A Final Tribute To A Year of Pushing Boundaries

Hello Everyone,

Here is the promised video for Pushing Boundaries. It doesn’t include everything that was completed or tried, and I know there were some photos that I missed, but I tried to include as many of the highlights as I could.

I want to thank the following people in particular: Hubby, Dan & Sheila, and Trish. (And Hershey for photobombing many of my pictures.)

Also many thanks to all those who provided encouragement while reading the blog, and for following along.

The video has been uploaded on YouTube.

All the best,

Penelope

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The End

“The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Endings are hard.

There’s always a part of me that never wants a story to end after all the hours spent sitting up late at night turning pages, as I follow a beloved character through their adventure. (Or sometimes, adventures.)  Because you know when you turn that last page, that’s it, it’s over. There’s no more to the story. If there’s anything left unresolved it stays that way and it’s up to you, the reader, to try to figure out why the author left that last question unanswered.

But maybe it’s better that when there is a scheduled time for a conclusion – that it happens. It’s always better to be left wanting more, than dragging out a plotline too much with weary readers who want nothing more than for the story to be over.

I thought about it. I though about continuing this blog past October 20th. I need to confess to you that my reasons have less to do with you, and more to do with me.

I am a creature of habit. I try not to strain myself too much. But this blog – for all my complaining about the challenges, how tiring they were, how many times I failed them; in the last few weeks I realized, I would miss them. Honestly, my biggest fear was this: there were so many challenges I never achieved, would I ever make the effort to attempt the ones that were incomplete? Would I return to my old patterns and behaviours and be the person who said, hmmm, that sounds like fun, but I can’t do it. 

In the last couple of days, I’ve taken time to reflect on this blog: what it meant to me, and what it continues to mean to me. It was my experiment you see. To push myself outside of my comfort zone and start saying yes to things I wanted to do.

And wow, I did them. Here are some things (there are a lot, so this is just a snapshot) that I did this year:

  1. Dressed up as a pug for Halloween
  2. Made fruit cake from a recipe
  3. Made lemon meringue pie
  4. Participated in the Polar Plunge
  5. Ran the Hypothermic 10 KM run
  6. Climbed the CN Tower stairs (All 1,776 of them!)
  7. Played paintball. (I think my bruise FINALLY healed!)
  8. Played laser tag
  9. Completed the CN Tower Edgewalk

Things that I wanted to do, but didn’t get done (they are in no particular order):

  1. Play on the extreme trampoline.
  2. Indoor Skydiving
  3. Learn to dance (tap, Irish dance, swing…anything!)
  4. Learn to play my guitar
  5. Go for a big hike in a park in Gatineau (I can’t remember the name of it, a friend of mine told us about it last year)
  6. Take a step class (one of those free ones offered at the gym)
  7. Go to Bonnechere Caves
  8. Take a cooking class
  9. Put my lego set together

I learned many things from this blog. The biggest one was this: I tend to overthink things, and most challenges I stressed over, there was nothing to fear. (And now the quote at the beginning of this post probably makes more sense.)

The truth is: I had a lot of fun.

But maybe that’s the biggest lesson to take from this blog. There is commuting to work, and work, and household chores, and groceries that need to be purchased to make breakfast, lunch and dinners. But peppered in with these responsibilities is life. It’s sharing a drink with family and friends, playing paintball or laser tag, and running Hypothermic races. It’s the moments that we take the time to participate in, and savour, that makes the other chores and responsibilities worth it.

Pushing Boundaries is not complete for me, and I hope it never will be. Because I hope there’s always a new recipe to try, a new sport to play, and an instrument to learn. If I must confess, I’ve already started to look into the Winterman race here in Ottawa, and there is that Lego ship I need to build.

After all, my life is a work-in-progress. There are more adventures to come – if I choose to pursue them.

***

Total challenges completed: 102 (With the CN Tower Edgewalk it was 103, but -1 because I did not read 10 books.)

Last thing: I plan to post another video as a final tribute to Pushing Boundaries. The video should be completed by October 22nd.

Walking On the Edge of The World

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It was fun to talk about it, before the day of the event, because it was out there. It was like skydiving: one of those things you might get to some day.

And then someday, turned out to be yesterday.

Have I mentioned how afraid I am of heights? It’s not like I’m afraid in the sense of oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-be-late-for-work feeling. It’s more along the lines of: my-tummy-is-swirling, I-can’t-move-my-feet, I-think-I-may-throw-up, no-now-that-I think-about-it-I-would-prefer-just-to-faint. A full black-out moment where I can’t remember anything that happened.

