The Lazy Days of Summer

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Good day friends and followers of the world! Just thought I’d pop on here and give everyone a bit of an update on what’s been new with me. When last you checked in, I had been racing my brains out in my toughest 3-day solo race yet, with great success! So since then, you probably think I’ve been training hard and getting ready for the next challenge, right? Well, not really. Instead, I declared July to be my month of relaxing, enjoying life, and spending time with the people that really matter in my life 🙂 Yup, that’s right, the lazy days of summer are well and truly here. To those ends, since UXC, I’ve had a great long weekend for Canada Day (Pictures), including some aerial park fun at Camp Fortune (Pictures. I’ve also got my music fix at both Ottawa Bluesfest (Pictures) and Toronto Beaches Jazzfest (Pictures). Wanna hear a bit more about them, as well as what else I have in store? Well, read on dear friends, otherwise, this opening paragraph and pictures gives you a pretty good idea what’s been going on!

Aaaaah Summer! That magical 2-3 month window of amazing weather in Ottawa, the canal is filled up, people are out and about on bikes, rollerblades, or on foot; wearing shorts and T’s or skirts and tank-tops. People seem generally happy, and the festive atmosphere carries over to all sorts of events! Now obviously I love being outside and doing stuff year round, but you just can’t beat summer for the sights and sounds around us.

First up for my lazy July was Canada Day weekend. I was thrilled when Deanna said she’d be wiling to come up Wednesday night and would stay till Sunday night! It would be our longest visit together and give us the chance to do a bunch of stuff we wanted to together. Starting, growing, and maintaining a relationship with the challenge of distance can be frustrating at times, but long weekends like that make it all worth it 🙂

Apart from Deanna visiting, there were also other friends from out of town visiting. In particular, Tanya and Troy were up for the week, as well as Megan and Karla. I hosted a bbq / party on Friday night to celebrate, but due to a lot of other people having plans, it was a relatively small gathering. However, it didn’t stop Troy and I from staying up late and playing a little muzak like the old days. Other highlights of the weekend included an awesome and beautiful Canada Day, spent downtown on rollerblades, moving from venue to venue. I even managed to get a picture of the Queen waving to Deanna from her car! Hopefully that made Deanna’s nana’s day! To close that day, we did what any true patriotic outdoors-loving Canadian would. We portaged a canoe to put-in downriver of Parliament, then paddled up to enjoy some wine and the stunning fireworks show (no thanks to the patrolling police boats!). It was an absolutely perfect way to finish the day; just the two of snuggled in a Canoe watching the fireworks go off above parliament hill as the water gently lapped at our boat, and we drank some nice red wine.

We also decided to check out the Aerial Park up at Camp Fortune in Gatineau Parc on Saturday. What a hoot that was! Climbing, clamouring, and ziplining our way through the ‘Amazone’ course up there with just the two of us and our ‘guide’. The guide basically stayed below and we had some great banter with him. He clearly was enjoying the fact that it was just two clients and we were more than capable of taking care of ourselves. If you haven’t been up there yet, I’d recommend it. Fun for the whole family, provided their tall enough (I’m guessing!). Judging by the smiles and giggles, I’d say Deanna thoroughly enjoyed it too. Later on, we had a great meal at Shanghai in Chinatown, then spent a really nice lazy day around the house on Sunday. All in all, a near-perfect weekend!

Once I [sadly] sent Deanna back off to Toronto on the train, it was time to start preparing myself mentally for Bluesfest! Yup, as usual, I bought a full pass, and intended to basically camp there for the entire two weeks (apart from the one day that there was no music). It started up on Tuesday the 6th of July, and ran until the 18th. To kick things off, we were treated to Dream Theater and Iron Maiden! Quite and opening night line-up. Obviously, there are sooooo many groups and bands there, I’d get tired typing out everything that caught my interest. There were a number of stand-outs to me though. I’ll list them, but no links. If you’re curious about them, Google is your friend (or Bing, or whatever, I’m not telling you all how to run your lives!).

Some of my top picks (and surely they won’t meet everyone’s tastes):

  • Dream Theater
  • The Flaps vs. The Empircals (head to head ‘battle’)
  • Gipsy Kings
  • Jonas and the Massive Attraction
  • Grupo Fantasma
  • Opensouls
  • John Butler Trio
  • Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  • Caravan Palace
  • Rush
  • The Cat Empire
  • That 1 Guy
  • Woodhands
  • Bill “the Sauce Boss” Wharton
  • The Budos Band
  • Blackburn
  • The Lost Fingers
  • Weezer

