Saturday, August 13, 2011

Blue Jays, Chinatown and Friends

The day had arrived....August 7th, 2011.  It was the day of the much anticipated road trip down to Calgary for Connor to go to the Honda Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Camp.  The camp was to run for three days starting the next morning bright and early.  After a late start from Fort McMurray we started down the rainy road for Calgary.  It just so happened that lunch time came while we were very close to Boyle so we stopped in Connor's favorite road side eatery - The Boyle Burger Bar.  This little gem serves the best Chinese Food...homemade spring rolls, homemade egg rolls, amazing fried rice and inexpensive combination plates....all with a friendly smile. We have now made it THE stop every time we drive down the highway and I would recommend it to everyone else that drives that same stretch of road.
We arrive in Calgary late Sunday night at our hotel for the next three nights; The Westin Downtown Calgary.  It was a long day and we were looking forward to a nice stay, but alas it was not to be so.  We checked into a  room that had a lopsided bed, dirty sheets, bathroom door that stuck, and a toilet that had more chips in it than a bag of Lays. Because I had pre-paid for the room I could not get a refund however we made the decision that we will not stay there when we travel back to the city next time. Lesson learnt. So downstairs I go to get a new room. Once we moved to a better room it was off to sleep because we had a 5:45 am wake up time.
After a bit of GPS recalculating we arrived at Foothills Stadium for registration for the Baseball Camp.  To our great surprise we find that we are not the only Fort McMurriates to make our way down fact we are soon surrounded by a total of half a dozen kids.  Some are in the same groups, some not, but everyone is proudly wearing Fort McMurray Baseball Gear with our name blazed across their chest.  When Connor was asked about his choice of uniform, the answer is "I am representing. " While we wait for the camp to start Calgary City TV shows up and asks the kids, "Who would like to be interviewed for the breakfast show?"  Our boys need no prompting and are off like a shot.  They are feeling like big league players as they walk out on the Calgary Vipers field for their first TV interview.

The Honda Blue Jays Camp is everything that Connor had hoped for.  We are up each morning at 6 AM to get ready for 5 hours of baseball that include tips, and drills on everything from bunting to pitching.  Not once did his enthusiasm deviate, even when on the second day I asked him how he was holding up...the response " Everything hurts from the neck down." ...quickly followed by let's go play more ball.  He left everything on the field, he listened, he tried the new tips that the Blue Jays players told him and made new friends from across Western Canada.  There was only room for 150 players in this camp, with a total of 136 showing up for the full three days.  He got to talk to Team Canada Coaches and players and hang out with Blue Jays Alumni Players like Homer Bush, Duane Ward and Rance Milliniks.  The three days spent on the Foothills baseball diamond gave him unforgettable moments and we are most grateful to everyone who helped make this happen.

After camp I took him to Chinatown.  We lucked out with a wonderful restaurant and the boy was ravenous after five hours of exercise followed by a swim in the pool and soak in the hot tub to loosen up muscles.  We sit down and he gave me a funny look. "What's with the sticks?" he asks.  It took me a bit, but I realized he meant the chopsticks.  Might  be an interesting meal experience I mentally note.  The waiter realizing we were not local residents quietly supplies forks and knives. I order the usual, chicken fried rice and mixed green vegetables leaving the last dish up to Connor to pick.  To my surprise not only has he given green tea a try, but he has ordered beef with black pepper sauce for the third dish. I suspect that he has been watching too much Man vs. Food lately, but I feel obligated to ask why. To which the response is " I am going to branch out and experience new things.  I feel that it is time that I broaden my horizons."  Now how do you argue with that?

So begins the Calgary food experience being lead by a twelve year old.  After reading the Where magazine he lets me know where we will be eating.... Peter's Drive-In because of their amazing shakes and colossal serving sizes.... and Kelly's Gourmet Doughnut Shop for Maple Bacon Doughnut (which as disgusting as it sounds are actually good - Hey, if he can broaden his horizons I guess I should too)... and of course Tim Horton for breakfast every morning to try their breakfast wraps and breakfast BELTS ( I am just looking for coffee that tastes good at that point in the morning).  Definitely too much food channel, but how can I complain.  He has done a good job finding usual places to eat?!

We also had an opportunity to head out to Okotoks one day after camp to visit some friends that have recently moved away from Fort McMurrayMcMurray.  It was so nice to reconnect.  They have an amazing house that backs onto a lake.  We were delighted when they showed up on the first day of baseball camp.  It was so nice to relax beside the water having a beer with friends watching the kids laugh and splash in the lake.  Thank you so much for taking time for us in the middle of your move.  It was appreciated.  So after a dinner of pizza washed down with Pepsi we were off to pack our bags for the trip home the next day.

As nice as it was to visit Calgary, both Connor and I agree that we love being in Fort McMurray.  This is our home, our community, our heart.

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