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Minneapolis and Northern Wisconsin- Day 2

Sat. Aug. 20, 2016:
Chetek, WI driving to Bayfield, WI

I woke up at 8am but decided to keep sleeping until it was actually time to wake up, I slept right up until the alarm clock went off. It felt so good to have slept almost 12 hours. It was so nice to have our breakfast delivered to our door, effectively we ended up having breakfast in bed. The blueberry loaf was delicious, there was also an indeterminate muffin (we have no idea what flavour it was, it was just a muffin). The coffee and fruits were just what I needed. We watched the triathlon event in the Olympics but the American announcers were unbearable. When Brent got distracted by his computer I changed the channel to TLC. I much preferred watching Say Yes To The Dress. When we checked out we were given cookies for the road. I was in love with the Canoe Bay resort.

As we drove it rained lightly and constantly, it was annoying because they were calling for rain all day. A red tail hawk flew by over head, I could tell because I saw the tail spread out. It was the closest I had ever seen one. We drove by a lot of little lakes. The rain was getting even more annoying as it would stop at times, giving me false hope, and then start up again. We stopped at a liquor and fudge (such a weird combination) store. The selection was limited, they only had one craft cider and it was oddly enough from Seattle.

We were staying at the Old Rittenhouse Inn in Bayfield, Wisconsin. It was nice because if no one had checked in yet, they allowed you to explore the house and check out the other rooms. We had an afternoon cruise around the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior planned but it was still raining. Thankfully the boat was covered so it wouldn’t be an issue. For lunch we did not have enough time to go out, so we stayed in and ate hint of jalapeno Tostitos and I had a cider. There was no TV in the room, only a whirlpool tub. We watched Murder On A Sunday Morning on the laptop, but I must admit I kept drifting off to sleep. The cider probably was not helping my sleepy self.

The cruise ended up being three and a half hours long but it was awesome. We tried sitting on the open deck up top but soon the rain got to be too much and we bailed and went downstairs. But not before, unexpectedly, seeing some bald eagles sitting in a tree. I took a picture and zoomed in to confirm, because all we saw were little white blobs on a tree. The islands further out were really interesting, there were caves that had formed underneath Devil’s Island and there were fresh rock collapses as well. Further out, away from the sheltered inlet, the water was much choppier with huge waves tossing us around. It was about this time that I started to think that their policy of allowing passengers to bring their own alcohol aboard the ship was the not the best idea. I could feel the cider sloshing around in my belly and I was afraid I would get sick. Popcorn and peanut M&Ms helped make me feel better. On the way back we saw a bald eagle flying overhead.

We had dinner at a restaurant one block from our hotel. Maggie’s was flamingo-themed as far as the eye could see. We were told it would be a 20 minute wait so we sat at the bar, they had a summer shandy on tap that Brent had wanted to try. A lady a few seats down from us was hammered and she face-planted off her stool. It was not even 9pm yet. All told the wait was less than 10 minutes, a nice surprise when you are voraciously hungry. I had the all-American cheeseburger with applewood smoked bacon and cheddar. It was ok, but not outstanding. It was better than Brent’s thin crust pizza with chicken and brie. The only ciders they had on the menu were the fake kind with juice so I got a cocktail instead. As I was sipping my bright blue Lake Superior margarita I saw that they had a Pink Flamingo cocktail with pink lemonade! I had messed up but I could not handle a second cocktail, I was way too full. I was even too full for dessert.

It was still raining but luckily it was literally a two minute walk back to the hotel. The shower made me mad, it was impossible to figure out. Apparently you had to push up on the bathtub faucet to change it to shower. We watched the end of the Tragically Hip’s final performance as I caught up on writing in my notebook. It was nice that the CBC did not block the content geographically.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2016 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel

 

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Minneapolis and Northern Wisconsin- Day 1

Fri. Aug. 19, 2016:
Toronto flying to Minneapolis, MN, driving to Chetek, WI

We had to leave the house at 5:45am, the subway was not yet running and I highly doubted that there would be an available Uber driver so we took a cab to Pearson airport. It’s really too bad that Porter doesn’t fly to Minneapolis. Red Bull was not the best choice of morning drink, it was just not as satisfying as a nice cup of coffee.

