Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

I haven't been everywhere yet, but it's on my list.

Niagara Falls - Feb 9, 2018
We've reached our third anniversary, and are now half way to the five-year reunion trip ;).  However, since we're planning on Africa later this year, we couldn't really escape this winter (having just started a new job didn't help either).  So instead, we took one day and decided to go to Niagara Falls (for those not from here - it's about an hour and a half from here if there's no traffic).  Chris gets credit for the idea and we decided to go full on tacky tourist.  And it was So. Much. Fun.   Lol still makes me laugh.
Hopefully will have real giraffe photos later this year, until then, this will have to do.
Our Tacky Tourist Adventure started with a quest for a hotel room with a heart shaped jacuzzi.   They do exist, and they're as horribly tacky as you can imagine!    The mirrors were an added bonus ;)
I'm not even exaggerating.
Now a heart shaped jacuzzi in a classy hotel (well, as classy a hotel as one can find a heart-shaped jacuzzi!) would've had a fairly stunning falls-view, I'm sure.  Our hotel?   We had a direct line of site to the local Hooters.  Seriously.  I couldn't make this up.

However, I am getting ahead of myself.  Because before we could see the room, we had to get there.   Days Inn, on Victoria, Niagara Falls.   That's a pretty main street, this shouldn't be too hard right?   But, you know, tacky tourists have to get lost ;).   We didn't though, cause, we're awesome -- clearly.   Nope -- we went to Days Inn, on Victoria, in Niagara Falls.   And no reservation.   Hmmmmm.   So I pulled up the confirmation on the phone.  "Oh, that's not this Days Inn, the one you want is down the street."   And, since the street in question is under construction, gave us directions to where we should go.

Two Days Inns a couple blocks apart?!?!  Yup, it's a thing.   But wait -- it gets better.   We get to the Days Inn and go in.   And no reservation.   You have got to be kidding me.  "Oh, that's not this Days Inn, the one you want is down the street."   WTF?!?!?!   How many are there?!?!   Yeah, for the curious, there are FIVE Days Inns on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls -- 3 of which are within a few blocks of one another.   Sheesh.

So the third attempt did, in fact, have a reservation under our names.   And the hotel was about what you'd expect for one with those kinds of amenities overlooking the local Hooters ;).  I don't *think* they rent rooms by the hour, but it's a close call.   The *did* however, also boast of a pool, hot tub, and sauna -- which were all part of our grand escape.   So we hit that up first only to find the pool mostly drained (plus - this meant we had the place to ourselves), the hot tub more of the lukewarm variety, and the sauna more closely resembling an ice box than a sauna -- potentially due to the open windows near the pool.  But no way either Chris or I could find to turn on any heat in said sauna so we abandoned that idea.  The jets to the lukewarm tub were also intimidatingly loud lol, and the nearest door was being held open by a broomstick.   But we were there to enjoy the hot tub so damnit we were going to enjoy the hot tub.

Our super fancy hotel reservation came with free passes to several activities at Fun Zone.   So I very much wanted to go to Fun Zone.   I mean, with a name like that, how could you not?   We had reservations for dinner at 7, so thought we'd stop by on the way.   However, finding parking was proving to be a real challenge, and the weather was miserable enough that we didn't want to walk.   So instead I called to see if I could change our reservation, yup - no problem.   When we got to the, essentially empty parking lot, we realized why.
*The* touristy dinner spot in Niagara -- the revolving restaurant.
Walked up to check in -- no issue re arriving more than an hour early ;).  Then we got to pose for our super-awesome tourist photos.  Green screen all the way baby -- it doesn't get much more tacky touristy than that.   Turns out, Chris and I aren't great at the green screen game - lol.   Ah well, we tried, and it kept things amusing.  At least for me; I'm reasonably certain C was just humouring me ;)

Glass elevator had amazing views!  The blurry-purple is the falls ;)
Then up the glass elevator to the revolving restaurant.   There was an excessively large Amish party clearing out -- but this meant it was only a couple minutes wait for a table.   Dinner felt slightly rushed -- they're very quick to get you in and out.  There are facts on the windowsill as you rotate around that were moderately interesting.

