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DO ALL THE THINGS: Three Days in Detroit for Some #FordNAIAS Fun!

I haven’t been out to the Detroit-Windsor corridor since late 2008, when my brother-in-law got married there and only 9 months into dating, Sarah led me into an ambush, seating me at a table with many of her paternal uncles and cousins who I’d meet for the very first time. (Quite the feat to make a good impression while hungover, but that, my friends, is a story for another time!)

Ford Social — Badges — Ford Edge
Proud to drive an Edge!

But Ford Canada’s been really good to me these past couple of years. From inviting me to their second annual Blue Party to sending a care package when I bought my 2011 Ford Edge last summer, they’ve been a solid team to work with.

This year, they kicked it up a notch by invited me as one of a dozen Canadian bloggers as their guest at Putting You In The Driver’s Seat: the NAIAS Blogger Experience, which revolved around the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

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Blog Experiences Travel

WHAT YOU MISSED (Vegas Edition) — BiSC and Vegas, Day by Day

BiSClaimer: You’re about to experience my six-day Vegas adventure in the span of one post. If you’re not ready to take in all the awesome through text, video and images galore, turn back now. Once I start, I will not stop until it’s out of my system. You have been warned.


“What was BiSC? …It was Casey.”

Amanda Kruse

It’s been almost a solid month since Bloggers in Sin City, and it’s taken about this long to get off the buzz from my BiSC-uit high. In the time since I’ve been back, I’ve volunteered at a national conference, listened to amazing speakers, eaten delicious food and got up to much of the madness I would’ve done before I went to BiSC.

But it just wasn’t the same.

When I got back, many friends and family members expected that I’d spent all my time partying, getting drunk and gambling, because that’s what you do in Vegas, right? At least that’s what TV and movies tell us.

But there’s so much more to the Vegas experience than you can imagine. You need the right people and the right opportunities to make it happen, though!

And BiSC? BiSC was a perfect combination of both!

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Blog I Am Not a Foodie TeamTrolling

TeamTrolling Does America

Several beers on display at a TOPS in Buffalo, NY.
You know how in Canada, to get beer you go to a Beer Store and most of it is in a back room and brought out to you by paid beer handlers? Oh no, not in America! It’s IN YOUR FACE. GLORIOUSLY.

So I was in Vegas for four days.

In the time I’ve been gone, I’ve changed jobs, Toronto was hit by a blizzard and Burger King’s Twitter account got hacked in a gloriously hilarious fashion.

That’s the best you could do in four days, Toronto? Shoot.

I’ll tell you all about my trip soon enough; until then, there are other stories to tell and photos to share 🙂 I hope you enjoy the madness I was up to leading to the trip, and the many stories I’ll have to share from the trip itself!

But let’s start with another trip — one that found me and some close friends in Buffalo, NY….

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TeamTrolling Does America

When you have a good thing going, you’ve gotta let it grow and not see it burn out. We can form strong friendships with others, but developing those relationships involves a dedicated effort as you get to know each other, share experiences and better understand one another through spending more time together.

6:30 am of Saturday, February 9th (i.e. the day right after Snowmageddon and the Ford Blue Party) marked the beginning of TeamTrolling Does America, the trip Marcel, Justin, Lily, Sarah and I would take across the border in pursuit of “shopping and cheesecake” (word for word, that’s what we told border security)! After Snowmageddon 2013, the road conditions weren’t the best (especially in Mississauga, you cheapskates), but — despite some horrid route choices — we were able to get all of our passengers together and into Buffalo, NY to get our shop on!

Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls

The Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls are by far the better shopping centre. While there’s nothing particularly glamorous about Buffalo, NY, don’t let the run-down exterior throw you off — there be deals in this little shopping complex!

Compared to the later trip to the Walden Galleria, we all found more stuff we were happy with at this stop!

Our first stop would see the start of a theme for the day — Casey running around looking for juice. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is wicked fast, but the use of an LTE network to make it that quick drains a battery like a vampire at a blood bank. By the time we’d made our way to Hamilton to grab Justin, the battery was already half gone. So it was pretty lucky that there were posts in the Fashion Outlets’ food court with outlets!

That were only there for show.

Thus, with no steady stream of power to work from, I was all over the place, trying to find my next fix so I could take advantage of the Rogers Day Pass for data over the border. I’ve since bought a Mophie Juice Pack for my phone, but having to constantly look for extra power at the time was painful.

Hot Tips:

Power in Numbers

Team up with friends to get the best deal possible through volume purchasing.

e.g. Sarah and I both hit Cole Haan up separately and spent $230 combined. Already getting awesome deals on our purchases, it would’ve been even BETTER if we’d shopped together, because they were giving $50 off on purchases of $250 or more. So coordinate where you can!

Learn how to park, damnit!

The parking lot of the Fashion Outlets was atrocious. Justin covers how bad it was than I do below:

Fools trying to park diagonally, man. DIAGONALLY.

TOPS

Everything’s bigger in the States. Everything.

We got to TOPS expecting to find cool flavours and snacks that never see the light of day in Canada, but the labyrinthine  building that held it all totally caught us off-guard!

We definitely saw the power of population density at play with lower prices, massive variety and no pesky 5¢ charge for plastic bags!

BURGERS AS BIG AS YOUR HEAD

I may be exaggerating — slightly — but the side trip to Grover’s for food was worth it — Justin heard of it from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I wasn’t a huge fan of the cheeseburger soup (yes, you read that right), but the Cattleman burgers that the boys each ordered hit the spot.

Hot Tips:

  • Never ask what the difference between a “cheese burger” and a “cheddar burger” is in America lest you immediately be branded as an outsider and treated like a second-class citizen
  • Always, always, always be as hungry as possible when entering an American dining establishment. We take it for granted that portion sizes are ridiculously massive south of the border. If you don’t have the tummy room for it, don’t do it.
  • If you have a child screaming/crying like it’s a banshee freshly escaped from hell, there is something wrong. Please go to the car with said child and see if you can sort it out. (Note: regular crying? Totally cool. We totally should’ve recorded these banshee screams so you’d know how bad it was!)

Grover's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

The Walden Galleria

If you haven’t been to Walden in a while, I wish you luck if you step foot in there.

Dimly lit, map-free (far as I could see) and utterly massive, the Walden Galleria was a shopping nightmare compared to the awesome that was the Fashion Outlets of Niagara. It looms like a shopping dungeon on the horizon, with twisting and turning roads and a confusing parking layout to top it all off.

I’d eventually buy a thing or two from the Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) and Banana Republic, but it was little return for the hours spent wandering, re-tracing steps and being generally envious of how cheap American prices are compared to those north of the border.

The Cheesecake Factory

Though tired and beaten, we did eventually make it to The Cheesecake Factory to try some of the cheesecake we’d been hearing so much about. Remember what I said earlier about things being bigger in the States? You should’ve seen Lily’s Cobb Salad:

Lily and the ENORMOUS Cobb Salad they serve at The Cheesecake Factory
Lily and her “Cobb salad”. That’s no salad.

That’s no salad. You can’t call it a salad when it’s as big as your head!!!

But we still had jokes to tell, a waiter to inadvertently insult about both his age and his height, and the need to rest our feet after the long day we’d had!

THE END OF DAY WRAP-UP

We closed the day off with the long trek home and a hassle- and duty-free border crossing (Hot Tip: be honest and cross your fingers for a nice and lenient border guard); but more importantly, we proved — for the first time — that Trolls can get along for long stretches of time and not lunge at each other’s throats!

If a close group of friends can do a day in the States without a problem — what will tomorrow hold?

–case p.