Date Night YYC: Weekend Staycation Edition

This year I decided to work at our Regional Afterhours unit for the New Years Eve. And before you commend me for my noble sacrifice, it was motivated purely by a dwindling bank account whereby the holidays stripped me of my last dollars. Its a yearly fate that never seems to learn its lesson.

My other half however had the opportunity to celebrate the New Years with a few close friends, and I was just as pleased to Facetime at midnight while I brought in the new year bringing home the Bag at time and half. When I returned home on January 1st, 2021 at 8 am after a grueling 12 hour shift, my other half was still soundly asleep, with the aroma of poor choices emanating in the air. I opened a window, lit a fragrant candle and slept until January 2nd. Its almost like 2020 never stopped.

With my other half’s electrolytes replenished and my sleep pattern restored, the suggestion that we spend the weekend out of the house was just the ticket out of the doghouse he needed. You see, he was supposed to not enjoy New Years too, and in my mind he was supposed to be as equally miserable as I. Why men don’t pick up on this is beyond me, and unless its graffiti on stall wall, they don’t know how to proceed accordingly. But as luck would have it, his New Years was miserable, but I’ll save that story for another time. I respect his need for privacy, but lets just say it rhymes with SHMUSHROOMS. Needless to say, he had some ass kissing to do, and I figured that ass could be kissed better in a beautiful suite at the Hotel Arts in Downtown Calgary.

Hotel Arts - UPDATED 2021 Prices, Reviews & Photos (Calgary, Alberta) -  Tripadvisor

Admittedly a Staycation in Calgary during a Provincial Covid Lockdown whereby all the restaurants are closed for dining and streets baron seemed for a better term a waste of money. I wondered why book a suite only to be doing the same exact thing we do at home, except our Skip the Dishes options have changed geographically. But as I packed my little overnight bag, I began to appreciate even this historically daunting task. What was different this time was that I needed not to consider packing an array of “What if?” outfits in anticipation for impromptu adventures. How many times have we gone away for a weekend and packed 5 pairs of heels, a tiara, and maybe a pair of cleats just in case we play a game of soccer between going hiking and getting day drunk at a pool party. You can imagine the looming sense of “I’m forgetting something” that occurred when for the first time in history I managed to stuff all I needed in a carry on. By the way, those of you who travel like this regularly are bad ass risk takers and I solute you.

So since we were going nowhere, I imagined I’d probably be butt ass naked all day, cleaning ranch sauce off my breasts with my fingers, while eating chicken fingers in bed. All I needed was clothes to enter the hotel and clothes to leave the hotel. There was no need for hair tools, makeup, accessories, exfoliants or a kitchen-aid mixer. It was all so unsettling. That was until I stepped foot into the car and let out a gigantic breathe. I finally realized indeed this was not a waste of money. The feeling of release that I experienced just knowing I was leaving the confines of my house I had been bound too for the last 9 months was enough to make anyone around me uncomfortable by the noise I unleashed. Man, was I ready to get naked and order the FUCK out of Skip the Dishes next to my other half, who by the minute was inching further away from the doghouse shadows. We embarked on our journey and dipped into our favorite community Highlander Liquor Store to scoop up some fancy Champagne and assortment of fine wine to sip on.

It would be all of 15 minutes later we would arrive at Hotel Arts– Parking is is easy and underground which by the way is so very important when you live in a cold city and don’t plan on starting your car for two days. Having a dead battery can ruin your staycation quick and throw you into the devastating reality far quicker than need be when returning to the barbarous world again. I had been to Hotel Arts on many occasions as a guest and as a woman who loves their poolside lounge in the summer months. Hotel Arts has always been my favorite place to stay during The Calgary Stampede, as its fun to

Hotel Arts, Calgary, Canada - Booking.com
Hotel Arts ar Twitter: “Who's ready for a day spent on our Poolside Patio  eating and drinking all the deliciousness from our new weekend Poolside  Patio menu? We have DJ Cary Chang

experience the other side of stampede as a tourist and not as a begrudged local who typically flees the city during this time. I have fond memories of posting up all day on the loungers, ordering jugs of Sangria and munching on my favorite Grilled Cobb Wedge Salad while Deep House beats pulsate in the background. Sadly due to Covid-19 Restrictions the use of the pool was not an option, but consequently neither was my bathing suit body so it worked out for everyone.

The Hotel was like a ghost town. I imagined a scene from a little Podunk town motel where there was one lone Inn-Keeper who also lived in adjoined shack- except our Inn Keeper was a breathe of fresh air and this was a 4+ star hotel. The desk clerk assured us that this was the quietest time of year and given the circumstances, it was exceptionally dead; the floor was ours. I’m not sure where his head was at, but I dug it, especially after sharing a house with my mother, where privacy is contingent on when her Zopiclone kicks in.

