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3 Cakes, 3 Kegs and 3 Cheers to 40 Years!!

40. It’s just a number, isn’t it? Well, I would argue the answer is both yes and no. Having recently attained this milestone in my life, I thought I should wax philosophical about my entry into ‘middle age’ and moving into a new decade. However, that is a bit challenging and difficult. I’m not quite ready to start talking about shaking off this mortal coil, or anything like that. So, I’d rather just focus this post on the awesome party that Deanna pulled together to celebrate. After all, your life is defined by your experiences and your relationships, isn’t it? I’ve been blessed to have both in spades to this point, and this post is at least an opportunity to acknowledge that. Have I gotten any wiser in my age? I think so. Any more mature? I certainly hope not! What’s the fun in that? With that, please read on for a bit more detail on my 40th birthday celebrations.

Off the bat, I would say that it likely wasn’t fair for poor Deanna to be faced with the task of meeting my expectations for a ‘blow-out’ for my 40th. After all, I’ve been imagining this party for quite some time, and all sorts of crazy ideas surfaced. However, now that the time was upon us, the reality was that I was not going to be sky-diving into my backyard pool and have a 3-day on-site music festival. The permitting alone would have been too complex, and funds just a little too tight. Guess those things will have to wait for the 50th!! What we did have was an awesome party with a great range of friends spanning several decades of ‘experiences’ that I’ve shared. In addition, we had 3 delicious kegs of beer and lots of other beverages to keep people ‘hydrated’ and smiling. And yes, there were in fact 3 cakes as well. Two were beer-battered bacon topped monstrosities of awesomeness, and the third was a kid-friendly simpler cake. Needless to say, all kegs and cakes were consumed by the masses by the time the evening / morning drew to a close.

The weather wanted to play tricks on us, deciding to unleash some pretty heavy rains throughout the day, but by 7pm or so, things cleared up and merely left us with brooding skies and a wet deck.  To give Deanna time and space to prepare, I left the house earlier in the day to go for a long run. I laughed out loud as I ended up runninng through some of the heaviest rains I’ve ever experienced in Gatineau Park…. at the FURTHEST point in my run! Happily, the weather did NOT stop us from enjoying the pool, hot tub, and fun games in the yard. We ended up forgoing the giant outdoor beer pong match in the front yard (till the next morning), but we DID have a super-cool scavenger hunt. In a nod to my adventure racing spirit, Deanna had set up 10 mini checkpoints with clues scattered around our yard, our neighbours yard and the neighbourhood. It was really fun watching people scattered around our little ‘hood searching for the clues. With each CP was a letter or letters which could be unscrambled to ultimately spell ‘Artisans Alehouse’, the name we’ve attached to our humble abode. Ironically, I was one of the LAST to unscramble the answer, much to Deanna’s amusement!

For the most part, the fun was in simply hanging out with so many great people that I’m proud to refer to as my ‘family’. They came from all over, comprising people I’ve been hanging out with since University up to my latest family of endurance training and racing friends and new neighbours. Lots of great conversations and ‘cross-pollination’ all around. And of course the best wife ever, Deanna, and her sister Cheryl to round out the ‘family’ side of things. Sadly, no blood relatives were in attendance, but plenty of well wishes had been sent our way from all over the world (Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Montreal, Nova Scotia, South Africa, Las Vegas, and Australia to name the more ‘exotic’).

The music was continuous, and as the night wore on, the obligatory dance party busted out in the lower level with plenty of laughs and funny hats. Outside, tiki torches were lit, bathing suits donned, and kids and parents enjoyed the hot tub and the pool. For the main course, we kept things simple by going with BBQ sausages, but that seemed to keep the hungry masses more or less satisfied, especially when it was paired with the many other snacks and side dishes laid out in the dining room.

