BBQ Action in Texas

Been here a few days now. Spent some time in Houston to get acclimatized. Some Tex-Mex food at Papasito’s which was such a treat. Sly and I love mexican food at the best of times and this was so fresh and delicious that we’ve vowed to hit them up on the last night we’re in the states in 3 weeks or so.

On Saturday we decided to head to Galveston to see what the Gulf of Mexico looks like in real life. Of course, I thought that only having a swim shirt on would keep me protected, I did get a fairly good burn, like I wasn’t wearing any protection. I’m still feeling the results of that. But the real interesting part of the visit was the realization that we we’re walking in ‘tar balls’ that come out of the ocean. Getting this stuff off your feet was hard until you remember the commercials with the Exxon Valdez and how Dawn was being used to clean oil off the ducklings. If it works for ducklings, I’m sure it would work for my feet. And it did.

Sunday was a travel day for us to head off to Dallas for a few days. It’s about a 4 hour drive but we split it up with a visit to Buc’ees, a truck stop very much in line with the Truck King Stop in Calgary if you’ve ever heard of it. It was huge and busy and the people walking in that area had no fucks to give. It took about 5 minutes of me walking among the great unwashed before I, too, relinquished my last fuck. But they had some fine beef jerky and some BBQ sandwiches that we enjoyed in the car while waiting for a fuel pump.

After spending $100 USD on assorted goods, we finally made our way back on to the highway before spending another hour on the road to Dallas.

Adding some pictures here from these couple of days. Want a way to document this time other than relying on Google Photos.

I’m finishing this post on our last night in Memphis so I’ve got some catching up to do.

Off to the States

We haven’t been doing the same amount of travel as we had previously. The Pandemic period of our life caused more havoc with our travel than this but even now we’re feeling the pinch.

That mostly has to do with me being unemployed more than anything. Sly has really become my sugar mama and I appreciate her for it. This trip will mostly be bankrolled by her but I am contributing a bit to cover my side.

Starting in Houston, going clockwise around the southern states

This will be a road trip through some of the southern States: Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, a wee bit of Florida and Louisiana. Though there’s a few places on that list that I’ve been to before ( I’m looking at you Dallas and Memphis) I haven’t been to the others. I’m really excited for the chance.

I’m turning 50 this year ( midlife crisis … activate!) and will spend that day with my wife in New Orleans. We’ve booked passage on a paddleboat and will enjoy the evening heading up the mighty Mississippi river while listening to some jazz music and enjoying some creole cuisine. Really something to look forward to.

Perhaps the best way to end this is on a positive note: I haven’t felt this good about my life and myself in quite some time. The feeling of despair and hopeless has dissipated though not totally disappeared. Let’s see how I feel after the trip has completed with both Sly and myself not dead to the other’s hand.

In the mean-time, I’m going to use some of the ‘behind the wheel’ time to think about what I want from the future. It’s time to get back to work doing something that interests me and will provide some additional revenues into the household budget. Wish me luck.

My Apathy is Overcoming My Caution

C-19 Sucks. Not travelling sucks. Having my guys unhappy at home sucks. And I’m losing the battle to continue doing what we’ve been doing for the past 2 years.

At what point does my life, which will probably be shorter than average due to the shit I’ve seen and done over the years, need to continue on with occasional trips away?

I’m very close to booking a ticket and finding somewhere to go. England just legislated the removal of testing for folks flying in from abroad. Maybe I go there for a week just to see what the world is like beyond my own city?

If I don’t do something interesting soon, I’m going to lose my shit.

Canmore: Summer Vacation 2021

Yay. We’re headed out for a few days of R&R about an hour away. Mostly it’s to get out of the damnable city while the ‘get drunk in cowboy garb’ folk are busying doing what they do. Even just the past couple of day have been intolerable.

It’s not Florida trip but it’s better than repeatedly being kicked in the face with soccer cleats. I think.

