Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wake me up when September ends. Seriously.

Saturday turned out to be one of my most enjoyable days of the summer. After an unexpected awesome concert discovery, I was able to spend the afternoon hanging out with my university crowd of friends. I love my university crowd of friends. There always seems to be a rotation of who's in Toronto, and who is not, and now there are a bunch of kids in the mix, but it's always a great time.

Becca T and I actually ended up being the first to leave the party (that never happens) so that we could catch Sloan at the Ex. It had been raining, actually pouring, for most of the day, but it all cleared up just in time for Sloan. It had actually cooled down too, which lead to Ms. It-will-never-get-cold-enough-to-require-a-sweater (aka me) getting a bit chilled, but once Sloan was on, I forgot about my goosebumps. They are such a great live band. I love seeing them for free (OK - I had to pay $14 admission to the Ex, but it was totally worth it). They played a lot of my favourites, and they were stellar as usual. Did you know that they are my second favourite band? Best song was a super-fast version of HFXNSHC.

After the encore, we decided that we wanted to go on a couple of rides. We spent $10 each on tickets, or credits as they are now called, and that will buy you 2 rides. I tell ya, when I was a kid and went to the fair, you got a heck of a lot more than 2 rides for $10... Anyway, we decided on the Ferris Wheel and the Scrambler, or the Sizzler as it is now called. Lucky for us, the guys at the Sizzler let us on for free, so we got a bonus ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Man, I forgot how much that thing whirled.

After that really good day, I've been kicking around in Toronto working on my back-to-school wardrobe. I think I've got it completed now. Let the madness begin!

I am also sadly aware that my stellar wardrobe isn't really going to teach the kids about atoms, ions, and how to balance a chemical equation. That meant that I had to drag myself into the school today. I got some photocopying done, so I feel much better about the whole having to teach next Tuesday thing. Photocopies are my security blanket. I kid you not, but each summer I do have a nightmare about going back to school and standing in front of the class completely unprepared with no photocopies. This year I had it in July. Anyhow, at least I don't have to worry about that becoming reality.

I typically get a little anxious before a new school year. I think it is partially because I worry that my classes will be bunches of hellions, and that I kind of forget how to teach over the summer. I still am not sure how I am able to fill three 75-minute classes a day with learning. Amazingly, I seem to figure it out each year, and I'm sure this year will be no different.

Even though I've been slowly accepting the inevitability of fall, I was able to rebel a bit today. When I went to Starbucks for a well-deserved frappucino, I resisted the new Pumpkin Spice Frappucino and went with my summer Orange Mocha deliciousness. It's so not time for fall frappucinos yet!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

When the walls fall down on your old town...

I've been neglecting the old blog as of late. For the past week, I've been visiting the 'rents in St. Ratford, and spending a lot of time running around and visiting people, so my dial-up internet forays have been limited to mainly email and facebook. So here is a long overdue post.

I spent an enjoyable week back home. First of all, I scored free rides there and back (woo-hoo!). I visited with quite a few friends too; I even got to catch up with a fellow colleague from my days teaching in Northern Ontario. I was quite pleased with the social aspect of my trip. I spent some time with my parents and watched some movies with them. Also, my uncle and his family from Ottawa were visiting so I got to see them too.

I caught my free ride back to Toronto yesterday, and I have an awesome day planned for today. There is a going-away party for a couple of my friends from university, since they are going to teach in Korea for a year. The party was going to be on Centre Island, but since the weather is really crappy and rainy, it's been moved to a house. Which is actually okay, because I'm feeling lazy and don't feel like taking the ferry.

This morning I got a pleasant surprise as I read the Toronto Star online with my breakfast. Sloan is playing tonight at The Ex (a really big fair that goes on for the last two weeks of summer - I hate when it starts because then I know summer's really coming to an end), and seeing them is free with admission. Woo-hoo! So, Becca T and I are going to go there after the party, catch the show, and then wander around the midway. I haven't seen Sloan since, oh goodness I can't remember - it may have been 2 years, so it's time. I really hope they play some of my faves from the new album. :)

Perhaps later in the week, I'll publish some deep thoughts or at least something more substantial. I have to admit that I'm getting a bit mopey. I'm going to have to go to school next week and start prepping for the new school year, which means using my brain, and my brain has been protesting muchly. It's much happier just reading fluffy novels, thinking about music, and staying up late to watch the Daily Show.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Just back where we belong.

Well, I'm home! Not for long though, since it looks like I can snag a free ride to St. Ratford on Saturday. This is ultra-convenient since I've not been there in a dog's age, and I was indecisive as to when I'd make the trip. I'm always happy when fate makes decisions for me.