As the hours rolled by, the numbers dropped, but the noise levels and silliness continued to increase. My self-proclaimed goal was to stay up until at least 5am, since that was the actual hour of my birth a mere 40 years ago. I’m happy to report that I was the last man standing (or rather, sitting at that point), making it all the way to 5:20am. Big shout out to my closest circle of buddies (Matt, Rob, Andy, and Dave) for crashing overnight and making it the perfect ending to the night. In addition, my new neighbour Mark also showed he was no slouch by also being amongst the last people there, and also providing the 2-keg kegerator and helping with some set-up and tear down. It’s really great to finally live somewhere that I feel like I’m part of a ‘community’! At one point, the remaining 4 guests along with Deanna and I were soaking in the hot tub, and Mark was actually fetching beers for us! Now THAT is service!

To complement the memories that I will hold in my head of the night (and perhaps supplement some of the ‘blanks’), we tried to do some documenting of the festivities. I’d set up a ‘truth booth’ where people could record personal greetings to me, and I also wore a GoPro for several hours snapping a picture every second. The results of these two experiments were mixed, so I have yet to put together a final video. If I do, I’ll post it on YouTube. Otherwise, it’ll just stay in the ‘personal files’. We also had a couple cameras floating around to take pictures, so I’ve put up some of the best shots on flickr. Thanks to Dave McMahon for snatching one of those cameras and wandering around taking all sorts of pictures of guests for us.

All in all, this was definitely a night to remember, and I’m so happy so many people could share in the merriment with us. Between the many beers and other random shots that were consumed, I was not exactly a happy camper the next morning when Rob insisted I get out of bed and celebrate more! At 9am, I was being physically kicked out of bed to join Matt, Dave, Andy and Rob on the deck for fresh beers. Although I was definitely not feeling great, I was handed one to drink. After that, Rob wanted to try his hand at giant outdoor Beer Pong, which he and Andy did as I watched on (laying prone in the grass). I can’t help but look back and laugh at that. It must have been quite a sight. Once they finally packed up and left around noon, I crawled back into bed to ‘recover’.

As it turns out, the rest of my ACTUAL birthday, which was Sunday, was very low key. My sister and family initiated a Skype call which I woke myself up for in order to talk for a while. We shared some laughs, and I opened a gift they had sent me and saved to open in front of the kids on the video. It was pretty swell. I only talked to my dad the next day as well. As for my birthday supper? Well, let’s just say I only made it as far as the closest McDonald’s for a feast of terrible comfort food, which I enjoyed while laying on the couch watching something on Netflix. Not exactly a fancy birthday meal, but it had to do. I only felt slightly bad for having not trained that day, but in truth, that was pretty much what I had planned!

With that, I will close off this post. As mentioned, I truly feel lucky to have such wonderful friends and family, and such an exciting and eventful life. I have never taken it for granted, and certainly don’t plan to start. Since I live in the present, every day is a gift! With that, we found ourselves a mere week away from the next adventure, Rideau Lakes Bike Tour, a 350km weekend bike tour from Ottawa to Kingston. Stay tuned for that next post! Till then, may your days be sunny and warm, and if they aren’t, enjoy the refreshment of rain!

My Days as a Bachelor are Numbered

Hanging on the Strip

Well, it’s time for one of my infrequent departures from race reporting to bring you a slice of my life outside of the ActiveSteve personna. As the title implies, and as most of you are no doubt aware, I’m engaged to be wed later this year. As a result, my good friends were of course keen to have a bachelor party for me. Given my rather hectic race and training schedules in the summer, I had requested this happen on my ‘off-season’, which is really only a few weeks in March/April :-). Luckily, this timing worked for everyone else as well, and plans were hatched to fly down to Las Vegas for an extended weekend in Sin City. Yes, I know what they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but who actually believes that any more? I will obviously gloss over the gory details, but will give you an idea of how it all unrolled. And yes, there *are* pictures to check out. Now read on for the Reader’s Digest version of the extended party.

