Category Archives: Adventure

Fremont Street Ziplining and Casino Dance Parties (Vegas Day 3)

(Just a note, I am switching my blog to self-hosted today [finally, I’ve been wanting to do this for about two years], so I am hoping it all goes smoothly and you do not experience any viewing issues…though knowing my luck there may be some technical difficulties. In that instance, please bear with me – I’m sure I’ll be able to figure it out within a couple days. I am also hoping that all you email followers will still be emailed my posts, but please let me know if it stops working!)

Our last day in Vegas started with us at the Mirage pool once again. It is so cold back here that I couldn’t pass up pool time in the sunshine. Lisa and I set up shop at 10am, got a sweet spot, sat back and waited for our friends to arrive.

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And arrive they did. The weather was just as beautiful as the day before, and our time was just as hilarious. Our entire group of 14 made it down for at least part of the day. We had a new server and she came over to us yelling “YAY, I get the Canadians today!!!!” she had apparently heard all about us the day before. Everyone wants the Canadians, I tell you what. We regaled her with all our stories from the previous two days, and she laughed quite heartily.

So, we spent the entire day at the pool, eventually breaking around 4pm for lupper. California Kitchen was conveniently located in our hotel. I know, we really went all out food-wise. Much pizza. Such foodie.

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I will do the food thing better next time. But, California Kitchen is not in Canada, as far as I know, so at least we were trying something new. And my pizza was delicious!

After eating, most of our group decided it was nap time, but since it was our last day Matt and I thought we should keep the party going, so we went on an adventure of our own. We played some blackjack and roulette in the Mirage (lost at Blackjack, won a bit at roulette), and then walked the strip in the opposite direction than the day before, the Treasure Island side.

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Yarrrrr

That side was not quite as fun, and there were less things to see (aside from the Treasure Island ship), but of course we still had a good time and we had a really great convo also. One of my favourite things about Matt is that he laughs at almost everything I say. I also probably laugh at everything he says. So we just spend the whole time laughing, and that makes me feel warm and funny.

Then, back to the hotel room to get ready with my equally funny bestie.

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Tonight, we take on Fremont Street, about 20 minutes from the strip (but if you are going to Vegas I cannot recommend Fremont Street enough, you HAVE to go there). 10 of us were going, so that means LIMO, hey ya!

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The limo was a time all on its own, and then we arrived, and my mind was immediately blown (I am not meaning to rhyme, but I guess it works).

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I mentioned the strip was stimulation overload, well Fremont Street was STIMULATION. OVERLOAD. I didn’t know where to look! So many things were going on! I read about it before I left, but nothing could have prepared me for it.

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I’m getting all cheesy here, but I love these girls like my family and I am so glad we did this together.

Fremont Street is original Vegas, the old strip, with all the famous casinos. I love that it is older and cheesier, with more characters around for us to talk to (/mildly harass). I wish we spent more time there so I could explore the whole thing, but I promise you I will be going back. Evan and I are going to explore every inch of this place one day. Maybe we’ll even eat here!

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For free! A girl can dream…

Aside from all the characters, and the character casinos, and the character bars, I especially enjoyed the light show on the ceiling of the street.

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Could not stop looking up.

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How ridiculous is it? I feel like the planners were all “Hey, what’s the craziest thing we could do to take this street to the next level? Light show on the ceiling? Okay then!”

Emily, Dawn, Lisa, Heather, Matt and I decided that we should do the Fremont Street Experience, which is ZIPLINING down the street. Because, when in Vegas. We were excited.

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Favourite picture of the trip probably.

Do you see the black lines above my head under the ceiling lights in the photo below?

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Those are the ziplines.

We bought our tickets electronically from a little store by the base of the ziplining tower and lined on up. Even just being in line was funny. We met this wonderful lady and her husband.

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I want to say she is from Texas? I could be wrong. I think everyone is from Texas. We liked her a lot, and I am going to assume that we are her favourite people as well. We may have called her mom.

And then we got all suited up in our ziplining gear.

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I feel like I need to tell you that Heather is flexing like a muscle man, but her arms got cut off it so unfortunately it just looks like she is awkward face. Contrary to her face, she is not angry or constipated, just flexing. I also need to tell you that if there is even the slightest chance that your night is going to take a turn for the zipline, do not wear a dress. When the guys were putting my harness on they accidentally lifted up the back of my dress and the entire lineup behind us saw my butt. They all clapped and cheered at least, so it could have been worse. Still slightly awkward, but what can ya do.

