I am in Toronto (ok, so I wrote this June 30).. I am just finishing a 3 week assignment, filling in for someone who went on vacation. The timing just worked so that I could fly straight from here to my cousins family reunion in Virginia for the 4th of July weekend. I however did not want to be gone for 4 weeks straight and most IBMers go home every weekend if on assignment away from home, so I decided I would go home the two weekends in the middle.
The week prior to the trip had been very busy, starting with school getting out for Nai. He made the best friends while in Colorado (his silver lining), and they were dedicated to making sure he had the best year possible. They even dubbed May 24 as Nai Day, vowing to celebrate each year wearing the pants and t-shirts that he gave them. So that final week between school getting out and his leaving to go back to Thailand, his friends kept him plenty busy. He spent very little time at home and his last three nights in the states I’m not sure he slept at all.
|Nai Day 2016
Not like we had a lot of time to hang out with him, because the day after school got out I went to the Colorado State Square Dance Festival 4 hours away in Grande Junction. Sol came up from Santa Fe to dance with me.. We had a fun weekend, but I was already pretty tired.
That week, John and Donna Brett came up from Tucson again, this time with their kids. It was great to see them for a couple days, although it was still the shoulder season in Breckenridge, and other places we tried to visit in the mountains still had to heavy snow coverage. So we visited, and didn’t overdue! The next day (Saturday) Cathy and Dave Ropiski came up to play games… They get up every couple of months or so. Always love spending time with friends.
Sunday was Nai’s day to leave and I also needed to go to Toronto. For some reason (because Nai is still not very guidable) Nai decided the plane that he was going to take was the one that left at 6:30am. I typically leave home 4 hours before my plane especially for an international flight, So I scheduled my flight schedule accordingly and planned to take him down with me… Well, the closer the day got, the more nervous I was about driving half the night, so Mike volunteered to take us down (thank goodness) and then Saturday morning (16 hours before we were to leave) I figured out that Nai had scheduled to go out of Colorado Springs, when I was flying out of Denver!… So much for planning. But luckily Mike driving us (silver lining), Nai’s flight was actually about 1.5 hours earlier than mine, so we could still leave at 2am, take him to the springs, and then take me to Denver (silver lining), and then Mike could go home. Crazy, but we made it, and Nai made it back safely to Thailand… His year in the US is over!
Again on the bright side, I got to Toronto early in the day, in time to take care of some immigration work I had been neglecting, and still had time to walk down to the Waterfront and enjoy a boat ride.. one that I had actually bought a ticket for with the bus tour I took in March, when the boats were not running. It was a lovely day in Toronto and it’s amazing how different the energy is on a warm summer day, ever than a warm early spring day. The streets are buzzing with activity. What a treat to be here that day (silver lining).
After working for the first week I left my suitcase with the hotel bag check and headed off to the airport to go home. Well turns out the rule to be at the airport an hour early (especially for international flights) is not just a guideline but an actual rule! I had no luggage to check and a global entry membership that gets me through customs without any line, and frankly not a care in the world when I strolled up to the check-in at 58 minutes until my plane was to leave. Air Canada said, “Sorry you are two minutes to late, you will have to wait in that line over there for 40 minutes to rebook something” And oh, did I mention that as it was I was only going to be home 36 hours, and were going to re-book me on a flight 12 hours later… I was very angry, mostly because I knew I had plenty of time to get to and on my plane and I suspect they had one empty seat going to Denver. But I talked with Mike, who hadn’t left home to get me yet, and I realized it made no since to come home, so instead I rented a car and went on a road trip for the weekend (silver lining).
As I was trying to decide what to do with my newly found 48 hours, I remembered that I had wanted to go to the St Lawrence Market, a permanent farmers market, in an old historic Building downtown Toronto, but I had been working EVERY time they are open… And Saturdays they open at 5am.. What a great way to start my roadtrip (silver lining). So I went back and checked into my hotel and picked up my suitcase, and noticed that the line was relatively short at the Japanese cheesecake store (silver lining). Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake store is a Toronto icon, and the line at the store ALWAYS goes out the door and down the sidewalk. I again decided I had some new found time so I went to get in line.. it was about 45 minutes.. And the Cheesecake was fantastic, very light, not too sweet, almost like a spongecake. And they package them fresh out of the oven. I ate on the cheesecake for the whole roadtrip, eating it with the Strawberries that I bought at the farmers market because I could smell them a block away where I parked my car!