Yeah, that would have been my preference. 

Because it’s not like it hasn’t happened before. I mean, where I’ve fainted for no good reason. Have you heard my Million Dollar Baby story? No? Well, pull up a chair. Let me entertain you.

We went to see the movie Million Dollar Baby in the theater, whoo, what has it been now, more than a decade? I think so. Well, anyhoo does anyone remember that scene in the movie where Hilary Swank’s character gets punched in the nose, but she wants to finish the fight, and she asks Clint Eastwood who is her coach to fix her so she can stay in the ring to knock her opponent out? Clint Eastwood proceeds to shove some things up her nose (because it was broken) and said something along the lines of, “you have 2 minutes before you spray the whole front row.”

As I sat there in the theater my mind went over and over those words. I touched my nose, and thought, Awww….that must really hurt? Then I shifted in my seat a bit. My heart began to race as I started sweating. My mouth became parched. Before I knew it, I was slumping over against my fiance (now husband) and I vaguely remember him gently slapping my cheeks trying to wake me up….

Yeah, I fainted. FOR NO GOOD REASON. Before I knew it I was being carried out by 4 men where two had my arms, and two had my legs, and I was being plopped on the floor in the hallway as a nurse held my hand and asked me if I knew my name? and if I knew where I was? 

Not a particularly proud moment for me. But after that day, and one other incident where I fainted at work (but thank goodness, no one noticed as I slumped down at my desk) I’m more cautious now, and try to keep what’s going on in my brain in check.

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I love this guy. He always makes me laugh and works harder at it when I am genuinely terrified.

Nonetheless, on Saturday we drove to Toronto to participate in the Edgewalk. Oddly enough, in conversation with hubby a few months back, I was pretty insistent that I wanted to do the CN Tower Edgewalk before the close of my blog.  But after he committed to it, I started to back-peddle and said, well, if we don’t get to it, that’s ok too. 

Except, something had happened. Something, I hadn’t counted on. Somewhere between the time I was excited, and then began to get faint about dangling from ropes over a tower, my hubby got excited about it. Unable to back out of it and disappoint the man I love, I steadied my nerves and committed to  a weekend to make it so.

The day we picked was going to be Sunday, October 15th. On Saturday as we drove down to Toronto, I pulled out my phone and checked the weather as I knew that if there was lightning, or high winds, there was a chance they would not proceed with the walkabout on Sunday. I saw Environment Canada was calling for 70 KM winds and thunderstorms. As I told hubby he began to twitch. I could see the disappointment spread across his face. I tried to reassure him and said we could always do it next year, we could do indoor skydiving instead (there’s a place in Toronto that does it) or we could just have a relaxing weekend.  Or, we try for another weekend.

Hubby began to shake his head and he didn’t seem happy about any of my other suggestions. I pulled my phone out and checked the Edgewalk website to see if there were still spots available for the Saturday times, and to my delight there were lots of places available for various times. (We had left Ottawa around 10:40 AM that morning and would arrive in Toronto around 3:00 PM.)  I proposed a new plan to hubby: the last group would go out at 7:30 PM and if we arrived in time, we would see if the people at the CN Tower were ok for us to go with one of the other groups. There was lots of availability between 5 PM and the final time of 7:30 PM.

We arrived in Toronto a little after 3:30 PM, quickly checked into our hotel, and promptly went over to the CN Tower. On our way there my nerves started getting the best of me as I began to trip over my feet, and stumbled several times as my knees began to lock up.  I was already beginning to get nervous. After I got into my orange jumper, we drove four hours, would my knees even allow me to walk out the door?

My god, I was still on solid ground and I could feel my body begin to shake. 

When we arrived at the CN Tower we asked about changing our time because of the high winds that were forecast for Sunday. The Service Representative disappeared to the back and returned a few minutes later giving us a thumbs up signal. She said we could join the next group at 4:30 PM. (That was 5 minutes waiting time.)

The staff went over the do’s and don’ts with the three of us. (Yes, that’s right. It was me, hubby and just one other super star woman. SHE WAS FEARLESS PEOPLE!) We were not allowed to bring anything extra: no cameras, no phones, and you weren’t allowed to wear any jewellery. We all pulled on orange jumpers, and they checked, and re-checked our harnesses at least 3 times.

