Lions, Leopards & Cheetahs, oh my! From Canada to the Middle East to Africa…plus a half marathon!

I have been home for 7 days and avoiding this post. How does one describe, through a screen and some pictures, an experience that was like no other. An experience that I can barely digest in my head let alone through a keyboard. But here it goes…this post wll cover the first 5 days of my 10 day trip.

On December 26th I boarded a plane bound for Namibia, Africa.

But first, we had a connecting flight in Doha, Qatar  – a tiny country tucked in close to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and across from Iran…Dorothy was headed FAR AWAY from home!

This flight had a layover in Doha long enough (9 hours) to give us time to have a quick tour of this fascinating middle eastern city!

But first, can I tell you about how fancy and amazing Qatar airlines is?!

In total, I spent 43 hours flying with them…and had a middle seat for most of it…and have never felt like I had more room in my life on a plane and OMG, the food was amazing…and just the service in general…well, except when it came to my luggage, but I’ll get to that!

The plane had cameras anchored to the outside of the plane that you could access during the flight – this was the view we had while approaching Doha!

Once in Doha (and through its confusing customs and security processes), we toured around the city and saw the very modern looking cityscape with its colourfully illuminated skyscrapers…

…and then its well known Souq Wakif (Standing Market)…total mixture of modern and old.

For layovers as long as ours, Qatar airline provides you with a hotel room – included in the cost of your ticket! This was a lifesaver.

After an 12 hour flight and before a 9 hour flight, being able to shower and change clothes is PRICELESS.

Before boarding our flight to Namibia, one of the girls I was with bought a gossip magazine, Ok!, and while flipping through it, she noticed something very odd…

All those girls are wearing bikinis…but apparently, in a Muslim country, they can’t/won’t sell magazines with such revealing pics, so EVERY magazine had had a black sharpie marker taken to it!!!!!

9 hours later I glimpsed my first view of Africa…

I was so friggin’ excited!!!! Until, I found out that my luggage had not made the flight with me. It was still stuck in Boston. And the next flight in wasn’t until Friday. And this was Wednesday. Sigh. But what can you do? Not too much. I bought a cheap sundress and wore it for the next 3 days. It made mornings much easier – no decisions needed! lol

Our first 5 days were spent at the Okonjima Nature Reserve – 20 000 hectares (200 square km) of protected land.

And THESE were my accommodations – I still can barely believe it!

The “hut” on the left is where my roommate for the trip and I slept. The “hut” on the right is where we lounged.

img_1267 img_1273 img_1271 img_1275 And can I tell you about the view from our beds?

Every morning, when I opened my eyes, this is what I saw…

Then, during the day, while we had our daily afternoon naps, this is often the type of scene I would witness…

Yes, that would be Pumba (or, if you insist, a warthog), just having a drink outside my bedroom.

And then at night, we would leave the outside lights on a watch the jackals prowl around!

And let me just show you a glimpse of how I ate like a QUEEN…this type of presentation was EVERY MEAL.

See what I mean about how I can barely process all this myself??? And I haven’t even got to the animals yet!!!!

With our fabulous guides, Previous (yes, that’s his name) and Daniel…

We saw…(and I took all of these myself with my trusty iPhone 7 lol)

Leopards

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Cheetahs

Giraffes

Zebras

Baboons

And tons of other creatures like this GIANT milipede!!To say it was total insanity is an understatement. To see these creatures, living in the wild, hunting for their food, trying to survive…UN.REAL.

And, as planned, I did an unofficial half marathon…because I kind of want to complete the distance of a half or full marathon on every continent…so now I have North America, Europe and Africa crossed off! I don’t know if I’ll ever actually do it, but I figured I should cross it off while I was in Africa, JUST IN CASE!!

I had some friends to start the run with me – including one of the staff from Okonjima! We started at 6am – light outside, but not stupid hot yet.