The suite was a perfect nest that nurtured a good balance between Sleep, Soaking, Binge Watching and all of the Hanky Panky in between. We could see the Calgary Tower from our room, and despite the fact I drive by it on a weekly basis, it was a complimentary to the night skyline and the mood. City lights have always been invigorating for me, sending electric currents right through me, igniting hidden energy and passion. On countless occasions I’ve dragged my tired buttocks out the door to meet friends downtown, contemplating a Fast and the Furious U-turn the whole the down the Deer Foot. I was familiar with this inner tug-of-war and knew all I had to do was hold it together up until the Memorial Drive Fly-Over that unleashed the dancing lights of Calgary. I knew that within that gleeful spectrum laid the groundwork for yet another epic night, it was my visual Redbull. So as I gazed upon these lights that I’ve seen so many times before, and they renewed my hope and unearthed the nostalgia I’ve been longing for. I stood on the balcony and blew my beloved city a kiss and told her I’ll see you soon Honey!

16 Fun Facts About The Calgary Tower - Dining Out in Calgary, Canmore &  Banff
downtown | Christopher Martin Photography
Memorial Drive Calgary, Alberta

The next couple days I’d wear one of my two coming and leaving outfits. The air was still brisk, but the sun was out, and if you were strolling the streets you may have caught me hanging my head out the window like a dog taking in the abundance of alluring foreign scents. Those scents brought us all the way to the Cormery Block for some BBQ-To-Go! We have been loyal patrons to both The Cormery Block and Hayden Block, so it brought us much joy to continue supporting a local business that produces the most consistently delicious and mouth watering eats in Calgary. We ordered our favorites, and all the fixins’s, and were gifted an additional order of mouth watering ribs- God Bless You! Nothing jump starts a night of Staycation Romance, like a belly filling food coma that results alternatively in the best nights sleep I’ve had in ages. Chubby Girls & Boys worldwide I know are getting hot in the undercarriage!

Cruising 17th ave, the old “Red Mile” of Calgary was filled with other optimistic souls, aiming to get dose of sentimentality.

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I had intended on doing some writing while holed up in our little love nest, but I struggled to tear myself away from being present with my other half. The time together stood still, and I would feel locked into his arms, a special space reserved for me. Cemented into a moment that if I was to die in that moment I’d be eternally at peace. It was in this room that I found reprieve from the unyielding weight of the outside world. The world for this weekend needed to carry its own weight for awhile, and while I knew it would be there when I returned, somehow this small getaway prepared me to face it again with a smile. The last time I had felt this at ease within myself was when I caught myself freely floating in the Caribbean waters off Runaway Bay in Jamaica. I underestimated the Staycation.

As we packed up I was anxious to get home- I missed my dog Geisha, but I also couldn’t wait to tackle the upcoming first work week of 2021 feeling optimistic, an emotion I had not felt for awhile. I felt a deeper sense of confidence even within my relationship that had encountered numerous hurdles throughout the previous year, weathered by the storm. I felt stronger than ever that perhaps we’d now write the book on how to survive a pandemic and not skin each other alive. But more importantly as the city skyline grew smaller in my rearview mirror, I promised I’d see it again. I’d pledge that I would give it my best over the coming year to extract every experience it had left in it- not to suck the life from it, but to keep it alive. Calgary’s intrinsic nature has always delivered no matter how shattered my soul was, it only honorable to repay the favor.

So I urge my fellow Calgarians to reflect on how they can give back to their city in honor of all the good times it has fostered for you. Where you once raised a glass to celebrate with friends, or the location you once watched your first burlesque show to the quaint bathroom you shared a drunken heart to heart with your best friend- these businesses need your support so we can get back to sharing moments again with one another. Experiencing them in different ways may unveil a new way to find hope in the coming year, whether it be in your relationships or your desire to reconnect with loved ones and friends.

I want to say Thank-You to Hotel Arts for providing us the opportunity to fall in love with not only my other half again, but myself, my city, and people that make it what it is.

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Summer Vacation 2020- The Relationship Reset

We’ve hit the one year mark of enduring life in a pandemic I’m sure many of you have had to take a step back a few times and asked yourself how have I not pushed my significant other off a cliff yet. Many of us in the field of health care and social services braced ourselves for the increase in domestic violence, overdoses, and mental health related cases. However, due to the isolation the issues have noticeably been pushed further into the darkness. I’ve often joked with colleagues that the eerie silence seems to be foreshadowing a scene from Game of Thrones. Anticipation continues to tease the anxious audience with the looming threat of the white walkers who inch closer, while lives hang in limbo.

