Thursday, March 31, 2011
Hello from Cleveland, OH. (Obviously I was elsewhere for my BWE)
As you know from my last couple posts I was in Orlando, FL last week...Best.Week.EVER. Let me tell you about it.
It started off with beautiful weather, warm & sunny! And as my last blog post indicated I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! If you didn't read my last post & want to know all about that...please read it, it's worth it...it was EPIC. While donning a tank top through the park I started to get a tan which I worked on throughout the week while doing different events! :)
The next day was a guerrilla marketing day which my team & I promptly decided the beach would be a perfect place to work! So we headed to the Tampa area and found ourselves at Clearwater which was a gorgeous white sand beach! It was a beautifully warm day and full of people enjoying the sunshine! After we finished working we relaxed on the beach for a little while before we met up with my friend Jess & one of her friends! It was awesome to meet up with them, even though we missed the sunset by less than a minute due to parking :/ We enjoyed a couple margaritas, some amazing food & fresh air off the ocean! I can't wait to go back to spend more time with Jess...and Michelle & I have even considered taking up residence in the area as well!
While in Orlando...it wasn't ALL a vacation, we actually did work, I promise! Our event was the International CTIA Wireless Conference which was very cool! The product we were promoting was a device by Sony Ericsson called the Experia Play. Now, I'm not a gamer or anything but even I thought the device was pretty awesome. It is a smart phone that runs on Gingerbread (the latest version of Google's Android platform) and is also a PlayStation certified device! It looks like a regular phone with a slide out keyboard which is actually a PlayStation controller! There will be games available for download on the Android market that you can play right on your smart phone...my favorite was Madden '11...FIFA is coming soon!! The rest of the conference was cool as well, we got to see the latest in wireless technology including 3D phones, new 4G phones & the newest Samsung Galaxy tablets. That was just the tip of the iceberg too, there was SO much going on there I didn't even get to see it all. The event lasted three days & after each day I relaxed at the pool & took advantage of the weather and ran a couple miles in shorts and a tshirt!!
Our last day in Orlando was a day off & oh how amazing it was! It started off by me renting a car from Enterprise & when I made my reservation I requested an American made car, which apparently the two men at the office found funny. They asked where I was heading & I told them Lakeland so they assumed I wanted an American car because Lakeland is a 'country' area & I wanted to fit in...but it is really because American cars are better. :) They were about to give me a Chevy Impala when I inquired about the Dodge Challenger out front & both were surprised that that was the car I wanted...but BOY did I want that car & I got it! So I headed out to Lakeland to visit Joker Marchent Stadium, even though the Tigers weren't playing there that day, I just wanted to check out the field. While on the highway I got PLENTY of looks in my sweet car while I was jamming to some music, my favorite songs to hear was Keri Hilson's "Pretty Girl Rock" and Eminem's "Lose Yourself"...awesome songs to rock out to! As soon as I parked my car a man came out from the field & I thought for sure he was going to tell me I couldn't park there but he just gave me a smile & said, "Nice car"...I returned the smile & just said, "Thanks"...I mean, no one needed to know it was rented, right? (I also got several other compliments on my car...it might be a good investment for me in the near future!) So I walked around the park, took some photos & then headed off to Kissimmee where I was ready for a baseball game!
I went to Champion Stadium at ESPN's Wide World of Sports for a Tiger's game against the Atlanta Braves, which just so happen to be my favorite two teams! As soon as I walked into the stadium I could smell baseball, between the grass, hot dogs, beer & a faint smell of leather...I was right where I needed to be! I got myself a PBR & found my seat next to a wonderful old man from Michigan, transplanted to Orlando. He & I had great conversations about Kalamazoo, Detroit & of course the Tigers as he used to be in the farm system back in the day & because of Willie Horton, didn't make it on the team! On my other side were a couple guys, one who used to play college baseball & described how much he missed the game which brought me to miss playing ball too. I was on cloud 9 though with PBR in hand, the sun going down & baseball in my sight...it definitely made for an awesome end to an awesome week. The Tigers lost the game and actually didn't play all that well, but they were also finalizing their rotation & line up...I'm not worried.
