Friday, July 30, 2010

Bird Crap

As I was walking home last night a seagull was kind enough to crap on me. I felt the droppings hit the back of my head but the 'bulk' of his load landed on my thigh. While it was pretty gross, there really wasn't much I could do until I got home.

So naturally, I made sure to purchase a lottery ticket on the way home.

Yeah, it's a little superstition but it did make my evening a lot more enjoyable. Instead of fuming about being shat on I was feeling 'lucky.' Having said that, the shower I took when I got home felt pretty good. I was happy to be cleaned up.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend explorations along Robson Street

Ah, the weekend. This was a slow one for us, which was quite nice to be honest about it. We stuck close to home but did manage to get out to a couple places. One of those places is a little coffee and desert bar called Chicco. We discovered it in the KLIP coupon book that Holly picked up on our most recent stop in to Konbiniya.

Okay, let me explain all that a bit. My wife has been learning to speak Japanese, so naturally we will sometimes stop into Konbiniya as it is basically a Japan-styled convenience store. For all I know, that might explain the name but really I have no clue since I'm not the one learning the language. But they do make tasty dessert crepes on-site there, so I say the store is good. One of the things that can be found in the store is the KLIP coupon booklet. It's like a free, very thin magazine. They have both English and Japanese versions and we discovered a while ago that there is usually a 2 for 1 coupon for Waves coffee. I'm somewhat surprised that the staff at Waves don't know us on a first name basis yet. (Interesting note: I wrongly guessed at the url for waves and entered, which led me to a website for a religious group in Vancouver, BC. No word yet on how good their coffee is.)

So this weekend, my wife suggested we try a couple of the spots that were advertised in KLIP, which we did. Chicco cafe was the first, where I had a Red Beans and Soy with coffee drink and Holly had a Red Beans and Soy with Green Tea. These were some mighty fine drinks. They were kind of like a bubble tea, and the red bean added sweetness to the drink. Since I normally prefer my coffee unsweetened, it was a nice mix as the bean never got too sweet. We will most likely be back to try more of their menu.

I can't even tell you the name of the other place we tried last night. It used to be called Blueberry World, right next to the McDonald's on the corner of Robson and Bidwell streets. I think it's called something like Fresh now. They sell frozen yogurt but unlike most other places, it tastes like they actually use yogurt. It was very refreshing and I preferred it over the 'no difference from regular ice cream' variety of frozen yogurt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Unplanned Early Start

I woke up at 5:00 am this morning and despite my best efforts, I couldn't get back to sleep. Since that was not going to happen, I reached over and grabbed my ipod to check twitter - more out of idle curiosity than anything else. While it was no surprise to see Bill and a few friends in Europe actively tweeting, what surprised me was how many Vancouverites were already active - including some who are notorious for craving their morning sleep. I'm talking about you, gwilli - what the heck were you doing tweeting at 5:30 am this morning?

Anyhow, since I wasn't going to be sleeping I figured I might as well get up and go for a bike ride. I'm so glad that I did because I didn't realize quite how much I was missing it. The temperatures had not yet warmed up so I made sure to put on a long sleeved shirt under my cycling jersey but I took a chance on not wearing more than shorts. It was chilly at first, but I soon warmed up.

Since I had a little extra time on my hands, I figured I could complete one task that has been left open since my trip to New Brunswick to visit my brother. During that visit we had gone to see the Hopewell Rocks and my brother took a little time to discover a geocache while we were there. This was all new to me and he had to explain what a geocache is, and what it's about. Here comes my shortened, bastardized version of that explanation: people hide crap in the woods and expect other people to come find it. Most use expensive satellite receptors in order to find this stuff. Some even think it's fun. They even have their own lingo, which somehow makes it worse although I'm not yet sure why that is.

The net result of all this was that Shawn discovered a 'travel bug' in said geocache and figured it might be fun if he gave it to me so I could place it in a different cache, located back here in Vancouver. A travel-bug is basically a token that you are invited to steal so that you can hide it somewhere else. It usually has a serial number on it, so that you can record where you hid it on the geocaching website. Some, like this one, are quite nice and not crap at all. However let's be honest - most of the stuff you will find in these random tupperware containers is going to be crap.

