Saturday, July 23, 2016

Day 1300: Just You Wait

With every passing hundred blog posts, I tend to pause and reflect a bit about how I got here. After all, it feels like just yesterday that I was celebrating the first hundred, and now they fly by with barely a second thought. I've done a lot of changing and growing up in the past year, and it sort of scares me. I'm embarking on adventures that terrify and excite me all at the same time. Not long ago, I was given the advice that whenever I feel like taking a step backwards, I should step forward instead, and it's by that motto that I've been trying to live my life lately. 

Upon returning from Colorado, my car was packed full of stuff. Some of it we brought with us: our suitcases, a cooler, some snacks, and so on and so forth. But then there was an entire laundry basket filled with purchases from the whole family, sent back with us because we had a car and they'd be flying from Denver. I had a few mugs thrown in, along with some sand and a small bust of Abe Lincoln, but for the most part, my memorabilia consisted of postcards, gathered from as many of the locations we visited as possible. They're easy to transport, and I loved the vintage poster styles available at the National Parks. Figuring I had an entire blank wall back in my apartment, I picked up a variety of cards and finally finished hanging the rest of the decor on the wall above my bed. 

The wall, as you can see above, is a mix of various objects, from arrows to postcards to that giant Hamilcanvas in the middle. I didn't intend it, but I realized after hanging the postcards that this wall is a symbol of something, and it's a lesson that Hamilton and Disney both sort of teach us. Despite the fact that we've been so many places and done so many things - I just trekked across the United States for goodness sake - there's still a million things we haven't done. There's always going to be new places to explore and new experiences to be had, and that's pretty awesome. Walt Disney himself sort of reminded us of that, gone too soon, and yet his dream of Walt Disney World was realized. It continues to change far beyond anything he could have ever imagined, and while we mourn the loss of some of the attractions we still love and adore, we must keep moving forward. 

Essentially, we live on a planet that is impossible to see in one lifetime. We could travel everyday of our lives and still not make it to every city or community, and even if we did manage to see every single one, we'd never truly experience any of them. We can never relive history, but we can change it in our day to day lives. We can control our own fates, and unless we take that step forward, we're never going to see anything beyond the blank wall in our bedroom. 

Have a magical day! 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Day 1294: Marceline

When you mention Disney, most think instantly of Walt Disney World or Disneyland, frequently mixing the two up if we're being honest. Beyond that, they may think of a favorite animated film, character, or song, maybe a priceless family memory, or launch instantly into a rant about how expensive everything is becoming or how terrible it is that Disney now owns Star Wars (because believe it or not...those people do still exist). Whatever they think of, I can almost guarantee that a little town in central Missouri is far from their first thought, if it occurs to them at all. 

For fans of the man behind the company, Marceline is a familiar name. It's a period of Walt's life that many disregard, when in reality a little town in Missouri provided us with so much more than we realize. From 1906 to 1911, a young Walter Elias Disney called Marceline, Missouri home, and he would return more than a few times to visit the closest thing he ever had to a childhood home. Born in 1901, Walt spent the first years of his life in the bustling city of Chicago, which his parents later decided was no place to raise a family. With relatives in the area, the Disney family, with all five children in tow, moved to Marceline, where they'd stay until moving to Kansas City five years later. 

Learning many of the lessons he would take with him throughout life, Walt loved the little town. He returned in 1946 to refresh his memory for an upcoming project, which we'd later realize to be Disneyland. Marceline also inspired the 1948 film So Dear to My Heart, featuring a barn drawn up by Walt from memories of the barn that was on the family farm in Marceline. In 1956, Walt and Roy, along with their wives, would return to Marceline again, this time to help dedicate the Walt Disney Swimming Pool and Park. It was during the same trip that they held the Midwest premiere of The Great Locomotive Chase at the Uptown Theatre in town, where Walt would individually greet every child through the door. Four years later, in 1960, Walt would return once more to dedicate the Walt Disney Elementary School and provide the town with a flag pole from the Squaw Valley Olympics and an artist to decorate the interior of the school. 

