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.
If you can find my like button, you need to scroll down, trying to fix that; please click on it. And if you really like me, you can subscribe.
This is a true account of what happens when you put something out there and it goes viral. No names in this post have been changed to hide any ones identities, lol, that’s how I roll!
For my second blog post, I am torn between which story to go with? Girls Just Wanna Have Tea, a hard hitting story on how to throw a tea party; or New Brunswick, Canada, You’re Going to Hate It! A fun tongue and cheek story about my home.
Late Sunday afternoon, I decide to go with the N.B. story, I read it one last time, hoping that people will get the humor, but if they don’t, how many people will actually see it?? Probably not many. I hit send and go on with my day.
By Monday morning I have gotten a few comments, I am excited, the first few are from friends, but sprinkled in there are a few from people I don’t know. I am reaching people I don’t know, how cool is that?
During the day, I periodically check my emails, each time I have a few more views and comments. By the time I get home that evening, I am very pleased with myself. My second post is getting much more attention than my first post; where I explored the controversial topic of how to take the perfect selfie.
My post gets its first share on Facebook from Paul, a fellow Monctonian. I am so touched, that he thought my post was interesting enough to share with his friends. By the afternoon, I have a few more shares. This is turning out to be a good Monday!
After dinner, while looking at my blog analytics, I notice, if I scroll down…all the way down, I can see more numbers; how many people have visited my site and where they are from… those sorts of things. It takes me a few minutes to figure things out, but when I do, I noticed that 2,100 have viewed my post in the last 24hrs!!!
Holy Shit!! 2,100 people viewed my post!!! How awesome! I call my mom, I am so excited, I need to share. After 5 minutes of explaining what a blog is, I am still not convinced she got it, I ask her to guess how many people have viewed my post so far?
Her first guess is 100K…really?? My 2,100 views suddenly feel tiny compared to 100K. When I bark back “mom!” she just laughs. I should note that she doesn’t have a computer, she knows how to text and that’s pretty much it, so I decide to cut her a bit of slack.
By the time we hang up, I have instructed her that the next time we speak, if asked to guess my number she would pick a realistic number, pretty much any number under 100K! She asks how many I want, I tell her that hitting 3K or even 4K would be super cool.
A few hours later I pass 3K, then 4K! I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the following people: Barney, Lynn, Staci, Claudia, Aline, Kenda, Cindy and Guylaine; because for the rest of that evening, they get regular text updates on how many people have viewed me; and by regular I mean every 20 minutes…ok maybe every 15 minutes.
When I surpass 5K and am almost at 6K, the texts are all the same, brief and to the point: WTF??? I start wondering if I am reading my stats correctly? One last text to Barney, who is away with his family, sorry, Barney’s family; he confirmed the stats are correct. Barney has become my unpaid technician and blog expert.
I decide to go to bed, I wondered if I could possibly hit 8K by the morning? I think that it maybe possible? But then reality sets in, nah, it will die down by the morning.
I wake up early Tuesday morning and the first thing I do is reach for my phone to check my stats. Over 8K views!! And lots of new comments. I make certain to reply to each one of them before I get out of bed. Most are recommendations for places I should visit or things I should try. All are polite and make me feel warm and fuzzy.
By the time I am ready to leave for work, I hit 9K views!! I am not sure why, but I instantly start to feel anxious and actually start breaking out in hives. I don’t know why? It’s such an honor to have people take the time to read something you have written. But on the other hand, 9,000 people have just read something that I have written! I think I am feeling a bit vulnerable, which is strange, since I started this blog and I posted of my own free will.
By the time I get to work, the anxiety is now mixed with excitement, after updating my coworkers with my unbelievable stats. I decide to stop looking, plus I know that the numbers will start to slow down shortly.
At lunch with my friend Staci, I pulled out my cell and see that I’ve just hit 13K!!! OMG!!