On another note, I’ve started studying intraday trading of the stock market. It’s an interesting topic and it’s been in the news over the past six months so it’s piqued my curiosity. My new morning process is getting up at 0600, taking a look at what the markets did overnight and selecting one or two stocks to play off the open using a simulator account that’s not real money. So far, in 5 weeks, I’m down almost $2k in play money. If/When I can get that simulated account in the green, I might consider using a real funded account to play around with it in the mornings.

Aim for the sky; even if you miss you’ll be among the stars. Or some such shit.

Summer Vacation 2020?

Sly and I went to Canmore for a couple of days for a quick break out of the city. We had a pretty good time with a couple of stand out moments. I like bulleted lists; I’m going to use one now.

  • Our hotel for the couple of days we were there was the Stoneridge Resort by Clique. Good enough for our needs but more on that later
  • Hiked up to Grassi Lakes like all good Albertans taking a day trip to Canmore are want to do
  • Birthday dinner at Tapas with one of my best mates, Mark. Great meal, great conversation, excellent Old Fashioned.
  • Then a couple of really lazy days

It truly was a great couple of days. Sly decorated the room for my birthday and I’m reminded of how much she makes me feel loved. That’s a good thing, right?

We’ve been together for 20 years in November and we know each other pretty well. Probably better than I’d prefer to admit though, so don’t tell her that if you see her. These sorts of occasions are over-rated, in my not so humble opinion. I’m forty-seven now. You think I’d start enjoying these things and forget about the past. Easy to say, hard to do.

Our hike was amazing and I’m reminded of how badly I’ve let myself go over the past ten years since I graduated from SAIT. Not to say I was some fine specimen of athleticism but that hike was tough. I spent most of the walk out of breath and moving slower than I’d like to admit. I did it but, much like my basic training and how badly out of shape I was when I went in, this was a mind over matter exercise. Also, not to self: if you stretch before you exert yourself, you might not be so sore the next day.

The hotel was OK. When we figured a getaway was in order, I checked a few different locations in Canmore and found this one to be having a deal for three nights for the price of two. Considering the place is around $300/night, I thought that was a steal. All in all it was OK and we’re actually considering visiting here again in December when it comes time for the Zaal Family Xmas getaway. Pretty sure we won’t be going to Vegas this year, which sucks more than I can adequately express. Anyway…

Something to remember about the Banff area is that they have two seasons: high and ski. Summer they get all manner of tourists with more money than cents (I’m so clever) who book up these hotels for the family in the range of $300 – $600 a night depending on the amenities and during the ski season the prices drop by two thirds.

Ours was their basic room with a king bedroom, fireplace and full kitchen. Nicely appointed, clean. Like I said, “OK”. Due to the C-19, rooms weren’t being serviced which wasn’t a terrible thing. Pool and deck area were being limited in capacity but it didn’t bother us. We’d much rather be out in the wild or sitting in front of our screens.

Growing up, my sister and I would spend summers with our Father, usually up in Edmonton or Jasper. As we grew older, we would work with our Father at whatever Greek owned restaurant he was employed at. We’d make some spending money and get some valuable service industry experience that would come into play, at least for me, later in my life.

This aside is simply because spending a few days in Canmore, the same ‘type’ of tourist town I spent my summers in, gave me the same ‘feeling’ I’d experienced when I was younger. Beautiful place to visit but holy shit, the visitors and the way they behave in that town was fucking ridiculous. And don’t even get me started on the prices for simple things like a soft drink. In short, I really miss spending time in the mountains AWAY from people. I’m going to make a point of trying to get out there more often, probably closer to the shoulder season when people are back home.

All in all, summer vacation 2020 was not what we wanted but we were together and I think that’s really all that matters.

Such a Sad Day

Yes, I know this is pathetic, but I do want to commemorate this date. Sly and I were supposed to be flying out to Florida today to spend three weeks visiting the Mouse. With this C-19 floating around, the border technically closed for pleasure travel, and the restrictions set in place for visitors of Disney World there was no way we would have a good time.