Anyhow, my West Coast extravaganza has come to an end. Yesterday was an exhausting day of travelling from Seattle to Vancouver, and then flying from Vancouver back to Toronto. I spent today catching up on my sleep and ignoring the whole unpleasant task of unpacking and doing laundry. That'll be for tomorrow.

Yesterday while I was sitting in the Vancouver airport waiting for my plane, I took out the little notebook that I'd brought to use as a travel journal but ended up neglecting for the majority of the trip. I made a list of the highlights and
lowlights of my trip as I waited for my plane, and laughed aloud a couple of times as I was doing so, which caused an old man to give me a strange look which incidentally made me chuckle a bit more. I decided that my list would make a fabulous post-trip blog post, so here it is.

Highlights:
1) West Edmonton Mall - This is first since it's really the first thing that we did, plus I'd always wanted to go there when I was a materialistic middle schooler. It was cool.
2) Whyte Ave in Edmonton - Honestly though, I liked the shopping on this funky street in Edmonton much more than the large mall. If I was an Edmontonian, that's totally where I'd shop.
3) Seeing the Rockies for the first time



4) Dinner on Earl's Balcony in Jasper - This restaurant has the best view in Jasper. It's fun dining with the rockies as your back drop.
5) Columbia Icefield - We took the trip out to stand on the ever-shrinking Athabasca glacier outside of Jasper. It was really fun.



6) The town of Jasper - The whole place was super cute. I would compare it to those mini ceramic picturesque houses that people can buy and use to make their own cute little town.



7) Jasper to Edmonton train ride - Even though it was 17.5 hrs, it was relaxing, had some fabulous sights, and I got a good 7 hrs of sleep on the journey.
8) Vancouver Sushi - We ate a lot of sushi in Vancouver. There were three reasons for this: a) Becca T is a sushi nut; b) Vancouver sushi is super cheap (half of what it is in Toronto; and c) sushi is tasty.
9) Biking in Stanley Park - So pretty and so much fun. We were lucky to have great weather on this day.



10) Drinking in Gastown - Definitely my favourite Vancouver neighbourhood.
11) Walking around Victoria - Very pretty city.



12) Whale-watching in Victoria - It was so cold, and we only did see one whale (a grey whale), but I thought it was fun. At least we got to see some bonus sea lions and seals.



13) Renting a car and driving over the Granville St. Bridge in Vancouver
14) Walking up and down the beach in White Rock - That's the lovely little beach town to which I travelled for the wedding.



15)My roommate's wedding - Don't you love it when two lovely people get married? I'm going to miss them since I won't see as much of them.
16) Returning the car safely without having injured self, others, or the car - Did I mention that I'm a nervous driver when I'm driving in places I don't know?
17) Green Tortoise Hostel in Seattle - If you are even in Seattle, stay here. Thanks to a friend at work for this tip.



18) Seattle - I loved the Pike St. Market, visiting the first Starbucks ever, Pioneer Square, the Experience Music Project, and the Waterfront. Great city.



19) Meeting new people - I got to meet a lot of new people on this trip from coworkers of Becca T's who took us in and/or fed us, a super fun blog buddy who showed us around and was brave enough to get into a car with me behind the wheel, and random wedding guests (especially the cute boy who I talked to for most of the wedding). I had a lot of good conversations on this trip.
20) Arriving home safely

Lowlights
I made a list of lowlights not because I'm a negative complainer, but because I think the few random bad things that happened on my trip were actually rather humourous in retrospect.
1) Becca T giving me a nasty ginger candy while waiting in the Toronto airport - I can't believe she likes those things.
2) The really long probably about 5 hour wait in the tiny crappy isolated Edmonton train station. We had to wait the same length of time in Jasper, but we were downtown so we could check our bags and walk around and go for ice cream and what not.
3) Getting hit by a car in Burnaby - Yes, I was actually hit by a freaking car, but not injured in anyway. Let's just say that if you are a pedestrian, you must be very wary of Vancouver drivers. Becca T and I were crossing a street, and the light changed, and I did not see a car who decided that it should try to turn right at the same time I was in the intersection. It turned into me, and only hit my shoulder. Honestly, I felt so lucky it didn't run over my foot. I was in shock, and kind of assumed it was my fault (it totally wasn't), so I didn't react at first, but luckily there was another pedestrian who yelled at the driver. I have never been so rattled in my life. Again, I'm so lucky that I wasn't hurt. That would have ruined the trip.
4) Arrving in sketchy Seattle bus station - I did the Seattle leg of my trip by myself, and ended up taking a bus that got me into Seattle at 11 pm, and during the trip I wondered what the hell was I thinking - how safe can it be to arrive in a strange city, late at night, by yourself? When I saw the sketchiness of the Seattle bus station, I questioned my idea even more, but luckily, that bus station was the worst thing in Seattle; the rest of the city is lovely.
5) The bus trip back from Seattle to Vancouver - I scheduled a lot of time in between my arrival in Vancouver, and my flight, but I'm a worrywart, so I didn't really enjoy the trip. Well, part of that was the fact that I had to go back to the above bus station, and the fact we got held up at customs.