Emily is not a fan of heights so I didn’t think she was going to want to do this, but she was a serious trooper. She had a bit of a moment RIGHT before she launched off the platform, and there may have been a few tears, but the guy who was checking our harnesses was awesome. He came over to Emily, gave her a hug and a pep talk and actually wiped the tears from her eyes. It was a very touching moment.

No photos of the zipline experience because they are $20 and I spent my photo quota on the rollercoaster picture, but it was amazing and it only hurt my crotch a tiny bit. Here’s a video (not mine) of what it was like if you want to see. If you go there you gotta do it.

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Happy Zipliners.

After the ziplining, we met up with the rest of the group at D Casino.

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Brent was playing some killer $5 minimum blackjack so I immediately joined in on that, and we roped in Lisa and Elliott as well. We played for about an hour and although I was up a lot in the beginning I ended up losing $50, which is my gambling max. Oh well, when in Vegas. These casinos were definitely cheesier than the classy ones on the strip, and they played loud dance music. We were pretty hyped up from the ziplining and just the hilarity of the night in general, so we started a dance party in between the blackjack tables. Clubs aren’t my thing but I’ll tell you what is, dance parties between card tables in a Vegas casino. We were pulling people up from the tables, people were joining us when they walked in…it was very funny and it is one of my favourite moments of maybe my life. Oh Fremont Street. I could never live there, I would go crazy. But it sure was fun to visit.

And if you are souvenir hunting let it be known that everything is cheaper on Fremont Street than it is on the strip. I got the outfit below for a mere $30, and I saw those same pants on the strip for $50, so that was a huge score.

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That shirt is obviously the biggest score. Like silk but polyester. It was a gift for Evan and I really hope he wears it. You know who would definitely wear it, and not even as a joke? My dad.

And that was our Vegas experience. I’m still going to write about Divas, but otherwise, that was our trip. I loved our group and I just can’t even describe how funny everything was. Someone would branch off and have their own adventure and then come back and tell us about it, and we would all be on the floor laughing. I don’t even think a minute went by when I wasn’t laughing. I am so glad I went and was able to experience this with the people I did. Thank you for planning this and inviting me Heather!!!! Happy Dirty 30!

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Bahama Mamas

Ahoy ahoy! I am back! We arrived home from the Bahamas (or The Pajamas as Evan likes to say) on Thursday evening and I immediately showered and slept for nearly 12 hours. It was back to work yesterday for me so I wanted to make sure I was in tip-top condition for that. It’s a busy time of year and I had a ton to catch up on.

Our trip was really great. We were only gone for four days, and technically only had two full days there, so I knew going in that it was just going to fly by, and it did…but I found there was still ample time for adventuring.

I think I am going to keep with my standard vacation blogging protocol. I like to ease you into things with the highlights and then get into more detail on our resort, the food, the shenanigans, etc. It may have been a quick trip but I still have a ton to talk about. And yes I sure will milk it for blog content.

As I mentioned, I was vacationing with all my coworkers and their spouses/friends. Our entire trip was a Christmas present last year from my CEO to us.

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Because we look like the type of group who you’d want to give a very fun Christmas present to.

He must really like us all to want to hang out with us for four days straight (he is the one holding the wine bottles). We all became very close on this trip. My fellow coworker and turquoise twin in the front with me just started with us two weeks ago and we are already clutching hands. And before our trip I didn’t even know who this person is.

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But now she is my new bff. That is what happens when you take an all-inclusive vacation with your coworkers and their spouses/friends. Not to mention all the food and all the alcohol. You have much intensified bonding time. And EVERYTHING will be hilarious. Watching my boss with his two brothers who were also on the trip (they are very involved with our company and I have met them many times before) was like watching a comedy show. Actually, the one-liners from everyone in attendance were a’plenty. It was impressive. We were all comedians and I loved it.

At first I wondered what the protocol was for hanging out with your coworkers outside of work. Did they want to? Are we excited when we see each other at the airport, or do we try to avoid each other? I learned pretty quickly that yeah, we wanna hang out and get to know each other, because this is not work and we’re all pretty cool people and we might never again all be together in a place like this in this sort of situation, so we better take advantage. Or at least that is how I felt.

The trip is hands down the most extravagant gift I have ever received and believe me I know how lucky I am. I am not sure I can even put into words how grateful I am that this happened to me. I probably thanked my CEO a million times, and I doubt I am even close to being done with the thanking yet.