It was a trail run like no other (sand most of the way with very uneven footing and hills)…but the views along the way…a picture just doesn’t do it justice.

And, along the way, I saw antelope, warthogs, jackals and a giraffe!!!! HOW FRIGGIN’ COOL IS THAT?????

Now, the REASON I went to Namibia was for a wedding – in which I was a bridesmaid. I have been to many weddings before and have been a bridesmaid many times…but this wedding was THE MOST AMAZING WEDDING EVER. There is no way that I can convey to you how or why…just trust me. Here are some pics…as I was a bridesmaid, I had to rely on others for some pics.

Yes, the bride surprised everyone and arrived in a HELICOPTER.

There were over 100 guests – from EVERY corner of the world. It was amazing.

This is me (with my head cut off) walking down the aisle.

That’s me, the girl at the end.

Such an absolutely amazing couple!!!!

The wedding party!

The bridesmaids!

Best. Wedding favors. EVER.

And I just want to finish my post on my time in Okonjima, with some of the incredible views and sunsets I was fortunate enough to experience…

In case you didn’t guess already, I really didn’t want to come home!!! My next post will cover the 5 day safari we then experienced…spoiler alert, it was incredible!! lol

Happy Monday!

When your house feels like a zoo, serving crack (bacon) to your guests and an early winter wonderland!

Yesterday, my dad and I set a new record. For the first time in 38 years, we had to go up to the cottage and shovel off the roof BEFORE Christmas. But, to keep with some traditions, when my dad went to take my pic, I immediately became an 8 year old girl. Pure silliness.

img_0964And it didn’t stop there…

img_0957img_0959img_0960Anyway, despite my antics, we got the job done!

5264b461-5479-4f64-8e93-7b3fd284ef59And my snowshoes got their first use of the season!

0bbacdf8-34c8-4a74-a2c7-25c2cfd41661Ok, so I haven’t posted in a while and the reason being that my dabbling in crossfit led to my getting injured. VERY injured. I don’t want to go into details because, quite seriously, it still makes me ill to my stomach and it is still far from healed. But, the short of the long is that I had a mishap on a box jump and my shin, at very high speed and force, met with the edge of a wooden box jump….on a downward angle. While I encourage others to do crossfit, I have never been that injured from doing ANYTHING else and so I’m just going to put a check mark next to the sport (been there, done that) and move on.

So this past weekend TG was in town…with Dolly. OMG. It is a ZOO with her and Abby. I’m going to share a few photos and caption them appropriately…

“Hi, I know it’s 3am, but is there any room up there for me by any chance?”

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“What about room for just my head?”

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“…and maybe my front legs and shoulders?”

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“There, see?! There IS room for me!”

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“Come on guys, you NEED to make room for me, too!”

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“Um, could we chat…maybe with me on the couch next to you?”

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“It’s a lazy Saturday, right?”

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We (the humans) went to my neighbourhood Christmas party on Saturday night. Everyone brings an appetizer to share and drinks of their choice. Every year I bring a bacon themed appetizer and this year was no exception and it might have even rivaled last year’s Bacon Fried Mozzarella Sticks. This year, I brought what is called, no joke, Maple Bacon Crack. And I’m not kidding you, it is AMAZING.

bb67b97b-fd31-44da-9612-25cf31c7e4ddIt may not look that appetizing but TRUST ME. People were hounding me for the recipe and I brought some to my parents (I think it was almost better re-heated!!) last night and they were pretty much drooling after their first bite.

We’ve had quite a bit of snow in the past week…and it has been SOOOO cold. This was on this morning’s walk…-30C/-22F…and all she wanted to do was stop and eat chunks of ice!! Such a weirdo!!

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This was her “galloping” through fresh snow…

 

Happy Monday!!

Pickle + bacon = love. Power lifting before dawn and Abby.

This is love.