If that wasn't a great ending...being able to spend a day and a half in Charlotte was! As we were heading back to the Midwest, our half way point just happened to be in Charlotte!! So, Kevin & Michelle dropped me off & I spent some much needed family time with Ellie, Stef, Nick & Gabbers. As soon as I got in Nick had the Red Wings game taped & a Bell's beer chilling in the fridge, just like before! I also got to see Stef & Nick's new house and my/Linda's new bedroom (for when I'm done with the tour)...I LOVE IT! I was sad to leave, but very happy to see my little Boo-Boo!!!! Our first event was a Blue Jackets game in Columbus & I was also able to meet up with my bud Shulack while there for a few days which was awesome, tomorrow's event is the Cleveland Indian's opening day game...MORE BASEBALL!!! <3
Overall, you put that mix of things together & I look at my life & just see how amazingly blessed I am! It's a little early in the tour to say it was the best week of the whole tour, I think it's my goal to top it in the next eight months!! :)
As I sit here watching baseball, enjoying an Oberon...I hope y'all have your BEST.WEEK.EVER soon! Muah!
P.S. A special shout out to my dear friend Jess Waugh...CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ENGAGEMENT!!!! <3 I can't wait for the wedding!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
This blog post is dedicated purely to my experience at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! As you may have noticed from my blog name, I'm a little bit of a fan...okay, kind of a big fan.
Now, I'll start off by telling you that I'm not going to give away all the intimate details...because I don't want to "ruin" it for Harry Potter fans that haven't been able to make it there yet (but in all honesty, you can't ruin it because it's that amazing).
So, thankfully I have a travel bud that shares my love for Harry Potter! I mean, it would have been fun anyway...but being able to gush & squeal in excitement with someone that is equally as excited makes it amazing. So Kevin & I set out for a day of adventure at the Islands of Adventure in Orlando where we had one of the BEST DAYS EVER! As we raced through the park, trying to find our way to Hogwarts the anticipation was KILLING me and once I saw with my own two eyes that magnificent castle on the top of the hill...it was all over, chills up & down my whole body! We walked through the gates of Hogsmeade Village with the Hogwarts Express to my right & the familiar shops & scenes from the books & movies ahead of me, I was in awe that this was happening in real life.
Now, for all of you skeptics that think I'm a HUGE NERD, you may be right...but I don't care, there were MANY other people like me that were just as or more excited than I was! Think about it though...think back to a book series you may have read as a child/teen or a movie or show that you watched often...imagine it coming to LIFE and being able to walk down the streets that you read about & wondered what it would be like...it was MAGICAL!
We were informed we should get in line for "Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey," located inside of the Hogwarts Castle that is actually a simulation ride that takes you through a collaboration of events that go along with the book series. The line took almost two hours to get through, but it was more than worth it. Hint: For those of you that plan to visit, a couple suggestions is to not bring a bag, you have to lock all bags up & it makes your wait shorter if you don't have one. Second suggestion is to go in the single rider lane even if you're not a single rider because you can't really see the person you're next to during the ride, so unless you want the ride photo of the 2-4 of you in a row, then reduce your time by doing the single rider lane.
Once you move past the outdoor waiting & into the castle YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE. Again, I'm not going to give away the details, but I kid you not when I say it made me believe dreams come true & I will probably have to put that in the top 3 best life events ever. I will say this, there are talking portraits...and not cheesy screens that move a little & sound comes out of a speaker...but these looked like REAL portraits & they moved in & out of the frames & talked...it again was just magical. The rest of the castle/line is awesome too so many little details JUST as I imagined they would look & sound from the books were right in front of me! I kept squealing in excitement! At one point I turned to Kevin & said, "Gosh, I feel like such a nerd...I'm just SO excited!" and the guy in front of me that was at least my age or older turned around & said, "It's okay, I think everyone else around you feels the same way!" Haha.
