My sisters, my mom, my cousin and I drove into NYC today to visit the 9/11 Museum and Memorial.
First, to cover the basics involved, adult tickets were $24 and you need to choose a time to enter. The building for the museum is between the two memorial pools for the towers. There are lines outside for the timed entry tickets and a line for walk up tickets. Upon entering, you go through airport like security. There is an option to purchase tickets for a guided tour and there is a phone app that you can download for free that has an audio guide. We chose to walk around on our own.
As you enter, you go down an escalator to where the exhibit begins. There is a plaque on the wall with an overview of the events of that day and as you walk further there were slides of pictures of people from that day as well as audio of everyday people talking about where they were on 9/11. You then come to a landing that overlooks a large area that has a few remaining walls and the last beam that was standing.
You go further and walk along the “survivors stairs.” There is a photo of people that were able to make their way out of the building using that staircase. What remains of the stairs are shown and you can walk right alongside them down to the main exhibit hall.
In the large area, there were displays of some of the larger remains from that day, including a fire truck and a piece of the antennae from the top of one of the buildings. There was steel beam from the South tower that was bent completely backwards and in half.
Within this large area is a door that leads inside to the main exhibit. Honestly, I almost missed this. I had walked around all of the large area and thought that was it. I saw the door to the main exhibit and decided to go look in there. It’s a good thing that I did because that was really the more detailed exhibit.
There were no photos allowed as you walked through this area. There was a lot to see and take in. It was starting to get crowded at this point and you really couldn’t see and read everything in there. It was a bit overwhelming but yet well done. (On a side note, I was walking around separate from the rest of my group. The flow of the exhibit was a little confusing and they ended up not seeing the last few sections because they didn’t see which way to get to them.)
You walked through the events in the order they happened but there was a lot of detail about each part. There were videos showing footage as well as clips of shows like the Today show as they were interrupted and starting to report on what was going on. On the walls all around were quotes from different sources, including government officials and first responders. There were pieces of items that were recovered from the site and personal items from some of those that were lost there.
One of the most chilling things to listen to was a loop of various answering machine messages from people that were calling their loved ones while they were inside the building. For example, one message was from a husband to his wife saying that a plane had hit the North tower but he was secure in South tower and would be staying there while they get the situation under control.
After all of the exhibits about the day’s events there was an exhibit about what happened in the days, weeks and months afterwards. There were photos of memorials and vigils that took place. There was also a section about the terrorists that were involved. I found it very creepy to watch the actual surveillance video of several of them going through airport security that day.
The exhibit ended with asking what we can take away from the tragedy that occurred on 9/11. There was a wall that listed the range of emotions that it can bring up from sadness and fear to resilience and strength. There was also an area that contained recording booths. Anyone is welcome to make a recording about their thoughts and feelings to be kept there.
There was also a separate “in memoriam” area that contained video monitors where you can look up individuals that died that day. My sisters looked up a family friend of my sister-in-law, Kelly, who was on board the first plane. They said there was a lot of information about her and photos. They felt it was a very nice display representing her.
After exiting the building, we walked around the memorial pools and took some photos. The phone app allowed us to look up specific names and find the panels with the name on it. We were able to find Kelly’s name there.
Overall, it was a very well done display and exhibit. It is really a lot to take in and I don’t think it really possible to see everything that is there in one visit. I was glad to see that even though it was quite crowded, everyone that I saw was respectful. While obviously it is a somber subject, it is worth the time to visit there.
On Friday, it was announced that Maelstrom in Epcot will be closing on Oct 5 and a new attraction, inspired by the movie Frozen, will take it's place.
Now, I love Frozen. I have the music on my IPod and I own the DVD. I have enjoyed seeing pictures of Frozen summer activities that took place at Hollywood Studios and I'm looking forward to the Sing Along show when I am there in November. And as far as Maelstrom goes... well, it really isn't my favorite attraction. While I have been on it several times and enjoy it, it is not something that I make it a point to do every trip and, honestly, I can't remember the last time I have been on it.
Having said all that, I have mixed feelings about the change. I would really like to see and ride a Frozen attraction. But I think I would have rather have seen it happen in the Magic Kingdom. I think the Epcot World Showcase is meant to allow guests to get a taste of different countries and learn something about them. When I watched the recent special about the "Making of Frozen," it was really awesome to see how different designs and buildings were taken from Norway. However, I don't walk away from seeing the movie with a real sense of Norwegian culture and history. So I don't see how a Frozen attraction will continue the intention of the Epcot World Showcase.