Once again there was an incredibly long line-up at security at Pearson. You would think we had learned our lesson last year when we flew to Seattle. It was much the same kind of mess. There were at least three different lines all bottle-necking. We saw a basketball player (insert name) in line, it was funny to see his head bobbing above the crowd. We managed to catch up to him at customs and we got ahead of some people who had been in front of us at security.

The carrot orange muffin I had for breakfast an odd flavour combination. And because I had eaten it when we first got in line, by the time we cleared customs I was hungry again. Once again our gate was in the far-away-from-everything-else section of Terminal 1, where you pass signs saying it’s still a 10 minute walk to your gate, that you are passing the last convenience store, etc. Once again the waiting area was crammed because that space is too small for how many gates they have crammed in there. It was giving me flashbacks to our Hartford nightmare.

Thankfully our flight was on time with no delays. During the flight I had fallen asleep and been scared awake by the drink service, when he asked me what I would like I mumbled coffee. He laughed and said that was exactly what he thought I would order. He told me to flag him down at any time for more refills. I downed the coffee and went right back to sleep. All was well until we landed, we found out  that Brent’s card had been frozen when we tried to get our rental car- thankfully I had mine. Check-in at our hotel was not until 3pm and it was only 10:30am, we had a lot of time to kill. As we drove to Chetek, Wisconsin we made a few pit stops along the way.

We stopped at Wal-Mart to stock up on snacks (weird cucumber lime Gatorade, chocolate chip cookie dough Oreos, French vanilla Milky Way, sweet & sour Haribo gummy worms) as well as some smores Pop Tarts for our day trips. I found some of my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, even though it was a flavour I had tried before: caramel coffee cake. The French vanilla Milky Way may very well be the best chocolate bar in existence and I later regretted not having grabbed them all.

It was nice to listen to the Josh & Chuck of Stuff You Should Know talk about mammoths as we drove. As per usual, we cheered when we crossed the state line: Wisconsin!!

We decided to have Taco Bell for lunch because a podcaster Brent listens to is obsessed with it, maybe it is different in the States and not as bad? It is, it is just as bad. It is a contender for one of the worst lunches I have ever had. And all I had were the beef nachos. If you can call them that, the beef was rubbery and had a very weird consistency. I mostly ate around it. I had a bite of Brent’s two burritos/tacos/whatever –they-were and I was not impressed. It was mostly bland and flavourless. Needless to say I was left hungry, and it was not even noon yet. We drove across the street and I went in to McDonald’s for a second attempt at lunch. The hot and spicy McChicken was ok, but it was not that spicy. I had ordered a caramel mocha latte and was instead handed a caramel mocha frappe, but in the end it’s all about the caffeine.

The sky was grey and threatening to rain. As we drove we passed through really small towns with populations of less than 500 people, some of the towns weren’t even incorporated. We tried to stop at an IGA but it had shut down. I saw a billboard for Valkyrie Brewery and I kept an eye out for it. They had quite a few beers available and the brochure listed a cider and of course that was the one product not currently available. I did have a sip of the hot chocolate beer, it was not to my liking. I grabbed a brochure on the way out about the nearby craft breweries, except they were all south of us. On the map though I could see Chetek and so I knew we were at least close to our destination. Hopefully the rain would stop by then.

On the way to the resort, Canoe Bay, we drove through seemingly the middle of nowhere and just farmland, trees and a few deer. I was looking forward to relaxing, especially because this resort did not allow kids, therefore it would be nothing but peace and quiet. And hopefully no rain. Upon check-in we found out we had gotten a free room upgrade! This place just kept getting better. We were now staying in a small lodge with a fireplace, deck, whirlpool tub and complimentary sodas in the fridge and trail mix! Icing on the cake: we had a great view of the lake and the wi-fi from the main lodge reached us.

