Kicked The Dirt Up VIP Style At The Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede, 10 days of Cowboy’s, rodeo’s, chuck wagon’s, party tent’s, rides, pancake breakfasts, and let’s not forget the mini donuts…..  I have not been in Calgary during the stampede in about 10 years, so when I got invited by the fabulous fashion designer Jean Michel, to attend a day of behind the scenes day of VIP treatment – I clearly hopped on that band wagon.

We had no idea what was entailed in a VIP stampede day, all we knew was that we were getting picked at 4 pm in a private stampede limo. In reality though, when something says VIP, you know you must be in for a good time. Our chariot arrived and we were off to our stampede adventure. The day started with a beer in the Stampede head quarter office.

Of course I was sporting a Jean Michel scarf, who doesn’t wear one on the farm?!

Obviously when you are at the stampede, you sip on Calgary Stampede Budweiser.

After we had got our party started in the office, we were then met by Roc, whom was our guide for the day. He is awesome(seriously, from the moment we were introduced to himself and his wife, they were just darn awesome)!


Not only has he been working the the stampede for 39 years, he is on the board of directors, and he is a fountain of stampede knowledge. He took us straight to the ‘actual’ Stampede Headquarters. Here we thought we were at the headquarters, but we were very pleasantly surprised to see the real deal.

We were served some bubbly in the private stampede headquarter lounge, where we sat and listened to Roc fill us with endless Stampede history. I love history, and delving deeper into things to gain a better understanding of where it all began. Being in there is a very special treat. Unless you are on the board of directors, or are someone very special, you ain’t gonna be hanging out in there.

From there we were whisked off to enjoy dinner with all the chuck wagon racers.

For one of these private tents, they pay about $10 000 a day, times that by 10 days, and you have got yourself one fine looking penny. Just to get in there you have to have a special card around your neck, a wristband, and not to mention a special invite. It’s one of those places that you only get into if you know the right people.

 

The dinner was delicious, and perfect for the circumstances. Definitely reminded me of good ‘ol home cooking.


Made me feel like I was back on the farm. It was so cool being among it all. I grew up out on the land, and had ample opportunities to be on farms, so this whole experience was a nice reconnect with my childhood.

After we were fueled up, we had a chance to meet and hang out a bit with world renowned chuck wagon racer, Rick Fraser, whom just the day before was in an accident on the track and luckily dusted himself off and walked away from it. No biggie for Rick though, he was just as awesome as ever, and was right ready to hop back on the chuck wagon and hit the races.

Before the races I had to grab a snap with the Cowboy Mountie. It just had to be done.

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Rain or shine, the show always goes on.

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Photo credit to Jean Michel

I never realized how cool chuck wagon races really are, but I now have a new found appreciation for it.

Just when we didn’t think our VIP day could get much better, we were taken behind the scenes of the Grand Spectacular show.

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Where we were treated to a walk through all of the dressing areas, and a look at all the action behind the scenes, before we went up to the box for our VIP seat for the show.

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Where we were served wine and cheese, and had an incredible view of the whole show. Clearly that was ticking all the boxes for me.  Although once I seen the actual show – I was blown away!

It was much much more then I expected!

Spectacular is absolutely the way to explain it.

We were spoiled as heck all day long, we also each grabbed a snap with the lead singer of the show afterwards.CanCalgarySampede2016267VIPGrandStandShowOdegard_modifié-1

You can check out a bit of video action from the day.


The whole day was amazing, and seeing the Stampede from that angle, was absolutely incredible. I am so appreciative to Roc for giving us such a special experience, and to Jean Michel and his fab crew for the invite on the VIP day, as well as some of the fabulous photos for this article.

There is something about seeing how things really go to pull it together that makes you have a much greater sense of awe and appreciation for it. Don’t you agree?

Shakey Graves, The Opening Act I Bought A Concert Ticket For

Have you ever in your life bought a concert ticket solely to see the opening act? Well neither had I until Shakey Graves just paid a visit to Calgary. He was here to open for City And Colour, whom also are totally awesome, but for me, they just ain’t Shakey.

You could almost say Shakey Graves was the musical ambiance of my summer last year(2015), he was always there in the background while I was having one of the best summers of my life. I spent it back home up in Northwest Territories, on my home soil, and home turf. I lucked out and had the best room mate EVER, Kyla. I decided to get a room mate just for fun, and it turned out to be better then I could have ever imagined.

