Saturday, July 14, 2018

What I Did For My Summer Vacation (Part 1: The Gaming Edition)

I'm back from a short vacation to the mountains - well, short compared to the three week odyssey two years ago. The other parts will be posted over on my Bike Blog - I'll probably edit this post once they're done to include direct links to the various posts (there will probably be 4 or 5 more parts - two days of climbing and three days of riding).

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Things got off to a slow start... I think we'd hoped to leave before noon and be in Calgary by supper time. When Amanda got to the rental dealership they didn't have the van we'd booked months ago. So they "upgraded" us to an SUV. Having a look at the SUV Amanda told them it wouldn't do as the interior space was much less than the van we'd booked and we had four people and four bikes and a weeks worth of stuff to cram in there! So they did some phoning around and finally located one at another location and someone gave her a lift over there and then she had to start over with the paper work. Driving home she realized she'd left her folding bike in the trunk of the guy who'd given her a lift to the other location... So she went back to the original location (as it was closer) and the guy was there... but he'd left the vehicle at the other location to bring back a different vehicle to the downtown location.... so she had to drive back up to the other location, with a different employee to retrieve her bike.

It felt like stumbling at the start of a long journey - always a bad omen.

As this whole ordeal took an hour or so longer than I expected I was starting to wonder what had become of her!? Then it took us a few hours to get all the stuff crammed into the car and we ended up leaving some time in the middle of the afternoon. We arrived in Calgary much to late to get to the Sentry Box (which I'd kind of hoped we'd be there in time for). We were all dead tired so we brought some of our stuff into the accommodations.

Sunday, 1 July 2018 - Canada Day

Our accommodations in Calgary. Right off downtown in Sunalta, close to bike trails, Community Natural Foods, and the Sentry Box!

We slept in. Didn't get ahold of either of the friends I'd hoped to meet up with. Just afternoon we went for a walk down 17th Ave Southwest, over to the Mountain Equipment Co-op (where we spent a few hours and many dollars...), and then to Community Natural Foods, where we stocked up of food for the next few days. By the time we got back it was supper time and We ended up just spending the evening in watching Netflix (finally saw Bright and we started watching Iron Fist)

Monday, 2 July 2018

We didn't get to sleep in this day. We were awoken by knocking on our door. By the time I got to the back door (our main entrance) no one was there. Going to the front...

I noticed a firetruck out front... and no van! Our van had been parked right about where the front of the firetruck is!? My immediate though was that someone had stollen our van - with our bicycles in it!! But... why was there a firetruck there!?

Looking out the other window...

Wait... was that OUR rental van!?

Yep... it was... turns out it was police knocking on our back door wondering if the van was ours. Our van had been parked fully in front of that tree.

Yeah... some fuckwit in the black Honda Element had been cruising down the road fast enough that when he clipped the front corner of our rental Dodge Caravan it pushed if over a full car length back into the car parked behind it...

Never found out who the driver was, he was being hauled off in an ambulance as we came out.

well, fuck.

Don't panic - the bikes were OKAY! We'd actually taken the wheels out the day before, and brought them into the house.

Fun times...

So Amanda spent the rest of the morning on the phone getting the runaround from the rental company trying to procure a replacement. Eventually she told us to just get out of the place and go to the Sentry Box...

So the kids and I walked the four blocks to the Sentry Box in the rain.

If you're not familiar, the Sentry Box in Calgary is one of the largest gaming stores in the world. entering the store there is a massive mezzanine level that is for game playing! There wasn't much gaming going on for a holiday Monday.

Looking down from the mezzanine level you can see the board game area. Under the mezzanine area is mostly fantasy and science-fi miniature games. Beyond the board game area is a HUGE area for role-playing games and novels. going up those stairs visible at the top of the picture is the Historical/Military Wargaming area...

 Where does one even start!?


The Wall of 40K... They had pretty much EVERYTHING in stock - and a bunch of our of print stuff (unfortunately no Valhallan with a flamer - which I'd really hoped I might find there... they had all sorts of Vostroyans!? They had a full Valhallan Squad... but I wasn't going to buy that just for one dude with a flamer - which may or may not have been in the box anyway)

This is about a quarter of the Historical/Military Wargaming area. I'm standing in the Flames of war area - which is about as big as the area pictured - and then over to the right is the other half of the upstairs - with MORE history books and games and miniatures...

