Category Archives: Travel

Uncle Jesse’s and Aunt Charlie’s

On our second full day adventuring around San Francisco Dawn and I got up and dressed, grabbed a coffee (me) and a bunch of two-bite brownies from the snack station at our hotel and walked to our Big Bus pick up in Fisherman’s Wharf. I’m a big fan of hop-on-hop-off bus tours — I’ve done them in Nashville and Boston as well and think it’s a great way to see the city in a short amount of time. We got the two day package which included the night tour so it was a really good deal. And the first stop was about a five minute walk from our hotel so it was super handy.

It was still raining off and on and the top of the bus was uncovered (you can’t see much from the inside bottom, so top is best) but they were handing out free rain ponchos and we wore ours proudly.

We toured through a few neighbourhoods, drove past Hotel Diva (just past the intersection below).

Cruised through the Tenderloin…

We saw City Hall, which is probably the most majestic City Hall I’ve ever seen.

We were on the bus for about 40 minutes before we got to the stop we were after, the painted ladies! One of the most photographed locations of San Francisco.

The stop is just around the corner from them, about a five minute walk.

If you’re a Full House fan, as we are, you probably recognize those ladies from the opening credits.

Unfortunately the park in front of them where the Full House gang is seen frolicking and picnicking is all dug up and muddy right now so we couldn’t leisure around in there. Poor Dawn tried to trek through it and sank into the mud, so that was sad for her shoes.

Mainly we just stood around in front of the houses and got pictures in the shirts we brought for the occasion.

Dawn made us sweet “Danny Tanner is Our Dad” T-shirts, solely for this purpose. Danny Tanner has been a big inside joke between our friends for years so that was just perfect. And no I’m not wearing a fanny pack, my tank top is just sticking out from underneath my shirt. I sure wish it was a fannypack though, that would have been convenient. Should have borrowed my dad’s.

Someone came out the front door of the house as we were standing on the steps getting that photo so that was slightly awkward.

As you may know, the house used for the exterior home shots on the show is not one of those houses. The actual Full House house is in a different ‘hood. We looked it up on my maps and saw that it was only a couple kilometres away so we decided to walk there. We needed to see it! It had stopped raining and was actually sunny for a bit so it was the perfect time to do it. Here is the Full House house in all its glory.

They were doing construction on it (the original Full House creator now owns it!) and one of the workers kept coming in and out, hence the open door. Obviously we asked if we could go in but the guy said his boss would get angry so that was a no. That’s fine, we were just happy to be in its presence and soak up all the Uncle Jesse juju.

Pretty groovy. After our Full House adventure we headed to Haight-Ashbury (named because of the intersections of Haight and Ashbury), the hippie district!

We wandered in and out of a bunch of shops (mainly because it started raining again), we stopped at a gay bar for a quick beer and to use the bathroom (hard to find one in this area) and then stopped at a pizza place for lunch.

I can’t remember the name but Dawn’s crush was on the walls.

The pizza was greasy and good.

After our lunch we walked back to the Big Bus stop to wait for our bus. Dawn had some interesting fashion trends happening.

The weather was so weird. One minute it was hot and sunny and we would shed all our layers, and then it would suddenly be cold and overcast so we would pile them all back on.

The next stop we got off at was the Golden Gate bridge!

And here I am photobombing the bridge.

That is such a beautiful area. I would love to hike around there one day. Not the best weather for that this time around though. So lush!

From there we got on another, smaller, one-level bus that took us into Sausalito, a nearby city in Marin County.

It was super cute and it looked like it had a lot of cool shops and places to eat on the main street, but again that rain made it difficult to explore so we just stayed on the bus tour (our bus didn’t even go down all the streets it was supposed to because of the rain).

So, that’s another activity I’ll have to save for next time. I’m glad we saw it at least a little though.

After Sausalito we got back on our Big Bus to go back over the bridge and eventually back to our hotel. It was really raining at that point though and we were done with it so we stayed mainly on the bottom level. Once we got back to our hotel we cleaned ourselves up and headed back out to the Big Bus for the night tour.

I felt like we were pretty much living on the bus by then.

I would highly recommend the night tour — seeing all the city lights was really cool. And if you do go, I hope the weather is better for you. I was getting sick of sitting in damp coldness by that point and I was on the fence about the night tour until the last hour before it left, but my love for lights won out and I’m so glad I went.

Most of my pictures are blurry but here are a few that turned out okay.

We went back over the Golden Gate Bridge and also over the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island.

