Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elliptical Schmalliptical

Even though I'm not one of those hardcore outdoorsy people who has done everything from rock climbing and white water rafting, I've always loved the outdoors and try to spend my fair share of time in it. Living in PEI for the last 5 years was an experience I loved and even though the province is gorgeous, I always missed my majestic mountain backyard. In BC I never went to the gym or anything like that, but when my tuition at UPEI automatically included a gym pass for the campus gym, I took advantage of it since I was paying for it anyway so I'd might as well use it. Those years taught me about a love of personal fitness that I never had before and whenever I would come home to BC for visits, I'd be out looking for ways to stay active (since my gym membership was left back in PEI). The most natural connection that I made was to find hiking trails and start climbing some mountains!

Now I'm definitely no expert mountain climber or anything like that, but I do love to find trials I've never been on before and see where they lead me. There are hundreds of hiking trails all within short driving distance (and some walking) from the house, so over the years and visits home I would drag along whoever was willing to take up the challenge, pack up some water and the dogs in the car and off we went.

There is this one trail that I have done probably dozens of times. It's about a 10 minute walk from my sister's old house (the one that Chris and I lived in when we were both here a couple summers ago) and it's a fairly easy 4km walk up behind Miral Heights and up to the Flag Pole Lookout where you get a panoramic view of Trail. I once ran into a man who walks the trail frequently and he told me about a trail that keeps on going past the flag pole and goes all the way to Sunningdale. I was instantly intrigued but never really took the time to find where the trail began/continued and kind of just forgot about its existence. Then today I wanted to take Axel somewhere new for his afternoon walk and decided to go up to Miral Heights to do the flagpole loop. When we got to the lookout point I noticed there was trail just past where I was standing which headed towards Sunningdale. I'd never noticed it before but today there was a tiny bit of old snow on the ground which easily showed the worn down trail. I decided to follow it a little ways to see where it headed, and then the next thing I knew I was breathing hard and climbing along the edge of the mountain on a teeny tiny narrow trail, determined to see where this led to.

The trail was not tough but definitely dodgy in some spots and not wearing the right hiking boots would have been my demise. There was a fair bit of climbing but it was mostly downhill the whole way which not only fed my speed but made me go a lot farther than I should have. When you're in the zone, pushing away branches, jumping over fallen trees, searching for the trail markers and taking in the view, it's easy to get a bit carried away. The adrenaline is pumping and you're excited to see where you end up. When I got well past Sunningdale I found myself on this new trail that someone had carved out of the side of the mountain and it just kept going and going and going. I wanted to keep going to see where it ended but my internal clock was telling me that I should head back. Daylight was fading already (it's completely dark by 4:30) so I decided to turn back. I also figured that if I got eaten by a cougar or turned my ankle and fell down the mountain that no one would know to look for me there.

On the way back I found this amazing little grave-site for a family's dog which had recently been visited. Spencer's grave had a fresh little plastic flower plus a few miniature pumpkins. One of the pumpkins was written on saying something like, "You are such a good boy and we know that you are still with us every day." It was so sweet. About 10 minutes into my walk by I realized just how far I had actually gone and just how uphill the entire walk back was going to be. I also somehow lost the trail for about 20 minutes which was a little disheartening since it made me feel like a fool and I had to find a much more difficult way to get back up on it. Axel was happy to be bushwhacking but I was less than impressed with myself. But climbing up the sheer side of the mountain was good for the heart and I only had to stop to catch my breath once. Ok, three times. It was really hard!!! But I found the trail again and blazed on.

When I got back home I wanted to figure out how far I went so I went online to try to find the trail but haven't really found exactly the trail that I followed. There is one site that kind of has a version of it but I know it's not the right one. By using this site I am guesstimating that I went about 15 kms today. Who needs a gym when you have a built in stepper/elliptical on the side of a mountain! You just need the motivation to get out there and climb!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Passing the Honeymoon Stage

Adopting a dog from the SPCA is really not all that different than beginning a relationship with a person. There are obvious "perks" of a relationship with a human vs. a dog, but all-in-all, the situations are very similar. When you get a puppy you can kind of mold them into what you want them to be which is much more difficult than with a full-grown dog since the dog has previous life experiences. Just like a human does. We can try to train a human companion as much as we want, but in the end, they know where they came from and leaving the toilet seat up will forever be ingrained in their brains.