Literally all we did was love life, laugh all damn day, listen to Shakey Graves relentlessly, and be awesome. For the whole darn summer. It was just as epic as it sounds – and yes, also a rarety to find people that you do those things so naturally with.

Shakey was there with us from the start of every day, right from the crack of dawn all the at till dusk.

And for dining on the deck.

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Daily wine sessions.

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Yes, I believe we drank more wine then water last summer. Trust me, my liver is reading this and thinking…..’Uh, yah you did. Tisk tisk. Took me awhile to bounce back.


Sorry liver, you really did take it like a rock star, and I did do a herbal liver cleanse just for you after it all.

Shakey was also there with us for our barn party.

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Shakey was even playing in the background when I revived a tired Bee with sugar water.

11427217_10153339985721063_4694045647920348824_n Trust me, I thought the Bee was a goner, but with some good beats and sugar, he sprang back to action.

Shakey was the star of every show. Ok, obviously we switched up the tunes every once and awhile – overkilling anything is never a good thing.

His toe tappin’ beats just made every moment of every situation that much better. By the end of if all we had a mission. A mission to make sure that we get to see Shakey LIVE. Unfortunately Spain beckoned me back last summer before we had a chance to see him. This time around, there was nothing stopping us!

I made sure to get floor seats so we could have the best view possible. Backstage passes would have been awesome, but that can wait for another time.

Excitement was high the day of the concert, almost on the verge of stressful high. As if we thought something may go horribly wrong and we wouldn’t make the show, or perhaps Shakey would come down with laryngitis and lose his voice.

Clearly we had no choice but to turn to wine to calm our nerves.


The view also helped the ol’ nerves immensely.

All went exactly how we anticipated. We got there in one piece, with a bit of a stagger, and the show was a GO.


From the minute he came out and starting singing his sweet songs, we were in AWE.



He was amazing live. Like you know how sometimes you see artist’s live, and they just don’t sound the same as on recording, and it’s a bit of a let down. Well this was the opposite. He sounded even freaken better! Music to our ears. Literally.


He played for nearly an hour, but it just wasn’t long enough. We could have listened to him all damn night. He rocked our little worlds, played all of our fave songs from his ‘And the war came’ album, and brought us straight back to our summer 2015, one of the best of our lives.


He was so good we decided there is no other way then to attend his concert in Texas when he is back there. Nothing like a home turf experience. Not only that, we were gutted he wasn’t selling any shirts at this concert. We want shirts! Well, and backstage passes, but we will settle for shirts.

In case you are wondering, we did totally enjoy the performance by City And Colour after Shakey was done his jam too. We all know they are awesome. But! Buying those tickets to see Shakey Graves, even if it was only an opening act – was worth every darn penny! I love live music and jam sessions, but it’s not so important to me to get to the biggest stars concerts, I appreciate talent from all walks of life. Shakey however was an exception. Oh and wait! Dolly Parton too, she is my childhood idol, she is coming here in September, you better believe I am sticking around Canada for that. Heck yes to being awesome, whatever that may be you- I say do it!

 

How To Rock Your First Spin Class

I have always wanted to attend a spin class, and having a long time friend, Michelle, whom I haven’t seen in a few years instructing at Spoke(N)Spin here in Calgary – made for the perfect opportunity for a reunion and a workout.

The studio is quaint, and the space inside is utilized very well. I was amazed at how they fit all the equipment and people in a very comfortable fashion. 


Upon arrival, you get given your special cycling shoes to put on.


They have clips on the bottom, so you can clip onto your bike pedals.

Pretty freaken cool. I was feeling cool anyway. Although, come time to saddle up, I had to fiddle around with mine in the beginning to get them clipped in. 

Let’s do this! 

Of course Michelle being such a fabulous friend, she made me sit in the front row, so I could make an ass out of myself for all to see. Look at the newby!! Kidding.


But, I did try and sit in the back, and she wasn’t having any of it, and did tell me I had to get up there. Fine, fine, I don’t mind being a bit of a spectacle.

Guaranteed I wouldn’t have pushed as hard as I did if I was in the back. So I was actually really thankful she got me up front. Sometimes all you need is that swift kick in the ass.

Show time! The lights go down, the music goes up, and the instructor gets everyone pumped. The music was awesome, and so was Michelle.

