travel

Dildoholiday: 7 people and the sea.

And the sex.

Where do I begin?

#dildoholiday was a bunch of friends from the internet getting together in a beach house on the Oregon coast. We’re all internet personalities in some way, but we’re all definitely involved in sex blogging. Epiphora, Aerie, and BexTalksSex were the main organizers of the whole thing. The rest of us just came in from 5 other cities across the continent to join in the fun.

Flying into the Pacific Northwest always floats my boat.

Flying into the Pacific Northwest always floats my boat.

What I didn’t expect from Piph, Aerie and Bex was just how prepared they were for us, and all the amazing things that they had in store. They’d asked companies that they regularly work with if they could help make our vacation even more exciting, and ended up creating quite the experience for us.

I arrived in Portland in an airplane for the first time. Previously, I’d driven down from Vancouver (I’m a Canadian), but as such had never really experienced the glorious Portland airport. I, of course, took a snap of my shoes and the famous carpet, then got on my way to Piph’s house in a rented autocar.

Portland PDX carpet feet

The notorious carpet at PDX.

And then it was right in to the family. I was the last to arrive, which means I found everyone happily hanging out at Epiphora’s place. I met Girly Juice and Reenie for the first time, but I’d met Penny, Piph, Bex, and Aerie before. We all got settled in and gave each other some hello gifts. Maple candy and personalized drawings from Reenie, coasters with original photography from Penny, and I gave everyone a Naked on the Internet shirt from cherrystems.com (my soft porn company), perhaps in anticipation of seeing everyone naked that weekend!

Girly Juice models one of the Cherrystems shirts like a professional.

Girly Juice models one of the Cherrystems shirts like a professional. (photo links to her original tweet)

Starting off by playing a few rounds of Concept, then moving on to watching the classic film, 50 Shades of Grey. Most of us hadn’t seen it, but decided that in order to keep up with pop culture’s idea of BDSM, we should probably give it a go. We got about halfway through before we had to get on to the next thing of the night, but there will be more on this later.

Next up, we headed over to SheBop for a hello! I made sure to thank the staff for selling so much Fuze, and you should probably also go to their shop (or their website) to purchase some of our super awesome silicone toys. I did make a few purchases, which I’ll definitely note because I loved them so much. First was a card to be mailed off to my husband back in Winnipeg from Foulmouth Greetings. I absolutely love her cards, they’re just the most adorable. I definitely picked up the one with the house on it! I also finally picked up the 2014 copy of Smut Peddler, an amazing anthology of sexy graphic smut.

The last item I picked up was a bottle of Good Clean Fun lube. I’d actually never encountered it before, and bought it on the recommendation of Bex. I’ve only used it a few times now, but so far I’m really loving it. It has a tiny hint of vanilla, and is aloe based, which my crotch seems to absolutely love. I’ll keep using it a little more and report back on my experiences with it!

Following that, we headed over to Salt and Straw which, for those unaware, has amazing ice cream. I filled up a waffle cup with two flavours – Olive Oil, and Black Truffle. WHAT?! I’d had the olive oil ice cream before, and knew that it has a light, subdued fruity flavour with a texture like fucking butter, but I was trying the truffle for the first time. I was a bit concerned that it might taste mushroomy, but daaaamn! It was perfect and earthy.

Epiphora took this cute photo of me taking a photo of myself and my iced creeeam.

Epiphora took this cute photo of me taking a photo of myself and my iced creeeam.

The rest of the night was spent eating at food trucks, drinking cucumber lime soda, and then heading over to Devil’s Point – a strip club in Portland. Now, I’ve seen people take their clothes off in many a city. Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, New York, and more. This? This took the fucking cake. The dancers were amazing, approachable, and totally pros. Their floor work was just as impressive as their pole work (WHICH BLEW MY MIND), and I adored being there.

Well, you certainly can't take photos while you're in there.

Well, you certainly can’t take photos while you’re in there.

I did have to move to the back while Bex, Piph, and Penny got private dances – but I made use of it and got a few people to buy me tumblers full of whiskey.

I fucking love Portland.

The rest of the night saw Bex, Piph, Penny, and me catching up like the oldest of friends. We went to bed a little late, considering that we needed to be up early enough to get on our way to Lincoln City. Still, we managed to get out of bed and on our way on time.

This

This “Captain my Captain” donut actually made me shake from sugar overdose. It was horrifying (and tasty).

We hit Voodoo donut, payed a great visit to JoEllen, and got on the road at a reasonable hour. A quick grocery shopping trip (which was amazingly a treat of SheVibe!), a two hour drive, and a whole lot of French folk songs (ask Girly Juice and Reenie about this one) and we arrived at the house!

