We realized that to get to the DR, we’d have to fly via Florida, and we figured, why not add a little amusement park hopping to the honeymoon?

Sun, rain, sometimes both. Florida is an eclectic state, which was fitting for the second stop of our eclectic honeymoon.

Epcot Center

The Epcot Center has to be one of the ultimate I-Dunno-What-To-Make-of-It places around the US. It was basically built from Walt Disney’s sketchbooks using a lot of guesses and assumptions of what it was supposed to be. I guess that’s why it’s now the odd mish-mash of futuristic type attractions and 12 American reenactments of different countries.

Of course this ball will always remind me of the DisneyWorld episode of Boy Meets World, so it’s a winner.

A little snapshot from the Inside Out Emotions Garden, a perfect way to process emotions via botany!

The Phillies traded away Cole Hamels, who was my favorite on the team for over a decade. So now I get to kick it with the sad (sleepy?) plants.

Magic Kingdom

Deanna was really excited about spending a few days at Disney on the honeymoon, which probably isn’t an idea I would’ve had on my own. But since our honeymoon was already gonna turn into a collage of very mixed activities that made us happy, we went for it. Our honeymoon itinerary was totally composed of ideas that made the other person happy, which seemed like a good way to get started on all the marriage advice people had given us the previous week.

We had a couple of great days exploring and riding things and taking a few super cheesy but necessary pictures.

The Most Obligatory Shot from the Happiest Place on Earth.

Despite having lived in Southern California more than anywhere else, I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been to a Disney park. I had a blast on each visit, but I like the idea of keeping it special, as well as the idea of not being bankrupt. That said, a good number of my friends get annual passes, and the things they’re able to pull off with them never stop to amuse me. I know a guy who went to UC Irvine, who during college, would come in to ride a single ride just because he could. There is a barber shop in the Main Street, USA portion of the park. I don’t know who uses this barber shop, especially when enjoying Disney seems to be a time-sensitive feat for most people. But if I had an annual pass, I know I would use it just to say I went all the way to Disneyland for a haircut. Because I could.

Nobody wins like Gaston. While other Disney villains are basically the embodiment of evil, lords of the underworld, or voodoo-ing with the “other side,” Gaston’s fatal flaw is simply being a major d-bag. Disney’s perennial frat boy. And we share a ten dozen egg diet.

Also, the Gaston actor at DisneyWorld has created some great moments forever preserved on YouTube.

Despite being in freaking Disney World, I spent an abnormal amount of time just staring at the clownfish.

Finding Dory, anyone?

Having to carry out our relationship across an ocean for a few days brings back some flashbacks of our first year of dating where we would have to do the long distance thing for months on end.

The thing about some of the most difficult parts of our relationship thus far is that so many of the hard parts ultimately helped us as a couple. Having to be long distance for a while taught us how to communicate. Living far from family and the majority of our friends meant we had a lot of space to just focus on the two of us.

Obviously we have a lot of fun together. Fun is a good word for our marriage. But it’s one that’s definitely been strengthened by less pleasant “make-or-break” challenges, and it’s always been hard to recognize that in the middle of them.

I love being married. All the words to describe good things don’t seem to capture the whole of it. I love living together, planning our lives together, and thinking of ourselves as a unit when we make big or small decisions. Sharing our lives together just feels perfectly natural and as-it-should-be. I knew I would like it, but it’s less of a perpetual mountaintop experience and more like long lasting contentment.

Only a week into being married and we got to cross off the first of 100 Adventures planned for our first 1000 days. Off to a good start!

If we stayed just one more day in the Dominican Republic, we would’ve been out of the country for the third 4th of July in a row. (The Philippines last year and England before that, of all places.) We couldn’t let that happen again so we made it back in time and enjoyed the fireworks from a very American place- DisneyWorld.

Granted Disney is in three other countries and we were in the Chinese portion of Epcot, but it still felt like an extremely American experience.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

One of the most impressive things about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was the crazy attention to detail. They even basically rebuilt London’s Kings Cross station to get on the Hogwarts Express.

Each generation sort of gets a special pop culture craze to grow up with, but I think mine really sort of lucked out with the Harry Potter books. Interesting and accessible, but also profound in ways things that popular rarely achieve. Whoever’s writing, dreaming up, directing, or composing whatever that next story that my kids will one day grow up with probably grew up alongside Harry Potter, and that’s an encouraging thought.

