grilled Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Melts with Sun Dried Tomato-Basil Mayo

Favorite Design: Disney Parks Tower of Terror Poster by Disney Design Group
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is my all-time favorite Disney ride. Well it celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary! I love this design by Tyler Dumas. I hope it appears on a shirt or something. I mean I already bought the anniversary shirt!

Tower of Terror Poster

Favorite Trick: Reece’s S’Mores
How have I never tried this before!?! I made my first (and second, and third..) while camping last weekend and FYI they are AMAZING! I kind of want to go camping again just to have more. Let’s be for real though. I might make these over the grill in the backyard soon.

Reece's S'Mores

Favorite DIY: Learn Calligraphy
I won! It wasn’t much but I did a survey for Whimseybox and I won $25 to shop. So I went straight to the website and found a monthly kit from before I joined. I love how calligraphy looks and this kit is going to teach me how to do it! I can’t wait for it to arrive.

DIY CalligraphyFavorite App: Party Party
After the success of their A Beautiful Mess picture app, they have done it again! Elsie and Emma just launched a new app Party Party. This app is like a photo booth in your pocket. You can set the amount of pictures to take and also how long in-between shots. I tried it out for the first time yesterday with Laura while sitting in traffic on our drive home. The synchronized faces weren’t even planned haha. Can’t wait to use it again!

Party Party

Favorite Music: Weird Al
Have you heard about Weird Al’s #8days8videos initiative? It was to promote his new album Mandatory Fun. Well I have always loved Weird Al, but these new videos and songs are fantastic! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but as a designer I know how hard it was to make the Word Crimes video and I am obsessed with it…and it’s an awesome song. You really should just got watch them all.

Favorite Blog: Runs for Cookies
Ever come across a new blog and go “wow this is so me”. Well that is what happened when I discovered Katie at Runs for Cookies. I have been following her blog on Feedly for a few weeks now and her story and how she keeps up with running even with a hectic life is so motivational. The one thing that really hit home for me though was yesterday. I had been recently told to try listening to podcasts while running. In a recent post she mentioned how she had just done a podcast with Half Size Me. So I downloaded the Podcast app and her podcast was the first one I downloaded. Yesterday during my 4 mile run on the treadmill I figured I would listen. WOW. I felt like we were living the same struggle. She is in maintenance mode (like me), but recently had a death of a close friend (I lost my dad last year) so she gained some weight back (ditto) and was working on taking it off again. Everything they talked about (guilt, anger, who-gives a crap attitude) I felt like I could relate. It really made me appreciate how open she is a lot more. One day I strive to have a blog that motivates and helps other people.

Runs for Cookies

Throw Back Thursday – Gettysburg

So today my coworkers and I went to lunch (a boozy one), and somehow we got on the topic of history and historical sites and places we went when we were kids. We talked about visiting battlefields in the South and plantations and museums all over. That got me thinking about the trips I used to take with my family down south to historical places like Gettysburg and Williamsburg. My dad wasn’t big on crowds or roller coasters and he could only stand being on the beach for so long, but he loved going to historical places.

Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War. It was the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North. It was also the Civil War’s bloodiest battle and the inspiration for the immortal Gettysburg Address.

Gettysburg

I honestly can’t tell you how old I was during this Gettysburg trip (I know we went more than once) and I am going to assume it was in the fall or early spring since we are wearing long sleeves and pants (awesome floral pants might I add), but I am sure it was fun and educational.

Gettysburg

We went up into one of the observation towers and were able to look out over the graveyard and the town nearby.

Gettysburg

We also toured the battlefields.

Gettysburg

We also got to see a lot of the weapons used during the Civil War like canons.

Gettysburg

And what trip to a historic site is complete without going into a castle like Little Round Top.

Gettysburg

As a kid I remember going on all these long road trips to historic places and learning about stuff, but most of it I don’t really remember. My dad loved being behind the camera videotaping and taking pictures of us marveling at all the stuff.

I would really love to get back to Gettysburg (and other places like it) one day. My dad instilled in me the passion for learning new things and I would like to revisit some of the sites I visited as a kid with a new perspective. Heck I bet there are marathons in these places! Even more of a reason to go!

Gettysburg

Anywhere you traveled as a kid (or as an adult) I should visit?