Before we knew it we were in the elevator going up. Me and hubby mentioned we changed our time because of the 70 KM winds forecast for the next day, and our guide told us that the only time they don’t go out in winds is if it’s 70 KM all the way around the building. If it’s only on one side, they still go. Good to know. But I was still happy not have blustery winds pushing me around on top of my debilitating fear of heights.

When we got to the top they had one thick cord that ran in front of us that we got to hold on to. Behind us there was another cord that worked like a seat belt and would lock up if it needed to. Fearless woman was in front of us, I was in the middle, and hubby was behind me. We were instructed to walk out and then we would need to push forward up a small hill.  Fearless woman did it with ease, and than it was my turn.

My mind went something like: push rope, pushing rope, pushing rope, ooops….going backwards, ok, pushing rope…

AHHHHH!!! That’s a long ways down! 

Once everyone was outside our guide pointed out some of the buildings below us and explained how at one time the Fairmont Hotel was the tallest building in Toronto. (In my head, all I thought was: don’t need to know, don’t need to know, don’t need to know….) Then, she explained we would be doing a couple of tricks a few times.

My mind swirled and I blurted out, “a couple of times?”

Our guide sweetly smiled at me.

There was the toes over Toronto. In my case it was closer to half a toe. Then she instructed us how to lean forward against our rope, and we could stand on our tippy-toes if we wanted. (Nope, not for Ms. Faint girl.)

Then there was leaning back maneuver.  (I did my best.)

Did I do everything as bravely as I thought I would?

Nope. 

Was I braver than I thought I would be?

Well, I seriously thought I would freeze up at the front door and that never happened.

So, I say, yes.  

Would I do it again?

In the last 5 minutes of our adventure I let go of my rope, smiled, and thought, this isn’t so bad. But sadly, our time was up.

My answer is – YES. I would definitely do it again.

And – I did not FAINT.

 

Top 10 List Of Thoughts About Participating In The CN Tower Edgewalk

You need to prepare for an event such as the Edgewalk.  For me that meant researching reviews on what it was like to participate in a height-challenging event such as the one that I already committed to completing prior to the close of this blog on October 20th.

From the reviews, I know some details of what to expect before and during this challenge that has helped to calm my nerves. (Sort of.) From the information gleaned from the internet and in conjunction with the perky positive part of my brain (there’s the other side too, but I’ve already explained to Mrs. Negativity that she’s not allowed to voice her opinions in this blog post) I’ve come up with a Top 10 List.

TOP 10 LIST OF THOUGHTS ABOUT PARTICIPATING IN THE CN TOWER EDGEWALK:  

10. Don’t faint.

9. They check your strings many, many times. (Ok, ropes. Tethers? Harness? Whatever.)

8. It’s a maximum of 20 minutes out there. I can do anything for 20 minutes.

7. You don’t need to do all the tricks. (Such as that nonsense about leaning forward over the CN Tower.)

6. This is a once in a lifetime experience.

5. You’ll never have to do this again.

4. EVER.

3. be brave. 

2. Be Brave

1. BE BRAVE. 

We’re In The Final Days of This Blog, Let’s Try To Do Something Epic…

  • Hershey’s room is reserved for kenneling.
  • Tickets have been purchased.
  • Hotel room is reserved.
  • Date and time have been selected.
  • Upcoming: This will happen in the next few weeks and definitely, before October 20th, 2017.

CN TOWER EDGEWALK

(As long as mother nature cooperates, and I don’t get the flu, this should happen. Sometimes you can prepare all you want, but other things get in the way.)

Also, have I mentioned: I AM TERRIFIED OF HEIGHTS?

I thought about drawing a picture of me at the CN Tower, and I tried, but it looked terrible. So, I’m not posting it.

Sorry.

***

Ok, here it is.

This blog is called Pushing Boundaries after all. So, I have no skill at drawing. I guess I’ll never be Van Gogh.

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Change #102: In Montreal, The Woman Eating Alone At Wienstein & Gavino’s

I planned to eat alone at a local vegetarian restaurant in Ottawa called, Pure Kitchen. It was a place I wanted to try and as hubby’s not a fan of vegetarian food, it seemed like the perfect solo dining place. But every time I attempted the challenge, my hubby and I would end up dining together at some other eatery.

Nonetheless, the challenge of dining solo was becoming more and more troublesome for me. Another reason for my hesitation in completing this challenge: I didn’t relish the fact of eating alone at a sit-down establishment. As well, most nights by the end of the day, I already consumed waaaay too much food. So one more meal to shove into my mouth and down to my tummy, vegetarian or not, at times was nearly impossible.