At this point, I am questioning what is going on here? Why is my little post about my little province so popular? One more text to Barney to ask: when do you know if you have gone viral? To which he replies, “Liette, you are viral!” Yikes!
Our next stop is Party City, I had joked earlier that if I reached 500 followers, I would do what celebrities do and take my photo with giant numbered balloons. It would be cheesy, dorky and awesome!! I decided that 13K is reason enough to celebrate!
I asked Staci if I should be so bold as to as to assume that I will hit 14K before the next morning? I decide to go for it, what the hell. I pay for a number one, a number four and a letter K; I’ll pick them up after work.
Later that afternoon, my friend Michael, asks again if I have started getting any creepy emails yet? “No, just yours” I reply. He had sent me a cranky message as a joke, he says, the creeps will come, just wait. He is more of a glass half empty kind of guy, lol. All comments so far have been super supportive, nothing negative to report.
A few hours later, I get my first angry comment, instead of being upset, I think, wow! I have really made it now! It was someone who didn’t think that N.B. being bilingual is an asset, blah, blah, blah. It ended with “this F#@$ing Sucks”, not my blog post, but the fact that French people have equal rights I guess?? I have to approve all comments before they appear on my page. I considered approving knowing that the general public would come to my defense. I think about it for a moment, then decide that I want my blog to be a positive space, so not approving his rant. I am open to some controversial topics, if you want to debate which is better a sticky bun or a “pet de soeur”, bring it on!
For the rest of the afternoon the views and comments keep coming in. Bloggers are sharing and re-posting, local N.B. businesses are sharing. My friend Cindy sends me a note that her friends, who don’t know me, are sharing my post. I can’t tell if she is annoyed or happy about that? Lol, teasing, I think she is at the holy shit stage. She was the first to read my post, I sent it to her for feedback. She offered up some helpful suggestions, thank you Cindy!
By now, the anxiety is gone, I realize that this has taken on a life of its own and that I am just along for the ride.
When I leave work to pick up my balloons, I am already past 15K. What the hell am I going to do with my number 4 balloon now? I decided to skip 5 and get a number 6 balloon. I figure that by the time I get home, I will be at 16K, which I was; now I was just getting cocky.
Next is the reflective stage; what is it about this post that people connected with? I think that I have tapped into a feeling of pride? By highlighted a few things that make N.B. awesome, maybe it have reminded others how great it is? Or maybe it have given others the opportunity or the permission to boast a bit too? I think there is a feeling that N.B. is ignored by those who have never been there. We have been the drive through province, but those who have taken the time to stop, love it. Maybe instead of being Canada’s overlooked province, we are Canada’s best kept secret?
I make plans to have my picture taken with my balloons in front of the Welcome to Vegas sign the next day. Even after being here for two years, I still pinch myself and think, you live in Las Vegas! So the visual of a girl from Moncton, standing in front of the Las Vegas Sign with balloons that say 16K for a blog post about her home province, seemed like something I wanted to do! So doing it!
I wake up to discover that I am at 22K views, so my 16K balloons now seemed silly, there goes $30…US!!
By the time I leave for work I am at 23K & 25K after lunch!
My friends back home are telling me that they are seeing my story all over their Facebook feeds. It feels strange that I am getting my 15 minutes of fame for a story I wrote about my home province, while I am living in Vegas.
I decide to call my dad, I am almost positive my mom hasn’t told him about my budding fame. He is a fairly popular guy in the area. He’s sort of like Madonna and Cher, he only needs one name…Tilly. I didn’t want people to tell him that they saw his daughter on the internet, without knowing what I was doing on the internet, lol. So I explain to him what a blog is and tell him how many views I have gotten, his response is “ya ok”. I hang up telling myself that I am sure he is really excited…on the inside.
By the time I go to bed, things are starting to slow down a bit. My daily total for Tuesday was 13,268K, today my daily total is only 9,645. As soon as I say it, I see how crazy of a statement it is; only 9K today, oh no, am I becoming jaded…already? This week has been crazy and it’s only Wednesday.