Where in the World…The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

So to celebrate the opening of the new Harry Potter – Diagon Alley in Universal Orlando, I thought I would dedicate this post to my first visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In 2010 we went to Florida as a family for my cousin’s wedding. We attempted as much of Disney as we could in a day (my aunt got blisters) and then drove and checked into Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando. We had decided to stay on property since that meant you got early access to the park (aka Harry Potter Wonderland). In 2010 when we went just Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure was open. Now both Hogdmeade and Diagon Alley are open and connected via the Hogwarts Express. We are heading down in October to experience both parks!

Now when I say I am a huge Harry Potter fan I mean it. I have read all the books (I used to re-read the series when a new book came out to “refresh” my memory), seen all the movies (multiple times) and seen the traveling collection of things from the film in Boston and California. Cheryl and I went to Universal Orlando for the day and ONLY stayed in Hogsmeade. We did not go on a single other ride in the park, and I was the happiest person ever! Here is a day at Universal Orlando Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

We woke up EARLY and got in line at the boats to take us to the park. There was already a decent line in front of us which was crazy! Once we got to the main gate Cheryl and I started merrily walking/jogging to Hogsmeade. We had to walk through a few different areas of the park first, but then I saw the gates!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

When you first enter Hogsmeade you see the Hogwarts Express. I can’t wait to actually ride on it in October!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I loved the detail they put into Hogsmeade. Even though the rest of the park surrounded us I felt immersed in Harry Potter. The whole street looked like Hogsmeade. I loved the touch of snow on the roofs as well.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We wanted to wait for our aunt who was making her way across the park before we got in the ride lines. So we figured why not look in the stores! The first store we went in to was Honeydukes.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

SO MUCH CANDY! I wanted to buy a few things as souvenirs, but it was hot so I decided to wait until later. Ever try Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans? I got an earwax one once…gross!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Next we figured why not try butterbeer! It was hot out and there was a little stand selling them in souvenir cups.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It was delicious! So refreshing and unique. Definitely not the only one I had that day!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Next we wandered around the street a little heading over toward the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. There were a bunch of storefronts, but you couldn’t go inside. It would have been cool though!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

One of my favorite touches were the “moving” posters all through the street. Sirius Black was one of my favorite characters. This moving wanted poster was awesome, just like the movie!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Finally my aunt made it and we headed over toward the Forbidden Journey (or what I call The Castle Ride). There was a pretty long line, but it was really early so we didn’t mind waiting.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We jumped in line and started heading into the castle. They had so many details all over the place it was hard to see everything. Some of the reason there was a line was people taking pictures of stuff. We were all VERY excited though.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We weaved our way through the first inside corridor (the dungeons) and then headed outside into the gardens. Mandrakes in pots and plants weaving all over. It was very cool. I felt like I was on the castle grounds!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Then…the line stopped moving. At first we thought people were holding up the line, but an announcement came over some speakers saying the ride was down and they were not sure when it would be fixed. A few people left the line, but most just hunkered down and waited like us.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It was a good 45 minutes until the line started moving again and you could hear cheers from everyone!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Then we were finally inside the castle! There was so much to see I kept looking all around. The house points were on the wall and then there was Dumbledore’s staircase and maps and tapestries all over.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Inside where all the portraits were hung most of them talked and moved. It was so cool, but my camera couldn’t get any good pictures of them. Then we went through classrooms and finally we saw the trio (a hologram) and we were all set to ride!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The ride was amazing. I was squealing with joy after it was over. You “rode” a broomstick along with Harry. It seriously was so cool the way they did it. No more spoilers other than that.

Once we left the ride (after looking through the gift shop) we went back toward the main part of town. We heard drums so we walked over and saw the Triwizard Spirit Rally with the ladies of Beauxbatons and the men of Durmstrang.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Next we went to Ollivanders and the Owl Post. I didn’t get many pictures because the places were SO crowded, but I did get pumpkin juice which was awesome! I also met a conductor of the Hogwarts Express.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

After we had a drink and did a little shopping we decided to try out the other rides. First was the Dueling Dragons. The path to the ride was also littered with amazing Harry Potter things like Hagrid’s Hut and the Flying Ford Anglia.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

There wasn’t really a line for Dueling Dragons (it was lunch time at this point) so we went straight on.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I love roller coasters that flip. This one you are going head to head with the other roller coaster so that was cool. We rode the Hungarian Horntail the first time. When we flipped at the same time I thought I was going to kick someone on the other coaster! After we rode once we said why not try the other side (Chinese Fireball) and since there was no line we did!

