The Return

After nearly a year, I have returned! I just realized that I wrote a blog about turning 30 and then disappeared. Now that 2016 is over, I realized that I’m paying for this site, so I’d may as well use it.

What was 2016 for me? Well, a lot of things. Mainly good but of course there was some bad along the way as well.

I travelled a lot last year – I went to Vegas for a week, did another two week stint through the south, spent a long weekend in Toronto, did some local poking about. I’m sure I’ll get to all of that later.

It was a bit of a rough year with my mental health, I had a bit of time where my anxiety threatened to overtake me, but I think I’m finally ‘coming out the other side’ of that, so I’m hopeful for a breathe-easy 2017.

I’ve had friends get married, had many parties, events, etc. So I have quite a lot to catch up on as we venture forward into 2017.

Also if you want to check it out I’m blogging a weekly column over at Fangirlish so feel free to come on over and check me out!

I already know that this year is going to bring some big changes, but bring it on, I’m ready.

On Turning 30

It’s been said that writing things ‘on paper’ helps with dealing with emotions, so what I’m about to present to you is basically my excerpt from a “Dear Diary”.

In two days I am turning 30. 30. The Big three-oh. I don’t know how and when that happened but there’s not much I can really do about it.

I’ve never been that person who cared much about their age, the numbers kept piling up and I was just going with the flow. All until this year.

30 has hit me like a ton of bricks and I don’t exactly know what to do about it.

Honestly, I don’t think it’s as much the age as the frame of mind that the looming decade change has put me into. It’s had me dealing with questions I should have been probably been thinking about long before this. I’ll be 30, single, with no kids. What does that say about me? Do I want to get married? Do I want kids? If so, I’m going to have to get my ass in gear soon, these ovaries aren’t going to last forever.

Most of my friends are already married (or getting married soon) which means babies won’t be far around the corner. Which is going to mean big changes to our “circle” and how we operate. Do I want to join the crowd or will I forever be spinster “Aunt Terri” who takes care of the kids when the parents go out for a night, but am never that parent. These are all the things that are currently plaguing my brain.

Where is my life going? What are my accomplishments? Sure, I’m decently well traveled and I have a fun circle of family and friends, but what else? I never did write that novel I’ve had in the back of my head for the better part of five years. I never lived up to that childhood dream of becoming a sports journalist. Where am I going professionally? Is this really what I want to be doing?

Logically, I know I’m still (relatively) young and have some time to figure myself out, but I’m not going to convince myself that this time is endless, when it is not.

This decade of my life will probably bring about more change than any other, and am I equipped to deal with that? I sure as hell hope so.

Why am I even writing this? I feel like I’m probably not the only one who’s dealing with these hard hitting emotions and I just want you to know you are totally not alone. I think, as the clock nearly strikes on my “champagne birthday” that I’m finally reaching the acceptance part of my 30’s emotional crisis, but let me tell you, it has not come easily.

On the good side, in a way, perhaps this crisis will be good for me. As I said, it’s already made me question things I should have already been doing, so now maybe I’ll stop being so paresseaux (fancy way of saying lazy) and finally start making progressive changes in my life. I can do it, right?

To my 20’s, I will miss you fondly and the fun times you’ve brought me, and I am basically giving you up kicking and screaming. To my 30’s, well, I hope you manage to exceed your former decade, no matter how hard that is to think about right now.

Christmas Shopping 101

I’ll admit – I am one of these annoying people that loves Christmas. I start shopping early, I put my tree up early (it went up yesterday, no joke) and I always plan a bunch of Christmas related activities.

However, what I really do not like is trying to navigate the insane crowds that seem to be appearing earlier and earlier each year. Last Sunday, more than a full month before Christmas. I decided to run out and have a look for a few things, the lines at the local Toys R Us store were about 20 people deep and there was absolutely nowhere to park at the mall. This lead me to come home in frustration and whip out my laptop.

I’ve been doing more and more shopping online in recent years, but this will probably be my heaviest year yet. With a big list and a lack of patience I find it’s the best way to get things done.

So, where do I shop? That’s the whole point of this post!

Note: This will be heavily geared toward Canadian shoppers, but Americans may find pieces of it helpful, as most sites ship to both countries.

Beyond the Rack – This is a discounted site where you can find things that have been sold off from various brands/designers. It’s a great way to get some quality stuff for a good price. The only thing about this site, and I really mean it is ORDER EARLY. Most of the time it takes about 2-3 weeks for merchandise to get from their origins to the Beyond the Rack facility and then a further week or so to get to your home address. So if you want to order from them do it NOW if you want to get it in time for Christmas.

