Wednesday, August 31, 2011
It started with Mandy somehow getting her 4 days off in a row. It's something she had asked for in the beginning of the year, hoping we'd have a lot of great weekends instead of taking off full weeks.
So we got one of them granted, and we just didn't know what to do.. 4 days off. Is it enough time to go really anywhere? I still had to work the regular days - and getting out after work would have been tricky timing...
...then as it turns out it was the Westfort Days on Saturday -- and Mandy couldn't miss that. There was a 'train' for Dean to ride; super cheap deals at Westfort Foods. Can't turn down that. So we woke up and went for our walk down the street [well, we drove as we thought we'd just drive out of there straight to camping].
First things first - Mandy had to go get cash, as the deals at Westfort Foods were a cash only thing. So we went to the atm and then walked down the street. We didn't properly plan prior as we didn't bring coinage for the grocery carts (mandy really wanted to stock up) so we had to deal with just those little hand baskets. We grab a bunch of stuff we really didn't need - but hey it's a sale.
Then we realize that it's now a bit of a walk back to the car - we really should have grabbed a cart. So we kill our arms carrying the bags to the car. Loaded up it's back to the fair for Dean's train ride. The shriners always have that little train car thing and Dean loves it. A few minutes later we're plowing through the crowds with the toot of the horn (which Dean notices is a funny train whistle). Dean even gets into the regality of it by waving to the passerbys/dodgers.
About now it's time for something to eat - so we had some of the Phillippean booth treats... dang good. While eating Dean saw the pony rides - and despite it's $8 cost and tiny little lot Mandy was intrigued. Oh well... her money (...err... wait OUR money.. crap). See Dean wanted to go, but got on and was quiet, reserved (as per normal with strangers), and I believe was taken off early. Ah well.
Now we were going to head out to the campsite. Oh, wait we have to drop off our deals first... then we have to go to her parents to get Dean's sleeping bag... oh and my dad's to get my sleeping bag, thermarest and borrow their bigger tent.
NOW we're off... except we wanted to get some groceries to eat (hotdogs, milk, etc...). So one last stop and we're off.
We're there! Hopefully they have room... which they do ... *phew*.
We find the spot and I set to and set up the campsite. Seeing as it's really impromptu this means just the tent, my little camping seat. I set up the inside of the tent and it's time to explore the grounds. We visit the falls (Dean wasn't impressed with -- or just didn't like being picked up near the guardrail). Then it was time for a visit in Kakabeka. We went to Odeina foods (figured we'd need more drink stuff) while Mandy got ice cream.
On the way back in we picked up wood and debated if we needed 1 or 2 [turns out they only had 1 left anyways].
I cooked up the hot dogs on my spider stove (love that little thing) and we had a nice little dinner. Mandy and Dean went for a walk while I split some of the wood and relaxed (read a little of the new comic "Witch Doctor" -- amazing read).
Then we just hung about, and slowly but surely the lights dimmed and I started the fire. Dean was prompted to tell a ghost story -- and wow, were we surprised. I had video, but lost it due to a faulty card. Mandy has one on her facebook page.
Essentially: "once upon a time, there was a ghost stomping on the house; then the bad policemen tried to kill him; so the ghost ran away -- and never came back. The End"
He told it about a dozen times, with slight variances (sometimes it was the police house, sometimes he did one house, than another, etc...). No matter how we tried to convince Dean that policemen are good, he just said "no" and shook his sad (kinda sadly like).
Then it was time for bed and Dean fell asleep instantly. Sleep sucked - I got the thermarest and tossed and turned all night.
Morning... well Dean woke up nice and early and wouldn't stay asleep so we got up. A series of unfortunate accidents from Dean precipitated our leaving earlier than we would have liked to. But not after introducing Dean to the wildlife (a chipmunk came into the campsite and we fed it -- yah, i know, bad me -- and it came up right close to him a couple of times).
All in all -- a nice camping vacation. Quick, short -- nothing major planned (such a vast contrast to my usual preparation for camping -- this felt like slumming it).
Maybe we can do one more before the snow gets here. Dean I think really enjoyed it.
