Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year's Do or Die Reevaluation

Image result for happy new year ugh

Happy Freaking New Year!  Today is as good a time as any to once again take a step back and reevaluate our lives...well, my life anyway.  After what has been the shittiest and loneliest New Year's Eve of my life, the rock bottom of my 2017, there's no place for me to go but up, but not without some self-reflection and action.

I've been suffering from the flu since coming home from Philadelphia on Friday morning.  Not that I've been to the doctor, but I've had the flu before and I know the feeling...congestion, chills, severe aches and pains, etc.  Sans a phone call and a text or two, I've been completely alone for the past 72 hours and I'm feeling very alone.

I can't help but think that I'm the only reason for this.  I know and believe from Dan Millman's The Life You Were Born to Lead that by nature I can be a loner, and so my solitary tendencies, especially lately, have indirectly pushed the people in my life away.  Now in the state of mind that I am currently in, I could just say piss off and keep it that way, or I can try and do something about it.  What I think I'm actually going to do is reevaluate my relationships and maybe do a little bit of both.

So, resolutions...  Oh my God, there are so many things I need to resolve about my life.  A couple of years ago, I actually made a list of the things that I hated about myself.  Here are some of the ones that I still struggle with...

I smoke
I spend too much time alone
I feel stuck
I feel alone (haha, yep, that hasn't changed.  It's maybe even gotten worse!)
I owe money
I procrastinate
I am taken for granted
I'm just plain weird!

Yup, these are just some of the things that I struggle with each and every day, and if I keep doing the way I've been doing, obviously, then these things are never going to change.  So it's New Years...time to really evaluate how the heck I've been living my life.  I need to define what happiness means to me, because that question is ever-elusive, and once I do, then I need to figure out how to get there..  

Regardless, this is a mission, perhaps the greatest do-or-die mission of my life because I really can't take it any more.  If I succeed at at least one or two of these issues, then it's for the good.  If I fail, well...???  Stay tuned!

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

It Could Have Been Me


This was not the type of post I was planning on making this morning, but I awoke to a text from my pal Kristen about what you see in the image above.  You see, the street where this poor man was killed by a hit and run driver is part of the route on my daily walk and Kristen was making sure I was ok.  As soon as she told me where it had happened, I remembered being detoured on my walk last night by police who had blocked off that particular street where the incident happened.  At the time, I had no idea why the street was blocked off.  Now I do.  That could have been me!

I always worry about cars when I walk.  Other than on the two main roads I traverse everyday, there are no sidewalks.  It's a typical residential area for Long Island, but my particular neighborhood sits among these two main roads and is a major cut through for people trying to get from East Patchogue to wherever.  I always say I take my life in my hands when I walk, plainly evidenced by what happened last night.

I have had many close calls on my walks...way too many to count.  I remember a few times having to jump out of the way of a passing car, who's almost always doing 40+ mph on these 30 mph speed limit streets.  I've been splashed on in the rain, sometimes I think on purpose, honked at, and even yelled at simply for walking.  

Perhaps I am putting this on the wrong blog, for my first blog, which still exists, is called Rants, and that's where I am going here...  

People today are, simply put, way too self-involved.  They only seem to pay attention to what's going on in their own world, without regard for others.  That is a general statement that covers just about everything in life where we interact, but it is plainly evident on the roads. I see it everyday when I drive to work and I see it everyday when I walk.  They speed, they're looking at their phones while they drive, don't stop for stop signs, they drive recklessly, and I'm out there, completely vulnerable.

We've all seen in the news lately just how much of a deadly weapon a car can be.  Why do we care more when it's done on purpose than when it's done recklessly?  The results are the same...people die, like the poor man riding his bicycle last night right around the corner from my house.  

All I can say is that I wish people would change some of their habits just a little, become a little more aware of what's around them instead of only paying attention to themselves and their phones, and their time.  I do my best to be noticeable when I walk, especially at night.  I wear bright clothing and I walk as far off to the side as I can.  I always defer to drivers at intersections, putting my head down to my phone so as to make drivers think I am not crossing.  This is simply because I do not trust them.  

Oh, and I carry my wallet with me always when I walk, too.  That in itself speaks volumes, for I know that I could at any time find myself in a situation which that man found himself in last night, and at least I'd want people to know who I was.  Sigh!




Sunday, November 12, 2017

Roller Coaster Road Trip 2017 - Last Stop: Canada's Wonderland


One of the most beautiful pictures I took on the entire Roller Coaster Road Trip was the one above, from the parking lot at Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada.  It was towards the end of our last day, one ultimate day of roller coaster riding, and it was the perfect scene to end our wonderful journey.  


I'd always wanted to visit Canada's Wonderland and I never thought I would until this trip was being planned.  The park is a Cedar Fair property, owned by the same company that owns both Cedar Point and King's Island, so we knew it was going to be both a well-run and a beautiful park, which it was.  Upon entering, the scene is much like that at King's Island and Virginia's King's Dominion, but instead of a replica of the Eiffel Tower towards the end of the entrance promenade, there is a mountain with cascading waterfalls.  Beautiful!

The Roller Coasters


Compared with the previous two parks we had visited, the coasters of Canada's Wonderland were nowhere near as exciting, though there were two that were absolutely fantastic, Leviathan and Behemoth...

Leviathan is what is known as a giga-coaster, like Millennium Force in Cedar Point, meaning that it reaches a maximum height of over 300 feet tall (This one's 306.).  It is by far the best ride in Canada's Wonderland, and we rode this monster several times.  Take a virtual ride yourself...