Another thing that made the night tour so much fun was our tour guide. He looked like Richard Dreyfuss and his dry sense of humour just killed us. Dawn and I tend to get slightly obnoxious when we’re together and we kept making comments about the landmarks, which he heard and would respond to over his microphone, essentially altering the tour for everyone else. I hope they liked it. A few times we made him laugh so hard he had to move the microphone away from his mouth for a minute to recover.

One time we were going over a particularly steep hill and Dawn and I threw our arms up and pretended that we were on a roller coaster and he was all “well let’s not wake up the neighbours!” I snapchatted that moment and didn’t realize how hilarious it was until I watched it again the next day. I was dying. Anyway, he liked us.

Ponchos aren’t great in the wind. I understood George W. Bush’s struggle.

That’s also what I looked like on the bus when I was trying to wrangle my poncho over my head in the wind.

After the night tour we headed to Flybar (Fulton and Divisadero) to meet up with one of our friends from high school, Kiley, who has been living in San Francisco for a few years. It was so good to see her! She was there with two fabulous friends of hers who Dawn and I loved immediately.

We hung out at Flybar for a while and had a few drinks (sake bombs!) and nachos, and then Dawn mentioned there was a bar on her radar she wanted to visit, Aunt Charlies, a gay dive bar in the heart of the Tenderloin. The three of them had been before and were excited when she suggested it so they didn’t need much convincing. Off we went.

It was fantastic. It was jam-packed (on a Tuesday!) and we arrived just in time for a drag show.

This lady in the picture below sang the Titanic song and it was so amazing.

Dawn talked to the couple below for a bit and they told her they are married and met when they were both students at Stanford. So cute. She was beautiful and her voice was too.

It was seriously one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen and I was so glad we went!!! I had a bunch of Snapchats of the experience so maybe you caught them. Just amazing. It was a San Francisco highlight for sure. Such a fun night with Kiley and her friends!

We really packed a lot of adventures into our trip. Just one day left!

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California Rainin’

After my Lake Tahoe and Sacramento adventure with Cely, I made my way to San Francisco to spend the next few days with my good pal Dawn. I mentioned in my last post that I took the Amtrak train (very similar to the GO Train in Ontario) and I’m so glad Cely told me about that being an option. I was going to rent a car but it would have cost me at least $100 just for that one day and then I would have had to deal with traffic and the stress of driving on rainy unfamiliar roads. The train was leisurely and only $33 (American, but still big savings). It dropped me off outside of the city and then I just hopped on a shuttle bus that took me right downtown. I had planned on taking an Uber over to Dawn’s hotel but it was only about 2km away and it wasn’t raining (for once, it rained most of our time in SF) so I decided to hoof it through the financial district.

I only had a carry-on suitcase and it didn’t love being dragged over the cobblestones on Market Street but I made it!

Dawn and her colleague Lynne had been in SF for a conference all weekend and were staying at the Hotel Diva on Geary Street right by Union Square (the outskirts of the Tenderloin, which looks pretty fun but has some sketchy areas — we asked our Uber drivers what area of the city we should go to if we were looking to get robbed and they all said the Tenderloin). I was only in this area for one night but our immediate area seemed super fun. I also have to recommend Hotel Diva. Our room was cute and we LOVED the guys working the front desk, they became our temporary friends, and they had free shots in the lobby every evening!

Again I was only here for one night, but Dawn and Lynne raved about it also.

They also had a TV that took selfies, so we took one with a new friend.

After I dropped my stuff off and settled in, we walked around the neighbourhood until dinner (we asked the lobby guys which streets to avoid and I felt very safe there).

For dinner we went to Colibri Mexican Bistro, since it’s attached to Hotel Diva and is rated on of the top Mexican restaurants in the city (second best I think!). We ordered a bunch of stuff to share.

All delicious. Not the best Mexican I’ve ever had but still very good. I also ordered the corn on the cob, I’ve been big on getting that lately at Mexican restaurants, but sadly it was either over or under cooked so not the best.

Our server was awful though. I think she just forgot we were there. That was our biggest complaint about the place.

After dinner we were chatting with a gay couple in our lobby and they were recommending places for us to go for a quick drink (it was Sunday so we weren’t looking for anything crazy) and one of the places they told us about was a bar called Kozy Kar. They mentioned it had waterbeds as booths so that obviously sold us. We headed there immediately when we heard that.

It was the craziest bar Dawn and I have ever been to. They did indeed have a waterbed in a booth.

Made a new friend in there. And yes I know a waterbed in a bar may not be the most sanitary but I was on vacation and decided not to worry about that.