Photos - https://picasaweb.google.com/101838215348734826591/KakabekaFallsAugust2011
btw - 77/92 means I'm up to 83.7%
Monday, August 22, 2011
I'll give you all the play by play:
Day -1 - Just a meet and greet
I thought that I'd go and pop on by and visit the old homestead on Wednesday night. Charm and the kids had been there for a few days, and I hadn't visited yet - and Nolan and Tiff had just got in. So might as well get some face time in before the big event.
It was nice and relaxed - the kids all running around like crazy - shades of things to come. All until Tucker, Nolan's dog, had decided to escape. So that was about an hour trying to locate him. Never run in sandals. That's what I learned.
Other than that it was time to take Dean on home as I had a busy day at the Golf Tournament and Mandy was making the cake. Dean wanted to go back by the time we got him home, but we assured him they'd be all asleep [we just wanted to go home] - he wanted to double check by calling.
Day 1 - Chippewa
I started out the day with a lot of sun and fun on the golf course. I'm no golfer, just staffing the putting challenge. It was a lot of fun actually - we raised $350 for the high school chamber scholarship fund, and there was even a playout for the winner. But this entry isn't about work.
So I get to Chippewa and I start looking for family. I see some and ask where are we supposed to go -- I'm told cabin 3... I pray that it isn't one of the old ones. Thankfully it wasn't. So I go in and I was PLEASANTLY SURPRISED. They've really made a nice cabin there at Chippewa. Properly stained and smoothed hardwood floors... a semi room with 2 beds, a table including a fridge and microwave -- there's even a heater! And a deck with a picnic table. We were pleasantly impressed.
It was hard to determine what to pack as it's not really 'camping' as I figured... but I still had more than enough for what we needed.
We all hung around the main campground area while we used the kitchen facilities to have a mini-buffet. Then we went and had our 'talent show' around the campfire. It was sometime around then that I accidentally locked my keys in the cabin. Grrgh... Steve showed us how it wasn't necessarily hard to be able to get in and retrieve them.
Adam eventually made it after having his mega drive [first from Seattle to Calgary, then on to Thunder Bay].
So a good night to start out. The chaos of the kids wasn't too bad as we're outside and have a large area to allow them to roam.
Day 2 - Victoria Inn
So, we start the morning off with an early breakfast... such healthy options as persians, and fruit rollups and some assorted cereals. As with normal in our family we all wanted to overplan the next steps, when really we should just relax.
I started out the day horribly as I had such terrible leg pains from standing around all day in sandals, and this cold / allergy thing I picked up on the trip still weren't letting me sleep. I got to watch the sun rise it was so horrible. And the one time I did fall asleep, Mandy woke me up as she thought Dean was walking around crying [we had to make sure we closed and locked and propped the doors from being open]. Ah fun.
So, while everybody wanted to go and do things I just wanted to sleep. Mandy wanted to work on the cake some more, so that afforded me the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. Meanwhile the family took Dean to River Rat Rentals to do some tubing. I literally crashed from 11 - 4 without even blinking.
Then we checked into the hotel. Kinda weird to go to a hotel like 5 minutes from home. But Victoria Inn has a wicked pool area. A quick dip with Dean for a while and it was time to go and reunite with some family. Auntie Heather and Uncle Richard were there as well as Randy and Aunt Vi, and the surprise visit was from Aunt Linda and her daughter Roxanne, who I hadn't seen in... like... years. So a nice little dinner and just general hanging out.
Mandy got to unveil her cake [after receiving much praise from not only family, but hotel staff -- we even left it for them as a tip]. A little more swimming after that and then it was time for bed. A very active day so it was easy to have Dean go down.
Day 3 - Hoito and a Bridge
I knew this day was going to be 'good' judging from the way dad wanted to discuss about going to the Hoito for breakfast. He wanted to book ahead. Oi. So there we were -- 17 strong trying to find a way to have a nice brunch. Have I mentioned the chaos that is 6 kid, most under the age 10? Yeah, it was getting to a point... reminded me I'm happy with just 1.
