Placing Ourselves at Rogers

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So this week on Tuesday, I got to do one of my favorite things ever—attend a live NHL hockey game. And it was even more exciting and special than usual because it was my first time seeing a game in Edmonton’s new premier arena, Rogers Place. I’d been there a couple times before—Steven and I went to the open house (and spent three hours wandering around!!), and I saw Dolly Parton there a few weeks back (what a fantastic experience that was!). But this was my first time experiencing it for its primary purpose: HOCKEY.

Steven is a huge fan of sports facilities (see our dining room table for dramatic proof), so we got there shortly after the doors opened. We wanted to experience as much of the festive, expectant atmosphere as possible before we settled down to watch the game. We had a lovely time wandering around the main concourse, and because I’m the best spouse ever, I took this terrifying picture:

This is our new mascot, Hunter the lynx. Really.

This is our new mascot, Hunter the lynx. Really.

We stopped at the 104 Ave Food Co. for a YEG Nacho Grande. We’d tried this on our first trip to the rink and liked it enough to get it a second time. Though I think probably not a third. I love the sour cream, green onions, and real shredded cheese. However, smoked brisket on nachos just didn’t work for me. Also the cheese sauce was very cloying and not very flavorful, and the salsa was almost ketchup-like. Next time I think I’ll go for the usual cheapie nachos from another stand. I know that basic nacho cheese sauce is about as artificial as it gets, but I really like it.

I was intimidated by the size of the nachos.

I was intimidated by the size of the nachos.

We also picked up an orange souvenir Oilers puck in one of the gift shops. New-hockey-superfan Deb gave us the idea of collecting pucks from each rink we visit. Continue reading

Heritage Days and More!

Heritage Days 2016

Steven and I have now spent two glorious days outdoors watching dancers and martial arts demos and eating and drinking our way “around the world” of the Edmonton Heritage Festival. Yesterday we managed to leave at just the right time to avoid the thunderstorm that later closed down the festival. It did rain on us quite a bit during the walk home, but the heavens didn’t properly open up until we were in the car on the way to the grocery store. (That was another adventure — a very wet and occasionally scary one. Puddles on the road are no joke in Edmonton this year.*)

Today we were a little more targeted in our dining — we’d walked around and perused the menus yesterday, so we knew where we wanted to go. A real winner this year has been the Chile booth. The cheese empanada was so good we got it both days, and I’m pretty sure I’m getting another one when we go back tomorrow. It was THAT GOOD. Also, their ice cream was to die for.

I may do a write up of all of my favorites later, but for now, suffice it to say, this is still my favorite weekend of the whole year in Edmonton. And this year it was made even better by a delightful little soirée at our friends’ place last night. It still feels novel to have real-life friends in Edmonton (outside of the ones we regularly podcast with anyway). We were in good geek company, so we got to jabber on about lots of geeky media properties, and, one of my favorite topics, PODCASTING! Yeah, it was a great night.

Related—if you’re not listening to these podcasts, you might want to fix that:

  • Montreal Sauce – interviews with makers, creatives, and friends, plus strange quizzes about 80s actors
  • Film Frown – a podcast that frowns about bad movies so you don’t have to
  • Podcast! the Comics – the podcast of a blog about comics, run by Canadians
  • Doctor Whooch – a bi-weekly podcast dedicated to Doctor Who and drinking, sometimes in that order
  • Yegs & Bacon – the official (on-hiatus) podcast of my local comic shop, Variant Edmonton (which you should TOTALLY PATRONIZE if you’re in town!) They like your face.

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*No, our car did not get swamped and stranded, but there were a few dicey moments when I thought we might.

Heritage Days – Anticipation!

Heritage Festival

I spend ALL YEAR looking forward to Edmonton’s annual Heritage Festival. AND IT IS FINALLY HERE!