A large part of being in the health care and human services sector is a responsibility to manage your own mental health and wellness. And as seasoned as some of us may seem at doing this, there was nothing in our bag of tricks that could have prepared us for this blow.

I think it was the end of June where my partner and I hit a wall of intolerance for each other. A wrong look, a snappy tone, or small misunderstanding was enough to ignite world war 3. Our lack of social buffers and distractions was like having a field of dry grass in a drought awaiting a match to be lit. Time together was no longer cute or meaningful opportunity to strengthen us, in fact it was going to break us.

We needed a relationship intervention. We needed a dose of what life was like before the complex web of Fuckery impacting our ability to be civil human beings. I recognize that we have remained in a better situation than most folks who have faced unemployment, illness, and loss of family members as a result of Covid-19. I think recognizing this was a motivating factor to get well in my personal life. The white walkers are coming and in this case as services and schools begin to reopen the demand for healthy front line workers will too. I can’t be of assistance to anyone if I’m in jail for accidentally poisoning the smoothie I so kindly threw in his face.

I can appreciate that there is a spectrum of opinions and levels of comfort with regard to the Covid-19 topic. My own has wavered consistently from the beginning of it. I remember being in Mexico in March just as the pandemic was escalating. By the end of my stay as the resort became a ghost town and the stream of concerned texts and emails came through for me to come home, the severity of it began to sink in. We are all aware of the panic and fear that ensued after that.

I’m sure this is actually how Covid was introduced to the world…Foam Party.

It was in July that both my partner and I tested positive for Covid. Living under the same roof as my 78 year old mother with significant health issues complicated our recovery even more. Covid left us fatigued, foggy, and unable to support one another at a time no one else could. And while I recognize there is still so much we don’t know about Covid-19 and reinfection, we decided to take what we think we knew and take advantage of our fresh antibodies and go on a trip. We had been advised after being quarantined and cleared by health professionals that we have up to potentially 3 months of antibodies until the harshness of winter ascends on us. So with our empty and weathered buckets in tow we took the summer vacay we needed to fill them accordingly.

We took a quick flight from Calgary to Vancouver, one we’ve taken many times before. This departure felt similar to the excitement attached to some of our previous tropical destination trips, equipped with the obligatory gate drinks. In fact, they were literally Gate Drinks whereby we were allowed two at a time to be drank at our gate while we waited for our flight. It made me wonder how this wasn’t even a thing before because I was loving it. We boarded our half empty flight where I could stretch myself across the seat and take an hour long disco nap prior to the anticipated fun that lay ahead of us.

Over the next few days we took in the beautiful sites of Vancouver. I was excited to show my partner a piece of my past where I had so many great memories. Having lived there before, I knew all the best places to go and reacquaint myself with the ever changing cityscape. My favorite part of Vancouver is the transit system, as it’s an extremely large and densely populated city whereby a short distance can turn into a 2 hour commute by vehicle.

Stanley Park is hands down a must when visiting Vancouver. You can rent all different types of bikes from cruisers to electric and ride along the seawall. There is the aquarium you can currently book ticket times for along with the many paths, beaches, and indigenous art spread about waiting to be discovered. From there you can tackle the city by foot, Skytrain, bus or scooter. Stanley Park is really close to Denman Street and English Bay where you can find the colorful and LGBTQ2S safe community that has been well established for a long time. Typically around the time we were there it would have been boasting one of the largest Gay Pride Celebrations and parade.

We strolled through Gas-Town & Yaletown in the search for the little hole in the wall sushi spots where you can get fresh sushi on the low-low. It was crazy to walk by the old closed clubs I use to frequent in my early 20’s, like Sonar and the Purple Onion now looking unidentifiable. These were the years of the late 90’s, early 2000’s, when Hip Hop and Rap artists were killing it, and my gold hoops were as big as the vibes. It was the time to be alive and in your twenties, try to tell me otherwise. Craft beer gardens and Bottle Service were nonexistent, and the only thing that separated you from the next person was what color your Fubu Jersey was.

The next few days we encountered some of the most gut aching laughter ever. I’m blessed to be surrounded by some of the quirkiest characters that are always sure to deliver. Our beloved friend we call “Uncool Jake” who is often the Butt of many jokes was in true form

By the end of the night after some monetary encouragement to the donor he was putting back shots of breast milk quite willingly. How our circle has changed since the far racier Las Vegas trip days. The content may change but the bad behavior never dies. With laugh lines reinforced, we moved on to a slower pace and headed to Vancouver Island.

We took the ferry to Victoria which is where I went to the University of Victoria. Victoria boasts the most beautiful inner harbor, where you could typically come across buskers, vendors and musicians. However…COVID World strikes again and it looked like it would traffic wise in the winter. Victoria usually is a big cruise ship destination, and the lack of tourism was evident with many of the storefronts closed and out of business.  After I identified the big tree I peed in one time on Canada Day I felt like we were ready to move on to the next stop on memory lane.