How can you social distance for something like this?

So we cancelled. Everything. The beach days and hotel at Melbourne Beach. The Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy. The two weeks at Pop Century Resort and the 4 parks. Not to mention the flights from home to Orlando with an airline I’ve not used often for pleasure travel, United Airlines.

I figured that last one was going to be a real problem. I had a trip planned for April to Vegas and had to cancel that as well but that was with Delta. We’ve had good experience with them so far and they treated me well enough as the trip was right at the beginning of the North American outbreak and closure of.. well, everything. I actually had to go to Twitter to get some Delta attention to my plight and they eventually settled up with a e-voucher who’s value was the complete cost of the ticket so at least I’m not out any money. I wasn’t sure if the same sort of treatment was going to be applied from UA. Turns out I didn’t need to worry about it. More on that later.

In all, we were looking at a significant amount of money that was seemingly ‘rescheduled’. The Disney tickets were a bit of a stickler as we’d purchased them using a ‘Canadian Residents only’ deal that they always have in January. Save some money, lock yourself into using the tickets in the same calendar year and you’re golden. We didn’t really lose any money but now we are going to miss out on something that has become an annual pilgrimage for fun and relaxation.

I know it might seem petty but we’re devastated and don’t know how we’re going to manage our motivation levels for the next twelve months. Sly has been especially hard hit by this as she looks forward to it each year. On top of that, she was actually speaking about doing something else next year, different than Disney anyways. Now with all this value being pushed to next year, I don’t see us being able to make a change.

Now the reason I wasn’t terribly upset with what might happen with the airline tickets is I bought them through the American Express Travel site. I consumed some of my Membership Reward points (40k) for a ticket to Orlando and paid cash for the other one. Needless to say, when we started considering how we’d deal with the airline (some of them have been right bastards) it was looking pretty grim. Then AMEX stepped in.

They sent us an email with notification that they needed to talk to us due to our flights being cancelled. I called them the same day I got the email. I’m very happy to report that I didn’t have to do anything except confirm my wishes for the tickets as they were going to refund them directly to my Amex Card. No sweat off my brow, as they say.

I’ve been very happy with the Amex for the past two years we’ve been members. I get a lot of value out of the perks for travel we receive plus the points program seems made for us as we put ALL our purchases on the card as often as we can. There is a steep annual fee but nothing that isn’t reduced simply by having the card active.

So here we sit, on the day we were supposed to be leaving, in a pitiful heap wondering what to do. Sly is on vacation for the next month and I’m off work next week for three. We’re going to Canmore for my birthday.

I know I shouldn’t be bitter about it but when I think that I was supposed to be sitting on a ship, enjoying a nice dinner and an overpriced bourbon, I’m pretty broken up about it.

But we’ll get over it. Just a matter of time, right? Time heals all wounds?

I’ve not touched the elephant in the room, specifically, for a reason. Yes, I know that the C-19 is bad and that it’s contagious and that by cancelling our plans we could very well have saved our lives or the lives of people we might have passed it on to, unknowingly. Still doesn’t take the sting out of the whole thing. So we’re going to stay in Canada, maybe take a couple of safe day trips that will get us out of the city and try to enjoy ourselves while thinking of all the money we’re saving with our limited daily expenses.

Still disappointing.

First Morning

I love waking up in Vegas… there’s an palpable excitment in the air. But it’s restrained. Like a coiled viper waiting to strike. People are wandering around looking for their next fix. For me and Sly? We’re hunting coffee!

Right across the street from us is the Park MGM with it’s upscale food court, Eataly. We decided to seek caffeine there and weren’t disappointed. Though costly ($5.40 USD for a medium Americano) the quality is amazing!

Sly loves her cofffee!

We’re headed to the M Resort for seafood buffet around lunch. I’m so happy to be here with Sly. I’ve been here three times solo since our last trip here. I’ll break her of her planning bug if it kills me!