Yup, there were obviously tons more that I liked, but those are the ones that got my toes tappin and/or had me dancin’ and screamin’ like a fool. Admittedly, I attended a little less than other years. I had to go home each day after work to take care of Jonah, so I usually missed the first acts of the night, and also headed home early-ish most nights, usually after catching the beginning of the headliners. Also, on the weekends, I was a bit lazy making my way down there too. However, I still felt I got my money’s worth. Also, going any more than a 2-week stretch without Deanna gets me bummed, so I was very glad that she was able to come back for the 2nd weekend. Having some Newfoundland roots, she was pretty keen to catch Great Big Sea, and the show did not disappoint. The self-proclaimed quiet one was clapping her hands wildly and belting along to some of the tunes. After the show, I managed to get us backstage to visit with Kris, and as he was busy chatting with someone else, Alan Doyle strolled over to chat with us for a bit (I’m always a bit star-struck and flattered that he knows me and will just come over to talk). After a bit of chit-chat, I thought to snap a picture of Deanna with him (to make all the super-fans jealous!). While they may look cute together in that picture, I maintain that she and I are even cuter together 🙂

With Bluesfest out of the way for 2010, it was time for a few days of well-deserved recovery (oh, and of course, some training, you didn’t think I’d stop completely did you?). However, the festival-free atmosphere would only last a few days, as the next weekend, it was off to Toronto to stay with Deanna, and also to catch some of the Beaches International Jazzfest. Best part of this festival? Well, it was all free, and all outdoors, so we could come and go as we pleased, and didn’t have to feel bad if we missed any shows! My favourite part of the festival was actually Streetfest. Basically, for 3 nights, they shut down a long stretch of Queen Street east, and bands play outside all along the street. There was a very lenghty roster of bands slated to play, several of which we were keen to check out. Much like Bluesfest doesn’t have an over-abundance of blues, I’d also contend that Jazzfest did not have an over-abundance of Jazz. That’s sort of irrelevant though, as the music was awesome!

Our first goal was heading to the big outdoor venue at Kew Gardens on Saturday afternoon. Forecast wasn’t that hot, so we made it a point to dress and prepare accordingly. Sure enough, as we finally closed in on the stage area, the heavens opened up on us! We couldn’t care less though, and stomping around the grass and beer garden with our rollerblades. We got completely drenched and loved every second of it. We agreed as long as we didn’t start to get cold, it was all good. Apparently, it was raining so hard, that even somedogs had to wear raincoats!

Wait a second… did I say beer garden? Why yes I did! While we didn’t drink much, we did each have a tasty Mill Street Brewery Lemon Tea beer. Now, Deanna will be the first to tell you she does *not* drink beer. Yet, at this festival, as with Bluesfest the week before, I convinced her to drink this beer! This little fact struck me so much that we went and made a video about it! Ok, so the video is pretty terrible. I was sort of on the spot. If I’d realized that I could win a big brewery party with this video, I would have put more effort into a script or something. Ha ha! Either way, that’s us, up on the Inter-webs! At least we got free swag from it. T-Shirts all around 🙂 If you vote for it, we might even be one of the lucky winners!

After Kew Gardens, we headed along the boardwalk to check out some cool latin grooves with steel drums, and tried to find a few geocaches on our way home (mostly unsuccessful as yours truly didn’t have the full information on them). The rain didn’t let up one bit, so we were quite happy to ditch the soggy clothes upon arrival back at Deanna’s apartment. Time for supper. And what did we have? Why breakfast of course. Yum! Bacon and eggs. Fuel up, then headed back out on the blades to catch streetfest, which thankfully was spared the heavy rain. The crowds were back en masse, and we spent about 3 hours up and down Queen checking out some great bands, finishing off with tasty ice creams from the Marble Slab Creamery.

To cap the weekend off, we had made plans to head to Toronto Island and/or go for a long run. As often is the case with our tentative plans, they didn’t happen. However, we *did* manage to make it to our reservations at Canoe, one of the highest-rated restaurants in Canada, located high above the city on the 54th floor of a skyscraper. It was an absolute stunner of a day, so we could see far out into the lake, and enjoyed the views of the Toronto Island airport, the Islands, and the boats as we ate an absolutely scrumptious meal as part of the ‘Summerlicious’ promotion, where they offer a ‘prix-fixe’ menu at prices mortals like us can afford.

After the meal, some more roller-blading to a couple parks where we enjoyed the mini-escapes that you can find within Toronto if you know where to look. Well, that is until an absolutely nutters lady sort of scared us off a park bench with her crazy ranting to imaginary people right behind us. I’m not judging here, I was just worried she might think we were part of the story arc where she exacts her revenge on society!! That’s what I love about life. Never a dull moment if you’re willing to be out there and do things.

So there you have it folks. In a nutshell, some examples of how I *am* human, and do love to just relax and have fun. There’s obviously much more to life than training and racing, and I get the feeling I’ll be doing less of that as time goes on, in order to exchange it for even more rewarding pursuits and activities 😉 There’s just so much to do out there! Hopefully you’re all finding the time to strike out and enjoy the summer as well. This weekend, I’ll be testing my luck once again at a race, but it’s just a short one. Kayak triathlon. And I’ll publicly say it here. I intend to win this one! Hope that doesn’t jinx me 🙂 If it does, I’ll still tell you all about it in my next post! Till then, smile everyone!

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