0c7ab7e8-fa0d-4706-bb72-662c34b499b3The Giant (TG) and I went out for lunch on Sunday to this AMAZING bagel shop…if you’ve never had Montreal-style bagels, you have not lived. I don’t have a pic of my bagel sandwich because it was after my long run and I probably could have eaten my whole arm so there was no way in hell I was going to pause to take a pic. In addition to incredibly delicious bagels and sandwich insides, they are served with the best dill pickle spear ever. After I inhaled both my sandwich and pickle, TG GAVE ME HIS PICKLE SPEAR AND SOME OF THE BACON from his sandwich. This is love. lol

TG was in town for the weekend. Along with Dolly.

da7404c8-32bd-47df-99a7-02f24c11c7d1Dolly loves me and being at my house and Abby. Abby is not overly enthused by any of it, but we saw some progress and hope that they might be friends one day…Abby allowed Dolly to share the sunshine with her yesterday afternoon…

img_0718Yes, she was on a different side of the bed, yes, she had her back to Dolly, but this was progress!!

Saturday morning I had hockey…I have no pictures because, my team wouldn’t let me leave the turf…reason being that within the first 15 minutes I had already had a hat trick…by the end of the game I had scored 8 (!!!) goals. The final score of the game was 10-2. Oh, and did I tell you that I was the only girl? Boo-yah, boys!! lol

Saturday night I organized a party for one of the guy’s on my hockey team (and president of our club) who turned 60 a few weeks ago.

img_0716I made cupcakes…with dinosaurs on them…because he’s old like a dinosaur! lol!!

Before we went, I took a pic of me and TG…well, kinda…

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Remember, I’m not a shorty at 5’8!!

As for my workouts…last week I had crossfit on Monday evening, ran 10k with the team Tuesday night, crossfit on Wednesday evening, ran with the team on Thursday. And then did my long run on Sunday – 9 miles. I took this pic yesterday on our run…

img_0717Beautiful, eh?

And then, no joke, this was this morning on my way home from my 6am (!!!) crossfit class…

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Oh, hello winter.

As for crossfit…I really wish I had pics of this because I still can’t believe I’m doing some of these movements…this morning, I did about a million of these (well, except not with NEARLY as much weight!!! or that outfit lol)

snatch

TG and Dolly left last night and Abby enjoyed sprawling in her normal way on the bed…

612d6ad9-4c4c-4e52-80b8-834039a3c42c…No shame with her, eh?!!

Happy Monday!!

The comedy is over…WE WON!!!! Dabbling in a new sport (& hurting for it), kitchen time and Abby the non-fan.

Um, guys, WE WON THE GREY CUP!!!

Here is our 41 year old (!!!) quarterback winning game MVP (he was league MVP last year)

Taken from the warmth and comfort of my home…although I would have killed to have been in Toronto to see this in person!!!

And let’s just ignore the silly mounties in the background who are apparently not allowed to crack a smile…so cheesy Canadian! lol

It was THE MOST INSANE GAME EVER. We went in as the COMPLETE underdogs against the Calgary Stampeders who were practically undefeated this season. By halftime we were up 27-7. But then, in true Redblack fashion, we completely threw it away in the third quarter and by the end of the fourth quarter, Calgary had tied it up 33-33 and we were GOING INTO OVERTIME!!!

I could barely breathe I was so nervous!! How did a 3 year old expansion team make it to their second Grey Cup in a row and THEN IN OT against the, by far, strongest team in the league??

And then we did the impossible. We won 39-33 in OT.

Our coach hoisting the cup!!

Our coach hoisting the cup!! (The female mountie is going to get reprimanded…I see a slight smile!!)

Ok, so that was the end of my week but I absolutely needed to talk about it first!!

Let’s see…last week…

I got my winter tires put on my car…using the BEST SERVICE EVER – a mobile tire guy who COMES TO MY HOUSE, changes my tires in about 15 minutes and charges $30.

I don’t know why more of these mobiles services don’t exist or why ANYONE is taking their car to a garage to get it done and to pay much more!!