They also had a hot tub booth.

On the TV screens they showed 70s/80s cereal commercials mixed with 70s…uh…adult movie clips. There were also naked lady cards blown up and used as floor tiles, Playgirl magazine photos in all their glory covering all the bathroom stalls, a stripper pole, mannequins, and who knows what else. We loved it. WELCOME TO SAN FRANCISCO!!!

Dawn asked Lynne if it was the most outrageous bar she had ever been to and Lynne responded that actually, it was the only bar she had ever been to. Whoa whoa wait WHAT?! Great, we’ve corrupted her. We explained that this was not a regular bar setting and not to get too excited because it basically goes downhill from here. She should probably just not ever visit another bar so as to not be disappointed.

We stayed for a couple drinks and then headed back to our hotel to tell the lobby lads about our Kozy Kar adventures and show them our pictures.

They liked.

Monday was the rainiest day we were there so we had mostly indoor activities planned. We woke up and hit the gym, which I was so glad to do after eating and drinking all the things all weekend. After we showered we moved all our stuff to our next hotel. Lynne was leaving that evening so Dawn and I were moving somewhere a bit less expensive for the next couple of nights, San Remo Hotel. It was the cutest. ever.

We had the tennis themed room

It opened in 1906 and is one of the oldest hotels in the city. It’s right on the border of Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach, so great location, and cheaper because there are shared washrooms, though you do have a sink in your room. It wasn’t like a hostel, however. Each toilet and shower was in its own room with a door. Our actual room was small but there were a lot of common areas if you wanted to hang out somewhere. Sort of like a big bed and breakfast. I loved this place and would definitely stay here again.

They had complimentary coffee, tea, hot chocolate and snacks so that made it better also.

After we checked in and dropped off our stuff we Ubered over to the Ferry Building (thank you for recommending it!)

We enjoyed walking through there and looking at all the food places. It reminded me of Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market (though maybe not quite as good? but to be fair we didn’t go on farmer’s market day). It was raining so we couldn’t really check out the outdoor area but inside was fun. Made another friend!

That’s too much to ask, lady.

I snagged some oysters, since those were a big recommendation.

Yesssss. For lunch we went to that Japanese fusion restaurant in there and it was pretty good. And you know I got ice cream from Humphrey Slowcombe.

After wandering around in there for a couple hours we got in another Uber to take us to the Castro (gay district), but our Uber driver was so awesome he wanted to take us on a tour of the city once he found out we were from Canada. He drove us around for about an hour and didn’t even charge us, so that was super nice of him.

He took us down Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the world!

You can’t tell from the photo so here’s one from Wikipedia.

The hill was too steep to have a straight road on it so they made eight crazy turns instead. The hilly streets are CRAZY. I would not want to be driving a vehicle with a manual transmission in that city.

We were telling our driver all about Canada (the conversation ended up going there with most of our Uber drivers) and we were saying we didn’t understand the need to own a gun, as we’re not big on guns here (we can’t legally own them, except hunting rifles specifically for hunting and you need to apply for a permit). We can’t even legally carry pepper spray (I do sometimes when I run outside though because I enjoy not getting attacked). Dawn told him that instead of guns, and pepper spray, women are allowed to have grenades. For protection. We just carry grenades around. He was all “WHAT?! I can’t believe you can’t own a gun but you can have grenades!” This went on for a few minutes of him just being bewildered and eventually I felt embarrassed for the poor sucker and told him she was joking. There are no grenades here. I just couldn’t let him leave us thinking Canadian women are carrying grenades around!

After our impromptu rainy San Francisco street tour our driver dropped us off at our destination in the Castro, the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender) San Francisco history museum.

It was a lot smaller than I expected, basically just one room, but it was powerful. You may already know this but San Francisco is one of the largest and most prominent LGBT communities in the world. The museum showed the fights and activism for the LGBT community over decades to obtain basic rights. The videos were really well done and one that stood out to me had a transgender woman talking about how in the 70s (I think it was the 70s) there weren’t a lot of options for feminine men or drag queens — they couldn’t get jobs as women, and they would be fired from their jobs as men once their companies learned about their lifestyle. So, many were forced to take up prostitution to make a living. It was that or be homeless. I just don’t understand how the way someone else is living their life can offend you personally SO MUCH when it has absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. The struggle for rights continues, as we know, and it’s so unnecessary. Just let people live! The museum was really interesting and enlightening and it’s only $5 to get in so I’d recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.

