Magical Memories Monday

With the current health crisis in our country and all over the world, I wanted to take some time to reflect on some happy memories, to stop stressing over our current situation, and to dream for what’s to come when we beat this. Join me in a few minutes of reliving one of the most memorable vacations I’ve ever been on!

My husband and I started dating in early 2011 and got married in late 2013. He was in school when we started dating and stayed in school (pre-requisites and then grad school) until graduation in December 2017. We love to travel, but were very restricted with both time and money. There were so many places we wanted to go, and since he couldn’t start working yet, we started out on a cross-country road trip in January 2018. When else would we have the time to just travel for 3 weeks???


We live in southeast Tennessee, and our “goal destination” was Disneyland in California. Because we had a good bit of time, we took it slowly. We only had a few days that we drove more than 6 hours because we stopped many places along the way. We went through Laurel, Mississippi (featured in HGTV’s show Home Town), Monroe, Louisiana (Duck Dynasty), Waco, TX (everyone knows Chip and Jo from HGTV’s Fixer Upper, right?), and stopped at several Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives along the way.


Our first big stop was the Grand Canyon. It was late January, so there was snow on the ground in places, but it was a fairly warm day considering. There are really no words to describe the Grand Canyon. It looks cool in photos, but there’s no way to truly grasp the greatness of until you’re actually there. It's gorgeous.



Our next big stop was San Diego (after a quick In-n-Out burger). We visited the zoo, watched the sun set over the ocean, ate at a west coast fish market, had pizza in Little Italy, walked around the port, and wished we had set aside a little more time to stay there, because there was so much we didn’t get to see.



One week into our trip, it was finally time for the part I was most looking forward to- Disneyland! If you’re not familiar with Disneyland, its quite different than Walt Disney World. Disneyland is much smaller- only 2 parks and 3 resort hotels. Its literally in the middle of the city of Anaheim. Disneyland Park, the original park built by Walt Disney, is very similar to Magic Kingdom. Though I needed the map for specific attractions, I could find my way around fairly easily. California Adventure was a totally new thing for us. There’s nothing like it in Florida, so I was very excited to see it! I wasn’t sure what I would think, but I loved it. My favorite part was Cars Land, it felt like being right in the middle of Radiator Springs! I could go into far more detail about these few days of the trip, but that’s another post in itself!



After Disneyland, we headed back east, but took a more northern route. We drove to LA, through Las Vegas and then Utah, and over the Colorado Rockies. We stopped along the way, especially in Colorado. Being southerners, neither of us had ever seen that much snow! By then it was the first week of February, Super Bowl Sunday to be exact, and there was over 3 feet of snow on the ground. After Colorado, we drove through Kansas… as quickly as possible. I don’t think it was a tornado that swept up Dorothy’s house, I think it was just the everyday Kansas wind! Keeping the car on the road was not an easy task! We then headed for Pawhuska, Oklahoma, home of The Pioneer Woman’s restaurant, which was the best food we had the whole trip! We had been gone from home over 2 weeks at this point and missed our puppy, so we went into Arkansas to see my family before heading back to Tennessee.



I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of road trips. I don’t like sitting still. I don’t do well when I’m confined. But this trip was amazing. We got to see so many new places and spend some great time together. We talked, we listened to podcasts, we got to slow down and do what we wanted on our own time! After years of school and before starting a very demanding job, this was just what we needed! Was it stressful at times? Yes. Did it cost more money than we hoped? Yes (California is expensive, y’all!) but it was worth it. Would we do it again? YES! In fact, we are already talking about doing a “northern loop” through Montana, Mount Rushmore, Seattle, and the Redwoods in a few years when our twin girls are a bit older!




With what’s currently going on in the world- everyone stuck at home, businesses closing, people getting very sick, and lots of uncertainty- its nice to be able to look back on these memories, remember all the fun things, and look forward to going on new adventures when all this chaos has settled down! 



Kara Brown is a Travel Advisor with Coasters & Castles Travel AND a new mom to twin girls! She loves planning vacations for her clients to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, aboard Disney Cruise Line and more! Reach Kara by email: kbrown@coastersandcastlestravel.com.