Friday, December 7, 2018

U.S. Botanic Garden: Seasons Greenings 2018 - All Aboard!

Date of Visit: December 7, 2018

Mik was surprised that it's really been five years that it has been a tradition for us to visit the Seasons Greenings exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Gardens. He loves the tradition, although he doesn't so much enjoy the cold weather on the way to/from. This year we were again sad that there was no Christmas tree exhibit in the West Gallery. In fact, that's where the train exhibit is as it seems they are now working on the area where they normally do the exhibit. Hopefully, that means the tree part will come back once both areas are open at the same time again.

When Dad brought us home this year's brochure after his work preview, I joked with him that is was such an original theme this year with it being called "All Aboard!" Doing it with different train depots certainly does make sense, though, and it was actually better than expected.

Mik's favorite was the Cincinnati Union Terminal.

My favorite was the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

As usual, there was a tunnel walkthrough part and best of all this year it was back to being tall enough for Mik to roll through!

Also, as usual, the exhibit ends with an area that has two steps and a ramp that is way too steep. Just ask them to let you out the entrance and they'll move the barrier.

Before leaving we got our usual photo of Mik with the Capitol model. We also checked out the Union Station model that was added this year to the Garden Court's models of D.C.

Destination Info:
United States Botanic Garden
100 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20001

Monday, December 3, 2018

2018 National Christmas Tree Lighting

Date of Visit: November 28, 2018

Every year we've lived in the D.C. area, I've tried to get tickets to the National Christmas Tree lighting. This year I forget to enter the lottery, but luckily Dad ended up getting us tickets from a friend.

We ended up with tickets for the green seated section, but instead of going into the green section to the left of the stage, we followed the path to sit in the wheelchair section to the other side. The wheelchair section was good in that it was lined up with the stage and was on the platform so you didn't have to roll in the grass, which was hard to go through. The downside is the stage almost entirely blocks the Christmas tree. In hindsight, we should've just gone to the front of the green section as was available and then we also wouldn't have had our view totally blocked when everyone stood up for the President to light the tree at the beginning.

Overall Mik didn't much care for the tree lighting event, but mainly because it was cold. By the time the tree lighting started, we had been there for several hours with it being in the 40s and both Dad and he bailed after the tree was lit. Probably 75% of the people there did the same and those that stayed were encouraged to move up, which is what I did (also, moved over to better see the tree). I found it worth it and enjoyed the music and would totally do it again if I got the chance, but probably not with Mik.

Destination Info:
National Christmas Tree
President's Park (south of White House)
Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail 2018

Date of Visit: November 13, 2018

Another trip a few years ago we had wanted to check out the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail, but never got around to it. This year Mik wasn't really convinced to check it out, but since we stayed at Saratoga Springs it was an easy walk over to Disney Springs for his favorite of a pretzel dog at Wetzel Pretzels and by promising we would only stop if he wanted to take photos I got him to agree to do the trail on the way back to the resort. In the end, he loved it and even had me take some photos as it was easier for me to get some of the angles he wanted.

Beauty and the Beast Tree

The Little Mermaid Tree

Frozen Tree

Mulan Tree

Villians Tree

Dumbo Tree

Star Wars Trees

Mik with Star Wars Tree - I got in trouble for not getting all the lightsaber trees in the photo, but then he also didn't want to wait for people to get out of the way for me to have done it that way.

Peter Pan Tree

Mary Poppins Tree

Alice in Wonderland Tree

Fantasia Tree

Toy Story Tree

Overall we really enjoyed checking out the different themed trees. The timing of going right as it was getting dark was perfect as there weren't too many people and it was easy to take our time and get photos of what we wanted. It being early in the holiday season might have also contributed to the low crowds, but just, in general, it seems Disney Springs in more enjoyable before dark basically because people are mostly in the parks instead.

Destination Info:
Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2018

Date of Visit: November 12, 2018

We actually planned to go to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival last year, but had to cancel our trip due to a hurricane. This year we didn't plan to go and ended up catching the last day of it as it seems like it ran much longer this year than normal.

We started at The Cheese Studio with Braised Beef 'Stroganoff' for Mik and Cheese Trio for me. The stroganoff ended up being Mik's favorite.

Mik also really like the seating area by The Cheese Studio as he could actually use it, unlike the high tables they mainly have available around the festival.

Next Mik had the Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle and I had the Twining's Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea and Chocolate Shake from The Art of Pairing.

At the Austrlia booth, we shared the Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp, which was my favorite of what we tried.

Finally, we tried the Warm Indian Bread with three dipping sauces. Mik mainly liked it for the bread, but did also like the coriander pesto dip.

Before leaving we made sure to stop at the Festival Center to get our passholder magnet and check out the chocolate sculptures (and get our free Ghiradelli square because not like we didn't still have leftovers from the Disney Cruise last month...).