After that we headed back to our hotel to leisure for a bit. Lynne was off to the airport so it was just Dawn and I for dinner. It was still raining so we popped into the Italian restaurant attached to our hotel — Fior d’Italia, which opened in 1886 and is the oldest Italian restaurant in all of America.

I needed some pasta in my life so I went with the tagliatelle alla bolognese and the house red wine.

No disappointments there!

After dinner we went for a walk in our neighbourhood over to Trader Joes — I’ve never been and it was everything I’ve been anticipating and more! Canada really needs to get on that. We’re seriously missing out.

And then it was back to our hotel to bed. More San Francisco adventures to come.

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Emerald Bae (and eating)

After our skiing adventure, Cely and I dropped off our rental equipment, walked back to our hotel, cleaned ourselves up, changed into our best plaid and headed out on the town.

And by out on the town I mean into the casinos. Apparently gambling is illegal in California unless it’s on a First Nations reserve (like in Ontario, though I guess we’re able to have slot machines and racing off of reserves), but the good thing about South Lake Tahoe is it’s half in Nevada! Who knew! (I didn’t.) Obviously there is much gambling in Nevada, so there were several casinos around. Our hotel was in a casino, and Harrah’s Casino and the Hard Rock Cafe Casino were both within walking distance — everything was, it was so handy!

As we were walking to the casino we ran into a lady Cely used to work with, as well as her friend and their husbands so we found a $1 minimum Blackjack table and gambled and drank free drinks with them for a few hours. That was super fun. We met a very vocal Trump supporter at our table — the only one I encountered in California (that I know of) and she was from Texas. Her eyes burned with a fiery smugness and she kept loudly proclaiming that she lived in the real world because she lived on a ranch and had grandchildren. Alright. She definitely wanted to engage the rest of us special snowflake liberals about the current political situation but thankfully Cely was able to derail her.

Eventually we parted ways and Cely and I went off to Base Camp Pizza for dinner. There was a bit of a wait so we ordered beer from the bar, took it outside and watched a band playing old school rock on the patio next door. We ended up having to wait for about an hour but we were talking and listening to the band playing Neil Young while drinking beer so it was honestly one of my favourite hours.

Eventually Base Camp let us in. We started with the fried calamari.

It was crispy and delicious and I loved that it came with marinara sauce. For my pizza I went with the personal-sized (like a responsible eater) Base Camp pizza with pepperoni, Italian sausage, roasted peppers and onions and portabella mushrooms. It was perfect and I loved it all.

We had a really great conversation and really delicious pizza so, it was a good time all around.

After that it was back to the Blackjack tables. I was doing well for a while and then I started losing and then suddenly it was 4am and my money was gone. As Cely said, time sure flies when you’re losing money and drinking. I had a really good time but in hindsight we probably would have been okay leaving about an hour before we actually did — I would have been up about $200, I wouldn’t have knocked my beer over on the table (possibly more than once but in my defence there were no cup holders!), we may have dodged a hangover, and we would have avoided an altercation where we ended up being the Big Bad Man-Hating Feminists (Cely summed this up well)… But, live and learn, as I like to say (a lot).

The next morning we were not feeling our best but we dragged ourselves out of bed, got our stuff together and headed to breakfast at the Red Hut Cafe. It was SUPER CUTE and I was excited about my pancakes and bacon.

I don’t feel I appreciated those pancakes as much as I should have because my stomach was being a jerk. Thankfully, after breakfast Cely introduced me to the miracle that is Alka-Selzter and I felt like a new woman!

I still hadn’t seen Lake Tahoe which I had heard was in Lake Tahoe, so Cely took me on a mission to prove its existence. She couldn’t let me leave without seeing the lake and I really appreciate her determination on that. It was still overcast (it was actually nicer in Ontario than in California when I was away which is basically the story of my life) but the snow had stopped and we were able to drive over to Emerald Bay.

And hoooooly beautiful. I’ve seen Cely’s pictures and I know on a bright and beautiful day it has the potential to look like this:

From Wikipedia

But I loved it in all its dreariness! It is a gorgeous area.

I should mention that we were having trouble finding a parking spot by an actual trail so we had to do a bit of climbing to get to the view…

Getting off that thing was fun and we basically just rolled down the bank like watermelons. I also accidentally stepped off the packed snow and one of my legs was suddenly buried up to my hips.

Not sure if that picture does it justice but it was a real pickle. I didn’t fall off the mountain though, so that’s a success. Wouldn’t be the first mountain I’ve almost tumbled down. I do feel like I really embraced embarrassing myself on this trip and I think Cely appreciated that as I took the heat off of her.

