Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Simple times with Simple Plan

You know you have one of the best jobs in the world when going to a Simple Plan concert qualifies as work! Last week, the band kicked off their Canadian tour in Penticton (just south of Kelowna) and I got to attend. It wasn't so much to interview the band themselves (their plane got in late so they had to cancel our interview) but because a choir with some local kids were going to sing on stage with them.

I am not the biggest Simple Plan fan, I'll be the first to admit that. I like a few of their songs but I don't have their CDs or anything. Nevertheless, I was VERY excited to see them live. And I have to say, they definitely left a good impression in my mind.

The band had lots of energy and tried to get the crowd up and dancing. They also said the right things to the tons of teenage girls in the crowd such as, "I want a Penticton girlfriend!" and "Who wants to go to the beach with me? I have a tendency to get naked." Obviously these types of comments elicited shrills and screams from the teenie boppers and despite the slight cheesiness of their crowd interactions, I found myself smiling in spite of myself.

I remember when Simple Plan came out and everyone called them Sum 41 wannabes. So they have been around for a while. If anything, I would have been their target market when they first came out. So it was surprising to look around and see these 13/14/15 year olds screaming their lungs off for the band. It's not like this band is new but the crowd was sure acting like they were. I think I wrote a tweet about that with the hashtag #asyougetolder.

The choir eventually made their way to the stage and they really weren't up there for that long. Maybe 45 seconds to 1 minute, tops. They only sang five words and the sang the same five words twice and while I wasn't completely impressed because I thought they would have been on the stage for longer, the girls in the choir who I talked to after the song were in complete awe of their time in the spotlight. Oh well, whatever works.

Snow, snow and more snow!

My sister wanted to experience a B.C. ski hill during her trip so I took her for a two-day trip to Big White. Amazingly, the day we were there was when 13 cm of fresh powder fell on the mountain (!!) and I was beside myself.

I had never gone cross country skiing before so we decided to give that a try in the morning. Besides waiting 20 minutes for my sister to actually put her boots into the skis (gah), it was quite a pleasant trip to pave our way into the fresh snow. I hadn't known there were all these cross country trails at the base of Big White. It was a beautiful day with just the right amount of wind and sun and I worked up quite a sweat!

Maybe I'm used to boarding but I had quite a difficult time with the cross country skis. I couldn't get a good groove going until later that day and (to my surprise) my sister beat me the entire way through. That was embarrassing.

Later that day, we decided we wanted to tackle the 60 foot ice climbing tower. It was essentially a giant slab of ice. I think I went first and I was a little nervous because I had never really climbed before, let alone climbed on ice. I got these huge ice picks and I guess the main thing in ice climbing is trusting your ice pick. Apparently it could catch onto any bit of ice but it's whether you trust it to hold you and stay there that will determine if you can pick your way to the top. It sounds weird because I would rather know that my ice pick is deep into the ice than just trust that it is but whatever, it seemed to work.

It was pretty grueling because there was a lot of arm strength needed and I had to maneuver my way around icicles and up and around random juts of ice but after about 15 minutes, I made my way to the top! Best of all, there was a cow bell at the top that I got to ring!

Also, what could possibly be more beautiful than a super colourful sunset seen from the ski hills?

Vancouver food beware

I think it's pretty obvious I like to eat. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love everything about food. When my sister came to visit me, we started our trip off in Vancouver. I had been to Vancouver a couple times already and not to say I've seen everything, but I really just wanted to eat while I was there. Kelowna isn't a bustling food city so I needed to take advantage and boy did we.

The Eatery is a Japanese sushi pub near UBC. It's clearly a student place but the sushi rolls were so much fun! They had sweet names and were pretty creative.

Yum! I know it's not natural sushi by any means but it was so good! We were perhaps super hungry by this point but they were still really tasty.

What are the chances we get off the bus and see La Taquiera? It was on my list of restaurants to try in Vancouver. They had a list of tacos on their blackboard and they had specials on the side. While the specials looked good, I couldn't resist the ones on the blackboard.

I believe we had fish tacos and then I had a beef cheek taco and one with beef in a chocolate mole sauce. So yummy!

Muira Waffle House sells savoury and seet (wait for it) waffle sandwiches!

We got a traditional breakfast sandwich with eggs and ham but their Asian inspired waffle sandwiches are so much better! This is a bulgogi waffle sandwich. Not only is there bulgogi in between the waffles, there is bulgogi IN the waffle! The savoury balanced out the sweetness of the waffle. I would kill to have another one!

Afghan Horseman was supposedly the first Afghani restaurant in all of Canada. The restaurant was fairly small but was pretty packed while we were there.

I got this awesome dish with lamb and curried cauliflower, spinach, potatoes and this sweet rice that had carrots and raisins on top. It was very flavourful and very colourful and so good!

This was our appetizer at the Afghan Horsemen. It was similar to a Chinese onion pancake but substitute potato inside and then add a yogurt on top. Pretty yummy.

Grounds for Coffee is a cafe close to UBC. They have these super gooey and chewy cinnamon buns. My cinnamon bun was a little too cinnamon-y while my sister's was not cinnamon-y enough, however I still give them major props for making cinnamon buns with a crisp exterior. Usually I find cinnamon buns too soft but this one had character!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Walking around Calgary

I had been forewarned Calgary is freaking cold! But fortunately for me, there was a chinook while we were there so I didn't face -40C temps, it was more like 0C. Yeah for me!

