On an early…really early morning in October, my friend Sean and I ventured into the Las Vegas desert to take a few Christmas photos. Sean is a great landscape photographer and wanted to practice portraits. I needed a few shots for my upcoming Christmas card, so off we went. Here are some of the pics.
It’s always best to take pictures at dawn, dusk or when it’s overcast. Sean and I are both from the East Coast of Canada; we didn’t realize how quickly the sun rises in Vegas. Because Las Vegas is in a valley surrounded by mountains, the sun doesn’t slowly rise, it just pops up.
Sean wanted to try a few shots with the sunlight behind me. I clicked away with my iPhone while he set up.
The sun peaking out from behind me, makes me look like I am glowing…like an angel! lol. That’s not what he was looking for though.
This is the shot he was looking for. It looks like it was taken at sunset, but it was taken just a few minutes after the previous pictures above. I think it looks really cool! My head is blocking the sun, making the rest look dark. Well done Sean…well done, lol.
This is a classic Sean landscape shot. Different photographers have different ways of working. I am used to moving and the photographer taking shot after shot in quick succession. For most of these, I needed to stand still for longer periods of time…without talking, lol.
My prop for the day was a large Christmas wreath. I still think it’s odd that Christmas happens in places without snow…that seems very unnatural to me.
These shots in front of the Seven Magic Mountain sculptures were the first shots we took, before the sun popped up, hence no squinting and shadows. These sculptures are 15 minutes off the strip. There were two other photographers taking pictures while we were there. It’s a popular spot!
I have discovered that it’s hard to maintain a natural smile when standing still.
The picture below is of a Joshua trees; there are lots in and around Las Vegas.
Here is Sean and his big lens! He now thinks he needs a new camera to go with his big zoom lens. I took all of these with my iPhone; not to brag, but I am a fairly good photographer as well, lol.
And that’s a wrap!! Thanks Sean!
I will use some of these pictures for future blog stuff. Just wanted to share.
Just a quick post to wish you all a Happy Halloween!!!
I hope you have had some spooky fun this month. If you haven’t, it’s not too late!! You still have a few days, so get cracking! Carve some pumpkins, make some scary cookies, dress up for a party, you really only live once…I think?
My October has been very busy, but I got my spook on. I visited a Haunted Museum and survived zombies in Vegas. In Paris, I visited the Catacombs and saw lots of real skulls & bones…it was freaky. And today I went to see a ballet at the Smith Center in downtown Vegas. You’re probably wondering, what makes a ballet an acceptable Halloween themed activity? Well it was a Gothic ballet based on Dracula. Nothing screams Halloween more than skulls, zombies and Dracula!!
I am finishing off the month back in Canada; where I have a girls dinner party planned on the 30th. It’s a Trick or Treat theme, each person has been instructed to bring one gift and we will swap. I thought it would be fun, plus I love gifts, lol, giving and getting.
Then Trick or Treating on the 31st! Ok I may be too old for that? But I am certain I will find something to do.
For those who have read my October posts, I hope you were inspired to enjoy some fall fun.
What’s next? Christmas!!!!! The only holiday that I love more than Halloween is Christmas; I have some fun posts coming up in November and December.
Thanks for reading friends!!!
Let me know if there is something you would like to see me write a post on or if you have any questions? I love hearing what you think.
Disclaimer: This post is about the Paris Catacombs; it contains pictures of real skeletons, readers beware!
Last week while in Paris, we visited the Catacombs museum. With Halloween a week away, I though this would be a perfect creepy post to share.
It is said that there are more dead Parisians under the city than there are living in Paris. The Catacombs run for hundreds of kilometers under the city. A very small section is open to the public; this “museum” is unlike any other.
Helpful hint #1, buy your tickets online before you get there. The lines are long!! There are two lines, one for those buying tickets onsite and one for those who pre-bought online. The line for those who have tickets is much, much shorter.
As soon as you walk in, it was clear that this is going to be a freaky experience. You start by going down a metal spiraling staircase with 180 stairs that quickly bring you 20 meters under the city. This is probably not a great activity for anyone who is claustrophobic!! Or anyone who is super tall, lol.
This video shows the walk towards the galleries where the bones are displayed. Creepy right?
Once you get to the bottom, things get real, real fast!! I am not claustrophobic; or I didn’t think I was, but as we walked towards the entrance I did get a bit freaked out. Helpful hint #2; don’t overthink the fact that you are 20 meters underground, lol.
