Saturday, April 29, 2017

#292 Go To The Top Of The CN Tower In Toronto

CN Tower and Toronto Skyline from Lake Ontario.  Not my pic but whoever took it, it's stunning.

Back in 1990, the high school band and band front took a trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto. One of the coolest attractions we were able to experience in Toronto was the famous CN Tower. At the time of my visit, it was the world's tallest tower. As of 2017, it is the 3rd largest tower in the world. And while we are talking about Toronto, I must say, the parts of the city that we did visit were very clean and attractive. Does anyone litter in Toronto? Because I seriously did not see once scrap of garbage or litter anywhere. It was a clean, vibrant, architecturally beautiful city.

360 Restaurant
The jewel of Toronto, The CN Tower was breathtaking and dauntingly tall. Our group had reservations to dine at the 360 Restaurant in the tower. Since we were a large group, we had to take turns riding the very clean, very nice express elevators up to the restaurant.

Our journey was 1151 feet upwards so understandably, some of our party was already dining by the time my group made it to the top. Don't even ask me how the food tasted or what I ate. I cannot recall any of my culinary experience other than I am thinking I had a beef dish. It is rare I forget a meal but in this instance, there were more outstanding attributes to this restaurant than the food itself.

  • The restaurants outer walls are made of glass panes and steel.
  • The restaurant rotates 360 Degrees, aka the name, to give it's dinners a complete view of the city of Toronto.
  • Lake Ontario is huge!
  • Toronto has a stunning skyline. I think I spent the brunt of my meal staring out the window, watching the sun set over this elegant city.
  • At the time of my visit, they were building the new stadium for the Blue Jays. It was neat to stare down and see the construction.  

View of nighttime Toronto from 360 Restaurant.

I would highly recommend the CN Tower as a point of interest for anyone visiting Toronto. Even if you do not dine at the restaurant, there are several observation decks including one with a glass floor. I wish I still had the pictures I had taken from the restaurant but after several moves and 27 years, unfortunately they are gone forever. I will say, our neighbor Canada is a very nice country and everyone I met there was very friendly. It is definitely a little more expensive than the US but still worth a visit in my book.

My Other Canadian adventure:
#216 See Niagara Falls


#216 See Niagara Falls

Wikipedia photo of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is certainly one of the most celebrated wonders of North America. Residing between the twin Cities of Niagara Falls, NY and Niagara Falls, ONT, the view of these magnificent falls is nothing short of spectacular. Both ethereal and lethal, they are a stunning, furious display of rushing water, spilling over bouldered cliffs, pummeling the river beneath them. Rainbows glisten where the heavenly mist from the falling waters meets the shine of the sun. With a sound like the constant roar of a thousand waves crashing against a jagged shore on a stormy day, the sheer magnitude of these vigorous falls is awe inspiring.

Niagara Falls is made up of three main falls. On the American side are the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, which are separated by a little island called Luna Island. On the Canadian side is the resplendent Horseshoe Falls. They are all located on the Niagara River where Lake Erie drains into Lake Ontario. The falls were created 10,000 years ago after the last ice age when the Wisconsin Glacier melted. This receding glaciation also formed the 5 Great Lakes.

Back in high school on a trip for the band and bandfront, I had the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls.  I recall our charter bus crossing this extremely tall bridge, I believe it is called the Rainbow Bridge. I definitely remember freaking out a little bit in my head because this bridge was very long and there was nothing but water flowing beneath us. Which, is logical. A lot of bridges are built to give us the capability to cross over bodies of water so, it seemed legit. Then I began wondering how deep the water was. I started looking at the sides of the bridge to gauge whether they were strong enough to keep the bus from falling off the bridge if god forbid there was an accident. Wow!

You have just been witness to an oh so fun example of what swirls around in my anxious mind.

However, nothing to worry about. Usually never is. My anxiety was quickly put to bed when I started paying more attention to the scenery than I did the construction of the bridge. ( I used to be terrified of bridges, now I love them.) The view crossing that bridge was breathtaking. I gasped as I caught my first glimpses of the American Falls. As we crossed further over the bridge I was left completely awestruck when my gaze fell upon Horseshoe Falls.

Crossing the Rainbow Bridge
"Holy Smokes!"

The pictures I have seen of the falls did not do them any justice. They were enormous. Absolutely enormous. I began to feel very excited. You see, as part of trip, we were going to enjoy a boat ride on the Maid of The Mist. The Maid of The Mist sails it's passengers from the calm waters of their dock to the deeply rapid, can of crazy waters of Horseshoe Falls. Talk about a thrilling adventure! Our bus brought us to the dock where we were given big blue rain ponchos. I was a little puzzled for a few seconds as to why we needed these. Why do we need raincoats for the boat ride? 

American Falls And Bridal Veil Falls
Our tour guide assured us we were definitely going to need them. He was 100% right. While we were not going under the falls or anything, we were going to get pretty close to them. Really close to them to be exact. I donned my blue rain poncho along with my other classmates and took a deep breath.

We slowly left port and headed towards the American and Bridal Veil Falls. Our trip happened to occur during peak season for the falls. What that means is, holy flowing water Batman! In the spring and early summer the water draining from Lake Erie is much more plentiful because it's water elevation is higher. I am guessing from melting snow but I am certainly no expert.