I’ve started dabbling in some crossfit…in order to be allowed to actually take the classes at the gym near my house, you have to go through 6 individual sessions with the owner…I don’t have any pics because I’m literally just getting my ass kicked for an hour. Last week I had a 1 hour session on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’m hurting.

On Tuesday & Thursday I ran with my team…easy 6 miles each day…with some planking in the middle lol

Thursday night, The Giant was in town and we made Ham & Cheese Sliders

OMG. Soooo good!

And then we relaxed and watched GOT…

…everyone relaxed…

Saturday morning was field hockey…we didn’t have any subs…I could barely breathe by the end.

I tried out this new recipe Saturday night…Taco Past Salad

And I will DEFINITELY be making it again!!!

Sunday morning was a 10 mile run in “warm” winter temps…longest run I have done in FOREVER…it kinda killed me. lol

Then I spent Sunday getting stuff done around the house…

Xmas lights went up

Put up some xmas decorations in the house. I really don’t put many up…and they all have to be up above snout level…

Made Shepherds Pie…

Base layer

Base layer

Ready to go in the oven!

Ready to go in the oven!

And then Banana Chocolate Chip (with peanut butter) muffins…

And THEN I finally sat down and watched the game…OF THE CENTURY!!!

While I was literally on the edge of my seat for the entire game, this is how excited Abby was…literally, these are the positions she was in for the almost 4 hour game.

She is hilarious!!

Happy Monday!!!

 

 

 

Snowmageddon football mania, Abby’s new (giant) friend, and the way to my heart…

Um, remember how my football team, the Ottawa Redblacks, were the laughing stock of the the CFL (and definitely of my blog)? And then last year, they somehow got to the Grey Cup (the Canadian version of the Super Bowl)?

Well, yesterday, my dad and I found ourselves going to the game that decided who was going to 2016 Grey Cup from the Eastern division…

(Oh yeah, and winter arrived yesterday as well.)

Ummm, I can barely believe it buuuut…

My boys are going back to Grey Cup!!!!! Well worth sitting in that insane weather for almost 4 hours!!!

Saturday morning was started with a fast-paced game of field hockey…yours truly scored 3 goals…but I also screwed up 3 GREAT passes from teammates at the net so my effectiveness might have been neutral! lol

Then I headed out to the Giant’s house for the night. This is the new man in my life. He’s 6’9. And it would take a lot more than a strong gust of wind to knock him over…hence, the name, “The Giant”. And yes, he knows I call him this. lol

He is an animal lover and has his own dog as well…introducing Abby and his was a little nerve racking because a) Abby can been a total lunatic and act like she’s a vicious pit bull and b) his dog could literally eat Abby in 2 bites. But, they have decided they tolerate, if not like, each other. His dog’s name is Dolly (oh, and this was taken the day before Armageddon struck lol).

We took these two nut bars out on a walk on Saturday – hours before Armageddon (the real first blast of winter for the season). The Giant lives in another city, about an hour from me…it’s GORGEOUS where he lives.

Then I cuddled with Dolly…seriously, I think she’s a bigger suck than Abby!!

Dolly basically just wants to cuddle with me at all times…well, except when there is food being cooked…then both dogs ditch me…

And yes, The Giant knows the way to my heart…he cooked me this for breakfast….

AND, gave me most of it.

This is how Abby is dealing with the current Armageddon:

And yes, this is what I woke up to this morning.

Happy Monday!!

When he wants you back, my next state race has been decided! and Abby in the morning.

See that wall o’ leaves? I feel like they are literally lined up to get into my yard…
…and make me rake the yard AGAIN!I know, I really have the tiniest backyard ever, I shouldn’t complain but STILL, l feel targeted by the leaves…like they are conspiring against me! lol

Last week, one of my best friends, Bobby was in town for work. We’ve been best friends since like, grade 10. We lived together in university and I was a groomswoman at his wedding. He works as a territory sales manager at a new brewery just outside of Toronto and was in Ottawa last week to talk to LCBO locations about carrying his product as well as the Craft Brewery…you know, that bar I seem to go to EVERY week lol…so obviously I met up with him there.

