Hockey Challenges 2019

First hockey tournament win
goalie bantam
The-Youngest readies himself for a Canuck-like season

I thought last year would be, you know, the last year of hockey. However, The-Youngest decided to play another year. As goalie. In the Bantam league.

At this point in boys’ hockey, the field is narrowing.

More and more boys drop out because of the demands of school, other extracurricular activities, and the biggest killer of having time to play hockey, girls.

Luckily, none of those things apply to The-Youngest. Yet.

Now, had we agreed to drive The-Youngest up to a mountain every weekend and twice on the weekdays, he may have declined hockey, since his real love is mountain biking and skiing.

But apart from the driving time, the cost of gas and ski passes and rental gear, despite the cold and the lift rides and all the falling, the simple fact is we’d have to do it with him and since I haven’t skied in 30 years and would likely break something (other than my ego).

I mean, if I had to get on the ice with The-Youngest and skate for 8 hours, we wouldn’t likely sign him up for hockey either. Add in a 90 min to drive there and another 90 to drive back, and, yeah, I can guarantee we wouldn’t be doing hockey.

But after last year, after an amazing hockey year, the-Youngest thought, why not?

So, we bought new gear since he’d done the silly thing of growing over the spring and summer, we signed him up for goalie camp (which was delightfully free!!!! Since they wanted to encourage young goalies), and we prepared for the duties of goalie parents.

Oh, sure there’d be early morning practices. Honestly, I never minded them at all.

Oh sure, we’d have to fork over money for tournaments and gifts for the coaches and bribes for the refs, (wait, no, sorry, no bribes, nope I never said that.)

Oh sure, we’d have to do something terrifying like scorekeeping or socializing (that latter very hard on an old introvert like me who knows nothing about how the Canucks are doing – though if I go with the old, they suck, I’m pretty safe).

It’s easy winning all the time. And fun. But what if that’s not how a season goes.

But it would all be worthwhile if The-Youngest has fun. Because, by having fun he would not only, you know, have fun, but continue to learn about teamwork, about sportsmanship and about trying your hardest. And with a good coaching team, he’d learn about being a good man as well.

This year, though, he will have another value tested.

Losing.

Last year, they were tournament champions twice and came second in the Langley Cup (beaten by a better team).

This year?

Well, 10-2 loss in the first game, and an 8-1 loss in the second.

On the plus side, unlike last year when I asked, how’d you do? and he said, “I got bored sometimes. I only had to stop 2 or 3 shots,” this year, he’s looking at 30+ shots each game, multiple rebounds he’s going to have to stop, and snipers who can rocket a shot over his shoulder when he’s in the butterfly position.

Now, being a writer, and a teller of stories, these are starts from which great legends are born. The underdog team, struggling at the beginning, somehow manages to come together and win the final game, learning about life, values and the importance of having a hidden superstar on the team like in Bad News Bears.

We’ll see what happens.

It’ll be …. Interesting. Stay tuned.

The Great Sacrifice

The Death of Peace and Quiet

Parents will do anything for their children: Lift a car off their child. Fight off a bear. Run into a burning building to save their little ones. But the greatest sacrifice by far, I would argue, is letting one of them have a drum set.

The-Youngest, (perhaps inspired by his musically talented brother or some drum-solo music video), decided that the instrument that spoke to him the most was the drums. The boom of the base drum, the rat-tat-tat of the snare drum, the clang and clash of the cymbals.

When he came to us with his little face set in excited determination, the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I looked at each other like mice about to be fed to a large snake.

We knew what a drum kit would entail. We didn’t have a wood shack out back where he could play. We didn’t have a sound-proof room somewhere in the lower levels of our basement that was once used by a serial killer. We would have to set up in our rec room and that was only one uninsulated floor away from where we lived most of our lives – the kitchen, living room and family room.

Now, we could have said, no. We could have argued that the beautiful sound The-Oldest makes on his piano does not compare to the chaotic cacophony of someone learning to play the drums. We could have told him that drumming makes my eye twitch and will likely cause me to have epileptic fits.

Instead, we said, sure.

Cuz we’d do anything for our kids.

So, we rented a drum kit from Long & McQuade. The-Youngest set it up and began banging away immediately. The whole house shook with the noise. The dog tried to hide upstairs. All the neighbours around us immediately put up for-sale signs.

Had we made a terrible mistake?

Well, that remains to be seen, but we immediately put 3 rules into place. First, no drums before 9am and after 8pm. Second, if he’s to have drums, he’s to learn how to play them, not just bang away like a chimpanzee on heroin and coffee. Lastly, if asked to stop, for any reason at all (headaches, dog throwing up, trying to watch a movie, whatever), he would do it. Immediately and without complaint.

He agreed.

To his credit, he took the second part very seriously, solving the problem of learning by doing what all people do in 2019 – he looked up YouTube videos on how to play.

Now, after a month, I have to say, he’s not that bad. In fact, he’s kinda good. He started out with simple beats or rhythms or whatever you do on drums and practiced his coordination with his feet and hands.  Oh sure, the house still shakes, the dog still hides and most of the houses next to use are empty and noise bylaw officers lurk outside the house 24/7, but it’s not as bad as I feared.

We survived.

With our hearing and sanity intact.

I think our next great challenge will come when he wants to get a car.

Or a girlfriend.

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Why ‘Firsts’ Matter

poo cupcakes

A week for 1sts

poo cupcakes
Never, ever look up a picture of poo on the internet.

The best part of being a parent is experiencing the firsts with your kids. First steps. First words. First poo in the toilet.

Sadly, I missed those so the firsts that come my way I eat up like a starving puppy thrown into a pit of pupperoni. But this week had a ton. A cluster of firsts. Even one that was a first for me.

The-Youngest had his first dance. Much of it I have been banned from talking about, but I was so proud of him for going. Alone. No wingman. No backup.

I remember my first dance. It was 70s line dancing. Disco, god help me. And it was such a terrible experience, that (to this day), I am still super conscious of how badly I dance. But The-Youngest stayed an hour, did his best to mingle (gosh, that’s hard to do) and finally left, vowing to have a friend go with him next time.

Soon to come, his first dance with a girl, then first date (NOT a date, Joe, we’re just getting a slice of pizza!), then first kiss, then the next thing you know, we’ll be at a wedding.