Anyway, let’s get to some details. We stayed at the Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, Bahamas and it was as beautiful as you would expect a Sandals in the Bahamas to be.

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The photos look like professional resort photos, but that is from my phone. It is just that nice.

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Paradise and a half. But more on that later.

My boss also, as a surprise, got us all gift certificates to use at the spa while we were there. A Sandals spa, which I will probably never have the opportunity to visit again so I was pretty excited. And also apprehensive, since I have never actually been to a spa before (I am not really a spa person and to be honest I feel weird about strangers touching me)… Evan was in the same boat so we had a hard time deciding what to do. I knew I had to get something besides a pedicure though. Eventually we decided to go with the 60-minute “Scents of Love” couples massage because why not?

It was interesting. I felt weird at first and for the initial 10 minutes I wondered how I was going to last through another 50 of a stranger vigorously rubbing me. But I relaxed pretty quickly and actually at one point was enjoying it so much that I started drooling.

The most awkward thing was in the beginning before the massages started we were instructed to light candles and to “make promises to each other,” which may be the cheesiest thing I have ever been asked to do. But I promised that I wouldn’t laugh during the massage, and I kept that promise and did not even let out one tiny giggle when my masseuse was essentially tickling my feet (I am VERY ticklish).

And near the end of the massage our masseuses tried to get us to hold hands while we laid on our separate tables, but we were both blindfolded and they just started mashing our hands together and we didn’t know what was happening and I thought my masseuse was trying to get me to hold her hand so I was all stiff and awkward… And then they said “So we are putting your hands together right now…” Ohh, okay. We get it. We’ll hold hands.

Anyway, it was an experience, and we received those promise candles as keepsakes so we can “scent your bedroom” (direct masseuse quote) so I guess that’s a good thing. Who doesn’t enjoy a well-scented bedroom?

Um, what else.

We ate a lot.

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Enough for an entire post about food? YUP.

In four days we squeezed in a significant amount of beach time…

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Pool time…

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I may be a bad influence… and no we are not peeing, there is a yellow design on the bottom of the pool.

Social time…

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Evan and his new buds.

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Me and mine. Again I might be a bad influence.

And also alone timone.

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We had absolutely perfect weather, and I was never at any point the drunkest.

It was amazing and I feel like I love everything right now.

I will be back with some more deets on Monday, but in the meantime have a great weekend!!!

Emily’s Last Sail Before the Veil Part 2

Part 1 here.

SALUT! On Day 2 of Emilio’s Nauti Nautical Bachelorette in Montreal, we had a big ol’ sleep-in (seriously probably the latest I’ve slept in all summer, it was great) before heading out for a late breakfast. Really more of a lunch at that point. That crafty cat Sara, Emily’s sister, made us all sashes for our day activities, and Emily also brought shirts for us to wear. We were perfectly matchy-matchy in our bachelorette gear. One of our friends was unable to come so we even had extra clothing for Chester.

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He should be covered up while in public during the day, so that worked out.

We went to a really cute cafe around the corner from our hotel called Universe Déjeuner + Grillades (j’adore le Francais!)

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Sistas!

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Not sistas!

I loved the whole nautical theme Emily had going on. I thought we all looked fabbity-fab.

I figured that since I was in Montreal I needed to get something different for breakfast, and I really was craving something of the savoury variety… Enter my cheddar, apple and bacon crepe.

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Ohh yes. It was delicious. That picture doesn’t do it justice, but it really was. I was kind of sick all last week (so was Evan, and my Bestie Lisa, and Corina – I have no idea what we all had but it was annoying), so my appetite was not up to par alllll weekend and it was very disappointing. Especially since I was in Montreal. I wanted to eat all the french things but I just wasn’t up for it. I could barely eat half of that crepe, and I tried so hard!

The best part of breakfast was when our servers brought us shots to the table.

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I will not be saying the name of this shot, but I know you know what kind of shots these are.

I will tell you right now that this would not happen in Ontario. We do not just give out free alcohol, even if it is a bachelorette party. So that was pretty sweet. They brought one for all of us, but Emily got an extra glass with whipped cream all down the side. She had to get the whipped cream AND take the shot without using her hands. She was up for the task.

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It was pretty impressive.

After breakfast we picked up Joanna and Sherrie, who had arrived at the hotel while we were eating, and headed into Old Montreal, or specifically, Old Port.

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We were going on a boat ride!

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That “sauna boat” (our name for it) just ahead of the girls to the right was our boat for the next two hours. Hence Emily’s last sail before the veil and the nautical theme.