Regardless, the water was definitely splishing and splashing pretty hard over the banks on the American and Bridal Falls. The water spray coming from the falls felt very nice. We were getting damp but we were far from soaked. That would come later. I noticed that there were so many rocks and boulders at the base of American Falls. They were huge! Watching the frothy water gushing around the bedrock was so serene yet very impressive. As we surveyed this natural wonder, our captain explained the history of the falls as well as where the international divide between the US and Canada was located in the very water we were sailing through. It was rather interesting and our captain was very informed.

As we steamed towards Horseshoe Falls it was as if we were entering another dimension. The misty haze was so thick and vaporous, you could barely see anything else around you. We were literally sailing into a storm cloud and it was very momentous. Now we were definitely getting soaked. I tried to snap as many pictures as possible with my Kodak Disc camera. Remember that relic of the 80's? 15 pictures per roll was the max for that slender gem. I loved it though. That and my pink Le Click camera. I never went anywhere without my camera.

A relic of the 80's. I had this one. The Kodak Disc was way better.
Unfortunately I had to put my camera away once we entered the territory of Horseshoe Falls or risk it getting ruined from the onslaught of water. It was way cool though. For how nervous I was when we were crossing that bridge, I was loving every single moment on that boat. We all were. We were laughing and shrieking as the water splashed around us, on us, over us. Our captain kept teasing us, asking if we would like to get closer to Horseshoe Falls. We all screamed yes! It was insane.

Years later there would be a show on the Discovery Channel which I dearly loved called "Deadliest Catch". And every time I would watch that show and see the water splashing onto their deck and soaking the fishermen, I would think of the Maid of the Mist boat ride that I had the awesome opportunity to experience. Don't get me wrong, our conditions were not nearly as extreme or as dangerous as those of the red crab and Opelia boats, but I could still relate a little bit. At least I like to think so.

Anyways, our captain spun the boat as closely as possible to the wild base of Horseshoe Falls without jeopardizing our safety. It was sick, in a fantastic way. We were now completely drenched. The Aqua Net hair spray from my 80's hair-do was dripping off my hair, running down my forehead, and stinging my eyes. It freakin' burned man but it was well worth the pain. This ride was incredible. Our bellies were sore from laughing and screaming. I was so thankful for that heavy blue poncho I was wearing although my clothes underneath were pretty wet regardless. We took turns standing by the railings of the boat to soak in the striking, cascades of roaring water.

We're going in. Horseshoe Falls
After another tour around Horseshoe, it was time to go back to the dock. I was so sad. I could have stayed there all day. This was my first ever boat ride where the boat was not attached by a metal bar to a centralized motor floating on 5 inches of water in the kiddie ride section of an amusement park. I was all growed up now. I had sea legs. Sea legs that I earned in the bat shit crazy, Canadian and American waters of Niagara Falls. It was aboot time. Get it? Aboot? Hahaha. I am so funny.

In closing, I highly, highly recommend that you partake in a wondrous ride on the Maid of the Mist if you are headed to Niagara Falls and don't mind getting "a little" wet. The staff is amazing. Their knowledge of the falls and their boat driving skills are first class. Plus, you get to witness the fury and glory of all these magnificent falls up close and personal. Now that's a fun time! The tour is about an hour to an hour and a half tour and at under $20 per person, is a bargain considering it is surely an experience of a lifetime. It's a must do!

I will never, ever forget this boat ride. It was one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced in my life to this day.

My other Canadian adventure:
#292 Go To The Top Of The CN Tower

Niagara Falls Links



Saturday, April 22, 2017

#326 Play Bingo


Come on, you have to admit, yelling those five letters is an exhilarating rush of ultimate victory! You have hit the jackpot. You have won the prize! The letters and numbers aligned in perfect harmony on your little, dabbed, paper card. Flawless victory my friend. Good on you.

Yes, Bingo is a game of chance. There are no guarantees you will claim victory even with 100 cards spread out in front of you. And trust me, I have seen some professional Bingo players with so many cards in front of them that they literally take up an entire table. Watching them dab all these cards is not only hilarious but also pretty mind boggling because these women are lightening fast and do not miss one number.

I usually miss at least one number every few games. I then spend the rest of the game frantically playing catch up while beads of sweat roll down my face. I actually won a game of bingo once but because I was behind on numbers, another number was called and someone else yelled bingo as well. Instead of winning $50, I won $25 due to my poor Bingo playing skills.

Oops. Got a little aggressive with my dabber. 
I am also guilty of dabbing the wrong number on occasion. Yes, I am one of those people that excitedly yelled Bingo once, only to find that, much to the pleasure of my competitors, I did not have Bingo. The Bingo Walk of Shame is no joke.

The best though is when you play the wrong card entirely. Each paper bingo game usually uses a different color card. Last week at purse Bingo, when I was playing one of the "Special" games, which was on a red card with light red blocks, I discovered I was playing the red card with the solid frame in my regular book of Bingo games.

I had just come off an exciting win and was doing amazing on the letter "H" special game. I was smiling, dabbing happily, in my own little world when I noticed my sister Steph kept looking at my card funny. Yep, I was playing the wrong card. There was no recovering from that one. We were way too far into the game. My sisters, my mother and I feverishly tried to get all my numbers on the correct card but our efforts were futile in the end.

Also, depending on the number of people attending Bingo and the amount of regular cards given in a Bingo package, some games of Bingo are won in the blink of an eye. I won my last Bingo with only five numbers being called. I think the game lasted a total of 2 minutes. I won on four corners. Some Bingo halls allow four corners to while other halls require true Bingo in order to win. True Bingo consists of 5 numbers or 4 and the Free Space called in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line.