 The kids picked up a few things each that first day there... I only picked up some snow flock from GF9....

After we got back I got in contact with my friend Cory who was able to drive us up to the airport where we were able to procure a replacement for the rental... sort of... the only vehicle they could give us was an SUV.... which was much smaller than the van we'd had - which had been packed pretty tight with stuff.


We spent the evening at Cory and Martha's. There we had supper and played Fearsome Floors. I think The Girl won...?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

We did get to sleep in this morning (we stayed up a bit late watching Netflix again - we don't have Netflix at home yet... though after this Amanda might actually be convinced it's worth it!). But then we had to drive across Calgary again, back to Cory's, as I'd forgotten my camera there. Calgary is really big. For a city with 1.3 million, it has a relatively low population density - it just keeps going on for ever and ever. We went back to Community Natural Foods to stock up on some more food for the next few days and the kids and I headed back to the Sentry Box for a few more things, while Amanda spent MORE time on the phone - this time with various insurance agents...

My haul... Actually the three things on the top (Cities of Splendor, Struggle of Empires, and the Imperial Armour Index Xenos) we pretty much got for free - there is a points/rewards thing they got going on at the Sentry Box and between the three of us we bought a LOT of stuff...

The stuff I bought was mostly Microarmour because I've had a hankering to get back into Cold War Commander... A bunch of the other stuff I'd been using for it previously, has been rebased to use with... Other games... and 20mm never really worked all that great for CWC... Actually the PLA box is a present for Other Tim as he's expressed an interest in getting back into the game and previously he said he'd be interested in building a Chinese force.

I was kind of torn about which sets to get. Originally I was going to get the Soviet box with the T-72s and BMP 1s - for more of a early to mid 80s Cold War Turns Hot sort of scenario. I've been thinking about doing this for a couple years now and I'd been planning  to build a force of early-to-mid-80s Canadians to oppose them - with Leopard Is and M113s... but they didn't have a box for that and I couldn't even find any leopards or M113s in the smaller packs (I'm guessing other folks in Calgary have had the same idea and the GHQ models aren't regularly re-stocked...). So I decided to go with the British force and thought I could use them for a later 80s conflict. I figures all three could potentially be opponents of the PLA force - Sino-Soviet (or post Soviet CIS) border war...? Sino-British conflict over Hong Kong...? USMC defending Taiwan or Hawaii against a Chinese invasion...?

I've also been working on a few Epic 40K things to use with Future War Commander...

The Girl's Haul. She'd had a HUGE Wishlist of Reaper Miniatures. Despite the THOUSANDS of Reaper Miniatures the Sentry Box has in stock - they had very few of the ones she wanted... We did find a few of them for her and she found a few other things she was interested in. I'd never heard of Part Time Gods - apparently the kids found out about it from the publisher, who they'd found out about from having picked up one of their Free RPG Day products...?

Finnegan's haul. He was pretty excited to find a copy of Deathwatch: Overkill there. He'd been thinking about getting it for a while - like most of their board games it is an incredible deal on the miniatures alone. When he'd decided to get it, the copy at the Dragon's Den had been sold and it had been removed from the web store... He also picked up a few other interesting items. I hope he runs some of these RPGs for us some time!

I didn't manage to hook up with my other friend in Calgary, so we spent the evening watching Netflix...

I'd hoped to go on a few bike rides around Calgary while we were there... but didn't.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Wednesday morning we loaded up everything into the replacement SUV. it was a pretty tight fit... no one was really happy about this...

We were heading to Canmore for a week. Canmore is only an hour or so out of Calgary and as we had to check out of our place in Calgary at 11 and couldn't check in at Canmore until 3 or 4 we had a few hours to kill... So I convinced Amanda to take a short detour to the south and we went to the Games Workshop store at the Chinook Mall in Calgary.

This was the first time I (or, any of us, really...) had even been to a Games Workshop store. I had visions of a store chockablock full of plastic and resin (and metal?) goodness - like the pictures of stores I saw in White Dwarf magazines I read back in the late 80s... well... despite the cool life size marine in the window, I was pretty... underwhelmed...