After Dueling Dragons we figured we should eat something. We had waited hoping the lunch rush would die down. We headed over to the Three Broomsticks and of course it was packed. Cheryl and I headed next door to the Hog’s Head and grabbed a beer (in a souvenir cup) while we waited.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

They had a pretty limited food selection, but luckily I eat anything. I had the fish and chips and Cheryl had shepherd’s pie. They were just what we needed.

After lunch we headed back out to the square and saw another show starting. This one was the Frog Choir.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Then we got a call from our cousins who had been wandering the rest of the park. They heard the Forbidden Journey ride was great so they were headed over. Of course I wanted to ride again so we waited for them and jumped in line. The wait was a lot longer now, but luckily the ride didn’t break down so we slowly moved through.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This time around I noticed even more little details I hadn’t noticed the first time through. My family loved the ride just as much as me, but they were tired and decided to head out to the hotel we were staying at near my cousin’s wedding venue.

Cheryl and I were not done with Hogsmeade yet! We stayed and went on the Flight of the Hippogriff. It was ok, more of a kid-friendly roller coaster. The rest of the day we spent in the Hog’s Head cooling off with butterbeer (and regular beer). The hog’s head on the wall behind the bar would grunt and snort every once in a while.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

As the sun was starting to set we realized we had been in Hogsmeade ALL DAY. I had no regrets about it whatsoever. We were also the last of our family in the park. The rest had headed to the hotel. Cheryl and I were exhausted, but it was such an awesome day we didn’t care.

I cannot wait until October! Some of the new things you can do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are:
Ride the Hogwarts Express
You board at King’s Cross Station on Platform 9 3/4 by Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade. The windows of the train show the scenery of the British countryside. I heard the opening day lines were hours long. Let’s hope it is less hectic in October!

Escape from Gringotts Ride
The goblins inside move and look at you, and the ride is a multi-dimensional trip through the volts of Gringotts. I think there might even be a dragon involved!

Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes
I cannot imagine how many things I will want to buy! You think they give a twin discount?

Borgin and Burkes
I bet the dark magic stuff in there is so cool

Madam Malkin’s Robes
I will not be buying a robe, but I definitely want to try one on!

Magical Menagerie
Animals everywhere! I wonder what kind of stuff they will have. Maybe I can get an owl?

Quality Quidditch Supplies
With the popularity of quidditch I can image there will be a lot to look at.

Ollivanders and Gregorovitch Wand Shops
I will have to look through each. I do already have a Snape wand, but maybe Sirius?

Scribbulus
I must get some stationary!

Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream
It might not be super hot in October, but I cannot go without trying some ice cream

THE LEAKY CAULDRON
Really what else can I say. More butterbeer and delicious food to try! I wonder if Tom will be the bartender?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is every Harry Potter fans dream come true! Have you ever been before?

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

Cheryl and I are still in training mode for the SeaWheeze Half Marathon next month. I have not been as strict with my running lately. I have been trying to juggle that plus crossfit three times a week and work/sleep.

This past weekend we went to Assateague Island National Seashore for a camping “vacation”. I rarely ever find time to workout on vacation (unless of course I am doing a Disney run), but we decided to bring our running stuff and attempt to fit a run in. As we were driving toward the Verrazano Bridge to get to Assateague we saw a woman running on the side of the road. As we made our way over the bridge we saw one side had a very wide running/biking path all the way along the bridge. At that point I knew we HAD to go for a run. It was destiny!

Friday night was spent eating and drinking and by Saturday morning my elation at going for a run had deflated. Still I knew I needed to go so I woke up and made myself coffee and half a bagel. I forced Cheryl out of bed around 8am. She ate and we both got ready. A few other friends were walking up around this point, and even though I was hungover and tired I told everyone we would see them in about an hour because we were going for a run.

Now the road to Assateague Island National Seashore says the ranger station is 2.25 miles once you get over the bridge. After that we had a short drive to our campsite. I estimated the run would be around 6 miles to the middle of the bridge and back. Cheryl and I had a few false starts. First she forgot her footpod for her watch, then we decided to run back and grab waters since it was pretty hot out. Finally we were on our way.

We walked through the campsite area to the main road and then started our run. The main road to the campsites does not have a shoulder or running/biking area so we had to be careful. Once we got to the main Assateague road we hit the running path. The main road runs right by the beach so you can see the sand dunes.

