Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Blog Absence

I have been horrible at keeping up on the blog over the summer. At work I had a bunch of reports to write and didn't have it in me to write anymore by the time I got home. Plus, it's just been too damn warm with our houses temperature averaging 26 degrees over the last 2+ weeks.

Lots to come including: Victoria and Vancouver Island, Calgary Stampede, Canmore, Saskatoon, Multiple weddings, Yellowknife and typical chicanery.

Will get to it soon...but until then a few pictures.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Victoria: Butchart Gardens

When it was determined that I was going to Victoria for a work trip at the end of April it was pretty much a certainty that Chrissy would travel with me and that we would take a few extra days to play tourist.

With our home province covered in winter road silt heading to Victoria seemed like traveling to a tropical foreign country.  And so, with great zeal we ventured out from the downtown a mere 25 minutes to the world famous Butchart Gardens to welcome in spring.

Not really too much to say other than the spring seasonal flowers looked fantastic.  Below are a sample of the great visuals we experienced. Too bad there is no way to capture the fabulous scents of the place.

Classic Japanese Garden Pose

"Tacca" in the Piazza

The Sunken Garden - My Favorite of all the individual gardens

My favorite girl in all her flowery glory:

Fun with the garden globe:

Butchart Gardens is absolutely beautiful. It is a must visit if you are ever on Vancouver Island. I know that we will be back again many more times. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Only in Edmonton

Or on second thought...Only in North Edmonton or Lebanon!

For reference: I will be putting on 30 pounds from the magical animal that makes up donair meat.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Expert in No Field

For work I was interviewed for a video promoting beautification in Edmonton`s downtown.  I did my best to prepare but was still taken a little off guard by some of the questions. At the end of the interview I thought I did alright but wasn't sure if anything would be usable.

When the video was played for the first time at the Downtown Business Association Spring Luncheon I couldn't stand the sound of my own voice.  I nervously sweated through the whole viewing and cringed with each uhhh or ummm. 

That being said, through the magic of editing and some decent visuals I am relatively happy with how my segment turned out. 

Feel free to mock me relentlessly after watching the video.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Orienteering at Rundle Park

On Wednesday night Chrissy and I found ourselves way too overfed after a BBQ dinner. Since the weather was fantastic and the mosquito's were still sparse we decided that it would be a good idea to walk some of the excessive food off. Instead of strolling around the neighbourhood we jumped in the car and headed to Rundle Park which runs along the North Saskatchewan River.

As soon as we arrived at Rundle we noticed a large group of people milling around the Family Centre. Chrissy almost immediately realised that it was an orienteering group.
"Orienteering is a family of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain, and normally moving at speed. Participants are given a topographical map, usually a specially prepared orienteering map, which they use to find control points. Originally a training exercise in land navigation for military officers, orienteering has developed many variations." Wikipedia

For a couple of years now Chrissy has been trying to convince me to try the activity but it seemed like we always had slo pitch or golf plans that got in the way. So with it staring us right in the face there was no reason for us not to give it a go.

Our $10 bought us a map and a beginners clinic in reading and interpreting the map. With full bellies, our map and a base understanding we headed out.

Staying within the limits of the park we traversed approximately 4.3kms searching out and finding 13 markers that contained a secret word for us to track.

Working at a leisurely pace we completed the challenge in just under an hour (59 minutes). It was definitely a lot of fun and a good way to keep our interest up in our 'walk'. Hopefully we can find the opportunity to join in on a couple more events this summer. 

Fitness Bonus:

Behind the recreation centre at the park we came across a couple of tractor tires that are used in crossfit workouts. I have long seen pro athlete training montages on television that had them flipping tires. I had to give it a try.


I flipped it back and forth about 8 times when I started to get bored. I urged Chrissy to give it a try.

 She never got the memo to bend at the knees...and stayed in this position. Attagirl!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Conferencing In Kananaskis

Earlier this spring (if you can actually call it that) Chrissy and I had the opportunity to attend a conference together for the first time in years. Conferences hold a special place in our relationship as it was at a Go Expo Conference/Trade Show years ago where we were stuck in a booth together and the real flirtation between us occurred. This of course is my secret with women...stick them in an uncomfortable situation with me for an extended amount of time and I 'infect' them with my personality like a virus. And once I am in, they are hooked. They have yet to develop an anti-Stuart antibiotic.

Our shared event was the Economic Developers Alberta (EDA) 2014 Conference. Chrissy and I were both representing our respective levels of government and I was even asked to speak on a panel. I'm guessing their previous 128 most desirable speakers had already declined.

Aside from the chance to re-connect with colleagues and learn new skills we were excited at the opportunity to visit Kananaskis. Chrissy has been to the area many times staying at the expansive Delta Hotel but for me it was my first time. So when we weren't in sessions we were enjoying the great locale.