Anyway, yeah, the area is gorgeous. I got a bunch of pictures.

After Emerald Bay we went back over to the main lake area.

And the clouds parted for almost a minute and I saw a sliver of blue sky!

After our Lake Tahoe adventure it was time to drive back to Sacramento. I was excited to see the view this time as when we were driving into Lake Tahoe it was dark and I couldn’t see much. We saw a few waterfalls and I loved the trees!

We were going to listen to the first episode of the My Favorite (American SIC) Murder podcast but then we got to talking and couldn’t stop so that didn’t happen. I’ve listened to a few episodes now though and I’m really enjoying it! Once we were back in Sacramento, Cely took me straight to Firestone Public House for lunch so she could introduce me to her favourite pretzel.

Oh, hello lover!

I understand why it’s her favourite pretzel. It was the best giant pretzel I’ve ever eaten in my life and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It was so soft and pillowy and buttery and salty and had pimento cheese for dipping. Just a dream. I’m going to have to try to find a similar pretzel in Toronto. I don’t feel like that mission is going to be a success.

I also ordered the grilled cheese because, grilled cheese, but then it came and I was like WTF am I supposed to do with this monstrosity?

Is that an American grilled cheese? It was extreme. We both suddenly had no interest in eating anymore, which is a rare thing. We took our lunches home. We spent the rest of the day on the couch napping and watching movies which was GLORIOUS (we also may have ordered Chinese food). I met Cely’s sister Sari which was a California highlight for me! I loved her immediately. I had never even met her but I felt like I already knew her. She came in when we were sprawled out on the couch in our fat pants and I just felt so comfortable around her right away, like “hello Sari, I’m Cely’s internet friend and I live here now.”

We watched the Edge of Seventeen which I loved so much I wanted to watch it again immediately after. Instead we watched Fifty Shades of Grey which I hadn’t seen but both Cely and Sari had so they indulged me and eh. We should have just watched Edge of Seventeen again. Watch it!!!

The next morning the three of us went to brunch at Cafeteria 15L with their friends Tracy and Heather. They were both awesome and I also loved my bottomless mimosas and my fried chicken and waffles.


My stomach did not love the fried chicken and waffles and I paid for that later but THAT’S OK because when on vacation. That is PECAN BUTTER!!! Oh it was heavenly.

And then I got my stuff together and Cely took me to the train station so I could make my way to San Francisco. She actually parked and brought me straight to the train which I am so thankful for because guaranteed I would have gotten on the wrong one. Or at least waited in the wrong area for a train that was never coming (done that before).

It was such a fabulous weekend and I was so sad to leave Cely. And Sari. I felt like I had known both of them forever and I told Cely that I just wanted to stay forever and be their third sister. I made them promise to come visit me and I really bigged Ontario up so I feel like I lured them pretty good. They better!!!

If you don’t already read Cely’s blog you need to, she kills me and is my must-read every day. And not even a hate read, I love her! She is just as hilarious and smart in person.

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Trouble in Lake Tahoe

I’m baaaaaaack!!! And I didn’t blog while I was away so you know what that means…endless vacation recapping! I have a lot to talk about so gird your loins.

I left last Thursday morning and happened to bump into my pal Dawnald at the airport!

She was headed to San Francisco for a conference and I was meeting up with her for the second half of my trip, coincidentally our flights out there were at the same time. It was nice to see her for a quick romantic rendezvous.

I was headed to Sacramento, however, and while she had a direct flight to SF, I had quick stopovers in Chicago and Denver. I actually didn’t mind those too much — it took me 10 hours to get there but the stopping broke up the flight time. The Chicago airport was super fancy, too. They had automatic rotating seat covers on the toilets in the bathroom which I thought was pretty cool but also probably unnecessary. They also had personal deep dish pizzas which I totally missed and only noticed after I had already grabbed a sandwich. Stupid. I made the wrong decision!!!

Anyway, I was on my way to meet my long time internet friend Cely for the first time! We have followed each other’s blogs for years (I actually just had my six year blogging anniversary — CRAZY!), and over that time we have emailed and texted a bunch, and we are Facebook friends (so that means we’re real friends) but we have never actually hung out in person. Just on the internet.