No joke, when I walked in, the first waitress who saw me was like, ‘Oh, hey, Jane! Great to see you!”

*cue the theme song to Cheers*

Had a good visit with Bobby…and he gave me some NEW beer to try…so new it doesn’t even have labels on the tins yet!!

All last week I battled a cold…and by Saturday morning I thought I had it under control and headed out to hockey. Yeah, 5 minutes in my lungs were ON FIRE and I had that taste of blood in my mouth. UGH. So I pulled myself off the turf and resigned myself to just taking pics of the game…

Ok, totally switching topics here…Yesterday I got the chance to feel vindicated. In the spring I was dating this guy who suddenly broke up with me. Without really any reason. I was upset not because my heart was broken (it really wasn’t) but because I just didn’t understand why and felt that the way he did it (through text) was insulting.

Well, he came crawling back. Apologizing and then asking for a second chance. And I got the chance to say a) I forgive you and b) you’re too late, I’m now with someone else who treats me like a queen.

Excerpts from his novel like texts yesterday lol

Boo-yah! lol

Ok, so it’s no secret that I’ve been struggling to run…and I use that term loosely because I haven’t really been all that distressed over the not running – I truly needed a mental and physical break from training and I had a lot of stuff going on in my life over the past few months that made it so running HAD to take a back seat.

But, I’ve been feeling better in terms of life stuff and this weekend, for the first time in a long time, felt the motivation come back sooooooo….

NEW ORLEANS!!!!!! February 5th is race day – I would LOVE for others to join me there that weekend!!

This is the scene I opened my eyes to this morning…

And as soon as the click of my camera sounded, this is what appeared in front of my screen…

“Hi, mom! Is it time for breakfast?? Please?!”

Happy Monday!!

Football laughs, the Tower of Rings…and Abby continues to run my life.

Oh, it’s been a while since my Redblacks were a guaranteed comedy act…in many ways I miss that. And so, to end the regular season, the staff of my football team decided to give me an early Christmas present.

Going into Friday’s game, we had already clinched the top spot in the east, an opening round playoff bye and home field for the division final. In other words, this game didn’t mean ANYTHING…so, they rested all our regular players and, no joke, put on the field a roster that included 5 players who had never seen regular-season CFL action!!! Ba-hahahahaha. It was a gong show. And, despite temperatures requiring me to wear my parka and a blanket, I still had my customary tallboy of water beer Bud!

Saturday morning marked the first week of winter hockey – and we had such a great group of people out that I completely forgot to take pics until I was pulling out of the parking lot!!

However, my body is aching from the game…using a whole bunch of muscles I haven’t used since my last game in August!!

For lunch on Saturday I went to The Works…pretty much the best burger joint around!! We started off with their Tower of Rings…

And then I had their “Loaded Lucy” burger with a side of their Bold Slaw (spicy!)…

…that patty is stuffed with cheese all melted into wonderfulness!!

Then it was back to my place for a few hours of laying on the couch, watching movies, letting our systems digest all that! And SOMEONE was NOT impressed that we didn’t bring her back anything! I got the stink eye. And a lot of it! lol

Speaking of Abby and stink…that creature, until yesterday (knock on wood!) had brutal diarrhea for the last week. What from?? Well, I’m attributing it to the dead (and likely rotten) mouse she ate last weekend!

Let me tell you, when you’re lying in bed and THIS, that is lying next to you, has bad gas…

It’s deadly. So deadly that even SHE gets up and moves away!! lol

Did some cleaning up in the backyard…I don’t know how people with large yards do it! This nearly killed me! lol

And then I baked Manicotti yesterday…so easy and so good!

I ran on the TM this morning…4 miles…while Abby did what Abby does best. lol

Happy Monday!!