Category Archives: Life’s Goals

41.) Eat at least one food featured on the show Man Vs. Food

When I first concocted this idea, namely while watching him chow-down (not a good idea when you are hungry and feeling arrogant) I was think in the far off future, months away at least. Now it is coming up. In two days actually. Two days from now, soon after crossing the border we will be sitting down for a nice brunch at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que… for giant sandwich and some sides, aptly called the Pork-Sket Platter. Initially I was all “I am going to eat the whole thing!” but after the foot long hot dog, I am not so sure. Technically I just want to eat food featured on the show, not complete the (insane) challenges. The other reason is that after our post-pig-out pit-stop at Rochester House (I can finally get my photo-geek fix) we are heading to an early dinner of what I think is a double hot dog, as in two hot dogs in one bun. So if you are keeping track here: late lunch + early dinner with a quick run through a museum between the two. Should be interesting…

If you don’t hear from me regarding this, then I have either died or gone into a food-coma.

You know what. I’m going to get just the Pork-sket sandwich (Texas Beef Brisket topped with melted cheese & pickled Jalapenos, layered with pulled pork & finished with coleslaw) sans sides. Sides are lame. It will look something like this (when I took on the foot long pulled pork hot dog):

(Note: My eyes are closed because I am laughing at how absurd the situation must look to my dining companions, I am not cringing in pain. It was delicious)

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Life's Goals


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Real Hungry

I am not a big sports fan, that is why it has taken us this long to go to Toronto’s best sports bar. And also we had to actually make a reservation it is so popular there. But with EuroCup on I could not resist the idea of getting to watch Poland play. I gathered some people, got some yeses and we made a reservation for 8. In the end there were 4 of us. But it worked out really well because we got a booth with the perfect view of the movie-screen sized TV, and we got double lucky because they were showing the Poland vs. Czech match! This also happened to the be the final match determining who was going through to the next round, so it was a nail-biter.

The only true real screaming that happened was when Greece scored against Russia (it was playing on smaller screens). The bar erupted in screams of joy and some said whimpering yelps from the Russians in the corner. The bar itself however was packed with Poles. Everywhere you looked you saw bottles of Zywiec. So much so that when my sister tried to order one the waitress wasn’t even sure if there was any left. At one point a waitress walked by with a pot of tea and a cup with a lemon wedge, we giggled because that was clearly for some Polish patrons.

In the end Poland lost. But I won in my showdown with a foot long hot dog. In addition to which there was also some pulled pork on top of it. I couldn’t settle for just a regular old run-of-the-mill foot long when Real Sports bar is known for their fancy hot dogs. The game was distracting enough that I just kept eating and before I knew it, the whole thing had vanished. This was all well and good until later in the day. Meat hangover. But well worth it, it was delicious.

Oh and a Greek player got really mad. I am talking 10 minutes of dramatic arm flailing and yelling and nearly crying. It was amazing. And they kept replaying the initial moment of anger. And then they would show him in real time, off to the sidelines… still angry.

Life’s Goal 73.) eat a foot long hotdog is now done. It nearly killed me. If the soccer game was not on to distract me it would have been an epic fail, instead I overate and almost got sick.


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Spring Break- Day 3

Wed. Feb. 22, 2012- Grand Canyon & Driving to Lake Havasu City

Waking up at 6:30 in the morning when you clambered into bed late the previous night is no picnic. It took a lot of energy to drag myself out of bed, put on all those layers (yes, layers, as in winter coat etc…) grab my tripod and head out. Mike seemed to have no trouble with it. I blame the tripod. Why all the winter clothes you ask? Was I not in Arizona? As in down south where it is warm? Yes I was, but we were at such a high elevation (at least 7000ft, I stopped checking at some point) that it was in fact cold. Not unbearably cold, just cold enough to make my hands turn all red and for the tiny bits of snow to not melt. The view was astounding and amazing and too much for words. I may have been exhausted, cold and hungry (moving a cold tripod around did not help) but it was well worth it and I would do it again. Mike climbed up on the wall to pose for photos, resulting in me shouting “You’d better not fall into the canyon” which is how we met some cool people, also there to see the sunrise. I think we made their day with our antics, they were laughing at us. The sunrise did not last very long; it was maybe half an hour before the sun was up and it was daylight. And the daylight would still be there when we went on the tour later… back to bed I went!