Some of the ‘Shareable’ Pics

There are some advantages to getting married a little later in life. The bachelor party options are probably one of those. Given everyone’s status in life, people tend to be a little more comfortable in spending a bit of money to head out of town. Although I would have been completely happy to stay in town and have a single crazy night, the consensus from the guys was that they wanted to leave town. With growing families and responsibilities, everyone seemed quite keen to just get away for a few days. Our original thought had been either Austin or New Orleans, but after some digging and pricing, we decided Vegas was probably the easiest solution. It also helped that one of our good buddies from years gone by lives there now!

Once the venue was selected, we did our best to get as many people onboard as we could. In the end, there were 9 of us, and I can assure you that things would have only gotten more complicated with more than that. Even at 9 people, there was a lot of ‘kitten herding’ going on. After all, everyone was at different levels of sobriety and had different ideas of what we should be doing at any given time. Eating, gambling, hanging poolside, drinking, catching a show, or just wandering the strip aimlessly were all viable options 24/7 while down there!

Ironically, much like a race, just getting there proved to be a bit of a challenge for some. Ontario was hit by a very late-season snowstorm, which looked like it may wreak havoc on some of the flight routings through Toronto. Three of us were booked on a 9am direct flight from Ottawa, which was not impacted at all. We also convinced Kev to re-book his afternoon flight (which was supposed to go through Toronto) to join us, just to be safe. 2 others were already in town for a conference / poker tournament, and of course Troy lives in Vegas. That left only my best man Matt, and Dave. Matt made it unscathed on Thursday night late. Sadly, poor Dave spent a VERY long day Friday making his way to join us! Luckily he made up for it by partying hard on Saturday 😉

As far as activities go, we had no real plan going into the weekend. As you can imagine, most of the time was spent just wandering around, hitting some casinos, enjoying bad food and tasty drinks. Probably the best part of the whole weekend was the fact that we were able to both start and end the weekend away from the madness of the strip at our buddy Troy’s house. There, he has a great pool and hot tub in his backyard, the perfect place to relax with a beer in hand and enjoy the warm southern sun. And boy, was it sunny! We had 4 days of perfect weather. Sunny skies and temperatures between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius. I had great intentions of running every day, but ended up only making it out once for a run and to hit the gym. An extended bachelor party simply isn’t conducive to training! Kev can further attest to this.

As far as lodgings on the strip, we split into two different resorts. We had a giant suite at the Elara (behind Planet Hollywood), which was perfect for congregating. We also had a room booked at the MGM Grand, so that we’d have access to the amazing pool there. We spent two of our afternoons just hanging out by the lazy river and watching the world go by as a group. It was awesome. We also managed a couple good meals out as a group too. Once to the fun Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas, where it’s Oktoberfest all year! That same night, we also made it to the Double Down Saloon, a place I’ve always wanted to check out. Another night, we headed out for a carnivore’s delight at the Samba Brazilian Steakhouse at the Mirage. All the meat you can eat, served non-stop on giant skewers! Awesome!

I’d like to thank all the guys once again for making it out to Vegas with me to celebrate the end of my ‘bachelor life’. As Deanna knows, I have no reservations about this life change! Truth be told, I’m pretty sure I’ve been bachelor’d out for quite some time, but who doesn’t like an excuse to party with no regrets for 4 days? I kept up my end of the bargain by having a beer in hand pretty much the moment we landed (headed straight to airport bar), to the moment we left (I had a beer in a paper cup at the gate while waiting to board!). However, I’m also happy to report that thanks to our collective ‘maturity’ I was never forced to endure embarrassing bachelor party traditions, but instead just encouraged to have a good time. That’s not to say I didn’t sleep with 1 eye open just in case though! And of course, thanks for the good memories that I’ll keep to myself for years to come 😉 I definitely have the best friends in the world, and consider them all part of my family.