Learning to drive in the Toyota Rav4
The training car of choice, Rav4, Toyota. Not the mustang. No.

Next first was first time driving for The-Oldest. As he can’t actually go on the road, yet, we drove in the driveway, going in and out of gear, moving forward, backward, and figuring out what everything did in the car. I was super excited to be a part of that.

I remember my mom trying to teach me and it ended with me getting professional lessons (either that or mom would have ended up in the mental ward).

I honestly don’t think I could teach either of the boys to actually drive, not only because I’d freak out when they came close to clipping another car or running over a baby, but because I’d teach him all my bad habits. “Oh, hit the gas, you can rip through that yellow light.” “A double line passing restriction doesn’t apply to mustangs.” “Let’s see if I can actually do double the speed limit.”

So soon he’ll be taking lessons. I think it’ll go well. He did amazingly well n the driveway. More than I can say about myself these days.

First hockey tournament win
Hockey win!
His first!

Third first was The-Youngest’s, again.

He won a hockey tournament! Or rather his team did. They fought like lions (if lions could, you know, skate) and beat several pretty damn fine teams.

The last game for the gold aged me about 10 years, so if you haven’t seen me in a few months, I look like Stan Lee (may he rest in peace) after a bad night of drinking.

I was so proud of him and so happy to be a part of something he’d remember for the rest of his life. That kick out save at the start of the first game. The other team hitting the post not once, but twice in the final 2 minutes of the gold game. He’ll remember skating around, holding the trophy high. He’ll remember how the team mobbed him after an outstanding last game. He’ll remember the feeling of that win, that success, that payoff for a lot of hard work forever.

Or at least until that first kiss drives everything else out of his mind.

Lastly, something new for me. A first. My first baby shower.

Now, normally guys aren’t allowed to these things, though, why, I’m not quite sure. But we hosted the event, and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and her parents worked very hard at making sure it was a success, cooking up a storm, setting up the rooms for nearly 60 people (YIKES!) and then making sure everyone felt welcome when they came over.

My quick observations of the event are as follows. I don’t think the mom touched her baby in 3 hours. I think both are going to be incredible parents. I think grand-babies are the best anti-aging method out there (and no, I don’t mean eating them or something, but holding them, snuggling them, feeding them) – it takes years off the grandparent’s faces.

baby shower
Cutest baby ever at her first Baby Shower. My first baby shower, too

Apart from all the cool presents, though, I think the best thing about a shower is that the mom realizes that she’s not alone, that what she feels, what she fears, what she hates or loves are all things other moms have experienced. There is help out there. Empathy. Support.

And also a year supply of diapers.

Other firsts zipped by almost unnoticed. The-Oldest’s first sr. concert (he was, as always, outstanding) and The-Youngest’s first time in the front seat (a little ahead of schedule),

But there are many more coming and I mean to be a part of as many as I can, because their firsts are mine, too.

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Thanks for reading.

 

 

Tips For a Better Vacation

Mayne Island photograph, BC, 2018

Mayne Island photograph, BC, 2018
Mayne Island Japanese Memorial Garden

Or Photography for Fun

I have a theory. Taking pictures makes vacationing more fun.

Ok, stay with me here for a moment. I’m not saying ‘live behind a camera’ and go around filming every little event (errr, wait, urm, I do that, but that’s not what I’m saying.)

What I am saying is that by taking a camera (in this modern age, most likely your cell phone camera), and walking around with the idea that you’re going to take some amazing pictures, that camera takes you MORE into the moment and forces you to look, (I mean, really LOOK) at the world around you.

Now, I’ve got a few friends who are incredible photographers and if you ever get a chance, check them out (I have links at the bottom of the blog) but I know from talking to them that part of any great trip is keeping an eye open for a great picture.

Lemme give you an example. When The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I were taking a walk on Mayne Island, we decided to do this. The walk could have been done in ½ an hour, but we took a full hour, maybe more, as we took the time to look at an old stone hut, at the way the light speared through the trees, at the way the sun sparkled off the ocean or the kingfishers took flight.

And take a picture.

Mayne Island tree. BC. Photography.
The lumpiest tree I’ve seen in a long while. Mayne Island.

We found a tree that looked like it was giving birth to other trees. We found a spooky-ass spider hiding in his web (that I almost walked into because I was looking at that stone hut.) We found incredible rock formations sculpted by water. We found picturesque driftwood and spent a while punning it (The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World won with her, “Trying to think of a good driftwood pun but I’m stumped,” comment.)

Taking photos slows down time for you. In our rush-rush world, it’s so easy to miss what’s all around us. But by taking the time to look for cool pictures, every little trail you walk on becomes a chance to see something new, or odd or beautiful or terrifying.

So, this is one of the things we’re doing on our relaxing vacation – Taking time to visually smell the roses.

Check out what we’re seeing on Instagram.

Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World (https://www.instagram.com/mecorinne/?hl=en)

Me: https://www.instagram.com/justjoebc/?hl=en

Darren Lee https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=dc%20lee%20photos

Vespa (https://www.facebook.com/thefactionhouse/?eid=ARBVmP7dec7wZ__iqPzmX2rylc7jPiWIt1r8PmWqV6dYsMhiqc-AFeZsLUEBNmq3ZU_HNbtALitdXynO&timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=1375481955&fref=tag

Allison (and check out her absolutely incredible blog) https://www.instagram.com/alisonarmstrong6558/?hl=en

Wendy https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155670171170777&set=t.629780776&type=3&theater

 

 

 

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Mayne Island Getaway

parenting meme

parenting meme
Ah, parenting, the greatest thing we’ll do in our lives. Yes?

I think one of the things guys/boyfriends/husbands/stepdads/gigolos don’t realize is how much work and stress goes into being a mom.

Now that’s not to say that we don’t have our own challenges, stresses or times when we need a break, but moms take on a lot more than they let on.

So, every so often, it’s good to get away from the kids, the dog, the house. Good to get away from all those things that stack up in a mom’s mind and weigh her down.

But going away together also gives us a chance to reconnect as a couple. You might think, well, couldn’t we do that at home? And the simple answer is, not always. In fact, not often.