The actual ride is AWESOME...so many elements of the books & movies rolled into one ride! It's no secret that the ride is a simulation of you riding on a broomstick, so I'll tell you that much. It's a thrill dodging obstacles & seeing characters & scenes from the books...especially being on the Quidditch pitch, SO COOL! The photo at the end came out hilarious because they took it during a part that freaked me out...spiders, enough said. Not only was the ride cool because of it being Harry Potter dreams come true...but the way it was designed is just amazing to me, like...whoever made that ride is the coolest, most talented person on earth. I was on such a high when I got off the ride, Kevin & I wanted so badly to discuss back & forth each piece of the ride but we were still trying to take it all in! We knew exactly what we needed...Butterbeer.
So after the ride we got ourselves an ice cold Butterbeer & waited in line to get into Olivanders wand shop! Butterbeer is a mix between rootbeer & cream soda, topped with a butterscotch cream foam, it came in two variations, ice cold & frozen...for the record I liked the regular one better over the frozen, but I'm glad I tried both. Olivanders is very cool as well, they do a "wand selection ceremony" & then your can roam the shop which is strategically a gift shop. We also stopped in Honeydukes Sweetshop & I got some red & black licorice (yes, I know...I think I'm alone when I say I like black licorice...it's okay.), Zonko's Joke Shop is attached to Honeydukes, so we checked that out as well.
Kevin & I had lunch at The Three Broomsticks (enter squeal here!) where I tasted pumpkin juice for the first time...hands down, best beverage EVER. It tastes almost like apple juice with a pumpkin flavor to it! I recommend having it at the restaurant because you can buy it from the shops, but it's not as good from the bottle (and it's less expensive from the restaurant as well). The atmosphere of the pub is so cool too, make sure while you're eating that you keep your eyes open for little pieces of magic...like Dobby the house elf who literally brought tears to Kevin's eyes. And actually as you exit the restaurant you notice that it actually IS a pub & you can order beer...even their own brew the Hog's Head Brew! AMAZING.
We also rode the Dragon Challenge roller coaster which was fun. There weren't many Harry Potter elements to it, as it previously was the "Dueling Dragons" ride at the park. There is also a mini water ride, The Flight of the Hippogriff, but Kevin & I didn't want to wait in the line for that one. We saw pretty much everything else & visited a couple gift shops, then decided to head out to the other areas of the Islands of Adventure park...but ultimately came back to The Wizarding World because it was just that interesting.
In closing, I can't express enough the importance that ALL Harry Potter fans need to visit this place. Like I said before, it's like magic...it's dreams coming true...it's just amazing & if I won the lottery one thing I would do is pay for all the HP fans of the world to be able to go there & experience what I got to experience that day! I mean...talking portraits!!!! Hope y'all enjoyed this post, especially you HP fans out there! Muah! <3
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Hello from Orlando!
Last time I posted I was in Indianapolis, Indiana for the Big Ten Basketball tournament! That seems like ages ago even though it was less than a week! So, again...sad to report OSU swept the Big Ten tournament...the men played great as well & won. ANYWAY...the fun part was the Big Ten after party we were invited to! We weren't told what the appropriate dress code was for the event, so we played it safe & dressed up...and BOY, did we overdress!! We walked into a room full of people who probably had been in suits all week working for the tournament & were now all in jeans & their favorite team's tshirt! As Michelle & I walked through the room in our dresses & Kevin in his stylin' outfit...we definitely turned some heads! LOL. Overall the party turned out to be a blast! We hit the dance floor & had a lot of fun, but the OSU fans showed everyone up with the cutest little boy that was "break dancing" and an older, rather portly guy that was also breakin' it down! Both were very entertaining as were all the other dancers on the floor! I got to share a moment with some MSU fans as the band played Journey's, "Don't Stop Believin" and we all belted out the line, "just a city boy, born & raised in SOUTH DETROIT"! It definitely made me miss home, especially the good times it reminded me of with Mel & Maris (miss you girls!) I also got a chance to meet up with my friend Gina from High School who was in town for the tourney, so fun!!