We had our tour switched from the noon hour one to the 9am so we would have more time for a surprise that Mike’s mom had planned for us, but more on that later. the way the tour worked was that we drove to a point and stayed there for 20 minutes, then back on the bus and off to the next. The last one we had more time because there was more to see. The first stop on our tour was Yaki Point, the driver made a terrible joke that it is called that because the person who discovered it had stepped in donkey poo, looked down at his shoe and said “yucky”, just terrible. There was a bluebird sitting in a bush and as I was photographing it, a second one flew out! I had no idea it was even in there. I know I will probably say this about a million times still, but the views were unbelievable, you could see for miles out to the horizon and down into the canyon.

En route to the next stop I saw a woodpecker flying in the forest. I am pretty sure the second stop was at Moran Point (I am unsure as I had left my book back at the lodge because I did not feel like carrying it and I assumed I would remember everything). From this viewpoint you could see bits of the Colorado River down below and well as some Class 5 rapids. The rapids looked frozen; they did not look like they were moving at all. Apparently I was not the only one who thought so, but we were assured by the driver that they were in fact moving, very fast; they just appeared frozen because we were so high up.  While driving to what I think was Lipan Point an elk crossed in front of our bus, resulting in lots of excited shouting. As we got off the bus I spotted a giant black bird sitting in a tree, the photographer in me insisted on getting as close as possible to get a good photo. The movie fan in me was terrified. I have watched Hitchcock’s The Birds a few too many times to be comfortable getting that close to a giant black bird that keeps making scary noises. I asked the tour guide what kind of bird it was, given it was not on the info board about other birds. He said it was a raven. That raven and another one work the area looking for food from the tourists.

At this point in the trip I was starting to really feel like a stalker. I had been photographing people for my project. And I think some of them were starting to catch on. As soon as I saw a family posing for a photograph, I was there off to the side, zoomed in on them.

Stop four was at the Watch Tower. Here we were given an hour. There was a tower you could climb up to get an even higher view of the canyon, or you know, buy crap from the gift shop downstairs. The view from this lookout included the Painted Desert across the canyon. Here was where I filled my memory card and had to awkwardly put in the new one while Mike made jokes about me dropping the full one into the canyon. One of the lookouts here was shaped like the front of a ship and Mike wanted to do the Titanic pose. His question combined with terrified yelp that kind of sounded like “no” garnered a lot of laughs. The view from the Watch Tower was well worth the stair-climbing it necessitated.

Lunch consisted of a bowl of soup and some coffee, so fancy. I ended up sitting outside and watching a raven scrounge for food (it could have been the same one from earlier, or his buddy), unafraid of all the people passing by. All that walking and stalking tired me out, I fell asleep on the bus. As had most of the other passengers.  On the way back to the car I spotted a giant bird flying overhead, but because of the glean of the sun off the bird’s feathers I could not be sure if it was black or brown. I like to think it was something other than a raven.

Driving to Lake Havasu City I could see Mt. Humphrey’s off in the distance in Flagstaff, AZ with its snowy mountain top. It was kind of unreal given how much desert landscape I had seen so far. It also meant I got to add another mountain range to add to my list of mountains I’ve seen (Appalachians, Adirondacks and now Sierra-Nevada). As we drove the excitement mounted, Mike’s mom had a surprise in store for us! And then I saw some white sheep with black ears and hooves! Oh the excitement! I saw a swarm of 10-20 birds circling around, something dead over there I assumed. When I tried to tell them about it the confusion of my pointing and saying “there” ensued yet again. And then it hit me. I saw another swarm, twice as big this time, just kind of floating about like bubbles in a tank, and instead said that there was a swarm at 10 o’clock. New system for pointing stuff out! Staring out the window at the landscape passing by it was forest, forest, forest… weird dead-looking shrugging tree, more forest, and some more forest. It was so weird.