LBM has had a paw issue for the last month. It’s required epsom salt soaks, antibiotics, and countless runs to the vet. We love him, so we don’t mind. We just want him to get better so he can play ball-ball, greet other puppies, and meet on Saturdays again with Sheila, Kodie and Kenzie.

However, what this also meant is that we rescheduled our vacation one time, and then cancelled again when Hershey still wasn’t well enough to kennel. With no vacation in the near future, I decided as I scheduled the week of September 25th – 30th as vacation from work and this was my 2nd request, I was taking it. I had already woken up multiple mornings in the I-want-to-cry-because-it’s-dark-out-at-4:30AM-now, and I knew I was close to imploding for other unimportant reasons. Hubby and I decided that we would take separate trips this one time, as we both needed a break from the daily routine.

I scheduled one night away in Montreal during the week. I decided as I would be alone (hubby was home tending to our adorable chocolate lab) the solo eating challenge could be completed. The place I decided it would happen: Wienstein & Gavino’s. It’s my favorite restaurant in Montreal.

Wienstein & Gavino’s is a lively, hopping place that bustles with energy. When you enter the restaurant if you’re not in a good mood when you arrive, the energy will easily make you happy. This was also a place that was introduced to me by a wonderful, fantastically amazing friend that always had good ideas. As I think back to the things she introduced me to they include: Wienstein & Gavino’s, Hush Puppy shoes, and a local salon in Ottawa that I still go to more than a decade later. There are other things I’m sure, but right now, those are the ones that come to mind.

The first night in Montreal I made my way up the street and located Wienstein & Gavino’s. (With a little help from the hotel staff who pointed me in the right direction.) Once there, I made a point of announcing, “Table for 1” to the hostess without even being asked. She gave me my table number and instructed me to head up the stairs to the second level. Hopeful that I might get a table by the window where I could stare down at pedestrians that walked the streets, I climbed the steps.

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When I got to the 2nd level I told the man my table number and said again, “TABLE FOR 1.” (Yeah, I was going to own this solo dining experience!) The man smiled awkwardly at me, and with a sideways glance, quickly scooped a single menu and hurriedly ushered me to my table.

There was something in his demeanor that seemed to signal he pitied me. I felt like shouting, “I HAVE FRIENDS!” I’m doing this for a blog! But decided that would be an indication that I did NOT own this solo dining experience and quickly abandoned the thought.

I was seated along a wall (damn, no window seat to pretend I was one of the judges from the Muppets) and positioned right across from the main area where servers picked up their food, dispensed bread, and refilled water. I wondered if placing me there was a strategic choice on their part of a must-not-forget-about-those-eating-by-themselves situation.

The staff at Wienstein & Gavino’s are attentive, and race around at an incredible speed all the time. So I don’t think a lone woman eating by herself changed that. But, my waiter seemed more hesitant in not knowing how what to say to me.

I was served a full loaf of bread, and I ordered a glass of wine (I wasn’t going to order a drink because my stomach was a little upset most of the day, but decided a glass of wine would scream, I am not in a rush!) and ordered a main pasta dish of penne al sole. The taste of the wine was good, and the food was deliciously scrumptious as usual. Much to the annoyance of my queasy tummy, I still eat 3/4 of my meal.

The waiter was attentive asking me if I wanted pepper and parmesan (oh, yeah!). When he misheard my joke about how I can’t have enough pepper on my food, and thought he heard I wanted more, he quickly clasped the pepper grinder for the 2nd time, and added more to my plate. I didn’t argue with him.

I deliberately savoured my wine, bread and penne dish. Well after the time I set my food aside, I casually sipped my drink. My speedy waiter took care of me, and at one point after asking me if I needed anything and I said I was good, he spun around, and nearly crashed into a waitress. (Oops…nice that we all feel uncomfortable).

The area I was seated in had three tables for 2 lined up along the side of the wall. I was seated in the middle. In front of me was another woman dining alone. Behind me as I looked back, was a couple.

The woman in front of me held something. I tried to casually lean to the left and glance at what the woman was doing. At one point I was certain I saw a flash. I suspect she had her phone out and spent a portion of the quiet meal time catching up on emails, reading the news, or perhaps interacting with people on Facebook.

My phone was forbidden. It was a rule I set for myself because it would be too easy. I have had breakfasts solo before, and I spend many breaks at work on my phone. Trust me on this, clutching that rectangular neon-lit box makes all the difference to how singular you feel.