Let's Party!

Needless to say, Bingo is some serious business. Some women have lucky shirts they wear. Some women have lucky bingo charms which accompany them to every Bingo night. It reminds me of the movie Major League where the character Serrano often makes ritualistic offerings to his own lucky charm, Jobu. And while I have never seen any women offer their lucky charms cigarettes, rum or live snakes, I have no doubt a few of them have a flask stashed on them somewhere.

From every color dabber on the rainbow to custom made bingo bags to rolls of scotch tape to hold all those cards in place, Bingo is a game that brings out a little quirkiness in all of us. It's good fun and sometimes you even win a prize!

Some facts about Bingo.
  • Each Bingo is made up of cards with 25 squares, one of which is a free space. 
  • The Letter B is home to numbers 1-15
  • The Letter I is home to numbers 16-30
  • The Letter N is home to numbers 31-45
  • The Letter G is home to numbers 46-60
  • The Letter O is home to numbers 61-75
  • The most common Bingo game played is winning via a straight line of numbers. They can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal.
  • There are a host of special games that are usually played for bigger prizes. These games usually consist of forming a letter, pattern or cover all. 

Word to the MF!
While I would never consider myself a serious Bingo player, I do enjoy playing the game. My sister is more of a professional. Occasionally, I used to play cash Bingo with her at the church across the street from her house. One night, I wasn't sure we were going to make it out alive because we kept winning games. The women in there were so pissed at us. A few of curse words littered the stagnant air every time we won. It was pretty intense but also quite humorous. I am pretty sure we could have taken them but I am glad we did not have to find out.

Now a days, I prefer playing prize Bingo. Over the years I have won a Boyd's Bear, a Longaberger basket, a basket of goodies, and most recently a $330 Michael Kors pebble leather purse. Did I mention the purse is snow white? So yes, that is a little scary for me. It's kind of ironic that someone whom is always spilling food and beverages on herself as well as everything else around her wins a very expensive white leather purse. I kind of feel bad for the purse because I have a feeling things are not going to end well for it.

My biggest win. MK bag. It's white. Oh snap!
Nonetheless I love it and I will do my best to keep it clean. I actually gave this purse it's own bedroom with one of those fluffy little pet beds, a leopard print blanket and a tiara. Just kidding. The tiara is mine.

Seriously though, never in my life could I afford to buy a handbag like this. I feel kind of fancy. I also really enjoy MK products. I own a fancy MK scarf but my goose down jacket kind of ruined it. The seams on the jacket suck and leave little feathers all over the place. Millions of little feathers on a black scarf do not mix well.

My sister Alicia won me a pair of Uggs at a Coach and Uggs Bingo. She won a gift card for $125 towards a pair of Uggs and gave it to me. Man, Uggs are expensive too. Even with the gift card, I still had to shell out over $50 for the black ankle length Uggs I chose.

Plus they were already on sale. I must admit though, they are well worth the price. Not only do they keep my feet super warm but they are soooooo comfortable. I received two hand me down pairs of Uggs in addition to the pair my sister won and I seriously live in them.

Got some colors going on here!
Through all my journeys to various Bingo Halls surrounding NEPA, I have recently discovered the crown jewel of all Bingo events. This jewel of a Bingo event is a few towns over in Mahanoy City, PA.

The West End Fire Company holds a Bingo event that is so exceptional that even if you do not win one of the prizes, you still leave with this big smile on your face. They only run their Coach, Michael Kors and Uggs Bingo event twice a year but the experience is absolutely wonderful.

Why is this the best bingo ever you ask? Because they seriously treat us like queens there. First off, it is one of the few Bingo events I know of that provides one sheet of all special games in your package at no extra charge.

If you want to buy more sheets, you can, but the specials are included in the package. Also, the extra sheets for specials and early birds are only $1-$2 per sheet. Most other events charge you $3 a sheet per special game. I understand Bingo is a fundraising event but it's nice to be able to go to an event and not break the bank too much.

Secondly, they include a meal with your Bingo package. It's not a fancy meal but it is a very good meal. For Thanksgiving they gave us a turkey dinner. For Memorial Day, they gave us a BBQ dinner. They do charge for pizza but they will also walk around and deliver it to your seat so you do not have to get up. The pizza is soooooo delicious by the way. It gets better though. They also provide not one, but two huge tables filled with various types of desserts, for free! Cupcakes, cookies, eclairs, pies, brownies, cakes, puddings, layered desserts and a coffee bar is all for free.

And finally, they started something new last time I played bingo there. For the regular games, you get to choose your prize. You get to pick either the gift card for Uggs or any of the purses in the regular game line up. I think that is so fantastic. It's nice to be able to pick the prize sometimes. You will never hear me complain about winning any prize but it's nice to be able to choose too. They only drawback to this Bingo event is that it is so spectacular that literally hundreds upon hundreds of people go to the event. Your chances of winning are dwindled but you still get to fill your belly with good food and treats while having a blast playing Bingo for a few hours.

Vera Bradley Dove Grey
I won this beautiful Vera Bradley Dove Grey Handbag, Wallet and Wristlet set. I also won the small wristlet as a door prize. I did fantastic that night! 

