The Christmas Town Adventure

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In Williamsburg, VA at Busch Gardens, an annual event takes place between November 25th - January 2 called Christmas Town. The park is decorated with over 8 million Christmas lights, the most in North America. Walking through England, France, Ireland, Canada, Germany, and Italy you really get to experience how different areas of the world celebrate Christmas. Hot cocoa, live shows, Christmas music, colored lights, carolers, and shops with authentic merchandise puts you right into the Christmas spirit!

Before arriving, my wife and I carefully planned how we would enjoy the park in a manner that we could experience almost everything. The first show we saw was "Miracles", which was a ballet musical. The lights and vocals were very nice and enjoyable. This show is located in Italy.

As we walked through the park we gazed upon the lights and listened to the music as we were surrounded by families and smiling faces. Our next stop was the light show located in Germany that synchronized with the rhythm of Christmas music. It was so amazing to see all of the lights dance.

 

 

We then made our way back to England by the sky lift to the train, which took us to France to watch the next Christmas show. "Twas The Night." is a very entertaining ice skating show with live singing and dancing. There is a ice skater that performed extremely well; come to find out, he was the Olympian Elvis Stojko! The show featured fireworks and It was held in a big outdoor arena where at least 5,000 people can sit and watch.    

Lastly, we walked through France into Ireland where we watched our last show of the night. "Gloria" is a more spiritual musical about the birth of Jesus Christ into the world. This was my favorite show because of the biblical references, the gifted singers, live orchestra, and unbelievable graphics. It was quite an emotional experience!

Overall, Christmas Town was a great experience that I will now be adding to my family traditions during the Christmas season. The hot cocoa, amazing food and music was just the thing we need to kick start the season. I highly recommend going there to experience this event for yourself. Happy New Year!

My First Marathon!

On October 30, 2016 I ran in my first marathon; The 2016 Marine Corps Marathon! First and foremost, I am so thankful that I got to participate in such an honorable race. It was a great way to show my support to the American Marines all over the world and to show my gratitude for them serving and dying for this wonderful country of ours! This event was such a great experience that I will never forget. Being surrounded by thousands and thousands of runners from all different walks of life and running for the same finish line...it just puts chills throughout my entire body.  Preparing for the race, however, was more than I expected; let me explain:

Preparation:

Preparing for the Marathon is extremely important. You have to be determined and committed! My training consisted of running 4 miles a day, to slowly progressing  to 7 miles a day, then to 12 miles every other day, to 15 miles, and finally to 19 miles. Once I was able to run 19 miles, I knew I was ready for the race.  When I start training for my next marathon, I will be sure to complete a 22 mile run more than once. All of this was during our super hot summer as well! It all balanced out because although the weather was sweltering, I was able to see areas in Loudoun county I've never seen before; the paths and hidden trails leading to the Potomac River were awesome!

Marathon week:

So, the preparation was over and the marathon was one week away. I started to feel nervous knowing that thousands of people are going to be running and even more would be watching! My brother Michael from San Diego came into town to run the marathon with me; this was his fourth one. It was very exciting to see him again because we don't get to see each other often. I also saw my four-year-old nephew who was a baby when we met. He's such an intelligent, loving kid and he was soooo in love with my wife, haha! My dad came into town from Florida to volunteer for the marathon, which was such an honor. My family and I stayed on Boiling Air Force base in Washington, D.C due to the traffic and metro delays from to the marathon. I lived on base as a child so we reminisced many memories while we were there! We ate out at many new, different places in the area. My favorite place was "Grace's" at the National Harbor; I really did enjoy the pad-thai, it was actually the best I've ever had...delicious! And their bathrooms...well, you'll just have to see for yourself.

The Marathon:

Okay, the wait is over, it's here!! The 2016 Marine Corps Marathon is hours away!! 4:30 a.m, folks! My brother prepared an energetic smoothie before the race consisting of beets, beet leaves, chia seeds, apples, lemon, and an orange. I ate two slices of spinach and chicken pizza as my carb fuel. I drank a couple of glasses of water, of course, and filled up my camel backpack with water as well. I packed in 2 Cliff bars for fuel in the middle of the race, and I'M READY!! The shuttle bus took us over to the Pentagon where the race is set to start. Thousands of people are now at the starting line! Two V-22 Ospreys fly over during the singing of the national anthem, and the howitzer fires off to indicate that the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon has begun! There were so many people, it took nearly 10 minutes for us to actually begin running! Once we began to take off, it was so exciting! Lots of cameras, spectators, and Marines...the energy was great! We began the marathon heading towards Rosslyn, then to Georgetown, then into the heart of D.C. It was such a beautiful and scenic run. My favorite part was all the spectators who were literally everywhere you looked. They were so uplifting and encouraging. As we approached the 16th mile near the Smithsonian, my lovely wife and family were there to cheer us on, provide us with oranges for fuel, and give us a morale boost. We continued running towards Crystal City were we saw my dad handing out bags of animal crackers to the runners. It was such an honor to see him volunteering there! We finally approached the last mile and ran our hardest all the way to the Vietnam Memorial where the finish line was. With my hands lifted towards God in thanksgiving, I crossed the finish line... Marathon completed!!  

