Monday, November 11, 2013

New York City, Where all the girls are pretty


The last time The Boy and I went to NYC (in 2010, for his marathon with Team Diabetes), we decided that the NEXT time we go to NYC, we’d do all touristy things. After all, we’d each been to NYC several times, but neither had seen the Statue of Liberty, we’d never been to (or been up, if you need the HIMYM distinction) the Empire State Building, and we’d never visited any museums.

This last weekend, we had our babymoon and shared it with MH and RS. RS has been to NYC before, but this was MH’s first time! After some drama leaving Canada (apparently MH has a very similar name to someone very wanted), we all arrived in NYC on Thursday evening. The Boy and I had a couple of hours to kill before MH and RS arrived, so we ran some errands and hopped to Union Square so I could return some boots to DSW and hit up the Whole Foods for some snacks. I know that Ottawa is getting a Whole Foods eventually, but in the meantime, I still need my fix of those little nut-and-chocolate-covered toffees. What are they even called? They’re like souped-up natural-er skor bars. My fave.

In any case, when we were all finally in town, we went to Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen in Times Square and gawked at the guitars, ate the dragon fries, and drank delicious drinks. I have no idea how they keep the fries so crispy and yet coat them in delicious wing sauce, but they did. We went to see The Lion King at Minskoff Theatre (so beautiful) and then walked around Times Square. We went to the M&M shop (obviously) and the Hershey Shop (DARK CHOCOLATE REESES!) and took in the city.

On Friday, we woke up earlyish to beat the lines at the Empire State Building. It looks nothing like it did on HIMYM! It was beautiful to see the skyline and the art deco was gorgeous. From there, more touristy things: Grand Central Station (where I had a brief Gossip Girl moment), Rockefeller Plaza (a Serendipity moment), and NBC Studios (an SNL moment). We actually did the NBC studio tour and saw the TINY SNL stage. I demonstrated my TERRIBLE teleprompter reading skills during a fake weathercast. Never put me on tv. Seriously.

On this visit, I even got to go to Magnolia Bakery (a Sex and the City moment) and we chowed down on these delicious goodies (my favourite was the Mocha) inside Radio City Music Hall before we saw the Rockettes show! The Rockettes were awesome. They’re just putting in the big tree at Rockefeller and the Rockettes are breaking out their Christmas gear. They’re super precise and really regimented! The only downfall was the asshole couple who came in late, and the proceeded to talk through the rest of the show. I even looked pointedly at the man, who gave me a half smile, shut up for 20 seconds, and then started talking again. Rage.

After the show, the four of us went to the Lamb’s Club for dinner, a Geoffrey Zacharian restaurant full of magic, love, and more precision. It’d have been awesome to see the Iron Chef in person, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Still full from dinner, we met up with MHT and NT, who now live on the Upper West Side (seriously) and went to the Cake Boss Café for dessert (to be fair, I’ve never actually seen the show).

Let me be perfectly clear:

Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen: despite crappy reviews, I recommend it.
Lion King: Recommend Recommend Recommend!
Empire State Building: Recommend.
NBC Studio Tour: Recommend.
Magnolia Bakery: not the best I’ve ever eaten, but they were indeed delicious. Recommend.
Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Show: Recommend.
Geoffrey Zacharian’s Lamb’s Club: Recommend wholeheartedly.
Cake Boss Café: DO NOT RECOMMEND. SAVE YOUR HARD EARNED CASH! BUY OREOS, CHOCOLATE PUDDING, BOXED CAKE MIX AND TASTELESS WHIPPED TOPPING INSTEAD. THROW OUT OREOS, PUDDING, AND CAKE. MARVEL AT THE RIDICULOUSNESS OF THIS PLACE.

