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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another year comes to a close with me on the computer and my wife sleeping soundly on the couch. I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.
I have plenty of things to be thankful for even though I have a lot of shit going on that just generally sucks. My wife continues being the best thing that ever happened to me, I get a chance to travel ( though not as much as I would like ), I work with people who I enjoy going out with and consuming soju (SSome in Calgary is great) and I don’t particularly mind going into work everyday.
These are all things that I know I should be grateful for; and I am. But like many other people I know, more would be better. More time off, more salary, more enjoyable work projects.
New Years’ Resolutions rub me the wrong way; I don’t like them. Too often people say what they’d like to change without ever actually putting a plan together for how they are going to make those changes in their life. I was one of those people for many years. Then I just stopped making them. Completely.
That won’t change this year either. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve done so far and make slight course corrections as necessary to continue pushing myself in the same direction I have since the Winter of 2008: to give my wife a life that both of us can enjoy to it’s fullest. If I can keep my wife happy, my life will follow.
I wish whoever took the time to read this the very best of 2016 and hope that you get exactly what you work for or exactly what you have coming to you.
Sly and I have made an annual trip to Vegas during the Xmas break. It’s turned into a bit of a tradition and I’ll tell you why (in no particular order):
Endless entertainment options
World Class dining establishments
No (family) drama
After our first trip we really understood how Vegas could answer the holiday blues for us. When it came time to decide our vacation the next Xmas break, it was a very easy decision to make. So we went again. And it was glorious.
We ate at Burgr, had a champagne brunch (bring on the pitcher of mimosa!!!) , and saw Zarkana, another of the incomparable Cirque de Soleil shows. We visited the Mob Museum, wandered around Fremont Street and did some shopping at the North and South Premium Outlets! Our hotel last year was the MGM Grand and our room was so fantastic, we’ll be using them for our hotel again due to the amenities and the proximity to the theatre we attend to see a movie or two. (Last year we managed to get into a preview of Into the Woods! So cool!). See the gallery below for some pictures.
You’ll notice something from the list of activities above: no gambling in a city where gambling is one of the main draws. Not to say we didn’t gamble! Sly and I spent a bit of time at a Walking Dead slot machine and had a great time. We even ended up coming out significantly ahead due to a lucky spin. But that was it, nothing else. No poker, no blackjack, no roulette.
As you may or may not know, my Father was a gambler. Even worse, he was a gambler that didn’t know when to quit and, I realize now, didn’t understand that gambling to excess is like anything else: damaging to yourself and those around you. Eventually he lost something of value beyond a few restaurants and money: he lost his family.
Indiana Jones is probably one of my favorite franchises and the thought of being able to have a meal and a drink in this type of themed facility excites me to no end. I’m hoping for a level of authenticity without so much… ‘polish’.
Disney has several areas that could be considered ‘authentic’. The first that comes to mind is the area of the Animal Kingdom that they call Africa. There’s a little village in there with some neat shops, a bar and a restaurant that simply makes me feel like I’m sitting in a bar, having an African beer in the middle of the Congo. That’s the sort of thing I’m hoping for.
When Sly and I started vacationing at Disney, it was almost exclusively for her. Then slowly but surely there were more and more things that I am in and wanted to see. Star Wars was huge. When Disney bought the Marvel Studios means that there will be something occurring in that vein in the future. And now this.
I can only hope they do it right. I have confidence in the Imagineers and their love of the material. And I can hardly wait till I get a chance to tip my Poet’s Hat back on my head and enjoy a shot of whiskey. 🙂