My morning total is 27,899, I am confident that I will hit 28K in the next few hours. I am a starting to feel a bit detached; it’s difficult to wrap my brain around the reality of this number.
It’s hard to believe that 27,899 people have taken the time to click on my link and read all of, or part of, my little story about N.B. To be honest, I would have been thrilled with 500 views and blown away by 1000 views, the higher the numbers get, the more surreal all of this feels.
By the time I get home from work I have hit 30K! Feeling so thankful and blown away, my brain hurts!
I call my parents and speak to my dad, he is starting to take interest; he asked and I quote: “how is your thing with the people going?” I feel like I am making progress on the parent front!
I think I am suffering from a blog hangover, lol, it’s too much!
I feel that I inadvertently accomplished something that I suspect most bloggers never get to experience. When you start a blog, you want people to like your content and you want to build your followers; I was expecting a slow build. I didn’t expect this and to be honest, I wasn’t ready for it, I was still working out the kinks for gosh sakes!
On my drive home from work, I catch myself making a mental list of all the people who have reached out and sent me a quick email or text and those who have shared my link. And for the first time this week, I get a bit of a negative vibe as I take stock of those who are close to me, who haven’t said boo. In the grand scheme of life, this isn’t such a big deal, I know that, but it does make me think, maybe a bit too much??
I check my stats one more time before bed; my daily numbers are slowing down, it has been a hell of a great ride! But this train is approaching the gate and to be honest, that is fine with me.
I am up early to catch a flight to Oklahoma City for my real, paying, job. Wow, what a week! I have stopped checking my stats every 20 minutes. It was fun, but a bit exhausting.
My daily total on Friday was a little over 2K, my grand total by Saturday night is 33,740. I am going to put it out there, that I will hit 35K!
If someone had told me last Sunday, when I hit send, that I would be sitting in a hotel room in Oklahoma City writing that I want to hit 35 THOUSAND views on my second blog post, I would have laughed my head off. But here I am!
Here is what I am going to take away from this experience. Ready or not, shit happens, you may as well enjoy the ride! That sometimes failure is easier to wrap your head around than being successful. And that one should not underestimate the power of their community, correction, my community! New Brunswick, maybe small in size and in population, it may have its economic struggles, but the people kick ass! Although I have had views from around the world, the majority are from Canada and of those, I suspect a large part of fellow New Brunswickers.
Thanks to all who have taken the time to read my posts, if you like my style and my swagger, please subscribe; if you do, you will receive an email each time I post something. Which will be once a week. I am pretty sure you won’t want to miss my next post, which will most likely be how to throw a tea party! I bet you can hardly wait, lol.
For my first blog post I am going to tackle a very important topic; how to take the perfect selfie!!
You may be asking yourself; what makes this girl qualified to give advice on such an important topic? Well, I was signed by an actual modeling agency in Toronto in the early nineties….ok full disclosure, my modeling career didn’t exactly take off; but I am freakishly photogenic and my mother tells me I am a super model all the time; so let’s get started.
Tip 1 – Do you have the right tools?
Can you take a great selfie without these tools? Yes, but can they help you? Absolutely!
Selfie Sticks are perfect for group shots or if you are traveling and want to show the background with you in it. Please note that people will be silently judging you while you strike a pose with your selfie stick, but don’t let that stop you in your quest for an amazing shot!
Do you own a Blue Tooth Remote Clicker? If not, I suggest getting one! You can pick one up on Amazon for a good price. I use my remote all the time. I keep it in my purse, it’s my secret selfie weapon. What I love about it is that it is more discreet than a selfie stick. You can hold the camera phone without having to balance it and hit the picture button. Just hold your hand up and click! Even better get someone else to hold it while you click away, my rule is whoever has the longest arms gets to hold the camera.