I told my friend Claudia that I was feeling a bit anxious; she did the right thing by ignoring what I had just said and started talking about unrelated stuff. I think I just needed a moment to climatize; it gets real dark, real fast too!
Full disclosure, you are allowed to take pictures and videos, they just ask that you not touch anything…mmm no worries there! At first I wondered if it was disrespectful to take photos? Millions of people a year visit the catacombs and do take pics; and the museum itself has photos of the remains on posters, flyers…I was mindful to remember that these walls of bones were once people. Some families were taking pictures of their kids in front of the remains…yeah, too creepy for me!!
These are limestone quarries that originated in the 15th century.
This sign is a warning of what lies beyond this point. It says: Stop! This is the empire of death. Mmm nothing creepy about that!! Lol
So here is a super brief overview as per the guide.
One of the largest Parisian cemeteries was closed in 1780, due to safety concerns. Little by little the quarries began to House bones from all the cemeteries of central Paris. Basically because they wanted to expand the city, so cemeteries were closed and the remains moved.
At some point a dude called Hericart de Thury, created a theatrical display with the remains, similar to how a museum would display objects. The overall impression he wanted to create was one of respect, mediation and fear.
The catacombs have been open to the public since the early 19th century.
My impression was a combination of awe for the sheer size and the intricacy of the displays and creeped outness, new word, just made it up (meaning to be super creeped out).
During our time in the catacombs I found myself getting caught up in the stories, we paid extra for the audio tour, it’s a must. It’s beautiful in a morbid and surreal way. It’s easy to forget that each bone belonged to a person.
I am not a super religious person, seeing all these skulls and bones really brought home that we leave our bodies. What’s left are just bones. And that we each have a short time here.
Being surrounded by so many who have passed reminded me to live life as best I can. My final hint for this post is more a hope; let’s try to not be shitty people!! Lol
If you have time, I would recommend visiting the catacombs.
I will close on a lighter note, they had a pretty decent boutique, I bought a cool skeleton umbrella. And FYI, those 180 steps are much easier going down than they are coming back up! And 20 meters is approximately 63 feet.
I would like to know if you would visit the catacombs if given the opportunity? Yes? Or is it too creepy for you?? Share!
People often talk about the Canadian provinces as the “have” and the “have not’s”. The Maritimes; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island are often classified in the “have not” column.
We have long been the butt of a lot of Canadian jokes; and that is fine, with the exception of Newfies (people from Newfoundland), we are the funniest and nicest people in Canada. We can take the jokes because we know who we are and we know how lucky we are to call ourselves Maritimers.
What makes us Maritime AF and right awesome? Here is a short list!
Oh Canada! It all started here boy!
We are the birth place of Canada in more ways than one. The first Europeans to settle in the Americas did so in the Maritimes; first came the French and then the English (First Nations were already here).
Then on July 1, 1867 the Canadian Colonies united to become a Dominion; Canada was born. And where was the Confederation signed?? In Toronto? Ottawa? Nope, in the Maritimes; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to be precise. Mmm I think that makes us Canadian leaders!
We know how to winter! (sorry for posting winter pics in the summer, I know it’s a no-no)
You know you are Maritime AF if you have survived a real Maritime winter. First of all let’s get one thing clear, anything under 30 cm (1 foot) of snow is considered a light dusting in these parts. And we don’t call the army to help dig us out when we get hit with a little snow, sorry Toronto, you’re never ever going to live that one down.
No, when we get hit with a NorEaster, we put our very best skidoo pants on and we dig ourselves out! (for my US friends: Skidoo is a snowmobile brand, it doesn’t matter what brand of snowmobile you have, we call it a skidoo. It is also used to describe things; skiddo pants are snow pants. And it can also be used as a verb, example: skidooing, meaning going for a ride on your snowmobile.)
Have you ever had to shovel the snow off your roof? If so, you are Maritime AF! Then after you are done with your roof, Maritimers help their neighbors; and yes we know our neighbors. Why are we so friendly? Because the next time it snows and we can’t open our screen door because the snow is too high and it opens outward; we know that they’ll come shovel us out. You don’t survive in these parts alone; are communities are strong.
Have you skied, snowsheoed, gone slidding, skidooed & skated all in the same week? If so, you Maritime AF.