Maybe somehow the attraction will include at least something about Norway... just have to wait and see.
Now that I’ve talked about everything else I did in Bird in Hand, it is time to talk about the reason I went there… the races. I took part in the Fire Company Challenge which was a 5K on Friday night followed by a half marathon the next morning. Turns out the biggest “challenge” was going to be the weather.
I had been obsessively checking my weather app starting the week before. It kept saying thunderstorms and high humidity. Nothing really changed as it got closer except that it looked like we might escape the thunderstorms. We were not going to beat the humidity though.
Before the 5K, there was a hot air balloon launch. It was really cool to see them being inflated and sailing off as we were waiting for the race to start. There was even more that were launched before the half the next morning.
As I went to line up for the start, I was able to find two of my teammates. We were chatting and Matt mentioned he had been sick for a few weeks and was planning to just walk the 5K since we had the half the next morning. I hadn’t really decided what I was going to do for the 5K so this sounded like a great idea. We walked and chatted and took pictures. It was great to take in the surroundings of the Amish farms and pass the time chatting. It was also really great that there was no pressure from race personnel to hurry up and finish. This was a trend that continued the next day.
We crossed the finish and my Mom and I headed back to the hotel. While it was definitely humid, walking along it didn’t seem too bad plus it was close to sundown so we didn’t have the sun to contend with. All of that would change in the morning.
I got up around 5 the next morning to start getting ready. Even though I know I’m just going to get all sweaty and need a shower later, I have to shower before I head out to a race. It wakes me up and gets me going. I had my traditional corn muffin which I had brought from home and a bottle of water with electrolyte tablets in it. I got all of my stuff together and my mom dropped me off at the race site by around 6:10.
The race didn’t start until 7:30 so I had plenty of time. All of the tables and chairs from the dinner the night before were still there, so I was able to have a seat, eat my half a bagel and drink a bottle of beet juice. Yes, beet juice… a nutritionist suggested this for energy and I have found it really helps. I drink a bottle about 45 min before a race and for longer distances, like today, I carry a second bottle with me.
More hot air balloons were being filled and I went out to take some pictures. I met up with teammates again and we all chatted while we headed towards the start line. It was HUMID and sunny. We were all discussing the weather and how we were going to change our plans for the day.
Now, I had trained all summer to try for a PR (personal record) at this race. When I made my training schedule, I was concerned about the long mileage runs that I had planned for late August. I never thought that the weather would be beautiful for those runs and awful for the actual race. I knew a PR wasn’t going to happen and that it wouldn’t even be smart to try for one. My plan was to use my :30 / :30 run / walk intervals for at least the first half of the race, take it nice and easy, and see how I felt.
Besides trying to work on time while I trained this summer, I also focused on a few other things that needed improving. Mentally I had been having a tough time in training runs. I would get a mile or so into a long run and already start thinking about if I should cut it short. I was also having a hard time with hydrating and nutrition and was really working on getting that right. In my last 12 mile run, I thought I had it all worked out. I would use a gel every 2 miles and mentally I would focus on getting to each 2 mile point instead of thinking of the mileage as a whole. It was really going well until mile 10.5 when I completely fell apart. I could barely walk and lost all my energy. I finished the 12 miles but it had me wondering what went wrong. It was time to see how that was going to go today.
The race started and we were off. First thing to notice – it was HOT!! I was quickly dripping with sweat. It was very humid and the sun was just blazing on us. We were out on roads with almost no shade for the entire course.
By mile 3, it was time to change my intervals to :15 / :15. I figured if I felt like I could run 30 seconds I would use 2 of the intervals. If not, I could stick to 15 seconds. By mile 3 we also started to hit some hills. I train around my neighborhood which is completely flat, so it doesn’t take much of an incline for me to fill it. My strategy is usually to walk up and then run the downhill and that usually works out.
By mile 6 or so, I was feeling the heat and I was pretty much done running. There was a small out and back section so on the way back I was able to get a sense of how many people there were behind me and if I had time to walk the rest. The official race information said there was no time limit but I have heard that before at other races and haven’t had the best experiences.
