Category Archives: vacation

Bridge Over Troubled Water

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Although I had seen images of it my whole life, nothing prepared me for seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in person. It is massive! I guess that’s how lots of things go- pictures are just not able to do them justice. I can’t wait until the days I can finally see Macchu Picchu, the Millau Viaduct, Petra, or the Cherry Blossoms in Japan with my own two eyes and mark them off my list! Of course my long-awaited trip to California allowed me to knock a few things off that list, one of them being the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sit back and enjoy the view, but believe me when pictures can’t really do justice to this brobdingnagian bridge

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First picture

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Longtime chums finally at the Bridge!
For the record- the sun was blinding so our faces look rather comical.

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I love sun glare photos

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Lenticular art that showed the progress of the bridge through the years

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Ashley and I spent a few hours taking pictures, walking nearly all the way across the bridge, and wandering around the gift shop. It was definitely a fun little half-day trip while in San Francisco, and the views were priceless!

Have you ever been to the Golden Gate Bridge? 

Save Me, San Francisco

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It’s almost been a month since my return from California, and I have yet to type up all the adventures that were had. I guess part of me felt that sharing those moments will stir up all sorts of memories from the trip that are embedded in my mind, and only leave me heartbroken that I’m in North Carolina and not California.

But alas, for my sake and the sake of auld lang syne, here are some images and happenings from the first few days in San Francisco!

 

 

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Walking shoes on and ready to explore!

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Union Square

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at the Chinatown Gate!

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I like this shot

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contrasting architecture

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busy streets

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My last name is an alley!

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alleyway map

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fortune cookie factory!

This fortune cookie factory is kind of off the beaten path, but is a definite tourist find. I mean, who doesn’t love fortune cookies? The space is tiny, so be prepared to squeeze in for a look at the cookie-making process! They charge $1 for a picture, and the bags of fresh cookies are cheap and delicious! They would make a cute souvenir… if you can resist temptation to eat them yourself!

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Am I the only person who always takes pictures of signs?

 

Once Ashley & I figured out how to get to Fisherman’s Wharf, it became our stomping ground- going there to grab In-N-Out, going into those cheap-o stores (that we I, like any tourist, couldn’t get enough of), simply walk around, or go to Starbucks. We felt comfortable there, as we knew where things were, and where to go to catch the bus we needed! 🙂

 

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battleship + birds

 

 

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Alcatraz from Pier 39

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the sign says it all

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I loved the boats in the Bay… so photogenic!

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The Golden Gate Bridge from Pier 39

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It makes quite the statement, no?

Because San Francisco was so chilly and I didn’t pack enough layers, I was constantly holding and drinking coffee! Not so great for my budget, but if it kept me warm, who cares? Seriously, I consumed so much coffee just to help warm me up!

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Coffee and the Bay

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Meeting the locals!

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That sky & that water? Loved it!

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These full-time sun-bathers sure do have the life!

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The sun starting to go down leaves the Bay in shadow

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row upon row upon row

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“when the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the Bay…”

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Ghirardelli

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One day, Ashley and I went to Pier 39 and walked around. I think we went into at least half the stores (mainly trying to stay warm) and going upstairs & downstairs & back upstairs.

We found one super fun store with mind-puzzles and brain-bogglers and we spent over an hour in there! Of course I felt really dumb at first with a wooden box puzzle, but then once I got the hang of the puzzles, I enjoyed them! I’m definitely a nerd, because I think working in a store like that would be a blast!

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I’ve heard this place is amazing & has a killer view!

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Ashley on the pier

 

 

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A personal favorite of mine- Ghirardelli Square! (mainly because the smell of chocolate is in the air!)

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SUN

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Cute little park area

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there were swimmers in the Bay!

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I really don’t know why I like to photograph birds…

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playing in the water

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Park

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look familiar?

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a Ghirardelli chocolate cupcake at Kara’s Cupcakes!

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I don’t know why I took so many pictures of my feet and the street, but seeing the street name on the sidewalk helped me keep my bearings with where I was! 😉

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uh oh!

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view from my window at the hostel

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(im)patiently waiting in In-N-Out!!!

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Welcome to the Wharf

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(let’s just ignore my awkward face)
This was my travel outfit for the plane. I was comfy & warm until I got to San Fran…then I wished I had thicker clothes!

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map of SF in the hostel

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Pointing to my last name! (which is not Pho)

After unsuccessfully finding a restaurant in Chinatown with “Americanized Chinese” (I’m looking at you, Ash! hah) I was famished and started searching for the closest decent-looking place. (some places on the outskirts of Chinatown were sketchyyy) We stumbled into L & L and although I wasn’t too impressed with the food, the cashier was friendly, and the place was warmer than outside and we could sit down.