And that was the reason it was forbidden. I watched the groups of people gathered together around countless tables. I grinned at a large group of people who raised their wine glasses and clinked them together.  I noticed people in groups all around me laughing, and the couple that quietly in an unassuming manner chatted together.

Would I do this again? Not if I don’t have to. While I enjoyed eating my meal and taking in everything that was happening around me, leaving 3/4 of a glass of wine, and 1/4 of my half-eaten food without providing an explanation; I missed not sharing this experience with someone.

After all, food always tastes better when shared with others. But that being said, if I must dine solo, I know now that I can.

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How does a girl prove that she eat at a restaurant without taking a picture of the food? With the receipt, of course!

Change #101: Listening to Aaron Copland and Ludwig Van Beethoven

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It began as it always begins with me.

You know the story, so often told here in this blog: woman buys tickets for some event months in advance that seems like a good idea at the time, until the night stealthily creeps up on her, and she wonders through blurry, tired eyes,  what have I done?

Our National Arts Centre (NAC) is situated in the downtown core of Ottawa a few blocks from the Chateau Laurier and Parliament Hill. As we live far enough away from the city, this meant we had to give ourselves at least 1 HR to commute there and find parking. For these reasons, our departure time would need to be no later than 7 PM from our home. Poor Mr. Hershey would not get his walk before we left, as I routinely arrive home most nights from work a little after 6 PM; post-Beethoven’s 9th, I would be walking LBM after 10 PM, if I had the strength to do it at all.

I was already tired from working 4 days and from one late night out on Tuesday, when hubby and I dined together at a restaurant where we celebrated my birthday. Nonetheless, a grumpy me arrived home on Thursday and I continued to frown  at my husband as I gobbled left over birthday cake down, followed swiftly with baby carrots.  (Hey, it’s my birthday week. I can do whatever I want.)

After this, I raced to my bathroom and grabbed my makeup brushes splashing on eye shadow and eye liner for the first time in months due to ongoing, persistent allergies. Once I was satisfied with how I looked, (better than usual, but not great) we waved to Hershey as we closed the door behind us departing to our scheduled event.

As hubby drove, I entertained myself by scrolling through my phone. At that point, something unique happened. The miserableness that consumed me when I arrived home that night, began to lift.

I was excited about this event. Whether or not I would like Beethoven, was yet to be determined.

By the time we arrived at the NAC  I was bouncy, and giggly at attending an event on a school night. Was it ill-advised for someone my age? Would I pay for it the next day?

Yes, and probably.

Did I care?

Not particularly. 

The NAC was renovated over the last year. Now when you walk up to the doors, the 1960’s brown brick has been replaced with a beautiful front glass entrance that greets you. Once inside, white marble floors are under your shoes.

It’s a well-designed, improvement to our National Arts Centre.

Except, that’s only the front part. The other side, the part where I remember waiting for events to start before, still have the dated red carpeting, and brown wooden walls and doors. (I like red carpeting, but really, that needs to be replaced. As for the wooden panels and doors, they need to be restored. That’s just my opinion.)

We grabbed a quick drink, were handed some books on the way in, and then took our seats. I surveyed the other attendees and realized there were a few people most likely in their 20’s or 30’s, but most of the other people were in the 50 plus age bracket.  I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. Everyone was well-dressed and they sat quietly in a contemplative state as the music began.

As the music started, I thought I was in for an evening of only Beethoven. Some may disagree, but as the first song started to be played by the orchestra, it reminded me of the opening to the movie, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

Not completely. Not all of it.

But some parts.

My husband looked at his book and pointed at a name. It said, “Aaron Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man.”

Then I realized we were listening to someone other than Beethoven. As I looked down the list I saw another song that would be played by the orchestra that was titled, “Appalachian Spring (Suite)”.  After the intermission would be, “Beethoven Sympony No. 9…” and that would last for 30 minutes.

 

As I glanced around at the players of violins they were focused, but played their part delicately. (We were pretty close to the front, so all I could see were several rows of violins and the conductor. For that reason, I have no idea what other instruments were in the back.) I watched as the musicians in front of me played their violins with hands that slid effortlessly across the strings creating incredible sound.

It occurred to me, this is what it must be like to work in a team effectively. Each person’s part is important. Each part matters. But each person must restrain themselves no matter how passionate they are about the music in front of them. Because in order to create the right sound, they needed to work together. No one could be a trailblazer, and jazz up the music. No one should play the music in a different key.  If they worked together, they would effectively create the right sound, and please the audience.

I was in awe. I love violins. I don’t know what it is about the sound of it. It can be dramatic and choppy, or sweet and loving. It can be heartbreaking. It can be jovial. When I think about something so small, it seems impossible it could create so many different high’s and low’s.

And yet, it can.

The two songs played by the orchestra that were written by Aaron Copland, I absolutely loved.

But Beethoven, I don’t know. It went on, and on, and on…and when you thought it was done, it went on…..

For 30 minutes. Multiple high’s and low’s. With those holding the violins tightly in their hands, hair flapping up and down, and strings that flew through the air as they frayed, the music was slow at times, and quick, and angry.

Then, I found myself nodding off. But this happened even with Aaron Copland’s music and it’s not an indicator I don’t like something. In truth, music that can relax me, probably means I like it. But if it makes me so angry that I want to reach over and turn the volume down, or switch to another song before it’s over, I probably don’t like it.

Beethoven’s 9th was long, and it felt like it. Also, there were people that sang near the end. (I did not know that.) If Beethoven was playing on my phone, I would definitely have changed songs.

Given this, was it worth it?

I loved the two songs written by Aaron Copland, and I had an interesting night out listening to old music that was new to me. As I sit here, I’m wondering if I can purchase a full CD of music by Aaron Copland.

Yes, it was worth it. 

Only two questions remain:

  1. Do you think the conductor ever goes home in a bad mood? Our guy looked like he was having sooooooooo much fun. 
  2. What doth my brain play the next morning in my head: OMG, is that Beethoven?

Change #100: The Journey To Rule In Laser Tag

I would like you to meet some people.

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The Team From Left to Right: Xena, Lala, & Hershey. Filbert was the photographer so unfortunately, he wasn’t able to be in the picture.

We began our laser quest saga with a home-cooked meal thanks to Xena and Lala at Xena’s cave. We caught up on the usual topics of conversation of work, trips taken, and major and minor unexpected life setbacks. As the conversation rolled on for some time, and we devoured the mouth-watering curry chicken dinner, we lingered in Xena’s cave a little longer than we should have.

It suddenly dawned on Xena that we running short of time. At Xena’s insistence and in she suggested it was best that we split up: me and Filbert would head to the destination so that we would arrive on time, while Xena and Lala wrestled the remaining food into the refrigerator.

We would meet at our destination: Laser Quest. 

As me and Filbert rolled out of the apartment building (both because we were full, and because we were in our car) we depended on old reliable GPS to get us there quickly. We turned this way, and that, and our trusted GPS got us there. However,  as we were short on time, and GPS knew this, she insisted that she show us all around Xena’s neighbourhood first. (GPS took us on what I feel, may have been the less direct route.)

Me and Filbert arrived late. We waited for a short time as the employees of Laser Quest took care of the customers that arrived before us. Then Filbert dealt with the registration. Xena and Lala appeared not long after, and even though we were a little late in our scheduled time, it did not matter.

We finally all stood in front of one guy and when it came time to register he turned to me and said, “What code name do you want?”

I plopped my head in Hershey-style fashion of sad puppy, looked blankly at him, and said, “Code name?”

He said, “Yeah, the name you want to use for the game.”

Mimicking and summoning my LBM, I blinked a couple of times and in a voice that trailed with the end of a question said, “Hershey?”

Then everyone else gave their code names: Lala (cool), Xena (Oh. That’s a good one too.) and Filbert. (Great. That’s funny and triple cool.) With so many similarities between me and my dog, I guess it wasn’t surprising that I would pick his name.

They took us to a dark room with blue-lit lights. In there you had a good idea of what other people could see on you. Poor Xena lit up like a Christmas tree in her sports gear of reflective white hat, and white sweater. Even our teeth glowed in the dark.

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The room where you ask the question: have you chosen your attire poorly?

Xena realized she would be an easy target and took her hat off and her sweater as she wore darker clothes underneath.

Oddly enough, I hadn’t really thought about what I would wear and just wore anything. Remarkably, I did not glow very much. As well, both Filbert and Lala were ok as well.

They made us read the rules and at this moment I cannot remember them all. But some stayed with me such as: no kneeling, no running, and no swearing. Mostly, because I broke the last two. Before entering Filbert and Xena educated us on the best way to be successful: get to higher ground, and shoot your laser gun from there.

I made sure to enter last because my reasoning was this: I could shoot people in the back. (Hmmm…I’m not normally like that.) As we entered Lala asked Xena, “So we’re staying together then?”

Xena said, “No!”

As soon as we went in I shot poor Lala repeatedly with my laser. I also was shot repeatedly by many people, and one of which was my hubby, Filbert.

The advice I was given came tumbling back to me: when you’ve been killed you can’t use your gun at all for 5 seconds, so you use the opportunity to get to higher ground. Every time I was killed, I sprinted up walkways and around corners, through fog and through blue-black darkness. It wasn’t until I nearly crashed into a child 3/4 of the way through the first round, I remembered one of the rules: NO RUNNING.

At one point in the first round, I was alone and made it almost to the top. I was neatly tucked into a corner.  It was a perfect sniper spot. I could use my laser above and below me, taking multiple participants out.  At one point I looked at the back of my gun and it showed Hershey’s name (good name) and I noticed a rank of “13”. After a few moments of my sniper position, I had gained in ranking and was positioned in spot 5 at one point.

After 20 minutes the first game ended. I pushed my sweat-drenched hair aside as I walked back down the planks with my gun.  We waited in the main room and looked at the screen to see where we ranked.

Filbert stood beside me, and with a casual voice he said, “Do you see who’s #1?”

As my eyes scrolled back up the board I read: Filbert. I grinned at hubby and said, “you did good.” But hubby did well at paintball as well. There were several times he managed to remain in the game right to the end and I told Xena and Lala that. Filbert said, “I’m good at surviving.”

Xena analyzed her score card, and proceeded to yell out names of the people who shot her the most. Many of them were children. Xena went over and discussed matters with one girl, and jokingly warned her, she was going down in the next round. Her friend piped up defending her and said, “Yeah, well, we’re partnering up. You’re going down!”

Xena promptly gave the girl a high-five.

When the next round started we went back into the room and read the rules again. (I quietly reminded myself that there was to be no swearing, and no running.)

The next round started and I believe at the beginning of the game, I got separated from Xena, Lala and Filbert. At one point I remember coming around the corner,  and I shot Xena in the back. I promptly apologized. I knew it was Xena as she donned her reflective white hat and sweater for the second round. She glowed in the game room like lights do on an airport runway.

Lala, Xena and Filbert protected and stayed together in one area. Once I found my team, I stood with them. I found another sniper position. The problem with this new location unlike my last spot, was that I stood right in the middle of a walkway where I was an open target. Annoyingly one guy kept shooting me straight down the walkway. At one point after I had been killed probably a dozen times by him, I proudly announced, “I’m going to take one for the team.”

I strolled around the corner with my laser gun in hand, walked straight up to where the shots were being fired without even ducking, and fired my laser gun.

And, they killed me.

But I think I may have got them too.

When we were done, Lala had moved up in the rankings and was overjoyed at her position. Both me and Filbert had dropped. I do not recall where Xena placed.

Sweating profusely, and deliriously happy we bounced out of Laser Quest. After paintball it was nice not to hurt, and yet still have had the chance to do something completely different and that I had never done before. (Lala was also new to laser quest.)

Would I do this again?

Absolutely! Less expensive, less painful than paintball, it’s a fun-filled night out where you also get the chance to do something physical.

Why wouldn’t I?

***

What? I never built anything with legos before.

Why not start now?

20170917_173500
My next challenge.

 

Scheduled: Laser Tag On Saturday, September 16th

Where: Ottawa, ON

When: Saturday, September 16th

Time: At 8 PM we’ll be firing up our lasers! 

***

Ok, how many people thought I would never get around to this one?

Don’t be shy, raise your hands?

For this challenge, I would like to send a big old thank you to a friend that raised her hand and posted on Facebook with, “I’m in!”Love the excitement!

Now, must avoid getting killed by too many toddlers at laser tag. That would be embarrassing. Worse yet, I won’t even be able to lie if it happens. Too many witnesses as both my hubby and our friend are participating.

Let the games begin! (Well, on Saturday.)

Change #99: This Quest Has Been Fulfilled – Kayaking At Dow’s Lake

 

20170910_134249_Dow's lake kayaks

We hesitated. We waited. We considered. Then, we reconsidered.

Once all the stars were perfectly aligned, fresh out of excuses, and an overwhelming concern that we might be kayaking at Dow’s Lake when the temperature dipped to 12 degrees Celsius in a few weeks, we drove to Dow’s Lake today and rented some kayaks.