It was terrible.Tasteless and devoid of texture and piles upon piles of whipped cream. We couldn't finish one thing. Gross. Actually, I lie. I think The Boy finished his biscotti. But the oreo mousse was disgusting. How do you ef up Oreos? The Cake Boss knows. Apparently he is famous for beautiful creations, not for tasty creations. If I’d watched his show, I might know this. :P

On Saturday, we had a quick diner breakfast (served by an aspiring actor?), we walked west to the USS Intrepid Space and Air Museum. This was the one thing that was a must-do for The Boy, so explored airplanes and submarines and the real Enterprise. The Boy, though 36 years old, was like a little boy. So cute.

We had a late lunch at Daisy May’s BBQ (so so so good) and then made our way down to Battery Park for our faraway view of the Statue of Liberty. Another trip to NYC down and I still haven’t seen the lady up close. Apparently it takes a whole day to get out there and back, but next time I am going to splurge and take the time to go. It might cut into my time at Century 21, which is where we went next, so I will have to take this into consideration. I love Century 21.
We finished the day off with some massive NY pizzas. I’m drooling just thinking of them.

Sunday, we all went to Central Park. RS and The Boy went for a run, and MH and I walked leisurely through the park, taking pictures of the changing colours of the leaves and the pretty bridges (more Gossip Girl moments – where did B and Chuck get married?). After their runs, we met up with our spouses for candied nuts and a visit to The Met. Talk about extensive. You could spend three days at The Met and not see everything. We did our very best though, and I had my pic taken out at the front steps (yet another Gossip Girl moment).

MHT came and met me at the Todd English restaurant attached to our hotel for a pretty decent hot chocolate and we took our requisite matching belly shots (she is two months ahead of me but somehow we are the same size) before MH, RS, The Boy and I went back downtown to Marc Forgione’s restaurant, Forges.

Forge’s was my most anticipated restaurant to visit, I think because I was a little in love with him when he was on Next Iron Chef. The food was excellent, don’t get me wrong, but I think I preferred Lamb’s Club. My three dinner companions voted this one as the best food we’d eaten all weekend, though.

My favourite? Halal. You just can’t get halal truck food in Ottawa. Nowhere has this magical mixture of rice, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, fried fish, French fries, and red and white sauce. *drool*.. I’d go back to NYC just for Halal, in fact. And the Statue of Liberty.

Another recap, for your NYC-trip planning:

Space and Air Museum: Recommend! Especially if you have kiddos.
Daisy May’s BBQ: definitely recommend. Get the corn. And the wet ribs. And the baked beans. Omg. I want it right now.
Central Park walk: Recommend
The Metropolitain Museum of Art: Recommend (we bought our tickets in advance but you can just pay by donation)
Forge’s: Recommend

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The long road home

It took us a day in Saskatchewan and we drove through three states in a day on this trip and yet we've spent the last three days driving JUST through Ontario to get home. On these piddly 90 km/hr roads. 

You know what, though? Ontario is STUNNING. I finally get all those Tourism Ontario commercials. Who knew? Obviously northern ontarians. gold mine. I only wish that it was closer because i am really not willing to drive 20 hours to camp up here, and how feasible is it to porter flight it to Thunder Bay and then rent a car and all sorts of camping gear and THEN go camping? it appears i'll have to make the best of what's near Ottawa.

Anyway. We left Winnipeg and drove through Kenora (i knew someone in high school who was from Kenora and she said, "It's waayyy up north, on the border of Ontario and Manitoba". She had really long eyelashes. Super smart too. I digress) and then up towards Thunder Bay. I'm ashamed to say that I slept through most of the drive. I just couldn't keep my eyes open, even though I've been getting comfortable sleeps at night. Still, we arrived in Thunder Bay and visited the (beautiful) Terry Fox memorial before driving into Sleeping Giant provincial park to camp. 

So. worth. it.

We were in the middle of bbqing buttertarts (haven't been able to get them out of my mind since we had flambeed buttertarts in Saskatoon) and roasting marshmallows when I saw a little white but only about 15 m from us. I slapped The Boy in the chest and hissed, "go get the camera!!!!"