Winters here are long; too long to sit in the house and wait for spring, because sometimes spring doesn’t come, it goes right from winter to summer, lol. Maritimers make the best of winter!
Have you ever used snow to cool your adult beverages? If so you are Maritime AF!
Have you ever been in the forest and said to yourself either out loud or in your head, “I live in a freaking winter wonderland?” If so, you are Maritime AF!
Have you ever spray painted a snow bank? Yup Maritime AF!
The Best Summers Ever!
Just when you can’t take one more minute of winter, summer shows up! She is fickle, so we don’t take her for granted. As soon as she warms up, we are out in our shorts and flip flops.
We also tend to call a lot of things “she”; like summer, weather in general, boats, cars and a multitude of other things.
Have you ever heard someone say: “How’s she making her?” When said correctly, it sounds like: hoows shemakinger, it means how is your day going? Also very popular and Maritime AF is: “How’s she going?”, meaning how are you? And for a few extra points you can throw in a “boy” at the end: “How’s she making her boy?”, How’s She going boy?” The boy translates to friend and it sounds more like booy.
The Maritimes are so beautiful in the summer that it makes the 3 months of winter worth it…ok 4 months…fine 6; it makes the 6 months of winter worth it!
We have salt water in our blood; when the sun is shining we flock to the ocean.
If you have gone swimming in the ocean on the May two/four weekend, you are Maritime AF!
Only in the Maritimes!
If you are in the Maritimes and say you are going on the island, you don’t have to specify what island you are talking about, “the island” is P.E.I. Anyone who has to ask what island you are referring to are obviously “from away”; which is how we describe people who are not from here. Used in a sentence: Where is he from? Meh, from away.
If this patched and re-patched road looks perfectly normal to you, you are Maritime AF.
Do you eat your lobster cold? If so, you are Maritime AF. Warm lobster is for sissies, a.k.a. anyone from Ontario.
Have you ever had Roast Chicken Chips? No? Then you are definitely not Maritime AF. Another clear sign that you are not from the Maritimes, is that you have never heard of #stormchips. That is when they call for a big snowstorm and you go to the store to stock up on chips, it’s a thing, google it.
Speaking of weather, if you haven’t heard from Cindy Day, you aren’t Maritime AF! Who is Cindy? She was CTV’s meteorologist for over a decade. We liked to blame her when she got the weather wrong. Someone needed to be held accountable..right?
We also use the word “right”, right a lot, lol. Example: It was raining right hard last night. It can also be used at the end of a sentence to replace “eh”.
And finally the very best part of the Maritimes are Maritimers! Whether it’s an Acadian tintramar for le 15 aout, or an Irish or Scottish Ceilidh with Gaelic music; where you can get your jig on (jig means dancing or get your grove on). You haven’t lived until you have been to a Maritime Kitchen Party, they are by far the most Maritime AF thing on this list!
I hope you enjoyed this post, if not, you are certainly not Maritime AF!! And we probably can’t be friends lol.
I want to hear what you think makes us Maritime AF, there are too many for me to list alone! Leave a comment below.
Feel free to click on like, it’s below my last pic, you can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram: oui-liette
And finally, sharing this post with your friends will give you instant Maritime AF street cred…just saying.
Back in Canada for work, I found myself with a few hours of free time to explore the city; what to do, what to do? To say that this city has an infinite list of things to do is a huge understatement!
My favorite thing to do in a big city, any city really, is to walk the streets, people watch and to get the feel of the unique vibe of the city.
We walked our way to Graffiti Alley, which is in a really neat part of town. It is in the Fashion District and runs south of Queen Street West from Spadina Ave to Portland Ave.
Never heard of it? If you are Canadian, I bet you have seen it without knowing what it was. It’s the alley that Rick Mercer, a fellow Maritimer, walked through during his awesome rants on This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
I discovered Graffiti Alley a few years ago, if you read my very first blog post on the hard hitting subject: How to Take the Perfect Selfie, you will have seen this pic, taken there.
You often see photo shoots being shot when touring the alleys, which I love to witness.
If you find yourself with free time in this beautiful city, I urge you to get out and explore!!