The Farmers market did not disappoint. Very interesting, and very unusual things, from Quail eggs, to Mountains of broccoli, to Crocodile steaks and Ostrich sliders. Of course all the normal stuff too.
Also while I was at dinner trying to decide where I should go on my road trip I pulled out my phone and there was an email from Cathy Ropiski saying “I hope you are having fun in Toronto, by the way, here are all my favorite things in the area”… Wow, crazy!
So by 10 am I was done at the market and hitting the road to the other end of Lake Ontario to Kingston where I toured Fort Henry. At Fort Henry they have college students that get to play that they are British Soldiers to reenact the activities at the fort during the heyday (1812 or so).
Then I drove up the Rideau Canal that goes from Kingston to Ottawa and has 45 locks on it. I stopped at quite a few.. very interesting. The keepers of the locks manually open each lock whenever a boat arrives to go through and sometimes might have to open the dock up to 25 times a day. Very interesting, and very pretty. I got to Ottawa at about 5pm, and after a nap I drove across the river into Quebec to log a geocache in a new province (silver lining), and then returning to the Ontario side I drove around town a bit, then parked back at the hotel and walked around town a bit, ending up at an Irish pub to listen to live music, have dinner, and read my book.
|The first lock I visited (Difficult to get good photos showing the locks)
|The series of 8 locks at the beginning of the Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa
The next morning I slept in, ate a nice breakfast and then decided to add a few hours to my trip back to Toronto by driving north through the Algonquin Provincial Park.. Very similar to a National Park in the states. It’s a very large wilderness area (the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined) with very few roads to the interior. Instead 10% of it is covered with water, so the best access is by Canoe. The drive was absolutely beautiful with a lake view around every corner. I really enjoyed the drive. Oh and yeah.. I rented a Prius, so also had “fun with my car” It had bluetooth so I talked on the phone and listened to programs I’ve had on my phone meaning to listen to.
Monday, back to work again. One of the guys at work had brought his wife with him from Vancouver, so on Tuesday night we went down to the Theater district, had dinner, and went to the Theater, getting last minute cheap tickets. We saw “The Gentleman’s guide to Love and Murder” It was very good. It was a musical and the singers didn’t miss a note. It’s a story of a guy who finds out he’s an heir to a fortune, if he only knocks off the 7 relatives in line in front of him. One interesting thing is that each of the relatives knocked off were played by the same actor. Also the sets and stage changes were very creative…. Fun. Didn’t fall asleep in this one!
Because I didn’t go home the prior weekend I went home on Thursday of the second week, so the weekend was a little longer! Basically I spent the entire weekend just hanging out with Mike.. It was fabulous (silver lining). Totally enjoyed him. Mostly just stayed home, but also went out for a couple hours for a drive on Saturday.
This week, I saw my Nephew Nick again. This time he had an apartment (last time he was still looking for a place to live). His apartment was right downtown and on the 36th floor… my ears popped in the elevator on the way up! I brought a game to take to the reunion with me. It was kind of a hassle to carry on the plane, but when I remembered I would be seeing Nick it made it even more worth it to bring it, so we ordered his favorite pizza and his roommate, he and I played “Castles of Mad King Ludwig.” (silver lining)
|The view from Nick’s Balcony
|Jacob and Nick
Tomorrow is Canada Day, a holiday (Independence Day – July 1). I hadn’t realized that when I scheduled my trip, so my plans are to meet up with my folks in Nashville on July 2. I will not be able to work for the contract I am here for, but I will do some work for my other contracts from the hotel. I hopefully will get some time to go to the Casa Loma Castle during the afternoon, and there is a square dance I hope to hit in the evening before the fireworks over the waterfront…. That will be a nice punctuation on my month in Toronto.