Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oh Toronto!

When we began planning the Canada 2010 trip, a highlight for me was going to be the Toronto Blue Jays game on Sunday June 27th. I was looking forward to taking my daughter and sons to their first MLB game! But then the G20 Summit came to town and the game got moved to Philadelphia. That was the bad news. The good news was that we got a full refund and then vouchers for a free game! This prompted some more planning, which resulted in a second trip to Canada the next week.

Wednesday morning of last week we headed out of town via Meijers. Tara came up with the ingenious plan of headphones for each kid so they could watch movies without having the parents ears go deaf. We needed one more pair for Eli. We headed through downtown Fort Wayne and promptly got lost on the east side of town trying to find 24. We ended up on 30.

Trying to cut across proved tricky. We began to get concerned about our ability to get across the border if we couldn't get out of our hometown. Eventually we found the old 24 which led us to the new 24, which took us to the old 24. We slowly made our way through the south side of Toledo and headed east for Cleveland. Once through the big Ohio industrial Lake Erie city, we headed towards Buffalo, the big New York industrial Lake Erie city. Next was the Rainbow Bridge and Niagara Falls!

We drove past the falls a couple of times, debating about whether to pay $20 to park. Next on our trip was the home of Jamie Mandigo and his wife Karen/Nate. We gave them a call and decided to just head over to their house for dinner and a swim. Good call! Karen's folks were there - it was her mum's birthday! We had fun meeting them, splashing in their wonderfully warm and oversize pool, and feasting  at the cookout.

It was well past sunset when we came inside to dry off and get ready for bed. It was fun to stay up late, the kids played and the grownups talked. Jamie and I reminisced when he stayed with us in Montgomery. On Canada Day he made a very pudgy Tim huff and puff (along with his squirrely brothers) around the village waving red and white leafy flags.

We smiled as we talked about the different sports regimens he put me through, the aerobic training, and the fun games. He was my inspiration to play sports and pursue athletic goals!

Tara and I said our goodbyes to Jamie that night, since he had to be out of the house by 8:30am, and it was doubtful whether anyone from our family would be up that early.

It was after 9am by the time we rolled into the kitchen for some breakfast. With 90 degree heat already in the morning, we swam some more. What a way to start a day!

After a light lunch on the shaded front porch, we got ready and headed over to the St. Catherines beach to ride the 5 cent carousel. It's a landmark in the region. Two rides around on it was fun stuff for the kids.

The beach had beautiful, scorching white sand. The water was cool and refreshing.  Lake Ontario was full of yachts and international cargo ships in the horizon. Quite the scene.

Karen mentioned that Jamie would be able to join us soon again if we stuck around. Which we did! Then our two families headed over to Niagara Falls to walk around and get a bit closer to the roar and mist.

Jamie found us $7 parking, much to our joy. We hoofed it across some parking lots and down Clifton Falls street. Tons of people were milling through the entertainment district - very commercialized. We didn't stick around to stare.

Once at the falls we oooed and ahhhed at the sight of the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. And then Eli said he had to go to the bathroom. Off we went to find something. Upon our return, everyone was getting overpriced ice-cream. It tasted good in the hot sun. And now the other two boys gotta go. Once we returned, the Mandigo family needed to head home.

We snapped some group shots and then said our farewells. We stuck around a bit longer, and then we started our long trek back to the van. The kids were dragging by this point. Emma whimpered and protested the last half of the trip up the hill. Poor girl.

Now it was time to head towards Toronto! We were staying at the Rennaisance, right there at Rogers Centre! It was an easy drive, the traffic wasn't too bad, all things considered.

We had about an hour to check in, park, unpack, change, get our tickets, find our seats. We made it just in time. Once the national anthems were finished, we made our way down the stairs to seats, the 17th row from the field! We were really close!

Great seats. About one inning into the game, our tummies began to growl. Soon we were munching on popcorn - we used the kids gloves to hold their share of the treat.

With a big Fred Lewis homerun, the kids waved their big fingers (one pink one, three blue ones) back and forth, cheering. Not long after that a camera showed up in front of Tara and the kids during an inning break. They were on the big screen! Pretty cool.

The Blue Jays defeated the Twins 8-1, hammering 5 homers! The game went quick, the kids had fun. But we were all getting pretty tired. We were glad that our hotel was so close! As we walked around the stadium we went by the CN Tower, all lit up in white and red. Very impressive.

Friday morning had big plans for walking along the harbor and seeing some sights. But it was raining. So the kids got to go swimming again. Probably their most favorite part of vacation! By the time we checked out of the hotel at noon, the rain had mostly stopped.

We decided to eat lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory and hope that by the time we finished feasting, the rain would be done. Our plan worked!

With full bellies we waddled off to the Queen's Quay and saw a gigantic cargo ship unloading sugar.

On we walked towards the boardwalk, seeing plane's land and gulls swoop down on garbage.

With just enough time to spare we got back to the van and drove up Yonge Street. What a long stretch of culture! Fascinating people and local businesses. And lots of Starbucks. We stopped at the seventeenth one to get some drinks for the 401.

It was an uneventful drive through southern Ontario. We zoomed through Kitchener, seeing some sights from the week before. In Windsor we dined at a Tim Horton's and got one last cup of coffee for the road through Detroit. We rolled into our garage around 12:30am.

A long day, but a good one. A short trip, but a great one! Thanks Jamie and Karen for hosting us - we had a wonderful time with your family! We shall return! And thanks Blue Jays for winning your game in dramatic fashion for my children. And thanks Toronto for an afternoon of rainless skies and long streets on which to stroll. And thanks to Tara for planning a wonderful vacation!

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