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Friday 30 October 2015

Halloween Haunt

Troll In The Moat.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Address: 9580 Jane Street
Date: Oct 2014
Website: www.canadaswonderland.com

  For some people the rides and roller coasters at Canada's Wonderland are scary enough.   If you need something even scarier, once a year the park takes on a Halloween theme   Since 2005 the park has been open on October weekend evenings offering the usual rides along with haunted mazes and monsters.  We have never attended the evening Halloween Haunt event, but in 2014 we attended the park during the day while it was all decorated.  Unfortunately, this meant that some of the rides such as the bumper cars had been shut down and turned into a scary clown maze.

Scary Clown.

  Even the children's section of the park gets the spooky treatment, with terrifying things like the Peanuts gang or Sesame Street.

Dog Germs! Blech!
 One. One ride on a looping coaster.  Two. Two rides on a looping coaster.  Three. Three rides... okay count me out!

  Everywhere you looked were signs that Halloween was approaching.  From the orange and yellow flowers along the pathways to the prizes at the game booths.  Instead of playing to win a regular minion doll there were mummy, dracula and skeleton minions.

Ye Minions.
The Colours of Halloween.

    One ride that reminds us of Halloween can be found year round at Wonderland.  That ride is The Bat.  First you get pulled backwards up a hill and then you hear the hiss of the release.  The coaster races down through the station and right into a bow tie loop.  It then does another full loop before stopping on the second hill.  You get pulled up the second hill until you hear another hiss.  Then you do the whole thing again, but this time backwards.  Oooh, scary stuff kids, but especially in October.

The Batty Bat.

Map of Our World
Canada's Wonderland , The Bat

Post # 77

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Back To The Future Day

A bolt of lighting. Unfortunately you never know when or where it's ever gonna strike.

Location: Universal City, California, USA
Address: 100 Universal City Plaza
Date: May 2012
Website: www.universalstudioshollywood.com

  When Marty McFly went into the future he chose the date of October 21st 2015.  He arrived in a world of hoverboards and flying cars as part of the imagined future of Back To The Future II.  By the time you are reading this post that date may have already arrived.  The future is here!  When we visited Universal Studios some 27 years after the first movie, part of our plan was to go back to where Back To The Future was filmed.
  Courthouse Square on the Universal Studios back lot is where most of the action takes place.  To visit this area you need to take the studio's popular tram tour.  As we walked through the park heading to our tour we noticed Doc Brown's Chicken which has nothing to do with the movies except that it uses the character of Dr. Emmett Brown.

Great Scott ! This is good chicken !

   What we really wanted to see was the square from the first movie of the trilogy.  In the movie, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) time travels from 1985 back to the year 1955.  The square is changed to reflect the town of Hill Valley in both of those years.  In the sequel, Back To The Future II, he goes forward 30 years to the year 2015 and the town has changed again. Unfortunately, Universal has also undergone some changes and many of the buildings are not the same as they were during filming in the 1980s.  Some were changed on purpose and others were lost during a fire in 2008.  Anyways, on with the tour!
Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Think, McFly

  As the tram rounded the first corner and entered the square there was a gas station on our right.  We remember the Texaco gas station from the movie, but this is not it.  If it is the same gas station it is no longer where it used to be. This gas station is actually standing where Lou's Cafe was in 1955 and where the gymnastics studio was in 1985.  It was inside Lou's Cafe where Marty encounters his father George for the first time.  In the sequel when Marty goes to the year 2015 it has become a cafe again.  It has become a retro cafe called Cafe 80's.  Across the courtyard in the picture above you can see a little pointed rooftop.  This was a movie theatre and in 2015 it was playing Jaws 19.

Are you gonna order something kid? Give me a Tab.  I can't give you a tab unless you order something.
Alright, give me a Pepsi- Free.  You want a Pepsi pal you're gonna pay for it.  Just give me something without any sugar.

  Since we were busy filming the gas station we missed out on getting a picture of one of the most important streets. Once we realized the courthouse was behind us we turned around, but it was too late.  The street on the left side of the courthouse is where Marty speeds down trying to reach 88 miles per hour at the exact moment a bolt of lightning hits the town clock tower.  You can see a tiny bit of the street where he enters the square on the right hand side of the picture above.  You can also see a tiny bit of the buildings and street on the left hand side of the picture below.  This part of the street would be where Doc had hung wires across hoping to harness the lightning's power.  Sadly, the end of this street was lost in the 2008 studio fire.  That means there is no longer another movie theatre down there for Marty to crash into after returning to the present, or for a theatre full of gremlins to enjoy a showing of Snow White.