See, as amazing an experience as being a parent can be, kids can also become the focus of your lives. You worry about them, you nag them, advise them, encourage them, praise them, tease them, make them eat their vegetables, make them take their vitamins and do their homework, make them go to bed on time, take them to hockey games, classical music concerts, out to mountain bike courses, watch Rick and Morty with them, read to them, laugh with them, try to raise them right, and after they’ve gone to bed, you talk about them.

It’s what parents do.

So this year, time and money being tight, we chose to go to Mayne Island for our anniversary. Our 2nd.

I’d never been to Mayne Island before, despite it being part of the Gulf Islands which are not that far away. We chose Mayne over the other islands because it seemed calmer, like a place a stoned sloth would go to relax. Because relaxing was what this mini-trip would be about.

As anyone who’s read my blog knows, I love to plan things out. You know, see all that there is to see, do all that there is to do. But on a relaxing vacation, I must put this aside and simply book the hotel and ferries, then sit back and see what happens. Play it by ear. Wing it.

mayne island resort view, gulf islands 2018
Mayne Island Resort 2018

So here was my plan. Get off the ferry. Drive to hotel. Return to ferry in 2 days.

Sad, right, but also relaxing. No stress of having to be up at 8 to get a kayak. No tour bus to board at 10. No movie at 7.  We could eat when we wanted, watch the ocean do oceanie things, maybe go for a walk, read, write, hold hands, breathe in the fresh, salt air, talk, listen to the silence and take pictures of natural things like huge, frightening spiders.

In other words, reconnect and give mom a chance to recharge a bit.

Our hotel, the Mayne Island Resort. Quiet. Quaint.

Mayne Island Resort would be the perfect place for this.

 

 

 

And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

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What To Do In Calgary

Calgary tower in Downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada

in Downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Tower of Terror, AKA the Calgary Tower

When in Calgary, why not do the Tower of Terror?

Our zoo experience couldn’t have been better, unless, you know, the pandas danced or sang Oh Canada or re-enacted the battle of Waterloo. The weather had turned nice. The crowds were light. And the animals were mostly out and about doing animal things. We had fun.

And the day wasn’t done.

Next up, if we had time, was to see the Calgary Tower. Now, back in my day, it was the tallest building around and my Uncle Jim would take us there for ice cream for a very special treat. Today, though, it sits in the middle of downtown Calgary, nestled amongst the new buildings of glass and steel.

Now, why go here?  I mean, it’s a tower. In the middle of a city. No pandas up there. No waterslides. No pianos.

But it did have something that it didn’t have back in my day. A glass floor extension out from the observation deck. It’s the kind of terrifying thing I try to avoid in my elder years. Being petrified of heights, I can think of a lot more fun things to do like scoop my eyeballs out with a stained crack spoon or see how many fire ants I can eat while juggling flaming scimitars.

However, both The-Youngest and The-Oldest boy wanted to go. Both of them. That is like Di Vinci and Michelangelo agreeing to spray paint the Sistine Chapel. Or (to quote The-Oldest) “Like Stravinsky and Prokofiev agreeing to compose together.”

So, after finding a great area for restaurants (in a very trendy, former warehousie area of downtown Calgary that reminds me of Yaletown), we marched off to see the tower. The elevator that took us didn’t have any windows, which is like a car not having windows (which I guess is a van) but that’s what this elevator felt like.)

On the observation deck, I had to face my fears and go walk out on the glass floor that was at least 10,000 feet from the ground below. (Truth update from The-Youngest, it’s 525 feet down.) As I walked out, everything that could clench, clenched. Even a few things that normally don’t clench, clenched. Had anyone asked, I could have pooped out diamonds.

Calgary Tower glass floor
The glass floor in the Calgary Tower. In my mind, I stepped out a lot farther

But I did look down. Shaking. Dizzy. My stomach filled with angry butterflies, I did it.

Then I walked off it and went in search of a bar. Finding none, I decided to read all the plaques.

Honestly, that glass floor aside, it was an amazing view of the city and they’d done a great job on making the information about the various locations interesting.

Glass floor on the Calgary Tower
Overcoming your fears is part of growing up. I guess I am still growing up

The boyz, however, couldn’t get enough of the glass floor. The-Youngest, when he actually stood on the edge of the glass, had serious second thoughts that stepping out onto the glass floor would be a good idea. Like Oppenheimer looking at the explosion of the first nuclear bomb and thinking, “oh dear, can I take that back?”

Calgary Tower
The-Oldest is fearless when it comes to heights.

But when his brother walked out, fearless as always, being the younger brother, he had to do what his older brother did. And when he overcame his fear, he wouldn’t leave the area. He sat down on the floor, lay down on it, and even took about a hundred selfies. Only when he started jumping up and down on it did we stop him.

The real success, though, was getting The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World to step out onto the extension. Like me, she was terrified, but unlike me, she is not motivated by overcoming her fear, of not being shown up by her children, or by needing to write a blog about something.

But when The-Oldest took one of her hands, and The-Youngest took the other, they were able to lead her over to the glass floor. She had that same look on her face that she had on her first date with me, that is to say, one where she wasn’t sure she was going to make it out alive.

She didn’t stand long on the glass floor, but she did try and I love her for trying.

In the end, part of any good adventure is doing stuff you simply wouldn’t do at home.

Tomorrow would hold more of those adventures.

 

 

And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

 

 

Why Does the Calgary Zoo Matter?

Calgary zoo alberta 2918

Calgary zoo alberta 2918
Zoos can bee punny!

The Alberta Zoo

There is a move these days to get rid of zoos. It comes from good-hearted people who have not thought through the idea. Oh, they FEEL the idea, for sure, but they miss a fundamental concept.

Zoos connect people with animals, many of which are in danger of disappearing.

Now, we’re not talking about zoos that treat animals cruelly, those should be reformed, but zoos like the Calgary Zoo allow people (kids in particular) a chance to see something real. Not something on TV. Not something on YouTube. Not a poster somewhere of something that once existed.

Too often now, we make choices that distance ourselves from the real world. In a sense, we are putting ourselves in a cage.

Think about it.

Ok, ranty-rant over.

Back to our regular programming.

After the pandas, The-oldest joked had an attack of pun-iness. “I was expecting total pandemonium. Or at least a pandemic.”