Cely was picking me up from the Sacramento airport and on my flight from Denver to Sacramento I started to get just a litttttle bit nervous about meeting her for the first time. We would be spending several days together, what if we didn’t like each other or had nothing in common? But I needn’t have worried. As soon as I saw her I felt like I was meeting one of my best friends. There was never any awkwardness (this is why exchanging long crazy emails for years before meeting is key!), our conversation flowed naturally right away and we spent most of our three+ days together just laughing. At one point we also had a good 20 minute conversation trading stories of falling down the stairs so, I feel like we are awkward kindred spirits.

Someone commented that the two of us meeting up felt like a TV crossover episode, which made us laugh hard. Just like when Steve Urkel was on Full House!

I get to be Uncle Jesse, sorry Cely.

There was one must-eat place for me in California, In-N-Out Burger. I’ve been hearing about it for years but have never had the chance to try it so we headed there after Cely picked me up.

I have to say I was underwhelmed… My burger was good but I didn’t find it to be the most spectacular fast food burger I’ve ever eaten. It was pretty onion-y. However, I heard I didn’t order correctly and I should have asked for my burger to be ‘animal style’. Cely even warned me about this and I didn’t listen. Oh well, you live and you learn. I’d go again and do it right next time.

After our burgers we drove to South Lake Tahoe for a skiing adventure. Cely had warned me the day before that this part of our trip might get delayed since that area of California had been experiencing some extreme weather lately, namely landslides. Apparently the highway we needed to drive on had been closed due to a mudslide and had only reopened the afternoon before. There was also a snowstorm in the area that was supposed to cause some trouble, but thankfully that wasn’t as bad as expected so we didn’t have to postpone our trip. And now since leaving, part of that highway has collapsed into the river. I feel very lucky that we were able to get in and out okay. I joked that the weather out there hated me but it truly could have been much worse.

It was super awesome to be traveling to Lake Tahoe with someone who knew the area. I was totally lazy in my travel research because of this and just let Cely choose where to stay, where to eat, where to ski, etc. since she knew area so well. She also brought a bunch of ski accessories and snow boots for me to borrow, which was great since I was traveling with just a carry-on.

We checked into our hotel (Harvey’s, which I would definitely recommend — our room was cute and surprisingly inexpensive) and then hit up the Stateline restaurant and brewery for a cheese plate.

And some beers.

I wanted to try them all.

I was really excited that Cely was always on the same eating page as me. It’s so nice to travel with someone who is just as food-oriented as you are!

After the cheese and beer we headed back to our hotel and hit da sheets. It was about 3am my time at that point and I was tired after sitting on the plane all day (traveling will really do that to ya).

The next morning we got up early, grabbed a leisurely breakfast (I had breakfast nachos and they were delightful), rented our equipment (we reserved it online in advance which was a good call, saved 25%!) and then took the gondola up to Heavenly.

I’m glad there was this photo of the mountain because it was snowing so hard I couldn’t actually see the mountain and that was disorienting. I had to rely on Cely to tell me about the views I would normally see up there. The snow made it difficult to even see the hill in front of us so I never got to see the lake! That was sad because I hear it’s a spectacular view. I just tried to imagine it.

So this is actually the first mountain I’ve ever skied on. I’ve cross country skied on a mountain in Revelstoke (wrote about that experience here) but never downhill skied. We don’t have any mountains in Ontario so my skiing experiences up until this point have been on very large hills. The biggest difference I noticed was that it takes so much longer to get down a run! I really liked that. It’s been about 7 years since the last time I skied, but thankfully it’s just like riding a bike and I still got it.

I was so thankful to Cely for letting me borrow a water pouch, goggles and that skeleton buff for my face. I felt so badass.

It was a bit more difficult than I expected though because of the weather. We were having some serious depth perception issues — the ground just looked like flat whiteness but there were big snow drifts that we would ski into that would mess things up. There were some struggles, but neither of us had a yard sale (when you fall on the mountain and all your equipment goes everywhere) or fell at all, so that’s a win.

We stuck to mainly long leisurely blues, which are my favourite so I was happy Cely was on the same page about that. Since she knew all the runs I was content to let her take the lead and just follow her red jacket down the mountain.

Unfortunately we got separated at one point and another girl with a red jacket and black pants somehow got in front of me so I blindly followed her for a while. In my head I remember noticing that her ski outfit just got super sleek all of a sudden, but I was concentrating on not falling so I didn’t register that it wasn’t Cely. At one point there was a portion of hill that levelled out and we had to work a bit harder to get across it so I was yelling some snarky comments at her about that, trying to be funny. She glanced at me over her shoulder but didn’t have a reaction other than that which I thought was weird. Then we stopped at the crest of another hill and I pulled up beside her and realized she was not actually Cely. I turned around and saw Cely coming up behind me dying laughing. Whoops. We laughed for a good half an hour about that. Cely said she was worried I was going to blindly follow this lady down a double black diamond or something. Sure glad that didn’t happen. Fake Cely may have lead me to my death.