The Children’s Place – If you have any little people on your list, the Children’s Place is a great stop. They always, I repeat ALWAYS have a sale on. And, if they don’t, Google “the Children’s Place promo code” and you’re sure to find one. Just last week I ordered about $100 dollars worth of merchandise for about $40 shipped, taxes in. Also, they ship very quickly. My shipment left Toronto on a Tuesday night and arrived at my house in Newfoundland less than 24 hours later.

Snorg Tees – Snorg specializes in funny, topical tshirts. They have a lot of product (I always find myself on the site for probably an hour, time I get through it all). They do charge for shipping but I don’t generally get charged duties on them, and the times that I have, it’s only been nominal.

Amazon – It’s cliche, but cheap prices, quick shipping and a large variety of product make this one of my favourite sites – especially if you want to order something mid-December (because you’ll still get it in time for Christmas).

Blurb – This option will take the most time, but it makes a great gift. You can download the site’s software and make yourself a book of any kind. In the last few years, whenever I’ve returned home from a road trip, I compile photos and make one of these for my travel companions. There is easier software out there, but after a small learning curb I like what you can do with Blurb. Also, the books range from about $20 and up but you can often get coupon codes for 40-50% off of your order.

Gap – As you might have noticed, I love a good sale! So the fact that every year Gap offers 40-50% off sales leading up to Christmas is great. You can get some great stuff for yourself for all those Christmas events, as well as some good presents. I’m particular fond of their athletic line. It’s durable and good quality and cheap than Lululemon.

Think Geek – Think Geek is a fabulous site filled with great, fun and nerdy goods. But I am warning you now – if you are Canadian you are going to pay duties on your order and it’s not going to be pretty.

Above all of these great options, if you live in an area that isn’t as insane as where I live, I strongly recommend that you get out an support your local business community. Even if you have to pay a little more, it’s worth it. I’ll always try and make a round or two of the downtown area before the holiday season – it’s a fun way to pass an afternoon.

Trinity Loop in Ruins

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Just the skeleton of the old ferris wheel now remains.

About a 45 minute drive from my hometown used to lie a very quaint little ‘amusement park’. I use the term in quotations because there were no big, scary rides, no waterpark or anything like that, but to a small child it was pretty great. Here’s a brief explanation of a ‘day in the life’ at Trinity Loop.

10am – Start begging whatever parent/grandparent/guardian/whoever had the bright idea to tell you the night before that you were going, that its most definitely time to leave.

11am – Arrive at park and be greeted by the cardboard cutout referred to as “Choo Choo Charlie” who would enthusiastically wave at all as they entered.

11:15am – Start begging for cotton candy.

11:20am – Ride ferris wheel.

11:30am – Ride bumper boats.

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It’s hard to see, but the old railway has been totally washed away.

12pm – Ride the train (actual train) that would take you around the park. This is what made the park special, the fact that it was a full train loop (one of only few in North America) that was used to help trains to get more efficiently to higher/lower elevations. Once the rail system ceased to exist in Newfoundland, the Loop was built around this train ride and was its signature attraction.

12:30pm – Finally get some cotton candy.

12:45pm – Go for a ride on a paddle boat where inevitably whatever adult was in your presence would do all the hard work while you chilled out in the back.

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The remnants of the mini golf course.

1:15pm – Repeat 11:20 and 11:30.

2pm – Play mini-golf

3pm – Beg for one last ride on the ferris wheel but ended up placated by being offered a late lunch/early supper on the caboose dining car.

3:30pm – Eat chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs.

4pm – Leave to go home.

As you see, it wasn’t an overly fancy place but definitely enough to keep a kid occupied for a day.

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What was once the sign for the train ride now lays in what was once a bumper boat pool.

Here’s where the sad part starts – around 2004, due both in part to dwindling attendance and high upkeep of the attractions, the park closed. It was always hoped it may be able to open again in the future. However in 2011 the area was hit by a bad hurricane that basically destroyed the remnants of it and has left it in a terrible state of disrepair.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend (early October) a friend and I went home for the long weekend and decided to check out the old site to see what it had become. It wasn’t pretty.

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Alyson checking out the destruction for the first time.

Basically what followed was a soul crushing look at a piece of our childhood destroyed. It now resembles a place that wouldn’t go amiss in a horror film. We left the place both glad we had the chance to see it in person and also very sad. We made sure to listen to happy music on the drive back home!