I decided to surprise my honey and took a night on Salt Spring Island staying at the Salty Pear Farm, which has a number of different Air BnB options.  They suggested that we go to Salt Spring Wild Cider Brewery and take in their tasting flights. They had us at the word “tastings” and primed our palettes and bellies by getting a solid buzz on. The view was vibrant as it overlooked hues of rolling wooded hills with the orchards below. The casual atmosphere along with the fervent staff made the experience idyllic. I left feeling like this would be a place that if I was a local would stay until closing time, and likely be found in a nearby field under the stars.

Salt Spring Wild Cider Brewing Company
Hamock Lounging at the Salty Pear Farm, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

We surprised ourselves and showed enough restraint at Wild Cider in order to take in a waterfront dinner where we listened to the band Grapes of Wrath perform as the sun set. If you grew up in the 80’s & 90’s you will know that these guys were the SHIT! So I may have fan girled a little bit while my significantly younger partner took zero interest in this epic moment. Watching the boats come and go, as well as eaves dropping on the horny middle aged women’s conversation next to us was a highlight. It made me actually miss the girls night dinners I used to have pre-Covid days where the night would be littered with the dirty details of our one night stands of Stampede Past.

I had initially researched Sunset Kayak trips, but the trip was beginning to take a toll on our energy and were looking forward to just relaxing by the camp fire at the Salty Pear Farm. We were leaving for Shawinigan Lake and Tofino the next day so lacked the time needed to cover the Provincial Park, Lakes and artisan studios that Salt Spring is known for. It will be a destination I can see returning with a group of girlfriends after the pandemic has subsided.

Shawnigan Lake School Main Building

I had been anticipating the drive to Shawnigan as it was the boarding school I attended for 5 years. It is a prestigious school located on its namesake lake where I spent my years rowing and skinny dipping at night with my dorm mates. The grounds mimic something out of a movie, with its main gardens and mix of new state of the art learning commons among the old refurbished heritage buildings. My high school years here were hands down the best years of my life. Ironically it was also the setting for my last wedding that ended in divorce, yet the nostalgia of the place remains unsmeared. I pointed out the Chapel where I had lost my virginity in, which also was the same chapel I got married in.

Inside the Chapel of Sin

Indeed I am going to hell in a hand basket.

 I pointed out the train tracks that we would walk down and go smoke weed. I shared the story of when 15 of us got busted and all got put on “Wilbur Force” together, which was a punishment based more on public embarrassment along with loss of privileges. Joke was on them because all 15 of us were friends, and it allowed us the time to smoke more weed while not having to do sports or other enriching extra-curricular activities. It took us 6 weeks to pull a tiny area of Broom, which is that thick yellow brush that grows in BC, in what should have taken a week. I feel like it may have been easier to have just let us get away with our insolence, because it left many of the other students wishing they were on our side of trouble.  I love visiting this place, and cannot wait for my 25th reunion next year where the tradition of poor behavior will be continued.

We pushed on to Tofino and I was adamant about stopping in Coombs where they have the Market with the goats on a roof. My partner was a bit confused as to why this was a thing, let alone a reason to veer off our direct route to Tofino. Unfortunately the line was so long to get into the actual Market where I was just wanting to take in the familiar smells of the wood and hand made goods. We did take in lunch at the Italian restaurant Cuckoo Trattoria, dining on hand tossed flatbread, pasta, and sinful desserts. It made the blow of not getting into the market digestible. The patio sits in a wooded grove overlooking a ravine where you can hear the stream below, and offers soothing shade on a hot day. There were moments where I felt I was at an old Tuscan Villa enjoying a glass of vino with Il Mio Amore!

Coombs Market

On route to Tofino we passed through Cathedral Grove, which the Arboreal groves resemble Gothic cathedrals of Europe boasting the worlds largest and oldest trees. Due to the pandemic the trails and park was closed, however remained impressive with the lush green cavernous coastal forest lining the highway. I was thankful to be driving as this road is not for those who encounter car sickness.

