Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Disneyland Marathon with Kiddos

We went on Spring Break vacation, driving 1,535 miles.

Our expenses:
Lodging $596.99
Food $361.37
Gasoline $188.20
Tickets: Six 4-day passes $1,710
Souvenirs $12.82
Parking $67.36

Total of $2936.74 for 7-day/6-night vacation (or $490 per person for our family of 6)

Details of our days below:

Cove Fort video and tour
Park in Cedar City
St. George Temple
Pizza for dinner, ice cream for dessert
Swimming at hotel
Sunset hike at Pioneer Park
Spent the night at St. George Inn and Suites $117.17

Pancake and waffle breakfast at hotel
Morning hike at Pioneer Park
Walk around Red Hills Desert Garden
Las Vegas Temple
Drive on Las Vegas Blvd to see Eiffel Tower
Crazy heavy traffic
Chicken, tacos, and burritos for lunch
Baker, CA large thermometer
Mojave Desert Lava Tube in Mojave National Preserve (my favorite part of entire trip)
Anaheim, CA traffic
Spent night at Anaheim Plaza $124.17

Early morning grocery store run for breakfast and snacks
Disneyland 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Super nice, overcast day
Turkey leg, churros, cotton candy, and beignets at Disneyland
Spent night at Anaheim Plaza $124.17

California Adventure 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Sunny, warm day
Salads, burritos, and pizza for a late lunch
Spent night at Anaheim Plaza $124.17

Disneyland 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Lunch at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe for sandwiches
More churros and beignets at Disneyland, plus Dole whip floats
Spent night at Anaheim Plaza $19.97 (free night redemption)

Pancakes and burritos for breakfast
Disneyland from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
More Dole whips at Disneyland
Lunch at Rancho del Zocalo for carnitas burrito, cheese enchiladas, and Mexican parfait
Heavy traffic out of Anaheim/Los Angeles area :(
Grocery store run for snacks to eat while driving
Sandwiches, nachos, and burritos for dinner
Spent night at The Orleans in Las Vegas $87.34 (such a nice, clean, large room!)

Grocery store run for breakfast and snacks
Quick rest and hike at Pioneer Park and Red Hills Desert Garden

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Disneyland (without the kiddos)

Nick and I went to Disneyland. Alone. How enjoyable it was to have a break from little children. We only had to think of ourselves. It was quite nice!! We had a great time, and of course want to go with the children next. So. . .here is a summary of our getaway. Let's hope we can find better prices on future trips to the same place.

Our expenses:
Jet Blue Roundtrip flights $280.80
Budget rental car $85.52
Fuel for car $4.25
Hotel: $231.64
Disneyland 2-day tickets: $390
Food: $77

Total Cost: $1,068.75 ($534.38 per person for 2-day/2-night trip)

Jet Blue flight from SLC to LGB 02/03/17 at 6:50 a.m. (this was an hour delayed)
Return flight from LGB to SLC 02/05/17 at 7:00 a.m. (this flight was right on time!)
Cost: $140.40 per round trip ticket

Budget car rental from 8:00 a.m. on 02/03/17 - 6:00 a.m. on 02/05/17   $85.52
We drove a Toyota Prius that got about 55 miles per gallon, so only had to pay $4.25 to top it off. (We only drove from the airport to the hotel, and then back to the airport again. About 45 miles in all)

Hotel accommodations at Ramada Plaza Anaheim Hotel on Katella Avenue for the nights of 02/03 and 02/04. One king bed that was so incredibly comfortable, with pillows that were equally amazing! Oh, and free parking as well. $115.82 per night

Disneyland 2-Day tickets with admission to 1 park per day at $195 each

The first day it rained off and on. We walked more than 16 miles, staying at Disneyland from about 10 a.m. until midnight. (After I got drenched on Splash Mountain we had to walk back to the hotel so I could change. We checked in then as well, so it was all worth it. But those walking miles added up!) We did pretty much every ride, as it wasn't busy, watched the fireworks show, and went on Hyperspace Mountain twice around 11:30 p.m., so I fell asleep feeling like I was still riding that ride.

The second day we both had a hard time walking due to sore feet, so we only stayed at Disneyland from 10 a.m. until about 6 p.m., sitting most of the time, people-watching, eating, and talking. So fun to just relax! We did manage, however, to go on our favorite rides again. Matterhorn, Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, and Indiana Jones (twice)! Plus a few others. The lines weren't too long, but it was definitely busier than Friday.