Looking around it was very obvious that the architect of the resort had been a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. We went for a walk around the grounds, the rain had finally stopped. We walked through the garden and on some of the trails. The lake had higher than normal water levels and you could see the submerged bridge to the island. There were frogs hanging around the edge of the island and the water. On the trails we passed two small lakes, one was teeming with turtles who could hear us from really far away and would jump off the log and swim away. The forest was full of bugs, constantly buzzing in my ears.

By the time we were on our way back to our lodge the weather had cleared up, the sun came out and it was warm, perfect for a canoe ride on the lake. I am not very good at canoeing and I have terrible balance. Things were only made worse by the fact that my left arm was killing me where I had gotten a tetanus shot a few days ago, and because Brent was sitting backwards in the canoe (i.e.: facing me) I had to paddle backwards which was an unnatural movement. Even still we managed to circle the lake and take in the views and relax. We passed by a loon and some guys fishing. Before heading back in we pulled up to the floating dock and Brent jumped into the lake while I tried to keep the canoe from drifting away.

I had to shower before dinner, but why shower when there is a whirlpool tub? I would have been silly not to. I also resolved to eat all the trail mix and drink all the soda. I still had time before dinner so I cracked a soda and grabbed my book, Spring Chicken, and headed for the deck. It had started raining but there was a roof over part of the deck. Top if off with a delicious chocolate chip Oreo cookie and I was in heaven.

I had high hopes for dinner, so far the resort had been amazing. We already knew what would be for dinner, they display the menu at the front desk because it is a price fixe. On the way to dinner we saw three more deer, one of which was still young. It also made me realize that all of the deer we had seen thus far were female.

Dinner was alright, nothing outstanding. I did enjoy the roasted red pepper corn chowder, so much so that I ate Brent’s as well (he hates soup). The salmon was tasty, but there were so many veggies on the side that I did not like. The real standouts of the dinner were the red wine and the port wine, followed closely by the carrot cake for dessert. It lost points for having pineapple in it. We were surrounded by weirdos at dinner. One lady kept talking to the server about her hair. She later asked for a fork, saying she could not eat her dessert with a spoon. The guy at the other table was talking to the server about upstate New York. He had asked her where she was from. When she mentioned attending the Culinary Institute of America, he started talking about places that were not that close to there. He then proceeded to expound copious knowledge about wine to his partner, even though she did not seem to care much. At dinner Brent joined the ranks of the weirdos when he asked me if he had ordered a beer, a beer and a wine and called himself a BBW, what I would do. I dryly said I would leave him, making him laugh.

By the end of the evening I was so tired and achy that I was in bed before 10pm. Adding to the tiredness was knowing that I would have to be up before 9am, as breakfast was to be delivered to our room between 9 and 9:30am.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel

 

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I Was Expecting So Much More

Cumbrae’s had recently been voted best sausage, thus I had high expectations from such a high quality meat shop. The breakfast sausage failed to impress and fell flat. I don’t know what went wrong. The smoked turkey we bought for sandwiches was amazing. I would go back and try some of the other sausages but they were far too expensive to justify it. They also only had them in 4 packs in the freezer sectino and the selection was limited. Maybe it was the location? Maybe I shouldn’t go to the one on Church St next time? *shrug*

 

Well That Was Weird…

A while ago we had tried to go to Eative in Kensington Market but it was closed. I was not going to risk another disappointment. This time we would go there on our way to dinner, rather than after. Eative did not disappoint. I had heard that nitro ice cream was the current summer trend and I can totally see why that is. It was fun to watch them make it as the steam (smoke? I don’t know) billowed out and over the counter. It tasted amazing and the sorbet took much longer to melt (which was great given the heatwave).

For dinner we were going to Home of the Brave. I had seen it on Instagram and I had to go there. What’s not to love about American comfort food? I didn’t even know that it was run by the same guys who started La Carnita and then later Sweet Jesus. The Kentucky handshake sandwich sounded so good, fried chicken with spicy mayo! Brent warned me that it had a foot sticking out of it, I thought it would barely be peeking out and made edible. I did not expect an entire chicken leg sticking far out from my sandwich. It was hilarious and but for a brief moment unnerving. The sandwich came with a knife stabbed down into the center. Clearly this was to cut off the leg. I did try to cut some meat off, but there was barely anything and all I got was a bit of crispy skin. Brent had the ribs, they were OK but nothing outstanding. The sandwich was the clear winner of the two but the spicy coleslaw that came with the ribs was a close second. The actual real winners of the dinner were the drinks and the dessert. The Colonist cocktail was amazing and so refreshing.