IT WAS AN ELK! just munching on some grass in a little clearing between our site and our neighbours' (granted, there was a lot of space between sites because we couldn't see them.. but we could sure hear them. They didn't see the elk, judging by their giggles and (my imagined) hair tossing.

True Fact: i am NOT good at spotting wildlife. but i did. and it was amazing. 

The next morning, we went for a 2-hour hike through a couple of the trails in Sleeping Giant. We saw fresh animal tracks, but no animals :( We even got up super early and tried to make as little noise as possible but the schloop schloop schloop of our hiking boots in mud must have given us away. Next, we headed south through Elliot Lake and Wawa, both places I've heard of but had never known were real. I had a swordfish sandwich at a little highway diner that Shawn Desman has visited and has left a very large, framed, signed photo. It was ok. It was a piece of deepfried swordfish inside deep fried bread. Too much. but who am i kidding? it totally hit the spot. The most surprising part of driving through Ontario is all the ROCKS. I'd heard of the Canadian Shield back when I was in grade 1 but to actually see it, so cool! 

Sidebar: It has not escaped me how completely jaded (aka stupid) I have been on this trip. I'm lucky The Boy remembers more than an iota of geography and history and can explain it to me. 

We arrived in Sudbury at dusk and went straight to the Big Nickel. My friend EB told me to look out for the Big SmokeStack as well. we saw them. polluting the sky. DIdn't do a heck of a lot in Sudbury. Travel fatigue was setting in, and I haven't driven in days.  Finally, we came home. I took exactly zero photos between Sudbury and home.

It's been a beautiful couple of weeks. Totally appreciate The Boy for driving for 98% of it. I'm so glad i got to see parts of Canada I hadn't seen before. Next up, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and maybe i should head out east since I haven't been out there in decades. Maybe after the baby arrives.

oh yeah. So i totally peed on a stick when I got home. 

eek. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Peg

Regina was surprisingly packed to the gills, due to a Kiss Concert in town. We stayed just inside the ring road, but not exactly downtown, not that much seemed to be happening. When we woke up yesterday (Wednesday), we went to Wascana park for a "hike" except that "hike" meant more of "walk". It was pretty but maybe not as beautiful as say.. the Rideau Canal. Still, it was nice to come to Regina. We're a little tired of museums by now so made our way to The Peg, or Winnipeg, in Manitoba. Still happy to report that speed limits are 110 km/hr. Is it just Ontario that is slow?  Maybe it's because our population is so much higher? I don't know. I'm no city planner. 

Yesterday was our anniversary! The Boy and I have been married (eek) for 3 years. We spent the morning in Regina, the afternoon in the car, and then the evening in Winnipeg. We saw some Manitoban cheese so we just had to buy a variety of cheese, meats, and a cute local wine for our anniversary dinner. Our hotel room is fantastic! We thought it'd be sketchy but it was so great we decided to stay an extra night!

Today we went back to The Forks to explore, then I met up with CT from work to put  a face to a name! She's really sweet and showed me an EcoAction conservatory and told me little stories about downtown Winnipeg. Too cool! In the afternoon, we went to the Assiniboine Park Zoo. We saw tigers and penguins and a polar bear (it was totally trying to dig it's way out of the enclosure) and kangaroos and emoos and butterflies and elk and monkies and.. it was fun. It was not the most elaborate zoo I've ever been to, but Ottawa doesn't have a zoo, so I'm pleased.

I've been feeling super tired lately, so instead of heading out, we ordered in - Manitoban perch and a huge mound of sweet potato fries. Sweet potato is good for you. i mean, better than regular potatoes if you're going to fry them, I guess?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Taste of Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan, if this is all you have to offer, I'm unimpressed.

This morning, we went to Saskatoon. The highway speed limit in Albert and Saskatchewan is 110 km/h, so i'm not surprised that along the way, we got shot/hit by a rock that cracked our windshield. We stopped in Vermillion, AB and poked around a bit while they repaired our windshield. It's not perfect, but it's at least better now. 