Food costs were about $77. We went to McDonald's, got snacks at Walgreen's, and ate 3 meals at Disneyland. Good thing I packed a jumbo bag of oranges, apples, cucumbers, peppers, oatmeal, crackers, and other snacks because food prices are ridiculous. I mean they sell a 6 inch piece of watermelon rind with a bite or two of red melon on it for $2.99 plus tax. What!?! (Next time we should skip the Disney food all together =)

My brother Ryan stayed with the kids at night, and they were cared for by other aunts, uncles, and grandparents as well. How nice of everyone to help so Nick and I could enjoy a few moments to ourselves!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Caspersen Beach, Venice, FL

A visit to Caspersen Beach was the most anticipated event of the entire trip. The children kept asking when we were going to do this, and it was so incredibly fun and neat that we wish we could have stayed longer. Next time we visit Florida, we will spend at least 2 days at Caspersen Beach to hunt for shark teeth.  We purchased colanders from the dollar store to aid in finding these treasures. All the teeth we found were very small, but there seemed to be one in every scoop of sand we sifted through. It took us a while to train our eye to actually see the teeth rather than just toss out the sand for a new scoop.  Before we knew it, four hours had passed and we ended up with over 100 teeth plus a few neat shells. We were all a bit sunburned, but it was worth it! Nick and the kids did a bit more snorkeling, and overall we just had a great afternoon playing at the beach!

Sanibel Island, Florida

Nick first heard about this place from Pinterest. It was actually quite interesting, driving through the streets of Sanibel Island, seeing all the vacation homes and touristy shops and stops. This island is known as The Seashell Capital, and we did find that to be true! There were so many shells and cool things to collect upon its beaches. Even though we had to pay a $6 toll to drive to the island and then $4 per hour to park, it was worth it. We walked along the beach, watching the storm and lightening over the water as we filled up Clive's blue beach pail with treasures.  He loves his collection of sea things!

Everglades National Park, Shark Valley Visitor Center, Florida

It was our lucky day! Free admission to National Parks on the day we went to the Everglades. We were glad because it was such a hot, muggy day that we didn't want to have to pay $20 to subject ourselves to such unpleasant conditions. And we didn't last long in that weather, probably only staying about an hour.

We saw an alligator right off! He was just sitting there a few feet from the trail. So cool that we actually got to see all the animals we wanted to!

We walked along the boardwalk, staying in the center to avoid creepy creatures, including spiders and webs. There were sounds of frogs and unfamiliar noises that kept us on our toes! The area was beautiful, but the storm clouds, densely wooded areas along the boardwalk, and strange noises contributed to a feeling of eeriness. We saw many interesting things, but due to the heat, decided that the air-conditioned van was what we wanted most.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Molasses Reef, Key Largo, FL

We went on a glass-bottom boat to see Molasses Reef in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Our tour guide pointed out sharks, various fish, and different coral formations. It was very interesting to learn some nautical trivia, marine biology facts, and the history behind the Reef. The waters were various shades of blues and greens. As we rode into a rain storm, the clouds made the waters a bit darker, but we were still able to see some amazing sea creatures. It was pretty cool. Looking down at the glass bottom, with the boat swaying back and forth from the waves, it took a lot of concentration to not feel sick. This was a great way to stay dry while exploring the Reef, but a snorkeling trip next time will be more amazing, no doubt!

Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort, Key Largo, FL

We spent two nights at the Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort during our vacation. We had a balcony with beach views that were so pretty. There was a large pool with water features, a hot tub, reclining beach chairs with umbrellas, hammocks, palm trees, beach access on the gulf-side with a floating platform that we swam out to, complete with the breeze and iguanas, clouds, lots of sun and beautiful sunsets. It was so relaxing to just hang out by the beach. There was an over-sized Connect 4 game and shuffleboard that the children enjoyed. And it was not busy, so we had plenty of room to play and enjoy the area. We took a late night swim on our last evening there, loving the distant lightening storm. When we go back to the Keys, we would consider staying at this resort again. Loved it!

This was Wednesday, August 24th which was the first day of school. But here we are on vacation instead!

Robbie's Marina, Hungry Tarpon Restaurant, and feeding tarpons, Islamorada, FL

After being at the beach and in the sun for several hours, we decided to dine on the patio of the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant. It was hot, but at least we were in the shade, there was a breeze, and there was a lot to look at with the constant stream of people feeding tarpons, and the screams and excitement from that. We were served enormous cups of ice water, which quickly left huge puddles from the condensation. I never really saw the need for coasters until now. We bought chicken strips, fries, sandwiches, potato salad, and bean/rice dishes. Everyone enjoyed the food and the fun atmosphere!

Afterwards we walked out on the marina with 2 buckets of fish and the kids dangled the fish over the boardwalk's edge, waiting until a tarpon jumped up to grab it. They were so brave to even try this, as the tarpons are huge and scary looking! It was so fun and we will definitely do this again when we come back.