As soon as we arrived, we were in a bit of a rush to make it to the SUPER SECRET SURPRISE. Bex, Piph, and Aerie were all in on it, but Penny, Girly Juice, Reenie and I had no idea what was going on. I did have a moment of anxiety around this super secret surprise, as all we’d been told was to wear closed toe shoes, pants, no flowy clothing, and that it might make us sweat. Because, like many, this conjures up ideas of gym class, I got a little freaked out – I won’t lie. This was actually one of the first times I’ve been surprised in my life. I’m usually the planner of surprises, so who surprises the surpriser? Dildoholiday folks do! We hopped in our cars again for the quick ride to the surprise. As we turned corners, with Bex and Piph in my car, I saw us going toward the ocean. My mind automatically went to boats. “OH MY GOD ARE WE GOING ON BOATS?!” I asked. I was wrong, but definitely got laughed at for being so restless about the surprise. Two turns later, however, I saw a building with writing in the window. It said: Blow your own glass! HOLY SHIT WE ARE MAKING DILDOS AREN’T WE?!

pennysblog_20150604_16

Photo courtesy of Penny!

Yes, yes we were. (and on behalf of the good folks at WeVibe and Tantus, no less) Or, we thought we were. Bex had prearranged with the owners of the glass studio to have us come by at 6:30, when the shop was closed, so that we wouldn’t scare off the tourists. Sadly, Kelly, the person we’d coordinated with, spaced it and forgot that we were coming. We hung out for half an hour, then went to pick up some margarita supplies and headed back to the house where we ate food that we so badly needed. So ultimately, it was probably good that it didn’t work out that night. Luckily, we got a hold of Kelly the next day, and we rescheduled for 6 the next day.

We were all asked at that point to retire to our rooms to allow for the setting up of a surprise by Bex, Aerie, and Piph. There were doin’s a-happening. I used this time to move in to my room, on the same floor as Bex, Penny, and Girly Juice.

Moving in for me includes the Buckinator Glow, my journal, a paddle, lube, and earplugs. Because reasons.

Moving in for me includes the Buckinator Glow, my journal, a paddle, lube, and earplugs. Because reasons.

When we were called back up, we couldn’t believe our eyes! There was a bag of treats for each of us, chalk full of surprises hand picked for us. Bex, Piph, and Aerie worked really hard on all of it to make sure that we’d feel super special and welcome, and it worked! I’ll run through a list of some of the amazing bits we got, so you can be sure to support these lovely companies in the future.

So many great things! So many thanks!

So many great things! So many thanks!

With that all settled, we moved on to the next part of the evening: Popcorn, Pyjamas, and Porn. This was an evening of porn curated by yours truly (that’s me) for all of the #dildoholiday folks to watch and enjoy. I’ll post the list here because if you don’t know about any of the films, you really should:

It was amazing! I opened with Taken, which actually features essentially no pornographic video content. Instead, it’s like a spoken word erotica piece. And I love it, so so much. If you have a chance, you should check it out. I’m really into it for so many reasons. I won’t break down every other film though. I really think you should check all of them out (and pay for them too!).

Taken by Penny - Porn cuddles among internet friendsies.

Taken by Penny – Porn cuddles among internet friendsies.

But what I will talk about is the magic of watching porn in a group that is so sex positive. We cuddled and watched the scenes with colourful excitement, and really got to know a lot about each other. Popcorn came out, wine was poured, and we ended up staying up til far too late. It’s around this time that we made a new frienemy in the household – The Cherub of Shame.

There he sits, in his home.

There he sits, in his home. Photo by Aerie.

We found him perched above the windows to the sunroom as we were starting the porn night, and decided that he maybe shouldn’t be exposed to the sins we were about to unleash. I pulled him down and stowed him away. While we thought it was over, he was soon found peeping on us in the washroom by Epiphora. Shouts of discomfort rang from that loo as she pulled him out and commented on his presence. Suddenly, we noticed, he HAD A TWITTER ACCOUNT.

As the porn played on, we tried out toys – new or old to us. I spent some quality time next to Girly Juice on the couch, both of us fully clothed and trying out some vibes, having casual orgasms.

The sun started to rise as some folks paired off. I tiptoed my way gleefully to bed and couldn’t wait to find out what tomorrow would hold.. I MEAN, DILDOS GUYS!!

For more dildoholiday updates, keep up with me here on mskatesincliare.com! Next up: Productivity tips from #dildoholiday!

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Airports: who to actually direct your anger at.