After we were through with the Hoito [or v.v.], we braved going out to Eagle Canyon for the suspension bridge. I'd never been, so it promised to be interesting. They said it was a 'good hike' to get to the first bridge -- it wasn't. What was challenging was trying to corral all the kids and the overplanning.
I was surprised Mandy had no problem with crossing the bridge. Turns out she figured out her fear -- it's a fear of "falling" - so in an environment where it's literally not a problem, there's no fear. Nolan however, didn't fare as well. I felt bad that everybody was kinda making fun of him about it - I know what it's like with some members of this family - they just like to poke the wound. I'll admit I wasn't quite ready for that bridge - my tolerance for 'thrills' has come down some. Not that I was 'scared', but it wasn't as easy a cake walk as you think. Especially when you throw in kids into the mix running around - you just want to hold their hands and make sure they're safe.
Then it was time to head down the trail - which we found blueberries and raspberries and the kids enjoyed. We watched a few zipliners, and I would have wanted to, but just couldn't justify the $60 to do so (essentially you'd be paying a $1 per second).
After that adventure [we left before anybody else as Charm and Steve lagged behind and took almost an hour to come back -- we just couldn't wait] we went back to the hotel and relaxed as we ordered pizza by the deck of the pool. Not to get judgmental or upset but Charm and Steve kinda disappeared again leaving the kids kinda unsupervised -- well not unsupervised as we got to watch them. And Mandy had to go and deal with the 2nd cake fiasco so that left me with Dean, Cayley and Sarah [Ian, Kait and Amanda are kinda okay on their own... but still]. Luckily dad stepped in for a bit and Adam did as well.
What was nice was once the kids were ready for bed, we shipped them all to one room to watch movies while the adults went for a nice dessert in Chicago Joe's.
Day 4 - 1/2 Day Church
So, as a special treat I went to church. It's been a long time since I'd gone. But it was part of the festivities so why not. I went for the first part and Dean was okay [so long as he played "bird game"]. Then I went home to help clean up some of the house and get ready for the rest of the day as I was then informed that the day was turning into not just church and the baptism, but a dinner then a party.
2 o'clock was Kaitlin's baptism, so I got back with Dean in time for that and then rushed back home to help out with the door [we got a new screen door], the cake, etc... to make it back for 530pm for the Moore dinner.
The dinner was mom's lasagna - soo good. And I'll admit it was nicer than trying to cram everybody at home for a dinner however much I complained about going to and from the church for the 3rd time that day.
After dinner we had the 'open house' anniversary party - and the jewel of the crown was the amazing cake that Dagwoods made. Despite what everybody thinking that Mandy did it. Many church members as well as a couple relatives came out. Very informal affair as we all just sat around with some appies and punch then let the happy couple cut the cake. 40 years guys... amazing feat, especially in this day and age.
Oh, and I got to be the 'photographer' for a while. Charm really wanted to have a family photo taken and asked me to look up photographers. I knew I couldn't bring a professional in, not just because of the cost, but really the day wasn't going to be cut and dry for timelines, so I wasn't about to put somebody through that... so I just said I could do it. I thought I did a good job. It was fun, posing everybody and then doing just some couples/family shots. Reminded me I like photography, but I still don't think I could do it for a living [not just because of a lack of a talent, but I'm not a 'demanding type' of person to really pose].
In the end poor folks like my parents and Charm's family were there at church from 10am [10:30 in Charm's case] until almost 11pm after we had all cleaned up and everything.
So, I survived -- so when's the next? Discussion is probably 2 years [however we were thinking of going to Disney for around Dean's 5th as a Knauff Family Trip]. And also people suggested having it in Calgary or Utah... my argument is, and always will be, that Thunder Bay is HOME. Regardless how siblings have moved away, this is still what formed us into what we are and we should celebrate that.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
So you know how those 4 day weeks tend to be the busiest? Well the last email day week I had was all that much more jam packed.
It really wasn't that bad, just the sense that I had already missed a day and knowing I'd be missing Friday... And to top it off Thursday was our golf tournament, so that's almost a write off... And Wednesday was the full day of our focus groups.
Each day was really packed and was really positive. So I'm not complaining.