My second day there kicked off with lots of walking around. I think after Kelowna, I was just stoked to be back in a city with actual skyscrapers, with busy roads, with a public transportation, etc. I loved being able to walk everywhere and take the bus or the C-train to get around. I think I just miss proper city life sometimes.

That's besides the point right now however! I went to Stephen Avenue Walk, which is supposed to be the historic part of Calgary. I suppose historic really just means some cobblestones and old-ish looking buildings. But the reality is this was where the shopping was. My friend I walked into what we thought was one store but lo and behold! Calgary is connected by a tunnel system because sometimes it does get that cold where you don't want to go outside and be exposed to the elements. And what do they line these tunnels with? Shops. Thank you Calgary!

Here are a few snapshots of my meandering around Calgary:

The Chinook Centre - ah-mah-zing mall! I didn't have much time here but oh if I did, I would give that 5% HST a run for its money.

The Stampede! Hopefully I'll get a chance to go this year.

17th Avenue - a cute area with lots of nice boutiques and restaurants

Inglewood - When I first heard about Inglewood, I couldn't help but think about LA's Inglewood...which you don't really go to if you don't have to. But this Inglewood is more about antique shops and boho stores.

Looking towards downtown Calgary

And that's a C-train speeding past me

Wait, you don't have dinosaur skeletons at your mall? Weird.

New Year adventures

I can't believe it's already February! And it's almost halfway through February! Where is the time going?? I feel like time has flown by the last few weeks but that may be in part to all the small trips I've taken recently.

The year kicked off with a trip to Calgary to meet up with a high school friend. I think I had been to Calgary once when I was younger but those trips you take when you're super small don't really count because you don't actually remember anything. Anyway, so this was technically my first real trip to Calgary. This is the first thing I saw when I stepped off the plane and walked into the Calgary airport:

I don't even know what it was but I was like, oh Calgary, we are going to have a good time! Meanwhile, the second thing I saw in Calgary the next morning was a cop car zooming off somewhere. I'm always looking for the news, no matter where I am:

The first day we took a trip to Banff. The drive there was beautiful! I mean, I live by mountains in Kelowna but these were stellar! Snow-capped tops and just endless rows of mountains. I don't think I can live in a place without mountains or water now.

So we make it to Banff and headed to the ski hills. I had recently boarded in Kelowna and had always heard things about Banff so I wanted to compare the two. My friend and I went to Norquay and the runs there were not as long as I thought they would be. At the time, the powder was better in Banff but that's only because Kelowna still hadn't had a proper snow dump so the snow at Big White was bleh.

I'm in a snowboard phase right now where I just really want to get better. It's only something I used to do every once in a while but now I want to be super good at it and I want to be consistent about it. So whereas before I was like, eh I'm not doing this right, whatever. Now, I'm like, let's do this properly and I'm really pushing myself to get better.

After a physically exerting day on the hill (and very little to eat that day), I was ready for a full meal and what better way to be full than to get steak? We went to a nice steakhouse in town and I got a steak and (wait for it) lobster mashed potatoes. The latter BLEW MY MIND! I'm salivating just thinking about it right now.

So we're tired, we're stuffed...time to hit the hot springs! There are some natural hot springs in Banff so we capped off the night with a dip in the hot spring. I was thinking it was going to be a hot spring smack in the middle of the forest with rocks around it, you know, really nature-y. Unfortunately they just funnel the water into a pool pretty much. Don't get me wrong, it was lovely and it was the perfect way to soothe the muscles but I was expecting a bit more...nature decor I suppose.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Canada-US border

It's funny what can happen when you miss a turn. A few weeks back, I had to head down to Osoyoos for a structure fire. Osoyoos is a small town near the US border and I had been maybe one other time but I wasn't too familiar with it.

My cameraman and I were driving on the main highway (there really is only one main highway in this part of BC) and we were looking for 12th Street. I was looking around for it but then it suddenly came up and we missed it. Not a big deal right? We figured we would just take the next turn and head back. But lo and behold! Who figured the next turn would be the border crossing?!

It was pretty hilarious, especially considering that I didn't have my passport. We had to pull a U-turn right before the crossing and then headed back up the block to where the structure fire was. I can't believe I was so close, so close!! So close yet so far because customs doesn't like me. It's so funny that there is this imaginary line that separates the two countries yet there is such a divide because of that crossing and the customs agent. It was such a wonderful, random surprise! It totally made my day :)

Santa to a Senior

A couple years ago, I learned about a program called Santa to a Senior. The program gives Christmas presents to seniors who live alone and who may not have family around. It pretty much broke my heart to think about seniors sitting by themselves on Christmas Day without anything special to mark the holiday season.

The program puts the request of seniors on these little tags and then the tags decorate special Christmas trees that are set up in partnering retail shops. The tags read simple items like scarves, chocolates and ornaments. As soon as I found out Kelowna had a program, I wanted to get involved. And you know what? It was probably the most fun I had buying presents. I had a blast going around shopping for the seniors and getting them the best of the simple things like razors and pens. I decided I wasn't going to skimp out on these seniors, no they were going to get the best or most special looking presents.

Later I got to do a story with one of the partnering agencies, Meal on Wheels, as they handed out the presents to the seniors. Omigosh, I melted. One man was just so enthusiastic and was grinning ear to ear when the volunteer gave him his present. They're just so grateful to know that somebody cares, that somebody was willing to take the time to make sure they felt special on Christmas. I think the story turned out well and I can only hope it encourages other people to get involved in not only programs like this one but other programs that help the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

About Me

Originally from Canada. Transplanted to LA. Lived and worked in Kentucky, Toronto, now Kelowna and who knows where next! Let the adventures begin!