This story began, as most good stories do, with an idea. It was over a year ago when Sarah started planting the seed of an idea that she and I should run a Disney half marathon together. It was several more months before that seed sprouted, and we actually signed up to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland. The most I had ever run before was a 12k race, so the growing process quickly began!
The obstacles seemed enormous (You can read more about the beginning training process here.) The first time I ran, let's just say I didn't feel so great. Three months into my training, I experienced shooting pains in my knee that were so terrible I limped for weeks after a long run. I was forced to take a several month break right when my training should have been ramping up, and prayed that I would even be able to run the Tinkerbell.
This story is an entire blog post in itself, but suffice it to say that God was mighty to save, and the week before the race I ran 14 miles feeling blessed to be able to run 14 miles rather than blessed to be done with them! I wasn't experiencing any pain, and my knee was good as new!
May 7th, Sarah and I loaded our paraphernalia up--convincing ourselves that we were justified in over-packing because it was a road trip and we had all that car space, so why not fill it up? We zipped through Oregon with the sun in our faces, a pit stop for daisy-chain-making, and the suspenseful words of Agatha Christie to fill the miles of I-5 roadside.
When we finally made it to our first destination--Redding, CA--we were overjoyed to get to spend time with our friend Charae who was living there at the time. We had so much fun going shopping at the mall, catching up, and talking with her grandparents! Of course, we also had to make time for the California-famous In-N-Out Burger! Delish!
The next morning, Charae made us an amazing breakfast, and thus fortified, we set out for our next destination: Disneyland or bust! It was with great apprehension that we headed Los Angeles-ward, and we stopped in Sacramento for an extended lunch in order to make sure we avoided LA rush hour. After touring old town Sacramento, we got back on the road, and when the time came to enter Los Angeles, Sarah gripped the wheel, we said a prayer, and dove in!
Amazingly, we made it out alive with nary a horror story to share! God blessed us with fairly smooth sailing. (Although there was that time that the lanes seemed to multiply from everywhere, and Sarah asked desperately: "How many lanes are there?!" Only 8 lanes going each direction...no biggie.)
We were two tired girls that night!
The next day, our mission was to pick up our race packets, which was easy as pie. After that, we were doing some shopping in Downtown Disney when we came across a curious hubbub. Across from a theater in Downtown Disney was spread a long blue carpet, with fences on either side and people already milling around. When we asked a worker what all the fuss was about, she informed us that the world premier of the movie Tomorrowland was to be held there that evening and if we wanted to see famous people, we could wander back over at 4:30.
Well, wander we did, and as you can see by the photographic evidence above, we saw George Clooney, and also Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, not to mention the scores of celebrities who elicited shrieks from the fans and blank shrugs from us. (-;
That evening, early to bed was our goal, for the race started at 5:30 am! We rolled out of bed, swallowed some water, and loaded up our race gear. As soon as we walked outside our hotel into the cool, crisp, California morning, we were joined by hundreds of other women heading the same direction. Everyone was decked out with various nods to the Tinkerbell theme: Sarah and I donned tutus, tiara headbands from Mama, and shirts that said, "I don't sweat, I sparkle!"
We waited in the dark dawn while fireworks exploded overhead and the National Anthem played.
We sprinted forward along with 16,000 other people when the starting gun went off.
We raced through the Sleeping Beauty Castle with huge grins and faces upturned to the rapturous morning sky.
We wove through Disneyland, dashing around the teacup ride, past the horse stables behind the scenes, and around Paradise Pier in California Adventureland.
Inspiring anthems in the background kept us paced, and the onlookers that packed the sidelines kept us inspired.
Past the block full of Red Hat ladies, into the city of Anaheim, with the sun now warm above us we ran. And while each mile had its own challenges, each mile had its own delights: the Chinese coach who yelled at all of us to keep going, and the woman in the wheelchair who would not stop wheeling even though all her comrades had disappeared in the distance.
When I rounded the corner and saw the finish line, I sprinted for all I was worth, and the finishing was indeed worth every mile of training and every ounce of pain. The official stats are that I came in at 2 hours, 10 minutes, 77th in my division. It was the most amazing race I have ever participated in.
For the rest of the day, as you can imagine, we limped around like old grannies, but the camaraderie of the other thousands of women limping around was special in its own right!
We started and ended the day with fireworks, and the evening fireworks over the Sleeping Beauty Castle were especially breathtaking.
But we still had two more days in the "Happiest Place on Earth" in which we...
...Collected adorable stuffed animals! We started the trip with only Sarah's panda, and ended it Hello Kitty and the adorable menagerie of Tsum Tsums (the mini Disney characters) to fill any nooks left in the car!
...rode the teacup ride at night, and both agreed it was the best way to ride it!
...rode California Screamin' twice, and screamed loudly, and Tower of Terror twice, and were delightfully terrified.
...took a lot of sunlit selfies.
...observed part of a proposal (at one of those portrait booths, the artist was painting the couple with the man down on one knee, ring in hand! At the reveal of the portrait, the guy would enact it, pulling out the ring and going down to one knee.). And we also got to watch a snippet of Tomorrowland.
...found Flynn Rider himself. (They just can't get his nose right, sadly.)
...and when we weren't busy with other things, we ate. Clouds of Cotton Candy and the most gigantic turkey leg you have ever seen in your life gave us a very balanced diet!
The World of Color show was the fitting finale to both of our other two nights in Disneyland. The second time we saw it was our last night, and as the last fountain fell back into the water, and the last light turned out, we said good-bye to Disneyland and walked back to our hotel full of happy memories.
The next day, we drove by the Hollywood sign and up to Santa Barbara where we ate a picnic lunch and enjoyed the feeling of being beach bums for one blissful hour!
Then we made it up to Sarah's Grandma Nancy and Papa Jack's house, where we were welcomed even late at night by her energetic and young-at-heart Grandma. She is definitely a kindred spirit!
The next day brought new wonderful adventures: It was Sarah's birthday, and since her grandparents were busy in the morning, we headed over the Golden Gate bridge and into San Francisco for a few hours.There we discovered piano stairs. Piano Stairs, people! And they played notes as you stepped up them! Of course, we were nerds and walked up in thirds, 'cause that's just what you do!
I scouted out a Victorian tea room that I had seen the last time I was in San Francisco, and was thrilled to find it was still in business! Of course we had to visit the "Crown and Crumpet", and reveled in the pink girliness of it all! (Notice also our matching Minnie shirts from Disneyland!)
Sarah with her Grandma Nancy at her birthday dinner!
Papa Jack, Sarah, and Grandma Nancy, with the beautiful bay behind them.
The following morning brought the bittersweet moment of the trip: the final day, and the hours seemed to be slipping through our fingers too quickly. We packed up our suitcases, lovingly stowed our souvenirs, and wistfully said goodby to Grandma Nancy and Papa Jack. Thank you for letting us stay with you!
We attacked the 10 hour drive that loomed over us. The route was familiar now, but the tale of To Kill a Mockingbird now occupied the hours, alternated with Korean soundtracks and balanced with good conversation.
Our "fast food" dinner!
As we crossed the border into Oregon we felt instantly back in the Northwest when we drove into a cloud and rain (that we hadn't seen in 10 days) descended on our homecoming. As home drew closer, we itched to hug our families and regale them with all of our adventures. But when the moment finally came to say good-bye, it was hard to believe the road trip to remember was now over. I fell asleep that night to the memories of the road bumping under the tires, the sun warming my face, and the smile of an amazing friend, knowing I made memories for a lifetime.