There was at least 20 people still behind me and again there was no race official behind the last person or any push to get people moving along so I decided a brisk walk was the way the rest of the race was going to go.
Race support was excellent! There were aid stations with water and powerade frequently that were run by Amish children. There were also coolers with ice in them. I took handfuls each time and would suck on the ice, hold it in my hand or rub it on the back of my neck. There were also several Amish children along with way with hoses and sprinklers to cool off under. And around mile 10.5 there was Rita’s ice! I am not a fan of Rita’s normally but it was the best thing I had seen all morning!!
And the scenery along the course… beautiful!! I thought that maybe after the novelty of the farmlands wore off, I would be bored. But that was not the case at all. You would come over a hill or around a corner and see a new landscape. I thought it was beautiful and it was a great place to run.
Despite the heat, I was actually feeling pretty good. I was keeping up with my gels and hydrating. I had no foot pain or knee pain and no blisters (which have all caused problems in the past).
Just before mile 11, I caught up to a woman who was walking. I was going to pass her and as I did I said something like “we are almost there” and turned to look at her. She did not look good at all. She said “I think I’m just going to lay down and stop right here.” I said “oh no, there is no stopping now. Let’s walk along together and chat and we will be at the finish before you know it. And if I’m annoying, just tell me to go away.” She said she would really like that so we started walking together.
I offered her everything that I had left in my belt.. a gel, a mini Clif bar, electrolyte drink. She said all she usually drinks is water and she didn’t want anything else. We walked along and I thought of every question I could to keep her talking. We were doing fine until we got to around mile 12. Then she really started to have a hard time. She kept saying she needed to stop and take a break and when we did she would say she felt dizzy or like she was going to vomit. She was also complaining of being short of breath. I asked if she wanted me to try to call someone for medical help but she said no. She said her daughter had run and finished so she would be at the end. I just kept trying to encourage her and keep her moving.
When we saw the finish chute, I asked if she saw her daughter anywhere. She said she didn’t. I told her that when we got to the chute, I was going to run ahead. I ran down the chute and was happy to see some spectators still there cheering and my mom was there as well. I finished, received my medal and immediately told them that the woman behind me needed medical help. The EMS worker came over and I described how she had been for the last 2 miles. He went right to her and took her right into the medical tent. That was the last I saw of her. I knew her daughter was there and that she was in the hands of the medical staff so I felt fine that she was being taken care of.
They had cold chocolate milk at the finish and water and I chugged down both, met up with my mom and headed back to the hotel to shower.
As difficult as the race was, I have really only been thinking of it positively. First of all, I finished! That is half marathon #6 for me. Also, I didn’t have any pain or blisters. I kept myself hydrated and feeling pretty good. The race course was beautiful and you couldn’t have asked for better support. I am slow, even on a good day. So to not feel any pressure and have the full support on the course and at the finish that everyone else received who is faster than me is just awesome. Should that be the case at every race? Yes. Is that the case at every race? No. It was a well run event from start to finish.
I am definitely planning to return next year!
This past weekend, I made a trip to Bird-in-Hand to run the Fire Company Challenge. The challenge consisted of a 5K on Friday night followed by a half marathon on Saturday morning. I am going to write about the races in detail in my next post.
I met up with my mom who was making the trip with me and we drove a little over 3 hours to arrive at our hotel. We were staying at AmishView Inn & Suites, which was about 2 miles from the race location. Our room wasn't ready yet so we went off to do some shopping. We had passed a collection of shops called Kitchen Kettle Village so we headed back to check them out.
Kitchen Kettle was a collection of different shops. We looked around in a toy store, souvenir shop, Christmas shop and the bake shop. I loved that the Christmas shop had a whole room devoted to different nativity sets. In the "souvenir" shop, there were your basic souvenirs such as magnets and postcards but there were also some handmade local items, such as jewelry and soaps. My favorite shop was the bake shop. I expected to find a small shop with some baked items but when I opened the doors it was quite different. It was a large store with a wide variety of items, such as salsas, soup mixes, cheesecake mixes and jelly. You could sample just about everything as you walked around. There was also an open kitchen where Amish women were cooking. A sign said that they were making strawberry jelly that day and also said "no photos please." On the other side, there was all homemade baked goods for sale. I had a peanut butter cookie which was very good.