I don’t know if this is typical for this boat tour, and maybe it was because it was rainy, but our boat was completely empty. Aside from one other man we had the entire place to ourselves!

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Not to worry though, we weren’t lonely. We made friends with the crew.

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That guy was hilarious.

Even the captain came out to chat with us.

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We were sad that he did not have a captain’s hat that we could borrow…

Emily’s husband-to-be, Corey, might want to watch out because our little Emilio got proposed to by another crew member on our boat tour.

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The “ring” is the tab from like a Tropicana carton or something…

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But Em was really excited.

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It was cute.

Our new boat friends took us all around the St. Lawrence River.

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Molson brewery!

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Weirdest condo building I think I’ve ever seen…

It was a good time with the ladies!

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Love those cheeky minxes. After we got back to shore, we went over to Old Port and rented a bicycle built for SIX so we could tour around the area. Well, six plus Chester.

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Chester and his short little legs are useless, so he got to sit up front.

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We took our hot bike all around the shoreline.

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The sun was coming out again, so that was perfect timing. We passed a wedding that was happening, and the bride and groom were getting pictures with the wedding party. They actually stopped us so they could get a picture of themselves on the bike with Chester, and then they had us get in the picture with them. I wonder if that one will make it into the wedding album…

After we dropped off the bike we walked along the boardwalk where a street festival was happening. More shenanigans went down…

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That Bobbie was motorized and the man who was running it was making it follow us around. Well actually, I should say Dawn originally went over to the man who was running it and made it follow us around. She also hijacked the microphone to make it say “HELLO EMILY”. No one expected that and it was creepy.

And then we got free airbrush tattoos from the Parks Canada booth that was set up.

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We all got matching ones in the same spot. Even Chester got one.

After that we walked through Old Montreal. It is really beautiful and reminded us all of Europe (not that I’ve ever been there but I feel like I know what it looks like from movies and such). Just a few pics from around there.

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Very narrow streets and lots of cobblestone. It was gorgeous.

We had dinner reservations at an Italian tapas restaurant, also in Old Montreal, Dolcetto & Co.

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(Notice Emily is still wearing the tab from that carton, haha)

Dolcetto is nautical themed so it could not have been more perfect.

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I love kitschy places like this. It was the cutest little restaurant. AND it was really good. I ordered the pizza with proscuitto, burrata and pineapple.

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Normally that would not have come close to filling me up and I would have supplemented that with additional tapas, or shared with someone, but as I said, my appetite seemed to be taking a vacation. It was sad. It was good though. Everyone enjoyed their meals.

After dinner we headed back to our hotel to get ready and hang out before our second night on the town.

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Sara made those cookies, aren’t they amazing? They tasted amazing also.

We took mug shots…

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I am 5’9″, not 6’2″, haha…but I sure am Emily’s oldest friend!

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Aww, my Emilio is all grown up.

We were still in our nautical gear for the evening (Em asked us to wear stripes), and we all kept our sashes on as well. We again rounded up our props and headed out.

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We stayed at the hotel a bit longer than we anticipated, so we sadly did not make it to the male strip club early enough to get in, which was our original plan. That was disappointing. Not to worry though, we had just as good of a night as we did Friday flying by the seat of our pantalons. I tell you, no plans are the best plans.

Just a note if you go to Montreal and are female, club promoters are everywhere trying to get you into their bar before midnight, for free, and with free drinks. Both nights we ended up stopping by these kinds of bars for free drinks, because HELLO?! FREE DRINKS! But they are not a good time so you do not stay long. Get in there, get the goods, and get out.

After some more (extremely funny) street shenanigans we found a really awesome rooftop patio and spent our night there. It was exactly Emily’s speed and I personally thought it was a dream.

Things that happened:

Chester’s arm got ripped off and he deflated, so that was sad.

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We made friends.

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A lot of our new friends were other bachelorette parties…

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Emily kept receiving flares from the bartenders (and Sherrie was a big contributor to this) and she was really excited about it…

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They were pretty exciting, I have to agree with her.

Our dentist friends found us! They said they saw our giant inflatable friend from the street (we were on the roof, remember) and bet each other that it was us. That is one of the dentists trying to blow up Chester again (to no avail). As soon as we saw them we all yelled “DENTISTS!!!!!” which made me laugh really hard.

We found people who had twin tattoos…

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Only theirs were actually real. We totally blew their mind with all our tattoos though.

I wish I could remember the name of that place, ’cause we had a really good time there.