After Indy we got word we were heading to LAS VEGAS! We thought it was too good to be true, but we headed West & planned a stop in Kansas City & one in Denver before we landed in Sin City. We had a great, successful day of marketing some of our new products to the folks of Kansas City & got to enjoy the gorgeous 70 degree, sunny weather while we worked! As we were about to head West to Denver we got a call that we were being re-routed to Orlando (see, it WAS too good to be true!) I was pretty bummed because I wanted to see Colorado & even more...one of my best friends from High School, Tory! We were both really disappointed that didn't work out, but that's my life these days...gotta go where the wind blows! So, off to Orlando it was!
We stayed the night in Nashville, which was St. Patrick's Day! We had been driving all day & planned to leave fairly early the next day, so I settled for a Guinness at the hotel bar instead of going into the city...but man, I need to spend some time there, Nashville is such a fun city, Tennessee in general is awesome, traveling through it was gorgeous! Overall, traveling from Indy to Orlando we passed through eight states! Craziness!
Another great thing about our recent travels is that I got to stop at three more baseball stadiums! Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Busch Stadium in St. Louis & Turner Field in Atlanta! The Braves are my second favorite baseball team so I was really pumped to stop there! So that brings my current total to eight stadiums on the road! Since we're in Florida & SO CLOSE to spring training...I'm really hoping we get a day off so I can go to a Tigers game, even if I don't get to visit Joker Marchant Stadium...any field will do for me to see my boys!
Well, this was just an update on my life on the road I suppose. Some of you are probably wondering why I didn't mention "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter"...that deserves a blog post of it's own, stay tuned. For now, love y'all! Muah!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Hello again from Indianapolis! Last week was the Women's Big Ten Basketball Tournament...and sadly I have to report that Ohio State were the champions (I'm not discounting their hard work & skills, being from Michigan I'm NOT an Ohio State fan...understandable, right?). Next up is the Men's Big Ten Basketball Tournament this week, Thursday - Sunday...should be a bit more exciting, sadly...women's sports don't attract as many fans as men's.
Monday I was blessed with a visit from my parents!! I was so happy to see them, even though it's only been about three months since our last visit. We watched a couple movies together, shared a couple meals, had a few drinks & this morning went to breakfast before they had to go home. I was so happy to see them, yet so sad to see them leave...so was I satisfied with their visit or depressed because they left? As humans, adults, Americans...are we ever satisfied? It's a thought that has been brought to my attention after listening to a sermon from Mars Hill Church on Pastor Mark's sermon series on the book of Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, where he talks about Solomon & his attempt to find pleasure in all the gifts given to him by God & he was never satisfied.
I've thought at times I would be satisfied once I graduated college, once I found a great job that allowed me to use my skills and do what I've always wanted to do, once I found the perfect man for me & got married, had kids, owned our own home, etc. Or maybe I'll be satisfied when I lose 20 lbs...or better yet, when I get to my ultimate goal weight. As I've been through my weight loss journey, I've achieved so much...more than I ever intended, but after each achievement, it leaves me wanting more. I lost 40 lbs, but I still have more to go to get to my "goal"...but once I hit my goal, will I be satisfied? I have a great job that I love...but I can't help but think about the next steps, where will this job lead me?
I'm not saying it's a bad thing to have goals, I think goals are important! But sometimes, maybe we should sit back & appreciate what we've done so far, fully look at what we've accomplished and be happy and thankful that we've had the strength, knowledge and understanding to overcome what we have...and to thank the people that have helped us along the way!
Today as I indulged in a Starbuck's Java Chip Frappuccino with whipped cream I smiled for a couple different reasons. One, for the person that lead me to these delicious treats & the fun times we shared, two, for the fact that I probably did some serious damage to my Points+ account for today and three because I may have lost 40 lbs, finished multiple 5K races, a sprint triathlon and a half marathon in the last couple years...but I'm still able to enjoy certain things along my journey to reach my goals! It also made me think about how I need to reflect more often on the planned and unplanned stops along the way of my "life road" and although they might seem like setbacks or road blocks, they're often blessings in disguise that allow me to appreciate where I've been and not focus so much on the next step to satisfaction.