The Sentry Box probably had TWICE as much GW stock as the actual GW store!? How does that even work?! It was mostly boxed sets - hardly any individual figures or even books - beyond the basic rules and codexes. The Chapters store across the hall had more Black Library books than the GW store did!?

they did have a few cool displays of painted miniatures - including this one with a newer Forge World Warhound Titan. It was cool and stuff... but it didn't look THAT much bigger than my old Armourcast Warhound Titan.

One of the other displays that caught my eye was a Drukhari force done in purple. Back in April, Amanda had picked up a used (but unpainted) Drukhari force for me to paint up for her. I'd been thinking about doing in all in purple - rather than the dark green they're often shown in.

These looked even more fabulous than I'd imagined they would in the purple - so I'm TOTALLY going to do them in purple!

I took a few pics for future reference!

Eventually we got back on the road and headed for the mountains!

In the evening we met up with Amanda's folks - who'd rented the condo we were to stay in for the week.

We actually got her mum to play a round of Retro Loonacy with us later in the evening.

We also played a game of Just Desserts.

...which Amanda totally trashed us all at!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Early Thursday morning we met up with Jay Mills of Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides for the first of two days of Rock Climbing. We climbed with him two years ago, the last time we were in the area. I can't recommend him enough - super friendly, thoroughly knowledgable climbing guide/instructor.

Our first day we were climbing at Sunshine Crag (near the Sunshine Village Ski resort)

Amanda, showing us how it's done...

You can see more pics of our two days of climbing over on my other blog:

What I Did For My Summer Vacation (Part 2: Climbing - Not Cycling)

In the evening, while I was out getting groceries for the next few days, The Girl talked Amanda and her folks into playing a few games of Retro LoonacyJust Desserts, and Eco Fluxx.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Another day of climbing. This time we headed to Baldy Crag on the west side of Mount Baldy in Kananaskis Country.

Jay had picked this as it's kind of a canyon with climbing on both sides. It was going to be 31°C and so we could climb in the shade all day - starting on one side in the morning, moving over to the other in the afternoon. He figured there'd be at least a dozen or so groups climbing there for the same reasons. He also had a back up plan to go somewhere else nearby if there were too many people who'd had the same idea. We ended up having the whole place to ourselves for most of the day. In the afternoon another couple showed up - we could hear them, but never actually saw them until we hiked out later in the afternoon. Another great day of climbing.

You can see more pics of both days of climbing over on my other blog:

What I Did For My Summer Vacation (Part 2: Climbing - Not Cycling)

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Sensible people would work a few rest days into their active vacations.

We are not sensible people.

We spent the afternoon at the Canmore Nordic Centre tearing around on our mountain bikes.  Everyone was pretty sore and tired from the two full days of climbing, so we didn't stay nearly as long as I might have liked...

For more pics and a description of our adventures at the Canmore Nordic Centre, check out the post on my Bike Blog:

What I Did For My Summer Vacation (Part 3 - Canmore Nordic Centre)

In the evening we broke out Set and played a few games. I won the first one with 9 sets. The kids tied in the second game with 8 each!

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Amanda, The Girl, and Amanda's Folks all went out for a horsie ride on Sunday morning.

So Finnegan (who is allergic to horses) and I (who just don't care for horses) set up a game of Hero Realms to try out with the Ruin of Thandar Campaign.

Finnegan took the Thief and I took the Ranger.

We played at "intermediate" level. We beat the Enthralled Regulars. Didn't seem TOO hard...

Monday, 9 July 2018

Monday we rode the Goat Creek Trail to Banff and then rode back to Canmore via the Banff Legacy Trail. It was about 20Km of fairly wide, well-maintained dirt trail to Banff, and the Legacy Trail is a 25Km paved off-road pathway.

There are loads more pictures and a complete description of the epic journey over on my Bike Blog:

Return to the Goat Creek Trail

In the evening, though everyone was pretty tired from the ride, we had another crack at the Ruin of Thandar Campaign for Hero Realms. This time the Grrrlz joined us. Once again, Finnegan took the Thief and I took the Ranger, Amanda took the Wizard, and The Girl took the Fighter. Since "intermediate" hadn't seemed to hard we tried it at "Veteran" level.

We had our asses handed to us by the game... Wow... who'da thunk it could be so much harder!?

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Amanda and her folks and the kids decided to spend the day at Elevation Place - a community centre in Canmore that houses a library, a climbing wall and a swimming pool.

