Originally intended to document my experience of DeLorean ownership, focus is often radical and strange, boring and obtuse.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nightmare Anniversary

Scream or laugh, it's all a matter of how twisted your mind is.

Years ago Suz and I made an agreement. Instead of buying cheap Walmart gifts that make each other cry like we were punched somewhere special, we'd take a little trip on our anniversary. This year our anniversary ended, quite literally, with Nightmares.

Niagara Falls, surrounding the Horseshoe falls, has developed over the years to become an incredible tourist attraction. There is so much love in Niagara Falls that it has come to be known as the Honeymoon Capital of the world. Whether that's true or not is unknown to me.

What I do know (which, admittedly, isn't much) is that my love for the falls falls into the category of Halloween. What's Halloween without fear and monsters and haunted houses? The Falls delivers the latter in spades! Castle Dracula! The House of Frankenstein! The Haunted House! And of course, Nightmares.

If you think air compressors are scary, this place is for you!A couple of years ago we went through The Haunted House. Full of skeletal displays, pneumatic fright devices and moderately lit passages, this one was for the faint of heart. While most certainly fun, it was nothing to be afraid of.

This year Suz begged and begged me to go through "Nightmares Fear Factory", which was located up the hill, apart from the main attractions. On our last day, just before driving home, I decided it was time.

==Spoiler Warning==
(While I do not want to ruin the experience for anyone I do reveal two small details below which you would discover almost immediately for yourselves anyway)

Upon entering I posed two irrelevant questions to the abandoned coffin factory's proprietor: 1. Is it pitch black? 2. Are there any moving floors that might cause me to fall with my cane?

I say the questions were irrelevant because five minutes after he answered "Yes" to both, we were deep in horror territory, with Suz clutching my arm as hard as she could. For a girl who was dying (pardon the pun) to go through this haunted coffin factory, she was absolutely terrified.

As you can see in the photo, I spent the entire time merrily leading the way. I could hardly contain my laughter throughout the experience. It's not that the tactics used in this haunted house were funny, no - it was Suz's constant blood-curdling screams... and I was having a ball.

Two Martini-thumbs up to Nightmares for their creeptacular haunted coffin factory... despite the fact that there is little visual creepiness to enhance the experience.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Hurricane Vacation

Splish splash. Hurricane Gustav 'waves' hello to St. Petersburg.

One hundred degrees Fahrenheit and 100% humidity one day and ridiculous winds, rain and crashing waves the next. The weather we experienced on our Florida vacation was extreme to the max. Okay, not quite THE max, but pretty darn close.

Going to Florida as a kid, I got used to the muggy air, then the chill of the a/c cranked to eleven when I went inside. It was exciting to experience different weather and see different plant and animal life in a different part of the continent - yet still watch Fraggle Rock at the same time because we never left our time zone.

When Suz and I went to Florida in August, we experienced hurricane Fay, then scorching days until hurricane Gustav ran past and smacked us around.

The laziest girls let strangers do anything - even take their picture.Between the vendors on the pier, the coast guard hovering overhead and a school of dolphins partying with the swimmers, crowded Clearwater beach was always exciting. But when Gustav started coming closer, things got more dazzling. I crouched on the beach for nearly 20 minutes before I captured 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, yep, a bolt of lightning coming down from the sky. Thankfully the DeLorean was nowhere in the vicinity and remains safely in 2008.

A trip to St. Petersburg gave us a real thrill when we watched 30 foot waves crash higher than the palm trees lining our flooded parking lot. Even from 200 feet away the mist wrapped its salty hands around my camera lens.

I managed only to smear the lens with my salt-covered shirt and resorted to licking the lens clean, much to Suz's disgust.

For most island nations and the coastline of the U.S., hurricanes are devatstating and a horror to flee from. But when you're just getting the fringes, it makes for some exciting times and some interesting photos.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Unspectacular. That's Me.

Surprise! All you never wanted to know about Martini.

Before my vacation I was given an assignment. I was tagged by the T-Dude and I promised I'd find the time to give my boring answers to the blogging world.

Yes, it's late. But the waiting is over. And I'll bet you wish it wasn't because you're about to be bored to tears. Let's start with the rules. Okay, so technically I already started - with rule #1. Let's continue to rule 2.

1. Link the person that tagged you. (see above)
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following blogger's by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger's blogs letting them know they've been tagged.

Here we go:
1. Quite the opposite of the T-Dude, I like yellow clothes a lot. I never had any style sense, constantly refused to go shopping and therefore my mom always bought my clothes for me. When I started working I coincidentally started catching old Dukes of Hazzard reruns. I noticed that Bo wore yellow shirts on a regular basis. I decided that, also being blonde, I would look good in yellow. I was not wrong.