There was no way we were going to pass up an ice cream concoction from Sweet Jesus. The offerings at Home of the Brave however seemed limited compared to what I remembered at Sweet Jesus. Eventually I caved to temptation and we split a marshmallow-chocolate swirl adorned with potato chips. It was wacky but oh-so-delicious and just what I needed. It was a good thing we got our ice cream at the restaurant instead of from Sweet Jesus because as we walked by the line was really long. Those suckers, they could have had an amazing cocktail while they waited for their ice cream instead of standing in line!!

 

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Middle-of-The-Week-Weekender: Boston Edition Day 2

Wed. July 27, 2016:
Boston, MA flying to Toronto

I had set my alarm for 8:45am, except I snoozed it until 8:50am at which point I changed it to 9:00am. The Boston MFA did not open until 10:00am and the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum did not open until 11:00am, both of which were a half hour walk from the hotel. I was so paranoid about forgetting which room we were in, I had to know it when I said I was checking out. I’m usually the one packing the car while Brent checks out.

My day did not start in earnest until I was reunited with the love of my life: Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. The guy looked at me questioningly when I ordered. I am not sure if it was because I ordered a hot coffee (it was literally 30C outside, without the humidex) or because I wanted blueberry flavour shot in it. I was tempted by the donuts but the damn caloric information on the label is so discouraging. It was nice to be a part of the morning rush and I could totally imagine this being a daily occurrence for me if I lived somewhere with a Dunkin’ Donuts. While I was there I grabbed some ground coffee, even though there were no wacky flavours and I had to settle for hazelnut (it beats not having any coffee). I did not want to risk not being able to find any the rest of the day. I did stop in at CVS and I was right: there was no Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to be found. Not even any wacky Oreos or Skittles.

It was a short walk over to the museum but it was already getting unbearably hot outside and it was just after 10:00am. Before going in I double checked my notebook to verify what I had seen last time. Turns out we had seen more than I remembered; I recognized a few rooms from before. Three of the four special exhibit rooms were closed. I took the extra time to revisit the Impressionists, so beautiful and I could just stare at them all day long.  They evoke a certain calm and peacefulness. It was nice to see a piece by Sam Taylor-Wood that I had studied a long time ago as an art student. On my way out I noticed a sign for a special exhibit on the third floor. I was ready to skip it, we had done the whole third floor. I back-tracked and was really glad I had. The exhibit was about modern art and exceeded my expectations. One room pitted Picasso against Pollock, who overlapped as contemporaries for a short time. They even had two TV screens showing both artists at work, each painting on a pane of glass as if on the camera lens. Never in a million years would I have thought to look at both artists side by side, and yet here it was an entire room dedicated to it. Mind blown.

Through the revolving door into the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum I found myself in a lobby full of people with little semblance of a line. I went in a bit further, to keep from blocking the door and I inadvertently cut the line. No one said anything, no one pointed me to the end of the line. It was only when more people came and in were confused that the situation came to light. It was too late for me now. I had committed to it. Needless to say I felt awkward the whole time I stood in line. The feeling soon passed as I was engrossed with the museum. It was incredible!!!

The museum had been established in the early 20th century and featured grand architecture, a gorgeous courtyard and so many lush and wonderful plants. Alas, the second floor was closed for renovation and only a few items had been displayed in the new space above the visitor entrance. The top highlights were definitely the books. One still had a chain attached and two had heavy wooden covers with latches and pedestals for resting the book open (they elevated the cover so that it would be easy to close and it prevented fingers from getting smashed if the cover fell open). I must admit, I really wanted to touch the books and flip the parchment pages.