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

At this point Cheryl checked her watch and we were already almost at a mile and we hadn’t even gotten to the ranger station yet. At this point I figured it would be around 6.5 or 7 miles with the added route to and from the campsite. We kept running down the main path on the right side of the road.

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

The roads are really well maintained. There are mile markers along the ground and a wide path so bikers and runners can pass each other without incident. Once Cheryl’s watch hit 3.25 miles near the bridge I realized this 6 mile run was going to be more like 8 miles. We had to run 10 miles on Sunday anyway so I figured we would cut it down and make this our long run of the weekend.

We didn’t see any horses all the way up to the bridge, but then there were a bunch. A few were on the other side of the road and others were just wandering in the road like they own the place (which they kind of do).

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

We made it to the middle of the bridge around 3.75 miles and we stopped to take a few selfies of course!

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

It was a hot day, but luckily it was overcast so we didn’t have to deal with both heat and sun. The rest of the run back was like the way to the bridge, horse free. We started to get tired once we got back past the ranger station (and we ran out of water) so we did a walk/run until we got back to the campsite.

I definitely recommend bringing running shoes or a bike (you can also rent) when you visit Assateague Island National Seashore. They have really great paths for running, walking or biking and it’s a great way to see the beautiful scenery of the island while also getting in some exercise!

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

So this past weekend I went camping with friends at Assateague Island National Seashore in Berlin, Maryland. We had booked the campsites months ago because we knew they filled up fast. You can camp at the State Park or the National Seashore. My friend Cindy had mentioned her and some of her college friends (and their friends) had booked 3 campsites on the bay. Cheryl and I decided camping at the beach with wild horses sounded awesome! We booked a campsite next to theirs and invited a few of our college friends to come with us. You can have 6 people, 2 tents and 2 cars at each campsite.

Cheryl and I worked from home on Friday so that we could leave as soon as we were done with work. We had A LOT of stuff so luckily it was just the two of us in the car. My parents camped a lot when they were younger and their stuff is still in great condition so we brought it along with us. We hit a lot of traffic on the NJ Turnpike (construction is close to done though) and when we got into Deleware.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island is actually located in 2 states. You can only camp on the Maryland side, but you can go to the beach on the Virginia side if you want. My GPS originally had me going to the Virginia side, but luckily we figured it out before we went off course. We got to the Verrrazano Bridge (no, not the NY one) around 6pm. We paid at the toll booth ($15 for a 7 day pass) then checked in at the ranger station for our campsite. Now you can also camp in 2 different areas, the bay and the ocean. We booked next to where our friends had already booked in the bay, but in the future I would definitely love to camp right on the beach!

We saw horses as soon as we got to our campsite and all along the road coming in. They pretty much just wander around, but there are signs everywhere not to get close because they will kick/bite.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

We set up our tent and our dining net over the picnic table. That took a little longer than expected because I never set it up over something before. After that we all moved over to our friend’s campsite because they were the most secluded and we didn’t want to annoy the people around us. The campsites are very close together. They built a bonfire and we had burgers for dinner. Our other friends got there a little after we were done eating so we helped them unload and set up. At this point it was around 8 and getting dark. We had beers and made smokes by the campfire. It was a lot of fun. Cheryl brought her bluetooth radio so we listened to music too.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

One of the guys, Ryan, decided to make us all shots. I really have not been able to handle shots the past few years so I sipped at it for a little, but then passed it off to my friend’s boyfriend to finish.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

We had all read online (and saw signs) about quiet hours from 10pm-9am. Once 10pm rolled around we decided to pack up some coolers and walk over to the bay area on the end of the campground. There were no campsites down there so we figured we might be fine. No one bothered us! We had music playing, a dance party in the water, beers and a campfire.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

It was a blast. We stayed down there until around 12 or 1 and then headed back to get some rest. Everyone staying with us on our campsite decided to stay up for a little. We played Cards Against Humanity. I got exhausted around 1am and headed to bed. They stayed up until about 3am. Luckily when I have been drinking and I am tired I sleep like a rock so I didn’t hear anyone come into the tent.