So I've been carrying this travel bug as a guest in my wallet ever since that day trip in New Brunswick. It came with me to Las Vegas - at one point we thought about stashing it somewhere along the strip in Sin City, but well, that didn't happen. It seems that while things that happen in Vegas stay in Vegas, things brought into Vegas tend to leave shortly thereafter despite all best efforts to the contrary. So while this travel bug spent some time at the slot machines, it was but a brief stop before ending up (for now) at Stanley Park.

I haven't linked directly to the geocache in question mostly because it is supposed to be a bit of a treasure hunt and I didn't want to make it too easy to find. There are enough clues here though that for those who are into this sort of thing, they could find this travel bug easily enough. Of course, once my brother updates the website, the official geocachers will have all the info they need. (that should happen later today, btw.)

Near the end of my morning ride I happened to notice the new location for this year's Celebration of Light barge. It's a little further out this year which means the best locations will be different again.

Oh yeah. here's a fun fact: on Friday (tomorrow) it will be 40 days until my 40th birthday. I've been thinking about this a little bit lately and am still not sure what I would like to do to mark the occasion. Maybe that's why I couldn't sleep.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Rodent Intruder

I didn't expect to be blogging again quite this soon.

Last night, at around 4:00 am we woke up to the sounds of our cats crashing about in the living room. This was more than the usual late night friskiness, so I got up to check out the situation. As I enter the living room I notice that Sophie has a mouse (or baby rat, I have no idea) trapped in a corner. Sassy isn't far behind her. At first they weren't sure if they were in trouble or not. Obviously, I wasn't going to be sleeping until this situation was resolved. Once they saw that I was going to be joining them in this hunt, the two cats immediately fell in line and we set about chasing out the rodent.

At first I thought it was going to be easy - I startled it and the mouse ran toward the patio door, which was open. This was my fault, we don't normally leave the door open all night and presumably this is how the mouse came inside. My luck ran out fast though, about as fast as the mouse as he ran past the door and behind the desk. I hopped up on the sofa so I could lift the drapes to the window - I didn't want to lose track of the little beastie. In the process, I kicked over a glass on the coffee table. Of course, it broke.

By now Holly wants to know what is going on and if I am okay. I let her know we have a mouse and continue with the hunt. The cats managed to keep it contained to the desk area while I picked up the worst of the glass and got socks and shoes on my feet. Then it was my job to try forcing the mouse to retreat back out the patio door. But the cats didn't get that memo. They had blood on their lips and were liking the taste. Instead of letting the mouse go from the desk to the door, they were waiting at the edge of the desk for the first chance to strike.

This sent the mouse back at me, jumping. At this time I'd like to point out that when a human attempts to catch a mouse, it's a lot like a game of hot potato. You don't really want to be touching it. Cats on the other hand, well to them it's more like tackle football, but with a tasty, moving piece of steak. The steak mouse took a leap into the middle of the room and made a run for it, with the two cats in hot pursuit.

We were very VERY lucky that night. We were all very lucky that the mouse headed toward the main entrance of the condo and NOT into the bedroom, where Holly was in bed, listening to the commotion. Still, once I saw they had the mouse cornered by the door I knew I had an opportunity. I opened the door and chased the mouse out of the condo. Finally I could close the patio door and put my pants on.

I quickly dressed, grabbed the broom and headed out in the hall after the mouse. I couldn't just leave it there to be discovered by someone else, or even worse for it to enter another condo. I propped open the main door with some papers that had been delivered and started my search. I found the mouse hiding over by the mail boxes and started my chase again.

By now I was getting the hang of things and with the broom to extend my reach I was able to coax the mouse over to the right corner so that he could find the door. Once he was outside he disappeared into the darkness faster than I could have kept track. I closed the door, returned to the condo and praised the cats after updating Holly on the status of the mouse. It was about that time when Louise woke up, wondering what was going on.

While I was able to go back to bed and fall back asleep quickly, the cats were way too hyped up to think about sleeping. I'm pretty sure they stayed on patrol for the rest of the night - just in case.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Married for Ten Years

As of today, Holly and I have been married for ten years. To mark the occasion we Holly booked a trip to Las Vegas. Neither of us are gamblers but both of us were craving that dry desert heat. I mean, let's face it: Vancouver has been cool and damp this spring and things have yet to warm up much as summer rolled in. I should warn you now that this won't be a short blog post.