I am not going to lie, every single Bingo event I have attended has been very nice. Some of the Bingo events have Tricky Tray, aka Chinese auctions. They are always a fun time. Some Bingo events have vendors on site in case you want to purchase yourself a consolation prize for losing. Some Bingo events give out door prizes to everyone for attending while other events give a door prize to one lucky winner after every game.

I even attended an adult Bingo where the prizes included lotions, lubes and a variety of other "toys" for the winner. That Bingo was a regular riot. I have never seen so many men playing Bingo. And if you won Bingo, you were not allowed to yell Bingo. You had to yell a naughty word or risk being disqualified. Not gonna lie, it was hilarious seeing an 80 year old woman win a tingle lotion and some nipple clamps. She was such a great sport.

See, there are so many types of Bingo you can play and all are a good time.

In closing, I honestly find any type of Bingo fun. Yes, some Bingo events cost more to play than others but all the proceeds go towards something positive. Whether the fundraising is for a church, volunteer fire company, sporting team, community project or schooling, it's truly a great way to show support for your community while having a fun opportunity to win a great prize. I have had plenty of lengthy losing streaks in my Bingo adventures but it's always a good time and always for a worthy cause. If you have never played Bingo before, you should try it. It's a blast! I know I can't wait until my next Bingo event!


Designer Handbag Bingo
Not too long after I wrote this I won another Michael Kors purse.  Woohoo! 

Gift Card Bingo
The $25 DD gift card I won at Gift Card Bingo. I won this a day after winning the Vera Bradley set. I was hot that weekend! 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#416 Try A Tanning Bed

So once upon a time this pasty white girl decided she wanted to try tanning. Why after 40 years on this planet did the urge to go to a tanning bed strike me? I don't know. I chalk it up to just another chapter in the on going mid-life crisis that started for me around the age of 27. ( In some ways I was a late bloomer, in other ways I got the jump on all of you.) Besides, it's easier to blame things on a mid life crisis than to try and explain my complicated, free spirited, gypsy hearted, freak flag flying, anxiety relishing, part time anti socialite, introverted, extroverted, paradoxical personality.

I am seriously my own episode of Unsolved Mysterious. It's great, sometimes. Not gonna lie. The road to insanity can be a lot of fun depending on one's perspective. Anyways, I just wanted to try it. I spent my whole life pale, covering up from the sun and wearing super high SPF because I would get wicked sunburns.

I wanted to try to get some color gradually and see how it looked on me. So, here is the deal. I am going to tell my tanning story and how much I loved going to the tanning bed. I am also going to tell you why I miss going so much but can no longer go.

My first adventure into the tanning bed arena was quite a memorable one. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. The gals at work had given me some tanning salon tips and pointers and of course I partook in my usual research via Google search engine so, I thought I had a decent grasp on the whole tanning process. Oh how wrong I was. So.Very.Wrong. I failed miserably. I am so glad that there were no cameras in the room because #1, that would be illegal but #2, I would probably receive the Guinness World Record for Biggest Moron on the Planet.

It goes down like this. I walked into the tanning salon and told the lady I would like to try tanning. I asked her what she would recommend for me. She looked at me, noticed I am the whitest woman in America, and stated that since I am very fair, I needed to gradually build my color in the lowest level tanning bed. We were going to start at 6 minutes in the tanning bed then add a minute each tanning session until I either reached a time I was most comfortable with or the max time allowed. "Great!" I exclaimed. That sounded like a plan.

She asked me if I had lotion. I said no. She highly recommended I use a lotion. I highly agreed with her. I had no idea which lotion to purchase though. ( It puts the lotion on it's skin or it gets the hose again. Sorry. Had to.) She grabbed an assortment of little sample lotions and explained what each one did. She did not want to sell me a large bottle of lotion because they are not cheap and since it is my first time tanning and I may decide not to do it again, she didn't want to see me stuck with a $30 bottle of lotion I would never use again. I greatly appreciated her not trying to rip me off. That was really cool of her.

I listened intently as she described the FFBs ( features, functions and benefits) of each lotion but really had no clue about anything so I asked her which one she liked the most out of all the samples. Secretly I prayed that she would pick the pretty pink sample with sparkles and rainbows on it. It was cute, funky and fresh. "Why the hell don't I just pick that one then?" I asked myself. "God I am so weird?" As I was having a typical insane conversation with myself, in my head, she told me she liked the pink package best. Yes!!

This was going pretty well so far. She started ringing up my lotion and tanning session. She handed me a little punch card. Every time I tan, I was to present my card and get a punch. Once I had ten punches I would get a free tanning session. Fantastic. She also explained that if I enjoyed my tanning experience, they offered packages that could save me money. God knows I love a good bargain. She handed me a little hand towel and asked how much time I would need to get ready.

What am I getting ready for I thought? I guess my face must have shown severe confusion because she started explaining that once she set the countdown, the tanning bed would automatically turn on after time ran out. If I turned off the tanning bed, I would not be able to turn it back on. Wow, this was important information to have. I didn't want to mess anything up. I quickly pondered how long it could it possibly take to put on lotion? I asked her how much time was allotted. She informed me that 5 minutes was the maximum amount of time given to get ready. Wow. Five minutes was a long time. It would only take me two minutes to apply the lotion.

I tell her 2 minutes would be good. As soon as I said that, I suddenly remembered that while researching tanning on the interwebz, I read that my eyes needed to be covered to protect them from the UV rays. I didn't want to burn my eyes out. I needed them. Sheepishly I asked her if they sold tanning goggles. She looked at me funny. I told her about my Google research. She laughed and explained that they didn't sell goggles but they did have eye stickers I could use to cover my eyes. She laughs a little more and mentioned that no one ever asks for them.