Save The Clock Tower.
  At the top of this post is a picture of the courthouse as it looked when we visited.  It is not looking quite the same as it was in the Back To The Future movies and the clock was missing.  Still it was nice to go back in time and visit a place where one of our favourite movies was created.  We wish we could go back in time and get a better picture of the DeLorean DMC-12  below. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow someone will invent a time machine or hoverboards or flying cars, or maybe they are still 30 years away in an unknown future.

Are you telling me that you built a time machine out of a DeLorean?

See more locations from the Universal Studios Backlot.

Map of Our World
Universal Studios (Courthouse Square)

Post # 76

Saturday 10 October 2015

Alpacas From Eighth & Mud

Should we go over there? Hmmmm?

Location: Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada
Address: 232 Eighth Road East.
Date: May 2015
Website: store.alpacasfromeighthandmud.com 

  During Hamilton's Doors Open 2015 we went to visit an alpaca farm.  Alpacas are a domesticated species similar to the llama and are most often kept for their wool. We have always loved alpacas as there is something special about them.  The group of alpacas at Eighth and Mud is no exception, as each one has its own look and personality.  Below are just a few of the alpacas that greeted us as we arrived.

Well hello there.

  Actually, the first one to greet us was a Canada goose that was protecting its nest by the side of the driveway.  It even tried to take a nip out of the man directing traffic when he ventured too close.
I stand on guard for thee.

  We parked our car and carefully walked past the goose on our way to the farm.  It was a very busy day as the Doors Open event had drawn more of a crowd than anticipated.

Alpaca lover parking.

 After spending some time with the alpacas outside, we decided to head into the barn and see what was going on.  Inside was a group of younger, fluffier alpacas.  They have been trained to only relieve themselves inside a wooden square area on the floor of the barn and they all took turns using it.  They all kept making sounds like they couldn't come to a decision. Such as "What would you like to do today?"   "Hmmmm? I don't know."  You can hear this in the video below.
What do you want for lunch? Hmmmm?
Fluffy Alpaca.

  Attached to the barn was an area where they prepared the alpaca fibres so that they could use them to make the clothing and gifts they sell in their store.  The fibres are combed and sorted and finally spun into wool.  You can see the blue machine for spinning the wool in the corner of the picture below.  They also had a giant calculator for adding big numbers.

No number is too big.  They all are.
 Machine for preparing alpaca wool.

  The alpacas come in all sorts of patterns and colours.  We were told that some people request wool from a specific animal and when they spin the wool they keep each fleece separate.  We were also told that we could come back on alpaca shearing day in a few weeks time and see the first step of the whole process.  Actually, the real first step is that this colourful group of alpacas works on growing their coats.  We planned to return again and pay them another visit.

Dr. Trance.
 The little one.
 Do I have something in my teeth?
 The bearded one.
 The 80s alpaca.
 The charmer.
 The sheepdog alpaca and friend.

Map of Our World
Alpacas From Eighth & Mud

Post # 75

Monday 5 October 2015

Secretary Birds

Good morning everyone! How was your weekend?

Location: San Diego, California, USA
Address: 2920 Zoo Dr.
Date: Feb 2014
Website: www.sandiegozoo.org

  Take a memo.  File these reports.  Cancel my 10 o'clock.  These birds have nothing to do with this kind of secretary.  In fact these days someone performing this type of work would be an administrative assistant.  Also, more and more, these tasks might be performed with a cellphone.  Anyway, having one of these almost four feet tall birds strutting around the office would probably freak people right out.
  We have seen secretary birds at the Toronto Zoo as well as at both the San Diego Zoo & San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  In the wild they can be found in the savannahs of Africa. If you see them up close they have some wonderful eyelashes and red and yellow around their eyes. 

Check out those lashes.

  You can tell from their beaks that they are a bird of prey.  You can also tell that they are very strong.    We enjoy watching them walk around on their extra long legs.  (See the video at the bottom of this post for a bit of walking, but mostly standing, by one of these impressive birds). In fact they prefer not to fly, but capture most of their food by stomping it to death.  Their food usually consists of small mammals and reptiles.  They appear on many stamps, flags and emblems across Africa and after seeing a few of them for ourselves we can understand why they are so admired. 

Yes, I know I'm beautiful.

Map of Our World
San Diego Zoo (Secretary Birds)

Post # 74