If you want some more information on the site, I suggest clicking here and if you’d like to see some HG photos of the ruins of this place I suggest taking a look at Hidden Newfoundland.

 

I Made A Web Series

The full year of 2014 was quite busy for me, and the main reason behind that is that I was participating in an insane web series. You know how every day of the year is some kind of weird holiday? Well, for the full year myself and three friends made a video for every, single day to ‘celebrate’ one of those days.

It was quite the undertaking (more so than any of us would have thought at the beginning) but we were all pretty proud of it (and very relieved when it was over).

Now that I’ve had a half year to process, I decided to have a look back at our videos, and to share some of my favourites. When you have a stock pile of 365 videos, let me tell you – it was very difficult to choose. So here you have it, 10 of my most favourite Year of Cheer videos (in no particular order):

  1. Titanic Remembrance Day – This is probably not the way you remember the Titanic movie happening… or is it?

2. International Coffee Day – This video is a throwback to a memorable episode of Saved by the Bell (anyone remember Jessie’s brief addiction to caffeine pills?) But as with everything that we do, it has a twist.

3. Pluto Demoted Day – Poor Pluto, no one ever could have seen what path he would follow after he was demoted out of our solar system.

4. Fool’s Paradise Day – This video featured lyrics (partially) written by Josh and was among one of the most ridiculous premises that we came up with.

5. Chucky The Notorious Killer Doll Day – Who knew murderers could be so cute?

6. Book Lover’s Day – I’ll admit, this might not be our best video, it’s long and drawn out, but there’s something about it that I love. Probably the fact that we let Josh write his own “fan fiction” and then attempted to act it out . . .

7. Hug a Plumber Day – Little did anyone know that all those mushrooms that Luigi was grabbing would turn into a crippling addiction. Luckily, he had his brother there to help him through.

8. International Whale Shark Day – As previously posted, my friends and I love a terrible shark movie, so we decided to (extremely roughly) create out own. Please excuse my TERRIBLE acting in this one.

9. Friday the 13th – Jason + a Mentos commercial parody, what else could you want?

10. Giving Tuesday – Here, we parody a Nicholas Sparks book/movie. What do you think? Would you watch it?

Well, there you have it. If you happened to like these videos there’s 300 odd more that you can watch on YouTube, right here – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEwRLr8uKtrRfziYDTV23sQ

 

I Don’t Know Who to Vote For

When it comes to the world of politics, I consider myself generally well-versed. I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, I’m not deeply involved, but I’d like to think that I can hold an intelligent conversation on the matter.

In late 2015 I am going to have to vote in not one, but two elections – one Federal (in October) and one Provincial (in November). I’ve read the news, I’ve watched the leaders debate that aired a few weeks ago, and it all leads me to the same conclusion.

I don’t know who to vote for.

I know that there’s no way I would ever, ever vote for the Conservative Party. Take away the fact that Harper has basically destroyed our access to information and has muted so many scientists/academics and I still don’t have a conservative bone in my body.

I’m fairly young, open-minded and very logical, which should align me up well with the Liberal party, but I’m not exactly buying what they’re selling either. There’s something about Trudeau that I just don’t like. I feel at times that he comes across as arrogant and well, he did sign into effect Bill C-51 along WITH the Conservatives (more about that here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-terrorism_Act,_2015 ).

That leaves me with the NDP Party. Their leader seems full of promises that are just waiting to be broken. He’s promising things left, right and centre. Things anyone either bit knowledgable in the way of politics knows that would either A. Never happen or B. Sink the economy.

When I’m looking for someone to guide the country I’m looking for someone who cares about human rights, the environment and small business. These are things I haven’t really found from any leader yet.

I realize I am only one person, but the more I discuss voting with my friends the more I realize many of us are the same, we really don’t know what to be doing.

When push comes to shove, I will probably vote Liberal, but it won’t be a confident vote, that’s for certain.

Flying By

I haven’t been quite as good of an updater lately as I would like, but I’m ‘blaming it’ on summer. After all the complaining I (and everyone else) did in July, we’ve had a really great August and I’ve been trying to enjoy it fully before the winter blahs hit again.

So what exactly have I been up to? Well, for one, a lot of backyard fires. It seems this is the year everyone that I know decided to invest in a fire pit (which isn’t a bad thing), so I’ve been spending lots of time sitting around, cider and marshmallow in hand.