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Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

You literally weave and wind along roads hugged up against the coastal mountain range where waterfalls cascade off the cliffs and onto the side of the road. Each bend reveals a torrent river of rapids that have cut through the landscape unearthing interesting geographical land formations. All of a sudden my inner twelfth grade self made an appearance and I’m identifying fluvial formation terms such as “look at that Alluvial fan!” I officially outted myself at that moment as a total geography nerd and I think he dug it

Tough City Sushi, Tofino British Columbia

Despite the  distractions and near misses we made it to Tofino, whereby on our arrival Mio Amore quickly got up to speed on the vibe of the little coastal town. Earthly looking characters strolled the main drag in bare feet and dreaded heads. There was a mix of surfers, kayakers, and outdoorsy fleece clad groups meandering with a sense of ease and harmonious interaction. We scuttled quickly to find a restaurant that was not closing before 8pm and came upon another sushi spot called Tough City Sushi. We sat on the covered deck as the west coast rain fell fervently. The smell of the wet salty earth, and purr of the rain complimented the fresh raw fish and intimate moment we so desperately needed to renew.

The next day feeling rested and rejuvenated after our previous day’s drive we decided to take on Boogie Boarding on the world famous Long Beach. We rented wet suits and boards from Long Beach Surf Shop and it was super reasonable. The weather was in fine west coast form, blustery and wet.  This did not dampen our childlike excitement as we fought the fury of the ocean’s waves and rode them in one after another. On the beach we had found the perfect little driftwood shelter, shielding us from the elements and making for a romantic little sand oasis where we sipped craft beer and cognac to warm us up. 

We cycled back and forth between the ocean and our shelter that day, feeling the heaviness and weight of the previous month’s tension and sadness get washed away into the Pacific Ocean. I could have sat there in that feeling for countless hours. In fact I had not felt that weightless and in the moment in years where found myself so in tune with all of my senses. In fact with no doubt in my mind I knew that there was no other place I wanted to be than with him on this beach in the pouring rain. We had found our way back to one another even though we had not left each other’s side for months. There was a sense of renewed hope that when we returned home things would look brighter and perhaps easier even in a pandemic.

Our Little Love Shelter on Long Beach

The remainder of our trip as it began to draw to its conclusion was further filled with family moments whereby I appreciatively looked around me and acknowledged the wealth of love around me. I have often ended vacations feeling exhausted or less than enthusiastic to return to work. As I boarded the plane, I was anxious to get back to my own bed and return to the reality that faced me back in Calgary where I could flex my replenished perspective.  I even looked forward to seeing my mother who had also admittedly enjoyed our absence, but grateful to be back in our own brand of dysfunction.

It turns out it was a much needed reset in varying aspects of our lives, and not just between the love of two people. Who knew it was only an hour plane ride away and with people we’ve had all along. Who knew the city streets, highways, little towns, and islands of my childhood could ground the person in my future the same way they grounded me in my past and share that together. It left me Feeling not only grateful but fueled for the next few months at least to absorb the impending damage that this pandemic has had on families, relationships and individuals. And while there may be gloves, Lysol, masks and potential vaccines to protect us from catching Covid, no one is immune to the suspected long lasting emotional trauma that is un-ravelling as the months begin to inch closer to a year.

 Stay strong Friends. Stay Woke. Stay Close to those who love you and RESET.

GirlsTrip: Why Canadian Girls Just Do it Better

I have been going to Banff for little Weekend Trips for years since I moved to Alberta. For many who are not sure where Banff is, it’s approximately an hour and smidge if you take Highway 1 West from Calgary. The town itself is an Aspen like oasis that sits smack in the middle of Banff National Park and has numerous mountains within close driving range.

 In summer Banff and its surrounding area is fit for hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, you get the picture. It’s a non stop adventure park for the weekend warriors we all aspire to be. Winter time boasts some amazing Ski/Snowboarding, snow shoeing, sleigh rides, dog sledding and snow mobiling (which us locals also call Sledding but can be confusing if you think of it in the traditional sense).

Many of my trips to Banff  were weekend girl’s trips. Just like “Saturdays are for the boys,” well weekends are for the girls! Banff can get pricey but if you can get a gang together its best to stay somewhere you can fit 4-6 comfortably. I’ve stayed at Hidden Ridge Resort on almost a dozen occasion. It’s not swanky, but you get the real “lodgey” kind of feel, and their lofts have a variety of room/bed options.  They have fire places and old DVD players where you can go borrow movies as well as games from the front desk. All have a well equipped kitchen where you have everything you need. The best part of this place is their hot pools and sauna, and has a beautiful fire Hearth at the center of the pool deck. In addition to the hearth, you have a spectacular view of the valley and surrounding mountains which in all seasons is breath-taking.  The average amount to stay at Hidden Ridge can go from anywhere between $175.00 to $300.00 CAD which is a steal for Banff pricing.

Now let me say this now, a romantic Banff experience is a completely different set of instructions boys and girls. Boys, please do not bring your girlfriend with 6 of your Bros… Go for the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel minus the Bro-skies.

Because it has a kitchen, we typically bring a big Lasagna, Charcuterie, snacks and booze up there. I suggest shopping in Calgary first as their grocery stores are pretty overpriced and close early. While there is plenty of restaurants to eat at, there are no late night spots open, so drunk you will love you at 3am when you mow down on that left over lasagna.

