This installment of the Photo Blogging Challenge is all about experiences. Our 20-somethings routinely prioritize experiences over stuff. After all, shared experiences are the fabric of friendship, strengthen one’s sense of belonging, and can deepen family connections.

Repeat experiences might evolve into family traditions. New experiences can strain your brain, your body, and/or your budget! The most valuable life experiences bring a new perspective or insight. They open the way to changing something. They give you a chance to stretch β€” do something that perhaps you didn’t think you could. 

Experiences beget stories, and a life without stories is no life at all. So here’s to experiences! Here are five of mine…

1. Three Strikes, You’re Out!

Over the past year, my parents have visited us in Calgary 3 times. Each time, K and I have cajoled the 80+ year olds into tackling an Exit Escape Room game. This is a boxed version of a locked room, that you can play at home. We’ve played The Abandoned Cabin, Return to the Abandoned Cabin and – most recently – The Forgotten Island.

Every time, it’s a hair-pulling, head scratching experience lasting a good two hours. This month, stuck on the last puzzle, we resorted to using all three clue cards, only to collectively groan out loud when we realized what we’d missed!

Even though we smile and cheer whenever one of us solves one of the brain teasers (go Dad, go Mom, mostly go K), these evenings have been more frustrating than fun. So next time my parents come to town, we’ll opt for something more enjoyable and less excruciating – like maybe Wingspan or Terraforming Mars! πŸ˜‰ Or most likely four-handed cribbage. πŸ™‚

three people at a table after finishing an EXIT locked room game

2. Human Guinea Pig

For reasons I’ll get into in an upcoming blog post, I am enrolled in the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative. It’s a long-term study looking into the risk factors, onset and progression of Parkinson’s disease. This month, I experienced my first clinical assessment, consisting of a blood draw and a scan of the dopamine producing cells in my brain with the aid of a radioactive tracer.

The scan took about 35 minutes, and was an overall relaxing experience. I basically meditated the whole time. And whenever I opened my eyes, I saw an illuminated ceiling panel depicting a blue sky viewed through cherry blossom branches – a throwback to my childhood. πŸ™‚ I imagine it would be quite a different experience for someone (expecting to be) diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

SPECT / CT scanning machine

3. Hoo You Lookin’ At?

Walking on Three Sisters Multi-use Pathway one morning, I was curious about what might be causing a couple of Canada Jays to be raising a ruckus. Then I spotted the culprit! A Great Horned Owl perched on a branch about 3 meters (10 feet) above the ground. It patiently posed for a good 10 minutes before giving me the side eye and then taking off. This ranks in my top 3 nearby nature experiences this year. For more photos of this owl, check out Mr GeoK’s Relive video recap of our walk.

side eye from a great horned owl

4. Lost(?) and Found

You know that sinking feeling when you think you’ve lost your phone? Or you wallet? Well, that happened to me this month. I got home from walking to a nearby shopping center to do 5 errands. I was sure I’d left my wallet at home, taking just the loyalty and credit cards I’d need for each store, securely stored in a zippered pants pocket.

But after I put away the groceries and stuff, I went to put away my credit cards and I couldn’t find my wallet anywhere! I searched everywhere I thought it could possibly be – 3 times! I even ran back along the walking route I’d taken, feeling increasingly desperate. πŸ™

After a couple of hours, I resigned myself to the fact I must have absent-mindedly tucked my wallet in a side pocket of my backpack before heading out, and then dislodged it when I pulled out my phone to message Mr GeoK about something. πŸ™ πŸ™

I logged into online banking and locked my credit cards. Then I grabbed my passport, a blank cheque and my phone and headed off to the nearest branch of my bank to apply for a new debit card. An hour later, new debit card in hand, I was walking home when my phone ping’d. It was Mr GeoK, sending a photo of my wallet – which he’d found in a cupboard in the laundry room!!! I have no idea how it got there, but I’m sure glad it turned up. Loosing your wallet (or even worse, having it stolen) is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

woman smiling because she found the wallet she thought she lost

5. Northwest Chocolate Festival

Attending the Northwest Chocolate Festival was probably our most unique experience this month. The first full weekend in October, Mr GeoK and I spent more than two hours sampling bean-to-bar dark chocolate from at least 30 chocolatiers. Each had a unique story, relayed with enthusiasm and passion. We came home with more than 20 bars of dark chocolate, which should last us well into the new year – even after sending a half dozen our our 27 year old in NC!

It was great to bring part of the experience home with us, and watch our 23 year old’s face light up on tasting a square of Green Bean to Bar’s award-winning Nativo Blanco Peru 73%. Yes, these chocolate bars have tasting notes, just like fine wines and custom roasted coffee beans. A truly delicious experience. πŸ™‚ For more on this annual festival, check out Mr GeoK’s Relive video.

OK, technically I didn’t take this photo, but I did ask the security guy to take the photo, so please grant me a little leeway for the opportunity to include a rare photo of the two of us together (even if he did cut our feet off πŸ˜‰ ).

man and woman carry shopping bags outside entrance to chocolate festival

That’s it from me this month. Please hop on over to host PJ’s blog to share the experiences of other participants. While you’re there, consider joining us for November. I’m just waiting for the theme to be posted, and will update this paragraph accordingly. All you need are 5 photos and a blog. The amount of accompanying text is completely up to you.

If that seems like too much to take on at this busy time of year, consider leaving a comment to share a recent experience. Or one you’ve got booked or are in the middle of planning. I may not respond right away, but I always enjoy hearing from readers.

8 thoughts on “Experiences

  1. Susan

    “Experiences” is a perfect topic for you and your family! I am sure you could have written several blogs on this topic. I really appreciate the sentiment that your adult kids have on experiences over stuff. I absolutely love that you keep trying to find new ways to keep people engaged and to keep brains active- those who are related to you and those who are friends. The Chocolate Festival sounded like so much fun, and a delicious way to spend a few hours. Thanks for sharing your amazing pictures and your sentiments. I look forward to these each month.

  2. I can’t believe I live in Siwtzerland, and I have never attended a chocolate festival. Do they even exist here?
    So glad your wallet showed up! Unfortunately I know the feeling. I had mine stolen while abroad. Nightmare.
    Adventure or Escape rooms can be fun, especially if there are very different personalities and skill sets among the team. Once we went there with the office, and one of my colleagues was super grumpy cause “he hates this sh**”. All he did was lean onto a windowsill, and guess what, underneath there was a much needed clue that allowed us to move on.
    So the Parkinson study, you’re just there as a healthy baseline person?

  3. I’ve made it a point to start playing more of my board games more this winter. Most of my games have a solo component, which is nice to be able to play them solo. I have a bunch, though, that I will also play with my mother. She enjoys games. Those are mainly some roll and writes. I have some more intense ones that are able to be solo, but I dread the setup!

    As for the wallet… it’s the worst feeling. I have several Apple air tags I use for some of those items. It’s helped me with my keys many times!

    We won’t throw a penalty flag on the photos being taken by a security guy… it’s all part of the experience! πŸ™‚

  4. You has me at chocolate festival! A game we play with our 80+ moms is Rummy-O (or Rummykube). It’s a tile game that is fun and works your brain. They love it. We have owls in our yard too and I’ve been given the “side eye) more than once! And, yes, I know that sinking feeling when I misplace my phone…..which begs the question of how dependent on it I have become. I’m glad you found your wallet but it’s a little early for Christmas elves to start playing shenanigans around the house!

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