The Ferris Wheel would've been ideal Tacky Tourism,
sadly, the weather was not enabling good views,
and, well, it was cold!
I really enjoyed my dinner, though C was less impressed was his.  I do think though that the views would've been spectacular had the weather cooperated!  Alas, it was both foggy and snowing, so most of the time we had no idea what we were missing.

I still got my traditional anniversary Piña Colada,
and while sadly not served in a  coconut,
I did at least get this stylish tourist glass to keep.
Tacky Tourist Win!
After dinner we continued up to the observation deck, where the brave can venture outside.  Given the temperature and the wind, we weren't out there long!   But it was worth it for a few seconds for the amazing view and a photo or two :)

No glass, just the wire safety mesh...
It finally occurred to me to take a pic from the elevator, more than half way down..
And right before the elevator goes back indoors.
We left the car at the restaurant (hello, free parking ;) and braved the elements to walk to the casino, and from there to the Fun Zone.   Lol -- let me tell you, if you want to be a tourist, dinner time in February is definitely the time to be there.   We had all the places to ourselves.  Entirely.  No lines.  No people.  It was awesome!   So our passes gave us access to the Mystic Maze of Mirrors, Mini Put, and two Haunted Houses.
Our first Fun Zone experience
So the Mystic Maze of Mirrors was first up.  I had absolutely no idea what this would entail.  We were given gloves to wear so as to avoid any chance of fingerprints on the mirrors.   Instructions were no running and walk with one hand held in front of you.  Ummm sure, why not?

Well I'll tell you why not.   Because if you don't, you are 100% going to crash into a mirror.  I kid you not.  This was actually awesome in a weird and twistedly disturbing kind of way.  It's not so much a maze in that there's almost always only one path to take -- the "detours" are super short (like a step or two).   Which is just as well because it'd be very easy to become very lost in there.   I really wish I'd taken a photo or two inside.
Thanks Google!   Yup - this is pretty much it.
So you see tons of identical options -- and it's essentially impossible to tell by looking which ones are true paths and which are solid.   I learned to focus directly ahead and if I saw any form of reflection to stop and turn until I found a way with no reflection.  This sounds deceptively simple.   FYI - it's not ;). There are hundreds of reflections everywhere, so it's strangely disorienting and tricky to determine which paths are safe.  The hand out in front and walking slowly was definitely key advice.

On reading it, it does not sound like something I would enjoy.  It sounds very much like something that would make me feel trapped and claustrophobic.   But I actually had a blast.  It was way better than anything I'd been expecting and I would totally do another one.
I would *not* have wanted to meet him in the hall of mirrors!
Next up was glow in the dark mini-put.   Let's be honest, mini put is always moderately amusing.   This one was partially under construction so only had 8 holes, and tbh, there was none of the fun stuff you usually see in mini-put.   But the decorations were awesome, for some random reason the back ground music was Beach Boys, and I was in a silly mood.   So yeah, it was a good time :)

Suspect this is prob the first time I've ever ridden a lizard ;)
Now those of you who know me in person, or who have read much of what I write, will be aware that I, at times, have shown a propensity towards a rather vivid imagination.  While most of the time this amuses me to no end and I'm forever grateful for it.  There are circumstances in which it is definitely detrimental.  Horror movies are 100% in that category -- I will have nightmares, and sometimes even daymares for months if not years.  So no.  Just no.   So suffice to say, it precludes any enjoyment in Haunted Houses.   Especially when combined with having read too many crime novels.

So we decided to forgo that option and instead headed to the casino.  Here we each decided on $20 to play with and played slots till we ran out.   Lol and you know what, it was just long enough.   I wasn't totally bored and frustrated yet, but I wasn't sad to be done either.  I was also pleased that we literally managed to use every penny.   Lol took some doing to spend those last couple cents because even the penny machines mostly had a minimum bet of well over a penny.

We did not, in fact, feel the need to hike down to the falls.   Have you been outside?   Yeah - no thanks.  We've both seen the falls before; I rode my bike there this spring.   So I suppose technically that was a Tacky Tourist fail.  But sometimes discretion really is the better part of valour.