We have had two awesome meals here, here are my recommendations:
Si Lom Thai Bistro – 534 Church St
My second recommendation Is Donatello: 37 Elm Street
Tomorrow I am off to my hometown of Moncton, N.B. I have already put my parents on notice that I will be expecting lobster rolls for lunch. They are more than happy to comply. But tonight, I am eating smarties in bed; resting up for some vacation adventures.
Thanks for reading, more pictures on Insta & Facebook: oui-liette, check me out! And click like below if you liked. If you didn’t like this post, sorry, but you just read all the way to the end, so it couldn’t have been that bad, lol.
Feel free to share your fav thing to do in this Mega City! I will be back here in two weeks, would love some recommendations.
More fun things to do in and around Las Vegas, while sober…or tipsy! Lol
This next activity, is my second fav thing after kayaking. You probably shouldn’t do it while drinking though, lol.
When you think of coming to Vegas, I bet a Camel Safari isn’t exactly top of mind? I am a list girl, those who know me will be shocked by this statement I am sure…not! I often make mini bucket lists, just to keep things interesting. I try to pick 4 or 5 new things a quarter. New on my list was going on a Camel Safari.
Since Las Vegas is in the desert, I thought it would be plausible that there would be camel safaris available somewhere…right? I mean, come on, anything is possible it’s Las Vegas!
I was right! I did a quick Pinterest search and there it was! The company is called: Camel Safari…ok, they may not get points for originality, but hey, they do Camel Safaris, so it fits. My nephew Jack was coming to visit, so I booked us a Camel Safari! I really need to give my nephew a shout out, like camels, teenagers can be, at times difficult, but he is and has always been game and receptive to all my cockamamie ideas…and there have been many!! You rock Jack!
Camel Safari, the company, are located in Bunkerville, which is a little over one hour’s drive from Las Vegas. So not far at all.
There are different tours available; you can feed the animals, they have more than just camels; they do bachelor and bachelorette parties, where you can party under the stars. Side note, the night before we went on our safari, they filmed an episode of the Bachelor there! And of course they do Camel Safaris, please check them out online: http://www.camelsafari.com
Now I am no camel expert, but everyone that I told about my upcoming adventure, warned me that camels are basically assholes. My experience was the exact opposite, these camels were very well behaved! Mine had a funny, quirky personality, we bounded over the fact that he seemed to love getting his picture taken, just like me.
Again, I am no animal expert, but I attribute their well-mannered behavior to the fact that they are so well taken care of by their keepers. They are not locked in cages, they get to roam on the estate; where they hang out with their camel friends and a rescued zebra, who the camels have accepted as one of their own.
The staff seem to be there because of a genuine love of animals, it was great to see! And a fun experience, I highly recommend!
Camel Safari…checked of my list!!
NEXT! Let’s do a speed round of my go to places, this is where I take my visitors who come to visit me.
Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is 15 minutes off the strip (all of these places, I found on Pinterest, it’s my fav search engine.)
Seven Magic Mountains is a temporary art exhibit in the desert, I guess you can drink there, as long as you are not the driver. You can take great pics and it’s free!
Liberty Bell Arch
Liberty Bell Arch is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, it’s on the Arizona side. It’s a geological masterpiece! The arches were formed over 300 million years. It is less than an hours drive from the strip. It is a moderate hike, bring lots of water! Sorry, this is a non-alcoholic activity, but it is free!
You can’t see the Arch from the highway, so when it finally does come into view it’s amazing! Please be careful, the rocks at the base of the Arch are lose and sharp. I didn’t venture all the way up to the base; but my friend Sean did, he did a lot of slipping and sliding on the rocks and I was there at a safe distance away to photograph it!
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire is approx 50min from the strip, you really, really need to go! It is breathtaking and there is a spiritual zen vibe to it. The hikes are amazing, the park is over 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops, as per their site, please go to: http://www.parks.nv.gov for more info…oh and they have cool petroglyphs.
Save your drinking for when you get back to the strip, you need to be on your A game for this one. There is a fee to get into the park, but well worth it.
Nevada has lots of Ghost Towns, if you have a bit more time or are touring the state and see them from the highway, you should stop! As long as you aren’t driving, I don’t see any issues with an adult beverage or two, hey you may even see more ghosts after a few?
Welcome to Vegas Sign
What people may not realize is that Las Vegas has a very sophisticate side, we have world class entertainment, top chefs and restaurants and the worlds most impressive NHL hockey team…GO KNIGHTS!