The descent from the “top of the world” began. We watched as the elevation went down and the temperature went up. I fell asleep and woke up to being back in the desert. We stopped for gas and I ran inside because there was a Dunkin’ Donuts. The guy there was weird. First of all, he was maybe 70 years old? He also said “be careful out there” to us as he handed me my coffee. Across the street there were some pigeons hanging out with ravens. Then I saw the greatest sight my eyes had ever beholden: Plaza Bonita! We could not believe it, there was a place called that! It was Bonita! We turned off the I-40 and what did my eyes behold? Why it was a sign stating Historic Route 66! I was so excited!! And this was not even the surprise; it was just an added bonus. What was the surprise? We were headed to an abandoned mining town turned into a tourist attraction! I have had some great days in my life, but oh man, this was awesome.  The road started out fine, slow gentle curves. As we climbed in elevation they became a bit tighter. We passed by a very sketchy looking gas station where there were some scary bikers hanging out. Then we almost got rammed off the road by a UPS truck. Who are they delivering to?! Hardly a soul lives out here! We passed by maybe two homesteads? And they did not seem very welcoming. They were surrounded by barbed wire and NO TRESPASSING signs. As the elevation increased, the turns got tighter, giving way to switchbacks. It was so scary, on one side it was a cliff edge, on the other you could fall down into the valley. As if it was not nerve-wracking (and cool) enough, not being able to see the road in front, dangerous curves, driving almost in the other lane to avoid being on the precipice of the cliff: there was an old wrecked car above us in the cliff-side! The car was at least 20 years old in terms of the model. And it had been there for a long time, it was rusty and pale. And just destroyed, like a crushed tin can. It was the epitome of what I think of Route 66. At one point the curves were so narrow and sharp that there was a bit of extra shoulder for people who could not make the tight turn. We stopped there for a breather and stared down into the valley.  As we headed back to the car, a FedEx car sped up the hill and we just laughed. Where could they be going?! As we drove we passed by a guy who was driving with one hand and taking pictures out the window with the other. The guy was nuts. There were also some people who pulled over to the shoulder (blocking part of our lane) to take photographs.

And then I saw it, a sign saying Oatman, Arizona! And just as quickly my attention was taken away… by a burro (donkey) crossing the street. I followed it to see where it was going, it disappeared behind the post office (why a tourist attraction has a post office, I will never know).  The burro emerged on the other side of the post office, trying to eat from a bowl of food left out for a car. Only his neck was too short to reach through the fence. Oatman is amazing. It is overrun by burros that were abandoned by the miners when the mines dried up. Now they just roam freely, walking up to people and cars, looking for food. And the shops sell food, so you can feed them! They will slobber all over your hand. As Mike fed one of the burros it would pick up the food and place it on the hood of fancy Camaro parked outside a shop and eat off the shiny hood. I tried to take pictures without it looking like I had put the food there. The burros kept following Mike around so we took to calling him “burro whisperer”. We also got to climb into an old mining shaft that had been closed off, so you can’t climb too far into it. The shops all sold really tacky Route 66 souvenirs from ash trays to shirts. We met a couple from Ontario and shared our food with her. We told her to feed with a flat hand. Her husband told her to feed with a flat hand. She did not, and then complained that she got nibbled. Mike had wanted to buy a shirt and when he asked how much it was the guy tried to rip him off, but his mom called the keeper on it and we got free burro food out of it.

As we drove to Lake Havasu City we passed by some really weird bushes that were covered in ribbons. Then there were some funny looking palm trees that looked like they were wearing hula skirts. There was a sign on the highway warning of burro crossings; alas we did not see any. We did get to see the Colorado River again. For dinner we had In N Out Burger. It was so good; I had forgotten just how good In N Out is. I had the double burger and fries. What I had forgotten to do was to look up the secret menu. We passed another Plaza Bonita, I guess it is a southern thing? We drove over the original London Bridge which had been bought by a wealthy chainsaw guy. They brought it over brick by brick and rebuilt it to bring tourists to Lake Havasu City. I guess they wanted more than scantily clad girls on Spring Break and Canadian snowbirds? The rest of the evening was spent catching up, finally having access to the internet.


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Spring Break- Day 2

Tues. Feb. 21, 2012- Driving from Las Vegas, NV to Grand Canyon:

Having gone to bed at 9pm the night before, combined with being 3 hours behind in a different time zone, it is no surprise that I woke up at 4:30 in the morning. I tried to sleep some more, but did not make it past 5:30, reluctantly I got up. I took a long time getting ready to go out, even wrote in my travel book, while in the bathroom because that was the only place where I could turn on the light. There was no way they were going to wake up any time soon, so I headed off on my own in search of that enormous shark tank I saw the previous day (insert gangster threat “swimming with the fishies”). First and foremost however, I was in desperate need of coffee. How desperate? In my notebook it says in giant letters NEED COFFEE, so I would say pretty damn desperate. Thankfully there was a Starbucks downstairs right beside the elevators. What a rip off this Starbucks was, for some reason the brewed coffee was more expensive than usual, yet the espresso drinks were not. It was a $1 difference, so I had to indulge. I sat for a bit, nursing my caramel macchiato but I was just too antsy to go out and shoot… photographs.