To be fair, considering his usual puns take 3 mins to set up, (“so if I was a lion and it was telling me a story, and I didn’t believe the story because it wasn’t very truthful, then, you could say it was lion), those panda puns were good puns. As was his remark about Himalayan Deer ‘they must be very valuable because they’re dear.”

His favourite animal, though, was the markhor deer. It had curlie horns and looked like it was about to shed about 40lbs of fluff. I think the Taliban ride them into battle. He tried to talk to it. A lot. But it didn’t respond so we moved on.

alpakas in the calgary zoo 2018
Alpacas! Perhaps the most cuddly of the camel family.

The-Youngest hated that all the food stands were closed, and he didn’t get any cotton candy, however, he did get to see the alpaca that looks a lot like our spazadoodle. He, too, tried to talk to it, but it wasn’t in the mood for a conversation and simply pooped.

For The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, her best time was at the panda exhibit. She loved how the pandas snuggled, but I think she enjoyed watching the baby gorilla explore his world, play with his food and look for things to play with.

lions at the calgary zoo 2018
The Lion does not sleep tonight! I am not lying. They were not lion around.

Me? I liked hearing the lions roar and watching them stalk about the cage. I haven’t seen lions move much (they mostly pull a panda and nap most of the time), but they were magnificent creatures this day, powerful but not as elegant as a leopard.

The highlight for all of us, though, was our time in the lemur cage.

See, this is where my whole zoo-is-good thing comes to fruition.

The zoo had set up an enclosure with nets overhead and Fort-Knox-like gates that allowed people to BE WITH the lemurs, you know, those cute little things that appear in Disney movies.

We were told not to move too fast or touch them or feed them or talk to them about Liszt, but we could watch them as they watched us, get close enough to them to touch them (but not, you know, actually touch them) and have a chance to see real live animals up close, no bars, no windows, no metal mesh separating them from us.

It was fantastic, even if one idiot did try to touch them.

One lemur even took a liking to The-Youngest, and if you want to see how he reacted, check out the video.

Hippos at the Calgary zoo, alberta 2018
Hippos! They taught the pandas what to do

But we all loved seeing the animals (though no one seemed to appreciate me singing “Walk with the animals.”)

We scouted out the tigers. We waved at the giraffes. We shook our head at hippos that looked suspiciously like me after a turkey dinner. We watched momma gorilla look after her little one.

And then I think the family pranked me with the idea that porcupines shoot quills. They were so convincing that I had to load up wiki-thing to show them otherwise, and then they all just smiled at me and giggled.

So, go see a zoo some time. Spend time with the animals. Make a conscious decision to experience an amazing part of our world instead of watching a documentary about our friend the lion or leaving it up to Disney to show us what animals are like.

 

And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

 

 

Will the Pandas Be Awesome at the Calgary Zoo?

pandas at calgary zoo

Calgary Alberta Zoo and pandas
Pandas at the Calgary Zoo. Posters and signs were everywhere.

The Truth About Pandas.

We had a choice to make early in the planning stage. The Calgary Zoo or the Calaway Amusement Park. The-Youngest argued for the park, since it had, you know, rides and cotton candy and rides and pop and rollercoasters and popcorn and more rides.

All good points.

But since we were going to the West Edmonton Mall, and they had rides and waterslides and rollercoasters, it was decided to see the zoo. The zoo had pandas, and pandas trump terrifying machines of death every time.

We arrived at 3:10, the panda exhibit reservation was at 3:30, at the far end of the zoo. We knew if we hoofed it, we’d arrive there.

We confirmed the location of the pandas with the ticket guy who seemed vaguely amused that we thought they’d moved them, but then again pandas are known for their blinding speed and ability to Tarzan from tree to tree so who knows, right?

We speed-marched to the panda exhibit like housewives trying to wiggle walk-off 20lbs in one journey. All along the way, there were posters of pandas looking cute. We weren’t deceived, we knew they were ferocious killers that took down mammoths once upon a time. They were known to move faster than cheetahs, and make homes from rocks they carved from the mountains.

Ok, all we really knew is that they were super cute and ate shoots and leaves. We’d seen pictures. And watched videos. Seems they did a lot of looking cute, a lot of munching on things and, every so often, they’d lumber around their enclosure like me with a foot cramp.

To our surprise, there were no line-ups and we got to go right in.

It was then we found out the real truth about pandas. Like me, also super cute, they like to nap. A lot. Seems it’s their favourite thing to do.

So, we got to see one napping on a big rock. She had managed to lay in such a way that it looked like one bad shift in her dreams and she’d fall off the rock and into the water. There are a lot of videos of pandas sleep-falling off of trees, rocks, and buildings. It could be that they are not the smartest animals in the kingdom.

I waited for her to fall off, but she didn’t shift a bit, happy to be inside, and warm and with her children safe and sound in another room. Her children were likewise asleep, happy to snuggle with each other. They weren’t as white and black as I thought they’d be, more a muddy white and a greyish-black, but their cuteness was undeniable. I waited my turn with all the other children who wanted to get close and take a picture, then snapped a few of them cuddled up.

The biggest difference between the older generation and the younger could be summed up here. I waited for my turn. Kids pushed their way in (and I’m not talking 5-year-olds who have an excuse for bad manners) but those horrible teenagers, the ones without social skills, no understanding of lines and raised by parents who thought that being their friend was the same as, you know, parenting.

pandas at calgary zoo
The panda babies didn’t really look like babies. If they had cell phones, they would have been taking selfies. http://joecummings.ca/travel/

No matter. I snapped a few pictures of the cuties, then took a bit of time to actually watch the pandas with my own eyes while teenagers cycled past the glass taking selfies. I took in the smell, which wasn’t that great, the sounds (only one seemed to snore) and wondered why they’d chosen those spots to snooze. The kids took a picture and moved on to something else.

Drops mic.

To be fair, the boys couldn’t really see the point of watching pandas sleeping either, but at least they didn’t just selfie the darned things.

As for the pandas, well, they really needed to do better. I’ll be writing a letter to their leader in China. They need to be more active and entertaining. Cute is not good enough.

But that was the great panda adventure.

The rest of the zoo, however, didn’t disappoint.

 

And hey, thanks for reading this! We writers love it when we’re actually read.