While Walt died in 1966 and never again returned to Missouri, he still relocated the Midget Autopia Ride from Disneyland to Marceline just months before his death, making it the only Disney Attraction to ever run outside of a Disney Park. Following his death, Marceline is chosen out of four cities to issue a commemorative stamp in honor of Walt, and the Santa Fe railroad brings the Disney family to Marceline for the celebration of his life. 

The history of this little town goes on from there, and for its size, you'd never realize just how much has happened there. A museum dedicated to Walt opened in 2001 as a memorial of his 100th Birthday, bringing 13 members of the Disney family on a special train right to the depot where the museum is located. In addition, a recreation of Walt's barn is built as a memorial near the old Cottonwood Tree Walt referred to as his "dreaming tree." The tree, sadly, died a number of years ago after being struck by lightning, but a direct descendant of the tree still sits in Marceline today, growing from the soil of Magic Kingdom and water of the Rivers of America. 

I could go on forever about this little town, but I'll try to keep the rest of this short. There's so much history in Marceline, and if you're a fan of Walt Disney, I can't stress enough how wonderful of a place it is to visit. The museum staff were amazing, especially our tour guide Inez, who hosted Walt in her home when he came to Missouri in 1956. The town, which we visited on a Sunday, is quiet and quaint, but the original Main Street U.S.A. really allows you a glimpse into Walt's life, and into what he envisioned in the Disney parks we know and love. The museum itself is stunning, especially for such a small town, and it took us more than a few hours to barely scratch the surface of Walt's legacy in the Midwest. Other than that, all I can say is that I can't believe it took me 21 years to visit Marceline, because I should have done this a long, long, time ago.

To learn more about Marceline and the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, take a look at the official website and have a magical day!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Day 1292: Santa Fe

"Santa Fe, my old friend, I can't spend my whole life dreaming." 

 It's been a couple of years now since I first moved to college and my my freshman roommate, who was just as obsessed with Newsies as I was pretty much everything else Disney. Despite the fact that Newsies is indeed a part of the Disney Universe, I'd never actually seen the film or the listened to the music from the Broadway Smash Hit. She taught me well though, and two years later I ended up smack dab in the middle of Santa Fe, experiencing everything Jack knew it was. 

On a day excursion from Colorado, we made the two hour drive down to Santa Fe, New Mexico, entering a new state for the both of us and ready to explore a city unlike anything we'd ever seen. We were only able to spend a couple of hours in Santa Fe, as we had another stop on the way back up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, but it at least gave us a taste of everything the city had to offer. 

Our first stop, after finally finding a parking space (parking in Santa Fe is sort of ridiculous), was the Georiga O'Keeffe museum. Born in Wisconsin, O'Keeffe traveled all over the United States, from Texas to New York, before ending up in New Mexico, just outside of Santa Fe. Living on Ghost Ranch, which I'll talk more about later, O'Keeffe took inspiration from the beautiful she found around her and created spectacular paintings and drawings. Here are just a few of my favorites from the museum: 

We then took some time to explore the Plaza, which sits at the center of Santa Fe and is definitely the tourist section of the town. I actually have no pictures of the Plaza itself, but its a park lined with stores and churches and definitely feels very different from anything we have around here. We also got a chance to go inside one of the many Chapels of Santa Fe, which are internationally renowned. If you're there for a longer period of time, there are various tours available that showcase more of these stunning buildings. 

I wouldn't say that Santa Fe is my favorite city in the world, or at least not on a Jack Kelly level, but I did enjoy the entire state of New Mexico. It's a far cry from little old Wisconsin, and I highly recommend stopping there if you're in the area! You won't regret it! 

Have a magical day!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Day 1292: Mesa Verde

Time for another National Parks Adventure! 