With that out of the way, it’s time to focus on the race season now. The season officially starts this coming weekend, May 5th, in Huntsville, at the 8 hour Frontier Adventure Challenge, which I’ll be racing solo and reporting on. Let the fun continue…

Relaxing my way through October…

Greetings all! Looks like it’s high time to fill everyone in on my latest fun and excitement. As I’m typing this post, I’m actually sitting in the billiards lounge at the Couples Resort near Algonquin Park while Deanna enjoys a nice spa treatment! Yup, we’re taking a great vacation at the moment, and I have a bit of time to write a quick post to catch you all up. Luckily, the catching up will be pretty easy to do, as there are no race reports to write up for the month of October. When you were all last filled in, I had just wrapped up a 2-day charity mountain biking tour in Gatineau Park. At the conclusion of that, it was time to start my month of laziness and recovery. As is usually the case for me, I try to take a the month of October as a month for recovery from the race season. As I managed to squeeze in a couple pretty challenging races this year, including my furthest ever running race (as part of the 3-day Ultimate XC), I definitely needed the break, since my left knee is once again starting to bother me. However, that doesn’t mean I did absolutely nothing. Read on to see how I rest and recover 🙂

For starters, I don’t completely do nothing. There is of course still the commuting to work on the bike, as well as some really enjoyable bike rides with Deanna over the course of the month. Especially because she picked up a shiny new bicycle this month! A great road bike that we had to put through its paces. It’s awesome that we can just pick up and do stuff like that when we feel like it. We’ve been thoroughly enjoying heading out on the rollerblades, or in the kayaks, or on the bikes, or just a nice hike. We always feel happiest after a nice activity outside.

Apart from those things, there was also some work commitments which took me out of town for the first time in a really long time. Where exactly did I get to go? Well, how about the land of Shania Twain? Yup, Timmins, Ontario for a public hearing that I had a hand in. This was my first time in the near north of Ontario, and I was one of the few people actually looking forward to it. I had high hopes of doing some hiking, and exploring the area a little bit. However, that came to a grinding halt when I arrived and found out I had no luggage! I didn’t even get it for a couple days. This made it difficult to do much of anything, including going to the hearing! After all, I was in the same clothes for several days, so there could be no strenuous workouts, etc. Eventually, I did go shopping, and got a whole new suit, with 2 shirts, 2 ties, shoes, belt, and socks and undies! And all courtesy of American Express, whose insurance policy should reimburse me. All’s well that end’s well, right?

So what else was there to do in October? Well, lots! After all, it was All Hallow’s Eve at the end of the month, and Deanna and I had a party to attend. As a result, we had to come up with a good costume idea. We ended up choosing to dress as Aphrodite and Dionysus, and I must say, we definitely looked good :-). Of course, you are free to check out a whole folder of pictures that I put up from that weekend. Not only did we have the party to attend to, but we also made some other plans, like carving pumpkins (started as a contest between us, but we both knew Deanna would win that one), as well as heading out to Saunders Farm for the hedge mazes and spooky hay ride. We had high hopes for that one, and we DID have fun, but unfortunately, the weather was abysmal. It was pouring rain when we showed up, and then turned into a full-on snowstorm while we were there!! By the time we were pulling out, we were both completely frozen, and drenched AND caked in mud. However, some awesome shawarmas and a nice warm house made it all fine and we were laughing about the whole thing before we had actually even pulled out of the parking lot. Yup, doesn’t matter what the circumstances, doing things with someone you really care about always makes it fun and bearable!

So what else did I get up to this month? Well, October…. hmmm…. OKTOBERFEST maybe?!? Most definitely :-). This is one of those venerable traditions that although it doesn’t happen every year, it still holds a pretty warm spot in my heart. I was actually working in Toronto for a full week, and Deanna was also interested in seeing what the fuss was about, so when Al and Matt sent out their normal call for interest, we signed up! It was a pretty lean crew this year, with just Al, Matt, Deanna, myself, then Tina and Jack from Kitchener. However, there was one new addition as well, Alix’s ‘little’ (huge) brother Vince! For the first time, he was of age. It was a little odd to remember other years spent playing with him in the basement when he was just a little kid, but now he’d actually be going with us! Crazy. We were happy to be part of this ‘rite of passage’, and with Al as our driver in a sweet rental Van, we had a great time.