I finished both museums in far less time than I had budgeted for the day. What was I to do now? At the Boston MFA there was wi-fi and I had looked up how far the Primark was from our hotel (where we were meeting after Brent’s meeting finished). It was an hour long walk from the museums though. On the way I stopped at Au Bon Pain for a late breakfast and some more coffee. Sitting on the patio in the shade, I had a chance to catch up writing in my notebook. The breakfast bagel I had ordered was a total fail. It had egg instead of egg whites, and little to no discernible cheese. The outside of the bagel was somehow greasy. It was a disaster.

The heat was becoming unbearable, people were playing in the fountains outside the Christian science place we had walked by last time. As I approached the Prudential Centre mall I saw Marble Slab and it was like an oasis off in the distance- except it sparked a memory instead of providing a cool treat. There was a Ben & Jerry’s around the other corner from our hotel (see? Our hotel was awesome). I went into the mall both to cool down and to do some shopping. I was tempted by the banana-themed wares at Kate Spade but I could not justify replacing my hedgehog wallet (I get too many compliments on it) and $68USD for a t-shirt seemed ludicrous. The Aritizia sale proved to be just as disappointing. I came away empty handed. At least I had used the wi-fi and found an H&M just down the street from the Primark. There was still hope for the shirt I had been hunting back when we were in England.

It may have taken me on a one-block detour but it was so worth it to have ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s. There is nothing better on a +30C degree day than a scoop of Phish Food ice cream- even if it had started melting before I even left the shop. I was tempted to change it up and get a different flavour, I sampled the Bourbon Brown Butter but it just was not as good. Phish Food is a staple.

As I walked I saw an H&M, stupid Google Maps had totally missed this one. Alas, there was no sign of my shirt. I did find the black maxi skirt with flowers that I wanted but it wasn’t in my size. I left mildly heartbroken and drowned my sorrows next door in PINK. Finally my shopping trip was starting to turn around. I found a nice coral bandeau, the last one and in my size too!

I was following screen shots of maps and written directions in trying to get from our hotel to Primark. I knew it was just south of Boston Commons. I got confused when I saw a cemetery where I expected to see the park. I could see the park on the next street over, but my directions appeared to be sending me in that direction so I continued. Somehow I wound up in Chinatown. Thankfully I remembered seeing it on the map as being directly south of where I was trying to go. As I headed up a street I saw a familiar landmark, the theatre I had been staring at last time while waiting for Brent on the corner. I managed to get to my destination in the end! Success!

I stopped in at Macy’s and found a few dresses. I also learned that American Rag clothes are not designed for normal body types. Nothing fit me, it was just awful. By the jewellery counter I was tempted by Kate Spade jewellery but once again I could not justify it. I was tempted to get Levi’s jeans because they were on sale. But the idea of trying to squeeze into jeans put me off.

I was filled with hope as I approached Primark. But just like in England, everything was either polyester or it fit horribly. I did end up finding one shirt and a cute bucket purse. What I have learned is that Primark is really only good for cheap purses. Even the cashier commented on how cute the purse is. She said she could not use a purse that small and that she carries too much stuff. I laughed and pointed at my travel bag and my pink Kate Spade purse. I looked like a camel loaded down with my baggage. Once again H&M did not have either the shirt or the dress. This time I have truly given up.

Walking back was exhausting. I was going at a snail’s pace. My bags were getting heavy and I was walking facing the sun and it was unbearably hot. I was so dehydrated and my legs were dead. I wanted to walk through the park but there was a lady sitting on a bench yelling at people so I stuck to the street. She was calling everyone zombies. A block away from the hotel I stopped at a bar to see the menu, but there were no interesting ciders on tap. I went into 7Eleven to check out the candy selection. And then when I got to the hotel I regretted not having gotten a Slurpee. I lasted maybe 5 minutes waitng outside the hotel. I looked at my clock and realized we were meeting between 5:00pm and 5:15pm. I went to Dunkin’ Donuts to get their version of a Slurpee. Their version of TimBits looked so sad and pathetic. Standing by the hotel, sipping my bright blue drink I was exhausted. I had walked 19.36km. Halfway through the drink I regretted having gotten it. It was so sweet and so big, I no longer cared that they did not have the sour apple flavour and that I had to settle for blue raspberry. I half-regretted not having gotten the Heath bar iced coffee. What would that even entail?