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BC to Alberta

rain clouds in alberta

Or How to Get There From Here.

We thought it would be an uneventful day, but as with any travel adventures, we ended up having two adventures we hadn’t planned on.

Dora the Explorer and the “I’m a Map,” dude. Along the road, through the forest, past spooky trees with faces and to find the house of death.

We’d planned to get to Calgary by 3 so we could see the zoo and the pandas. (If you recall, we had to book a viewing appointment with the pandas. Like they were kings. Or doctors).

So we couldn’t leave Cranbrook too late. It was over 4 hours of driving on the Crowsnest highway.

So, like Dora the Explorer would say, we had to go through the forest, over the mountains, and along the plains to find the city.

The-Youngest was oddly excited about actually crossing the border. I think he wanted gates, armed guards, and searchlights, but all we found were two signs. Leaving BC and Welcome to Alberta.

Not super exciting. Not even a bear or a scruffy-looking pipeline protestor could be seen.

So, feeling a little disappointed, we stopped for Timmies right across the border.

This became our first travel adventure for the day.

Tim Hortons. Mmmmm. Donut. Double double. Fast Service… or not

Now, I am, if nothing, a veteran Timmies guy, and this was perhaps the worst one I have ever, ever visited.

It was super busy, which is not unheard of, but the mass of customers waiting for double-doubles had broken the restaurant.

I’ve seen it happen on my watch in Toys R Us at Christmas time. The staff were simply overwhelmed.

One young employee stood there staring at a machine that stirs the ice drinks like he’d been shelled by the Taliban. A little old lady running the cash register got so flustered, she forgot how to ring in cash and just kept waving it in the air like the bill was on fire. Nearby, two sandwich makers bickered with each other about who had last used the buttering knife as a phalanx of sandwich orders hung on their station overhead.

Now, a good owner would take charge. Shift people if needed. Manage the crisis. Keep things rolling, but I swear to God, not a single coffee or sandwich was made in ten minutes while everyone panicked.

So it took a good 45 min to get a coffee.

It’s a weird thing when something like that takes so long. If someone said, hey Justjoe, it looks like this is going to take 45 min, I would have left, but after investing 10 min, do you give up?

What about after 20, cuz now you’ve invested even more time?

And then 30 min?

Well, Goddammn, after 30,  I’m sticking it out now!

Which I did. I got my coffee, fought my way out of the parking lot and we were back on our way. Minor delay. Major grumpy attack by me.

After that coffee disaster, the sky decided to echo my mood and turn dark. Like winter storm dark.

And with that darkness, came our second unexpected adventure.

rain clouds in alberta
Nothing like a good Alberta storm!

On the prairies, a dark sky either means aliens are gathering to attack, again, or a lightning storm was a’comin’. And sure enough, as we got into the foothills, a storm descended upon us with righteous fury. Lightning forked across the sky. Sheets of rain pounded on the car, making driving nearly impossible, and through it all, not a single boom of thunder.

How amazing!

Both boys oooohed and awww’d at the lightning, while The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World gripped the dashboard with a kung fu grip as we sped along a highway where we could barely see 2 feet in front of us.

Luckily, I found a gas station to pull into until the storm passed over us. We stood under a convenience store canopy and watched it roll towards the mountains. I won’t lie, I was still shaking from that highway drive and I think the-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World wished we’d stopped at the liquor store instead of a gas station.

thunder and lightning storm. alberta 2018
Storm’s coming. Alberta, 2018

But we saw a good, old-fashioned prairie storm. Something you just don’t see in Vancouver at all.

And both the Timmies catastrophe and the storm had made this part of the trip more interesting.

“Interesting?” The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World asked. “What next? Driving into a tornado? Dancing on a lava field? Boating in a hurricane?”

The three of us boys thought all those things would be amazing, but next up, those exciting, super energetic pandas, aka the wildmen of the bamboo forest.

******

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Family First in BC.

Osoyoos Okanagan BC

Family First…

As I write out my notes, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s Baba has just gotten out of the hospital after having major emergency surgery.

At 94, she may be one of the most incredible people I’ve met with her Old World wisdom, quick wit, and constitution of Rasputin.

Osoyoos Okanagan BC
Osoyoos Camping Atop a Mountain

But as we pulled into her parent’s driveway high atop a mountain in Osoyoos, we had no idea how sick she was.

So no matter what adventures we would have, this was a good reminder of what’s important.

Family.

As we ate like kings (endless amounts of scrambled eggs, toast, sausages, bacon, hash browns), we caught up with our relatives. We learned that names have been chosen for a soon-to-arrive baby, though none of them are mine (frankly the world needs more Joes), and listened to everyone’s adventures since we last saw them.

We joked with The-Youngest about catching rattlesnakes by kissing them, which, in hindsight, may have been bad idea –  and if he dies while trying to catch one, that’s on me.

I also may have advised him on such things as how to talk to girls, how to sleep while driving, and how to find gold in abandoned mine shafts. More great examples of epic parenting from me.

The-Oldest held up well during both visits, trying out his new social self. Like me, he’s more comfortable talking to himself than others, but he was on fire with the grandparents, asking engaging questions, making terrible puns, and being able to explain musical theory so it doesn’t sound like new math.

The-Youngest did his best not to fiddle with stuff, like the hot BBQ, the brakes on the RV, the nailgun in the house being built, or the satellite cable dish.

He’s a fiddler, and not the musical kind, oh no, he’d fiddle with the wires of a bomb as you tried to disarm it, and not because he’s cruel, but because his fingers have to find something to do. Stick in something. Twist something. Worm their way into something. Dismantle something. Poke something (mostly his brother).

Give him 20 minutes and I swear he could completely dismantle a tank.

Family first
Vacationing with family in Osoyoos, BC.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World was in her element, though.

Unlike me, she’s a people person and her friends or family are the whipped cream on top of her ice-cream life. If she had her way, she would have spent days with her family, sitting under the RV awning, looking out of Osoyoos Lake and talking about life.

But, sadly, The-Oldest’s head would explode without a piano to play, The-Youngest would end up finding a way to pry out every nail in the house under construction and cause it to collapse, and me, I would be run out of super witty things to say and be forced to share.

It would be traumatic.