But there is also a fun and cheesy side, everyone who visits me needs to get their picture taken at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign; I think it’s the most fabulous touristy thing you can do!
Although this is a free activity, there is always a guy there who offers to take your picture, I recommend you let him. He is a pro! He will help you find your inner cheese! Don’t forget to slide him a $5 afterwards! $10 if you are a larger group.
My brother wins for best jump, the worst jumper is Gilles, bottom left. Gilles you really let us down, you should be embarrassed, lol. My dad and uncle were living their best thug life, trust me you would not have wanted to be on the ice, with these two hockey guys in their hay day!
What is your best Vegas hot spot? Have you tried any of the activities listed here? Please share!
As always, thank you for reading, this one was long, but I needed to jam pack lots of content. If you enjoyed please click on like, feel free to share on social media and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Yes you read that correctly, it is possible to be sober in Las Vegas; and news flash, it can actually be really fun. I want to share a few fun things that I have discovered off strip, that don’t involve drinking or gambling.
Not to brag but in my first year here, I now live in Las Vegas, my friend Lynn and I have done almost every day trip activity within a two hour drive from the strip.
What kind of things you ask? How about kayaking, camels and hiking for starters? There are so many fun things to do off strip, it’s going to take more than one post to share them all.
One of my first day adventures with Lynn was kayaking and it is probably my most favorite activity to date. And yes, I said kayaking…in the desert! I am from Atlantic Canada, so I am naturally drawn to the beach and to any and all water activities.
I was amazed to find a place that is just a 50 minute drive from my house; it’s called Willow Beach. The water is crystal clear, there is also an area called Emerald Cove where the water is, well it’s emerald green, hence the name.
I am in love with this place!!! I should warn you that this post will be heavy on pictures! Oh and filled with lots of exclamation points!! Deal with it!!! lol, sorry, will try to restrain!
For exact driving instructions, punch it in your phone, Willow Beach. But in brief, from Vegas drive towards Boulder City, then hang left; super helpful right?
On our first kayaking adventure, Lynn and I booked a guided tour, which is more expensive, but was well worth it for our first time out. On our next trips, we ventured out on our own. You can rent a single or double kayak onsite, you will need to book in advance, rentals are $47ish a day.
From the marina, we kayaked for about 50 minutes to get to a small rocky beach area, it’s the perfect place to rest, picnic and swim. There are a few spots along the way where you can pull over and hang.
I will warn you the water is on the cold side, I was impressed with Lynn, this California girl got in and swam on our second outing. I am Canadian, I have not yet found water too cold to swim in.
Please note this activity is more of a spring and fall thing. It is just too hot in July and August to be outside for any long periods of time. Regardless of when you go, you will need to pack lots of water, snacks and sunscreen.
After resting, snacking and swimming on the beach, we continued onward to Emerald Cove. It is about 20 minute from our resting spot. If you keep going down the river, you will eventually hit some hot springs; we haven’t made it that far down, as of yet.
To the left of my kayak you can see what looks like a cave, it looks a bit scary from this viewpoint, but it really isn’t. It’s more of an archway, on the other side is a small opening.
I am told that the water is green because of the algae on the bottom.
See! Emerald Green, the water here is a bit more shallow, so when the sun shines, it glows green. The water is crystal clear, the green is on the bottom.
Fun fact, Canadians outside of Canada wear Blue Jays hats to meet other Canadians. If you are in the US and you see someone with a Blue Jays hat, you are obligated to say hi and ask what part of Canada they are from. It’s how we find each other.
From the marina to the cove, you are paddling against the current, but on the way back you can coast and enjoy the ride.
When there is no wind, the water is like a mirror, it’s truly breathtaking! We have seen eagles flying overhead and mountain goats grazing on the cliffs.
If you only have time for one off strip activity, this is the one you have to try!
I was amaze to find out that some of my friends and coworkers, who have lived in Vegas for a long time, had never been to this area. Sometimes you need to be a tourist in your hometown.
To prove how much I like Willow Beach; I bought a kayak…yes a maritime girl moves to the desert and buys a kayak, it does seem a bit crazy.
I hope you enjoyed this post, two more on fun things to do off strip will follow shortly; next will be my camel safari!!
I also want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my blog, this is just my third post and I have had over 36,000 views so far! I don’t expect all my posts to go viral, like my previous post did. I am fine with a slow build moving forward.
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