And the heart shaped jacuzzi?   Well, that's an adventure you'll have to experience for yourself :)

So yeah, overall it was a really fun anniversary.  Admittedly a very different experience from our traditional beach escape, but I haven't laughed that hard in ages.  And am very much looking forward to the next year :)

So far so good.

The quest for *the* fitness app.

So I wanted a change from the P90X type workouts for a bit.   I still think they're awesome, I just wanted to play with weights for a bit.  So as a result, was looking for an app that would let me track workouts -- what exercise, reps, how much weight, etc.  Even better if it had a training plan.  I didn't think this would be such a challenge, but it's ridiculously hard to find *sigh*.

There are ones like Gymbook that let you track weights/reps/etc but doesn't offer suggestions or training.

Then there are ones like Fitstar (which Fitbit bought out) that learns and adapts but doesn't have tracking.

The closest to success I found was Jefit -- it has training plans with really good instructions and good tracking.  Win!  It doesn't personalize -- no big deal, and requires TONS of equipment (I think it thinks you're bringing it to the gym).  Also the workouts aren't searchable which is a little odd.  But I did find a good one, so that was decent.   Only thing is -- you can't mesh sets.   I'm used to while one group of muscles is on a break, you work a different set.  This app doesn't let you do this.  So it's just stand around time.  I don't have 1-2h a day for exercising; well, at least, not when I'm commuting 3h/day *sigh*.    Sasha loves it cause I throw the ball for her during the breaks ;).

Lol so overall it's a decent app, but just not *quite* what I was hoping for.  But maybe what I was hoping for doesn't exist.   Anyways -- the one thing it did call out was the lack of cardio in my current life.

I wanted a spin bike last year but didn't buy one cause I figured it was just cause I had R2CC on my mind, but I still wanted one this year so I went ahead and got one :).  Yeah me!   Lol AND I even managed to assemble it.  Win!   The computer I bought for it unfortunately doesn't attach.  Pretty disappointed at that since the same person sold me both items *sigh*.   I've amazoned (yes, I've deemed it's now a verb) a new one that has good reviews and should be here tomorrow.

Because just riding and not going anywhere is all kinds of boring and, in my case, remarkably ineffective, I went looking for an app.   Lol who's surprised by this?   And I discovered there are two distinct categories -- apps for cyclists who are using their spin bike to stay fit or improve specific areas of training, and apps for people who like spinning.   So for cyclists the top two seem to be Sufferest and Zwift.   For spinning it seemed to be CycleCast and Peloton.    All four of which are subscription services that are not cheap.   After much debate I decided I wanted to go the spin route and was really leaning toward CycleCast.   Except...  It's not available in Canada :(.  Huge fail *sigh*.  So Peloton it is.

I looked at Peloton last year when I wanted a spin bike -- it's a bike and app all-in-one setup.  That costs ~$2K.  Lol ummm no.   But now you can subscribe to the app without having the bike so worth a try.  I'm now the proud owner of a two week free trial ;).    Can do live workouts at scheduled times or on-demand pre-recorded one.   Filter by length, type of music, or instructor.

Not knowing any instructors, I chose 45 minute of 90s rock today ;).   Lol and it was as good or better than most of the spin classes I've taken in real life.  Apparently including weights in spin class is now a thing *g*.   Who knew?   But otherwise pretty much as I remembered.   They had matched cadence perfectly to the music, which was super handy since I don't yet have a cadence tracker ;).   I just tried to match the cadence of the instructor at first until I clued in to how perfectly the music matched ;).   They also reference tension levels, not having their bike (or any numbers on my tension) I just made that up as I went -- conveniently they reference "a little more", increase by one, or numbers from 30 - 80, so I could at least guesstimate.

Not the hardest workout I've done -- at least partially cause I'm still learning my bike so didn't go full out at first.  But I was (TMI warning) completely soaked and dripping buckets of sweat by the end.  Wasn't wearing my Fitbit and didn't bother to check pulse so no idea what my heart rate did, but I'd say it was a decent cardio workout.   Certainly worth doing two week's worth to decide if it's worth continuing.

As for overall fitness app -- the quest continues *sigh*.  My latest search has suggested Keelo.  It may be good but is quite expensive -- not sure I want to do two weeks free of two programs at the same time.   We'll see :).  If you have any other suggestions, please let me know!