So we stayed a few hours, had a great time, then drove off. The schedule demanded we be on the road by 12. We had a long drive ahead of us, a drive more eventful than we planned, but I was glad we’d stopped to catch up with family. It was time well spent!

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Alberta Trip – Day 1 in BC

traveling from BC to Alberta

traveling from BC to Alberta

Every penny counts when saving up for a vacation

Our plan began well enough (like most plans). Let’s see how it unfolded once reality got its grubby hands on it.

We were all packed and ready to go by the time The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World came home from work. By the time she had changed into comfy clothes, we had the car packed and sat waiting to go.

I think she was a little stunned she didn’t have to drag one away from the piano, one away from gaming and one away from looking stuff up on his computer. You can guess which is which.

We drove as fast as we could through all kinds of weather. Sun, rain, more rain, great splattering rain and then through fog, and out into the sun, again, which by this time had given up on the day and decided to leave the sky.

how to drive in the rain
Safety tips for driving in the rain

Having a family, now, I’m like a little old lady driving to church with a  basket of eggs balanced on her lap. Not long ago, I was seeing how fast my rental sports car could drive in the desert and there was one time when I decided it was a good idea to double the speed limit on the California highway. But then I was only risking my own life. Now, I have the proper distance between cars, largely obey the speed limit and leave the texting to The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World.

Safety first.

The mood in the car was buoyant, though, and the boys were outstanding in the back seat, neither complaining or fighting or spilling something sticky on the car seats.

So far so good.

Suspiciously good.

We stayed with the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s dad and stepmom. We arrived late but they had stayed up to make sure we were settled in and fed, even though it was way past their bedtime. To be honest, it was past my bedtime, too, but such are the things parents or grandparents do. We ate chips and homemade salsa (which was to die for),  and quesadillas cooked on a super fancy version of the George Forman grill.

Then it was time for bed, and even then, the boys were great. Even quiet.

I began to worry that they’d been replaced by clones, or that The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has drugged the juice in their sippy cups.

For breakfast, we had homemade jam that was simply outstanding and drank perfectly brewed coffee (the adults, that is, not the kids, no, God, no, on coffee for them until they’re at least 25 or not traveling in a car with us).

But despite the good food and the outstanding behaviour of the boys, the highlight for me had to be hanging in the garage with the-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s dad. The garage had the perfect smell. Pipe tobacco. Oil. Gas. And he’d set up a table there, his mint ’67 Dodge Dart behind him, his tools and automotive signs on the wall to one side.

Now, I’m not a car guy. The-Youngest knows how to tell the difference between a ’67 Mustang and a ’68. He could probably tell you how fast it is and what the car sells for, but me, I’m more likely to comment on the pretty colour or cool sound the engine makes. I have no idea if there’s a 250 CID (4.1L) Thriftmaster inline six-cylinder underneath the hood.

Now I can’t say we talked about anything important or waxed philosophical or discovered a cure for stupid, but it was nice to connect with him, just two guys in a garage, one nerdy goober, and one ex-customs agent finding common ground on sacred ground.

It was a nice, quick visit, the type of visit where you think, damn, I wish I had more time to spend there.

the hangover
Not all road trips end well

A perfect start to what I hoped would be the first vacation that actually went according to plan and didn’t end up like some version of The Hangover.

Next up, another visit. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-world’s mom and stepdad, and her amazing Baba.

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Alberta Trip 2018 – As Planned By An Eleven-Year-Old

Trip to BC, Rockies, Alberta, Drumheller, West Ed Mall

 

Trip to BC, Rockies, Alberta, Drumheller, West Ed Mall
This planning a trip to Alberta is serious business!

The-Youngest Made Plans for Our Trip

Unlike his brother, The-Youngest looked at the google map we printed out, and then planned out what to do.

First stop, Oliver.

See Grandpa and Grandma. 5-hour drive to get there, so, download movies. Lots of movies. And bring something to play in the car with his brother. A good card game. Arrange ice tea and candy at top of food bag for easy access. Keep a bag of chips near feet for late afternoon snacks.

Remember to look for Ogopogo. 

When we arrive, it’ll be at night. Right. Not much to do at night. Talk with adults as needed. Sneak away to watch TV if possible. Take brother’s music out of his bag and move it to mom’s bag.

******

 

Trip to Alberta
The plan is put into effect. On the road to Cranbrook, the Rockies, Calgary, Drumheller, and the West Edmonton Mall.

The next day, Sunday,

Visit with other grandparents, endure another 5-hour drive. Presort snacks by sugar content. 

Begin the campaign to see the Calgary Tower.  Talk to mom about how unscary it really is.

Watch more movies. Arrive in exciting Cranbrook.  Try not to sigh heavily when Joe starts talking about the history of Cranbrook.

Continue to point out how awesome Calgary would look from the top of the tower. Swim in pool. 

If weather bad, bug brother until he snaps. If good weather, bug brother until he snaps.

******

Monday, sleep in, endure 3-hour drive to Calgary. Start by eating pancakes. Look at the mountains. Try to see a bear. Or a unicorn. No, no unicorns. Sheep. Find some sheep on the side of mountains, yeah, that would be cool. Or a cougar chasing a hitchhiker. Assign the job of keeping an eye out for neat stuff to Joe and mom.

Arrive at the zoo, see pandas, snakes, elephants, and alpacas. Alpacas are cool. Eat popcorn. Point at Calgary Tower a lot. Try not to look embarrassed as Joe reads all the plaques and sings “I can talk to the animals.” Make sure to not let mom hang with the pandas too long. If it were up to her, we might be staring at them for hours and saying, ‘awwww, aren’t they cute?” a lot.

Hope that my campaign to see the Calgary Tower is successful. If so, visit the tower. If not, rethink manipulation strategies. 

Try not to look bored when we go to see where Joe grew up. It’s a big thing for him. Don’t mention it’s not a big thing for me.

At the hotel, swim in the pool. Eat at Mr. Mikes so we can play board games and eat. Stay up as late as I can. No reason, but staying up late is cool. Take all of my brother’s pillows while he sleeps and hide them in the bathroom.

******

Tuesday, a big day. Get up early with Joe and see the tank museum. Joe likes tanks and no one else has any interest, so go with Joe so he doesn’t feel bad. Climb on a tank. And under one. And stick fingers in all the tankie holes.

