Saturday, July 28

If you Lead, I will Follow

8 weeks into the Aspire climbing class and we've finally fallen.  They've been building us up to lead climbing - we are now all certified to belay for top-roping.  This is when you tie yourself to a rope, the rope up to the top of the wall over a beam/through a chain and then back down to the belayer.  Lead climbing is when you take the rope with you up the wall and clip it in as you go.  Why is this different?  Because, for the first little bit, you aren't attached to anything (ie. if you fall you hit the ground).  Obviously the first clip can't be THAT far off the ground - maybe 8-10 feet.  But it also means that if you clip to the wall and then make it to the next clip but miss it and fall you fall below your last clip - sometimes 5-10 feet before the rope/belayer catches you.  You gotta trust that person holding on to the rope.

They take it pretty slow with us but this week was the big fall.  And you know what?  I had no problem letting go.  And it was fun!  Kind of a rush and over before you know it.  Honestly - the part I don't like is the first 10 feet where you aren't clipped to anything!

Difference between top rope and lead falling

Lead Climbing - Learning to Fall

Monday, July 23

Tasty Edmonton

Edmonton is a city of festivals and some of them are very tasty festivals indeed.  The square outside of city hall becomes a showcase for the city's restaurants.  Each participating establishment sets up a tent and offers two selections from their menu in miniature portion for a fraction of the cost.  Eaters buy tickets and exchange them for food.  So, basically, you take money and buy their money and then buy food.  It is all too easy for ones eyes to become larger than one's digestive system.  And all too easy to part with this "money".

The variety was decent - a little Thai, a lot of Chinese, Vietnamese, some Italian, some Mexican, Caribbean and good ol' Canadian.  I took the chance to try Hungarian along with a little sauerkraut and it wasn't bad at all.  There was freshly squeezed lemonade and deep fried pickles with fresh tzatziki.  Mini cappuccino chocolates to get rid of those single tickets.  The hardest to resist are things I haven't tried so the white tea vanilla ice cream caught my eye.  The white tea flavour is subtle but a great undertone to a fabulous treat.  With a few tickets left I plan to try the local vegan restaurant and some tacos.

John Frieda (the company) had a booth set up to market their frizz-ease products and, let's be honest, those words are always music to this girl's ears.  Since there was no wait ShanWow, DIW and I decided to volunteer ourselves for a little up-do right there on the square.  Justin, a stylist from Montreal, gave me a mini Snooki bump.  ShanWow left looking even more elegant with her side swept bangs and DIW ended up with a spectacular braided up do.  Plus we all left with goodie bags.

Hungarian tetrapod sausage and sauerkraut

ShanWow engaging in her favourite summer activity

White tea ice cream

Sunday, July 22


It is official - I have finally been to Canada's westernmost province and can put my total at 6.  The east continues to elude me.  Living out here does have some perks.  I always thought the first place in BC I would explore would be Vancouver; from what I hear, a city after my own heart.  But Kelowna is an 11 hour drive away and Vancouver is 15 so on taking a 4 day weekend still meant that Kelowna was more reasonable in the car.  Otto joined the adventure along with former-red-deer-roommate and another friend.

The drive through the mountains was beautiful.  Even if I napped for a small portion of it.  The long highway is full of attractions to entertain the weary traveler including a mining ghost town, a dairy farm with 30+ flavours of ice cream, a creepy enchanted forest and, the best attraction of all, goats on a ramp.  Unsuspecting travelers are lured to the Log Barn with promise of candy and beef jerky.  Little did they know they would end up spending their quarters on goat feed.  When the goats see humans anywhere near the gumball machine corn dispensers they climb up a ramp to await the treat.  The corn goes in a cup and the goat must turn a bicycle tire attached to a pulley to bring the treat two stories up to its trough.  Brilliant goats!

As for the city of Kelowna itself - it tries hard.  It sits on a lovely lake, has a few trendy little shops and has a significant number of public sculptures/art pieces.  Even with all this the city lacks character, something hard to overcome by newer centres.  Oh well - people aren't going to Kelowna for the town they are going for the 38 degree weather, sunshine, boating and, of course, the wine.  Not that I really like wine but there are tours of wineries every day with tastings.  A few of them are a little hinky.  For example - Summerhill Winery differentiates itself with a 1/8th replica of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt.  The belief is that the sacred shape of the pyramid channels positive energy so they store the wine inside.  Their claims include that people in a blind taste test choose, at a rate of 82%, the wine stored in the pyramid against the exact same wine stored in their "normal" cellar.  Of course, my first questions would be about the storage condition of the control
 wine.  But I digress.  I could have stayed inside that pyramid for hours but that was likely due to the temperature differential and not the result of the massive quartz crystal on the ceiling.  Besides the hokey pokey I also learned that I like gewurztraminer and reisling - so I prefer the Germans.

We also did the apparently obligatory tour of the Mission Hill winery, one of the largest in the region.  The wine here was also stored underground and included the personal pottery collection of wine holding vessels as old as 5000 BCE.  In a group of about 12 people we ranged from a snooty quebecois man who really knew his wine and engaged in all of the less flattering wine tasting practices.  For those of you not in the know, it is acceptable to slurp wine and also good form to spit it into the pail provided instead of deigning to actually drink any.  On the other side of the spectrum were two couples from (of course) Edmonton.  The wine tour must have been a last minute decision because the females of the group (somewhere in their mid-20s) were wearing sandals with thick, colourful fuzzy socks.  One member had taken what used to be a skirt with an elastic waist, hiked it up to her chest and tried to pass it as a dress.  We may have been fooled if the slit didn't hit near her belly button and reveal her "juicy" underwear.  At least the dress partially covered the naked woman tattooed on her chest because that would have been tacky.

Other stops on the Kelowna tour included Carmelis goat cheese factory.  A small place on someone's property with over 20 flavours of goat's milk gelato.  And all you can eat waffles at The Jammery wasn't so bad.  But one of the best parts of the trip, since I was out-voted for couch surfing, was visiting with some locals who happened to be the aunt and uncle of one of our troop.  We sat in the backyard for hours and consumed cherries right off of their trees.  Cherries RIGHT. FROM. THE. TREE.  That's the life.