Overall glad we at least got to experience the festival a little this year. Really wish we could've come four days during it, though, and got the passholder cutting board!

Destination Info:
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Disney Wonder Baja Cruise: Day 4 - Disney at Sea with D23!

Date of Visit: October 17, 2018

Disney at Sea with D23! is a presentation in the Buena Vista theater featuring information and clips about upcoming Disney stuff such as movies, video games, and attractions. It was kind of a short version of the type of stuff covered at the D23 Expo presentations mixed with the Faniversary type presentations.

As D23 members and fans of other D23 events, we did enjoy it. However, we did find it odd that they enforce it as adults-only event and wouldn’t let a teenager stay in the theater, especially since they were with their family, and that’s definitely not how most actual D23 events are handled.

Disney Wonder Baja Cruise: Day 4 - 3D DCL Ship Crafts

Date of Visit: October 17, 2018

Other than maybe the door hangers, the 3D DCL ship craft was our favorite craft activity this cruise. Mik couldn’t help, but he did enjoy the final product.

It was particularly fun to then take pictures with it and the scenery as we cruised.

Disney Wonder Baja Cruise: Day 4 - Animator’s Palette

Date of Visit: October 17, 2018

While Tiana’s may be our new favorite, Animator’s Palette is still fun. It’s really fun to see the different sketches and how they come to life at points and then around dessert Sorcerer Mickey comes out and everything gets color.

Mik enjoyed the Bora Shake with dinner.

For the appetizer, Mik went with the Sliced Serrano Ham.

Mik enjoyed the Herb Crusted Pork Chop for his entree.

For dessert, Mik for once didn’t go with the sundae because I did and instead went with the Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake, which he liked, but I think he likes the Cookies ’n Cream Sundae more as he was eyeing mine.

Disney Wonder Baja Cruise: Day 4 - Halloween Origami

Date of Visit: October 17, 2018

Out of all the origami, Mik was most interested in the Halloween one. It turned out to be a big disappointment. It was mainly because it was the only time we’ve done something in the Promenade Lounge and the place was totally packed. We were lucky enough to have a table, but then ended up with a family joining us that was kind of out of control and ended up with wet paper and Mik kept getting bumped.

We also didn’t enjoy this origami because the person leading it wasn’t easy to follow and they were just harder origami in general. Finally, Mik was just disappointed that the things were rather a stretch to be Halloween other than the bat. Like I guess the ball could’ve been a pumpkin if I could’ve actually figured it out to do right and it had been orange paper, but the “box” that was more of a little basket was quite a stretch.

Disney Wonder Baja Cruise: Day 4 - Origami Creations

Date of Visit: October 17, 2018

This origami was probably our favorite. It wasn’t anything all that special that we made (turtle, penguin, heart, and, sailboat), but the person leading it was doing it their first time and went slow and repeated steps to make sure everyone could follow along. They were also probably some of the easier ones since he was new to it, but it was still fun in that it wasn’t just making one thing like the flower one.

Disney Wonder Baja Cruise: Day 3 - Pirates in the Caribbean Dinner at Triton's

Date of Visit: October 16, 2018

Pirate night has always been our least favorite. The food isn’t bad and actually, I think the menu has been reworked since the last time we cruised. Also, we managed to get through dinner quickly and sneak out just as they started the pirate entertainment part that we just aren’t into.

Mik had the “Boucanier” Smoked Saucisson, Baked Brie, Brioche and Honey. He enjoyed it, although found it a little hard to get out of the dish and eat.

He kept going back and forth on what to get for his entree, especially since he had yet to order any kind of steak as he sometimes does almost every night on a cruise. In the end, he went with the Tia Dalma’s Jerk Chicken as it seemed most fitting for the Caribbean and he was glad he did.

Dessert was actually an easy choice as most of the choices weren’t even a little tempting for him. He did enjoy the Bananas in Paradise, although he thought the wrong dessert was delivered because it looks more like a slice of cake as it is a layered dessert with banana bread and not slices of banana bread as he imagined.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Disney Wonder Baja Cruise: Day 3 - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Date of Visit: October 16, 2018

Since Cabo San Lucas is a tender port, Mik couldn’t get off the ship. Mom and I did get off and walked along the waterfront, stopped at Starbucks for a mug for her collection, and quickly popped into Cabo Wabo Cantina to get drumsticks for Mik’s collection (sadly Hard Rock Cafe is no longer walkable here as they have a hotel, which is rather far to walk to from cruise terminal).

While Mik couldn’t get off the ship in Cabo, he did still get to enjoy some good scenery just from the ship. We enjoyed some drinks on our verandah as well as lunch up by the pool taking in the view.