Previous to only a few weeks ago, I'd never really thought much about Mesa Verde. I'm actually embarrassed to say that I hardly knew anything about it, and probably didn't even realize it was a National Park. After all, when someone says National Park, you probably recall some of the more famous locations: The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or Yosemite. Still, when we planned our trip to Colorado and we realized that Mesa Verde would fall on my birthday, I had no qualms about the idea. 

For my fellow vintage Epcot Center fans out there, you might just remember a connection to Mesa Verde in a lost attraction: Horizons! Essentially a continuation of the Carousel of Progress, the family has now split up between various futuristic colonies, one of which is located in the desert, or more importantly: Mesa Verde. Daughter Patricia has found her home in Colorado, working as a farmer on a desert colony. I will say that Disney's Mesa Verde looks a bit more rocky than the real Mesa Verde, which is pretty flat. They did get the dry part right though. The area is frequently devastated and leveled by fire. It takes decades for the vegetation to grow back, and it's never more apparent than driving through Mesa Verde National Park, where they leave much of the natural area alone to regrow on its own. 

I also spent quite a bit of time marveling at the fact that civilizations built and lived in the cliff dwellings that seem rather impossible to enter, at least from a distance. Today there are stairs and man-made pathways that get you into the dwellings quickly and safely. When the builders lived there, on the other hand, they'd climb down using footholds along the side of the cliff, and I can't help but wonder how many fell rather than hanging on. It seemed rather dangerous to me, although when you include the idea of safety, it makes more than enough sense as to why they built there. 

And speaking of the farming that takes place in Horizons, that isn't actually all that far off. Another reason the civilizations moved to the cliff dwellings was to increase the available space to grow crops, which mostly consisted of foods easy to dry: corn, peppers, etc. I'm not sure they would have been growing oranges like Patricia was, but she lives in the future, after all! 

I'll say this one more time though: if you haven't visited one of our many glorious National Parks, do so soon! There are tons of special events and discounts going on for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and it's one of the greatest times to visit! And for those of you saying "Yes, but Lizzie, there aren't any National Parks in my state," all I have to say is go out and find one nearby! We don't have any in Wisconsin either, and yet in the past couple of weeks I was able to visit two National Parks, two National Monuments, and a National Historic Site! They're all out there, waiting for you to explore, so get started and find your park! 

Have a magical day! 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Day 1291: Bed and Breakfast

If the house behind me in the picture above looks a bit familiar, I'll give you a hint as to why: Look at the mailbox and my hat. 

I distinctly remember Father's Day this year. My family went out to eat at a local railroad themed restaurant, housed in an old train depot. It's a popular restaurant in our area and the food is really great, and since my Dad adores trains, it's a natural fit. It was there that we sat discussing the upcoming trip to Colorado, which, at the time, I wasn't even officially going on. The trip, as a whole, was intended to be my parents and my brother, we me staying behind to take care of the house and the cats. When they planned it over my birthday, I ended up going along, lugging Megan with me (alright, she volunteered), and this was the first place that really caught my interest. 

My Dad mentioned, in passing, that night at dinner, the Indiana Jones Bed and Breakfast. I was skeptical for a few seconds, because of course it could just be any other bed and breakfast that happens to be themed to Indiana Jones. And then he explained that this wasn't just any old house. It was Indy's house. Frantically, I searched the bed and breakfast online, coming to find that this wasn't, indeed, just any old house. In a little town called Antonito, one little house sits, and that house has been seen many more times than you might imagine. 

Drive by unknowingly and you'll never even notice, but this is actually the very house used to portray the childhood home of Indy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. They picked it thanks to the close by location of the Cumbres and Toltec railroad, which is also based out of Antonito and also in the film during the opening scene. That means that back in 1988, Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and the entire cast and crew of Indiana Jones made their way to this little town most of us haven't heard of, and now, you can sleep where Indy did. 