The next morning Cheryl and I had planned to go for a run. The bridge to the island had a cool running/biking path and all the roads had a path as well. I was very hungover when I got up around 7:30am. My feet also felt very swollen. I think I was dehydrated so I had a lot of water. I woke Cheryl up around 8am and we had coffee and half a bagel. We headed out to run around 9:15am. I had originally thought the route was 3 miles to the bridge and 3 miles back. It was actually 4 miles each way so we decided to make that our long run of the weekend. We saw only a few horses around the bridge area and a few other people out biking and running.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

The middle of the bridge had a really pretty view. It was not super sunny out, but it was pretty hot. We got tired toward the end and started run/walking. Once we got back everyone was cooking breakfast so I had some eggs and bacon. Next was a part of the weekend I had been dreading. The campsites have places for fires, a picnic table, a pot bathroom and cold water showers. Now when I say cold I mean COLD. It was slightly ok since I was still hot from my run, but I am not a fan of cold showers. I had to tough it out though. Then I got ready to head to the beach!

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

The weather the day before when we were driving there was gorgeous! Blue skies and warm. Of course the next day the sky was full of clouds all day, but at least it was still warm out. I did some tanning, but mostly drank and hung out with everyone on the beach. Cheryl and Matt dominated in cornhole and Cheryl even got to use her hammock on the beach.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

I had brought some chips with me to the beach so our lunch was really just that and beer. Most people headed back around 2 or 3 to eat. We stayed longer and headed back around 4. When we got back we realized we were out of beer so a few people went to replenish supplies. I took a COLD shower again and we moved back over to our campfire circle. Maya and Ryan who’s campsite it was had to leave that night, but we stayed there since it was still the farthest from other people.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

We built another bonfire and started cooking burgers and hot dogs. As we were cooking the sky opened up and it started to rain. We scrambled to get everything inside a car or our dining next to keep it dry. After about 15 minutes the clouds rolled off and we headed back to the bonfire. As it got darker I wanted s’mores. I had seen on Pinterest people making s’mores with Reece’s peanut butter cups instead of just chocolate. SOO GOOD! I had 3! Definitely something to try if you are making s’mores and love peanut butter.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

A lot of people were tired the second night since we were up so late the night before. A few of us headed back to the bay when quiet hours started. We just hung out and talked and listened to Disney Pandora. It was fun, but then it started to drizzle again so we packed up and headed back.

Sleeping that night was a lot more difficult. I hadn’t really had a lot to drink and even though I was tired the rain kept waking me up. I got some sleep, but I was pretty tired the next morning.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

I got up around 8am again (I can’t sleep in) and started cleaning up. The trunk of the car was a mess so I unloaded everything so we could pack it up nicely again.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

I shared a tent with my sister and my friend Lauren. Lauren had wanted to bring her air mattress. I was against it because I didn’t think we could all fit on it, but we did and it was really comfortable! I did still sleep in my sleeping bag and if I had wanted there was space next to the air mattress for another sleeping bag.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

After we packed up we were originally going to go to the beach, but it was still cloudy and rainy. We decided instead to head over to Ocean City and walk on the boardwalk and get lunch. The boardwalk was nice. I had never been there before. It started to rain as we were walking, but I had grabbed my umbrella. We found this awesome car though!

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

We walked back and forth and decided to get lunch around 12 so we could start driving home at a decent time. We decided on The Dough Roller. I don’t eat pizza that often, but when I do it’s always something different. I am not a plain pizza kind of girl. I need stuff on it. Cheryl and I decided on BBQ Chicken pizza with red onions. Cindy split the pie with us and it was delicious!

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

Camping was a lot of fun. We had read a lot of reviews since no one had been there before. It said the bay side was very buggy (mosquitos), but I must say I didn’t get bit at all! We used a lot of Deet and had a citronella candle and mosquito sticks, but not sure if all that was even necessary. We also head they were very strict about quiet hours. The first night we went to the bay, but we were talking and stuff when we got back at 1am and no one bothered us. It was less crowded on Friday too. Saturday we left again for the bay at 10, but when we came back I head a lot of other campsites being loud and no one really bothered them.

I would definitely go back and camp on the beach. Listening to the waves roll in and waking up right on the beach in the morning sounds amazing. I would also get a group campsite. You can have unlimited people and cars and it would make it easier with the larger sized group that we had.

Have you ever been to Assateague Island? Anything else I didn’t experience I should try if we go again?

Wisconsin State Fair – Food on a Stick

This post is brought to you by my love of food! After I graduated college in 2007 I decided I needed to see my family in Wisconsin more. Up until that point I had actually never been to Wisconsin to see them. The first year we went we decided to go in the summer and go during one of their many summer festivals. We decided to go during the Wisconsin State Fair. We had a blast and tried cream puffs and cheese curds for the first time. Cream puffs are only sold at the fair so the lines are insane. You can watch them be made right in front of you. They are cream-filled pastries that taste like heaven. Cheese curds are found all over Wisconsin. They are like mini mozzarella balls, but lots of different kinds of cheese can be used.