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Hawaiian BBQ chicken for lunch

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BOUDIN BAKERY GOODNESSS

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The gator bread at Boudin!

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sea lions sunning

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again, interesting signage

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I would trip

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inside the brain puzzle games store

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sunset

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challenge: spot the team from NC!

After walking around the pier for hours, Ashley and I were hungry and ready to be warm. We opted for soup bread bowls at Boudin’s, and proceeded to wait in line and snag a table in the corner! The soup was sooo good and worth the wait!

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the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. And the bread bowl was amazing too! @Boudin’s

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Oh hey Rosie!

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yep

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spelled my name right! Way to go, Starbucks!

It’s funny because there were Starbucks everywhere in San Francisco! Some of them were tiny, and they were always full. I loved having my Starbucks card because I bought so much coffee that I ended up getting a few free drinks! 🙂

Believe it or not, those are just a snippet of the photos I took in San Francisco on days 1 & 2. (You better believe it) I was constantly pulling out my phone or camera to take a picture of a sign (as you can tell), food, the water, you name it! I didn’t want to miss a thing, or forget a thing.

 

Next up? Oh, just photos of the most iconic bridge in the States 😉

 

 

 

 

Hey Guess What

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It’s “Hey Guess What” time, also known as “I’m too busy to write a blog post about my California adventures and upload all of those photos, so instead I’m going to tell you about my crazy life lately.”

Betcha didn’t know what you were getting into when you decided to read this post, right? 😉

Without further adieu, hey guess what-

 

– this North Carolina girl has been California-sick since returning home. I miss the warmer weather, the people I met, the languages, culture, and the city-life. Never thought I would say I missed the city!

– I’m over halfway through with Anna Karenina! I’ve been reading it off and on since August, but lately I’ve been reading a few chapters every night on my Nook. Surprisingly, I’m really enjoying it!

– I’m currently tutoring a GED Writing student. Actually, I’m currently blogging while he writes an essay, but technically I’m still tutoring.

– I started watching Downton Abbey last night! The first episode was alright… I’m curious to see what happens next though and figure out what all of the hype is about! 😉

– Cream soda is probably one of my favorite simple splurges at Foster’s Market. I usually stick with water at restaurants, but Boylan‘s Cream Soda gets me every time!  (Foster’s has an amazing pastries/candy selection so sometimes I’m tempted by those things as well!)

– This week (and last for that matter) have been super hectic at work. We’ve been intaking/testing new students, having new tutor orientations, and gearing up for tutor training next week which is a whole other ordeal! I’m working nearly 11 hours each day, and will be so glad when things slow back down!

– There’s a Dirty Girl 5K coming to the area, and I’m hoping to sign up! Any local chicas want to be on my team?

– I got up early and worked out yesterday. Despite the fact that I thought I was going to pass out (too much tabata on an empty stomach. Oops?), I had so much energy throughout the day and slept so well last night!

– Tuesday was a great day overall. I woke up early and got a great start to my day by working out, cooked breakfast & lunch, made it to work early, tested some new students, got a latte with a friend, tutored my student, started a new online Bible study, and was in bed by 11. Wohoo!

– My GED student just got confused on how to determine when to use “it’s” and “its” and I had to Google it. And I’m a Linguistics major. Fail.

– Don’t ya hate how life can get so busy and you can’t seem to make time for friends? I do. That’s why I’m glad some friends from college were in my neck of the woods Friday night- I met them for dinner and we talked for hours!

– My cousin and I have been going to church together for a few weeks on Saturday evenings. I prefer going on Saturdays, and it’s been nice hanging out with him outside of family get togethers. We spent 30 minutes in the parking lot talking about life! (And for the record, that’s a record- the most he’s talked to me in years!)

– I have been having the craziest dreams lately- one night it was about someone I’ve talked to but haven’t met in person, and last night I had a dream I was pregnant. It was sooo crazy… it felt so real! I don’t know where these dreams have been coming from but I wish they didn’t seem so real!

– I’ve been emailing a friend from Australia who I met in LA and it’s fun finding out about life “Down Under!” I’m definitely going to be vacationing there in the future.

– AWOLNATION is going to be in Raleigh in March. Anyone want to go to the concert with me?!

– Speaking of vacations, I’m already looking forward to spring break this year. Hopefully I can take a little trip! 🙂

– The past four nights I have debated whether I should read, blog, or watch Netflix before bed. Clearly, blogging has taken the backseat :/

– Apparently snow is in the forecast for my area tomorrow night? That’s just according to twitter and word of

mouth, so I’m not sure how reliable that is!

– Sauteed garlic, kale & chickpeas are a new favorite combo for me. So quick, easy & tasty!

