For our first dinner with her family, her mother made a Vietnamese staple, and one of my favourite meals, hot pot. It involves a pot of boiling water with herbs and spices, and a whole slew of raw veggies, fish, and meat. Drop the raw food in, wait a minute or two, scoop deliciousness into your bowl, and consume. I find that people are more engaging at the dinner table with a shared central food source, much like fondue, and we were no exception.
During the same visit, Pepper had the pleasure of meeting his first cat, aka Fluffy, a 16-year old calico. Actually, pleasure might not be the most accurate term, at least on Fluffy's part. She avoided Pepper initially, but when they finally got within sniffing range, Fluffy tagged Pepper with a left hook, and Pepper was noticeably less interested in Fluffy after that. As it turns out, Lily's uncle used to have a small dog like Pepper, who terrorized Fluffy, so her reaction was not surprising. She was very happy to see Lily again though.
|Lily's first love|
Our original plan was to spend time with Lily's family, and meet with as many close friends as possible, but we ended up having so much to do, we barely had time to see anyone. We did manage to hang out with our friends Jen and Dave for lunch, during which we sated our desire for good food and even better company. We also popped in to see my good friend Jay and his kids, and we reminisced at the Clarkson Pump & Patio, a Mississauga fixture for many years and incidentally, where we had our stag and doe in 2011. Lily felt bad that there were so many friends we wanted to see but couldn't, but we consoled ourselves knowing we would be back in September for a few weddings, so we could plan ahead for then.
For our last night in Burlington, we decided to revisit one of our favourite spots; a gastro pub, which means it looks like a pub, but it serves 5 star food. We walked in, and when I turned the corner, there were all the friends we hadn't seen! It was a great early birthday surprise from Lily, who had been planning it for months, ever since we first decided to come back home. The night went on for hours, as I caught up on the latest news, hung out with friends I hadn't seen in a long time, and genuinely enjoyed everyone's company. We didn't get a shot of everyone, but at one point we estimate there was close to 30 of us and we took up the whole back of the bar. It was a fantastic birthday gift from my wife.
We had such a good time on our vacation, it made it really hard to go back. Pepper obviously felt the same way, because he chewed through his pet carrier on the flight to Winnipeg and escaped into the plane - thankfully we had left his leash on and he only got as far as the aisle. He somehow then managed to push through a wall of duct tape after that and we spent the rest of the flight trying to contain him.
|All quiet before getting on the plane...how deceiving!!|
Undaunted, we shopped around and found a smaller, sturdier model during our day in Winnipeg, so we put him in the new one, and put the new one inside of the old one. We also put him in a Thunder Shirt, which is supposed to calm anxious dogs and gave him a healthy dose of a natural calming oil that we bought from the vet. Clearly, we had outsmarted our dog....or so we thought. He made short order of the second one as well, so we spent the flight to Rankin Inlet trying to prevent him from escaping. Our goal for his next flight is to find a muzzle for him, and/or a toolbox with breathing holes. Our little Houdini needs to be ready for his next trip home later this year.
|Silly parents, you think this is a match for Pepper? Pshaw.|
|To prove his point he not only bit thru the front, but also the side!|
Lily had planned a buffer day into our trip back as well, which is a good thing since we were delayed out of Toronto due to a medical emergency on the flight ahead of ours. We took the opportunity to do some shopping and enjoy our last meal at a restaurant for a while. Thankfully, First Air has a generous baggage allowance, so we were able to stock up on some items that are either hard to acquire up here, or are frightfully expensive. One example is my favourite leaf, arugula. Today is my birthday, so if you're reading this, please send arugula.
That concludes our first vacation back, and we will now return to regaling you with the weird, wonderful, and heartwarming stories of out adventures in the north. Stay tuned!
|Our first family photo!|