2007 Wisconsin State Fair

The following year we decided to try the other summer festival Summerfest. It is the world’s largest music festival. We had a blast rocking out to music from all different bands.

WARNING! The following post may make you extremely hungry. Read at your own risk!

In 2009 we decided to head back during the state fair again. This time we also went on a mission. Cheryl worked for the Smithsonian at the time and they asked her (since we were going) to take pictures of all the foods on a stick. I had also joked that we should try and eat all the foods on a stick, but this was my post weight-loss summer and I quickly decided we could try some but not all. The foods on a stick are very popular at the fair. They have A LOT and even print the list in the paper so people going will know what’s new and where to find it. Most of the items were deep fried, but really how else do you get something to stay on a stick.

2009 Wisconsin State Fair

We arrived at the fair in the early afternoon with a BIG appetite! It was a little cloudy out, but we didn’t care.

2009 Wisconsin State Fair

The first food on a stick that we saw was the traditional chocolate covered banana. This one we only snapped a picture of. Cheryl hates bananas.

Chocolate Covered Banana

Next we decided we were hungry and should try a few things. First we got (and split) the deep fried mac and cheese. They were pretty good, but a little greasy.

Deep Fried Mac and Cheese

Next Cheryl got deep fried crab cake on a stick. I mean who doesn’t love crab cakes! I loved how most people just made the food and threw a stick through it so it would be considered “on a stick”.

Deep Fried Crab Cakes

After we headed into the poultry house to see all the chickens. They are just so cute (and tasty too).

2009 Wisconsin State Fair

Inside we found this ice cream stand that my cousin Sarah said we HAD to try. Cheryl and Sarah split a cone and I had my ice cream over hot apple pie. Yum!

Ice Cream and Apple Pie

Once we were done we headed back outside to see what else we could find. We stumbled across a pork chop on a stick (we didn’t try it).

Pork Chop

And of course the ever popular candy apples. I love mine covered in chocolate and peanut butter!

Candy Apples

Next we passed a sign and I knew I HAD to try deep fried smores. It was SO GOOD. I think we bought another one later on.

Deep Fried Smores

Next we just walked around and took some pictures. I needed to digest all the food I just had. We found a turkey leg, chocolate covered cookie dough on a stick, and the traditional corn dog. There was also deep fried shrimp on a stick and a reuben on a stick.

Turkey leg, Cookie Dough, Corn Dog

 

Shrimp and Reuben

Next we stopped to try the new food of the fair that year, chocolate covered bacon. I know it has since become popular, but this was the first time I had seen it. I was the only one that liked bacon so I tried it. Definitely not a fan.

Chocolate Covered Bacon

We moved on to the next booth over where i discovered my absolute favorite food on a stick. Deep friend peanut butter and jelly on a stick! I still go back and get it every time I am in town for state fair. So so so so good.

Deep Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly

After the chocolate covered bacon and PB&J I had to take a breather so we walked around again. We found jerk chicken skewers, deep fried snickers, bacon wrapped scallops and a brat on a stick!

Jerk Chicken

Deep Fried Snickers

Bacon Wrapped Scallops and Brat

At this point the sky opened up and it started to rain. It was mostly drizzling at first so we didn’t let it bother us. It was a warm rain which I like. We decided to keep the sugar rush going and shared a chocolate ice cream bar covered in peanuts.

Chocolate Peanut Ice Cream Bar

We kept walking around and found a few more things we had missed! Cherry pie on a stick and pancakes and sausage.

Cherry Pie

Pancakes and Sausage

On our last loop around we realized we had forgotten to stop at the MOST IMPORTANT place! The cream puff building! I know they aren’t technically “on a stick” but you cannot go to the Wisconsin State Fair and not have cream puffs!

Cream Puff

Then it REALLY started to rain. I was so full I could barely walk and so were my sister and cousin. We figured it was time to call it quits and head home.

2009 Wisconsin State Fair

I love going to the Wisconsin State Fair whenever I can. They have music, food, rides and my aunt’s favorite is the gadget house. A huge building with tables of people who make things or sell stuff (as seen on TV type stuff). I can spend hours in there. I am pretty jealous that New Jersey doesn’t have a kick ass fair, but the Midwest really knows how to put on a festival.

And now I am hungry….