Our few days together in the mountains was probably one of the most enjoyable work experience I could imagine.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Rec Hockey Tournament in Phoenix / Scottsdale

Each year my rec hockey team heads out to bring our middling hockey and advanced partying skills on the road. I don't always go every year, but when I can make it happen it's magical. In past posts I have documented Montreal, Chicago, and Las Vegas (no pictures!).

This year our extended group consisting of 2 teams and approximately 30 guys selected the Phoenix Cup in Scottsdale Arizona for this years tourney.  Below are some of the highlights. The lowlights will live in infamy through multiple re-telling in the dressing room.

Arizona Diamondbacks Game

My journey to Phoenix started with a 4am wakeup and over an hour long drive in the densest fog I have ever seen. Upon arriving at the airport I passed through all of the security checkpoints, which included a Grant Fuhr sighting, and arrived in the airport lounge for a much needed drink. Soon enough a couple of my teammates arrived and we settled in to wait out the fog and finally depart. 

After several aiport/airplane morning beers we arrived in Phoenix shortly before noon. With 5 guys and equipment traveling together we made the choice to load up a limo as opposed to multiple cabs. After an endless drive to the hotel and back downtown we arrived at the end of the 1st inning at Chase Field.

The Diamondback were starting the always entertaining Bronson Arroyo against SF Giants. I settled in with a beer and a dog to watch some ball.

As good as any game is I find it difficult to sit still for an extended amount of time. Eventually I wandered around to take in the sights including the pool in mid center field. 

Everywhere in the stadium I kept on running into other Canadians. With so many fellow countrymen in attendance it seemed almost fitting that Captain Canada himself, the mulleted wonder,  Ryan Smyth would make an appearance at the game.  After watching multiple groups of people approach him for a photo a couple of the guys made the ask for a picture and he generously acquiesced.

I snapped a picture and set up to take another one when another Oiler (Perron?) asked if I wanted to get in the picture. Without thinking and almost instantaneously I replied, "No thanks, I am a Redwings Fan". Smyth, gracious as always just looked at me like I was the world biggest asshole but he bit his tongue.

Final score of the ball game: 8-5 Giants.

Show and Shine

The people of Phoenix love their cars. With everything so spread out and with optimal driving conditions year round it is easy to see why. Apparently on the weekends there are multiple meet ups and show and shines of all the hot cars. While all were impressive I was truly stunned to see a Bugatti. But I guess if I had one I would show it off too.

Oilers Game

Included in our registration for the Phoenix Cup were tickets to a Coyotes game. As luck would have it for our Edmonton group, the Oilers were the nights opponent (explaining why Smyth was at the ball game). We upgraded our ticket from regular seats and packed our 30 guys into a concourse corporate box. The view of course was fantastic.

 Being a jerk who refuses to cheer for the Oilers I sported my 'original' Coyotes logo.

Final score of the hockey game: 3-2 Oilers in a Shootout

Old Town Scottsdale

A mere billion mile cab ride from our hotel was the premier tourist district of Scottsdale - The Old Town, a district of pretty fantastic restaurants and night clubs. Individually and collectively our team hit up the area on multiple nights where I enjoyed getting free Jagermeister poured down my gullet by living mannequins at Shotgun Betty's and some fine tex mex lounge food at Ricky's Taco's and Beer. But by far the most memorable place was Giligan's Bar which owns the term of best midget bar I have ever been to. My buddy Galen and I hit it up one night in between golf cart rides for some life size Connect 4, Jenga and the infamous Wheel of Booze. 

We spent $7 for 3 shooters and spun the wheel to see what we would drink.

I ended up with a shot that I didn't recognise and I waited patiently as the bartender headed to the kitchen to mix it. The bartender eventually came out with a thick orangish substance in the glass which I assumed was orange juice concentrate. He then poured some Jack Daniels into the glass and passed it on to me. Without thinking too much about it I picked it up and poured it down. Much to my surprise and disgust it turned out my drink was nothing but a raw egg mixed in with whiskey.

I held it down.

The Hockey Tourney

Both of our hockey teams fared pretty well in the tournament with both losing out in our respective championship games. Seems about right based on the nights before...

Hitting the Links

As any self respecting hockey team that loses out we took solace on the golf course. It seems weird that to escape the depressing and dusty landscape of early spring in Edmonton we ventured  to a lush desert setting. But, that is exactly what we did, and it was fantastic. Our foursome at the Ahwatukee Country Club decided to play scramble style and ended up doing pretty good with a score of around -9 over 18 holes. Pretty good for the first round of the year.

We even had a par 3 where we all hit the greens. I probably won't golf better all year.

Next Year?

While I enjoyed the trip down to Phoenix / Scottsdale I don't think I will vote to go back next year. I like hitting up a new city and prefer a more dense urban environment where I can explore on foot as opposed to multiple cab rides. But really, I'll go wherever as long it's with the same idiot hockey buddies.