It suddenly occurred to me that I was standing outside the hotel, still within range of the wi-fi. Boredom solved. As soon as I got Pokemon Go to work Brent showed up. Our hotel was a pokestop but it had been geo-tagged on the other corner, diagonally away from where I was standing, as in too far away to register. We walked back to where Brent had his meeting because there were cabs queued up there. When we got there we could not find a cab, so we walked to a nearby hotel and finally I got to sit down in the cab. My legs were throbbing at this point.  For a while we were stuck in traffic but I was too tired to care.

We got to the airport and there was no line-up at the ticket agent and only a short line at security. We did not have a lot of time before boarding, only about 30 minutes. We went to the only food option, a sit-down restaurant for dinner. We got a large table, assuming that Brent’s business people would see us and join us. They did not see us and sat elsewhere. I had the Boston Tea Party Cocktail with iced tea. It was so refreshing after a long day in the heat. I also finally got my clam chowder fix. The service was slow. When Brent asked for the cheque I went ahead to the bathroom and we would meet by the gate. I got to the gate and they started general boarding. Pretty soon the lounge was empty. I started to wonder if Brent had boarded without me? Then the rest of his co-workers showed up- and also waited. I was about ready to get on the plane and he got there just in time, as they were about to do a final boarding call. On the flight they said it was raining in Toronto. How was I supposed to hunt Pokemon?! When we landed there was a giant puddle, almost a small lake, on the tarmac. Apparently it had rained really hard before we landed. We had to wait almost 30 minutes on the plane as a previous flight had been delayed and only arrived when we did.

 

Middle-of-The-Week-Weekender: Boston Edition Day 1

Tues. July 26, 2016:
Toronto flying to Boston, MA

A few weeks prior Brent had mentioned that he would be flying to Boston on business. A few days later he said that the Red Sox just so happen to be playing the night that he was staying there- it totally made sense for us to go, plus I would be able to finish off the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum which Brent had already seen. It was settled, we would have a middle-of-the-week mini-vacation.

Our vacation just happened to be a few days (weeks?) after the release of Pokemon Go in Canada. The whole ride down to the Billy Bishop Airport I was desperately trying to hit as many pokestops as I could, we were driving through St. James town, one of the most populated pokestops areas in the city. Once we were in the airport lounge however there was nothing even remotely close in Pokemon Go and so I was stuck in the real world instead. At least I had a chance to figure out how the complimentary snacks and drinks in the Porter lounge work. I grabbed a cup of tea and a bowl of snack mix. On the flight we were offered wine or beer, but it was way too early in the day for that, it was barely noon! There was no TV in the seatback because we were on a small plane for a short flight. I had not packed a book as I wanted to travel light and so I instead opted for listening to my podcasts- which really sucks when they make you take your headphones out for takeoff and landing.

Our taxi from the airport left much to be desired. It smelled like gasoline and he routinely almost slammed into cars in front of us. We managed to get to the Lenox Hotel in one piece thankfully. Our hotel this time around was approximately a thousand times better than the last time we visited Boston. By the time we had checked in and dropped our bags I was quite hungry. There was a Shake Shack around the corner and I had not had Shake Shack in years, there was no way I was going to pass that up. The plan was originally to get it to and eat them while walking but looking at the burgers and the alcohol menu, it did not make sense. The burgers were massive a-la Burger Priest in Toronto and needed to be eaten at a table. I had the Shake Stack which had a Portobello mushroom atop the burger patty. In the hotel I had flipped through a magazine listing the best of Boston and one that stood out was the best cider which they claimed was from Down East Cider Co. And wouldn’t you know it, Shake Shack had it on offer. It was kismet. The cider was incredible and lived up to the hype (our server also said it was amazing). We had our drinks while we waited for our burgers. Except when Brent went to pick up our tray of food they had poured him another beer. As brent had his second beer I went back and ordered a frozen custard, the flavour of the week was cheesecake with raspberry sauce. It was ok, but paled in comparison to the burger which was outstanding.