It is one of the top reasons why I’m thrilled I moved to Canada (and Edmonton, specifically). Seriously. Not only is it a huge festival that highlights FOOD (one of my favorite things in life), but it also celebrates culture. SO. MUCH. CULTURE.* I love being able to wander around and see people showcasing the parts of themselves and their families and their heritage that they are proud of.

Whether it’s a native dance or a bunch of drummers (or even fellows in chain mail mock-fighting!), I feel like I’m surrounded by joy and acceptance, and those are two feelings that seem to be in short supply all too often these days.

So yeah. It starts in less than an hour and a half, and Steven and I are going to walk down to the park and stuff ourselves until we can barely stand to walk home. And then tomorrow we’ll do it all over again. (Monday too!)

Ok. I just needed to squee about that briefly. If your town does something similar, I do hope you check it out. Edmonton’s seems to be one of the bigger ones in Canada, and I couldn’t be happier about it! But even on a smaller scale, it’s great to celebrate the people who make up the fabric of the area you live in. On a normal day downtown I can hear several languages being spoken in the course of walking two blocks (I love that!), but at the Heritage Festival, it’s more like a dozen. I love that even more.

Anyway, I need to get back to my spreadsheet. Why yes. I am creating a spreadsheet of the notes I’ve taken over the last few years. And yes. I do take notes during Heritage Days. Gotta make sure I don’t miss any of the amazing foods I loved from years past. And I want to make sure I don’t waste any tickets on things I’ve tried and not liked. Gotta sample a bunch of new stuff this year! So yes, I’m compiling my spreadsheet of notes. I’m that nerd. And I’d better get back to it.

If you’ve been to the festival in the past and have any recommendations for me, share them in the comments! (I’m off my usual dietary restrictions for the weekend, so ALL FOOD is fair game for me. Steven will be sticking to the vegetarian fare.)

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*Yes, there are a lot of caps in this post. I AM THAT EXCITED!

Lightning and Wonder

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When I decided to move to Edmonton, my spouse and I decided I’d better visit for a while first, to make sure it was a place I could really feel at home. So I took a two-month leave of absence from work and came up to try to settle in and see how I fit. And a year before that, I’d visited for a week just for fun. During those visits, I saw several of the most spectacular lightning storms I’ve ever witnessed.

Before I visited Edmonton, I didn’t realize lightning comes in different colors. I saw the entire sky light up purple and bolts of bright turquoise lightning snaking across the whole sky (with thunder boomers that were nearly as impressive as the light show). It was amazing. I’ve always adored thunderstorms, and it felt like Edmonton was trying to woo me with a spectacular show.

I’ve now lived in Edmonton over two years, and I was starting to think the city had tempted me here under false pretenses. I’d seen not one thunderstorm that qualified as even remotely good in all that time.

Until last night.

Tonight I spent well over an hour sitting on my balcony watching the sky. I have now added pink lightning to my collection. (That picture above actually features my building, and yes, the lightning was that pink color in real life. Some zaps I saw were even pinker.)

And it was one of those odd summer storms that was lots of sound (and light), but not much fury. There was a bit of wind, but almost no rain so I could comfortably sit there listening to this week’s episode of Radio Free Skaro. It was delightful and soothing to simply sit and enjoy myself. (And yes, I did pause the podcast whenever I saw lightning so I’d be ready to hear the accompanying thunder.)

Steven and I are both between jobs right now (Steven was laid off just over a week ago), and I admit I’d considered moving elsewhere to find work. I wonder if Edmonton sensed that and stepped up its storm game to keep me here.

If so, I think it worked.

Photo credit: Vagabond Expedition

Navigating Nando’s

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Nando’s has come to Edmonton! Steven and I were pretty excited to learn this, as we quite enjoyed our experience eating at a Nando’s in London last November. So we headed down there yesterday to check it out.

Let me start by saying we will be back. As you’ll see, it wasn’t the smoothest experience, but nothing that happened was completely unexpected, given how recently the restaurant opened and how busy it was. Continue reading