That one was wicked, and the video does not do it justice!  Behemoth is the park's other awesome ride, located clear across the park from Leviathan.  This one's a mega-coaster, like Magnum XL-200, Nitro at SFGA, and like those other two, it is nothing but negative G fun!  Take a virtual ride...


I wish I could say there was a whole lot more to cover of Canada's Wonderland.  It is a beautiful place, and we had an awesome time on a beautiful sunny day.  It was the end of the trip and I think we all were a little weary from eight days of seemingly non-stop moving.  Nonetheless, if you're ever up in the Toronto area, Canada's Wonderland, then you should definitely check it out.  In the meantime, take a look at some photos of our day at Canada's Wonderland...



Dive show

Poutine





A wicked and rare ride!

Behemoth




Leviathan





After our day at the park, we dove back into Toronto for one last meal together.  We were exhausted, but blissful.  This Roller Coaster Road Trip was a great one, and I can't wait until the next time!  Oh, and there was one more cool thing that we did before heading home, stopping again in Buffalo to have a visit with my old pal Petra.


I hope you've enjoyed some of the pictures and stories from our journey.  Check out the rest below and till next time...












Monday, October 9, 2017

Roller Coaster Road Trip 2017: Hello Toronto!


The drive from Niagara Falls to Toronto via Queen Elizabeth Way is an easy and direct path, but full of traffic.  What I thought would be an hour, hour and a half drive turned into something like three hours.  That's okay, though, because Toronto was our destination and I was excited to get there!



First impressions of Toronto...the outer boroughs of NYC.  In fact, the apartment we rented in the Little Portugal section reminded me a lot of Astoria, right down to the confusing parking areas in an alley behind the houses.  Once we'd found where to park the car, we quickly unpacked the car and moved into our new digs, another AirBnB place.  By the time we had done this, it was already around 5 p.m. and we were starving.  Our host told us that there were a lot of great eateries in the neighborhood, so we set out for a walk in search of food and just checking out Toronto.







Kinda Queensish, right?  Anyway, after walking around for hours, deciding that we were way underdressed for a lot of the eateries we came across, we opted for some Mexican takeout and headed back to the apartment...delish!  The rest of the evening was spent sitting on our cool little porch, drinking, laughing and people watching. That night was probably the most relaxing and one of the funnest nights of the entire trip.  Oh, and Gary found a lil piece of himself in that neighborhood, too...


The view from our porch

We had until Monday morning at the flat in Toronto, and our plan was to explore the city on Saturday and hit Canada's Wonderland on Sunday, our last full day.  Start with roller coasters, finish with em.  We got up Saturday morning and headed on foot towards Lake Ontario, the center of the downtown area.  I should have known ahead of time that we'd be doing a lot of walking that day...any day spent exploring a city is such, and boy did we walk!  Over 30,000 steps that day!

One of the sites that we wanted to visit was the world-famous CN Tower, an icon of the Toronto skyline.  We walked along the water, using our vision to get towards the iconic landmark.  The day was gorgeous, sunny skies and warm temperatures, and we meandered through the promenade, stopping at an outdoor craft fair along the way.  Once we'd hit the street where we wanted to be, we left the shoreline towards CN Tower.  




Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays, is just next to the tower and a game was just beginning, which was kind of cool.  I almost wished I had bought tickets to the game because that would have been even cooler.  As it turned out, the CN Tower itself was a day killer!  The line to go up to the observation deck was about three hours long, and though it did kill much of our day, and our energy, it was still a pretty awesome thing to do.  

As you might imagine, the views of the city and Lake Ontario were spectacular, and looking down into the stadium was pretty neat.  They had this one attraction up there, a windowed floor that you could stand on, looking all the way down 1,800-plus feet right below you.  Not as easy as it sounds.  Rich was the brave one there, taking advantage of the unique perch.  Me, I stepped on and off so quickly, you had to be watching me all along to catch it, lol.  Check out some pictures...







There's my brave Dit!


After the tower, we headed back to walk along the waterfront once again, with a new destination in mind.  I had read in a guide book about this place called the Distillery.  I wasn't sure exactly what it was, and I did misjudge the distance, causing us to walk another hour or so just to get there.  The Distillery is a district full of cafes, shops and restaurants set within the former, historic home of the former Gooderham & Worts Distillery.  

Though the place was charming, I think the long walk there had taken the wind out of our sails a bit and we tiredly meandered through the bustling area in a little over an hour.  It was a cool place, very crowded, and it was there that I found my Toronto Maple Leafs shirt.  That's a thing I have about Canada.  I'm a big hockey fan (I would have LOVED to go to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but didn't want to torture Rich and Gary.) and whenever I visit, I like to grab a shirt of the local hockey team.  I added this one to my Quebec Nordiques shirt that I bought awhile back.  Anyway, check out some of the sights of the Distillery...  


These ladies were selling prose, on any topic, name your price.  I couldn't think of a topic.



By the time we were ready to leave the Distillery, we were starving.  We decided to head more towards home, this time in a taxi, to catch a row of restaurants that a local artist had told Gary about.  We opted for a big sports bar, of which I can't remember the name, and we ended up staying there for several hours, closing our night over some brewskies and conversation.  It wasn't the evening I had envisioned, but we were tired and we did have a lot of laughs.  

We made our way home, bellies full and a little bit of a buzz in our heads, looking forward to sitting on our porch with some more laughs as we contemplated our day in Toronto.  The moon was bright that night, a perfect period to a pretty nice day!  Very cool city, Toronto.  I think I'd like to visit again.


The next day, Sunday, would be the last day of a very memorable trip.  We were going to finish it like we started...riding roller coasters.  Stay tuned as we take a look at the cool Canadian coasters of Canada's Wonderland, and in the meantime, check out the rest of the trip...