Until next time, blessings to you all...muah!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Hello from Indianapolis!
Well, I'm here in Indy for a total of 19 days which is nearly unheard of for my current job! We're staying at an extended stay hotel so it gave us the opportunity to go GROCERY SHOPPING! Wow, I don't think I've ever been so excited to grocery shop...AND since we're in Indiana, I got to go to a MEIJER! It's funny the little things that make me happy & make me think of home, like a simple trip to Meijer (for those of you that don't know it's a grocery store in the Michigan/Indian/Ohio & I think Kentucky area, my regular grocery store growing up!) So, I stocked up on all healthy foods & snacks & LOTS of fruit. So far, so good...before leaving Delaware I got the opportunity to go to a Weight Watchers meeting & happy to say that I'm at my lowest weight...ever! :) I want to keep this up (or down in this case)!
Our first event in Indianapolis was an Indiana Pacer's basketball game vs. the Phoenix Suns. Now, you all know my love of sports...but I have to say basketball is one of my least favorite & I prefer college hoops over pro. BUT in saying that, I love all sports & I definitely love the atmosphere of sporting events in general. So, as far as the two teams go, I'm not very savvy on who plays for what teams, I think I may know a combined three people for the teams. As we were unloading our equipment from the truck onto dollies to be taken to our event site there were players coming into the loading bay area & parking their sweet cars or coming in on buses, etc. At one point a large bus pulls up & about ten people total were on it, probably four players & some other administrative/coaching people. As the typical basketball players exited the bus one got off, very short, long blond scraggly hair and OMGOODNESS...it was Steve Nash, one of the few players I knew from the teams! So I turned to Michelle & in a very intense whisper said, "HOLY CRAP, THAT'S STEVE NASH" and she was like, "Steve who?" Ahh! Now I was working & he seemed pretty focused, so I didn't snap a photo or anything like that, but he did walk within feet of me & I was pretty excited about that!
I was hoping to see some other athlete sightings here in Indy since the NFL Combine is happening down at the Lucas Oil Stadium downtown, but no such luck! Michelle & I went to dinner at P.F. Changs on Sunday after failing at finding a church with an evening service & I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with how tasty the food was. I'm not a HUGE fan of Chinese food, although I do like it on occasion. I went all out, got the lettuce wrap appetizer, the sesame chicken entree & then we shared the banana spring roll with coconut-pineapple ice cream for dessert. I looked up the Points+ values on Dottie's Weight Loss Zone website & was shocked to see how low the Points values were! Everything was delicious, especially the dessert! I'm more of a chocolate girl when it comes to sweets, but this was BY FAR the best dessert I've ever eaten! Now, when I got home & looked at the nutritional information on the actual P.F. Chang's website...I realized I had made a big mistake! What I thought was a 19 Points+ meal turned out to be 48!!!! But, I tracked it & earned some Activity Points...and I'm still in the green for the week. AND I'm not disappointed, like I said...that dessert was DIVINE!
Yesterday I got the opportunity to take the car (thanks Kevin & Michelle) for a bit & go visit my family in Roann, Indiana! I was able to see my Grandma Collins, my brother Mike who was visiting, cousins Melissa & Billy, Billy's wife Jeanettah as well as their sweet baby boy, Dade & my Aunt & Uncle, Cathy & Bill! It was MUCH needed family time & I'm SO glad I got the chance to go visit with them for a couple hours! Another great piece of family news is that my mom & dad will be visiting next week while I'm here in Indy! I cannot wait to see them!
Well, have to be going now...another Pacer's game tonight! Maybe I'll get a chance to see Tyler Hansbrough (basically the only Pacer player I know)!
Oh & p.s. I'm RIDICULOUSLY excited that baseball season has started! Spring Training games & highlights on Sports Center make me like...so happy, so, so happy!! Go TIGERS!! <3 Muah!