We normally go to Bingemann’s hall, which is just a big drunken fest with the younger crowd, but we’d always dreamed of going to a true festhallen, which we finally did this year, ending up at Schwalben Hall. Of course, there are some pictures that I put up, but they don’t do complete justice to the weekend. Along with the normal drinking that goes on at Oktoberfest, we also went to the St. Jacob’s farmers market, which is another tradition. Good spot to try and soak up the alcohol and fight off the hangover from the night before. The weekend went pretty quick, as we just went down Friday, and headed back Saturday evening, so I was glad we were starting and finishing from Toronto! As is tradition, I’m pretty sure Matt, Vince and I managed to have perhaps just a FEW too many Schnapps in the course of the night, but it was still a fun night, capped off with a little of my own silliness in the front yard of Silver Aspen Haus….Thanks again to Roger and Sharon for being the excellent hosts that they always are!

So there you have it, my October in a nutshell. The weather may be starting to change, but I’m still excited at the thought of many more activities and adventures in the coming winter. Deanna hasn’t really ever done that much in the way of winter activities, so getting her out on snowshoes and skis should be good fun! There’s also the prospect of a certain relocation to Ottawa by someone pretty special that has me quite anxious too 🙂 The winter tires are on the car, and we were also looking forward to our first vacation together, which I’ll have to write about in a completely different post. There’s also the upcoming start to the snowshoe racing season that has me both excited and nervous. Excited as I love these races. Nervous because the knee issue I mentioned is really starting to flare up, and every time I go for a hard run, I have serious pain and swelling. Sadly, navigating the Quebec healthcare system is proving to be annoying, but that should also be kept for a separate, albeit brief post!

Till then, stay warm, and have fun friends. Just because the days are shorter, it doesn’t mean you can’t fill them up with fun things!

Happy Birthday to Me

Hello friends far and near. Prepare to read another self-serving blog post from your humble narrator, me, ActiveSteve! I’ll keep it short and sweet, as there isn’t all that much to say on this one. As my blog post title implies, I recently celebrated a birthday, and yes, it was a milestone of sorts. While I will definitely agree that I am a year older, the jury is definitely out on whether I’m any wiser 🙂 Being wise sounds a lot like being responsible though, and that certainly isn’t my modus operandi now, is it? As my birthday weekend was sandwiched between 2 races, I decided that I’d take advantage of the timing, and host both my house-warming, and birthday bash! Food, friends, fireworks and festive libations! I didn’t take too many pictures, as my hosting duties precluded such frivolous behaviour, but I did snap a few, and you can check them all out on my flickr page. For a few more deets, come on back, and click ye olde ‘read more’ button!

As alluded to in the opening, my race and training season is in full swing, making any sort of advanced planning complicated. As evidenced by my recent tardiness when it comes to bloggy posts, I’m just not feeling super-organized these days. It’s a good thing though, as I’m spending more of my time doing awesome fun things with awesome fun people! Speaking of which, I want to thank everyone who came out (and/or tried to) to help me celebrate. It was the first time I got to host a gathering at my new place, so I was a bit nervous and excited. In fact, the week leading up to the shin-dig was a filled with a lot of ‘hidden’ prep work, like wiring, patching and painting walls, setting things up, etc. On the plus side, it forced me to get my house properly set up, and ready for the rest of the summer fun! Yay!

So, about those awesome people. I put out the word, and the word was heeded! There was great mix of friends both old and new to help me celebrate. Let’s see, we of course had the Ottawa people, but then there were bodies from Chelsea, Aylmer, Stittsville, Richmond, Arnprior, Montreal, and Toronto! How cool is that? The cross section included racing friends, school friends, work friends, Ottawa friends, family, you name it, they were representin’ 🙂 How did I get everyone there? Well, I’m sure the promise of fresh sausages and burgers from my newly-discovered local butcher, along with fixin’s and beers, helped, at least for some. I decided buying or making myself a birthday cake would have been a bit excessive, so I simply bought May Wests for everyone.