I grinned and told her that I always had to make an impression every new place I go. I didn't even do it on purpose. She really got a kick out of that. She handed me the stickers then explained how to get to my tanning room. I smiled and thanked her for all her help. She was really nice and patient with me. I felt so giddy inside as I made my way through the door to where the tanning rooms were. As soon as I opened the door, a wave of warmth rushed over me. It felt good. As I peered up the darkly lit stairs, I noticed that overall, it was pretty dim in there. Dance music was pumping through the speakers and the subtle scent of coconut wafted through the air.

I climbed the stairs in search of room #6. There were about 12 rooms up there but it was very easy to navigate.........

Sorry, I had to take a break. I was sobbing over the deaths of Thorin and Killi in the Battle of The Five Armies. Always gets me.

Back to my story. I found room #6 easily. I stepped into the cute little room and locked the door behind me. A sense of panic started creeping in a little as I noticed my countdown to get ready timer was already ticking away. I quickly began to undress. I started flinging my clothes onto the clothing hooks on the wall but in my haste, my clothes kept missing the hook and falling on the floor. I got a complete body workout bending down 50 times to pick my clothes up off the floor because for the life of me, I could not get them to stay on the freakin hooks. Finally I said f@ck it and let the ones that fell, lie on the floor. Ain't nobody got time for this. The clock was ticking people!

As I was shattering the record for most upright stomach crunches in a 30 second period I spotted a spray bottle on the table. Oh Snap! That was why she gave me a towel. I was supposed to spray the tanning bed down first before I got in it. I looked at the timer ticking down. FML! Frantically, I grabbed the spray bottle and started dousing the bed with spray, oblivious to the fact that there was a plastic sign on the bed stating that the bed was already cleaned and sanitized before I got in the room.

Turns out the spray nozzle was very generous on this bottle because the bed was soaked, the floor was soaked and solution was running down my arm. I looked at the clock again. Oh come on!!! I only had a minute left. In a panic, I furiously started wiping the spray solution off the bed with my hand towel, knocking the plastic sign, that I did not read, clear across the room. I ran over to retrieve the sign, read it, then swore about 50 times. As soon as I finished wiping down the bed I did NOT need to clean, I whipped the towel onto the little end table in the room and watched that fall to the floor too. Screw it. It can lie there.

I grabbed my sample of lotion and tried ripping it open. It would not open. Great! I picked the sample that needed a freakin' can opener to open. The package had to be made out of steel because it would not budge. This has to be a sick joke I kept thinking. The insane laughter was starting to fill my head. I ignored the laughter and kept twisting at the sample package, hoping it would open. Bruce freakin' Banner would have had a hard time getting this little pink sample open. WTF?? I guess it didn't help that my hands were still soaking wet from hosing down the ENTIRE room with sanitizer solution. As I was cursing in my head, overcome by frustration, the She Hulk in me came out of dormancy and my freakish strength took over.

Out of nowhere, the package finally tore open but because I had such a death grip on this package, half the lotion exploded out of the package and onto my face, my hair, the wall, the floor and the table. As I was getting ready to unlock the swear vault yet again, I heard this weird vibrating noise start. Fans began blowing and the room lit up brightly. I turned and looked at the tanning bed. "Aw shit!" I exclaimed out loud. Almost instantly though, my aggravation was replaced with sheer panic. "Omg what are you doing dummy? Don't look directly at the light!" I whip back around and start staring at random things in the room to make sure my eyesight is still good.

Thankfully my eyes are still working properly. Hastily, I start slapping lotion all over my body. Let's just say I did not do a very good job. I grab for the little stickers to cover my eyes but because my hands are all greasy from the lotion, I can't get them to peel off their strip. I look over at the clock. One minute of my 6 minute tanning session is gone forever. I am so much taking the full five minutes next time I tell myself. Once I finally get the eye stickers to peel from their backings, I place one over each eye. They are not adhering so well because they are full of lotion but it will do.

That is when I realized I could not see. Genius here had to walk blindly over to the tanning bed with her hands out like little feelers. She also almost took a header when she slipped on the lotion/sanitizer mixture that was all over the floor too. SMH. This whole thing was like bad 70's porn I swear. I'm was standing in a cabana type room, butt naked, blindfolded, soaking wet from sanitizer solution, globs of white tanning lotion spattered in my hair with Pitbull blasting over the speakers. The only thing missing was a knock on the door from a pizza delivery man with a big black mustache, pork chop side burns and really tight booty shorts.

Bow chicka wow wow....... NOT. It just was not working out well for me. What did I get myself into I thought. I feel my way to the bed then hop up in it. There is a little cushion for me to rest my head on. I make a mental note to put my hair up in a clip next time I attempt this shit. It is greasy from the lotion eruption and I have to keep playing with it to get it to not pull my scalp off as I attempt to rest my head on the cushion. I love my long hair but some days...........

Finally, I calm myself. As I am laying still on my back in the tanning bed, I notice that the edges of my eye stickers are not adhering so well and I could see the bright light. It dawns on my that maybe she gave me the towel to cover my eyes and face. I was not about to go out and retrieve the towel but next time, that puppy was going over my face. Since I am so paranoid about screwing up my eyes with the UV rays, I place my hands over my eyes to cover them completely.

