I Went On A Mystery Road Trip

It was a series of fortunate events for my friends and I: none of us had been on a road trip before, we all wanted to go on one, we also wanted to go camping, and then we found a mystery road trip service that had a trip on the way to the area we planned to camp in.

Kronk Oh Yeah It's All Coming Together GIF.

My mother was the one to tell me about this service. It’s called Guess Where Trips and it’s a Canadian company that has pre-planned mystery road trip packages for day trips. The idea is that you pick a trip based on your location and interests, and then they send you all the info in individual envelopes so you can open them up as you go and have it all be a complete surprise. My mom’s friend had bought a few as gifts and they went over well. I looked on the website and was excited to find one on the way to the park my friends were going to camp in that perfectly aligned with our interests (it was called the Weird And Wonderful trip⁠—a perfect way to describe my friends).

This is not a sponsored or affiliate post. I genuinely just think it’s a cool thing and wanted to tell you about it.

Because I Like It GIF.

Each trip package comes with 3-4 main attractions that can be done in a day but also lists some other places nearby to see, eat, or even sleep to extend the trip. Everything is organized and laid out so all you have to do is drive and enjoy, which is nice considering how stressful trip planning can be.

The mystery/surprise aspect is very fun, but I also like being in control. So what my friends and I did was I bought the PDF version of the trip plan (instead of the physical version with the cute envelopes) so I had all the info ahead of time and could ensure we stayed on schedule so we could get to our campsite at the proper check-in time before it got dark. I set the GPS and didn’t tell my friends any of the fun destinations until we were approaching. This way, we managed to keep that surprise element and we were able to see some cool places.

We didn’t see or do everything on the plan that we wanted to due to the camp check-in time we had, but if you have a full day to use for this adventure, it’s very worth it and fun to go to places you didn’t know existed.

Hobbit going on an adventure gif.

As I said, Guess Where Trips is Canadian, so all their trips are in Canada only. If you’re visiting the country and want to see things outside of the normal touristy destinations, give it a go! I don’t know if there are similar companies in other countries, but if there are, I can say that my friends and I enjoyed this experience. It’s a fun way to explore new places with friends, family, or dates.

I’d love to share pictures of what we saw on our trip, but that’d ruin the mystery for you!

That’s all for now!

 

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How Did I Exist Without Data For So Long?

When I got a cell phone in high school over a decade ago, it was a slide phone (a Samsung Vice, to be exact). The plan I was on was pay-as-you-go, allowing me 2500 combined incoming and outgoing texts and nothing else for $10 every month. I stayed on that plan for 11 years, even when I moved to an iPhone and actually had the means to go on the internet. That $10 plan was eventually forced up to $15 but they gave me 10 minutes of talk time. A few years ago, they forced it up to $20 and gave me nothing more, and that was my villain origin story breaking point.

I've Had Enough Of That GIF.

Last November I finally made the switch to a different provider. I now pay $17 now for unlimited text, 100 minutes of outgoing calls, and 250MB of data*. I barely make calls, and most of my messages are free iMessages, but that data….life changer. How did I survive so long without it?

It’s not a lot of data, and in the few months I’ve had it, I haven’t used more than 75% of my allotment (even when the power went out for 24 hours), but it’s come in handy so many times. Most recently, pulling up Dairy Queen coupons on the app after deciding to spontaneously make an ice cream stop. To think I used to wait until I got to my destination, connect to the wifi (if there even was any), and then tried to find what I needed. Being able to quickly check things like that and search for things something online whenever is great. Curling scores from the highway? Yes! Looking up that actor’s name from the beach? Yes! This power is wild.

I'm Drunk on Power GIF.

I guess to answer my question of how I survived without it, the answer is public wifi and screenshots in advance. Most places have free wifi, so if you’re in a city, it’s not hard to connect to something on the street, be it a fast food place or a bank. There were a few times I got lost going downtown for a job interview or something, but I was never panicking because I’d just walk to the nearest McDonalds and be okay. I’d love to see more places have free, easy to connect to wifi, though. Of course, this only works in a city where there are fast food joints on every corner. Being out in the suburbs isn’t as easy if you’re lost and without data. And I know because that has happened to me too.

Anyway, I’m sure most of you reading this have data and aren’t as wowed by it as I am. That’s fine. This is about me. I always kind of wonder how people without smartphones got by in life, and I’m sure there were people who thought the same about me when they heard I was data-less. But now I’m not, and I am happy about that.

exciting about using a phone gif.

That’s all for now!