However, I was very lucky to have Deanna arrive a bit earlier than the rest, and she baked some nice banana chocolate-chip bread for us. It gave a nice baking smell to the house that would have otherwise been absent! Also, later in the evening, my sister decided to bust out her cake-proxy, a stack of 3 Jos Louis’ with a big candle stuck through the middle of them! Too funny! Like they say sis, it’s the thought that counts! I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate cake!

Apart from the food and drinks, I’d also gotten all set to unleash an amazing set of karaoke on the world in the basement in the home theater, but in the end, no one took the bait. People seemed quite content to hang out either in the back yard under my gazebo or on the deck, or in my main living area. Mental note though, I need a bit more seating in that area!

To sort of crown the night off, I’d also bought some fireworks to launch once it got dark. Lucky for me, there is a small patch of dirt in one corner of my yard where there is no sod. It was the ideal place for Rob and I to [attempt to] correctly bury the fireworks before lighting them off. I did the best I could with a frisbee and a drywall knife as digging tools! Once they were all laid out, I suggested Rob retreat closer to the deck and let me take the risks. Ha! I had a blast lighting them off one by one, and apparently the crowd got a kick out of me lighting them, then diving for cover each time. What can I say? I wasn’t convinced that we’d really properly buried them. Not to worry though, I had a small bowl with about a half liter of water to douse any flames. Oh yeah, did I mention the fireworks were basically right against my fence!?!? Apparently, a number of neighbours snapped on lights to see what the fuss was all about, and promptly switched them off to watch the show. Sweet! Much better than them calling the cops. What can I say, we Quebeckers love our fireworks 😉

All in all, the party was a great success in my eyes. Hopefully people have realized that I’m not *that* far away from everything, and may even be tempted to visit me from time to time. Hee hee. The house is all set up, and Google maps is almost current with my actual address now! Special shout out has to go to Mike and Lydia, who apparently spent 45mins. trying to find my place due to bad GPS directions (sorry guys, my road is too new!), and sadly had to admit defeat and head home. Sadly, I missed their messages that evening.

Party mode has ended for a little bit at least for me, as in the coming weeks, I have (had) both my 24 hour Wilderness Traverse race, as well as the upcoming 3-day Ultimate XC! Yikes! Time to buckle down. Of course, that means I’ll be ready and willing to party come July. I’ve opted to make July a race-free month (almost), so there will be plenty of chillin’ out, and enjoying music festivals like Ottawa Bluesfest and the Beaches Jazz Festival. Hope you’re summer is also full of fun in the sun!

Super Niece Helena Turns 4!

Howdy everyone out there. Quick post to send out a great big Happy Birthday to my favourite niece in the entire galaxy. Helena celebrated her fourth birthday yesterday, on the 13th of April! She’s been quite excited about the big event some time now. In fact, a couple months ago she was already telling me that I’d be invited to her party. Lucky me, right? Well I think so, given that not too many people were invited personally by her 🙂 Instead of having to deal with a big group of little people in the middle of a work week, parents Andrea and Patrick opted to throw a little party for her over the weekend, and it went swimmingly well. The weather definitely co-operated, and the venue was a great location for a group of wired youngsters. If you’d like to check out how that unfolded, you can have a look at a set of pictures I put up on flickr. Afterward, come on back for a quick re-cap of the day.

As you are all pretty much aware, I’ve been pretty busy getting settled into my new place, as well as getting ready to tackle the Boston Marathon this weekend. As such, I’ve been trying to cram a lot of things into every day and every night. Sunday was no different, as I had to complete my last long run of the training plan. I got up bright and early and did a 16km run before the 10am start to the party. As a result, I was running a little late, but as it turned out, so were most of the guests, and even the Birthday girl! When I arrived just before 10:30am, it was Andrea, Rebecca, Sue, and one other person handling the decorating duties. I helped as best I could to set up streamers, balloons, etc., but it wasn’t long till the guests all started arriving.