There is a knob on the bike that gives and releases tension, and you proceed to go up and down, side to side, following the instructors lead, going for the cycle of a lifetime.

If you close your eyes you can totally pretend you are on some mountain terrain excursion. I myself though, couldn’t close my eyes very much, seeing as how I was still getting used to how to ride this darn bike, I most likely would have ended up seriously injuring myself.

A couple times my shoes un-clipped, and being the classy lady I am, I accidentally said ‘Oops, shit!’ out loud both times. Not to mention, I almost said shit again for saying shit the first time. Man, sometimes you can’t take me anywhere. I had to stay focused to keep portraying the illusion that I knew what I was doing, and also look as though I was naturally rocking it. I am sure once I do it a few more times, I will be rockin it. I have no doubt, practice makes perfect.

My legs were sore as heck already from all my Orange Theory work outs, and pushing through on that bike was not an easy feat. Actually it was tough as nails! To be honest, I never imagined spin class was going to be a hard workout.

Could have fooled me!  And it did, that’s for darn sure.

My legs seriously were just not cooperating as good as they normally would had they hadn’t have been going through my fitness challenge the whole week prior to this class.

I do absolutely love cycling, its one of my favorite sports, and back in Mallorca(Spain), I cycle 30km almost every day. This day however, was like a god send when we moved to the floor. I wasn’t sure how much longer my legs would take it, and I am the type of person that will push until I pretty much collapse. Which would just be fricken embarrassing if you ask me. ‘Oh is the new girl alright?! She doesn’t look alright.’

Excuse me while I peel myself off the floor.

Through it all, no matter how much pain I was feeling, I made sure to maintain a nice sweaty smile. At least I could keep rockin a smile.

They also have straps! I love working out on straps. 

In the end, we got a full body workout, using our own body weight, and finished off with some yoga stretches. Perfect!

Here’s a couple short clips of the sesh.


I broke a massive sweat, and was so stoked to watch my good friend in action. She is a fantastic and motivating instructor, but that goes for her as a person, so I wouldn’t have expected anything less. Oh the joys of checking things off my list in life, and even more so when I enjoyed doing the activity. I can’t wait to attend some more spin classes now and rock the heck out of it.

Spin class, the classy way to get an ass kicking.

 

Why I Signed Up For A Library Card

First of all, intelligence makes people more attractive. Not to mention expanding your mind is cool. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

I love reading, you know, there is nothing like getting lost in a good page turner. As much as I appreciate the functionality of a kindle, the feeling of holding a real book in my hands is something special. There has even been numerous studies done, that have shown reading print helps you retain the information better, and a book is more easy to navigate, as you can very quickly turn flip between pages. Getting away from staring at screens also improves concentration.

Being a writer and blogger, I am staring at a computer screen far more then I would like. It just has become a major part of every day for me – and believe you me, I do feel it! You know those times when you have been staring at the screen so long that your brain starts to feel like mush, and your eyeballs are glued open. At which point you have to peel yourself away from it just to unmush your brain and lubricate your eyeballs. Ahhhh, its like a good stretch.

One of many articles I have read on the subject titled ‘Reading Books Instead of Kindles Can Improve Your Memory, Concentration and Good Looks‘ on a sight Mic.com, that I find very interesting, even stated ‘Reading is sexy and makes you a more empathetic person‘. See, I told yah so.

With so many good scientific backed reasons to pick up a paper print book and take your imagination on a nice excursion – plus its just a personal preference for my own enjoyment purposes, a library card only made sense. I don’t have a personal library at home where I can stack books to the ceilings, and I am on a book reading mission right now. I want to continually expand my mind, and gain more writing skills. So you can call me your everyday book worm. With a library card, not only can I go and be immersed in an environment with like minded people, but I can read my little heart out, and hold as many paper print books as I can take. Oh and another perk that I learned upon signage is that they give you free credit to print things off with every month. Ha! Since I don’t have a printer at home at the moment either, this is just über convenient.

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Well there you have it. That is why I made the leap, did something new for myself, and went and got a library card. I was excited as heck too, surely I was one of the most excited women they have ever seen over a new card. So on that note, does anyone have any good book recommendations for me?

The Char Bar Experience

It was a ladies of leisure kind afternoon, and after driving around for sometime trying to make a decision, we ended up choosing to head into the Simmons building in East Village where we got all comfy in Char Bar.