*if you’re reading this and thinking “damn, what kind of deal is that?” note that I am Canadian and there’s a media duopoly going on so prices for phone, TV, and internet are such a mess up here. Interestingly enough, the provider I switched to (Lucky Mobile) is owned by the company I was with previously (Bell).

 

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A Roll-Up The Rim Rant

Apologies to the non-Canadians reading this, but I’m pretty disappointed by this that I need to rant about it.

The iconic Canadian food chain Tim Hortons does this event every year called Roll Up The Rim. The concept isn’t that unique, so maybe you’ve seen another chain do it too or something similar. Basically for a month, there are special Tims cups made, where after you finish your drink, you’re supposed to roll up the cup rim to see if you win a prize. Prizes can range from a free donut to a free car.

Winner gif.

I always enjoyed this event. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it in Monthly Look Aheads over the years. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I definitely make my way to Tims for hot chocolate a lot more when Roll Up is on because I think it’s fun. I remember as a kid, my whole family would make a Tims trip after church sometimes just because of Roll Up.

When COVID started years ago, Tim Hortons understandably didn’t really want an event that involved touching things your mouth was on and helping others roll their rims (sometimes the rolling was a struggle that you really had to use your teeth for) so they went virtual. Roll a virtual rim on a virtual cup on some website (actually, I think there was a virtual wheel to spin, if I recall correctly). Because of the pandemic, I didn’t go out much so I never got a chance to do it.

Staying Home GIF.

So here we are in 2022. Things in my area of Canada are somewhat back to normal. We’re vaxed and masked, and you can sit in a Tims to enjoy your food or drink. The season of Roll Up is back and there are commercials for it all the time on TV. So I go to a Tim Hortons and order two drinks. After they are consumed, I pull out my phone to begin figuring out how I roll, since it is still a virtual process. That’s when I learn that unless I had informed the lady at the cash register that I wanted to play and registered through the app ahead of time, the cups were useless.

Tim Hortons: why aren’t your employees trained to ask for this when I made my purchase? I had the app downloaded and could have pulled it out, but I wasn’t prompted. I didn’t know. Maybe it’s partly on me for being out of the loop for a couple years, but still.

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And your commercials don’t help either. They show someone buying a drink but there’s no mention of an app being needed ahead of time. Just a happy employee saying, “just scan to roll! Every cup is a winner!” It feels a little deceptive.

Doing it digitally in 2020 because of the pandemic was fine and made sense. But by still doing it in 2022 when restrictions have lifted, for one, and still not making it easy to actually play, for two, is unacceptable. If I’m struggling, I can only imagine how other people are with it. What about old people without smartphones? Or people without data going quickly through the drive-thru? You’d think that if Tims wanted to sell more cups and include everyone in this fun event, they’d make it easy or at least clear. Go back to the way it was. Take me back to the days of rolling up the actual rims.

I know there’s basically a literal war going on on the other side of the world, and in the grand scheme of things, Tim Hortons’ silly little cup game is nothing, but maybe someone from the franchise will see this and know that I’m pretty disappointed in how it’s run. I can’t do much else from my blog.

Rant Over mic drop gif.

That’s all for now.

 

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I’m Fine Not Being That Patriotic

Here’s what I don’t understand about patriotism and politics: how dedicated people are to it. It’s insane. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian and Canada is seen as a joke or maybe because I’m just not a passionate, informed person, but I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that there are people so willing to do or say anything in the name of their country and/or political views.

Last week when watching the absolute hellscape that is the United States Of America and all the nonsense regarding the invasion of the Capitol, I just found myself so confused. How is it that so many people were so willing to stop whatever they were doing that day and go participate in that anarchy is beyond me. I don’t understand how their loyalty and absolute dedication to Trump is that strong.

I'm Very Concerned About What's Going On Right Now GIF.

I mean, like, who’s my number one celebrity crush? Darren Criss, probably. And if he asked me personally to go break into Canada’s Parliament building, I don’t think I’d do it. Like, sorry, Darren, but that sounds kind of weird and chaotic and illegal. Also, it’s January, so it’s cold outside. I think I’ll stay home and be a reasonable human being.

Even if Jesus drifted down from heaven and appeared before me and asked me to do such a thing, I’d decline. No offense to that guy in the bible who was about to kill his own son because God told him to, but I’m different. I’m just not someone who’ll blindly follow others like that, and especially not into such chaos. Nor do I know anyone who would do such a thing, so I don’t think it’s just me who’s not into it all.

Yeah, No Thanks! gif.

Critical thinking really is a dying art, and this is proven time and time again when it comes to politics, and not just American. Between the fake news and lying and manipulation, it’s just so sad that a system that is supposed to help the people and the county is doing the opposite.