In addition, I’ve been spending a bit of time in my hometown and doing some weekend trips. Just this last weekend I packed up the car, one of my best friends, and two five year olds (the kids of another friend), and headed off for a cabin adventure at a little camping resort called Golden Sands. We left at 12:30pm on Friday and the twins mom met us there around 11pm, so it was quite the adventure to play mom/aunt/caretaker for a full day to two rambunctious (and sometimes horribly over tired) pre-schoolers. We had fun times though – between swimming, having a fire and feeding them far too much ice cream (but that’s what ‘aunts’ are supposed to do, right?)

I’ve mentioned this before, but I know I’m incredibly lucky to have such a great group of friends who love to go on these little excursions together. This time, we had 11 adults and 2 kids spread over three side-by-side-by-side cabins and it was a fantastic time. Minus the fly bites. Oh the flies. On ONE leg I counted 23 mosquito bites alone. My poor legs are still recovering from the trauma. Just as a note – don’t ever wear Lululemon leggings (or probably any brand of leggings for that matter) around a mosquito filled fire at night. I was probably better off with bare legs.

As for what’s upcoming? This fall starts off with a ‘bang’ with Labour Day weekend back home in Elliston, followed by my friend’s birthday weekend and a weekend of volunteering at a local food festival (what a hardship that is!)

Oh, and who can forget – hockey season starts up again soon!

I ADORE being busy and I’m also thinking of doing some kind of class in the fall. The last I did was introductory film class about a year and a half ago (which led to my insane web series, but that’s a story for another day). So I feel like I need another creative outlet to get me through winter.

Well, that’s the latest in the land of Terri. As summer winds down I’ll be doing more of this whole blogging thing. I hope to make friends with a few of you along the way as well! I’ll leave you with a few snaps from my weekend excursion.

The inside of our weekend abode.
The inside of our weekend abode.
Time for a swim!
Time for a swim!
On a "train" that took us around the park - I don't know who enjoyed it more, Dion or the kids.
On a “train” that took us around the park – I don’t know who enjoyed it more, Dion or the kids.
Pals hanging around the fire.
Pals hanging around the fire.
The view from the patio of our cabin.
The view from the patio of our cabin.
It was the first time I took on the solo (with some help) task of cooking breakfast. Toutons, eggs, bacon, bologna and hash browns for 13!
It was the first time I took on the solo (with some help) task of cooking breakfast. Toutons, eggs, bacon, bologna and hash browns for 13!
Me and Diana decide it's a great idea to take a "BBQ Selfie"
Me and Diana decide it’s a great idea to take a “BBQ Selfie”

Rules of the Road

In the last few years, I’ve done quite a bit of travel, particularly through the USA. In both 2013 and 2014 myself and three friends (two the same both times, one different) travelled for about two weeks at a time through the USA. These are not your run of the mill “oh lets drive between two states!” road trips. No, we cover thousands of miles, multiple states and we don’t stop much. If you really want to immerse yourself in local culture, I don’t really recommend this as a trip, however, if you want to see a little bit of everything in a short period of time, do it up! Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up through my travels, some are more cliched than others! 

1. Pee when you can

You might laugh at that one, but believe me it’s not overrated. When you’re on a back road in the middle of Virginia and you didn’t pee at the last gas station because you “didn’t need to” you’ll regret not taking this advice. When anyone in your group wants to stop, hit up the nearest bathroom, no matter how sketchy it is, your body will thank you.

2. Choose good travel companions

It’s no good to travel with people who are not roughly on the same page as you are. If your buddy is into 5 star hotels, while you prefer a low budget motel, common sense should tell you it’s probably not going to end well. When we travel, we tend to go the mid-range route. Lots of Holiday Inns, Best Westerns, Hampton Inns, etc. Not exactly high end but very clean, comfortable and budget friendly.

3. The route untravelled is sometimes the best route

The big, popular attractions are popular with good reason, they’re generally informative and fun but they are exactly what I just stated – popular. I’ve stood on top of the CN tower, I’ve toured stadiums, went to hockey games, etc. But some of the best nights I’ve had on the road are the ones you have to look hard to find. We spend a night last year in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, at the Tallahatchie Flats in Greenwood. They are little repurposed servant cottages and they are just spectacular. Sitting out on the little deck that night, listening to old blues music and taking in the sounds of the wildlife, was one of the best nights I’ve had, period.

4. Pack wisely

Even when we’ve rented an SUV to contain all our gear, it’s still a tight squeeze for four people plus luggage. I’m guilty of being a horrible,horrible over-packer, but as long as you stay respectful of space, it’s okay (ie. don’t take 2 carry ons, one huge bag and a backpack, do your best to stay confined).