I travel a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

I see people everywhere getting mad at everything, from having to take off their shoes, to boarding in the wrong zone, arriving too early, arriving too late, everything. And I get it. Going to an airport totally sucks. If I could avoid having to enter one of those things ever again, I probably would. But it’s rare that anyone actually *understands* the process involved in airports.

I’m just going to break down the process of airports to you so that you can understand who to *actually* be mad at when shit hits the fan. It’s too often that I hear people boarding a plane out of breath saying “I almost didn’t make it! JetBlue’s security attendants took FOREVER.” That’s not true. Yes, be upset that CATSA (in Canada) and the TSA (in the US) had a long lineup, sure. Here, I’ll break down the four main organizations in charge of your shitty time at the airport, to hopefully help you understand just what is happening, and why. It’s going to be largely from a Canadian perspective, but applies pretty nicely to the US.

1. The Airport Authority.

The airport that you’re flying out of isn’t just a building that the airline you’re flying with owns. This is essential to note. Think of the airport more like a mall. They’re renting space out to airlines, and they’re in charge of maintaining the facilities. Not enough seats in your boarding lounge? That’s the airport. Dining options suck? That’s the airport. The layout of the customs hall is labyrinthine? Airport. Gate numbering? Airport. Placement of departure/arrival screens? Airport. Perhaps you get the point?

People often walk into an airport knowing “I’m flying Air Canada, and to do that, I have to go to this building where Air Canada is, which means this is Air Canada’s building.” But it’s really really not. Airlines have to bid for gate and counter rentals in airports (especially busier ones), and it can cost a huge amount of money. Note that this also factors in to how expensive your ticket is, as airlines have to pay to rent that space. A gate is the place that you go to after security to board your aircraft.

When you go to the mall, you go to the Apple store. On the way in, you use doors and floors and maybe the washroom. Perhaps you need to take a break in a little seating area, but you can’t find one. There’s not enough seating! Does it actually make any sense to then take to twitter and yell “DAMN YOU APPLE STORE FOR NOT HAVING ENOUGH SEATING IN THIS MALL YOU DON’T OWN!!”? No. Airlines are stuck with what the airport gives them, and since gate bids are often competitive, airports don’t really need to do a ridiculous amount to their facilities in order to make money off of those gates. So yeah, if there’s a problem with a washroom, lack of seating, lack of dining options, or anything really effecting your time in the airport, complain to the airport.

2. Security.

The TSA, or CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) here in Canada. We’re not here to discuss the effectiveness or need for the TSA/CATSA. That’s another conversation for another person to have. What we’re here to talk about is what *they* do, and who *they* are not.

CATSA is just like an airline in that they are using space in an airport that they do not own. They need to be there by air regulations, but they are also not the Airport Authority. They are there to make sure that all laws and regulations of operating an airport are adhered to. They’re kind of like the police, I suppose. Again, the police do not own the streets, but they have to enforce laws on them.

CATSA searches your bags, scans your boarding pass, and does a personality assessment by having an interaction with you. They’re useful to airline and airport employees because they’re often someone’s first point of contact at the airport. Intoxicated folks cause a LOT of problems in airports and on airplanes, and security can catch those people and tell them to go sleep it off before they become a problem at 40,000 ft. It can be hard to go through security knowing that you’re under scrutiny, but remember that if you know you are not going to disturb shit, just get through it and you’ll come out the other side – back into the loving arms of the Airport Authority.

They also use a randomizer to select folks for additional screening, to avoid profiling people. I’m not saying they don’t ever do it (because they have), but that mat you step on that makes green or red or double green or double red or whatever arrows appear dictates which line you’re going to.

When your knitting needles get taken away by security (CATSA), your knitting needles were taken by neither the Airport nor the Airline. I hear countless folks saying this kind of thing – “JetBlue took away my lighter.” No, they didn’t. Security did. A totally different organization, renting space from a totally different organization took away your lighter. Directing complaints to the right place is *super* important. If you have a complaint that the TSA/CATSA mistreated you, you *need* to bring that forward to the right organization. Writing a full on complaint to an airline about your mistreatment by the TSA/CATSA is not going to change a single thing.

3. The Airline

Here’s the last part of our little jaunt through an airport. Your airline. They are the ones that own (or lease) the airplane you’re about to fly on, hurray! They also employ people in the airport, but these people do not work *for* the airport. They work for your airline. They are the Apple Store employees, so to speak. They work at the airport, but not for the airport. They’re the ones working the check in counters, helping you at the kiosks, moving your bags around behind the scenes (sometimes this is centrally handled by the airport, though, and specific airports have it written that when landing there, an airline MUST utilize its airport’s employees for things like baggage handling and other ramp activities). So I guess that would be like a mall telling the Apple store that they are never to empty their own garbage, and that mall employees MUST come around and do it for them.