We skied for a few hours and then took a break for lunch when the snow started coming down harder and the wind increased.

Eating after physical activity is my favourite. That was some damn good chili.

After lunch we headed back out hoping the weather would be better, but unfortunately no, it had gotten worse. The wind picked up, making the lifts (which are quite long) a pretty crappy time because it felt like little daggers of ice were hitting your face. We did a few more runs and then decided we were done. I loved it though and was so glad we skied!

The next day when it stopped snowing I could finally see that yes, we indeed skied on a mountain!

But I still hadn’t seen the lake. I’ll get to that next week though ’cause somehow this got long. In the meantime, Cely recapped all our adventures really well so you can check that out on her blog.

Have a great weekend!

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The Manateesers

Stillll going on about our Florida trip. One more post (after this) and then I’m done I promise. On Wednesday after our beach day we decided to check out the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota. It’s a small non-profit aquarium that is also a working marine lab as well so they do a ton of research and programs there and it’s all very science-y and educational. They have staff at every exhibit who you can talk to and ask questions.

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I feel like this eel is saying “heyyyy girllllll”

I loved the sea turtle conservation area. This guy was GINORMOUS and kept popping his head out of the water to say hi.

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All the sea turtles living there are being treated for illnesses or injuries and will be released once they are rehabilitated. Except for the one above, I believe he is blind from an injury and would no longer be able to survive in the wild. Another smaller sea turtle, Squirt, had been brought to the aquarium with injuries because he had been hit by a boat propeller, poor guy.

There is also a sea turtle hatching hospital there – hatching sea turtles on the Gulf of Mexico beaches may need some medical care before they’re able to survive, so they’re treated in the hospital and then returned to the wild when they’re healthy. No baby turtles this time of year unfortunately. It would have taken me back to my youth when I used to catch baby snapping turtles in the swamp near my house and make turtle homes for them until they got too big and attempted to bite off my finger. Ah the good old days.

The sea turtles were definitely a highlight but he manatees were THE highlight.

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I’ve never seen one up close before! There were two, Hugh and Buffett. I loved this guy, but he definitely had his eye on Evan.

I better watch out, I'm pretty sure this manatee is after Evan #facesmoosh

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I am still laughing at that video. I don’t know if he forgot there was glass there or what was going on. Just a manateeser. Apparently Hugh and Buffett are the only manatees in the world trained to participate in special research projects to understand how manatees perceive their natural environment.

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They’re pretty awesome.

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They look like big snugglers.

There’s also a shark exhibit, jellyfish, reefs, stingrays (that you can touch!) and otters (although they weren’t there when we were, which was disappointing). And some rare Pokemon there as well, I caught my first Tangela! Florida really rejuvenated the Poke hunting for me, I think ’cause Paula and Fabian are big players. They got me right back into it. Anyway, it was a really cute small aquarium and a good way to spend a couple hours.

After the aquarium we picked up Checkers burgers (don’t judge) and then went to the condo’s pool area. It’s quite nice!

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And totally empty during the day. We leisured around there for a while before it was time to get ready for dinner. We were going to the Anna Maria Oyster Bar! Another spot we hit last time we were in Bradenton and I really liked it the last time, but I have to say that this time I was a bit less than enthused… I have discovered since then that I really love oysters so we started with the baked garlic parmesan ones.

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And I loved them. They were delicious. I wish I stopped there though. My main wasn’t great.

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I got the cucumber dill salmon and it was just alright, but the rice tasted like the Uncle Ben’s instant rice that you just add a spoonful of water to and heat up in the microwave still in the package. I wasn’t a fan. Evan got the crab cakes and didn’t love them either. Ah well. Maybe it was an off night or we just ordered the wrong thing. I remember just DYING for their pasta last time. My wine was good though, so that and the oysters were my saviour.

After dinner we didn’t want the night to end so we went to Smugglers Cove for some mini-golfing action.

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It’s more exciting than your regular mini golfing place ’cause it has live gators!

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Just chillin’. I wonder if they like their life there, or if they’d rather live in Black Hammock the ultimate gator sanctuary (Black Hammock would be my choice personally).

Annnnd once again we came here last time, and I won! I was not so lucky this time. Evan was on fire.

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But it was a good time.