Once they were on site, the focus shifted to getting food sorted and making sure the little ones were properly entertained. On the menu were fruits, cheese, bagels, scones, pancakes and other assorted little things. As you might guess, brunch was the key word here 🙂 Rebecca was helping out a lot by leading the kids through craft time, and some fun party games. Everyone was very eager to participate, and there were no little person breakdowns, which was nice. Once we were all fed and happy, there were more games to be played, and general kiddie fun. I retired to the kitchen to do some cleaning up of the cooking mess. After all, unlike most of the adults present, I had no small person that I had to watch. Helena was nice enough to pop in an visit me a couple times, which was pretty cute.

Once the kitchen was cleaned up, I headed outside to the park to join in the fun. The venue was the New Edinburgh Fieldhouse, which is right beside the Rideau River, and has a nice playground and lots of running around space. As such, all the kids were having a ball playing on all the structures. I tagged along with Helena for a while, playing on the teeter-totter with her, and the swings, as well as the climbing apparatus. She’s a great climber. Methinks we’ll have to get her to a climbing gym in the near future. Good excuse for me to get back into that as well!

After we were all sufficiently played out (well, at least the adults were), it was back into the fieldhouse for the birthday cake. I made sure everyone had their party hats on as we sang to Helena and she blew out the candles. Luckily, 4 candles is pretty easy to handle, so she pulled that off well 🙂 Fill up on cake, and it was on to presents. Everyone was very generous and she walked away with a big haul of great new things to play with, including dress-up clothes, dolls, books, music, movies, etc. Lucky girl. The party had been going on for about 3 hours, so things started winding down, with people making their way out. We obviously stayed till the end, and then finished dismantling all the decorations and packing up before leaving.

After the party, I squeezed in several errands, including getting the rest of the things I had stored over at my friend Carl’s house (desk, storage unit, wood, etc). I also headed over to Home Depot to pick up pegs for my peg board (can you believe Rona carried the pegboard but no pegs? I still can’t!). Then I jetted back to Andrea’s place to hang out with the family for a couple more hours. John and Jill had come up for the day from Picton, so it was nice to catch up with Patrick’s parents as well. They are still doing well, and keeping quite busy! By about 5pm, we were all feeling kind of pooped, so I decided to head home and get back to work on the house projects. However, not before Andrea gave me a nice housewarming gift consisting of a big Yucca plant, as well as a Home Depot gift card. Sweeet! Thanks sis and bro-in-law :-).

Well, that should be enough for my ‘short post’ right? Once again, Happy Birthday Helena! You’re a great kid and know how to make us all smile when you want to 😉 Next stop, Boston baby! Bye for now.

The ‘Lost’ Vegas Weekend

Howdy world. Well, I suppose I’m breaking some cardinal rule of Las Vegas by writing this post, but lets just say I’ll stick to the relatively family friendly aspects of the trip to share with you all. To save you the wondering, yes, I did see ‘The Hangover’, and yes, things went down a little like that. Not quite to the extreme, but there were some interesting moments for sure. In respect of the code, I’ll keep this post short and to the point, and just give you an overview of the whole trip. For a great overview, just click your little fingers over to my flickr site and peruse some pictures and video from the weekend. Then come on back and read the whole sordid tale, including the why, the where and the what.

So first, the why needs to be addressed. Simply put, why not? Well, more to the point, Matt will soon be a father, and the way we see it, it’ll be a lot more difficult for him to get away and party for the weekend when diapers need changing. Also, a few other guys were keen to make the trip. As for me, well, I’ve only been to Sin City for work, so giving it a whirl on a weekend seemed like a good idea to me. Timing was good based on my training and race schedule, so off I went.

Next, the where? Well, apart from Las Vegas generally, we were specifically heading to a 2-bedroom suite at the Planet Hollywood Towers. With 6 of us going there, it made more sense to just try and find a big suite rather than go for multiple rooms with the possibility of adjoining rooms, which wouldn’t be guaranteed. The price was pretty much the same as any other hotel, but gave us a whole bunch of better features. Don’t believe me? Check out the video tour clips here and here. Yup, we had two great bedrooms, one with king size bed, other with a queen. Full kitchen and bar area, dining room, two bathrooms, including a jacuzzi, separate showers rooms, etc. Oh yeah, and the living room? How about a huge high def theater formed by the blinds becoming the screen? Oh yeah baby. Vegas! Washer, dryer, washing machine, the works. I really can’t tell you all how awesome it was. I highly recommend it if you are traveling with 4 or more in your group.