– Um, a GED student showed up for class at 7:56 and class ends at 8:00. Crazy.

– I’m counting down the minutes until I can leave work and go home. My bed (and vanilla soy milk) is calling my name. And of course there’s still the inner debate between watching Netflix or reading Anna Karenina… what would you choose?

 

I promise a San Francisco blog post in the next few days! 🙂

 

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

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Two months ago while my family was in Florida on vacation, we hit up the Disney theme parks. I am finally finishing up my Disney recap, with pictures from Magic Kingdom. You can check out Epcot (my favorite), Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at their respective links 🙂

 

 

A few stories from Magic Kingdom:

– The second time we rode Haunted Mansion as a family, (I was with bro, parents were together) we were in the graveyard scene sitting on a slope and all of a sudden we stopped moving. (the ride is constantly moving at a pretty decent pace) Bro thought it was just part of the ride, but a voice came over the intercom and said “Some ghosts have been messing around and caused delays in the ride. Please remain seated so they won’t get you!” (something creepy like that) Oh my gosh it was crazy! I quickly tweeted an SOS! 🙂 Finally after 3-4 minutes it was fixed and we were moving again!

– Dad, Bro and I kept riding the Mad Tea Party ride over and over that night… usually the workers herd a bunch of people into the ride and make them find an empty teacup. Bro ran over to a pink one, and about that time, I noticed a little kid running to that one too. The kid saw Bro and stopped, turned around and started crying because there were no more teacups left and he had wanted that one. We felt SO bad! Especially since we offered for the kid and dad to have the pink teacup multiple times… the dad just said they would wait for the next go-round. But seriously, we felt bad! It’s not like we didn’t offer to let them have it… oh well.

– The line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was out the doors. Seriously, it was crazy long! Mom insisted that we ride it, since it’s one of the few rides they had at Magic Kingdom when she went as a little girl. So we waited. And waited. And waited. And finally after 1 hour, 48 minutes (yes I timed it), we were on the little boat. You wanna know how long the ride lasted??? 6 minutes 29 seconds. What a waste. But at least Mom got to experience one of her favorite rides!

– One night, Padre and I went to Magic Kingdom because they were open late; we had plans to ride Space Mountain as many times as we could before closing. We got there, waited maybe 15 minutes, rode once. Got off, hopped back in line, waited 8 minutes, rode again. Each time the line got shorter and shorter and our wait was quicker. We rode a dozen times within an hour! And each time we tried a new seat…. front, middle, back, front, middle, back. Talk about FUN! It’s not the best coaster I’ve been on, but it sure is fun! I had my hands up, and I was “wohooo”ing at each twist and crazy turn! And you know how they snap a picture in the ride? Well, my faces were epic…that’s all I’m going to say about that! 😛

– Mom is big on family pictures, so throughout the day we would randomly stop at one of the Disney photographers and they would snap some pictures of us. At one point, this young girl was the photographer and she told us to stand close, smile and say “Disney!” She asked how we knew each other… “we’re family” Mom answered. Then the girl proceeded to ask if Bro and I were boyfriend and girlfriend!!! Umm what?! No way, Jose! I think that is the most awkward thing when people think that about us!!! We posed and smiled again. Then she took a picture of just Mom and Padre…and she told Padre to “kiss your wife!” Argh. I should have looked away but I couldn’t do so quickly enough. Let’s just say that the photographer was interesting and we were talking about our experience with her all day!

– Bro and I had our silhouettes done on Main Street. We got them done the very first time we went to Disney in 2001, and we decided it was time for an update. I think the artists who do them are so talented! They turned out great and Mom loved them!

 

Although I am not a little kid anymore, I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Florida and Disney World. There’s just something so magical about it… hence the popular “Where Dreams Come True” saying.  Sure I was the only person there my age without a boyfriend, fiance, husband or kids, but I didn’t care. (Ok maybe I did a litttttle) When in Disney, do as the children do- have fun, be a kid, and don’t care what others think!!! [That should be a daily motto, right?!]

What’s your favorite Disney park??? Ever been to Magic Kingdom? What was your favorite part of the park?

On Being Wanted

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Totally random post on this Saturday, but oh well.

Everyone wants to feel wanted in some way or another… like they are of value to someone.

I like to feel wanted at work- when my coworkers say that they need me to do something for them because they just don’t know how or don’t have the time.  I like to feel wanted at home- when my parents need my help around the house, cleaning up, making dinner, or running errands. I like to feel wanted by my literacy student – when he tells me “thank you for your time and for teaching me, I am so thankful.”  I like to feel wanted by my friends- when they desperately need some girl talk time, or want to do something fun.

The point of it all is that (as girls especially) we wanted to be wanted. It’s part of who we are inside. And whether we find ourselves being wanted by our father, friends, boyfriend, the Internet, God, or some other person/thing, we’re going to search until we have that void filled.