Your Airline can totally help you with things like connections and carry on baggage and things like that. They’ll also be the ones to help you in the case of a delay (or not, as my experience with Air Canada and United goes – ohhhhh!). Your airline is in charge of following the rules too. They have to check ID during boarding up here in Canada, and have to obey all kinds of little rules put forward by Transport Canada (more on this in a moment). Your airline is the one that is late or early or cancelled. Your airline is in charge of keeping you up to date on all of these things, though the Airport Authority runs those arrival/departures boards, which are sometimes not super up to date. If in doubt, ask a question. If you’re asking a reasonable question about an airline-specific thing, you should be answered in a reasonable timeframe. If not, complain away about your airline!

All of this also goes for compliments, obviously.

4. Transport Canada/FAA

I specifically know more about TC, so I’ll speak more about my experience with that. TC is the regulatory board in charge of pretty much everything that goes on when you go to an airport. They regulate various parts of airports, they regulate CATSA, they regulate the airlines. They cover it all. Wanna know why you can’t turn on your cell phone on an airplane at certain times? TC does extensive reviews of interference for safety, to make sure that your cell signal actually will or won’t disrupt the safe operation of the flight. If your airline still makes you turn off your device, trust me when I say they’re probably trying to challenge that rule with TC. TC needs to specifically test the specific planes that the airlines uses in the configuration that they use them to see if the interference exists. This taskes months, and sometimes years. And it’s all paperwork. But until that rule has changed, they must be obeyed by everyone that they effect. The rules that they have are literally written in blood from air accidents and disasters of the past. When things went wrong, there were investigations into the incidents, and Transport Canada came forward with rules that would help to preserve life in the case of an accident or incident.

Everyone under TC’s umbrella has to comply with the regulations that they put forward. If they don’t, airlines can lose their operating licenses. That’s right, that flight attendant is asking you to turn off your phone again so that literally thousands and thousands of other people can continue to fly. If there is a TC inspector on board (and there are more than you’d think) and they watch a flight attendant let someone break a regulation, that *airline* can be fined by Transport Canada, and the fees are not small. And guess who pays for that, ultimately? You! So just turn off your phone for like 10 minutes, you’ll be ok. If airlines break enough rules, they can lose their operating licenses, as I mentioned. That means flights cancelled, and people who are WAY more inconvenienced than the person not shutting off their phone.

So that covers it, very generally. Understand that there are processes, take a step back to think about them, and know that air travel just sucks (while it is simultaneously awesome and super super convenient).

Hope you’ve come away with something here!

The road.

I’ve been working in travel since I was 20 years old. This year, I’m celebrating my 30th birthday.

I’ve spent 10 years of my life on the road, and it’s definitely catching up to me. Think about that a bit. 10 years of my life, I’ve been nomadic half of the time. Sleeping on trains, airplanes, in hotels, on couches, air mattresses, and quiet corners of airports and bus terminals.

I can't actually sleep on airplanes. Even with first class upgrades (bring presents for your flight crew, kids).

I can’t actually sleep on airplanes. Even with first class upgrades (bring presents for your flight crew, kids).

The half of the time that I spend at home has always been treasured. I live in a small(er) city in the middle of a vast country. We’re essentially cut off from the stress of big(ger) city living. If you don’t know about my 700,000-strong hometown of Winnipeg, you can read all about it here on the internet. Our housing prices are reasonable, and so I am a homeowner without having to sacrifice lifestyle or time dedicated to my hobbies (like the pornz).

My home has always had to be the most comfortable place in the world for me. Back in 2005, when I was getting started on this whole travel gig, I was single-ish (one of those relationships you know isn’t going to be super long, but it’s nice at the time), and coming to grips with leaving town for 5 days about 4 times a month. And then I worked my first trip. I was an attendant on board the Canadian – the transcontinental train that goes from Toronto to Vancouver. We worked 18 hour days while we were working, with 6 hours off in which you were to wash yourself (even just a bird bath), sleep, and then also get ready in the morning. All in these wee tiny on board compartments. Sometimes you’d get a bigger compartment to sleep in, but that was rare. It was usually a 1-bed room (and when the bed is down, that’s it, there is no more room) or a berth with a curtain separating you from the rest of the train.

One of the times I had a larger compartment. And some trees. They look like the ones around Jasper National Park.