So, that leaves the what, doesn’t it? Well, we came to Vegas with a very detailed plan: no plan. Other than having booked tickets for a few shows, we were flying by the seat of our pants. Speaking of which, one of our group, Jeff, had never actually been in a plane till this trip, or a rollercoaster, we took care of both. With 3 and a half days to wander the strip, you’d think we’d cover more than we did, but such is life when you’re herding drunken kittens 🙂 Let’s take a quick walk through the daily / nightly of our trip.
First night? Well, after a bit of hanging out in the room enjoying some delicious beers, we headed to the nearby strip, and the Harley Davidson Bar, for more delicious beers. Back to hotel form sweet suite poker, before hitting the night hard. Ironically, even though we were all beat form the 4am wake-ups and long flights, this turned into one of our craziest nights. We first hit a casino for a bit, then hit El Diablo, where food, beers, and a few tequilas were consumed. After that, we’ll just have to censor the remainder of the evening. We all lived.

Next morning was quite rough. I woke up unsure where I was, and scared to find someone sleeping next to me. Luckily it was Matt, and I remembered where we were. Shook myself out of bed, and headed out for a run. 24k later, I arrived to the smell of bacon. The lads had gone foraging and scored breakfast stuff and were cooking. I was then reminded of a little chore I had to take care of, so headed to Home Depot. For the record, the wall color there is “Classic Tan”, use flat paint. Couple guys his poker tourney while the rest of us wandered around a bit, then decided to hit a hot tub at Planet Hollywood. Yup, craziness ensued, and a number of other things are censored from here. That night, we grabbed quick pizza, and headed to the Hard Rock for out big show, the Experience Hendrix Tour. Slow start, but well worth the price of admission. More madness ensued, night becomes censored once again after the show. I do remember one highlight, which was hitting the Fatburger for food, and then seeing Dick Dale, a legendary surf guitar guy at another show, before killing time at New York New York.

Few more hours of ZZZs and we were up again, and planning our 3rd day in Sin City. We started by watching The Hangover (seemed appropriate) on our giant screen. After that, again, some went to play poker, rest of us decided to do the strip right this day. We started by grabbing those giant novelty drinks (2 extra shots of 151 proof rum for $2? Why not!), and wandering the streets like everyone else. It soon became obvious those tasty drinks pack a punch. We solved that by marvelling at the modern engineering of the crazy casinos like the Bellagio, and the Venetian. Hunger stuck us again, and we found a place called Strip Burger outside, and had a great feast there, before making our way to Circus Circus. Oh yeah, that was a bit crazy too. Lots of fun though, and the only place where I won anything, a little teddy bear. It made my day. Back to the suite, and gear up for our last night. This time, we were checking out Galactic at another Hard Rock bar, and decided to do supper properly at the Vegas Hofbrauhaus. Yup, proper Oktoberfest fun before a night of funk to cap off our crazy weekend. Censoring follows, but ended sometime with me in the Jacuzzi on the 28th floor, with a couple beers, and a bag of popcorn. Delicious! Night ends.

Final morning, slow waking, but luckily we had spare bacon and toast to cook up to take the edge off. Oh, and some Caesars and Mojitos. Just what the doctor ordered (well, that and the Ibuprofen). We sadly had to make our way to the airport now and get back to real life. We were all sad to go, but at the same time, recognized that staying too many more nights would likely be bad for not only our physical health, but probably our financial health.

So ends the story. It was a great weekend with a great group of guys. Definitely hope to do that again sometime. Thanks guys! Now, back to training and getting ready for the Boston Marathon, which is my next race. Later all!