What the topper is that the weekend entails our first ever "Moore family reunion". That is a bit of a mixed bag. Could be a good thing, could be a stressful thing.... (I'm writing this pretty much halfway through the weekend, and it's been a bit of both thus far). That will be a blog post unto itself.
Monday, August 15, 2011
...or our mini-Trip to Duluth
Let's start this out... I'm debating about letting you all view our photo album...
We take our time getting to get out... now I say that because The Worlds was on and I was trying to watch online [Android ftw with the flash support -- ps I called Field Marshal winning after I heard their MSR -- and after hearing I&D I should have put them in my 6]. Getting ready involves me making a dash out to Canadian Tire to get some anti-ant stuff too.
We eventually are on the road around noon, and it's a nice leisurely drive. Dean isn't too bad. He starts to get a little bored and resolves this by painting his nails with the markers we let him have (btw - Mandy invested in this crafts table, tha's like a lap table and it totally fits over his car seat... good job Mandy).
I'm a bit of a jerk and don't make as many stops as we could have [Temperance Falls, Lighthouse on the Rock, etc...] but we are cruising along and I just get in my groove and go. We eventually stop in Two Harbors for a bite to eat at Culvers [where else does our family go?]. Things are going okay after it's taken forever to get our food [can't believe how busy that place is]. Dean isn't really eating and then says his tummy is sore and wants to go to the potty, in trying to get out by going under the table he emerges after he's left a sizable amount of 'sick-up' under the table. I rush him off to the washroom to clean up while Mandy gets to inform some unlucky sap of his next 15 minutes of torture.
The next few miles are definitely fraught with a little tension as any little sound from Dean could mean an unpleasant car ride. We decide to do something we haven't done before, but kept meaning to. We stopped at the Sinclair before Duluth. We've always seen the dinosaur, but never really stopped in for a photo opp. Seeing as Dean missed out on his Culvers meal we figure it'll be a good chance for him to go potty, maybe grab a snack and then there's the photo opp as well.
Turns out Sinclair is one of those 'unmanned' gas stations ... there's barely even a port-a-potty there. Well at least we got photos.
We get into Duluth and decide to plow on through to our hotel (who knows how long Dean's got this safe streak in him). We do make a quick stop at the SuperOne foods for some healthier snacks. There are some weird people in the USofA. The conversation we heard outside the doors was particularly telling of the times. I didn't catch much, but I caught: police, paper. they got it wrong, gun, chasing, wanted to blow up something (or burn something down) etc... definitely interesting.
Now here's a funny thing. If you punch in "Black Bear Casino" into the GPS, apparently there's several options, but only shows you that exact result. Follow it and it will take you to a reverse "Field of Dreams" as it's a bare field hoping for people to come to it before anything's built... at least that's the joke we had in our heads. We realize our mistake add in the "& Resort" to the GPS and we find it further up 35 than where we turned off.
Black Bear Casino & Resort - not that impressive from the perspective of a family guy... nothing 'wow' for me. If anything a little ostentatious for my liking. There's only the one way to get into the hotel, through the main lobby which means the noise and the valet staff [funny story, walking in the one valet says to a person "hello son... err... I mean ma'am" and looks a little embarassed - i get into the hotel and this 'ma'am' is complaining to the staff inside pointing at the valet].
The room is really nice - I'll give it that, but the rest of the hotel is nothing exciting. The pool was hard to find, ice machines are only every 2nd floor, very poor internet [I couldn't even watch youtube or the Worlds], etc... And the pool.. .not that great. Was very busy and loud and no towels. Twice I saw a staffer walk around and pick up towels ... never brought any out. Once brought what looked like a bin of towels, but was just an extra dirty towel bin as I guess he was getting tired of picking up the dirty ones on the ground.
Also, there were some extra crazies at this pool. Again, the great dichotomy of the USofA. What really did it was the horseplay of a couple of kids left un-checked -- not only by the lack of any parents for these kids whatsoever, but by the staff even. Several times you could see the hotel security walk by but then do nothing. When I left was when these kids would literally run full out along the pool side then slide along their knees and bash into whatever was their misfortune to be in front of them (walls, pool chairs, etc...).
