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Camping in Arizona

We spent a couple of weeks in Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon in early October, and I've been horribly delinquent in blogging about it. Needless to say, it was terrific. The Grand Canyon is beautiful beyond words, and there's lots of cool things to do around the Flagstaff area, including the Meteor Crater, the Petrified Forest, and the Lowell Observatory (which was an absolutely fantastic surprise). So here's a bunch of almost literally randomly chosen photos. Because I don't have hours to properly sort through them, and because everything we saw was spectacular.

Goodbye car camping

Our car camping adventures have come to an end.

As fun as it was to sleep in the back of our Toyota RAV4 in campgrounds, KOAs and national parks on both sides of the border, our October trip to Arizona showed us the limitations of this method of camping.

For starters, we were refused entry to our first, week-long reservation due to the campground’s rules against car camping. That they hid on their website. And that their own telephone reservation desk was unaware of. That forced us to relocate and find a new place to stay for a week. It was unpleasant.

It was also cold, particularly in Grand Canyon at night. Too cold for our comfort and to the point we abandoned an overnight campground reservation at the end of our trip to get a hotel. And not having an onboard bathroom meant dehydrating ourselves after supper so we wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night.

Finally, taking a loaded down 4-cylinder vehicle with a roof carrier full of gear was too hard on the engine and tran…

#ufc215 in #yeg

Last night was UFC's first (and, let's be realistic, probably only) stop in Edmonton for a PPV that saw the main event collapse just over a day out from showtime, and another main card fight pulled a few weeks ago because of USADA.

Despite the changes, it was a really fun night - live UFC shows are almost always great. I was at the pretty terrible Winnipeg  PPV show a few years ago and still enjoyed it because that was my first live UFC event.

Interesting personal trivia note: I've been to 4 live UFC shows, and this is the third time I've seen the UFC women's bantamweight title defended. I saw Rousey beat Tate in Vegas in 2013, I saw Nunes beat Rousey in Vegas earlier this year and last night Nunes successfully defended against Shevchenko.

Most of my thoughts on the show were captured on Twitter last night and this morning, so I present this TWITTER MOMENT for your reading pleasure.

⚡️ “#UFC215 in #yeg — Mike Jenkinson (@MikeJenkinson) Sept…

Car camping in our Toyota Rav4

My wife and I booked a tenting trip to Yellowstone National Park last summer. We had never been there before and were really excited to go, but weren't thrilled that we were sleeping in a tent in bear country. We are fundamentally too cheap to buy a camper trailer, and our Toyota Rav4 doesn't have a big enough engine to pull anything larger than a ladybug anyway, so our options were pretty limited.

During a discussion of those limited options just weeks ahead of the Yellowstone trip, I Google'd "car camping Rav4" and discovered there's a whole sub-culture out there of people who have retrofitted their Rav4 vehicles to sleep in the back. We started devouring other people's blog posts and videos on the subject and quickly set about to lifehacking our car and our trip to suit our needs.

So we did a live beta test in Yellowstone and slept in our vehicle. We loved it. Sleeping in our Rav4 was quiet and dry. We didn't have to worry about wildlife, and with a…

Brunch at Sugar bowl cafe

It is with a certain amount of shame that I say I have lived in Edmonton since 1993, and yesterday was my first time at Sugar Bowl Cafe.

My younger daughter and I arrived around 10:50 a.m., after driving around a bit to find parking. We put our names on the list (not THAT list) and within 20 minutes we were seated.

There was no doubt going in that chicken and waffles was on our dining agenda, as it's one of our shared culinary delights. So younger daughter got the real chicken and waffles (that came with two fried chicken breasts) and I ordered the Belgian waffle. She gave me a chicken breast and I gave her some whipped cream. The maple butter is amazing, and the fried chicken breasts were quite good.


So, yeah, if you're the other person in Edmonton who hasn't been there yet, I recommend it.

I ran today - no, really, it's a big deal!

About four years ago, I was out at a social event with some friends from work. In a crowded restaurant, I lost my footing while standing on a raised ledge and fell a whole whopping three or four inches to the floor.

Searing pain when through my left calf, and it got really tight. At the end of the night, I hobbled back to my car, trying to walk off what I thought was the worst charley horse of my life.

The next day, I felt around my calf muscle, figured it was just tight and sore from being cramped, and took a few days off exercising.

When I got back into walking and running, my calf would get really sore really quickly. But I just assumed that this was, again, residual stuff from the charley horse.

Except that it never really went away. Finally, a full year later (because I'm a male - this is how we operate), I got tired of my calf cramping my style (geddit?) and inhibiting my speed and distance of my walking, hiking and running, and I went to my physiotherapist.

The conversatio…

Google Maps needs more robust travel planning tools

Planning a long road trip today, I kept becoming frustrated by the limitations of Google Maps when it comes to dealing with, well, long road trips.

Let me explain.

Say I want to drive from Edmonton to Newfoundland.

I plot the starting point and ending point into Google Maps and it tells me it will take 70 hours of driving time to get to St. John's.

Doing the math, that's five days of driving at 14 hours a day.

And here's where Google Maps falls short in its feature set.

What I would want Google Maps to do is take that five day road trip, and offer me options on how to break it up into approximate 14 hour driving segments each day, including giving me alternatives on cities/towns to sleep at night.

Because, really - if you were leaving Edmonton and driving east, would you know what's 14 hours from Edmonton? Winnipeg is 13 hours away. I know that because I've driven between Edmonton and Winnipeg probably a hundred times in the last 20 years. (But you may not know tha…