The beds weren’t that bad, honestly, and I got used to the gentle rocking of the train putting me to sleep. I kinda liked it. Pair that with the fact that I fell asleep with headphones in listening to Radical Face, and you’ve got a pleasant sleeping locale. The trouble was the length of time we were allotted to sleep. At best, for years, I’d get 5 hours of sleep. Usually, it was the kind where you close your eyes, completely exhausted, and open them again to find that 5 hours have passed and your alarm is going off. I would routinely pass out on a milk crate in a locked kitchen somewhere.

And so home has always had to be exactly what I needed it to be. I bought my single ass a fucking amazing king sized bed for those days that I was at home. Is home really still home if I was spending 20 out of 30 days of the month on a train? Yes. So much yes.

This was home.

 

I lived by myself in a 1-bedroom apartment in the French quarter (I am a speaker of the French language and a haver of the heritage) – the third floor of a three-storey walkup. At 20, this was my third apartment, and the first that truly felt like home.

This little place on Enfield. I was almost never there, but it was where my favourite memories were made.

This was the first place I’d felt comfortable enough to call home. 

And there in that comfort, my story really came together. I made Cherrystems on that shitty folding chair on a computer I spent most of my life away to afford. We shot almost all of the early sets in that living room, or kitchen, or bedroom. I met Aaron shortly after moving in, though I decided to take some of his friends here for some nights before considering that he could be every single thing I needed in a partner. He moved to Malaysia for a while, where he worked for a women’s rights organization as a developer, I kept falling home here and cultivated a small following of amazing folks ready to change the city. Amazing how a space can sit empty for so long, but mean so much.

I continued to drag all my luggage up that three-storey walkup for four years. But I wasn’t happy just being away for 20 days a month. No, sometimes I’d end up with a week off near the end of the month, and I’d get my ass back on the fucking train and go as a passenger. They fed me there, and I had a place to sleep, and I was out and experiencing. I went to Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, and stops in between – all before I was 22. I scattered myself out as far as I could, letting home be a place that I still had. I can’t tell you what a privilege that was and is. Without even the concept of that place, I don’t know how I would have held my shit together.

They don't have these in the prairies.

They don’t have these in the prairies.

The train was mostly full of older folks from around the world. I learned from them constantly. I learned the good things, I learned about the people I wanted to become, and the people I learned the most about were the ones whose stories repulsed me – racists, bigots, etc, etc, etc. I spent 5 years at that job, being a tour guide for Canada, telling the real stories of Canada’s colonization, even if it was uncomfortable for 65 year old Europeans to stomach.

Things changed slightly when Aaron and I decided that we would become a partnership. We decided we’d move in together, but both our places were too small. We moved. I left the place that I felt at home in. We spent two years in a place I hated. During that time, however, I also switched jobs. I left the train behind and took to the sky.

My travel options increased drastically. Suddenly, a two day trip took two hours. The world opened.

A bestie of mine joined me on a 3-day layover in Barbados.

A bestie of mine joined me on a 3-day layover in Barbados.

One of the wonderful things I’ll say about the relationship that I have with Aaron is that I have always worked on the road while dating/living with/being married to him. We have never known life any other way. Other people I would date would take it personally when I got called out to go somewhere. They’d feel jilted that I was never in town, and I completely understand that. I was off having adventures while they were “stuck” at home. They were travellers too, but couldn’t do it nearly as much as I was able to.

My layovers were never, ever, spent in my hotel room. I learned the layouts of cities. I am proficient in the transit systems of Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Prince George, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, New York, Washington, Boston, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Nashville, San Francisco, LA, Seattle, and the highways of countless other places where I’ve rented a car because of lack of transit services. I’ve driven the interior of the US and been to fucking weird little motels that wouldn’t let me stay there because I wasn’t married to my partner.

I climbed a hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and met a person that became a great friend. He also worked in travel in a way – for a traveling acrobatic circus called the Cirque du Soleil. I’ve met people on hills, in bars, on bikes, in seats, and learned a little bit from each one.

This is backstage at a Cirque du Soleil show in my hometown. A direct result of climbing Signal Hill in St. John's, Newfoundland and making a friend.

This is backstage at a Cirque du Soleil show in my hometown. A direct result of climbing Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland and making a friend.

There’s honestly no lesson to be learned either way from my life. I managed to get a Bachelor of Arts somewhere in all the mess of not being home, but I managed it.

Glamorous Prince George, BC. I actually fucking love it there.

Glamorous Prince George, BC. I actually fucking love it there.

I’ll post more individual stories about the people and experiences I’ve had along the way, but for now, this post is probably long enough.

The Polyphonic Spree was playing while I was on a layover in Vancouver.

The Polyphonic Spree was playing while I was on a layover in Vancouver. So I went.

Is there anything you’d like me to address, cover, or recount? Let me know in the comments and I’ll think about it. When I’m home.