Outside of the Kitchen Kettle shops, there was a place called Immergut Pretzels. I had read about how great they were so I walked over to check it out. I ordered a plain pretzel, a cinnamon sugar pretzel, a small soda and a bottle of water and it was a total of $5. The pretzels were awesome. Fresh, hot and you could tell they were homemade.
By that time, we had gotten a call that our room was ready so we headed back. We had a standard room with 2 double beds. The room was very spacious. There was a kitchenette area with a small fridge, sink and microwave. There was a DVD player and movies were available to rent at the front desk. In the lobby, there is a large area with tables and chairs and a buffet for their complimentary breakfast. My mom took advantage of that the next day and enjoyed it.
At around 5 pm, we headed to the race location for a pre-race dinner. The race offered a pasta / pizza dinner buffet for $11 for adults (don't remember the cost for children). There was salad, spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread sticks and pizza. There were Amish women right there making the pizza. It was all very good. There was also a dessert table with apple pie, shoo fly pie, and vanilla ice cream. I had been determined to try shoo fly pie, but the apple looked so good that I went with that. It was indeed very tasty.
After dinner, I ran (well, really walked) the 5K and then we headed back to the room. The next morning, I was up at 5 and my mom dropped me off at the race site. More about the races in the next post.
After the race on Saturday, my mom picked me up and I was very thankful to get a late check out so that I could shower. Then we headed over to Miller's Smorgasboard for my reward meal! Miller's has an a la carte menu but we were there for the buffet. Our hotel was owned by the same people that own Miller's so we had a $5 off coupon from there. The buffet was huge! There was a full salad bar, a soup bar with about 8 different kinds of soups, fresh bread and rolls, and then all the hot entrees. I tried the fried chicken, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, mac & cheese, pasta salad and french fries. The dinner rolls were excellent and the chicken was very good as well. For dessert, there were slices of cakes and brownies but then there was a sign that said you needed to ask for 3 different kinds of pie because they were kept warm. I asked for chocolate pecan pie, and the woman behind the counter took it out of the warming oven and cut a slice for me. Then added a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was very good!!
After rolling ourselves out of there, we head back briefly to Kitchen Kettle Village to get a few things to bring home. I brought an individual apple dumpling home for my husband and he said it was excellent.
Then it was time to head home. I really enjoyed the area and we saw other things we would like to do on a return visit. I am already planning to do the races again next year so I hope to add on at least one extra day to explore that area more.
Today I have a guest blogger! My sister, Carrie, wrote this trip report about her latest trip to Cape May. Enjoy!
My sister, Susan, and I just returned from our third visit to Cape May this year. I just love it in Cape May. We just went for a few days, from August 23-25, and as always, we enjoyed our visit.
We arrived in Cape May at around 9am to try and get the most out of our day. The weather was cloudy and windy so instead of heading right to the beach, we had breakfast at the Oceanview Diner. The food here is great! This was our second time to the Oceanview for breakfast and it was just as delicious as the first. I love their feta and spinach omelets. YUM! I know that everyone usually heads to Uncle Bills for breakfast. The food is good there, also, but I think that the Oceanview is better. Plus, there’s usually not a wait-not like Uncle Bills!
After breakfast, we did a little shopping-well, I did at least! No matter how many times I’ve been to Cape May, I always manage to spend some money! My favorite store is Colors. They carry clothing from Life is Good and also Fresh Produce. The clothes are a bit expensive, but I somehow buy something every time I walk in the door!
Then, the sun came out so we hit the beach for a little while. Too bad the wind didn’t die down! We tried to put up the umbrella, but it didn’t last long. The wind blew it inside out! But besides that, it was beautiful.
At around 3pm, out hotel room was ready. This time around we stayed at the Capri Motor Lodge at Madison and Beach. It felt strange to be in Cape May and not staying at the Victorian, however I really liked the Capri. I think I read somewhere that it’s run by two sisters, but don’t quote me on that! If you pay your balance in cash, they give you a 10% discount, so that’s a nice little perk.
We just had a standard room, with two double beds and a little kitchenette. It was very cute. Loved the bathroom! The water in the shower got nice and hot! We got cleaned up and headed out to Tisha’s in the Washington Street Mall for dinner. The one drawback, if you want to call it that, is the location of the Capri. It is maybe a 15 minute walk to the mall. However, they do offer a free trolley service to get you from the hotel to the mall. And if you make a purchase in the mall, show them the receipt and your return trip to the hotel is free also. I prefer to walk, though. I love looking at the houses and the cute little shops along the way.