I then become paranoid that I am going to have hand print lines on my face from covering my eyes with them. I start wondering if anyone else has gone through the same 7 minutes of personal hell that I was enduring. I come to the conclusion that no, no one could possibly have been as inept as me when it came to tanning. I owned this one! Something else strikes me as odd though. I recall the lady telling me that if it got too hot for me, to turn off the tanning bed.

I wasn't hot at all really. Yes my back was a little warm but for the most part, if anything I felt a little chill. Maybe I wasn't hot because it was a low level bed. Or maybe I wasn't hot because I forgot to close the damn lid on the tanning bed. Yes people, for the four minutes of tanning I managed to get in that session, I was oblivious to the fact that you had to close the lid to the bed. That is why there was a handle on the lid. It was there so you could pull the lid down over yourself. I totally blamed Google for this one. Google so much did not cover the "closing of the lid" in my tanning bed research.

After what felt like only 30 seconds the bed shut off. I just lay there dumbfounded by my own stupidity for probably longer than the actual tanning session. Finally, I crawl out of the bed, not worrying about hitting my head on the lid since genius here never closed it. Slowly I get dressed, still in awe over what just happened these last ten minutes. I grab the towel, gather my things and walk downstairs. As I am exiting the door, the nice lady tells me to have a good day. I smile and wave to her.

On the drive home, I was in a complete state of "what the F just happened". I totally stupefied myself. Not that this was my first rodeo where that was concerned. I think more or less it was depth of the ineptitude on my part that had me stunned. Do I go back? Do I try again? I guess so because two days later I was back. Eventually I became a regular pro at tanning, working my way up to the max time allowed. I was in love with the color of my skin. No, I will never be a bronze goddess but it was so nice to have glowing, sun kissed skin.

I became a huge fan of the Ed Hardy line of tanning lotions. Show Girl and Butter Me Brown made my skin feel amazing and healthy. These lotions had so many vitamins, nutrients and skin firming emulsifiers in them. They worked magic on my skin in conjunction with the tanning bed. They smelled wonderful too. Yes, sometimes I burned a little in the bed. And I did get heat rashes from time to time which itched like hell but my self esteem and mental state of mind were good.

I think my self esteem boost and happier mental state had a lot more to do with the absolute relaxation I got in the tanning bed. You see, I have General Anxiety Disorder. When my disorder gets really out of whack, it sometimes leads to depression. Sometimes the depression gets heavy. I have always had lot of issues with trying to relax my mind, body and spirit. Don't get me wrong, I can slack off like nobody's business but, that is not at all the same thing as relaxing. In fact, slacking off is definitely a type of avoidance.

Avoidance is a huge characteristic of people dealing with anxiety. Avoidance is a major catalyst for making anxiety even worse. The more you avoid, the more anxious you become about what you are avoiding, so you avoid it even more. It's a snowball effect and it's horrible. I found that when I laid in the tanning bed, slathered in my luscious lotion, all comfy in the warmth of the rays, building a nice little sweat and some sun kissed color, that my mind would stop racing completely. I was so at peace in that cabana room. I fell in love with tanning.

I could not wait until my next tanning session. I started buying packages. I wanted to go every single day but limited myself to 4-5 times a week. I tanned the entire spring and into the summer. When winter came, I knew my skin would age again. My skin ages every winter no matter how expensive a cream I buy. I always chalked it up to getting older but the aging was usually subtle from winter to winter. However, near the end of that winter, I noticed there were more lines on my face and my existing lines were deeper.

Again, I figured it was because I had entered into my forties and with each new decade of life, there is more acceleration in everything. No lie. It sucks but such is life. We are all going to go through it, if we are so lucky. So, the following spring I did my tanning thing again. And things were going well like they did the year before. I was loving my color. My mind was so relaxed. My skin was plump and fresh thanks to the humidity in the warm spring and summer air. My self esteem was good and my anxiety practically dormant.

Then it happened. Near the end of June I developed what I thought was a basic heat rash. Only this one did not go away so fast. I did not go back to the tanning bed for a week. When I did go back, my skin broke right back out. Turns out, I had Dyshidrotic Eczema. And no, I did not catch it in the tanning bed. It's not contagious. Allergies and anxiety along with my chronic hand washing are most likely the culprits. I have dealt with this type of Eczema here and there throughout the years but it seemed the tanning bed brought it out way more.

So while the tanning bed relaxed me and assisted in reducing my anxiety, it also brought out an annoying skin disorder. My hay fever and household cleaners did not help matters either. Factor in that I was getting older and we now had the perfect formula for a nuisance skin disorder. So while this was a problem in itself because the eczema was stubborn in disappearing, it was the following winter and even more aging on my face that brought about my decision to cease tanning altogether.

I had no choice in aging. None of us do. It was going to happen. However, I did not have to help accelerate the aging process with tanning. It sucks too because I always brought a thick towel with me to cover my face in order to protect it from the rays. Unfortunately, the UV rays can still get through thick, heavy towels. I also always wore high SPF on my face when tanning. That was not enough either. If you go in a tanning bed, you are leaving the skin on your face vulnerable to damage. End of story. Sighs!!

It was also starting to weigh heavily in my mind the fact that both my dad and grandfather had skin cancer. Thankfully it was basal cell cancer, which is non malignant, but it still required both of them to have a few surgeries. Again, I do enough damage to myself  already with some of my more established "not so great" habits. Did I really need to add to that? I decided to sit down and really weighed the pros and cons on tanning vs. not tanning. I decided to pass on tanning for the present moment.