So when I adopted Axel I went through the kind of courting stage with him in which I went to the shelter regularly to take him for walks, learn his personality a bit and introduce him to my family and the other dogs in the family to see what kind of compatibility existed there. And then came the day when I decided to go for it and commit to him and let him into the family. It takes a leap of faith to commit yourself to one dog to give all of your love and attention to, but Axel was my choice.

And like in any relationship, as time goes by you start to let the other person see different sides of you as you become more comfortable with him/her. Like farting for example. In the beginning most people would never dream of farting in front of the other person because the beginning of a relationship is the most romantic part in which you are basically perfect in the other person's eyes. You can do no wrong. So the idea of letting one rip while cuddling on the couch while watching a movie is completely out of the question. Periodically in some relationships there is the accidental too-soon fart which occurs at an inconvenient time, such as when lifting something heavy or sneezing while at the dinner table. They're unfortunate moments but they can happen. Farting was something that Axel felt comfortable doing quite early in the relationship and he seems to be going for some kind of world record. No seriously though, he might have beaten the record at this point. He little guy can fart like no other. (I've changed his food and he's actually gotten better which is a HUGE relief. That guy has gassed me out of the living room on several occasions.)

When you start dating someone, you might not divulge things about yourself right away. Letting your new girlfriend know that you are a professional jigsaw puzzler or have a foot fetish might not come up in the first couple of dates. But as time goes on you break these topics into conversation somewhere and at that point it's ok to be a bit quirky. For the first couple of weeks Axel was not interested in toys, sticks, balls or anything that normal dogs enjoy to have around. Well, he would get excited when he saw the objects but not really act on the impulse to play. Now that he's become more comfortable and is realizing that he's not going back to the SPCA, these things are becoming much more exciting and he's letting himself enjoy the little luxuries around him. It's almost as if he didn't want to screw up because it might mean he'd have to pack his bags and leave. He's so cute.

Then there is the dominance struggle which every relationship will go through. Most couples know who is the rooster and who is the hen in the partnership. There is one person who only needs to cock an eyebrow and suddenly dinner is on the table or the garbage is being taken out. Someone has to admit defeat and come to the realization that they are either whipped or just plainly submissive. Axel is constantly trying to prove his dominance over me which is very annoying and very trying on my mental health. Blue Heelers are famous for always wanting to be top dog and to rule the coop. All the literature says that owners need to be strict and dominant and always maintain Top Dog status or else their dog will walk all over them. Axel is incredibly stubborn when it comes to the littlest things and he's just waiting to learn where I draw the line so that he can walk over to that line and roll all over it. What a brat.

I found this picture on and just instantly fell
in love with it.  It captures the love so well.

But like in any relationship, you take the good with the bad and love them no matter what. Whenever Axel makes me angry or frustrated, I have to just keep in mind that he's young and new and we're still learning about each other. Plus for every minute that he pisses me off there are hundred of minutes that he makes me feel happy and loved. Dogs are awesome.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Travel Time

I bet that if you added up the amount of time that I have spent in airports in the past 5 years, there would be enough hours (no, days) accumulated to probably do something great with my life, such as learn a second language. I sit back and think about what I do when killing time in airports and really, I should have spent my time here more wisely. Airports are no fun when you just don't have the room in your carry-on to buy anything plus you're generally not in the mood to spend ridiculous amounts of money on poorly made, overpriced items. I bought a bottle of water for $2.96 and my heart skipped about 3 beats when the total popped up on the register. Yikes.

So my airport talk is a good clue that I am on my way back to BC. The trip to PEI was lovely and I am glad that I made the effort to make it out there one last (?) time. I have no idea if I will ever visit again, but I truly hope I do because I'm going to be going through friend withdrawl in a matter of hours.

My flight back flew out of Halifax which is about a 3.5 hour drive from Charlottetown, so Chris and I decided to make a little trip of it and drove the day before to spend the night so that he could drop me off at the airport in the morning. We arrived early in the afternoon and did some shopping since the weather was kind of working against us. But Chris was needing a H&M fix since it had been so long since his last visit and I am never one to turn down a trip to H&M since I always find about 50 things that I NEED to buy. After shopping and a quick check in at the hotel, we went to a well researched dinner at The Wooden Monkey which has won tons of awards and is a "must-stop" place to eat (according to All I have to say about that place is HAVE THE LAMB BURGER! Ohhhhhhh maaaaaannnnnn! It comes with this shockingly massive dollop of minted goat cheese which melts over top and makes the whole experience this amazing rich and tangy and semi-messy but overall delicious experience.