After the bar Emily, Sara, Sherrie and I walked to Five Guys for a late night snack…

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We traded a Superman pen for a picture with our inflatable friend (it got to the point when people would ask us for a picture we would ask them what they had to trade for one), so that is why they are being Superman in that picture.

At Five Guys I ordered poutine and it was the lamest poutine I have ever experienced, so I was really disappointed about that. You had to make it yourself!

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Quebec is supposed to be the land of poutine! WTF Five Guys?! I pay you to make my poutine!

Anyway, again, a really good time!

In the morning we got up and retook our mug shots.

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Annnd I have toothpaste on my face.

And then we drove back home in our SUV with the inappropriate drawings all over it.

J’adore Montreal, J’ADORE!!!

Emily’s Last Sail Before the Veil Part 1

Quick warning: This post is about a bachelorette party, and bachelorette’s, in my opinion, are not complete without items that are of the, uh, phallic nature. We had a giant inflatable one. Just letting you know. But if you like that sort of thing (and everyone who encountered us this weekend certainly did), giddy-up.

This weekend we celebrated the impending end of singledom of our good friend Emily (Emil, Emilio) in Montreal, Quebec. Montreal, by the way, will now forever be known as The Most Fun City In The Entire World. Montreal is about a 6 hour drive from Toronto and I have only been there once, for about an hour, at the tail end of a band trip back in high school (with Emily, coincidentally, my oldest friend!). I barely remember any of that, but after this time I already cannot wait to go back there.

The girls headed up Friday morning in this sweet SUV decorated by Emily’s sister Sara.

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We added a few more inappropriate “objects” to the windows and were on our way. We actually got honked at more on the way BACK on Sunday than we did on the way there, so that was an interesting development ’cause the party was over… But it was still a fun drive watching everyone’s reactions as we drove by them.

Before we got to the Ontario/Quebec border, we passed the Big Apple. Aptly named as it is literally a giant apple.

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It’s definitely a landmark along the 401 and it’s one of those places that you mean to stop at one day but you never do, and all of a sudden you’re over 30 and you’ve never been to the Big Apple. None of us had been there before so, we stopped. I was actually wary of stopping because all I could think about was Pingle’s “Fun” Farm and how big of an annoying cash grab it is so I thought it would be similar, if not worse. I was so wrong. It was so awesome and I’m glad the girls got me into it.

Our friend Chester was with us, as he usually is on occasions of this nature… He had a good time with the little goats.

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And doing all the tourist things…

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Definitely worth stopping at the Big Apple. The gift shop/bakery/restaurant is huge and has a lot of cool things. We were all kind of blown away. I will be going back when I have more time.

We stopped one other time to grab a quick lunch and we finally arrived in Montreal in the late afternoon. Just a heads up that driving in Montreal is crazy. I have always heard this but to experience it was something else entirely. People seem to enjoy making their own rules of the road and were just driving anywhere they wanted. I’m glad I wasn’t driving. Sara is a champ.

We stayed at Le Cantlie Suites right downtown, and I can’t say enough good things about it. If you’re looking for a Montreal hotel I would definitely recommend it. The staff were friendly and attentive (they really went above and beyond for us), the location was great, and our room was basically an apartment. We were living the suite life of Zack and Cody.

We had a bedroom with two beds, a living/dining room with a pullout couch, and a full kitchen.

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We wanted to check out the rooftop pool while we had a chance, so after we got settled in our room the first thing we did was get into our bathing suits and head up there.

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We caught the tail end of a storm, but it passed quickly and then it was warm and almost sunny. The pool was heated and it was probably the warmest pool I’ve ever swam in. Not quite a hot tub, but I’d call it a warm tub for sure. It was really nice. We made friends with three dentists who wandered up there and into our web of harassment (we are kind of like spiders – if you come near us we will be talking to you). They were from the US and in Montreal for a bachelor party, but half of their group bailed on them at the last minute. Poor guys. When we found out they were dentists we all just bombarded them with questions about our teeth. Evan and I just got the new Sonicare electric toothbrushes so I was telling them alllll about those (they concurred they are #1 dentist recommended). It was an interesting conversation. Everyone likes talking about teeth, right?

Anyway, we swam around for a while and then headed back to our room to get ready and eat dinner. We figured since we had a full kitchen in our room we’d save a dinner expense one night and eat in. We made lasagne!

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I was actually on Caesar salad duty and I COMPLETELY forgot, but it worked out, we had a lot of food without the salad. That lasagne was delicious. Thanks to Dawnald for bringing that along.