After that I was ready for bed. Read some about the Worlds results, and we looked up the next day for Thomas and ended up falling asleep [kept meaning to order the tickets, but as we had to share a bed with Dean and he took a while to fall asleep i was pretty zonked by the end myself]
We start carting our stuff to the car and are on the road by almost 11. Not bad. We had ordered the Thomas tickets for 2pm, figuring that gives us plenty of time. So we go to Target.
Ah, tar-jay, as they say. Shopping is not one of my fortes, but we go and find Dean a new shirt [after he got sick on one of them the previous day], and Mandy looks for a bathing suit [as she'd forgotten hers]. $100 later we decide to eat at the Pizza Hut that's right there before heading to Thomas [save time]. This turns out to be more interesting conversation.
As we're sitting down (a brief synopsis):
Random Stranger: Does he like passenger trains? Amtrak used to come through here. This country is going to hell in a handbasket... blah blah blah
Mandy: We're from Canada, so we wouldn't know
RS: Canada - I hear you guys don't get as much say about your government as we do here.
Me: We're a democracy, just like you.
RS: What's a tablet? Why do they have to have so many tablets, why can't they just have one tablet?
Me: A tablet is a computer - why do they have so many different cars?
RS: Do you know what CRT is?
RS: Why are there so many people from Thunder Bay here? I hear it's because of the mall. Do they not have malls where you live? You should build some.
Mandy: Canada has the LARGEST mall in the world.
RS: You should build one there in Thunder Bay then. Maybe if everybody were to chip in a couple of dollars each you could build one. Because it's a long drive to get to Duluth I hear.
Seriously, that synopsis does very little in shedding light on the crazy. It was unreal. But like most Canadians we were trying to be polite, but not engaging. Eventually some Target staffer said something to him and he walked away "Thank you for answering my questions".
Then it was time for Thomas. Parking was difficult, but easy in the end, just not clearly stated. This Day out with Thomas seemed a little more 'ghetto' than the last one. The one in Lakefield was in the middle of nowhere at a train station. This one was right by the high way... and was all fenced in. Weird part was you could just walk in at any time - the only time they checked your ticket was for the train ride. Oh, and the train ride - we learned our lesson. This time we were getting there early. So we go and get in line properly and are like the 5th family in line. The guy taking our ticket even says "wow, you could probably even ride right up near Thomas". 10 minutes go by and then they start waving us down to the end of the fence. Again, we're thinking we're awesome as we're at the head of the line... 10 more minutes reveal that we're at the head of the line for the line that's at the end of the train. Dumb move - pissed a lot of us off. Here we are getting there early to get a good seat, but they move us on up[back] to the end of the train and those that came last got the spots near the front. Mandy and I were steaming on the inside trying not to get spew obscenities like the one mommy we saw/heard.
Then the train left and Dean was ok this time. Only one annoying person on the train [and it wasn't me]. Literally you could hear every word she said the entire time. She had no 'inside voice'.
After we visited all the sections, we got our prize. They didn't chince out this time, decent prize for doing all the stations this time. We then went and visited the rest of the museum. Very cool how this actually was a train museum for this event. Got to go in old trains and see models, etc... We did get our picture taken with Thomas this time [it was our vow] and we paid for the photo even.
I was good and tired after all the play - so it was time to find our hotel. Dean fell asleep on the way there, and I zonked out myself. Eventually we woke up and Dean realized he was in a different place and was upset. Getting him out to go for dinner was a challenge.
We decided on the Duluth Grill, not only as a recommendation from a friend, but it was close. Dean only settled down after he learned he could have a peanut butter and jam sandwich. The plate of fruit he got came with an edible flower (according to the waitress, not, however, Mandy). Dean got to cross paths with 2 levels of law enforcement at this establishment. He was in awe of the policemen who sat near us, but wouldn't say anything - even after they gave Dean a fancy sticker. Then he saw some state troopers who said hi and he ran and hid. Hoep this isn't early foreshadowing of a long history with law enforcement.