True Fact: on our old car, the windshield was cracked in two different places. One time, I picked up my nephews in the car and they asked me why Uncle's car was full of bullet holes? I told them he is a bad, bad man. 

I pretty much slept the entire way (except the part I drove) to Saskatoon (I've been feeling so tired lately) but woke up for the Western Development Museum, voted best to to-do in Saskatoon! Afterwards, we went to the Taste of Saskatchewan festival at Kiwanis Park downtown. We had the  (1) banh mi sandwich, (2) hand-pulled noodles, (3) steamed dim-sum, (4) smoked potato poutine, (5) saskatoon berry pie, (6) saskatoon berry iced tea, and (7) butter tart flambee. 

(1) tasteless, cold, stale bun.
(2) chewy, bland. these are hard to do well. Obviously.
(3) doughy, thick wrapper. this is a sign of bad craftmanship and would not fare well in traditional markets.
(4) good, but not great. more cheese curds needed. this was actually shredded cheese and dry pulled pork on a smoked baked potato (awesome!) and covered in gravy. cool!
(5) i've been looking for this since coming back to Canada. so glad to finally try it!
(6) weak, but not too sweet.
(7) the best thing ever. Canadian classic chopped and flambeed with booze and poured over ice cream. 

sigh.

We tried to walk around Saskatoon. Got a message from from our real estate agent so tried to find a Staples or UPS store, but EVERYTHING SHUTS DOWN IN SASKATOON DOWNTOWN AFTER 5:30 pm! we even tried to go to the mall to pick up some saskatoon berry jam. Turns out that the Berry Barn, a u-pick Saskatoon berry farm just south of the city was still open, so we drove there. 

That was a short visit. We were attacked by mosquitos immediately after exiting the car. I walked out to the  orchard (??) to take some pictures and ran back after accidentally swallowing several whilst swatting away an entire black pantleg off my shin (I'm wearing shorts). Reminder: my knee hurts. Reality: I'm particularly sensitive to bug bites and swell up a LOT. We bought a few jars of jelly and considered a bucket of fresh berries but we were afraid they wouldn't make it home unmoldy. :( 

Then I afterbited my legs in the car. I have no fewer than 31 bites, and that's only the ones I can see on my shins and calves.. the ones on the backs of my thighs and on my back I think will kill me tonight. 

Obviously we are not camping out tonight.
So we're en route to Regina, an unplanned stop on our interior-Canada road trip. Please please please please please have fewer mosquitos. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Old Friends, part 2

We got in late to Edmonton on Friday night, but I still made time to hang out with my girl MB and her boyfriend CL. Our trip to India wasn't.. FUN.. but it was needed, and we needed each other in that time in our lives, and I'll never be able to thank MB and AC enough! We talked late into the night. The Boy was being a total jerk to them but he reamed me out late for inviting them up to our room even though he said he was tired and just wanted to go to bed. Sorry. :(

Saturday was wedding day! I had hurt my knee a bit on Friday on one of our hikes so in the morning, we hobbled over to THE West Edmonton Mall so I could get a pair of flats. Success! The Mall, as the locals call it, houses an indoor amusement park, indoor waterpark, indoor skating rink, indoor mini putt, and that's just what we saw! I think there was also a bowling rink and we couldn't find the shooting range, and I hear there was a hotel attached as well! It's the perfect place for kids. I can see us coming back here one day, leaving the kids with a babysitter in one of the parks and then going shopping. Is that appropriate parenting?

After lunch, ML, CL, The Boy and I made our way to the Enjoy Centre for the wedding. AC looked INCREDIBLE. Is it weird I recognized her dress as a Michaela design? It was PERFECT: sweetheart neckline, ruched but not too fancy, dropped waist/trumpet design and one tiny flower. gorgeous. And MB did her makeup, not that she isn't already beautiful. It was a sweet ceremony and they high-fived at the end. So happy for her and MS!!!!! The Enjoy Centre is actually a greenhouse so it was killer hot during the cocktail hour, but after a stunning storm, things cooled off. Dinner was great (many veg options!) but the dancing did not start until late, and by 11:30 my knee was killing me, so The Boy and I went back to the hotel and I'm told the dancing busted out just after midnight and went into the wee hours. MB and CL came back to the hotel in the wedding party's limo! haha!!!