I decided I'd rather not go, so instead I went out for another ride. I took the Banff Legacy Trail to Banff and back - plus a couple of side trails. Another 50Km ride.

The counter at the end of the Banff Legacy Trail in Canmore - and my Purple Surly Karate Monkey!

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Our plan had been to load up and drive to Drumheller where Amanda and the kids were going to go on a hike and a dig at the Royal Tyrrell Museum while I went for another ride. Afterwards we were to check in to a B&B for the night and head home the following morning.

As we were heading into Drumheller we got a text message from my mother, informing us that someone had tried to break into our garage that morning... and that was the end of our vacation. We drove straight through to Saskatoon - an extra 5 hours.


We got in around 9pm and then I spent about 2-3 hours trying to secure the door they'd tried to break in though. The garage itself is a timberframe building and the doors are custom doors I built myself.

They'd removed the bolts and lag bolts on one door then realized that still didn't open the door and so pried it open and started pulling stuff through the gap that had been leaned up against the door (some insulation, cushions for yard furniture, etc.) and that movement eventually set off the alarm at which point they scarpered. As far as I can tell the only thing they managed to steal was 15 bolts/lag bolts. They'd started on the door side of the top hinge - presumably because there were only four bolts on the door versus five on the frame side. Unfortunately, for them, the ones on the door were regular bolts (with nuts on the inside of the door) and as soon as they were loosened they would have just spun without loosening any more and so would have had to put some leverage on those bolts as they came out to keep the nut in contact with the other side of the door so it wouldn't spin. After they got the first one off they switched to the frame side of the hinges.

I don't think this was a smash and grab by desperate junkies. This was targeted and required some planning, effort and TOOLS. If they had a cordless and a couple of extra batteries, they probably could have gotten it done in under and hour. If they came with a socket wrench, though, that would have taken a few hours. I mean, most of the bolts they took out were 5" lag bolts going into solid wood! I had a socket wrench and tried to take out the remaining five lag bolts on the top hinge - which I had to take off to get the door back into place - and it took over about an hour to get that off. It wasn't quite Ocean's Eleven type planning... more like Ocean's One and a Third... Perhaps that's a bit generous...

It was probably someone that lives on our street and noticed we weren't coming and going.

The alarm went off at 8:45 am. Full daylight at this time of year. I'd like to think they came at 5am and hoped to be there a short time and ended up taking a couple hours only to have the alarm go off and scare them away. Seriously though, with that sort of ability to get up that early and do that sort of work... you'd think they could get a regular job... one that doesn't eventually end up with them being in jail...

I hope their failure to get anything after all that work ruined their day. It ruined my whole week.

I am never going on vacation again...

Thursday, 12 July 2018

We spent a good chunk of the day just sorting crap out. Taking in the rental SUV and going over insurance stuff with them. Amanda spent more time on the phone and then even more time compiling papers and reports and photos to send to the insurance companies. I had to go out and get new lag bolts to properly put the door back on - and some L-brackets to secure the doors from the inside - they're mostly just for show - or if we ever sell the place. We don't own a car, so they've never been used.

In the evening we played a quick game of Splendor, with the new Cities of Splendor expansion we picked up in Calgary.

I actually won! Amanda has dominated this game for the last while. Woo!

Afterwards, Amanda wanted to play a game of Century: Golem Edition. She's really determined to figure out the game and win.

She didn't win. I scored 83 points to her 69.

Friday, 13 July 2018

While we are back home, Amanda's still on vacation from work for one more day...

In the morning we went out for a quick ride around some of the local trails.

In the afternoon, Amanda demanded a rematch!

... and, well, she finally won!

I didn't do too badly. I still scored 74 to her 76 - and I only had four scoring cards... I hope this doesn't end up like Splendor where she pretty much wins EVERY game now...

We also had another crack at the Ruin of Thandar Campaign for Hero Realms. This time the Grrrlz joined us. This time Finnegan took the Ranger, I took the Wizard, Amanda took the Cleric, and The Girl took the Fighter again. We tried playing at Intermediate level this time. We still lost, but it was a much closer game. I was the last one taken out, and if I hadn't, I had enough damaging cards in my had that I would have finished off the Enthralled Regulars...

Maybe next time...

Hopefully we'll get in a few more games over the weekend, but I'll save those for the end of the month gaming round-up.

