26. Visit the Grand Canyon

August 2014
Grand Canyon, Arizona

We had to take a detour on our Route 66 road trip to see the Grand Canyon – how could we not?

We camped overnight in the Canyon campgrounds and woke up to watch the sunrise. We were the only people there and it was worth it:

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9. See both ends of Route 66

August 2014
Across the USA

I originally thought that I would just be in Chicago one day and get to take a picture of the sign at that end of the route and call it a day. But this past August, my partner and I actually drove Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, and I’m so glad that we did! We took 8 days to do it, which was a really tight timeline, most people take weeks to do it, so we didn’t get to see everything along the way, but we did get to see a lot of the US that we never would have seen had we taken the interstate. The route starts in downtown Chicago, so we drove about 9 hours just to get to the beginning of route – we started bright and early in the morning, very excited to drive across the US.

IMG_5011Our first stop was in Joliet, Illinois at a Route 66 history museum (most states had at least one, although this was one of the best). Here’s a photo of the route in the museum:

IMG_5022This was the first time we saw the route painted on the road and got excited, so of course we had to take some pictures. Obviously, when you see later pictures, you can tell this is not an official marker, but we didn’t know that at the time
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One of the coolest parts of the route were the original parts of the highway that have been preserved, specifically this section that was made of red brick in Auburn, Illinois:

IMG_5061At some points during our drive, it felt like we were driving from one great food location to the next, I often tell people that we ate our way across America on this road trip. Breakfast of champions? Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in Saint Louis, Missouri (Think of a DQ blizzard, but thicker and more delicious)

IMG_5192There were plenty of random fun things to see, like the water tower in the town of Bourbon, Missouri, the World’s Largest Rocker in Cuba, Missouri (Fun tip: on the first Saturday of August, they rent a lift and people can get their picture taken on the rocker!) or a stop for lunch and choose from 100s of sodas at Pop’s in Arcadia, Oklahoma

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IMG_5265 IMG_5448In between Oklahoma and Texas, Route 66 takes a really quick detour through the southeast corner of Kansas, specifically through the town of Galena, where we got saw the familiar ‘face’ (especially to kids!) of Mater from the movie Cars.

IMG_5320Joel also got say, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” Possibly the biggest highlight of the trip so far…

Next came Texas, thankfully Route 66 goes across the panhandle, because Texas would be a BIG state to drive all the way across (especially after driving across Oklahoma). We added our mark to Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo and (finally!) arrived at the midpoint cafe at the halfway point of the Route in Adrian, Tx

IMG_5531 IMG_5557Back to delicious food – In Albuquerque, New Mexico we had the BEST meal from El Modelo, followed by drinks in Old town where we got to watch a wicked thunderstorm roll in over the mountains

And then came Arizona. Possibly the most scenic part of the route, partly because we don’t have red deserts in Canada and they never stopped being cool – I think I took 100s of photos of random rock formations as we drove through the state. We also saw the biggest diversity of scenery in Arizona, from desert, to flat lands, to forest (mostly because we detoured up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon – check out that post here). One of the other highlights from our drive across Arizona was driving through the painted desert, unfortunately the photos don’t do it justice at all. The red, yellow, orange, blue, purple, white and grey layers of the rock was really cool to see

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DSCF5830The hidden gem (literally hidden up a mountain) of the route was the old mining town of Oatman, Arizona. It is a one (dirt) road town, with wooden boardwalks and an old ‘western movie town’ feel. In terms of the town, there is not much to do or see once you’re there, except of course the burros (aka Donkeys). They wander the town and are pretty much pets, tourists can buy food for them at every store. The moment we drove into town we were met by this guy:

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IMG_5928 Yes… Joel is petting a burro.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in Oatman, because the main restaurant was closed and it was lunchtime, so we toured around and then headed back down into the Mojave Desert… At high noon and saw the highest temperature on my cars display I’ve ever seen (and will probably ever see).

IMG_5943After a long detour around some road work, over the Arizona/California border and quick stop in Needles, California, we were finally in the last state on our road trip and oh so close to the end of the route. After restful evening in Pasadena, we ended the Route 66 road trip in Santa Monica, California – Where I originally saw the ‘End of the Trail’ sign that made me want to see the Chicago end and led to this super awesome trip across the middle of the United States.
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25. Run a 5k

June 21, 2013
Toronto, Ontario

Yup. I ran a 5K race. Definitely something I honestly never thought I would do, I’ve always known that running is absolutely not my thing. I have had friends try to get me to do races with them, and I usually just chuckled, shook my head and told them I’d be happy to cheer them on from the sidelines.