After dinner we gathered our props and headed out into the night!

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We had planned on Saturday being our big night out once Joanna and Sherrie arrived, and Friday was supposed to be the low-key, fly by the seat of our pants, let’s check out what Montreal has to offer, kind of night. Montreal had other plans for us though. As soon as we hit the road, hilarity ensued.

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People LOVED our giant inflatable friend. I felt like we were celebrities. Everyone was coming up to us and grabbing it, and we basically had a lineup everywhere we went of people requesting pictures with it. It was hilarious. Just walking through the streets was one of the funniest moments of my life.

We eventually stumbled across a street festival that had just ended and there were tons of people milling about. It was chaos, but it was great. My favourite was when other bachelor parties would come up to us with a list of things the bachelor had to do. Emily also had a list of things she had to do that our friend Crystal sent her (who couldn’t make it to the party, sadly), so that worked out well. They could trade off.

Sometimes it worked out so well that they both could cross something off their list in one activity. In one case a bachelor had to receive a piggyback, and on Emily’s list she had to give someone a piggyback. Perfect!

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That man also let us draw on his face. He was a good sport.

We also somehow acquired a giant bucket of ice cream.

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And then a “snowball” fight happened. That sounds really obnoxious but people LOVED it. Dawn was adamant that it was chocolate ice cream, but I tasted some and I think there was a little butterscotch ripple in there…

That street festival totally made our evening. I was completely overstimulated. There were so many hilarious things happening at one time that I didn’t even know where to look. I preferred to just stand back and watch all the antics.

Eventually we found ourselves at a bar called Thursdays, where Emily was able to cross more items off her list, like wearing the lunettes of a fine young gent.

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We all agreed that we didn’t know how Saturday was going to be able to top Friday night because it turned out to be one of the best nights out of our lives. We had such a good time.

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It set the bar high, I will tell you that. But Saturday ended up being equally as good, so I will be back with Part 2 of Emily’s Bachey Bash tomorrow. I am so glad Emilio had a good time!!!

Bruce Peninsula: Indian Head Cove and Grotto

As mentioned yesterday, the main reason Cyprus Lake campground in Bruce Peninsula National Park stands out is because this:

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Indian Head Cove on the beautiful waters of Georgian Bay, is only a 25 minute hike from your campsite. It’s right along the Bruce Trail so if you’re not a camper you can hike in from another route, or you can just get a day pass for the campground and park at the head of trails and hike in. It is beautiful and I really do not know anywhere else like it. It doesn’t look like Ontario, or even Canada. It looks like the Caribbean.

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The water is so turquoise and deep and clear that this area is actually the scuba diving capital of Canada.

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If you’re swimming with a mask on sometimes if you look down you can see scuba divers 25 feet below you along the bottom.

The water is not warm like the Caribbean though…it is frigid. It is ridiculously cold. It is the kind of cold that your body never really gets used to, you just get numb. It is the kind of cold that shocks your system when you jump in and makes your skin feel like it might burn off your body. It is cold like if you were to fill your bathtub with only cold water and then got in. I am not exaggerating, that is how cold it is. Everyone should just skip the ice bucket challenge and jump in this water instead. Like we did.

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We are dying. But you have to suck it up and get in because if you don’t you will seriously regret it. It is the most refreshing water I’ve ever experienced. If you have a hangover all you need to do is jump in this water and it is like everything that happened the night before is erased. And when you get out your skin is cool to the touch for the rest of the day. It’s like swimming in bottled water. I love it. I absolutely love it there.

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This area used to be a hidden gem, but it has definitely gotten a lot more busy in recent years. When I went when I was 13 with my bestie we were the only ones I saw swimming, and we were celebrities around the campground because of it. People kept asking us if we had warmed up yet. Now though, they have made the trail leading to this beautiful place a lot more accessible so therefore more people can get there. And a lot more people seem to be open to swimming there. Not such a hidden gem anymore, but it’s still awesome.

There are huge cliffs and little nooks and crannies everywhere, and if you walk a ways from the beach there is a little water cave that is open from the top.

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I think you can only access the inside from the water though. It would be difficult to climb down into there. But if you walk a bit further you come to the main attraction: the grotto. This is the view from the top of the grotto.

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It’s ridiculous!

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The best way to get to the grotto is to swim there from the beach, but it was just a bit too cold for that. So the other way is to climb down. You can either scale a pretty serious cliff face (the rock is easy to grab onto though, so it’s not too bad), or you can do what I personally think is the easiest way. You do a little spelunking.