Coming Soon to Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog:

I have a LOT of stuff on my painting desk and it's all screaming at me to be painted! There is an assortment of Imperial Guard - Cadians, Valhallans, and Tallarn. There are Space Marine Terminators from the Space Hulk boxed set that still need to be finished. There are all the mice and rats and bugs from Mice & Mystics - which I promised The Girl I'd help her paint so we can try it out. I still have those Imperial Knights to finish assembling and painting. I've also started organizing and basing and priming the newly acquired micro armour for Cold War Commander. Of course there is a wold assortment of the random bits and bobs for various other miniature or role-playing games...

I'd like to get in some actual MINIATURE gaming over the summer - 40K, but also wouldn't mind getting Dragon Rampant and Song of Blades and Heroes on the table again. Some games of Cold War Commander can be expected in the not-too-distant future...

I'm pretty excited about Kill Team, which is being released in a couple weeks. I have no shortage of teams I could probably put together with the assortment of miniatures I have on hand. I'll probably still buy the boxed set - partly for the terrain (which I can add to the Sector Mechanicus terrain I got in the Imperial Knights: Renegade box I picked up), also Finnegan really wants the Genestealer Cult minis (which he an add to the ones he just picked up with Deathwatch: Overkill).


  1. Bit of a rocky start, but it looks like you had a grand time overall.

    1. ...and losing a day at the end because of the (attempted) break in... and the fact that I was super sore and tired pretty much the whole time I was in Canmore because we did a little too much and I pushed my self a little too hard and on top of that I could barely sleep every night... Yeah, the rides and climbs and the visit to Sentry Box was pretty fun...

  2. Ouch, that sounds like one frustrating 'holiday'!

    1. Definitely need a vacation to recover from this vacation! It'll have to be a stay-cation, though - which I am totally fine with!

  3. I think that is more 'adventure' than vacation ...

    1. That's a good way of looking at it...

  4. Tim! How much misfortune can one family endure within a well-planned holiday? You persevered through it all! Oh, Sentry Box looks fantastic. I may have to make a road trip to Calgary some day. It has been many years since I ventured that far north of the border.

    1. Nobody died... Nothing (other than 15 bolts) were actually stolen... Insurance should cover all the damage on the rental van... I'm back in my own bed and sleeping... well... better.

      I try to think of the immortal words of Peter Lafleur from the movie Dodgeball: "One day you'll look back at this and laugh. I'm laughing already..."

  5. Yikes! Sorry to hear about the bad luck. At least there was some good, too. I hope you all get some respite after that holiday!

    1. Thanks! I've been getting some painting done this weekend, and I find painting calms me... So things are looking up.

  6. Sentry box is a great play to stop in at. Lots of reaper minis! Too bad about all the other mishaps.

    1. Yeah, I always make at least one visit any time I'm in Calgary. Mostly I look for things they have that are old stock/out of print stuff - or things my FLGS can't get in...

  7. Sounds like a tough holiday! As I get older I realise that I've got to give myself a break and I can't do everything I used to (without getting really grumpy!) Glad you're security was up to it and really someone in your street? That's rotten!
    Best Iain

    1. Yeah, I needed home for a rest.

      I don't know for sure it was someone on my block... but I can't imagine how anyone else would have known we weren't there...?

  8. We stopped in Calgary during our cross-Canada move. Our dog was suffering from sneezes and red eyes and seemed pretty miserable and we took her to a vet (turned out to be an allergic reaction to all those wild fires). I hung around awaiting them to fill a prescription when I looked across the road. It was a sign. More specifically, a sign with the words Sentry Box on it. Naturally, I had to have a look. Amazing place.

    If there had been more space in the car, I would have bought more than a few bottles of paint and a couple of books. (The car had been packed to the roof when we had left Ontario, but when my wife found a sale on dishes and a piece of our china set in Edmonton, I had to disassemble the dog seat to make room for these new purchases and the dog had to make the rest of the journey in the front with us.)

    I'll have to visit Imperial Hobbies in Vancouver to see how it compares.

    1. Imperial Hobbies in Vancouver is pretty good. I went there a few years back. It's nowhere near as big and has nowhere near as much stock - but they do have a fair bit of fun stuff crammed into their store - and I spent a chunk of cash there as well! I think the cost of land in the Grater Vancouver area would make it prohibitively expensive to have a store as huge as the Sentry Box...