After the meal we walked around the city for a while and decided to head over to Dartmouth to get a nice view of the skyline of Halifax from across the water. Chris is a sucker for city skylines and so excited at the idea of seeing it, so who am I to deny him of it? I tried to get a nice picture of the view but my camera would not cooperate; however I got a couple nice ones of Chris!

And a semi-strange one of me too!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween 2012

I only have a few days left here on PEI and as always, time is going by much more quickly then I would like it to. But I am having a wonderful time and have been surrounding myself with all of the people that I love so much, so my time is being very well spent.

As usual, Halloween was a lot of fun and I was reminded again why people love this day of the year so much. First of all, I want to say that I saw on the news that the average household is spending about $325 every year on Halloween which a lot of people were blown away by. But really when you think of it, it's not all that surprising. First there's the candy that you hand out. Then the costumes and if you have multiple children then this can add up depending on where you're getting them. Even if you make your own, the fabric costs quite a bit and there's always the little extras to accentuate the costume (paint, tiaras, shoes, fingernails, teeth, boas). Then there's pumpkins, baking supplies (if you're a baking dork like me), decorations and last but not least, lots of booze for the adults. And if you're an adult and going out, costumes can get super pricey! It's strange how these teeny tiny little costumes that the women wear out cover very little surface area of their bodies yet they can cost anywhere from $20-several 100 dollars.

My first priority of every Halloween is always cupcakes. What will my theme be? This year it was skeletons,

I found the idea online and started to giggle with delight at their adorableness so I could no resist collecting all of the ingredients and giving them a shot.

Chris also wanted to do some pumpkin carving so we headed out to Stratford to buy a couple of pumpkins at Balderson's Farm Market where I have been buying my pumpkins while living on PEI. Here are the creations that we came up with.

This is obviously his.

On the night of the 31st we went out to Hunters to meet up with some friends and see Slowcoaster (local band who is really quite awesome). What I love love love about Halloween is how everyone is so easygoing, social and rather uninhibited. While squished up in the crowd, rocking along to the band, I was watching people dance and interact and Halloween just seems to bring out something in people. Like me for example, I will walk up to people and just start up random conversations, jesting along with them while we laugh about each others costumes and discuss similarities in personal taste. Striking up a conversation with strangers on Halloween is so easy because the topics are so out in the open. One dude was dressed up as a Ninja Turtle. Hello! Perfect conversation for me to be had there!

This one dude was dressed up like Stone Cold Steve Austin and I jumped over to him, telling him how much I adored him when I was in high school and even told him about my trip to Vancouver to see WWF. He stayed in character, trying to remember that epic match between him and the Undertaker (Buried Alive match!). There was this other guy who was dressed up in this amazing squirrel costume and he had this huge inflatable tail. Everyone was poking, hugging and punching his tail and he just took it in good stride, smiling and dancing and having a good time. We saw a guy dressed up like Walter White (Breaking Bad character) so I walked over to him causally and asked him if he had any of that amazing blue crystal on him. (If you've never seen the show, Walter White makes crystal meth and his recipe gives it a blue colour). Then he casually whips out this little baggie with blue crystal candy in it and gives it to me. Conversation done.

There was this little guy, he couldn't have been taller then 5'0, and he was drunk, dressed up like a Frenchman and I am doubting that he normally had the guts to do the things that he was doing that night. There was no girl that he would not ask to dance (or just start grinding up against). He was dancing with me while running his hand up and down my thigh and normally I would have discouraged this behaviour a bit, especially with Chris standing literally 3 inches from me, but I admired his audacity and allowed it.

Then there's Chris. Chris was Billy Idol and even though his British accent constantly wavered thickly into Australian, he gave it his all and rocked the costume.

After the bar closed we headed to a house party but the cops closed it down about 20 minutes after we arrived. Good ol Halloween night!

Yesterday I got to hang out with all of my best friends which was great and I hope to be able to get together with all of them again before I go. I don't know if coming here was good or incredibly stupid. Seeing everyone is amazing but it will be so hard to leave again. I'll just try not to think about it until the time comes in a few days.