A winning combination is a Mini Tripod and the aforementioned remote. I am really not a fan of taking pictures in the mirror, unless you want to show your outfit or look of the day; but if that is the case, I would use a selfie stick and/or tripod instead. I just don’t think that seeing the camera while posing in a mirror is flattering.
Have you ever heard of a Selfie Ring Light? I just got one of these and I am half embarrassed to use it in public, but OMG I love it! It is a ring that fits on the back of your phone that emits the perfect diffused light, mine even has three settings. They are fairly inexpensive on Amazon, if you get one, let me know what you think and if you found a way to discretely use it in public.
The most important tool is your cellphone; please know where your camera lens is on your phone. You would be surprised at how many people don’t and don’t know where to look. It makes you look a bit lost or confused if you are looking in the wrong place, lol.
Tip 2 – Know your Angles!
Known your face & know your angles! This is probably the most important tip. Take a look at my selfie collage below, do you notice any similarities? In seven of the nine photos my face is slightly angled, this is more flattering for me than being straight on. I tend to gravitate to my left side, that’s my best angle. You need to figure out what’s yours.
Another thing that I do, is that I angle my shoulders, take a closer look at my selfie collage again and you will notice that I never pose with my shoulders straight on. I pop one shoulder towards the camera and tuck the other way back. This may feel odd, but most times contorting your body a bit results in the best shots. Angling your body also makes you look slimmer! Practice this trick in the privacy of your own home, you may feel a bit silly but let me know if you see a difference.
Lastly play with the angle of your cell or camera, you should raise your arm so that it is shooting downward. My weight tends to fluctuate a bit. The rounder I feel, the higher the camera, lol.
Tip 3 – Practice, practice, practice!
The only way to figure out what your best angle is, is to practice!!
Set yourself up and take a bunch of selfies, don’t worry, you can delete the bad ones. Take lots and then take a few more.
I told one of my friends to go home and to take 50 selfies and then we would look at them together and see what her best angle was. She completed the task, but came back with 50 of the exact same photo!
You need to move! If only slightly. When I am in front of a camera, I am always moving, but unless you are paying attention, you may not even notice.
This is how to figure out what your best angle is. Start clicking, move your chin down, then up, angle your face a bit to the left, then to the right, big smile, show teeth, then no teeth, then a bit more serious. Once done, look through your shots and see which ones are the most flattering. This will be your “go to pose” when out with your friends.
Remember, when it comes to photography, more is more. Take lots of shots in hopes that you get one or two really good ones.
Tip 4 – Lighting
Master tip #3 and #4 and you will be well on your way to unleashing your inner super model. I prefer natural lighting, although my new selfie light ring is improving my indoor selfie game. The best lighting is in the morning and early evening. Full on sunlight is bad for shadows and squinting, diffused lighting is much more flattering.
You should also face the light instead of having it to your back. The pictures above are perfect examples. In the image on the left I was trying to take a few pictures of me in front of the frozen lake, but the sun was behind me, making dark shadows on my face, not flattering at all.
Then, a few moments later, as we were deeper in the woods, the lighting was perfect. I took out my camera and clicked a few more pictures. The lighting was magical, I am out of the direct, bright sunlight. The picture on the right is 100% filter free.
Also in the picture on the left I am facing the camera straight on. I have a round face, so staring directly into the camera like this emphasizes the roundness of my face. At first glance, the picture on the right looks like I am straight on as well, but I am actually slightly angled, slimming my face; see angles matter!
Tip 5 – Have fun!
Tip 5 is just have fun! I believe that I am able to take great pics because I love photography and getting my picture taken. If you hate getting your picture taken, it will show, so have some fun. I have a theory, that those who criticize people for taking selfies are just horrible at taking selfies. I challenge you to follow my 5 tips and send me your best selfie; or if you still aren’t feeling it, send me your picture and I may be able to suggest how to improve your shots.