Yesterday, CL and MB went back to The Mall but The Boy and I went to the Royal Alberta Museum to poke around. I am particularly bad at forgetting about work, even though I don't want to go back. The Royal Alberta Museum was full of good material to use at work, so I will be doing more research about it next week. The Royal Alberta Museum also had this spectacularly detailed exhibit about Chinese restaurants in Alberta and why they exist/immigration of the Chinese/history of the Chinese in Alberta. It was really cool! #upmyalley... There were ipads everywhere with interviews with Chinese restaurant owners and cooking demonstrations. They talked about green onion pancakes being so popular that they are offered at most restaurants in Alberta, regardless of ethnicity, and the naming of ginger beef (it was originally translated as deep fried shredded beef in a spicy sauce but customers kept referring it to "that spicy gingery beef"). 

We met up with CL and MB again for lunch at the Canadian Brewhouse (sooo glad they tried Poutine and LOVED it!), walking around Jasper Ave., and shopping for Canadian road snacks for their trip home (we included Coffee Crisp, Mars, Smarties, Caramilk, Aero, Old Dutch Ketchup Chips, Dare maple cream cookies, and fudgeeos, but if we'd had more time, i'd sent them home with salmon jerky, nanaimo bars, and buttertarts) and cards for AC and MS. 

True fact: I had bought a card for them in South Dakota but reread it in my hotel room here and realized it says "Happy Anniversary" in it. so i needed a new one.  I had honestly considered just scratching out "Anniversary" and just writing "Wedding" over it, but figured they should have something semi classy for their wedding. 

The four of us met up with the newlyweds at Blue Plate Diner for dinner. I ordered green onion pancakes! Even at a non-chinese diner, they were pretty authentic. Not so much about the creamy dipping sauce, but I grew up Canadian so i loved it. We hopped over to their house to see their animal heads and chat. I love them together. It was so great to hang out with AC too.. I have been seeing her face on Google Hangout for months but sitting around with her and MB was just like old times. 

<3 div="">

Today, MB and CL left to go back to the states. It was pouring out, so we couldn't go to Fort Edmonton Park like I'd have wanted to, not that The Boy cared; he just wanted to go to the waterpark. We went and had a BLAST. It was shockingly empty despite it being in the middle of summer and a dingy day. Almost no lineups and we rode almost all the rides. Well, The Boy did. I did NOT go on the almost-vertical drop. i don't find that stuff fun.

True fact 2: I'm afraid of heights. like crazy-fraidy-cats afraid. like palms-get-sweaty-when-i-watch-fight-scenes-that-take-place-in-helicopters-with-no-doors. and why don't helicopters have doors!?  

After some more shopping, we went out for dinner at the Lingnan, one of the restaurants featured in the Royal Alberta Museum's Chop Suey exhibit, and the setting for some reality show I saw once on Omni but was unable to find again. I didn't see anyone from the show :( but I DID get to meet two of my Edmonton coworkers in real life! After three years of talking to them on the phone and by email, I can finally put a face to the name! It was so fun. 

Right now we're anticipating the first episode of The Amazing Race: Canada, which I expect to be AMAZING, and fitting, considering The Boy and I are exploring our beautiful country now too. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Old Friends

Yesterday was a lot slower-paced than Stampede day, that's for sure! 

We slept in, made our way back to Stephen Ave so I could buy my cowboy boots and some souvenirs for the babies (some not so baby) in our lives.  Then, we made our way over to 17th Ave, the RED mile. It's named so not just because it's the Retail and Entertainment District (it's mostly restaurants with a few shops littered in - i bought a cute green dress, but not a real green dress, that's cruel) but also because it's the section that lights up in red when the Calgary Flames play games. Fun! Ottawa has a red mile too, definitely named after Calgary's. We hung out at the Ship & Anchor, a Calgary institution that has 75 beers on tap, but also pretty decent food. But this is the best part - I met up with JM and CW from my India trip! 