If you want to opt out of being a thrifty Sisty…I encourage you to check out The Grizzly House. Its super Kitschy and straight out of the 70’s. Each table has a phone as well if you are interested in calling another table and saying hello, as this used to be a swingers restaurant. Nothing says lets get naked with some total strangers than the meat sweats after dining on Meat and Cheese Fondue. I feel like the 70’s was definitely a different time entirely as now I’d have to diet, shave, powder my crotch, and roofie my own drink before I’d consider lifting a ringing phone. And what would one say….”Hey baby, if you like meat I got a whole Bison sausage waiting for you?”

The Grizzly House Banff Alberta

I give an honorable mention as well to The Balkan, where they have some very tasty Greek cuisine and its just above the Dancing Sasquatch, The waiters will bring you to the front of the line as well and hook it up for you nicely; if you don ‘t like waiting in a line full of Seasonal Aussie workers. But if you like them young, cute and poor then waiting in line may be right up your alley.

Banff Ave

If you want to just sip and enjoy delicious Craft Cocktails with the gals, Park Distillery is where you want to go. They are right on Banff Ave and within walking distance to everything. There you can sip on 100% hand made, in house cocktails, such as my favorite the “OBSERVATION PEAK”-Park Glacier Rye, Appleton Rum, Amaro Montenegro, cherry liqueur, Park orange bitters, smoked cedar square. They also offer a wide variety of food which they call their campfire favorites. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that was hot dogs and marshmallows. Clearly I’ve been doing this campfire thing all wrong, Which could be also why I hate camping.

The nightlife in Banff is super refreshing for us Calgarians who get a bit tired of the local clubs and hipster watering holes. Let’s face it, I’ll drink and go out anywhere as long as I have a solid crew with me. I love hitting up the Dancing Sasquatch when I’m in Banff for a night. The music and vibe is always cool there and you’ll be sure to dance all night long. The Sasquatch look is also inevitable if you are as big of a hot mess as I am by the end of good night.

There are lots of cab and shuttle options so there is no need to drink and drive there…not like that should ever be an option? I typically like to pre-book for the way home so that if its winter you are not freezing your Kahuna’s off. The locals can pick out the Calgary girls simply by the clothes they go out in there, and that’s just fine with me. However be smart ladies, opened toed heels with frost bite are never cute. I can’t even lie I have definitely checked my coat and winter boots, swapping into my stylish dancing shoes.

If your not too hung the next day, heading to the hot springs or Kananskis Nordic Lodge for the day to enjoy the hot pools is always and epic way to end your weekend and detox the liver.

Friday Dates YYC: Looking Back on A Summertime Memory- Picnic at Prince’s Island Park

The Best Picnic Baskets on the Market in 2020 | A Foodal Buying Guide

A proper late afternoon it was as I recall in late June. You see we were already in what felt like month 8 of wintertime, so when the warm weather hit, we took advantage of the good weather vibes. Nevertheless, these months can often feel like years. Weathering Calgary winters is a matter of psychological survival of the fittest. You can either fall into the winter doldrums and await the snow melt, or just carry on with life. Our ability to endure is massively under-estimated as many would assume we must be miserable during these months, but we make it work. Others tend to rub salt into our frigid wounds despite our resilience, but should be assured we make the most out of any outdoor time we can get. Located next to us is the Province of British Columbia, who’s residents continuously boast about their balmy year round weather, and it leaves us no choice but to talk about ours occasionally. Our conversations often worth mentioning which I learned is not a well known term among outsiders- The Chinook. They can be lovely and painful.

You see, just as my skull felt like it was going to rupture from the pressure, I realized it wasn’t from a Chinook but from a wicked mid week pandemic drinking hangover. Who knew there would something worse than the Chinook Migraines to consider… Alas there was the Covid-19 headaches lurking around each corner or on the surface of your delivered groceries. It seems that being an Albertan comes often with a lot of headaches no matter which way you go about life. We desperately needed a break from it all. And an early summer was delivered!

While Good ol’ 2020 is the year we all hope to forget, it was forgiving enough to give us a bit of early nice weather for a change, no headaches attached. In fact, as we were all hunkered down at our homes, I worked on my patio most days soaking up the cool spring sunshine. By June the weather remained beautiful and the Province began to lift the pressure of isolation and extreme social distancing measures. After months of binge watching Game of Thrones & Vikings, a date with the outside world would be added to my empty agenda. Kudos to all those who got super creative and cute with their social bubbles…we aren’t that type at all. We were just focusing on finding Lysol wipes, toilet paper, and not murdering each other.

