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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Day 1: Vancouver, B.C.

It all started with an obsession of Linus Tech Tips. After discovering his youtube channel and learning so much tech-related stuff, I thought it would be fun to plan a trip to Vancouver, BC, where they are based, for the LTX (Linus Tech eXpo) 2019. They promised it would be bigger and better than ever (having only been running for 2 years prior to this one.) I was going to attempt to do this trip alone, and planned hotel stays and things to do, including traveling up to Whistler for a day. And then Patrick came into my life. Although he's not a techie like I am, he enjoys watching Linus on youtube and I invited him to come with me on this trip. That was only 3 months ago, believe it or not!

The Drive
It was going to take roughly 3.5 hours to get to Vancouver, depending on Northbound traffic and customs, so I wanted to start early. We left my place at 5am Friday, July 26th, for the trek north. I had never crossed the border as an adult so I was super nervous, but everything turned out fine. Our first stop of the day was trying to find an ATM machine to exchange currency/find a Tim Horton's to have breakfast. We were already getting frustrated. The first place we checked turned out to be a 7-Eleven with a Tim Horton's express and a broken ATM. Next stop was an actual Tim Horton's but no ATM machine. At least we got breakfast. On the plus side, our debit cards worked fine; it would charge us CAD but our bank amount was in USD, so it ended up being less. So our next stop was actually going to be Wal-Mart. Patrick needed some flip-flops for a future activity and I wanted to find this hair Gelee called Girls with Curls. Apparently it's not sold in the US and it's Bianca Renee's favorite curly girl gel.
Wal-Mart 1 was completely out of stock. That was fine. We managed to get money out of an ATM to use for the remainder of our trip.

[Side note: In order to change my vehicle to Kph, I also had to change from Fahrenheit to Celsius. I kept complaining that I didn't know how hot it was outside. And Patrick joked about Canadian time being in Kila-hours and Milli-minutes. I love this man.]

Lynn Canyon Park
Google research originally sent me to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which admittedly looked really cool, however it would cost a pretty penny to go to, so I looked for other options. Turns out, Lynn Canyon was free and also had a
suspension bridge. Can I just point out that I am SO INCREDIBLY GLAD that Patrick joined me on this trip and was driving? Because Jesus Wept, Vancouver is BAD. Traffic was a complete nightmare and people were walking everywhere and ugh. I would have been so anxious and stressed - it's worse than Seattle!

Anyway, so it took us 30 minutes to get there, and parking was atrocious as well. It was over 80 degrees outside and we had no idea that this park had not only trails and a bridge, but a freaking awesome swimming hole with seriously inviting water. Patrick wanted to jump in - clothes and all.

I am also very proud of my sweetie for crossing the bridge; he's got a fear of heights and he had no idea what was in store for the rest of our trip.

Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours

The next stop on my list was Stanley Park. This place is massive - larger than Central Park - so I had decided that the best way to explore it would be not by foot, but by carriage. Again, the traffic getting there was a nightmare, and the roads are a bit weird; so still super glad I wasn't driving. We paid to park and found the tour. Although it was relaxing, I found it a tad boring. Plus, Patrick and I were running on fumes - especially him because he got way less sleep last night than I had. It being 85+ degrees out didn't help either. We walked through the garden on the way back to our car and were glad that it was time to head to the hotel. 

YWCA Hotel
After our trip to Stanley Park, it was time to check into our hotel. Okay, this place was pretty sweet. It's a mix between a hotel and a hostel - so you get a private room, but the bathroom is shared on each floor. There were 12 floors and some had laundry or a kitchen, and some were just rooms (like ours). It saved me a ton staying here because Vancouver, in summer, is not cheap. We're talking $200-$400 a night. This place was $120 (plus $20 to park in their garage). The YWCA was right in the heart of downtown and only a mile walk to the Vancouver Lookout and the Convention Center, where LTX was being held. The room itself was modern and nice. It still had A/C, a sink and a mini-fridge, and unfortunately two twin beds instead of a queen, but you make do with what you get! I highly recommend this place if you need to stay in Vancouver proper.