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You climb down through that hole. It’s quite narrow. But Evan is over 6 feet and Ian is like 6’4″, and they both made it through. I was actually more worried about Dorothy, ’cause she is just a tiny minx and you really need to stretch your legs out to feel around for where you can put your feet down. As is custom for when Evan and I are doing this sort of thing, Evan goes first (;

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I promise it is NOT as bad as it looks. Once you get your body through the hole it opens up immediately.

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But you are not out of the woods just yet… It requires a bit more climbing down through the rock to the grotto area.

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But again you gotta suck it up and do it because if you don’t you will regret it. This is what awaits you when you finish your descent:

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The grotto (you can read more about it there), an underwater cave.

Inside the grotto is the same cool, clear, deep, turquoise water…

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And there is an underwater tunnel that leads to the outside of the cliffs, which lets sunlight in through the water and creates this mystical feel…

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We had our masks with us so we swam down to the tunnel opening…

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It is further down than it looks. You can swim through it and apparently it takes about 30 seconds to get to the other side, but I have never done it. I think I’d want fins. But also, the water is so freezing that I can’t be sure that I wouldn’t panic. The tunnel is also not straight either and has an upward curve to it, so you’d have to make sure you cleared that. A guy swam through it while we were there and reported back to us and said it was awesome, and I have to admit I was tempted. One day I will do it! But on this day we were fine just looking at it.

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I would say it’s at least 30 feet deep in there, and you can jump off the ledges on the side. Or you can just sit on them and have a beer as we did.

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We brought our cans back with us, don’t worry. No littering. And this would be a beautiful photo if my waterproof camera didn’t have a fail moment…

And the view from our perch:

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And from the mouth of the cave:

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To get out of the grotto it’s pretty much impossible to go back to way you came, unless you have incredible upper body strength and can pull yourself out of that hole (I am weak and probably cannot do that). So the easiest way is to climb up the cliff.

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Again, there are many foot steps and hand holds so it’s not too bad. But I did feel like I was legit rock climbing!

The trail continues along the shore to a lot of other cool rock places, but the grotto is definitely the highlight of the area. Ontarians, this is ours to discover! If you haven’t been there before, go!!! It is amazing.

Cyprus Lake Camping

Hello from the land of sporadic blogging! Oh, what else is new, eh? I am always a sporadic blogger. I honestly do have intentions to write every day (well, just weekdays, let’s not get too excited) but in the summer things are so crazy I just have too much to talk about and I can’t get it out fast enough. And then the winter is the opposite. I tend to hibernate a bit and the adventures are fewer and further between. And adventures, of course, are my favourite things to talk about (food is second, love is probably third).

So, moving on to the adventures. This weekend we went camping! And not just any old camping, we went to my favourite place in Ontario: Bruce Peninsula National Park (click on that link if you want to see how crazy beautiful it is there).

My parents took my Bestie Lisa and I (and my baby brother Eric) when I was 13 and we had such a great time that the entire experience has really stuck with me. I have been a handful of times since. For a while I was trying to go every year. I love camping, consider myself a pretty seasoned camper, and I have been to many parks in Ontario, but Bruce Peninsula is my favourite. The campsites are spacious and (mostly) private, the trails are plentiful and woodsy and beautiful, Cyprus Lake (where the campground is located) is pretty, calm, and has a great beach…but you can say that about many campgrounds. What Bruce Peninsula has that other places don’t is the clear, deep, and turquoise (and FRIGID) waters of Georgian Bay, rock cliffs, rock beaches, and a natural grotto.

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It’s truly a natural phenomenon. But more on the rocks/cliffs/grotto adventure later, let’s talk about the camping stuff first.

Evan and I went on this trip with our friends Dorothy and Ian.

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And Bolt, who was a DREAM camp dog. He was so well behaved while also being so entertaining and hilarious that he kind of blew us all away. He can come camping with us any time!

On Friday we packed up Evan’s truck and hit the road. It is nearly a four hour drive but it went by surprisingly fast and we made it to our campsite by the early afternoon. Here it is in all its glory.

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Not too shabby at all. And it is car camping so our car is on site with us, which is handy and a half. We quickly got to work setting up shop for the next three days. The tent that Evan and I used last year in Algonquin (when we got rained out) is pretty small, so since we had the dog with us we decided to get a new tent for the occasion. I found a really good deal at Walmart on this beauty.