To some extent, I can understand having biases. Racial biases, sexual biases, political biases, etc, I don’t know if anyone is completely free of them, as unfortunate as it is. But I do understand how some people depending on how or where they were raised can have stronger beliefs. I just don’t get how so many people are so keen to act on them in such harmful ways. At least the jerks in power are making money off their hideous actions, but what’s the average Racist Joe Shmoe getting out of it? Is it worth it to be such an antagonist, such a villain, such a heartless person?

It takes zero dollars and zero cents to be a nice person. It takes zero dollars and zero cents to think critically. It takes zero dollars and zero cents to unlearn toxic behaviour and mindsets.

You can do better gif.

Hopefully 2021 and Biden’s transition to power brings some sense of peace and normalcy and productivity to the American political system, and hopefully any other country dealing with a fight for human rights/reliable leaders can come together too. It’d be really cool if Canada’s leaders could stop travelling for fun and lying about it! Reminder that we’re still dealing with a pandemic, so we need to work together and care for one another that much more.

 

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5 Canadian Singers You May Not Know

You obviously know Michael Buble and Shania Twain and Justin Bieber and Drake, but there are a bunch of other singers from Canada who, if you’re not from here, you probably don’t know. And I don’t blame you, as even Canadians may not know some of these. I think there are some singers/bands who find enough success in their country of origin, so they focus their attention there, flying under the radar of everyone else. And that’s valid.

Nevertheless, when I was putting together my post on Canadian kids TV shows, I was thinking about other hidden gems this country has, and so this post was born. I do want to give a disclaimer that a) this is just music I personally listen to, so I’m sure there are a bunch of other worthy names out there that I’m not familiar with myself and b) these are singers that are fairly modern and active still. I could list a bunch of older 70’s/80’s Canadian music acts that people may not know either, but I wanted to keep it focused on the music I grew up with.

  1. Marianas Trench
    This is a band that’s been active for over 10 years, and they slap. It’s pop music, though there’s an aspect of theatricality to a lot of their songs, which I like. They have played outside of Canada, but most of their tours are across the country as they’re mostly well known here. Two favourites from them: ‘Beside You‘ and ‘Astoria
    Marianas Trench image.
  2. Eva Avila
    Eva won the 4th season of Canadian Idol in 2006 and then released an album, which I was gifted for Christmas by my cousin that year. I loved it, and I still listen to it. It’s kind of very mid-2000’s pop but it’s funky, and she’s such a good singer. She then released another album and an EP, but then kind of dropped off the face of the planet. Instagram tells me she’s touring around in a cover band now, so that’s good for her. If she ever does come back to solo music, I am here for it. Two favourites from her: ‘Some Kind Of Beautiful‘ and ‘Old Love Song
  3. Andrew Allen
    I was first introduced to his music because of his Christmas song, ‘I Want To Be Your Christmas‘ which is my second ever favourite Christmas song. And then I looked up his other non-holiday songs and really dug some of them. It’s a relaxed indie love song vibe, and high school me ate it up. He did release an album in 2020 but also has started a band called Via Barcelonia, and they’re more pop. Two favourites from him: ‘Where Did We Go (feat. Carly Rae Jephson)‘ and ‘Sooner
    Andrew Allen.
  4. Jesse Labelle
    I saw him perform at a small Canada Day park concert one year in high school. I had known who he was because he did have a song on the radio, but I went home and looked up his other stuff. He’s had a quiet decade, releasing an album in 2011 and then a few singles over the years, but I think he’s been mostly touring with bigger names as their opening act. He’s a country and pop mix similar to how Shania Twain is a country and pop mix, so if you dig that genre, maybe check him out. Two favourites from him: ‘Kryptonite‘ and ‘There She Goes
  5. Serena Ryder
    Honestly, my father is a bigger fan of her than I am, but I do think she’s talented and has a very unique voice that very much fits her indie music. All her songs I hear on the radio are catchy, and she seems pretty down to earth and involved in Canadian events. Two favourites from her: ‘Fall‘ and ‘Circle Of The Sun
    Serena Ryder.

I also wanted to list a few honourable mention songs from bands/singers that I’m either not too into and or have disbanded a while ago. If you knew Canadian pop music from the 2008-2010 era, you may know these.

Anyway, I hope you listened to some of these songs and are enjoying some quality Canadian content. If we’ve learned anything from Schitt’s Creek‘s Emmy sweep last month, it’s not to dismiss Canadian art.

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That’s all for now!

 

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