So to my surprise, my adorable boyfriend made a plan to take me on a picnic at Prince’s Island park.

The sun was out and I was dressed for the occasion, wearing an adorable little romper with white polka dots. In fact it was one of 20 I would buy throughout the months of online shopping that kept me busy during a pandemic lockdown. As the Pandemic marched on foiling my runway Covid release party, I’d send them all back in defeat. I kept 2 rompers in total to symbolize the 1 time I picnicked in the park, and then one in case we’d do it again. On this day I felt sort of normal. Our picnic basket that had been given as a gift years ago was filled with some champagne and pre-ordered Lebanese food from a store that was doing “pick-up only.” We were into supporting the small businesses in which many as a result of our Stage 1 shut down were on the brink of closing their doors for good. I assure you we single handedly did our best to keep them afloat with our hearty appetites and my lack of desire to cook.

As we strolled making our way through the park on the hunt for the perfect picnic spot we ensured the two meters apart protocol. I should mention when you are in a park, its really hard to avoid the floods of roller-bladers, skateboarders, cyclists, and people who just didn’t give a shit. This was probably the most stressful part of the date as we worked really hard to do our share of distancing, dodging, ducking, and all around avoiding passer-byers. This may seem ridiculous but remember this was in the early months when no one knew whether to wear a mask, or thought Covid was a 5G network conspiracy.

This anxiety inducing element made finding the “perfect picnic spot” got old real quick and we lowered our standards somewhat settling on a plot of grass that had the least amount of Canadian Goose Shit in or around it. We settled for a beautiful spot under a tree where my honey could sit in the shade and I could soak up the long awaited warm summer rays. Blankets were laid, food spread out, champagne poured and a good vibes playlist begun.

I vividly remember how amazing it felt to be out in the world again, watching new faces stroll by, all equally desiring the same need to reconnect with the world again. Colors seemed amplified, the flowers and grass more fragrant. The sounds of the birds and the fountain heightened against the rousing melodic music in the background. Even the face of my boyfriend looked fresh and new despite having stared at it non-stop for the previous couple months while in the pandemic lockdown. Perhaps I was going to recant my initial thoughts of smothering him in his sleep? The edges of his lips would begin to curl up and a smile peaking through…indeed I would not be smothering him.

I had only wished we had brought a frisbee, mitts and a ball. Maybe badminton rackets even, not that I can actually do any of these activities well. There is something about being in a park however that suggests that when in Rome, these activities could be enjoyable even for a gigantic accident prone clutz like myself. I imagine that during better times in the world you could probably catch a scene from Top Gun where all the boys are playing volleyball shirtless, dogtags stuck against their glistening sweaty skin. Silver framed Aviators perched perfectly on the bridge of their Adonis nose, complimenting a strongly chiseled jawline. If luck would have it, maybe a rogue volleyball would make it my way, rolling into my peripheral view. I’d glare at the broad shadowy figure above me, looking sheepishly irritated with the interruption as I adjust my bathing suit flush against my oiled and cellulite free bottom. I did say it was “better times” y’all, 20 years ago give or take.

Let me get back to reality here.

Our food was so delicious, and so was the company. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect late afternoon; dining Al Fresco on our little patch of heaven in the park. We found new things to talk about that left us freshly engaged as our conversation danced with ideas, ready to execute for when things returned back to normal. Careful to not get too hopeful, but enough as to not let the cynicism seep in and ruin the day. We’d talk about places we wanted to travel too in the next coming years, and what kind of adventure we were seeking from these travels. We would go through the list of what we had learned about ourselves during the isolation from friends and family and what good things came from these lessons. We’d acknowledge the fact that the pandemic was not going to be forever but here for now. Just like how the time we had together was going to model a similar outcome. We’d have each other now, and in this moment hoped it would last forever, but impossible.

We would not get the opportunity to picnic like this again during the summer, but would spend some time on the Bow river floating, snacking and sipping in the sunshine. It would be the simplicity of these afternoons that I hope we can repeat next summer as soon as the warmth returns to us. I suspect the world may still be in a similar state in 7 months whereby our gatherings stay small, our travel plans stay local, and expectations stay realistic. Picnic’s in the park for a Pandemic Date Win!

The Good Life: Its in My Blood.

I’m pretty sure I know when I got my first taste for the good life, and it was when I was 14. I remember I was starting to come into my little hour glass figure and I had bought this little black dress with white polka dots from Mariposa.  I was heading home to where my parents lived in Tanzania and had a solid 2 days of travel ahead of me solo dolo. I had always been stubbornly independent so this was no big thing for this little polka queen, and felt like I had some new hips to swing.