Of course I was very bummed when I did not go tanning the following spring. I missed it very much because I enjoyed it very much. Also, I still haven't found an activity I can enjoy on a day to day basis that is comparable to the relaxing effect tanning had with me. I need to find 15 minutes of something that will assist in boosting my self esteem while allowing my brain to drain of all thought. I may eventually go back to tanning, I'm a never say never type of gal but, it's been almost two years and I have no plans to go tanning this year either.

In the meantime, I have tried a few self tanners. They are just not the same thing. Some of them are horrid, leaving your skin aglow with this awful, orange, Doritos, tint. Who wants to sport that look? Not me. Then there are other formulas out there that aren't so bad. They still have a slightly weird odor and applying them evenly is always a challenge but all in all, they are pretty good. This past winter I received a few samples of self tanners from Ulta that I am very excited to try this Spring. If they work well, I will pay the money to purchase them. Finger crossed.

In closing, I do not judge anyone for tanning nor did I write this to lecture anyone. You do you just like I have to do me. It's all good. There is enough lecturing and judgement on social media. Most of it unwarranted. I'm not here to contribute to that shit. I wrote this because it was a small but curious goal on my Bucket List that I not only achieved but also enjoyed immensely and miss very much. Whether you are a beautiful pale goddess, a sultry sun-kissed mermaid, or a gorgeous naturally dark skinned princess, you are all stunning creatures in my book. Get on with your bad self girlies!

XOXO Chrissy

Sunday, April 9, 2017

#138 Visit Boulder Field, Hickory Run State Park

Boulder Field
Boulder Field
Boulder Field in Hickory Run State Park is a must if you are in the area. This field is an astonishing 18 acres of rock and rubble left over from the last glacial period over 20,000 years ago. One of the really unique features about this field is that it is pretty much level with the ground. It reminds me of decent sized lake but, instead of the lake being filled with water, it is filled with tons upon tons of boulders. And, the really cool thing is, you can actually walk across this lake, kind of like Jesus did in the Bible. I mean, who wouldn't want a Jesus experience right?

Truthfully though, I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on this spectacular work of art. The pictures never do it justice. And honestly, you really won't truly appreciate it unless you see it in person. You may be thinking, it's a rock field right? What can possibly be so special about a bunch of rocks? A lot actually. I can personally attest that one of the features that makes this natural showpiece so special is just in the way mother nature presents the field to us. It's almost like she is trying to keep this big secret by enveloping it with other entities of nature but still wants to show it off to those willing to take the journey.

You see, Boulder Field is almost completely surrounded by thick, lush evergreen trees. You really do not even glimpse this wondrous field until you are actually right up on it. In fact, if it weren't for the park creating a trail and providing ample signage to assist in finding the field, most of us would never even know this lake of stone existed. Rocks and boulders only start appearing on and along the trail right near the entrance to the field. Near the entrance, the evergreens thin out just enough to create a little inlet onto the field.

Hiking in Hickory Run. Found cool walking sticks!
Once you make your way past the trees, that is when this stunning view appears. I remember the first time I saw Boulder Field over 20 years ago. My eyes grew wide, my mouth dropped and all I could think was "How can this be?" It's so much more than a field of rocks to nature lovers. It's a testament to the beauty, longevity and climate of a world we can only read about in history books. It's a world we never experienced, the last ice age. And, the very soil we walk upon experienced this glacial age like it was only yesterday. What is 20,000 years to planet earth is probably like 6 months to a human being. Maybe even less. I'll let the mathematicians figure that one out.

As for me, I have walked on the field a few times. I remember wanting to check it out because a friend of mine raved about it so much back in high school. It was only a 30 minute trip for me. Back then I didn't have a Bucket List per say, but I definitely had a list in my mind of things I wanted to see and do. I added Boulder Field to the list and made my way there few weeks later. Eventually I brought my kids back to see the field as well.

There are some things you need to keep in mind about the field though. If you are going to step on the stones and boulders to make your way around the field, wear good shoes. It makes a huge difference. Also, make sure your legs are strong and you have a good sense a balance. The rocks can be rickety. A lot of them are going to wobble slightly when you step on them. It's not a hard walk to make, you just need to be comfortable doing so. Exploring the field is actually a lot of fun but, as with anything in nature, injuries can occur no matter how fit you are so know your limits and be smart.

Boulder Field
My son giving my heart palpitations.
If your mobility is limited, you can still enjoy the field. There are large rocks near the entrance of the field perfect for perching and soaking in the view. My daughter really enjoyed the field but preferred to stay closer to the entrance while my son on the other hand, gave me a mini heart attack because he was way over on the other side of the field in like two minutes flat. One minute he was standing on a rock next to me while I was snapping pictures, next minute he was just ta little dot on the other end of the field. I couldn't even be mad because I pulled this shit on my dad all the time when I was younger. I pull this shit on him now in the present day. LOL.

As for creatures, you may get a glimpse of a few massive wolf spiders. They love the rocks. Perfect for hiding. They are pretty harmless though. They don't want to bother you any more than you want to bother them. Whenever I would see a wolf spider on a rock, I would just hop to a different rock. No big deal. As for snakes, I am sure there are some in there, underneath all the rocks, but I have yet to see one and trust me, I am terrified of snakes. However, I've never allowed snakes to prevent me from enjoying my time in nature. If I see one, I just let out a few blood curdling, murderous screams of bloody hell, drop the F bomb approximately 70 times and go in the opposite direction.