As we ate we looked up the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The plan had been to walk over and finish the museum before heading to Fenway Park for the baseball game. We had not planned it out any more than that. Turns out we should have because the Boston MFA closes at 5, and we had planned to be there from 4:30 to just after 6pm. No worries, we had a backup plan. We would just go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum up the road. This plan also failed as the museum is closed on Tuesdays. Rather than go back to the hotel we went to the Boston Public Library which I had wanted to see last time we were in Boston but it had been closed. I totally geeked out once inside. The interior was gorgeous with a grand staircase adorned with lions similar to the ones outside of the New York Public Library. The reading room was great, just wall to wall books and one weird guy photographing his girlfriend as she pretended to read. The courtyard was amazing and it made me wish that we had an enclosed courtyard like that at the library in downtown Toronto. We visited a small exhibit about maps. The only interesting item was a pair of bound volumes of maps from the 16th century.

Rather than sit in the hotel we walked over to Fenway Park. I had read online that there was a good bar across the street, Boston Beer Works, where people would go for drinks before the game. That would be nice I thought. What I did not anticipate is that everyone and their grandmother who has tickets to the game shows up just before the park opens. One of the side streets gets shut down and vendors pop up, the so-called Yawkey Way. There were huge line ups just to get into there. And there was a huge line up of people waiting to get into Boston Beer Works. We lined up to get into the stadium. It was so hot, and I was so tired and dehydrated and just standing there in a huge throng of people, I was not feeling so great. Things only got worse when I heard a thump from the crowd behind us and a guy yelling out about his knee. From what I could tell he had tried to jump over a small set of stairs and his foot got caught on the railing and he landed smack on his knee. The sound was either him dropping a water bottle or his knee cap breaking. I don’t know because I could not look. I did hear someone in the crowd say they saw blood. It was enough to make me go weak and I came close to fainting a few times. I kept having to sit down on the curb. Once we were inside I sat in the shade for a moment more. It was a relief to be inside because Brent had bought the tickets online and we were not even sure if they were legit, thankfully they were. Once inside we walked around Yawkey Way. I bought a Powerade and felt much better. Inside the gift shop I found an awesome baseball tee that featured the Green Monster (the wall inside Fenway) but it was too expensive to be worth it. I was not yet hungry, even though there was a stand selling a high quality steak and cheese sandwich.

On our way in we had been given a promotional bag that had sunglasses, a crappy gold chain and a fake beard. Apparently it was dress up like Pappi the baseball player day. Inside the stadium we circled the concourse. There was no line up at one hotdog vendor so we grabbed a Fenway Frank and split it. It was just a terrible steamed hotdog, but apparently a must when at Fenway. Our seats were at the top of the section just behind home plate and luckily in the shade. We had a great view of the field. We were in a row with some Detroit fans and in front of us was an entire Red Sox family. The game started out with some pigeons in the outfield. There was a blimp flying around overhead and their mascot was making the rounds nearby. He looked like a seasick Elmo and I was not impressed. I soon got distracted and forgot about the distractions as this was actually an eventful baseball game.

Midway through the 4th inning, after three hours of sitting, we went back out again. I had finished my Powerade and needed water. Brent had a Tasty Burger, apparently the official burger of the park. It was quite decent for a stadium burger. There was no sign of the beef tip grilled cheese vendor. I guess it was only outside of the park. It was ok though because I was not that hungry. I opted for a bag of Cracker Jacks instead. As we walked away from the burger stand I noticed a girl with a Jack’s Abbey lager. I pointed it out to Brent, had he not mentioned it earlier and been unable to find it in the stadium? I was saying this to him as he was holding two beers, having been unable to decide between Samuel Adams summer ale and Blue Point toasted lager. His eyes lit up (it made me love him that much more). I had paid attention to where the girl had come from and I pointed Brent in that direction. He left his burger and one beer with me. The line was a bit long and it gave him enough time to finish the beer he was holding. If he was already waiting in line I figured why not get me a drink as well? I had been tempted all evening by the lemonade with vodka. The server was very generous with the vodka, it was at least a double shot if not almost a triple.