The bed and breakfast is run by an older gentleman and then a housekeeper and her husband, plus a little dog named Teddy. The house itself, in the film, looked relatively small. Even standing outside of it, you wouldn't believe everything that's inside. It looks pretty different from what you see in the film, but you can definitely tell where you are standing, especially if you watch the film in the living room like we did. There's something special to be said about sitting where everything happened. A young Indiana Jones would have received his trademark hat right where I stood, and you really can't beat that. 

Still, there's an amazing five bedrooms in the house, each with their own bathroom. Four are available for reservation, as the last is the room of the owner, each with a different themed name. Megan and I stayed in the downstairs bedroom, The Holy Grail, while my parents and brother stayed upstairs. In addition, there's a living room, a study area (which serves as the office of Henry Jones Sr. in the film), a full dining room and full kitchen. Seriously, this place is huge. The living area has pretty much every piece of Indiana Jones memorabilia you could think of, with additional decor that gives you that authentic Jones household vibe. 

You can see more of the house in an upcoming YouTube video, but I can't even begin to describe how amazing it was to stay here. It's a bit expensive, but if you're an Indiana Jones fan like I am ( fact, it was probably my first real obsession), definitely check it out. You can access the website HERE, and even if you don't want to stay, be sure to contact about at least seeing the house if you're in the area. It's well worth a stop! 

Oh, and did I mention that we happened to stay in it the night of Harrison Ford's birthday, July 13? It didn't occur to me until we were actually there, but seriously, you can't make this kind of thing up! In fact, I loved staying there so much that if I'm ever headed back to Colorado, it'll be number one on my list of things to do. All I want now is to go again! 

Have a magical day! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Day 1290: The Scavenger

If you're looking at the above picture and wondering "Lizzie, where the hell did you find sand in Colorado?" then you'd be asking the same question I had a few months ago when I first discovered Great Sand Dunes National Park. That's right, you no longer have to set your sights on Egypt if you want to find some sand dunes for that Star Wars parody you've been working on! Look no further than central Colorado! 

Great Sand Dunes National Park is about 45 minutes away from Alamosa, Colorado, and is basically a giant pile of sand amidst mountains and grassland. Even now, having been there, I still sort of question its existence, so it's definitely something you kind of just have to see for yourself. There's over 30 square miles of dune field, and 300 square miles of sand in the San Luis Valley where the park is located, and you can literally see these dunes for miles. We saw them on all sides, other than the portion up against the mountains, and even from a distance they are impressive

The Dunes, as we learned, were formed hundreds of years ago when a volcano erupted and sand formed in the San Luis Valley. Strong winds then moved the sand, but the mountains blocked it from going further, therefore forcing the sand to pile up along the base of the mountains. With further winds, which are definitely still there today, the dunes were formed. There isn't much new sand forming in the dunes, but they continue to be a crucial part of a very unique ecosystem that consists of snow, rivers, grassland, mountains, and, of course, sand. 

Oh, and since I'm sure you were wondering, you can sled down it, just like Rey does in The Force Awakens. For months we've been anticipating our trip down the dunes, since we grew up sledding on snow, and this just seemed too good to be true. However, unless Rey had some wax for that board of hers on Jakku, I doubt it would have worked as well as it did. Sand is much more finicky than snow, and you do have to rent specialized boards for it to work, but it's well worth it! 

We spent about two and a half hours pretending to be on Jakku and Tatooine before the day was through, and my only other comment is that I have no idea how Finn ever survived. I barely walked a mile in the intense heat over the Dunes and had to stop multiple times...and almost ran out of water. I don't blame him for drinking out of the watering trough. I don't blame him one bit. 

I also want to emphasize once more (and you'll hear this again later on) the importance of visiting our National Parks here in America. They're celebrating their 100th anniversary this year and it's a spectacular time to visit some of the most stunning and inspiring sights anywhere in the world. Previous to a few months ago I couldn't have dreamed about ever setting foot on a sand dune, and now I've done that, seen trees millions of years old, and hiking to the top of a Mesa. Go Find Your Park on the official website of the National Park Service, because after all, the wilderness must be explored! 

Have a magical day!