And a good evening to you from...The Mother Country!!! That's right - JT and I landed at 6:30 AM local time this morning, and I am about 4 secondsd away from PASSING OUT as soon as I hit publish on this email. However, before I snore loud enough to peel paint from the walls, I simply had to get this blog out and tell you guys about the AMAZING time muffin puffin and I had in our Northern Neighbor's capitol. Apologies for no pics tonight, but I simply don't have the energy. That being said, tomorrow we'll start going back through ALL the blogs sans photos, adding in some "color" commentary.
Dinner Friday night was a "cross-off" on my life's to do list - The Keg. So back story on this place - I have been talking about eating here since 2007 when I first went to Ottawa for work (also in January - this was the trip with the -37 degree walk home/near death experience). Everyone had raved about this place, so I simply had to try.
Let me tell you - it DID NOT disappoint. The atmosphere was great, the wine was excellent, the twice baked potato was life-changing (good call, Nat!), and the steak...WOW. JT and I both went with rare, and it was cooked to perfection. And when you consider that I'm talking about a 6 oz. filet mignon wrapped in bacon and cooked in a bleu cheese crust, you see what I'm talking about - WICKED.
We crashed hard that night and popped up the next morning to a BLISTERING FREEZING day. I mean, I know it's cold in Canada, but HOLY @#$@#$!!!!! So JT and I got all bundled up in our leggings, stockings, and layers, and we were ready to tackle the Yukon in all its majesty. However, I forgot about one thing - the boot has an open toe, and their ain't any combination of socks on EARTH that can keep that wind chill out.
TWO MINUTES after leaving the hotel to have a walkabout, I was pretty sure amputation was in my future. My face was red enough to illuminate Carlsbad Caverns, and the pain in my toe was something akin to jamming bamboo shoots up my toe nails whilst having a pedicure in hydrocloric acid. Suffice it to say, we needed to get inside in a HURRY.
So we scrambled up to Parliament Hill, where Jenny and I checked out this very cool eternal flame, as well as a few statues around the main Parliament building (which was BEAUTIFUL) before heading into the building (that's right - you just walk right INTO THE BUILDING - try THAT in the U.S. Capitol) to go to the top of the Peace Tower.
The Peace Tower provides a GREAT 360 view of the Ottawa area (covering Ontario and Quebec), and we were treated to some SPECTACULAR views of the Ottawa River and the Rideau canal (which is almost completely frozen SOLID - they actually hold a festival in February called "Winterlude," where the entire festival is held on TOP OF THE FROZEN ICE).
Within the Parliament, we also saw the Memorial Chanber and the Book of Rememberance, which the Government records the name of every single Canadian who has died in a war. It's a beautiful little chapel (and quite sobering).
After that, we scambled to the War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which I'd always wanted to take a closer look at. In the snow (which is the only way I've ever seen it in my 3 trips to Ottawa), it was a truly haunting image.
We then caught a great lunch (Tise - they had Tankhouse!), where Muffin FINALLY got her French Onion soup! After lunch, we hopped a cab and headed for the feature activity of the day - Casino Lac Leamy. Let me tell you - this was a GREAT night out, and I simply must give Scott "the Pugilist" McElroy credit.
Again, the set up for all this - before checking out of this hotel on Friday, Scott tells the gal at the desk: "So listen, my boss, a guy named Sam Taylor (I'm not his boss, for the record) is checking in here tomorrow night because I raved about the place. He's a Starwood guy, and I've told him he needs to switch to Hilton." I'm not sure if he also blackmailed their families, but these cats treated us like ROYALTY.
We show up to find out that we've been upgraded from our standard double bed to a king bed overlooking the lake (where people were ICE FISHING) on one of the executive floors. Even better, the bathroom was ALL marble, and you could have played baseball in our shower.
Next stop - THE CASINO, BABY! I started with craps before we moved to some slots, both coming up losers for us. However, we then rolled up to a Lac Leamy Original - the Sega Horse Racing challenge. Bottom line - there are 6 little plastic horses that go around this little plastic track, and you bet on winners and exactas - it is HILARIOUS! You get odds and handicapper's comments, and it's a riot. Best of all - I turned $5 into $22.50 - FINALLY A WINNER!
We returned to the room to find a collection of sweets and a letter addressed to "Mr. Taylor." I promptly called down to the front desk and told them I only answered to "His Pimpness"...just kidding.
We broke up the gaming with a 2 hour stint down at the indoor-outdoor pools. That's right, you read that correctly - they have part of their pool OUTSIDE.
Here's the deal - picture Sam Taylor in a beanie in heated water up to his neck with snow and -20 Celsius weather all around him (that's around -3 Fahrenheit in case you're scoring at home - also known as COLD AS BALLS). Jenny didn't wear a beanie, and so consequently the water in her hair FROZE even while we were in the hot tub. INSANE.
We then went back to the fray, where Jenny battled it out in Pai Gow for about 90 minutes, and then I had THE BEST RUN OF CRAPS IN MY LIFE. I turned $250 into $650 (Deets - all I have to say is "Can I get a neuf, neuf"), including hitting BACK TO BACK BOXCARS. OUT OF CONTROL. Check out my first ever $500 chip. There was a better photo of it, but security didn't really approve of flash photography in the casino. Details...
So JT and I celebrated with some wine and Fin Du Monde (I also had a Molsen Dry - not bad!). The next day we slept in, but we still had time for 90 minutes in the casino! We stuck to craps, and whilst I got my teeth kicked in, it was a BLAST.
Wire to wire, this was a GREAT vacation. GREAT food, good beer, and the FRIENDLIEST people I have EVER met. Honestly, it was amazing how polite everyone was. Also, it was very cool to play craps in French and throw out my random (and pitiful) phrases (Sophie, I can only imagine the look on your face) as I asked for 6's and 8's and come bets.
The flight home was easy, even if I didn't sleep a wink. I watched "District 9" (very entertaining), "Inglorious Bastards" (not that good, but Brad Pitt's character is from Maynardville, TN), and "Surrogates" (mom - you were right - DONKEY TRASH). All in all, a good flight (even if it did take 2 lattes to get me through the day).
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny