Saturday, August 20, 2011

City Chase

Ok so if you know me/follow along to this blog you know that I like the amazing race. Look I mention in this post…and in this post…and in this post. I have been avid fan since season 2. Which started when I was 13. Wow I totally just realized that I have been watching the amazing race consistently for 10+ years, Crazy! (Related note…season 19 starts soon!!!!)
Alas since they do not have a Canadian version of the show I will never get to live my dream to be on it.
But this past weekend I came pretty close! Mike and I were participants in Mitsubishi City Chase Toronto, basically an amazing race-esque chase throughout one city. It is a Canadian thing that started in TO in 2003, and now is an international event. The money raised from the event goes to a charity called right to play which provides children in developing countries sporting equipment (like soccer balls and sneakers). The basics are that at the beginning of the race teams were given a list of 35 chasepoints that are all over the city, you have to complete 10 from the list and travel using your own two legs or city transit (they gave us a pass for the day). First one back wins.
The Championship is in Halifax! 
Here were some of my highlights
Goodlife did a zumba ensipred work out to warm up, and the main chicky was fabulous! The theme of this race was the 70’s so it was set to 70’s music. Next one of the organizers came out in full 70’s costume to go over the race details, and we learned the secret handshake…spoiler alert, you had to turn to a stranger and hug them for 10 seconds, super not awkward at all! 

Then a guest chaser, this older man who runs a crazy amount of marathons for Right to Play, gave a little speech. After that the 70’s guy came back and said “Your clues sheets are at Union Station or the Rogers Centre….go” and everyone took off!

Mike and I ran to the rogers centre to get our clue sheet, along with half of the 500+ teams. We quickly started figuring out clues, and once we got a few we headed to our first stop, solving on the way as we walked. We decided to go to Centre Island Ferry terminal for a chasepoint having to do with acting. On the way there we found 2 more chase points, a kayaking/trust your partner thing at Peter’s Basin (1), and Strip Jenga (2) (it was not as scandalous as it sounds.) 

For the acting one it was actually a charades based game, where there was one team acting out a 70’s movie or tv show. All the other teams there got to yell out guesses and whoever got it right got to go next. From the lifetime of charades training (aka Crainium) Mike amazingly guessed the clue right when we got there, and we got a team to guess ours super fast as well! Huzzah! (4)
After all the waterfront business we streetcar-d over to Ontario Place, did two more chase points (A 4 person ski walk where we worked with an amazing team so we got done really fast (5), and a match the picture to the OP attraction one (6), which we guessed at, and happened to get it right), then we ran to the inukshuk near OP and did a rock painting challenge (7). We went back there on Monday because I think I lost my water bottle there, and they still had all the painted rocks chillin, so I took mine home.
Notice my super sweet 70's inspired hat :P

Tadaa! It is a squirrel…obviously. By this time we had 6 done and it was only 12:30. We were feeling pretty good. The only problem was that the chase points were divided up into had to do 3/5 for the 1st section, 3/6 for the 2nd section, and the other 4 you could choose from the rest of the clues. We had all 4 optional ones done, so we had to be picky about the mandatory ones we did.

Next we walked up to King and Liberty and did a car pull challenge (had experience with that one!) then took the Dufferin Bus up to Bloor. On the bus we checked the twitter feed from the chase and found out that the winning team had checked in at 12:38. I still don’t believe it! Next we took the Bloor Subway line to Christie park for the Colombia Obstacle course (8) sponsored by Colombia…shocker, and then we continued on the subway up to St.Clair/Spadina and did surprisingly decent at the tightrope walking challenge (9).
Now we only had one left. And we had heard what it was all about. The chasepoint was called “Pick Your Poison” and the clue alluded to something gross. So we asked some other teams we ran into about it, and they told us that one person had to eat a live meal worm, and the other had to put their hand in a box full of the worms and pick a marble, whatever color the marble was corresponded to a different animal, Tarantula, Giant Lizard, or Snake. So Mike and I decided that he was going to eat this live worm thing (I could eat pretty much anything but the alive thing freaked me out) and I was going to hold the creature. One girl told me to pick the blue marble because that was the lizard. I could totally deal with holding a giant lizard or a snake but I have a mad fear of large spiders.
So we get to the chase point, and Mike noms the worm, and I reach in and grab a blue marble. I’m thinking great where is this giant lizard, then the guy starts handing me the tarantula and I was like whoa whoa whoa, this is supposed to be a lizard. But because these poor beasties were being bothered all day they were giving the lizard and the snake a break, so my only option was the BIG HARRY SPIDER.

But I went for it…no fear…I held out my hand and closed my eyes, and the spider crawled on my hand and was surprisingly soft and fluffy…like a cat or a dog fur feeling. So I was just about to open my eyes when the guy took it off my hand, and I was shocked that I only had to hold it for about 7 seconds (10). It was pretty cool to face my fear of big spiders, and find out they aren’t too bad at all!
And with that adrenaline rush we hoped on a Subway to the finish line and clocked in at 5:20. Not bad for 1st timers! We checked the results later and we came in 131st out of 591 teams. We came in just before the super intense marathon runner, which I think is pretty good!
At the after party we got to meet some of the other teams, and they gave out door prizes, and the awards for the top 5 teams. The 1st team told everyone what chasepoints they did and what route they took, and Mike and I have started strategizing for next year!!! Looking back we would have skipped Ontario Place, and stuck to the main transit lines more.  It was an awesome experience, and it only made me want to go on the amazing race even more!!!

Cheap Weekend/Vs Expensive Weekend

Did you ever have one of those weekends where the stars align and you have a whole lot of fun without spending a lot of money? Or have you ever had a weekend were the stars align and you get to do some amazing stuff, but you spend a ton?

That is what happened to me the past two weekends.
Some background…
I am mildly always concerned about money. I worked as a waitress in highschool, raking in the big bucks with tips, but yet I would save most of it for school. Yes I would splurge now and then (the yearly music department trips were really just a shopping spree) but I have always been conscious with my money. Spending large amounts of money makes me really nervous, even though I know my budget. Prime example of this was when I went to IKEA and bought everything I needed for the apartment, as the cashier was ringing in each item and the total was going up and up and up (still way under the max I had set) I almost had a full blown panic attack. The BF can attest to that.
Anyway back to the point, even though I have a good paying job, I am living in an expensive city, and my budget doesn’t have room for a whole lot of lavish splurges. My dreams of graduating university and buying a whole new wardrobe and a fancy smancy camera were slightly unrealistic.
So the BF and I have been trying to save money as much as possible and that includes finding some cheap/free stuff to do on the weekends. The counter argument to living in an expensive city is that there is a TON of free stuff to do.
2 weekends ago was our cheap weekend…
Friday Night-
·         Ontario Place- Free admission-thank you CTV for sponsoring a summer of free admission at OP)

·         $5 each for a log flume ride at Ontario place.
·         Free Sloan concert- part of the free summer concert series

·         Movie Matinee- Cheap tickets since the company I work for has a corporate rate with the movie theatre! $8.50 each
·         Snacks- Ok this wasn’t that cheap, movies are way more expensive here than in Halifax
·         $3 each subway ride to Taste of the Danforth
·         Free entertainment- walking around seeing the quails.

·         Not so free- sampling the food, and having a greek food supper, buying 2 shirts at a sidewalk sale. Still cheap though!
·         $3 each subway ride back home
So compared to that weekend-this past weekend was a BIG OLD SPLURGE
Saturday was CITY CHASE which has its own whole post coming up next. That was $150 total, and worth every penny. It was amazing…see the post below.
And Sunday was the Rogers Cup. The BF loves Andre Agassi, and he was playing in the legends cup before the women’s finals. So we went! I don’t know how much the tickets were but they weren’t cheap, but it is kinda a once in a lifetime thing for Mike to see Andre play, so we had to go! 

We had good seats, we saw two great matches – the first (the legends game) was funny and more laid back, the second was Serena Williams vs. Sam Stosur, and was SUPER INTENSE. Fun to watch! 

And even though it was threatening to rain the whole time, it held off until the end, and we were drenched with a thunder storm on the way back to the car.  Unfortunately because we were there all day we had to buy food there and that was whole bunch more money. Water was 5 dollars a bottle blech.

Definitely couldn’t spend like that every weekend!
As much as I hate spending money, there are some experiences that were totally worth it (Trip to NYC, Rogers Cup, Travelling to visit family etc). I almost didn’t do city chase because of how much it was, but I would have totally regretted sitting around on Saturday, knowing that I could have been out there having fun! I guess that is why I save, so that I always have enough money to have the opportunity to do stuff like that and not be stressed about paying off my credit card at a later date J

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Awkward Silence

I really need to blog more. I have a billion ideas about what to write and then I forget them all by the time I get to write the post!

One of the things I have been thinking about lately is this big old change that has happened to my life. For the most of the time it is excellent..great job, great apartment, great boyfriend and cat, etc. 

But there is one thing I am realizing in this little adventure. I am actually kind of shy. Those of you who know me at all may be shocked by this, but it is true. It is the weirdest thing, I can get up in front of 1000 people and give a speech without any nerves, but yet meeting new people makes me anxious. I know that I got involved in University to give me an excuse to meet/talk to people. It was my odd icebreaker to tell people about events for council, I know I am weird. 

But now without that safety net I am not sure what to do! It is super annoying that there are tons of people my age at work and in the area where I live, but yet I don't know how to communicate. Ahhh..the socially awkward engineer in me finally shows up. 

I have heard different suggestions for meeting people...join a gym, join a church etc. For one, no one really chats at the gyms here, and I am not really a hard core church goer, and it would probably be a bad thing to fake that and join a church group. 

Maybe it is the East Coast Friendlies vs City people stereotypes that is also throwing me off. I haven't really attempted to make small chat, but I envision it going like this. 

Me: Wow crazy weather today
Stranger: Yep. (Stares at me like I'm a crazy person)
Me: (Awkward silence)

And that's about it. 

Thinking back to the last time I was meeting new people I was in 1st year of university. Most of my really good friends I met only near the end of first year, and even into second year. I'm just being impatient. I am sure we will meet people who are normal, or even slightly nerdy. And maybe we will even talk about the weather!