It's actually a bit shameful - i live in the same town as two of our teachers and three fellow students, and yet the first people I see are from the far end of the country. It was soo great to catch up with the two of them. I knew I missed them but it really made me want to just hug them and hold on tight. 

After drinks and lunch with them, The Boy and I busted out of town and drove to Banff. I remembered at the last minute the other night that my friend LM lives there and works in Lake Louise. I thought she had moved on but a quick check on FB confirmed she was back in Canada.  I met LM way back in 2005 when I was backpacking through the UK. I was only gone for just 3 weeks but managed to rack up a $1400 cell phone bill because Rogers wouldn't let me put my phone on hold and told me that there would be no roaming charges, only long distance charges, and I should get a calling card when I'm there, and wouldn't it be so much safer if I travelled with a cell phone? Bastards.

True Fact: I'm still with Rogers today. this may change within the next  few months. This memory has brought up some old feelings of dissatisfaction. 

Anyway, I had just arrived in London with a list of sites to visit, my first hostel booked, and my return flight to Canada booked. I checked into my hostel and of the first three people i met (all Australian), LM was one of them!  We've stay connected over the years but it was crazy to see her again in person after so many years! We had dinner at the Fairmont Lake Louise in the lakeview restaurant and it was gorgeous (and delicious!).

Is it pronounced "e-moo" or "e-mew"?

This morning, The Boy and I went on a couple of short hikes around Lake Louise (we are definitely returning to finish them off!), returned LM's bearspray (thankfully unused, but not so unthankfully as I'd really like to see more bears in the wild), and started the supposed 3 hr drive to Jasper. Only, it took us closer to 6 hours since we stopped and hiked/walked around so much. What an absolutely beautiful drive. I am in awe. We saw mountain goats (and a tiny baby goat!!!) and ONE bear lumbering up the hill next to the highway and maybe an elk.

We had a very late lunch/early dinner in Jasper, walked around the little shops a bit (but not too much, since I twinged my knee on our last hike at Athabasca Falls) and are now on our way to Edmonton, where I will see MB and AC, also from my India trip!!!!!! I ab.so.lute.ly cannot wait to squeeze those ladies.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth

We listened to Gordon Lightfoot's Alberta Bound, not on purpose, but because it was on The Boy's phone and I've only recently figured out how to randomize the music... but nothing could be more apt. We drove through Lethbridge and had our oil changed (because we have driven THAT much so far!), and at lunch at a diner/Chinese place called Johnny's in Fort Macleod and, upon The Boy's parents' recommendation, stopped at Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump. It's a real place - look it up. I'll wait.

Are you back? Aren't you impressed? It's a UNESCO site that is really, really cool. The Boy's parents made it out to seem that there was nothing to see, just a cliff, but maybe in the time since they've come and 2013, they have built up a visitor's centre complete with museum displays, medium-budget videos, and hiking trails. It was super neat, but I maybe winced at the CGI-buffalo running off cliffs and then the aboriginals beating them down so the injured buffalo can't warn other buffalo. eek. The hiking trail was gorgeous. We saw a deer!

We made it to Calgary early, which was awesome, so we had dinner at Charcut, Connie Dasouza's restaurant. She was one of my favourites on season 1 of Top Chef Canada, probably because she made a lot of sausage and wasn't an ego-centric bitch. 

True Fact: I love food and I love reality tv, so food game shows are my favourite. I love Chopped and Top Chef Canada and Iron Chef America and The Great Food Truck Race and The Next Food Network Star but i'm not a huge fan of Hell's Kitchen (although I have watched a few seasons) and have never watched a full episode of Masterchef.

True Fact 2: No fewer than 7 people have suggested I audition for Masterchef Canada. I always roll my eyes at the people who audition for Big Brother who have never watched Big Brother. WATCH THE SHOW BEFORE YOU AUDITION! so no, i'm not auditioning for Masterchef Canada. 