Lately I haven’t been feeling very wanted. Yeah, I warned you this post would be random. At work, there hasn’t been much for me to do, and therefore I feel like my presence is a waste. At home, I’ve been on my own a lot lately… for dinner, on weekends… my parents and brother always have their own plans (be it work or dates) and I haven’t really been needed around. Even at tutoring lately, my student hasn’t been as thankful as he has in the past… and I know he appreciates the fact that I’m teaching and helping him, but he hasn’t voiced that… and it makes me feel unwanted. And as for my friends… well, I haven’t been making a great effort lately to spend time with them so obviously that creates a void in our friendships, thus making me feel unimportant and not needed.

And here comes the area I’ve been most unwanted… relationships. Oh yes, I’m talking about the big bad dating world. I promise I’m not one of those girls who has to have a man in her life, but because I am single and not getting any younger, sometimes I feel like I need a man in my life… I need a relationship. Time and time I’m reminded again to wait on God’s timing and the man He has planned for me, but it’s so hard to wait on that in our society. On weekends (or even weekdays) when I go out to a restaurant, grocery store, even at UNC, I see couples everywhere… and although it’s cute it is kind of annoying. It just makes me want to fill that void even more! And because I’ve been feeling unwanted lately in different areas of my life, I keep wondering if I will ever be wanted for a relationship. Wahh Wahh, right?

Moving on…

Friday morning all of that unwantedness (I am a Linguist, I can make that word up) disappeared when at 6:15 (on my day off, mind you) I heard little puppy cries, my mom trying to corral him into his crate, and footsteps back and forth in the kitchen. I rolled out of bed, shoved my glasses on my sleepy face, slid on my worn out bedroom slippers, and trudged downstairs. “I’ll take him” I muttered to Mom, and I picked up this little ball of fluff and began to whisper sweet nothings into his ears, calming him down. I was needed by this puppy. He had only been in our house and lives for a mere 9 hours, and was still scared and timid and probably confused. He needed someone to love on him and cuddle him.

awkward first picture with Max!

Let me just say that if having a puppy is anything like having a baby, I would make a horrible mother in some aspects… whenever he whimpers or cries, I go to pick him up. When he uses the bathroom, I praise him. When he picks up something and starts chewing it, I pull it out of his slobbery mouth. When he tries to jump off the couch, I block him and gently sit him down on the floor. Basically, he’s like my little baby already. And I don’t want him to get hurt or be in pain. One day in our family and I’m already smitten with Max. But I think it’s because he makes me feel wanted. 

sleeping on one of my tshirts!

My Friday night was spent playing with him, feeding him, taking him outside, letting him chase me around the living room, cuddling with him on the couch while I read… this little pint-sized pup filled the void of emptiness… he made me feel wanted and needed, even if it is just because of survival needs.

So men, back off. Because for now I’ve got a little man in my life (besides Finnick) who needs me. 😉

And who is quite the snuggler 🙂

Fell asleep at my feet while I was putting my makeup on today

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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On our third day in Disney, we ventured to Hollywood Studios, formerly known as MGM Studios.

I remember this park used to be one of my favorites (yes I know there are only 4 parks and you can only have one favorite) because of the more adult rides (Rock N Roll roller coaster & the Tower of Terror) and lots of shows. Sadly, on this trip to Disney, we didn’t have time to see all (or any) of the shows because we were plain worn out after going nonstop for days.

I feel like we got more of the experience of Hollywood though- we sat on the street and watched the comedian street performers as they did their little shows every hour or so. They were HILARIOUS. And so much fun to watch.

When we walked to a different area of the park, we stopped and watched a band sing a few songs. Again, this was something we had never really experienced before because on previous trips we were either in line for a ride or at a show or in a restaurant so we missed the little things like street performers and musicians.

We did hit up the BIG ride in the park- the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. It was all the rage so we had to snag fast passes in order to ride. It’s basically a shooting game… you aim at plates, ducks, balloons, etc. Usually I am bad at those games but I am proud to say that I beat bro 😉

Without further adieu, here are my few pictures from Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

Animal Kingdom

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Our second day at Disney World (weeks ago!) was spent in Animal Kingdom! It’s never been a favorite park of mine, but this time I actually slowed down my Olympic speed-walking pace and looked around. I noticed the workers; from Africa to Asia to Europe to the Americas. I noticed the animals…. never would have thought I would see those there, right?! :p I noticed the masses of people acting like animals trying to be the first in line for a ride or ice cream. I sure love people watching and Disney is a great place to do so.

Anyways, how about I get to the pictures? 😉

I hope you enjoyed traveling throughout Animal Kingdom with my family!