Markel Family Combo Breaker 2023 Getaway–Day One

It’s already been two weeks since Bunny, Moose, Chickadee and I drove up to Schaumburg to join Ryan, Turkey, and Ladybug for Combo Breaker 2023!

It’s become a tradition to stop at Wally’s on the way up…it’s no Buc-ee’s, but it’s still quite a spectacle!

We made pretty good time (Moose took the initiative to rearrange his few remaining finals so we could leave earlier in the day), and were happy to see the Renaissance for the second year in a row:

Chickadee and I took a swim that night, and Moose helped out with some of the registration stuff, but mostly we just had a nice, chill evening following our drive.

A Final Look Back at Our Disney Vacation

Here’s one final look back at the Disney portion of our vacation, focused specifically on a few pictures that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else, starting with me at Epcot’s World Showcase at the two places in the world I’d most like to visit: Germany and England (with Eeyore, of course!):

I managed to get a selfie with each of my daughters on a ride they really liked (the teacups, Dumbo, and the carousel):

And another pair of pictures of me at the Magic Kingdom…same day, but with an outfit change!

I think that’s about it for things I wanted to share…it certainly was the trip of a lifetime!

Lake Eufaula Motor Lodge

I saw a second vintage road sign on our trip, also for a defunct motel…the Lake Eufaula Motor Lodge in Eufaula, AL. It’s a little worse for the wear, but that only enhances the vintage feel!

The Fountainbleau

I’m always on the lookout for vintage road signs when we travel, and I’m lucky to have seen this one for the Fountainbleau Inn in Myrtle Beach, because the hotel is in the process of being torn down. It seems to have a somewhat sketchy history, but the sign is still cool!

Unfettered Joy

There were so many unforgettable moments on our vacation, so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I will treasure forever. This particular moment, while we were waiting in line to finally ride Mary Blair’s It’s a Small World, captured the absolute joy I felt throughout so much of our trip.

Space Mirror Memorial

One of the things I wanted to make sure we saw at Kennedy Space Center was the Space Mirror Memorial. We saw a lot of memorials in various places this summer, but this one is particularly striking to me. I’m sure it’s partly because of my long interest in the space program, but I also think it’s because the design is just so well thought out and perfect. The angle of the memorial makes it so that the all that is reflected on the surface of the mirror is the sky and the American flag, and the names of our lost astronauts are a stark white that stands out even against reflected clouds.

I hope they never need to add another name to this memorial.

Kennedy Space Center

The last big event of our vacation was something I had wanted to do for years…visit Kennedy Space Center!

You can’t turn around without tripping over a reference to President Kennedy!

One of the things I was most excited about seeing was right inside the front gate…the Rocket Garden:

We got to take a bus tour past historic launch sites, before going around the Vehicle Assembly Building. It doesn’t have a bad side! It was really cool to see it in person, because you just can’t grasp how big it is from pictures or even videos!

The bus tour ends at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. We got to see what Mission Control looked like at the time of Apollo 8:

The star of the center is the Saturn V (although there are lots of other things to see, too!). Again, it’s so hard to comprehend its size without seeing it for yourself!

No trip to Kennedy would be complete without seeing a piece (or two) of the moon:

We also walked through the Apollo 1 Tribute, which was unbelievably moving.

We were there at just the right time, because we got to see Artemis I out on the launch pad for a test, and now it’s time for it to fly!

We walked through the Moon Tree Garden, which has trees grown from descendants of seeds that were taken to the moon. There is a lovely statute of the crew of Apollo 11, and markers noting each mission of the Apollo program:

After we took the bus back to the main visitors’ complex, we visited Space Shuttle Atlantis.

We also learned about the other Space shuttles, including the two that were lost. The memorial to them was one of the most moving things on our trip, so much so that I didn’t take pictures of the memorial itself.

There is a larger memorial, the Space Mirror Memorial, dedicated to all of the lost astronauts, located outside:

There are other things to see outside, too:

I really enjoyed walking through the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame:

We also visited Gateway, which looks at the future of space travel. We got to see a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster that has flown twice:

Speaking of which, we were lucky enough to be at Kennedy for a launch. We saw (and heard) it from quite a distance, but it was still impressive, and seeing it in the shadow of the Rocket Garden was really special!

I’m so glad I finally got to have this experience!

Hidden Mickey?

We had such good intentions of finding “Hidden Mickeys” while we were at Disney World. We were prepared to look everywhere, and we even had a a list of some of the known ones as a starting point. But…I guess we were just wrapped up in the experience, of being there (we is actually a good thing!), because for the most part, we forgot altogether, and even when we did remember, we couldn’t find them. Except for the one on this manhole cover we spotted our first day at EPCOT.

Does it count? I mean, I think it does? If you weren’t looking down at the right moment, it would be easily missed. So I say it counts, and at least we have evidence we found one of them!

Sartorial Saturday–Disney Chic

The best souvenirs of a trip are the ones you can wear, and I picked up a whole outfit’s worth before and during our trip to Walt Disney World!

Just as I did with my Kyber Crystal necklace, I decided to order this beautiful Disney World 50th Anniversary dress before we left for our trip. I didn’t know for sure if I would actually bring it with (spoilers…I did!), but I knew I wanted to have it as a wearable memory. Lucky for me, the Disney Dress Shop dresses tend to have a retro feel, and this shirtwaist dress definitely fits my personal style!

The print is beautiful, featuring the castle and fireworks in the anniversary color scheme, as well as embroidered 50s scattered throughout.

While we were at the Magic Kingdom, I picked up a Loungefly mini backpack that matches the Minnie Mouse ears I found at the same shop (the Emporium). It has the same castles, fireworks, and 50s as the dress, plus the major Disney characters (Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, and Chip and Dale). A helpful store employee even found me what she called the “perfect bag,” (they’re all a little different) with a 50 right in the middle of the front pocket!

The dress also has a pretty yellow belt. I’m also wearing a silver belt underneath, because I can never tie a belt tight enough. And did I mention the pockets?!?

I’ve got a whole Disney World 50th Anniversary look!

Besides the Minnie ears, I accessorized with my Cinderella key necklace, a single gold glitter bangle, and a pair of Minnie Mouse hoop earrings that are another souvenir of the trip:

I mentioned that I brought the dress on the trip…here’s a look at my outfit right outside the castle!

I’m really glad I found these special pieces that not only commemorate our trip, but also the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World!

Around the World at EPCOT

Without question, my favorite thing about EPCOT is the World Showcase. It’s the thing I most remember from my childhood trip to Disney, and it was just as cool as in my memories! Here’s a look at the various countries, starting with our neighbor to the south, Mexico. I think it’s really cool that the two ports of entry are the countries that border the US to the north and south!

I loved the stave church that represents Norway:

China’s architecture is unmistakable:

I might be biased but I think Germany was my favorite country to visit:

Italy looks just like I imagine the actual country does:

We breezed through America pretty quickly because, let’s face it, we already live here!

I loved the blue accents in Japan:

Morocco is the country I remember the most from first Disney trip, but we didn’t get to walk around it too much this time because our time in that country was spent huddling under an archway during a storm:

France is as charming as you would expect:

After we visited France, we crossed the “channel” and entered the United Kingdom. If Germany wasn’t my favorite country, the U.K. definitely was!

We ended our around-the-world journey in Canada, which is a mix of native design, and something vaguely similar to the U.K.

This may be as close as I ever get to international travel, but at least I got to see some really cool things (and eat some regional foods) at EPCOT!