However, running became my mom’s thing in 2013 and she really wanted to run a 5K. When she came to visit for her 49th birthday, it just so happened that there was a Color Me Rad run in Toronto. So, I figured it would be a good way to kick off her 50th year by crossing something off her bucket list. The things you do for family, right?

before
Color Me Rad, for those of you who may not know what it is, is a 5K run (not really a race) where at certain points along the route, people throw brightly coloured powder at you and you end up covered in a mess of colours. Like this:

after
Did we run the whole route? Nope. We walked some of it (although less than I thought we would!) and that’s totally okay because we had fun, despite the fact that right as the photo above was taken, the sky opened and poured rain on us. Check that off my bucket list, but more importantly, off of my moms!



18b. Cooking Class #2: Knife Skills at the Culinary Studio

January 2014
Kitchener, ON

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Kitchener Ontario is not the most glamorous or exotic location, and definitely not one of the locations I was thinking I would take a cooking class when I added this to my bucket list. I believe that knife skills are one of the key things all people who love to cook should learn. This class was a Christmas gift for my partner (another person who loves to be in the kitchen) and we spent the majority of the evening learning how to hold the knife properly and chopping, dicing and slicing.

IMG_4252 The evening included a yummy dinner and although we didn’t actually cook, it was definitely a good learning experience. I still think about and use what I learned every time I’m in the kitchen. Now we just need a collection of really great knives!


24. Climb Coit Tower

December 2012
San Francisco, California

towerrrtower

I like to climb things. Take a look at my list and you’ll see that there’s a lot of climbing involved. Part of it is the physical challenge. The other (more important) part is the view from the top is often worth all the effort getting there, and then some.

at top

Coit Tower was not so much a physical challenge as one in patience, we ended up waiting in line with all the other tourists for the semi-shakey elevator ride to the top because the stairs were closed the day we went. But the view was worth the wait – and for the first time ever, the California weather cooperated! Without further ado, San Francisco from above:

view

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view

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5b. Graduate University… Again

Masters of Arts
University of Guelph
October 2012

Four years ago I graduated university with a Bachelor of Arts. In September, after countless drafts, 4 years, 3 committees, 2 advisors and a one year leave of absence – I finally defended my Masters thesis. And in October I got to walk across the stage for a second time, this time an MA graduate.

I think, last time, I said it was something along the lines of being anti-climatic… Besides wearing more reasonable shoes (here’s looking at you wedges – stillettos at convocation were so undergrad), this time was no different.  Once again, I don’t remember walking across the stage, although I do know there were less stairs this time around

I would never have made it to this day without the support of my friends and family – The ones who were there on the big day:

  My amazing mentors and friends,

the best advisor a student could ever ask for,

and my friends

And those of you who wanted to be there but couldn’t… Well, this one’s for you:

I did it :)

And I love you all
xox


23. Go to a Broadway show in NYC

August 2012
New York, New York

I think this is a must do on a lot of people’s bucket lists, I mean… It’s Broadway!

One of my summer bucket list items was to go to NYC. Actually, it was to road trip to NYC, but that would have cost about the same as flying and we would have lost 2 days of our weekend in travel. So, when my friend Alex and I went to NYC this past August, we flew :).  And it really was the best decision. So obviously, while in NYC, you have to go to at least one show. We had a list of a couple we knew we’d like to see and decided to leave it up to fate and get our tickets last minute at the TKTS booth in Times Square. And it actually worked out really well, we got really great seats for EVITA super cheap!

We were on the big screen in Times Square while waiting in line for our tickets!

EVITA was awesome! It was playing at the Marquis theatre, which was huge. And it was so great! The costumes and the songs and everything was just amazing!

Did I mention that  Ricky Martin was in it?? 

Yup. He was pretty awesome too!

We were THIS close to him

Next time I go back to NYC I’ll definitely see another show, and more than likely get my ticket through the TKTS booth again. Our tickets cost about $80 each, which is still a lot, but our exact seats at the same time the next weekend (without Ricky Martin performing because he was going on vacation) cost a whopping $288 each! So, while it may not necessarily always be super inexpensive tickets, it’s definitely cheaper than buying them through ticketmaster.

Every time I go to a show, I remember how much I enjoy theatre and wish I went more often. Toronto’s theatre scene is great: there are tons of great musicals and plays and shows happening all the time, but I never go! I’m definitely planning to make more of an effort to go, especially since there are always seat sales and deals :)

 


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