It’s funny how there are so many fabulous restaurants that I want to try in the city, and for some reason when the time came to go out and dine somewhere – my mind went completely blank, and I couldn’t come to any sort of decision what-so-ever, nor could I even think of a name of an establishment that I wanted to visit.

Ahhh, where am I again?! Oh right! Calgary. The mind of a traveler. Although it was a last minute decision to head out, so we really didn’t put a game plan into action before hand. Had we have planned the lunch excursion the evening prior, I would have put some damn good thought into it. However that being said, spur of the moment spontaneity, does lead to some pretty favorable experiences. Not to mention, the ambiance in the Simmons Building is right up my alley. I love the fact that it’s a historic building that’s been restored, I am all about history, vintage, and recycling. The open concept of the Phil & Sebastian cafe, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and Char Bar that are inside, is also a winner. Three separate, local businesses, whom are like minded and working in union to create this wonderful culinary experience.

The feel when you walk into the Simmons building is warm, chic and inviting, with plenty of aromas to savor, from the fresh ground coffee, to bakery delights, onto the culinary creations.

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Having spent the better of the last 5 years living on the island of Mallorca in Spain, and having that still as my home for half of every year, I have been quite spoiled with my luxury Mallorcan lifestyle and incredible dining experiences. So I suppose my bar is set pretty high. I myself very much enjoy atmosphere, setting the stage for my experience. Obviously having worked in the hospitality industry for many years, service is quite important to me as well. Natasha and myself got seated at the most perfect quaint little table, nicely tucked away, where we could have our photo shoot and laughs without being amidst loads of people. It was 2 in the afternoon as well, so there was not a massive crowd as it was.


Obviously first thing was first. Get on top of the vino situation. Yes, if you have followed my blog up until now, you know, I am a massive wine lover. Having traveled the world for 10 years and visited many vineyards around the globe, my palette is finely tuned and has a massive appreciation for fine wines.

Today the Rosé was jumping out at me. Mirabeau En Provence from France, was the wine of choice.



I absolutely adore French rosé, particularly rosé from the Provence region – where they are famous for their rosé. Producing it from as early as 600bc, so you could say they have had some practice. This one was a nice combination of wild strawberry, red cherry and raspberry. It went down beautifully.


We had a very fantastic server, Tyson, whom was extremely knowledgeable and very happy to give us any and all recommendations on what to try.


We were interested in just a few small things to share, and so decided on the vegetable ceviche, pistachio and avocado bruschetta, plantain chips, and a small portion of regular fries.


Wait! Before you dig in, let’s not forget to place your napkin.

Being classy makes you cool – and so does sipping on fine wine in a classy establishment.

The vegetable ceviche was super flavorful, and well prepared, I enjoyed every bit of it. The pistachio and avocado bruschetta was made with a different take, but I am a massive avocado lover, so there is no way I won’t enjoy some avo. The chips and fries where exactly that, chips and fries – as you would expect them to be. It was all very tasty.
We were treated to some dessert which was super nice.


In which I washed down with a nice steaming almond milk cappuccino.

Look how much love they put into that cup

 I was trying my darnedest to make the ol’ classic heart with my hands. For some reason though, I couldn’t quite do it. What the heck?! After struggling with it for a bit, I came to the conclusion that my hands just weren’t made to make a damn heart. Well I suppose my real heart is just big enough as it is.

Before our dining experience was concluded, we were also kindly offered to be taken on a tour of the building. To which we obviously accepted.

Tyson continued to wow us with his knowledge of the place.

That table happens to be 103 years old.
The flooring and brick are also completely original.
An original fire door. In case of a fire, the rope would burn and the door would automatically close, keeping all the money safe.
The room upstairs that I would book my private functions in.They do also have ample seating upstairs, as well as a patio in the summer.
Have I mentioned how much I love oysters?!
They take great care in dry-curing their meat.

We were feeling very knowledgeable after that tour. It’s always so nice to see people whom truly enjoy and take pride in their job. Very impressive. What was also impressive is that Tyson proudly hand crafts all his own bow ties. That’s a good stitch if you ask me.

Having had such a fabulous experience for the second time around at Char Bar, you can guarantee that I will be back again in the very near future. 

There is a couple of very satisfied customers.