Drive out to Drumheller. Run through the museum at top speed. Finish in 10 minutes. Take a selfie with a dinosaur. Ignore Joe’s joke about being a dinosaur or meeting a dinosaur or having one as a next door neighbour. Read no more than 1 plaque. Sit and play games because the museum has wi-fi. Avoid getting all interested in dinosaurs since that’s way too close to learning stuff. Eat a hot dog. Finish off chips in the car.

Endure yet another long drive. Plan out nerf war strategies. Review guns brought. Recount nerf bullets. Roll eyes every time Joe remarks on how straight the roads are. Try to see a buffalo. 

Get mom to talk about her friend and how many nerf guns her kids have.

Arrive at mom’s friend’s place. Say hi. Play nerf wars until 2 am. Try not to win every time -That makes people not want to play with me. Try not to gloat and giggle and point at the losers – That seems to make people really, really not want to play with me.

Food unnecessary. Nerf wars will feed me. Hide my brother’s underwear somewhere. 

******

West Edmonton Mall
St.Maria pirate vessel in the West Edmonton Mall. It’s the largest shopping mall in North America and the tenth largest in the world.

Wednesday, West Ed Mall. 9am-10pm. Waterslides. Rides. Free pop. Eat hamburgers. Eat Fries. Drink slushies. Refer to specific 4-page waterslide plan made a month, ago. Refer to specific 2-page ride plan made at the same time. Do not deviate from the plan. Try to eat my weight in pizza.

Mom will not be there. She’ll be off with her friend, ‘catching up’ which totally means drinking. Joe will look after us so look for opportunities. “No, Joe, you said you’d buy me a t-shirt, don’t you remember?” or “Wait, Joe, I know that zip-line costs a lot, but wouldn’t it make a good topic for a blog?” or, “Joe, if you buy me this new controller, we can play games together and that’s fun, right?”

Should be easy pickings.

The goal, come back sore, exhausted and feeling like I need to throw up. At night, take all the laces out of my brother’s shoes.

******

Thursday. Get up. Visit with mom’s friend, again. Talk to adults if needed, but if it can be avoided, even better. Remember to thank moms’ friend for breakfast. Remember not to complain if it’s something that tastes terrible – like anything with vegetables, fruit or healthy meats.

Watch more videos on the drive back to BC and tell mom about nerf wars, the West Ed Mall, and playing the Smash-up card game. Ignore pleas to stop. Ignore anyone saying they’ve heard all this yesterday. Poke brother a lot.

Try not to look afraid in freaky cabin we’re staying at. Keep nerf gun close. Keep it loaded. Keep brother closer to doors and windows so bears, ghosts or rabid unicorns will eat him first. 

*****

Friday, long drive, again. Watch last of my movies. Eat last of snack supplies. Avoid asking how much longer will it be? Avoid talking about last report card. Avoid talking about the trip ending.

Plan the next trip. Harrison. Plan sleepover with friends and next nerf-war battles. Plan which Youtube videos to watch over summer. Interrupt brother whenever he wants to talk about Liszt, Beethoven, Wagner, Rachmaninov, or any composers. In fact, interrupt him whenever he talks. 

When home, log on to the internet and see what Logan Paul is up to. Ignore Joe yelling at me to stop watching that freaking moron.

Go to bed only after being asked 12 times.

Remember to thank Mom and Joe for taking me on the trip. Give mom a big hug. She’s the best.

******

And that’s about it.

Too bad it didn’t turn out the way he planned.

Why An Alberta Adventure? 2018

Alberta travel

This is my first blog in a while, but it’s also the first on my new website. The site is still a work in progress, but I hope you check out everything there, sign up for the super exciting newsletters, and share the post if you like it. Any comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

Alberta travel
Alberta – Did you know Alberta hosts an annual testicle festival?

The Great Alberta Adventure – Day -1

Why? Why Alberta?

Being on-call for work,  the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World can’t get a ton of time off, but this year, she managed to get nearly a week. Not quite a whole week, but 6 days. Hard to do Europe in 6 days. Hard to even do Disney World in 6 days. Or Hawaii.

So we planned to see a place the boys had never been. Alberta.

Not as many leaning towers there. No spectacular seaside resorts. No cities with gangster tours. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to see.

First and foremost, many of our peeps are out that way. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s parents live in Oliver and Osoyoos, and her bestest bestie had settled in Stony Plain (near Edmonton), which (coming from Calgary) is like someone choosing to live in a smelly basement rather than a penthouse suite. I mean, who could really like Edmonton? It’s either too hot or too cold. There are far too many mosquitoes, and their hockey team cheats. A lot. And looks funny.

Alberta travel
The road to Alberta lies this way ->

But aside from Edmonton, we’ll see the incredible Rockies, Drumheller with all its dinosaurs, the Calgary Zoo, the various monuments erected to celebrate my years in Calgary, and up north, near the polar bears and Santa’s hut, Edmonton’s famous mall.

Anyway, so, yeah, lots of reasons to head east. And all doable in 6 days.

No planes, no trains, just one automobile. 30 hours driving, all told.

So a plan was made by the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and me, a balance between play-it-by-ear and making sure we have a place to stay each night.

I think we arrived at a good balance. No specific times, like at 8:24 we get up, peeing will happen from 8:24-8:27, handwashing from 8:27-8:28, then getting dressed from 8:28… nor nothing too generalized – like we’ll drive until we find something then do something then do something different and then come home.

We tried to lock down the key things, like the Calgary Zoo and since we have to actually book an appointment to see his majesty the panda, we had to be at the panda pavilion at 3:45, but what time we actually arrive at the zoo, well, we’ll play it by ear.

As well, we booked all our hotels so we wouldn’t have to search for a place to stay at the last minute. We could park our bags, take a nap, check out FB, Twitter, Instagram, youtube, and all things internetie, and chillax at the pool while deciding what’s most important.

The Rockies, the prairies, Drumheller, Calgary, Edmonton… there’s a lot to see
But no sooner had we made our generalized plan than The-Youngest took over. The oldest, even right now, still doesn’t quite know what we’re doing even though we’ve told him 10 times, spent an evening showing him our plans on a map and even made a colorful file folder he could consult at any time.