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It is probably the most spacious tent I have ever slept in. I called it the Sultan’s Tent and I felt like I should be in there leisuring on a plush chair while Evan fed me grapes. We had enough room for a queen-sized air mattress, with lots of room on either side…

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And then a whole separate area for Bolt’s crate, our bags, other gear we wanted to store…

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AND we could stand up in there. It was perfect. My one pet peeve camping is when I am changing out of my bathing suit after swimming and I can’t stand in the tent so I am awkwardly lying on an air mattress trying to get pants onto my clammy legs and I get all frustrated and sweaty. It was so nice to be able to stand and change. You don’t realize what a luxury it is until you can’t.

We also had a sweet screened dining tent.

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Not totally necessary, but it’s nice to have around and it sets up instantly.

While we were setting things up, Mr. Bolt settled in and started stalking the squirrels, as he does.

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He lives to stalk squirrels. And I’m pretty sure they live to torment him.

After we set up our tents and relaxed on our site for a bit, we headed down to Cyprus Lake beach. It was about a two minute walk from our campsite. Last week was extremely humid and foggy and the fog was still hanging around on Friday.

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Still so pretty and peaceful though. Bolt wanted right in that water.

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We went back to the lake on both Saturday and Sunday when we (luckily!) had perfect weather and it was much more clear.

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Ian and Evan are way out there

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Isn’t the water so clear?!

I’ve never seen Bolt swim before and he was absolutely hilarious. He just bounds around and tries to eat the water. I wish I got it on video.

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Chomp chomp, yum water, chomp.

Then he comes out, gags/throws up the water he just ate, rolls in the sand like a maniac, and then runs back in and does the same thing.

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What a little weirdo. Evan calls him the furry white coconut.

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My favourite was watching Evan teaching him how to fetch. I have always thought that Bolt might be a bit too intelligent for playing fetch, like it was above him to chase some silly stick or ball. He doesn’t do it when we try in the field near our house. He just stands there and looks at us and then the stick like “what, I’m supposed to retrieve this?” But around the water he was kind of game. Evan would throw a stick into the water, Bolt would chase it, grab it, and bring it back.

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Evan pointing out where the stick is

The first time he brought it back he threw the stick into the bushes, peed on it, and then came back to Evan without it. The second time Evan threw the stick (a different stick), Bolt ran into the water to retrieve it, brought it back onto the beach, threw it down away from Evan, shook water all over it, and then went back and sat down in front of Evan. Stickless. Dorothy, Ian and I were in the water watching and we were all just dying of laughter.

But the third time Evan threw a stick, Bolt retrieved it from the water and brought it directly back to him. I think he was getting the hang of it and was actually starting to like it.

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Aside from all the swimming we did, we went hiking a lot (it’s a good 25 minute hike to the cliff beach on the Georgian Bay side). I particularly love the hiking trails around Cyprus Lake. They are beautiful.

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We hung out a lot around our site as well. Bolt either chilled out beside us on a blanket…

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Or just on the dirt.

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He was so dirty by the time we got home, although the dirt just seems to absorb into his fur and it doesn’t show. He is always snow white even when he is absolutely filthy.

We had some goooood times around the campfire!

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And I have to mention that Dorothy had the best camping chair…

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Hers would be the tiny Spongebob one. I think she should have made Ian use it.

On our very first night we accidentally left some chips in the dining tent so we woke up at 2am to a family of raccoons pigging out on those. It sounded like the Tazmanian Devil interspersed with loud crunching. Fun times.

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Can you spot that pesky little raccoon eating our chips? They remind me of Winnie (who also loves chips). Evan originally thought it was just one raccoon so he went to go into the tent and chase it off, and then realized there were three so he abandoned that mission. Instead he just took pictures of them from our tent while he laughed harder than I have ever heard him laugh before. Like doubled over at our tent door not being able to breathe. Eventually they ate all the chips and took off. We were much more careful with the food after that.

On Saturday morning we were having some issues with our camp stove so we drove into Tobermory for breakfast. It is the cutest little town, and basically just consists of a bunch of tourist-y stores around a little bay.

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It is the scuba diving capital of Canada also (the water is INSANELY clear), so they have a glass bottom boat tour that takes you around to a bunch of ship wrecks, but we opted out of that. It’s expensive and Dorothy and I have both done it before. We preferred to just go back and go swimming and hang around the campground.

So had a really great camping weekend! More to come on Georgian Bay rock climbing and, of course, the food!