5. Plan, but don’t over plan

When we road trip, we always know where we will be staying each night. There’s a bit of comfort in knowing that your hotel is secure, you don’t have to worry about things being booked up or ending up in a shady part of time. That being said, it’s not very fun to have things planned down to the minute either.  For instance, when we were in Dallas last summer, we knew we wanted to visit the state fair and that’s about it. It takes some of the fun away to have every detail planned, sometimes you can find fun things when you show up. For example we once discovered a chain restaurant from our province had a franchise in Williamsburg, Virginia, it was so random and weird that we HAD to eat there.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Being somewhat shy myself, I find this a had ‘rule’ to adhere to.  However, my pal Shane, does not. Having someone with you who doesn’t mind talking to a stranger and asking how to get to a particular place is a great asset to have. And, you know what? You’ll find that most people are very, very nice and will go out of their way to help you. Despite what stereotypes may be out there, I’ve particularly found Americans to always be very sweet and kind, and willing to help out a poor lost Canadian (like the time when we had to embarrassingly ask “excuse me, is this the White House?”)

7. Embrace your local atmosphere

If you in Georgia, order up some sweet tea in a restaurant, if your in New Orleans, yes, or the beignets. It might sound cliched, but places are experts on things for a reason!

I love the thrill of discovering new places and trying new things, and I highly encourage all of you to try a road trip at least once. Now that I’ve started, all I want to do is explore the open roads. It’s looking like my next trip will be jaunt through Nevada and California early in 2016 and I already can’t wait.

Weather Misery

It’s no secret that the weather where I’m from isn’t always the best. In the past we’ve been known to have months that were commonly referred to as “Juneuary” and “Fogust”. This year, however, is a special kind of hell. It’s currently the 21st of July and we’ve seen a total of THREE days that have reached 20C so far this summer. THREE. The high arctic has even been warmer than we are.  Check out this extended forecast for the next week and please feel free to weep with me:

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Yeah, that’s right. You see that daytime HIGH on Saturday? Nine freaking degrees. Compound this shitty weather with the fact that our main airport is undergoing renovations and no flights can get in/out if the weather is anything less than ideal, and you’ve got one pissed off population.

Obviously, there’s nothing anyone can do about the weather issues. But when you live somewhere that generally only gets 2-3 months of decent weather a year, it’s depressing to a have a full month that feels just as cold as October.

Please send warm vibes that it changes soon, and socks, lots of socks.

Oh, Canada

As today is the 148th birthday of Canada (I know this offhand as its my mother’s age plus 100 years, sorry to out your nearly-age, mudder).  In honour of this occasion, I thought I’d take a few minutes to reflect on why I am indeed a proud Canadian.

1. I love the fact that you can walk down the street of nearly any major Canadian city and see people that look so very different yet are all very Canadian.  You cannot make the assumption that just because someone is not Caucasian that they are not Canadian.  We literally come from every size, coluor, walk of life, etc and that is definitely something to proud of.

2, I also love the pride you see on Canada Day when you see new citizens being sworn in.  They are so, so happy to call themselves Canadian and if they feel that warm and fuzzy, why can’t I?

3. The Motto of the United States is “In God We Trust” the Motto of Canada is “From Sea to Sea.” I think that says a lot about us as a people.

4. I enjoy that we don’t go to war with other countries – we peace keep and support, but never initiate.

5. For the most part, we are mostly a very liberal population.  Our gay rights are the most liberal of all the Americas and we passed the bill for legalization of gay marriage without much fanfare.  Unlike some other countries we can think of…

6. The right to freely choose our leaders, no matter how crappy they are. This is a right I think we often take for granted as we don’t realize how many people out there still cannot do this.

7. We are unashamed to be who we are.  Canada is the brunt of many an international joke, but say what you want – we take everything in stride.

8. We unabashedly love our hockey.  If you do the adjusted math, more of the population watches the Stanley Cup finals than those who watch the Super Bowl in the United States.  The annual World Junior Championships are a Christmas tradition in many households and I don’t know anyone who cannot name at least all the Canadian hockey teams.

9. Safety. Today I spent the day outside – walking with friends, visiting, eating in restaurants and watching fireworks and never once did I feel scared or threatened in any way, shape form. My only ‘fear’ was that I was to get bitten to death by mosquitos while I was watching the fireplace.

10.  Green space, fresh air, mountains, valleys, oceans, lakes and ponds.  Nature is abundant and mostly well protected in this vast land.

In short, we are a huge county with a relatively small population who are fiercely proud of where we are from.  I shall personally celebrated today by wearing red and indulging in a few Canadian made beers. Cheers to another good 148 years.