The trip started with a VERY early morning to catch our flight out of Vancouver. Holly had booked us in online the night before so we were able to bypass the first checkin and proceed directly to airport security. This was in part because we were flying on Delta Air and they charged extra for any checked in bags, despite the fact that we were flying international. We have had our gripes about West Jet and Air Canada in the past, but at least they have always allowed us to check in luggage without charging extra for it. Anyway, we had adjusted our things and planned it out so that we would carry on all our stuff. When we arrived at the security checkpoint Holly was flagged for the 100% check. It took a LOT longer for her and they even made her take off her flip flops. In contrast, I was through security in mere minutes and was waiting on the other side for her. Why they decided to split us up I have no idea.

Once through that the rest of our flights were pretty smooth. We had a layover in Salt Lake City and even there we noticed how much warmer it was. For some reason the airline stewardess on the first leg of our trip did not like Holly. She would look at her sideways and was somehow bothered by her mere presence. It was a strange experience since Holly hadn't said or done anything to provoke her. It was a strange encounter and we laughed it off afterward.

We landed in Vegas and took the shuttle to the car rental area. It's in a separate building from the airport and the whole system runs pretty smooth. Originally we planned on renting a car with Dollar, but while arranging to pick it up, and going through the extra fees, hidden insurance costs, etc. we asked if there was a penalty if we canceled. We were informed there was none, so we decided to walk away and just explore Vegas on foot instead. Our agent was completely fine with that and even offered to give us a free shuttle ride to our hotel, even though we were not going to be renting a car with him. I'll be clear: the fees and extra insurance costs are not unique to Dollar, but are part of Nevada's state law. This means all the car rental spots there operate the same. In my mind we got great service from Dollar and we took them up on their offer to shuttle us to the airport.

Our shuttle driver was a helpful and friendly guy who was originally from Chicago. He told us stories about Las Vegas and gave us advice on where to buy cheap bottled water on the strip. We made sure to tip him well because he made this short part of our trip that much more enjoyable.

Finally we were at the Venetian Hotel, our destination. Actually we were staying in the Venezia, which is part of the same complex. This hotel is decorated in a classic Italian theme with painted murals on the ceilings and lots of extra crown moulding. The suite we were staying in was very large and well appointed. It took not one, but two elevator rides to get from the front desk to our room.

This became a theme in most of the large casinos on the strip. They are built in a way to make it difficult to escape. Even after leaving the hotel, if you wanted to go south, you had to first head north until you got to the strip. I am not really complaining about this, it's just something we noted while we were out and about. Holly really enjoyed the heat outside so a few extra minutes in the sun was no bother for her.

On the strip there was a LOT to see and do. We made no attempt at trying to do everything - it would be pointless to try in the time we would be there. But we did get to see a lot. We walked to most places and discovered a few gems to eat at, like Canters in Treasure Island and Chipotle, an organic mexican food restaurant located right on the strip.

On the third day we got a 24 hour bus pass each so that we could go shopping at the Premium Outlet mall. There were several options to choose from but only one actually went far enough to get to the mall, and none of the options were all that fast. Still, the bus was air conditioned and took us past many of the sights one would hope to see on the strip. And it sure beat walking. At the outlet malls, and also at various places on the strip were these mist sprayers designed to return some of the humidity back to the air. They didn't actually cool you down at all but they did help to keep the air breathable.

Now for the geek tip for Las Vegas. If you happen to buy a ticket for the Ace Gold line bus like we did, it can take you to the only Frys store in Nevada. Just go south, and get out at the Town Square stop, near the southern outlet mall. It's a three minute walk south from there. I picked up a bluetooth mouse for my macbook pro, and was using it on the flight home. I stopped there though. I could probably have spent an hour or so going through the various deals they had, but really, the mouse was what I was hoping to get this trip.

Another stop we made was to the Rainforest Cafe. We went to the Rainforest Cafe when it was in Burnaby on one of our first dates, so it held some sentimental value for us. The Burnaby store is no longer in business and I wasn't expecting to see one in Vegas, so it was a pleasant surprise, and we both enjoyed our meals. A lot. It was located inside the MGM Grand hotel and casino, a place we had to visit again the next day to see the lions on display. None of my photos of the sleeping lions turned out that well, but it was fun to be able to walk down a glass hallway and see them sleeping on Plexiglas above you. Apparently they sleep quite a lot.

There was so much more that we did and saw while there, it was a fantastic way to ring in ten years of marriage. There were high points and low ones, but overall it was memorable, happy and most importantly, blazingly hot.

I love you Holly. Thanks for putting all of this together because really, none of it would have happened without you.