We go to Tisha’s every time we are in Cape May. The food is always exceptional. My sister is still talking about the Pasta Lauren-penne pasta, vodka sauce, peas, shrimp and pancetta. I had the Chicken Pasquale. Delicious! One word of advice-don’t bring your small children! There is no children’s menu. While the staff is more than accommodating, the kitchen should not have to make special dishes, not listed on the menu, for young children. Plus, nobody wants to hear a child yelling “I need butter!” when they offer seasoned oil to go with the bread!
For dessert, we both hit up Ben and Jerry’s. I love the varieties of flavors that they offer. The staff is great too, very organized when dealing with families that have large orders. I had a brownie sundae. Awesome! The brownie was so dark and fudgy. It was the perfect end to our day.
I’m an early bird, even on vacation, so I was up and out on the promenade by 6am. I love walking by the beach as the sun comes up. It’s a great way to start the day. I met up with my sister at Avalon coffee at 8am for breakfast. The Avalon is a little coffee shop on Gurney Street, right next to another favorite spot of ours, Louie’s Pizza.
The iced coffee at the Avalon is really good. And they serve an everything whole wheat bagel, which is sometimes difficult to find. The whole ordering and paying system can be a little chaotic. If only they would be a bit more organized, this place would be perfect. But the iced coffee keeps us coming back!
After breakfast we went back to our room and got changed to go to the beach. It was a sunny day, would have been perfect if it wasn’t so windy again! There didn’t seem to be as many beachgoers on our section of the beach. We had taken a walk and noticed that the beach was more crowded the closer we got to the convention center. We couldn’t figure out why, but thought it might be because there aren’t any comfort stations at the end of the beach where the Capri is located.
We went back to the hotel to have the salads that we had brought with us for lunch. The pool area was pretty crowded but there was a free picnic table on the lawn outside of the pool, so we ate lunch there. Susan opted to go back to the beach after lunch. I couldn’t take the wind anymore, so I stayed at the hotel.
There was a free lounge chair on one end of the pool, and I was able to nab it. It was so beautiful and warm in the sun! Very relaxing, too. The pool at the Capri is a little smaller than the one at the Victorian and didn’t seem as deep either. From what I could tell, it seemed to have a maximum depth of only 4ft. This pool seemed well suited for young children and families, which there were a lot of! They also took advantage of the free popcorn available in the lobby!
Susan came back from the beach at around 3:30 that afternoon. We went back to our room to get ready for dinner at Louie’s Pizza. The white slice at Louie’s is one of the best slices I have ever had! Their crust is awesome! And their mozzarella sticks aren’t half bad either! After dinner it was back to the mall for some ice cream!!
Why does it seem that Mother Nature sometimes saves the best weather for the last day of vacation? It was another beautiful day. Since we wanted to have a nice breakfast at Tisha’s (again, Tisha’s!), we had to check out of our room by about 9am. I wanted to get in a little more time on the promenade, and maybe a little time to read outside, before breakfast so I was ready for my walk at around 5:25am.
It was still dark out and I was a little apprehensive about walking on the promenade in the dark by myself, but I went ahead anyway. The promenade is fairly well lit in most spots and there were a few other people walking as well. That made me feel more comfortable. One thing did startle me, though, and that was the skunk that was hanging out in the grassy area on the beach side of the promenade! Yikes! Thank goodness I didn’t get sprayed! Imagine that ride home!
We dropped our keys in the slot of the office door, since the office wasn’t open yet, and made our way to Tisha’s. Susan drove over and I walked. One of the things that I really love about Cape May is that once you get there, you can park your car and not need it again until you go home. It’s such a beautiful town. I love walking around there.
Again, our meal at Tisha’s was delicious. Susan had an egg plate with bacon and I ordered the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. Both came with their crispy, tasty home fries. The roll for the sandwich was so soft and fresh. It’s a perfect breakfast. I think that their breakfast menu is more kid friendly than their dinner menu. Even my picky nephew and nieces would find something to eat here. If there’s chocolate chip pancakes available, they are happy campers.
Alas, after breakfast, we had to head home. We will be back in June next year, though. I’m already looking forward to it! 324 more days to go!!
I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.