But when one compares the highlights to the lowlights, you can see what a really great trip I had. It's sad that it's done, but I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight. :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

I am too tired to think of a title.

All right, it's been awhile since I've done any vacation blogging. I tried once when I was at the hostel in Vancouver, but I ended up having problems with the internet and got rather fed up and went to bed. Right now, I've just arrived in Seattle and I'm just waiting to check in. Everything has been fabulous so far, but this internet is also slow, and my words are appearing on the screen slower than I am thinking them, so I'm going to quit and try blogging another time. You might have to wait until I'm back in the T-dot on Wed morning for all of the details of my West Coast craziness.

Update: It's the morning now and I'm well rested and a little bit more coherent. I have an exciting day planned of Space Needles and Starbucks. I'm pretty excited. I really like the hostel I'm staying at, but that may be more because I just had waffles for breakfast than anything. Ha-ha. No, but seriously, I liked it before the waffles. The waffles just sealed the deal.

My former roommate's wedding was also fabulous. Not that I had any doubt that it would be, since the girl has always had impeccable taste (as you can no doubt tell from her taste in roommates). The funniest part of it was that I had to rent a car to drive to the wedding, which really made me super nervous, since I rarely drive, especially in areas with actual traffic in highways. I have to say though, driving over the Granville St. bridge was really really really fun, and worth the nervous spazzes that preceded me renting the car, and the ones that I had when I got lost on the way back to Vancouver from the wedding.

Anyhow, I really hear the first Starbucks calling my name, so I'll catch ya'll when I'm back in Toronto!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Just hop a train you hate to fly...

Greetings from a random internet cafe in Jasper Alberta. I'm on day 5 of my Western Canada Extravaganza vacation! Thus far, it's been really awesome. We started in Edmonton, where we spent Tuesday and Wednesday. When we arrived on Tuesday it was freaking cold, and started to rain, so we thought it would be a great day to spend at the West Edmonton Mall. I think said mall still holds the title of World's Largest. When I was in grade 6, and really into shopping, and dismayed by the lack of shopping in Stratford, I really wanted to go to the West Ed. Well, my inner grade 6 was appeased, however, 8 years of living in Toronto has left me far too accustomed to great shopping, so all in all I was meh about it. All I ended up buying was a fun belt.

The next day, we spent the whole day walking around Edmonton, and spent some time shopping on Whyte Street, which is a really picturesque little street in the older part of town. There are lots of neat stores there. We had dinner at some friends of Becca's and played karoke games on their playstation. That was fun. Then we headed out to a pub downtown.

The next morning we were up early to catch our supposed 8:50 train. We arrived at the station, and it was running 3 hrs late! Gah! Now, if we were in Toronto, or even Stratford for gosh sakes, we could have just checked our baggage, left the station and wandered around downtown. However, the train station in Edmonton is way in the middle of nowhere, so we were stuck. I found it rather ironic that we ended up probably spending just as much time in the little crappy train station as we did at the mall. Anyhow, we eventually did get to board the train, and the ride itself was pretty good. It got awesome when we arrived in the Rockies. Lots of pictures were taken.

We ended up arriving in Jasper about 5 hrs late. We checked into our B&B then headed to town for dinner. We found a restaurant with a patio overlooking the mountains, which was awesome. After dinner, we wandered around for a bit, then it was off to sleep since the next day we had to be up early for a trip to the Columbia Icefields.

The trip to the glacier was really amazing. We got to see lots of scenery, and actually go out on the glacier. It was really cool, literally, ha-ha. There were all kinds of signs showing where the glacier ended during different times, which reminded me of An Inconvient Truth.

We returned in Jasper in time for supper, did some shopping, then hit a place where martinis were $1.00 off. I love martinis!

Today our train is scheduled to leave at 3 pm, but we'll see what time that turns out to be. It's okay if it's late here, since we can spend more time in town, and I've found a coffee shop that I'm in love with. Really, I wouldn't mind if the train was late since I feel they owe me 5 more hours in Jasper. Watch it be on time. Actually, I'd rather to make it to Vancouver sometime on Sunday morning, so hopefully it's not too late.

Anyhow, I have a 17.5 hr train trip separating me from Vancouver. I'm excited for Vancouver, because I'm looking forward to biking in Stanley Park, going to many sushi places, seeing the ocean, meeting up with a blog buddy, taking the ferry to Victoria, my old roommate's wedding, and eventually making my way to Seattle. Yay!