Dear Stranger,

First, we really appreciate you taking this photo for us upon request. You see, we live on the opposite corner of the country from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it isn’t every day we get to see such sights.

Secondly, thank you for cropping out the plate that read “Hogwarts Express.” How on earth did you know that we actually went to Orlando to ride this thing not because of Harry Potter but just because we’re big train enthusiasts?? The whole time I was on that train, I was thinking the one way to make the experience better would be riding a generic non-fictional train. Seriously, what a marvelous coal-powered beaut! You, my friend, must be a wizard! Or over 40.

Besides, every real Potter nerd know the true VIN for the Hogwarts Express is 5972. Super obvious, now.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a fantastic place to go if you enjoy hearing people under the age of 30 explaining things to people over the age of 30. It’s also a fantastic place if you’re a bonafide Potter fan and can appreciate all the details that went into bringing places like these to life.

We got a chocolate frog, and managed to pull a Dumbledore wizard card on our first try. (Which is good, because they weren’t just giving those frogs out on the Hogwarts Express like they probably should have. They were close to ten bucks!) But just wanted to announce that our Dumbledore is not for trade!

“For someone as established, wise, and revered as he, the greatest gift you can give someone is your full attention and presence in the moment… In the hour I say with him he managed to be completely present, kind, attentive, and curious about someone who did not expect or look for that from him.”

—Evana Lynch on Alan Rickman

Of all the heartfelt tributes to Alan Rickman that have been shared, this is one of my faves. A) because it’s by Luna Lovegood and B) because she admits he was so constantly in character she was a bit terrified of him.

While we were at Ollivander’s wand shop, the question of whose wand to buy was an easy one. Minerva McGonagall. And they had every option you could think of. Luna Lovegood’s dad. Gotta wonder how many of those they sell.

Oh and let’s never forget to give thanks for all the days we continue to have the wonderful Maggie Smith among us.

Hogsmeade… What a fantastic outing. Totally took me back to the seventh grade, when my school would do extravagant field trips and I would hunker down in The Leaky Cauldron to share butterbeer with my best friends as our teachers gossiped over glasses filled with the harder stuff. Learned some fascinating tidbits about my parents that way. But I digress. That is a different story for a different time.

Thankfully this place is just as I remembered it… Except for the 90° humidity while there’s still snow on the roofs. And the swarms of Americans everywhere. And the price of butterbeer. Inflation, mate.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was one of my summer highlights, sandwiched right in the middle of our honeymoon.

I would absolutely go back in a heartbeat. Can’t wait for the LA location to open up. Two states down, 48 to go, Harry Potter!

The line at the bank was long this afternoon. Like, really, really long. And the bank tellers, those little goblins, were no help at all. Just scribbling away, paying no attention to the hordes of people waiting patiently.

When I finally got serviced, it ended up resulting in a ridiculous ride in a mine cart just to take out a deposit with some bald guy trying to Avada Kedavra me. Seriously, Gringotts? A little less money on chandeliers next time, and a little more on security, okay? That dragon you employ seems to do more harm than good.

This, my friends, is why credit unions are the way to go.

If you find yourself in a dark alley, make it be Diagon Alley.

Not Knockturn Alley.

If there’s a downside to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it’s that months later when you have butterbeer cravings they’ll be inconvenient cravings to have. The stuff they serve at the Leaky Cauldron is actually really, really good.

Of course you could always try making your own, but since it kind of tastes like cream soda with a thousand and a half pumps of butterscotch syrup, it might ruin the magic to know what goes into it.

Seeing Hogwarts was an obvious highlight of my year. Even if it was a Floridian Hogwarts with a lot more humidity than J.K. ever hinted at.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a great place especially if you enjoy overhearing people under 40 explain stuff to people over 40.

I could totally go for a Cubano right now. As always.

While we passed through Florida on our honeymoon, just as important to our agenda as all the theme parks was at least getting one good Cubano sandwich. I can’t say that Florida is my favorite of the states, but Cubanos are something the state does right.

Since it’s gradually opening up and becoming more and more feasible, I’ve got to put a trip to Cuba on my radar for sometime in the future. It’s not too far away, and it’d be a fascinating place to see.