It seems to work for me. But enough about scary stuff. Let's talk about the beautiful stuff. The boulders are all unique in their shapes and sizes. Some are small, while others are pretty massive. There are some evergreens jutting up from the rock bed but not much else vegetation-wise can be found in the actual great rock lake. The park itself has beautiful scenery, water features, lakes, trails and a few brazen Canadian geese eh? Boulder Field may be the star of the park, and rightfully so, but overall, it is a great park for camping, picnics and day trips.

Hickory Run
Beautiful shot I took of the water at Hickory Run. 2008

I highly recommend spending the day at Hickory Run and exploring Boulder Field. I have camped at this park twice and while it is definitely more on the rustic side, it is a very well maintained state park with many outdoor activities to be enjoyed. It has playgrounds, a beach, fishing spots, plenty of trails to walk, from novice to experienced, geocaching, disc golf and orienteering to name a few things. It's a great park for those who may have disabilities as well because there are many features that are handicap friendly. If you are a nature lover and traveling through PA or live in PA, Boulder Field is a sight you do not want to miss.

Some of My Other Outdoor Adventures
#208 Try Kayaking
#296 Climb To The Top Of A Lighthouse
#311 Watch The Sun Set On A Beach
#323 Go On A Camping Trip


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#327 Attend A Hockey Game

Philadelphia Flyers
NHL Hockey at the Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia How can I put it? I really do enjoy hockey. Do I follow it like football? No. Not even close. I can rattle off NFL players like nothing. As for Hockey, I do know who Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretsky, and Mario Lemieux are. I do know there is a friendly ghost hockey player named Shayne. There is the dude who was once on the St. Louis Blues and did awesome at the 2014 Winter Olympics. TJ Yoshi is his name I believe. And there is Giroux. Oh, and Crosby. I only know who Crosby is because some of my Facebook friends make fun of him. It's pretty brutal.

With the exception of naming a few players, I do not know much else about hockey. I could never participate in a serious conversation about hockey, nor would I disrespect a live or die by the sword hockey fan by trying too. I would certainly listen, ask questions, and learn, but I would not attempt to act like I know what I am talking about. I don't.

Philadelphia Flyers
My first ever NHL Game. Go Flyers. 

I have seen the movie Strange Brew many times though. The Mackenzie brothers were a riot. Eh? You gave the dog dad's last beer. There is a mouse in my Elsinore beer. Let's play hockey with weird and scary organ music. Take off Hoser! Slap Shot is another classic movie I love that has hockey in it! The Hanson Brothers steal that movie. I was listening to the fucking song and all that jazz. Now I want to watch these movies again.

Anyways, let me tell you, seeing a live hockey game is absolutely fantastic! I love going to hockey games. They are exciting, brutal and mind blowing. The adrenaline is infectious. It's like watching grown men gracefully glide on ice while boxing in a super aggressive game of golf. The goal is to try and get a hole in one against Jason Voorhees. That is the only way I know how to describe the game of hockey. I don't think the goalies really wear Jason masks anymore though. Today's masks are more like a cross between the Transformers and Mad Max Fury Road.

And now that I am done describing my take on hockey, let me tell you how fun it is to go to a hockey game and not really know what the hell is going on. It's a total blast! For real! You are completely clueless, so everything is twice as exciting and jaw dropping. Hearing players slam each other into the glass is like hard rock on ice. It's a Corey Taylor Slipknot vs. Corey Taylor Stone Sour battle of testosterone and skill.

You're looking at an absolute zero, I'm not the devil but I won't be your hero!

Minor league Pens games at the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Mohegan Sun Arena.

Work is my hero though. One of the perks of my job is having a chance to go to minor league Pittsburgh Penguin games and NHL Philadelphia Flyers games. They are my favorite hockey teams. At the Pens games, the seats are always awesome. They are located near the glass by the players benches. Talk about a rush. I've been to about ten Penguins games and I plan on going to many more. Good stuff. 

Even better stuff, my company has a VIP Suite for the Flyers games. Can you say royal treatment? Not only do we get to see the NHL game, but we get private seats, delicious game food and free beverages. It's the experience of a lifetime. I have had the pleasure of enjoying the VIP suite twice. Drowning in Chickie and Pete's cheese sauce with a few french fries while sipping some wine and cheering on the friendly ghost makes for an excellent time. 

The VIP Treatment at Wells Fargo Center. One of the best times to be had. Live hockey games rock!

And for each game I attend, I learn a little more about the game. I can sometimes recognize when icing happens. Overtime is the best, especially if it comes down to a shoot off. I still get very confused about the lines on the ice and player positions. I'm not sure I will ever understand that, but even in football, there are many plays I do not understand either. That does not mean I cannot love the sport. I'm not getting a masters degree in any sport nor am I trying to. I am just enjoying great sports that are a lot of fun to watch.

In closing, I can't hold a serious, in depth conversation about hockey like I can with football, but I can enjoy the sport itself. If you ever get a chance to see a live  hockey game, go for it. You will not be disappointed. Heavy metal meets the Ice Capades is one hell of a rush!

It's time for this hoser to take off.  I need to take more pictures of french fries and cheese sauce. LMAO!


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