Anyway, Connie's food didn't disappoint. Alberta is kind of beef-country (and by kind of, I mean it is, really, really really difficult to find non-beef options) but we were able to eat all sorts of tasty pig bits including a magical sausage (my favourite) burger topped with a fried egg (The Boy's favourite!) and one of the most luscious poutines i've ever had  - with black truffle gravy. basically if you combined Charcut truffle gravy with Au Pied de Cochon's foie gras poutine, I could die. 

After dinner, we walked around downtown. Charcut is on Centre Street right across from the Calgary Tower, and even though it was already 10 pm, the sun was bright, stores were open, and people were everywhere.

The next day, Wednesday, was Stampede Day. The Calgary Stampede is the Worlds Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.  That is a lot to live up to. but the whole city gets involved and i have a feeling that this claim might very well be true. Our itinerary (not recommended for those who don't want to burn out):

8:00 AM: free pancake and sausage breakfast with Starbucks Coffee. Give donation to local food bank.
9:00 AM: shopping on Stephen Ave for cowboy boots (for me) and a cowboy hat (for him). 
10:00 AM: Square dancing. Am told that The Boy is a good dancer. He is!
11:00 AM: variety of parades.
12:00 PM: free hot dog and salad lunch at Rope Square.
1:00 PM: Rodeo Show at the Stampede! ooh and ahh at the little kid competitions with the little kid wranglers who literally just ride around on a pony and have to have the adult wranglers behind them doing the actual wrangling.
2:30 PM: a cow gets killed during steer wrestling. hide tears from Albertans. 
4:30 PM: walk around Stampede, visit animals in the Agriculture tent, watch mini horse show (those things are ADORABLE but have attitude), watch clydesdales pull logs through a tiny course and try not to knock over empty cheerios boxes and barrels, visit booths, watch rides. Do not consider riding temporary fair coasters. Value life.
6:00 PM: watch Family Feud Live, hosted by Caroline Rhea and preceeded by comic Andrew Fung and an awesome acapella group, whose name totally escapes me.
7:30 PM: search Stampede grounds for non-fried food with vegetables. Ask for vegetarian pizza on a stick (advertised). Be told that the truck has no vegetables, ever. Settle on noodles with vegetables. find a few shredded pieces of carrot and cabbage mixed into noodles. Fear for scurvy.
8:00 PM: get carded (!!) getting into the beer garden. Stand to eat.
8:15 pm: walk around the Stampede Market. The Boy remarks that it's like being up at 3 AM and flipping through tv channels. See the Schticky, the U-Mop, the StickyMop, etc. etc.  See a few things that are actually pretty cool and you consider buying them. 
9:00 PM: discover the Western Oasis is a quiet art-filled beautiful beer and wine bar that we should have brought our noodles to instead of standing outside.
10:00 PM: watch Big Wreck
10:45 PM: have the whole day ruined by thinking non-yogic thoughts about some very douchey drunken teenagers who intentionally jump into a puddle to splash you and then look pointed at you and say "oops!" and laugh. 
11:00 PM: Plead with The Boy in the midway games for him to win me a Despicable Me stuffed minion. Lose the battle. Envy other people whose boyfriends and husbands obviously love them more than he loves me.
11:10 PM: Watch H2X jetskiiers perform stunts at the Aqua Ranch. 
11:15 PM: Watch fountain show with a backdrop of the Stampede's nightly fireworks. 
11:40 PM: Continue walking around the Stampede grounds, this time to try and get OUT of the park. 
11:55 PM: consider changing out of your cowboy boots into a pair of flip flops you have stashed in your purse. Don't want to do it front of other people. Board C-train.
12:15 AM: stumble off C-train at appropriate stop. Change into flip flops. Sigh with relief.
12:40 AM: after showering, fall into bed. 

nobody can say we didn't live the day up!

Today: a relaxing day in Calgary, hopefully!