That done we decide to go grocery shopping [after a tip from Mandy's coworker that groceries are cheaper in the states]. After some fun with the GPS we decide to go to Superior to the WalMart there. (I was tired). Luckily it wasn't closed, but everything else was - we almost didn't go. We found some neato things, and some interesting people for sure. I got some s'mores cereal and my PB&J in a jar. Then it was time for hotel.
We made it in enough time to go for a quick dip in the pool (nobody kicked us out after the family time was over and it was 'adult' time). Then we slept.
I never sleep easy in hotels. Something about the air - but I tossed about like crazy in this room. My back is still sore and my legs still cramped. Couple that with my crazy allergies I've been having all trip and I'm having a fun time.
So we wake up and fight our way through the breakfast line to get Dean a blueberry waffle (I still am baffled at how busy those things are in the hotels - it's like nobody's had a waffle before in their life). A few consumables and then we're off on the road. Mandy had the brilliant idea of buying some lunchables for road. Dean wasn't too bad on this drive either - no nap however. Did let us know when he needed a potty break - albeit a couple were just false alarms - we're just not ready to chance it tho' [on the ride down we put him in a pull-up -- but on the ride back he refused].
And now we're home. My head is still stuffy, jaw is sore from sniffling and legs feel cramped. Still in the throes of unpacking - not looking forward to work tomorrow.
You know how the 4 day weeks are the busiest? Well this is my 3 day week... it's going to be hell.
Friday, August 12, 2011
We've been wanting to get away for sometime and with the Day out with Thomas option it worked out with Mandy's days off to get to get away.
Only problem was that Duluth is notorious for no vacancy. We were able to get her employee rate for Sunday night (meaning it will cost me a vacation day, but worth it). So the plan was to go Sunday for Thomas and then drive home Monday.
But as luck would have it, turns out the boss had to cancel his reservation at black bear so we were able to snag the Saturday night there. It's close to Duluth, which means we can take our time driving to Duluth on the Saturday, sleep over to hit up Thomas and then we can sleep in Duluth and leisurely drive home.
Makes for a relaxing time. Which is what these trips are all about... Well really its about having to get Dean to have a great time. He LOVED it last year. I've got to remember to take a lot of photos this time.
Monday, August 8, 2011
We've had our Shaw PVR since they first came out. It's revolutionized the way I watch TV (what little of it I still watch these days). I wouldn't go back to regular watching. So it was disheartening when it started to act up. Urgh... I remembered that it was out of warranty as when I went into get a replacement remote one day they said that I'd be still just under the warranty and better get it replaced soon.
Then I remembered the big fight I had back when ... I won't get into it, essentially it was that I was told I could 'trade up' down the road, and when I wanted to, they said no.
So, I was distraught... what to do? Buy a new one? They were expensive? Go without a PVR? I'd rather go without cable...
Mandy kept saying it's under a 'new warranty' as we got the Shaw phone, but that sounded kinda ludicrous.
Anyhow, one day we received a notice that we should upgrade our old terminal (we got it for free from Greg when he upgraded). The letter said bring your old in and we'll give you a new one. Bonus! So one new terminal for free! While there, Mandy inquired about the problems with the downstairs PVR. They made an appointment and when the time came, the tech came in and looked at it... scratched his head and just went and got us a new one. And it's a MOTOROLA again too.
So 2 new terminals now. Yay.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
It feels weird having a Saturday/Sunday and not being on the road or getting ready to go. I'm sitting here on a Sunday and actually had the opportunity to be somewhat productive. Feels good after the week I had. It wasn't dull... Never is at the Chamber. But there was a lot of communication outwards and then some waiting for a communication return.
Anyways, week was good and next should be as well. No more piping responsibilities for a while. And it looks like we'll be able to get away for a quick family trip this weekend. It's the Day Out With Thomas in Duluth. Just there's no cheap hotel rooms around there, so it might just be a day trip.
Not much else to report on. Need to follow up with the City for my cheque from the gig the other day. I should make it a rule, cash up front. I like when Ed was able to pay me right away on Friday. Makes it so much less awkward.
Oh, if you haven't tried yet, go get the Steak and Spuds from the Wayland on Fridays... $8 well spent.