So, if you happen to be scratching your noggin trying to decide where to take yourself for your next culinary experience in Calgary, then make sure to head down to Char Bar, and make it a memorable culinary delight.

 

Revitalizing myself in a Float Pod

I had never envisioned myself immersed in an enclosed pod containing 1200 pounds of Epsom salts and 11 inches of water? Nor was I aware of the health benefits of it until I discovered Float Life in Calgary.


Apparently floating has been around since 1954…. So where the heck have I been? Well other then having not graced the earth with my awesome presence for quite a while after that time frame….. It could very well be one scenario. Oh and I was working in the jungles of Central and South America for awhile, and busy crossing Africa. So I suppose I was a little out of touch. However, being into natural healing my whole life – I am really surprised I hadn’t crossed paths with it sooner. I love learning new things though! Every darn day. As ‘they‘ say. I still haven’t figured out who they are….

With such a large amount of salt in the water, it makes it completely buoyant, and you literally float right on top of it. Floating with isolation, and with no sensory input, is one of the fastest ways to put your body in a natural deep relaxation state, restoring its chemical and metabolic balance. It’s also said to promote stress release, pain relief, and enhance your creativity and focus.

The place itself is warm and welcoming, with a clean natural feel, and earthy colors. I could feel the healing already.


The customer service was equally as friendly and welcoming.


They offer various kinds of tea and water as a complimentary service. I love tea, it’s a nice relaxing(let’s not forget healing) brew to sip on, so I clearly jumped right on the tea train.


After I poured my herbal concoction, it was time to check out las cabinas. Where I would head off to my float pod land oasis- the land of healing opportunities.

The rooms are fitted with all that you need for your floating experience to be a success.


Equipped with the Float Pod(obviously), a shower, that has shampoo & conditioner, body wash, fresh towels, ear buds, face wipes, and small packs of Vaseline to cover any open cuts. Time to get this show on the road.


Once I had my pre-shower, I was ready to dive in! Ok, don’t dive, its only 11 inches. Perhaps gracefully stepping in, is a better choice of wording for this situation. The water was warm, not hot, they keep it at the same temperature as your skin, so that you will become one with the water. Which if you can let go and just be, then you definitely do meld together. I closed the lid, and was ready to float any tensions away…..

It can take a bit to relax, I really just had to focus on just shutting my mind off and being present. I am usually very good at this, but this day I was quite exhausted so it took a bit more effort. At first I had a pink light on inside, and some very ambient and relaxing music, shortly into it though, I decided I would relax and clear my head easier in a complete dark, silent environment, and so I shut the lights and music off. That is when the real bliss began for me. I had just driven to Calgary the day before from NWT, which took me 15 hours, and I have a busy ass schedule of being awesome in Calgary – so some rejuvenating relaxation was exactly what my little soul needed.

Lying there, if you feel your skin, it almost feels slimy from the salt, although the water itself doesn’t feel slimy getting in. Once it dries, there is loads of flakes of salt on you, almost like little salt shards. I felt scaly ass. I did think it was pretty darn interesting though. As long as you don’t move yourself around inside, you lay pretty still, and 90 minutes goes by quite fast. Many people tend to fall asleep, and I am sure I could too, but I didn’t this time around.

At one point I made the mistake of scratching my face and getting salt in there. Dang it, exactly what they advised me not to do. However upon sitting up, I opened my eyes, and remembered it’s complete darkness, and not that kind of darkness that your eyes adjust to. It was total complete darkness, for a moment I though I could envision my hands(envision is key word), because I was probably just hallucinating from my brain being on float vacay.

Once your time is up, the lights will come on(in case your sleeping), which means its time to snap back to reality, get your bearings, get your butt up, and into the shower to wash all the salt off. I was feeling pretty freaken relaxed I tell yah. They have a nice little area set up to blow dry your hair and put your face back on, if you so choose. Or you can head on au naturel.


Now I have only done it once so far, so I can’t say I have had earth shattering changes. They say that it gets better and better, and you usually start feeling more profound affects around or after the third session. So that being said….. I went for it! And I signed up for a 3 month membership. I need to test this out, I am looking forward to seeing what comes once I get deeper into it. Maybe some profound effects.

Go ahead, give yourself a little pressie, and go enjoy some RnR in a float pod. You deserve it. Float on peeps.