When I opened my Cracker Jacks, Brent mentioned that the prize inside is now a digital prize. I pulled out the little paper and matter-of-factly, with an air of triumph really, said “oh yeah? What’s this?!….” and as I turned it over I saw that it had a PIN code to enter online for the prize. I was so disappointed. I’m sad that I have only ever known the Cracker Jack prize as a sticker or pencil topper, I wish they had little trinkets and toys.

A few rows ahead of us there were some really loud hecklers. It felt so good to see them get warned by security. No one likes loud obnoxious hecklers. Only the light-hearted ones are fun, such as the Red Sox guy in front of us who kept calling the guy beside us Tiger Boy because he was a fan of the Detroit Tigers. There was a great moment when Brent and the two men all agreed on one thing: their shared dislike of the Baltimore Orioles. It made me smile. Brent had mistakenly thought that during the 7th inning stretch the stadium sings Sweet Caroline. Google told us it was at the bottom of the 8th. Sure enough, everyone broke out into song.  At this point the game was really fun. People were doing the wave, the pitcher was throwing 100 mile an hour balls that you could hear thwomp in the catcher’s glove and the girl in front of us, her braid was hanging down into Brent’s cup holder and faced a dilemma: hold his beer or risk pulling her hair? A woman in the row in front of us was resting her foot on the closed seat in front of her, but when that lady came back and sat down, the seat unfolded crushing the resting woman’s foot and she let out a yelp. It was hilarious, so much apologizing and laughing. Her whole family was laughing at her. The Red Sox lost, which was good for the Blue Jays, who at the time we left were in extra innings. On the walk home we found out they won. A guy passing Brent asked if the team won- but he had never said Red Sox. We will never know if he, looking at Brent’s hat, had wanted to know if the Red Sox or if the Jays had won.

As it turns out the last time we tried to walk back from Fenway Park, what we thought was a dead end road was not actually, it just looked that way from afar. It was stupidly marked. It was a long slow walk back in a crowd of people. Eventually we made our way to the front and broke free. We stopped at Walgreen’s for some snacks: a Snickers bar with crispy bits and some Gatorade. There hadn’t been any new candy releases since the last time we were in the US. The only Dunkin’ Donuts coffee they had was French vanilla. I decided to risk not getting it and waiting until the next day and checking the Dunkin’ Donuts around the corner from our hotel.

The FitBit has been a great addition to our vacations. We had walked a total of 9.1km and I was feeling it.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel

 

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Well That Worked Out Splendidly

Best gay bar in the city was recently revoted. Now it was Woody’s over on Church St. Our schedules this week were not forgiving, so we opted for a few night caps instead of going out for dinner. As has now become tradition, we started the night out at Bar Volo. Only our world had changed (for the better). Pokemon Go was finally in Canada!!! The whole walk there were hunted and we collected. Bar Volo just so happens to sit on a corner, within range of two pokestops. They both happened to have lures on them while we were there. Brent had finished his drink and said he’d be getting another, I looked at him confused. I thought we were only having one drink? Turns out I was so immersed in Pokemon Go that I had (shocker!) forgotten all about my Revel Cider with hibiscus. At this point I have plowed through all of Bar Volo’s ciders, hibiscus beers and the one sour beer I would have gotten (lime and cucumber, so good) was gone. How can I complain though, the hibiscus cider is amazing.

Woody’s was also conveniently between two pokestops, which were also lured. I was starting to think that it was a thing in Toronto, to go to a bar near a pokestop or two, set a lure and collect items every 5 minutes. Woody’s was great. It is a huge space with five bars throughout the venue. The bartender also had a great sense of humour, warning me that the rum in my diet rum & coke was not diet. It made me laugh and it made my night. The bar was pretty quiet, it was a Tuesday night after all. Which makes it my kind of bar, if you remember my review of Two Cats Lounge, I loved the fact that we were the only ones in there. It was also not even 11pm yet.

On the way home we stopped at McDonald’s and what do you know, there was a lured pokestop nearby! We had been to that one the night before. All it attracted were Drowzees, I got so many Drowzees from that McDonald’s.

 
 
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