Life Lessons I learned:

1. Prepare for endurance; think right, eat right, and take care of yourself.
2. Run your own race; don't compare yourself with other people.
3. Pace yourself; don't want everything right now.
4. Cheer on/encourage somebody on who may be having some trouble.
5. The race is so long that if you go backwards it will effect you majorly. Don't look back, forget about what's behind you. This is easy if you're optimistic about the future.
6. Focus on mile 1, 2, 3, 4 etc and eventually you'll find yourself at mile 26.
7. Take notice and don't be ashamed to get some help along the way.
8. Make it fun; don't be so serious all the time, but when it's time to get serious...get serious.
9. Don't look too far ahead; it can be discouraging. Focus on where you are now and try to get to the next step, take it one day at a time.
10. The final goal is to finish the race (period). There is a prize if you stay in the race and endure. Keep the faith no matter what!

 

Cancun, Mexico Vacation!

Snorkeling

Summer vacation is a great opportunity to get away from all of the hard work, visit new places, and do things you've never done before. This year my wife and I spent a week in Cancun, Mexico. Traveling out of the country was something that I'd never experienced before, but she had. We took a straight flight and surprisingly, it only took 4 hours! I always get nervous when I fly, but this time I was more excited than anything else. As soon as we landed, I noticed the beautiful palm trees swaying in the wind and the sunny, crystal blue skies of the tropics...we were officially in paradise! Our hotel transportation drove us to our resort where we could settle in and begin to enjoy our time in Mexico. But we can never just walk to our room without peeking around! The water was turquoise blue and sparkling...truly breathtaking! We couldn't wait to jump in! Our resort was designed in such a way that it wasn't a necessity to leave the resort if you didn't really want to to because it was connected to another Royal resort. Ours alone had 3 restaurants, and our favorite...a mini market! We were there everyday getting little knick knacks. We visited some of Cancun's attractions such as Xel-Ha, a natural water and wildlife park. Xel-Ha has many different activities like snorkeling, underwater sea trek, swimming with the dolphins (Erica's favorite) , a natural lazy river, zip-biking, food included, and more! Talk about a great time! X-Plor is another place we went to which has zip-lining, caves, cenotes, ATVs, food included, and more! Spending most of the day underground in the natural cenotes was an incredible experience that words can't describe...you have to see it for yourself. Both places gave you the freedom to do whatever you want while in nature; what a feeling, there's nothing like it! On our last day, we went on a jungle tour on a personal boat driven by yours truly; that was a first for me also! Our tour guide Enrique took us out to snorkel in the second largest barrier reef in the world. The sea life was amazing, and it gave us a newfound respect for sea creatures and coral reefs. Of course, spending time in the ocean, lounging on the beach, and relaxing and reading my current book "Destiny" was the main attraction. Erica found her new favorite drink, a virgin banana monkey! She was addicted and once I had a sip, so was I! It's so good! It's a Mexican specialty and we've yet to find it here in the states. All-in-all, Cancun was a great time! We met so many nice people, had fun, and relaxed. I can't wait to see where our next trip takes us! 

Fun Facts About Me!

 3 in 1! Posing next to a Bald Eagle in Myrtle Beach, while golfing

3 in 1! Posing next to a Bald Eagle in Myrtle Beach, while golfing

  • Favorite color: Blue
  • Favorite sport: Golf, football
  • Favorite vehicle: Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
  • Favorite season: Spring
  • Favorite historical person: Jesus Christ
  • Favorite vacation spot: Myrtle Beach
  • Favorite animal: American Bald Eagle
  • Favorite meal: Chicken Parmesan
  • Favorite fast food joint: Taco Bell
  • Favorite dessert: Banana Pudding
  • Favorite fruit: Ataulfo mangos, cantaloupe
  • Favorite candy: Hubba Bubba bubblegum
  • Favorite beverage: Unsweetened iced tea with lemon
  • Favorite hobbies: Running, kayaking
  • Favorite recreational activity: Golf, skiing, tennis, cycling
  • Favorite day of the week: Thursday
  • Favorite subject in school: History & science
  • Favorite number: 7
  • Places I would like to visit: Israel, Germany, Hawaii, Colorado

Photography

Heron fishing in the Potomac River

All photographs on this website were taken by me! Except for the pictures OF me...that wouldn't be so easy. Taking photos is a hobby of mine that I really enjoy. What better way to experience and showcase the beauty of God's creation than through photography?  It provides the opportunity to admire what a truly beautiful and wonderful planet we live on, and hold on to it.  

One of my favorite locations to take photos is along the Potomac River.  Traveling along the river by kayak offers an amazing opportunity to commune with nature and the indigenous wildlife up-close and personal.  Living in the Northern Virginia area for most of my life, I was surprised to discover that there are American Bald Eagles nesting all along the Potomac River.  That's my favorite bird! I was so thrilled that I did all I could to get the perfect shot of one.  I quickly discovered that it was not going to be easy to get photos of the eagles; the American Bald Eagle soars so high that it makes it nearly impossible to see it in the sky.  I also discovered that turtles aren't as slow as I thought!  You have to be very quiet while approaching them to get a good shot.  I was, however, able to get a photo of a blue heron fishing in the shallow waters of the river.  Blue herons are beautiful birds that live along the Potomac River as well, you can't miss them.  They stand about 3 feet tall and have a wing span of 6 feet...a truly magnificent bird!

Experiencing nature along the Potomac River brought the following scripture to mind:

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;  or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."- Job 12: 7-10