Touring Alberta, Calgary, Drumheller, West Edmonton Mall
The Rockies, the prairies, Drumheller, Calgary, Edmonton… there’s a lot to see

But The-Youngest, well, bless him, he loves to plan. It’s part of the trip for him. It’s the anticipation. It’s ‘see what others have done.’ It’s imagining himself doing all sorts of cool things.

So, come read the next post and see how an 11-year-old mind works.

How much do you plan for your adventures?

1st Anniversary – Part 1 of 2

Wedding Oct 2nd, 2016

Well, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World hasn’t gotten rid of me after 1 year. That’s a good sign, right? Something to celebrate?

You bet!

But what would we get each other? How would we make our day an adventure?

To celebrate the occasion, we ended up getting something we both needed. Romantic?

Well, maybe not, but practical and marriage saving.

So what did we get?

1st Anniversary Gift should be paper. I got silk.

I went paper (as was traditional), but I kinda went 7 degrees of paper. I got us big silk trees.

Ok, hold on. Lemme esplain…

Now, I fully expect our marriage to last our entire lives, but trees, living plants, even small, fearless cactus will be lucky to last a week in our house.

So, paper, like totally comes from trees, and trees are good to have in a home, but live trees would die and since an anniversary gift is a symbol of our marriage, then it wouldn’t do for some ficus to shrivel up and die, right? So. Silk plants.

Big beautiful ones.

Made sense to me.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World also got us a marriage saving present –  a huge duvet cover to fit our huge duvet. In the past, our duvet has looked like, well, ever seen an extra large pillow stuffed into a small pillowcase? Yeah, that’s what our duvet looked like. One wrong move and it could explode cotton and feathers everywhere.

Not the actual duvet cover, but kinda funny? Isn’t it? Sweetie? Funny?

But now we have one that no one can claim the other one is ‘hogging all the blankets.”

It’s nearly big enough for a king-sized bed and nothing saves marriages more than an equal distribution of blanketish assets.

But dinner… ah yes, that’s a moment for romance. And we had something cool planned. Or so we thought….

Fear

Fear, true fear, ultimately comes from the emotional part of our brain.

Personally, I think it was how we died in a previous life and our spirit stored it that way so we wouldn’t, you know, taunt a lion, again, get stung by a bee and die from an allergic reaction, or climb to the top of a mountain to see the view only to slip and fall 10,000 ft to splat on the rocks below.

So, while the Jet boat ride in Whistler was fun, I have to say, ¾ of us were all a little nervous about this whole zip-lining thing.

Oh, we’d all been on a zip-line before and I found it scary at first, but ultimately kinda exhilarating. This one, however, looked simply terrifying.

It was called the Sasquatch and went for 2.2 km. You’d reach speeds of 120kmh (or faster if you were a heavy beast like me.)

When The-Youngest told us he wanted to do it, we said, no. Actually, I think we said hell no. But foolishly, we gave both boys the power to do one thing they wanted to do in Whistler and this was his thing. The-Oldest, as you may recall from the last post, wanted to play the piano.

The-Youngest showed us youtube videos to make us less scared. He got a pamphlet saying what fun it would be. He read testimonials and pointed out that no one has died.

So we relented.

Yes, that’s the Sasquatch zip-line

It really wasn’t until we were at the base of the mountain looking up at a line of red balloon-like markers spanning the two peaks, that we realized what this ride was about. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World said, wow, I guess they don’t want planes flying between the peaks or they’re worried about the nearby gondola.

No, The-Youngest said, “That’s showing where the zip-line is.”

My eye began to twitch at that.

Getting geared up

But a deal is a deal, we took the van up to the zip-line point, climbed a huge freaking tower and stood there looking at the drop, the zip-line sagging straight down.

We all went pale except for The-Oldest who shrugged and said he thought it would be scarier.

Are you kidding me?

I was terrified.

Being afraid of heights, standing there, looking down, I couldn’t simply override my lizard brain with a whole litany of logic.

No one’s died.

It’ll be over quick.

I’m attached to a solid steel cable.

Even the Dune Litany failed me. I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to wash through me. And when it is gone, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Well, all and good for some Dune prophet but it didn’t help me one bit. I was still terrified.

So was The-Youngest. And The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, both pale as ghosts, but despite their keen desire to find a reason to turn back, they didn’t.

They took the plunge.

Then came my turn (and The-Oldest’s.)

He got hooked up and marched down the steps and stood on the brink of doom like it was nothing.

Me, I was shaking.

By the time the doors opened, I was shaking a lot.

Now for some people, this is no big deal. They’d do it naked, hanging upside down with a roman candle sparkling from their butt while singing Ave Maria.

Fear, true fear, cannot be decimated with logic

Me? Well. Each step I took downwards was, perhaps, the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Scarier than pitching my novels, though I had similarly sweaty palms. Scarier than going on a date at 50 years old, though in both cases, my heart pounded in my chest like it wanted to leap out and run away, have a beer, and watch other idiots do this.

When I reached the last step, the guide said, ok, on three.

 

Three.

My sphincter clenched so hard that I nearly created a black hole.

Two.

My mouth went completely dry which makes sense since all the liquid in my body had gone to make sure my palms were so wet that I couldn’t hold on to anything, which totally doesn’t make we wonder if we did evolve from monkeys who would surely need good dry palms to swing away from tigers or Green Peace or something.

One.

My life flashed before my eyes.

It was, not surprisingly, rather dull.

Go!

I went.

I didn’t scream. I didn’t wet myself. I didn’t even close my eyes. I got mad. Mad that I was so scared. Mad to use up all that fight or flight energy. Mad because I had to jump off a flipping tower and travel at the speed of a falling sack of bricks.

But being mad allowed me to actually enjoy the ride.

I did. All the way to the bottom.

But, as we gathered on the other tower, The-Oldest saying he found it boring, that he should have gone upside down and taken pictures, The-Youngest bouncing up and down with unbridled glee, wanting to do it again, can we, can we do it again, The Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World looked at me and I looked at her and we said, shit, never, ever, ever, again.

Because, despite us both surviving, there comes a point in your life where being terrified isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Fear, in the end, didn’t defeat us, didn’t kill us, but man did it make us appreciate a nice chair on a beach somewhere. Drink with an umbrella in hand.