I told you we are hooked! We sprung for a full weekend backpacking trip instead of just an overnight and we conquered around 17.5 miles mostly on Saturday and Sunday due to a late start on Friday. Ideally we would have hiked from the I-70 AT trailhead but that would have been 7 miles night one and we just didn’t have the daylight to accomplish that. So the plan was to leave at 3:40ish from Brady’s work, drive both cars out to Harpers Ferry, park and then take one car up to Washington Monument State Park and then start the hike from there. That would have gotten us there by at least 5:30 pm and been just under a 4 mile hike to the shelter for our first night.
That was the plan.
Hanna, my sister, was going to come with us for her first backpacking adventure and sleep in our tent while Brady and I were going to try hammock camping. We were expecting 2 Amazon packages to arrive that afternoon containing the second hammock, the tarp, and two 64 oz Sawyer squeeze bags for our water filter. Usually it gets delivered between 2:30 and 3:30 but we were still waiting on it to arrive once Brady got off work so we decided to delay for a little while and hope it came before we left. We played a card game and when it still hadn’t come, we decided to just go knowing it would probably get delivered a few minutes after we left. As we were walking to the door with all our stuff, guess what was delivered!
Finally we were on our way but since we were leaving later, we knew we were going to be dealing with heavier traffic trying to get out there. We arrived in Harpers Ferry around 6:30 but the signage for where to park was very unclear. We ended up parking at the Cavalier Heights Visitor Center but even that was frustrating because signs said we needed to pay and you could only park overnight with a permit… but there was no one there to pay! We ended up finally leaving at 7, without paying, to drive the 30 minutes up to our start point. Since we were only going to have 1 hour til sunset, we parked on Reno Monument Road in a small dirt lot and started the mile hike in towards Rocky Run Shelter.
Tuesday at Disney World was full of animals and Disney magic! We were at Animal Kingdom before rope drop which was pretty easy since our hotel was less than a 5 minute drive away! While we were waiting to be let in, I was complimented a few times on my dress and tiara which made me feel pretty princess-like. The only park opening we missed during the week was on Thursday at the Magic Kingdom – which I’ll recap soon – but of all the other parks, the opening at Animal Kingdom was spectacular. They told us that the Macaws were going to fly over our heads and not to duck or they’ll just fly lower. It was a really cool thing to see and experience – you can get an idea of what happens here.
They allowed us to go free into the parks at the stroke of 9 and we headed directly for Expedition Everest in Asia by going through Discovery Island instead of Dino Land. We were able to walk straight onto the ride twice in a row which was great since it’s one of my top two favorite rides in the park! However, since we did it twice in a row, it gave Brady a bit of stomach trouble so I browsed the shop in the middle of Africa while he sat. We were also trying to kill time before the 10 am train left for Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
As I’m looking through photos to share in this post, I have some tears a brewin. Why? It was a really fun vacation and something we both really needed. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a vacation and this much one-on-one quality time. I wanted this to be a great vacation for my husband because he’s been working so hard the last few years. PT school straight into a full time job that he puts a lot of hours and energy into. He needed some time off and we had so many thing to celebrate! Graduations, anniversaries, birthdays… it was about time. I’m so glad we had this week for just the two of us; it really was incredible. Now I’m actually crying… aghh.
To Hollywood Studios! I used the Undercover Tourist Crowd Calendar to plan out which parks what days and Monday was rope drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Hollywood Studios is majorly under construction at the moment which really makes it a 1/2 day park. It’s almost not worth going to unless you have a park hopper… but with that being said, it does have a few of the best Disney World rides.
We were about a 7 minute drive away from the DHS gates and we arrived a tad before 8:30. We still had our magic bands from our honeymoon but we weren’t sure if they were still going to work since it’s been almost 3 years and we’d heard the batteries die after a couple years. Luckily they were still working which was a pretty exciting discovery. I thought for a second it wasn’t going to work, but the cast member was like, “don’t be sad yet!” because I hadn’t scanned my finger yet. Yay! We were in.
We’re back from Disney World! Well actually, we’ve been back since Sunday but it was an amazing and much needed vacation and I can’t wait to spam you with our vacay photos! We did 5 full days in the parks last week so I’m going to split them all up into separate posts so I’m going to start off with the beginning of our vacation just to catch us up.
This post is part of a series I’m doing on Disney World – If you want to check out more posts, click here.
We left for our vacation after Brady finished work on Friday (May 5) and started our long drive down to Florida. Driving saved money on flights and rental cars so it’s what made sense. We had a room booked at the Hampton Inn in North Florence, SC on the way down which ended up being a bit over 7 hours drive because of the traffic we hit going around DC.
After we got engaged in March 2013, we quickly decided on a July wedding the following year because there was a natural break where my husband would be out of PT school for a week. We looked into a lot of places for our honeymoon with some of the top contenders being Hawaii and St. Lucia. The reservation with either vacation was the amount of time it was going to take to travel compared to the amount of time we had total. 8 months after getting engaged we looked at each other and said, “Disney World Honeymoon?” It was the perfect solution since it would come well under budget (ie: lots of spending money), quick travel, no language barrier, and it would be a lot of fun.
We decided to stay off property and rented a nearby private vacation home with our own pool. This saved a lot of money in comparison to staying in a Disney resort as well as being quiet and private. The company we rented through no longer exists, but Trip Advisor and Air BnB are great places to start your search. Some people feel that we were missing out because we didn’t stay on property, but having this place was magical enough for me!
We flew from Maryland to MCO around midday on July 21st, 2014 (the day after our wedding) and we picked up our Chevy Spark rental car for the week since we weren’t staying on property. Renting a car gave us the freedom to go out for dinner, visit all the local outlets, grocery shop, etc, and the size of the car was perfect for the two of us!
It’s been a beautiful week around here as all the flowering trees are fully in bloom and the landscape is greening up. Last week was Brady’s birthday and we were able to do a lot of outdoor adventuring to celebrate. I had been planning a weekend backpacking trip to Shenandoah National Park for the weekend but we didn’t end up going because the weather forecasts were looking potentially stormy and I was also dealing with a strained muscle in the hip flexor area. Sad. We’re still hoping to go this summer and we may try doing a shorter and close to home backpacking trip this weekend.
Since Brady worked late on his actual birthday, we went out on Wednesday evening to Brookeside Gardens to see the tulips before meeting up with his family at Cheesecake Factory for dinner.