2. Similar to the T-Dude, I have a crown (as opposed to his dental implant). Around 24 years into my life I had a root canal done for unknown reasons. My tooth broke a few weeks later and a crown was made. The tooth split again about a year later and another crown was made. When this one breaks, there will not be enough tooth left for a crown and I'll be forced to have an implant.

3. I recycle. Big whoop. Everybody should do it. It comes so naturally to me that while in Florida (where there is essentially no recycling to speak of) I became confused, frustrated and agitated when I could not recycle anything. I even began asking strangers where I could recycle our 30-some odd plastic bottles and was told Wal-mart accepts recycling. I felt the stress lift from my chest as I dropped off a giant bag of recyclable material Wally's on our way to the airport. That bag of empty bottles would've been hard to explain to security.

4. I hate talking about my hair. When I think it looks good, most others tell me it looks bad. When I feel it's greasy, heavy and unattactive, others tell me it looks normal. My mom STILL tells me to 'get a haircut' even 8 years after I moved out. My hair causes me stress.

5. I think of numbers as colours. One is white. Two is kind of reddy/orange. Three is green. (It's pretty obvious don't you think?) Four is brown. Again I think that's quite obvious. It continues, but you're probably not that interested.

6. I wear glasses, and have a love/hate relationship with them. I think my glasses add a little character and feel I look better with them on. However, in perfect nerd fashion I am constantly adjusting them with one greasy finger. Additionally, they are not strong enough, so in perfect nerd fashion I squint on a regular basis. When my eyes tire, I take my glasses off and rub my bony sockets. When finished I clumsily fumble the frames back onto my face. I feel like Velma.

I do not know why there is a 100% lack of response by people I've tagged for these such things. I hope it's a little different this time as I tag David Hasselhoff, Kirk Cameron, Gary Coleman, Dustin Diamond, Scott Baio and of course, my inspiration for looking so dapper, John Schneider.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

2009 Chevy HHR Review

2009 Chevy HHR Flex Fuel.

"Take any one you want. The keys are in 'em."

The words echoed in my head as I left National's car rental office a little nervous, and a little excited. Suz and I had arrived in Tampa, beginning our Florida vacation on the eve of Hurricane Fay's departure, and the weather was strange.

I walked up and down the compact car aisle, waiting for something unique to catch my eye. And it did.

The Cheverolet HHR. Wait, scratch that. What really got my attention was the little badge in the corner of the tailgate. A badge that glinted in the unnatural glow of the security lights. A badge that read Flex Fuel E85 Ethanol.

This was a beautiful looking vehicle in all respects, and I was excited to drive it, even if only for the fact that both the HHR and myself were powered by the same thing: corn.

E85 fuel is a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Knowing you may not get the mileage of pure gasoline may bring a frown to your face, but knowing you're helping stave North America's dependency on foreign oil should turn your mood around.Flex Fuel means flexible fuel. It's bendy. As an added bonus, E85 fuel produces less harmful emissions than those regular fossil fuel-burning engines. And cleaner air makes everyone more comfortable.

Now, if there is one thing GM knows well, it's comfortable seating. And I found no deviation here. Inside I was greeted by a supple leather driver's seat that was soft and snug. The steering wheel shared the same leather and felt very substantial in my hands. Every control was logically placed and knobs, stalks and buttons all felt and moved excellently.

Spending eleven days so close to U.S. 19 gave me a good opportunity to test out the HHR's characteristics in busy, aggressive traffic. The 155 horses propelling the HHR moved it well, but uphill battles seemed lost due to slightly lacklustre torque output of 150 lb-ft.

For a tall vehicle the HHR handled quite well, offering minimal body roll even in tight U-turn situations. Where the suspension's weakness could be seen however, was in every grocery store or mall parking lot in America. Speed bumps were the HHR's achilles heel, sending vehicle occupants bouncing up and down like some wild pogo stick ride.

The biggest problem I found was visibility. Small windows really make the retro look of the HHR, but didn't lend themselves well to safe driving. Being the first car to pull up to a red light, I found that I had to stop almost an entire car length away from the crosswalk in order to see the stoplights suspended above me. I was constantly bending down and looking skyward to see when I was allowed to proceed. Shorter drivers may not have this issue, but at 5'7", I did.

The Chevy did have a few surprises including a factory remote starter. I didn't think I'd ever want or use one, but after hopping into a cooled space on those scorching 98F days, I believe I was mistaken.

Overall I enjoyed our outings in Chevy's answer to Chrysler's PT Cruiser. My biggest disappointment came when trying to locate the very reason I chose the HHR in the first place. I think I saw more unicorns during those eleven days than I did gas stations offering E85 ethanol fuel.

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