view from the hotel

Dark Table
I had discovered this place in my google searches and made a reservation for 5:45pm. So this place is pretty cool. Basically, there are a few of these restaurants in the world, and you eat in complete darkness. The waiters are all blind. You order before you go in, and they lead you to your table. We opted for the Dinner/Dessert combo. I ordered the mushroom risotto, and Patrick had the lamb rigatoni. The desserts were to be a surprise. It wasn't too difficult to eat and drink in the dark. You know where your mouth is, and you kind of remember where you placed your water. I do feel as

though the pleasure of eating your food can be heightened if you take away your sense of sight. I also think that people felt as if they needed to talk louder because they couldn't see. It was disturbingly loud in that place. I would have been much happier with some sound dampened walls or something.
That risotto though - wow. It was amazingly delicious. I was excited for dessert. It was reminding me of a blind taste test where you had to guess what you're eating. It ended up being way too easy, though. I got a cheesecake, and Patrick got a chocolate ganache cake. We switched. He loves cheesecake. All in all, a really cool experience.

Vancouver Lookout
The last stop of my list for the day was the Vancouver Lookout. They have a tall, spaceship-like tower just like Seattle's own Space Needle. It was getting close to sunset, and I was suddenly excited at the prospect of going up there to watch the sunset because I had missed out last week on Patrick's trip to Seattle with his family. We parked back at the hotel and walked to it. Although the views were very nice, it didn't seem as impressive as the Space Needle because Vancouver is riddled with high rises. They have 3 high rise skylines, even. The view of the sunset was marred with buildings blocking the bay, which was certainly unfortunate. I still managed to get some decent sunset pictures, but I was having more fun doing tilt-sift and city nightscapes. Those turned out really well considering I didn't have my tripod on me. 

I so love the tilt-shift effect!

Vancouver [east] Convention Center, where LTX was held

So that was all we managed to get done that day. It turned out very well and I'm glad I hadn't overbooked us. On to LTX tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Panorama Point

Patrick has been busy with family this weekend. His niece, Cierra, and her friend Kaylee are visiting from San Diego. He'd asked me for things to do up here, and thought it would be nice to do a hike to show off our beautiful state. I suggested Skyline Trail up at Paradise on Mt Rainier because it has a view to die for: with Mt Adams, Mt Hood, and Mt St Helens on the skyline, along with the rest of Mt Rainier behind you. He asked if I wanted to join him and I agreed.

So Patrick, Cierra, and Kaylee were all running on about 3-4 hours of sleep. They had spent an afternoon up in Seattle and enjoyed the sunset up at the Space Needle (can we say jealous??). I had told them we needed to be on our way by 6 because it was a 2 hour drive and Paradise is the most popular destination on the mountain. The weather was going to be picture perfect and it was going to be crowded as hell, so we had to get there early. I think leaving by 6:40 was an accomplishment with 2 19-year-olds. And actually, with Patrick as well xD

This was my first time meeting Cierra and she's a very sweet kid. I like her a lot. Her and Patrick have an amazing dynamic and it's fun to watch them interact. I could say he's not much different with me a lot of the time; especially when it comes to tossing straw wrappers at my face.

So anyway, it has been several years since I attempted to hike Skyline Trail to Panorama Point. I don't know how Monica and I had managed it last time - I must have been in much better shape back then! This hike was killer. I'm also older - that probably doesn't help.

The hike seemed much more strenuous this time, plus I had a heaver pack on and probably a heaver camera. You do climb roughly 1,700 feet in 1.9 miles, plus the air is very thin that high up. We technically didn't even make it to the top. We stopped at 1.7 miles where there was a lookout point and we could see that we didn't want to climb the rest of the way to the top.
We rested at the lookout and played around with the chipmunks that had no fear when it came to
begging for food (which we never gave them. They will steal it though if you're not watching closely!) and hiked back down.

After that, the kids slept in the car and Patrick drove us to The RAM; a pretty good choice of a place to eat that wasn't around in San Diego, not to mention it was on the waterfront. After we ordered, we got a surprise visit from a magician. He was going between tables showing magic tricks to patrons. Now, Patrick loves magic. He told me once he'd love to do it but doesn't have the dexterity for it. This guy was great. He started with card tricks, and even just the way she shuffled the cards was impressive. But although it was fun watching him, I was more interested in watching Patrick. He was sitting next to me and kept looking back at me. The look of pure wonderment on his face was adorable. I didn't think I could love him any more in that moment just by watching the joy on his face.

After lunch, we stopped at Vahalla Coffee because Kaylee wanted to try a local roaster's coffee and she bought a bag to bring home with her. We stopped at my place for a minute since we were close, but unfortunately I had driven down to Olympia so my car was still down there. I was exhausted, but knew we had to go. On the way down I saw I-5 north was a complete mess; more than usual on a Sunday, and I really didn't want to sit in all that after the drive we just had, so I decided to hang out with them for a while. We ended up playing Cards Against Humanity; which was the first time for me because I had never had enough people around to play it before. It was definitely a lot of fun. Kaylee was a beast. I must have liked her humor the most because I ended up picking her card most often when it was my turn.

At 9pm, I was still checking the traffic and it was still pretty shitty - a 34 min drive was going to take more like 45 - I still just needed to call it and go home. So we all split - they decided to go get ice cream with Jordan and Patrick and I ended up going to Target to get a fan (it was so bloody hot in his apartment) because I didn't want to leave him yet.

I know, it's sappy. But I'm about to get sappier. Be prepared.

So I will admit, I am jealous of our time. I am a Quality Time Love Language, and I love our time together. I had felt like even though we had just spent the entire day together, his attention was split with his family. And I'm obviously not blaming him for that, but all the time we get never seems like enough, to me. But watching him with Cierra, and watching him watching the magic tricks, made me fall in love with him even more than I ever thought I could. He keeps me warm from the biting cold wind on the mountain top. Cares for my well-being like no one else. I feel like my heart is going to burst. I don't know how I could have found such an amazing human being. I just told him yesterday how excited I was for our trip to Canada (This week!!) because of all the time I'll get to spend with him - just us; not about LTX and meeting Linus. Not about Whistler and the gondola ride and the views. Just him. And our time together. The most important thing in my life.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Shooting at the Range 7/15/19

It has been a while since I've gone shooting, and rarely do I ever in the first place. I'm definitely no good at it, and I certainly don't have the muscle mass/skill to deal with the recoil of any legit firearm.

I've been around firearms my whole life. I remember my dad teaching me how to use one when I was younger. He owns I think 2-3 firearms, one being a bear rifle. I used to shoot with his BB gun all of the time, and now it's living at my apartment (it's a cute thing, looks like an old style gun with a "wooden" grip) Unfortunately, the c02 cartridge leaks, so every time I want to use it I have to replace the cartridge. It's so easy to use, though. Much easier than dad's pump-action .22 rifle. Man, that thing is a pain.

My first experience at an indoor range was with Josh. He owned a .22 rifle with a sniper scope on it. People were definitely holding back their laughs and jokes with that one. But, it certainly made shooting targets more fun. When I was dating David, we went to a place near Greenwater that allowed outdoor shooting. I did pretty well with his 9mm. I think he also owned either a .45mm or some kind of revolver? I can't remember. But we were mainly there so that he could help his friend's kid calibrate the scope on his rifle.

Apparently, Jordan had been wanting to go shooting at a range for some experience, and Patrick, being the great step-daddy he is (*giggle*) offered to take him and invited me along. Let me tell you, it is not cheap to go shooting, especially if you're renting the gun and having to buy rounds for it. I decided to bring ol' BB along just for the hellovit. When the guy behind the counter was telling us some of the rules, he said that only 1 gun was allowed at a time, so I had to ask "This is a silly question but, I brought my BB gun - can I take that in?" He couldn't even contain his smirk and actually had to ask someone else. (ROLE REVERSAL - think of the reaction had I not been a chick! lol) And yeah, my BB gun was sitting in a teal Makita drill case because I had no legit way to carry it around.

So, we all decided to share a 9mm, bought some bullets and targets, and went inside. Poor Jordan was a tad intimidated. After Patrick went, I thought I would at least try to fire the BB gun before assuming the c02 cartridge was bust, but nope. Pulled the trigger and out rolls the BB like some kind of cartoon sketch. After a quick refill I fire off some BB's and then switch to the 9mm. The grip is so painful lol. It was a "light" recoil gun, but I definitely couldn't get my shots off anywhere near where I was trying to aim it. After I was done, Patrick  said to Jordan "your turn." and Jordan was like "no thanks" lol. Get up there you dork, it was your idea to come here! Once he started firing though, he got over it and enjoyed himself.

<---Patrick's first target at 25 feet (all the head shots are from my BB gun lol)

Patrick's second target at 35 ft ---->

The best part was recording the shooting in slo-mo, though. We had a good time!