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Highly recommend both Smugglers Cove and the Mote Marine Aquarium if you’re ever in the area!

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Beachin’ it up

Evan and I were feeling pretty sluggish and gross after all our Orlando activities (read: eating and drinking) so on Tuesday morning we decided to go for a hike at Robinson Nature Preserve, a salt marsh in Bradenton. We still needed to eat, of course, so first we stopped and picked up bagels from Paradise Bagel Cafe on Anna Maria Island to bring with us for breakfast. I absolutely loved the bagels from there and we actually went twice, both times I got the asiago bagel toasted with spinach and garlic cream cheese. So, so good.

Anyway, the hike. We found the preserve when we were researching the area as it’s the top thing to do in Bradenton according to Trip Advisor. Since it was the morning it wasn’t too hot yet and we had a really nice walk. There are miles of trails through the marsh.

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People say we Canadians are really friendly but every single person we passed said good morning to us. Actually I found people we encountered in general to be really friendly, wherever we visited. Though it’s possible they’re all Canadians escaping winter…

We walked to the lookout tower and ate our bagels at the top.

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The marsh was on both sides of the boardwalk here and you could see tons of little black crabs scurrying around the mud. They legit looked like spiders though so…I didn’t love them.

The view from the top of the tower was spectacular.

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There were tons of fish (mullet) jumping out of the water too, so that was cool.

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It’s a beautiful spot. This is looking towards the Tampa Bay area. I did not realize you could also rent kayaks and explore the water areas. I would have loved that but next time! We had a good walk.

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Next up was the beach.

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First we went to Venice Beach, about half an hour south of Sarasota. It is the beach of Evan’s childhood (his grandparents used to take him here to hunt for shark teeth) and we found a lot of shells and shark teeth last time we were here so we knew we wanted to go back.

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It was not nearly as busy as the last time we were here, so that was nice. It was a bit windy, but a gorgeous, gorgeous day.

We explored the fishing pier…

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And then set up shop in the sand. Not many people were swimming in the ocean but you know I sure did! That Jaws marathon we had couldn’t scare me away.

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That water was not too shabby at all. After swimming I leisured around and read my book while Evan went on a shell hunt.

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I caught him mid throw in that one.

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He got a lot more after this but I forgot to get a picture.

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For lunch we went to Sharky’s on the Pier. We saw this place last time and had talked about how much of a good time it looked like and we should go back one day, so here we were.

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Super beautiful view of the water.

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We had big plans for dinner and didn’t want to spoil our appetite so we just ordered some peel and eat shrimp to tide us over.

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And beer.

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After Venice beach we drove over to Nokomis beach, about 10 minutes away. Another beach we went to last time we were here that we really enjoyed. It’s beauty!

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There was a group of guys skimboarding in front of us, so that was pretty entertaining.

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More swimming and leisuring went down here.

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What a lover I have.

I have to admit that one of my main reasons for wanting to go to Nokomis beach was to go back to Pop’s Sunset Grill for dinner. We came last time and absolutely loved it! So after beaching it up we quickly changed out of our wet bathing suits and hit that up.

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Home of the world’s friendliest people, apparently. And everyone was so friendly, I’m tellin’ ya! I mostly love this place because the patio is right on the water.

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At first our server asked us if we wanted to sit in a quiet area of the patio and we said okay, and it was quiet and nice…but too quiet. We could hear people having fun on the other part of the patio where the bar was, where a live band was playing Christmas songs that people were singing along to, and we felt like we were seriously missing out on the fun times. It was like that episode of Gilmore Girls when crazy Jason takes Lorelei to a restaurant for dinner and they’re in a private room and every time the door opens Lorelei can hear the craziness going on outside and wants to join. I remember when we watched that Evan said to me “that would be you.” He is not wrong. We felt like that, so eventually we moved and joined the party. We still sat on our own by the water, but we could see the shenanigans happening at the bar and hear the band, so it was pretty perfect. It was much more our speed.

We loved the steamship pot we got last time so much that we ordered it again.

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Twin pic from 2013!

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Just a bit more grey in the beard is the biggest difference there. And I am so glad the shirt Evan’s wearing in that picture went to the big laundry basket in the sky.

Our pot included 24 shrimp, two lobster tails, kielbasa, red potatoes, corn on the cob, onions and celery. Amazing.

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Just amazing. We were pretty full afterwards but our server convinced us to go for the keylime pie so that happened.

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It was GOOD.

We watched the pelicans frolicking around in the water and saw the most beautiful sunset.

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It was a perfect Florida day.

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