There I was with a business class ticket in route to London Heathrow. I had my Neon Yellow Sports Discman and binder full of CD’s in alphabetical order. Was I going to start my 9 hour flight with some Bjork and move into some Radiohead then turn it up and head into some Snoop Dog and Wu-Tang? I had my Vogue and Cosmo mags ready to go with the page corners turned down on the quiz pages that were going to reveal if I was a Sex Goddess or if my personality was compatible with Tom Cruise.

Ironically, at that stage I had maybe a few French kisses under my belt along with a feel up on the high jump mats stored in the school gym.  My first French kiss was with this guy Matt, and I he had just eaten a dill pickle. I should have settled for him in grade 7 because he ended up winning the lottery 3 times- I don’t joke. Maybe had I given him the blow job of his life he would have never broke up with me. But I didn’t know what that was yet either. The only access to porn we had was getting quick peaks of the playboy and hustler mags that were positioned in the back row of the magazine racks at the 7-Eleven. I was as green as the grass that grows in spring.

They were showing Jurassic park as the in flight movie, and the airline stewardess was handing out these little toiletry bags that contained nothing but Body Shop products. I thought I had truly made it in life with all my mini toiletries smelling like a fruit salad of satsuma and pink grapefruit. I asked myself can this get any better.

 It sure could.

The stewardess asked if I was travelling by myself which I responded hesitantly as I thought maybe she’ll assign me an adult and all will be ruined. All the “Between the Sheets” tips I had absorbed would go down the tube and the steamy love affair I had plotted out in my head with the cute boy in row 8B would be no more.

 But as luck would have it she offered me a seat up in the first class lounge, which I casually accepted, not aware of what awaited me on the other side of those velvet curtains. I’m pretty sure when I crossed the threshold it was my right of passage whereby I knew I was where I always belonged. Not only did I get more Body Shop Toiletries, I had a buffet of fresh fruit, cheeses, desserts and Swiss chocolate. Once seated I waited as long as I could so that I didn’t blow my age but I could not wait any longer. I went over and discreetly filled my entire ESPRIT back pack with everything that could ignite a teenage hormonal acne outbreak. I’m sure there was not enough Clearasil that could have intervened with this ravenous chick in a black polka dot dress.

As I settled into my seat with my bag of goodies, the stewardess came and handed me a hot wet towel. Next was the flutes of champagne and strawberries. The flutes were endless and I learned I could add grapefruit juice or orange juice to them, being advised these were called “Mimosa’s.” Within hours I felt like I was getting cultured as fuck and you couldn’t tell me otherwise. After about 10 of these I’m pretty sure I blacked out because I was in London and needing to transfer planes at Heathrow.

If you’ve ever been to Heathrow, its one of the largest international airports and it’s a nightmare. I’m not sure how I got to my next flight which was in a completely other different terminal and required a train and a shuttle. It was intense, but slightly satisfactory as I’m sure this was my first “Drunk Adventure.” My adventure took me to the first class lounge where discovered more goodies, and more of these Mimosa’s. I was an expert at ordering drinks now and I ordered myself a Mimosa, but got extra fancy and asked for orange juice and grapefruit juice in it, thinking I was going to approach it the same way I would at a fountain pop station. There I was perched in the club chairs, attempting to cross my legs like a lady surrounded by business men and a couple Arab Sheiks to my right. I pulled my Discman out because I felt like I needed some theme music and chose some Ace of Base with “All that she wants” booming from my little foam earphones.

By the time I headed to my gate, my hips gained a bit more swing as I smiled confidently at all the peasants walking by who had no idea they were dealing with a certified Mimosa queen and I had made it to the big leagues.

As my flight continued we had one stop in Dubai where I watched all the beautiful women begin to put on their Burka’s and tuck away any evidence of a goodtime. I wondered what their life was like and had wished I had not felt so shy and talked to them with my new maturity and class.

By the time I got to Tanzania I quickly realized wearing a little black dress to a third world country with  bag full of old cheese and crumbled cookies was not the best idea. My head was booming and with the heat and smells I barely made it to a garbage can. The class I had acquired over the last 9 hours went to shit, and mommy and daddy were waiting on the other side waving at me excitedly, blowing my whole cover. As soon as they saw me in my little slutty dress because it was now wrinkled and riding up my thighs from the flight, their response was “Wow, you’ve grown up!” That was all I needed to confirm that there was no turning back, I could never be that girl who would settle for dill pickle breath and plain orange juice again.  I hope they knew that I’d never accept anything less than first class from then on, and I had demands. But I assure you like any good set of parents, they grounded me as they quickly smelled the booze on me, and my crown knocked back onto the floor of reality. But regardless, it was too late, I still hang onto that crown and place it on every now and again to remind myself to just work harder, because the good life chose me not the other way around!

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