Some may say this isn’t much of a boundary. That I picked a safe and controlled environment. We had perfect whether conditions, and there was no threat of us going through the Ottawa rapids where I at least, would be guaranteed to go swimming.

Except, keep in mind that hubby nor I, ever kayaked a day in our lives.

Once we paid our deposit and received our life jackets, I watched as my husband effortlessly glided into his kayak. I wondered if he had lied to me all these years. Didn’t he say they were tipsy? That they were wobbly beneath our feet?  Although, I know he had never been on a kayak before I had assumed that he spoke with someone who knew.

An attendant motioned to me that my kayak was ready. I strolled over and then stepped into the kayak convinced hubby was wrong and it wasn’t so bad. It wobbled. I braced myself, in particular my knees, and flopped my butt into the seat with a thud. My hands clutched my phone and I nearly lost my paddle with the effort. With one hand still holding the phone, I looked around and wondered where I should put it? With no options either in front of me, or behind me for that matter, I stuck it under my thigh in the hope it wouldn’t get wet and I didn’t kill another phone.

(Tangent Story: A few years ago I went swimming with LBM. Cole’s notes version goes something like this: we were walking on a trail, Hershey got hot, and began stretching out in puddles in order to cool off. It’s one of his favorite things to do. The dirtier the puddle, the happier he is.

He did this several times until at one point both of us thought he was in yet another puddle, but it turned out to be a swamp. Needless to say, he disappeared a second after stepping into it and was under water for a few seconds. Panic-stricken, I shouted his name. Feeling like it was an eternity and that my puppy was drowning, I did what every parent would do. I jumped into the same “puddle” after him!

I proceeded to push aside murky water while shouting, HERSHEY!!!  Not even a second later, I saw his little brown bum walking up the embankment calmly. Relieved, I watched him slid backwards a couple of times, until I gave him a final push to help him up. I waded up the same embankment.  Safe on the trail again, he proceeded to have “demon puppy” as I like to call it. Yeah. Good times. )

(No really, it was. I laughed, and laughed. And then we drove home in my husband’s car soaked and stinking like swamp water. I had to clean it out later. That was less fun. )

Ok…that wasn’t much of a Cole’s notes version. Oh well. Back to kayaking.

Once in the kayak I began paddling. Except, I had no idea how to steer. I gently plopped by paddle into the water and splashed some water aside while hubby paddled his way in my direction. Unable to steer, I nearly crashed into him. A collision was only averted because I stuck my paddle out against his kayak pushing him away.

Yeah, that’s my definition of steering. The concrete wall that makes up the Rideau Canal was less lucky though when a few short minutes later, I drove my kayak directly into it. Not with a lot of speed because at that point I had no idea how to go fast. But with a gentle, thump.

That was embarrassing. 

Hubby all the while is trying to explain to me how to steer. “If you leave your paddle in the water the drag will slow you down a bit…If you push to the right or left, you can turn.”

Here are photos of hubby. He is the expert.

But I’m not listening. I’m too busy arguing with my kayak.

My feet got wet. My jeans were wet up to the knees. Apparently, there is drip from your paddle.  I now understood why the attendant said, “I’ll see if we have a dry one,” when he went looking for kayaks.

We were going to wear sport clothes before we left but I had declared, “We make such a big deal about things. It shouldn’t be that complicated.” The way I saw it, we were sitting in a kayak on the water. We weren’t in the water.

Oops. That’s what happens when you make assumptions about stuff you know nothing about. 

Eventually though, I found a rhythm. I pushed my paddle deeper into the water and I picked up speed.  I could paddle multiple times on one side in order to turn my kayak right or left. My husband did it easily and with little concentration. For myself, it required me to consciously think about what I was doing, and what direction I meant to go in. I had to plan. For me, it was like skating where I lack the ability to turn and stop. But this time, I was in a kayak.

Oh yeah, and because once I realized I had to dig deep into the water in order to gain speed, I did this with enormous effort. At one point, I nearly tipped myself out of the kayak. I would have gone swimming and kayaking all in one day.

Right to the very end the steering was a challenge. Hubby glided his kayak along the side of the dock and got out. Me, still bumbling about on the other side, I pushed water here and there, and even with hubby’s guidance I still failed. Instead, the front of my kayak hit the dock and I bounced backwards. Then, I paddled backwards. Finally, hubby and the attendant could pull me in. With much wobbling on my part, and both the attendant and my husband helping me, I barely made it out.

Would I do it again? I don’t know.

What do you think?

20170910_141153_Me Smiling