I found a fish tank, but it was not the one I wanted. It was surrounded by a pool and hard to see. There was another one I had seen where you could walk right up to the glass. I spent the next 20 minutes walking around like a lost child, searching for that aquarium. I finally came across reception and asked the lady, “I was here yesterday and I swear I saw another fish tank, one you could go up close to, where is it?!” and she stared blankly at me, pointed over her shoulder, “You mean that one?” Oops, my bad. I felt like an idiot. But in my defense the lights were not on, so it was hard to see that it was in fact a fish tank. She said the lights would be turned on at 10am. I had a lot of time to kill.

I went back to the room and left my tripod, Mike and his mom were still out cold, despite my thumping around in the dark. I headed out to Fremont to shoot; it was still really early so there would be good quality light. It was eerily quiet and empty, like a beautiful golden apocalypse had swept through. Where there had been throngs of revelers and bright neons there were now long shadows, golden light and a few pigeons. 24/7 party town my ass, I say. As I made my way back to the hotel, paranoid that they had awoken and did not know where I was (I was not at the shark tank as I had said I would be) I caved and went in to the Fremont Hotel for my usual fix, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (which I was told I would not find this far south, ha!). Yet all that worry and rushing was for nothing, still asleep.

I went back downstairs, yet again loitered for a bit at Starbucks’s tables (I was drinking coffee and had ordered from them earlier, so it was fine) and then decided to go waste some time on a 5 cent slot machine. You would think $1 on a 5 cent machine would take up more time, alas it didn’t. I did manage to win 50 cents, which I also spent on the machine. I sat there for a while but got paranoid that I would get yelled at so I went back to the pool area and this time actually went and shot the shark tank. The attendant was funny about, “just don’t go in the pool”, like I would go in the pool with my DSLR.

On my way back up to the room, again, I ran into a guy who made me do a double-take. For a split second I really thought he was Howie Mandel, but then I remembered that there was an impersonators convention at our hotel. That would’ve been so horribly embarrassing. I grabbed my purse and went to (finally) sit on the deck. I had been wandering back and forth, circling it like a shark, unsure if it was open yet. I finally sucked it up and asked the attendant if I could just hang out there. He looked at me like I was nuts, like why would you not be able to? The deck was nice, the sun was bright and warm and the sparrows were hanging around nearby, chirping and posing for the occasional photograph. It was only about 8:30am at this point. It was insane how slow time seemed to be going.

We reconvened at 9 for breakfast when they woke up. Breakfast was to be had at the Fremont Hotel (where we had tried to get dinner buffet the night before).  An $8 breakfast buffet is amazing. I ate so much more food than $8 worth. And they had soft serve ice cream as well! Any buffet where I can drink 2 more cups of coffee (if you are keeping count that would bring the total to 4) and eat ice cream is fine by me. And the fact that there were toppings for the ice cream as well, that was just the cherry on top. Mike took full advantage of the spread, getting creative with the pancakes. He came back to the table with a colossal wonder of true beauty: a pancake with soft serve ice cream, Oreo crumbs, cherry goo, and is if that was not enough, caramel sauce as well. On the way back in to the Golden Nugget I had wanted to play the giant slot machine, alas it was still being serviced (had been all morning). So instead, Mike and I headed over to the fish tank (it was finally after 10am and the lights were on). The people there were nice enough to let us in, even though the restaurant surrounding the tank was not open yet.

As we drove out of Las Vegas, starting our journey to the Grand Canyon, we passed by all the tacky wedding chapels, but did not get to see any newlyweds emerge. We also passed a sad sight, a line up around the block to get into a pawn shop. Before leaving town however, we stopped at The Mirage to go Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden to gawk at dolphins and lions and tigers (oh my!). It was pretty cool, we got to see a baby dolphin and watch a lion snap his jaw at flies and lick his paw and his nose. En route we passed the sad-looking closed Liberace Museum. At this point my 8GB memory card was already half full and it had not even been a day and a half, and we were heading to the Grand Canyon, bad news for me. Luckily we passed by RadioShack and I ran in and got a 16GB memory card (for real cheap too).

We stopped at a gas station, it was so nice and warm outside. At this point we were in Arizona. Yet the gas station seemed to think we were in New Mexico, they were selling fake Area 51 ID badges. Weird. There were some gorgeous views of the desert and of Lake Mead from the highway. The bridge over the Colorado River had a high cement wall, so I could not see the Hoover Dam. I saw so many different cacti out the window, some looked like pineapples and some looked like they were wearing hula skirts. There was also the Joshua tree which looked like it had sprouted pineapples on the ends of its arms. I also misidentified some giant black birds, I thought they were hawks, but they were cactus-pecking birds of some sort.

At one point we were on Route 66, passing through Kingman (“the home of Route 66”), it was so cool. It took me 2 hours to notice that we had long ago left behind the palm trees; I blame the 4000ft elevation having some sort of effect on me. As we kept climbing in elevation, small patches of snow started appearing off in the distance on mountain tops. There was a road sign warning of elk crossing the road, and about 5 seconds later I saw a large animal and got all excited… only to realize it was a cow… on a farm, I blame the 5000ft elevation. There was a train off in the distance and in my semi-boredom I decided to count how many cars it had, I got to 50 when part of it disappeared behind a hill, so my guess is that it had 150 cars. The boredom subsided when I saw three wild boars grazing.

It was getting later in the day and at this point we were racing to get to the Grand Canyon for sunset, but it was not looking too good, we only had an hour until the Weather Channel said the sun would set. I had a possible elk sighting off in the distance but it caused confusion because I was in the backseat so when I said “there!” and pointed, it did not come across very clearly where “there” was. Somehow or other we then passed under a bridge that was Route 66. The landscape was more of a forest than a desert now. We stopped at McDonalds (just outside of the Grand Canyon park) for dinner, but more importantly the free wi-fi. Admittedly as well I had been tempted to try the new McChicken Bites; I really have no idea why I wanted them so bad. And they were not that good; it was more breading than chicken.

When we got to the Grand Canyon it was dark, there are no street lamps in the park. There were so many stars in the night sky but it hurt my head to look up. Mike and I passed through the main lodge and to the rim, where there was a small brick wall (barely illuminated by light from the cabin) and then just a big huge dark empty void (the canyon). It was scary to look and see nothing but dark.

We were staying at the Bright Angel Lodge, right on the rim. There was an ice bucket in our room and an ice machine down the hallway (to which the front desk person had given us directions) and yet on the machine there was a sign stating that you should not use the machine, but to instead buy ice in the main lodge. Who writes these things? We also had a channel guide but no television.

With a sunburnt face, Mike and I headed to the main lodge to get dessert. There was nothing else to do. Too dark to go for a walk, too cold for star gazing and no television. We got chocolate cake and just loitered in the bar until closing.I noticed that there were two bottles of wine, red and white, which were labeled Grand Canyon. I raised an eyebrow and asked the bar tender where exactly this “Grand Canyon” vineyard was, this hardly seemed like the place to grow grapes. He looked at me sheepishly and admitted that it was a wine from California and they just stuck a Grand Canyon label on it. Still, was a pretty good glass of rosé wine.


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9.) See the Grand Canyon

Finally, I finally got to see the Grand Canyon and I must say… IT  WAS AMAZING!!! Even better than I could have ever imagined! We arrived late and it was pitch dark, so my first “glimpse” of it was that it was a giant black empty void… it was scary peering over the edge of a short rock wall, and seeing nothing. So worth it to see the sunrise the next morning, despite the awful early wake-up call.

The views were unbelievable.

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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Life's Goals


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9.) See The Grand Canyon

This one for the longest time seemed like a pipe dream, some far off goal that I would probably never ever achieve lest I got super lucky.

Call it what you will, luck, strategic planning or kismet. Either way:


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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Life's Goals


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89.) Hollowed-out Book

Sound the trumpets! Two weeks, five bottles of glue and a lot of time for drying… ta-da! I am done gluing the pages of a book together and hollowing out! What am I going to now do with it? I really have no idea. I did not think it this far through. But I did it! And that is what matters. Even though at some point the backs of my hands were red, dry and itchy from smoothing out the pages as I glued, the really old allergy-inducing pages.

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Life's Goals, Uncategorized

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