When I told my mom I was flying to Toronto, Ontario, she said, “Toronto is hot in August.” So I packed my capris and Naot sandals (which I wear all summer anyway) and lots of tank tops. I arrived in the evening, so it was cool. My room at the Holiday Inn Express was air-conditioned. In the morning, I walked to the Archives of Ontario early, before it got hot. After a day of sitting in an air-conditioned room, I was looking forward to some of that Toronto heat. Instead, it was a cold and windy evening for my walk back to my air-conditioned room. Toronto in August may be hot, but I’ll remember my visit as cold.
Attempting to get around everywhere with Jade in a stroller has made me sympathetic to those in wheelchairs. I was thankful I was able to “gate check” her stroller so I could have it with me throughout the airport—easy to take her and the diaper bag right up to the plane. In Toronto, however, I encountered stairs. There’s a campus walk across York University that is lovely—except for the steep flight of stairs up and over a building at one end. I had to find my way around via another path through some residences and past a loading gate on a road.
Later, I went to Sheppard Centre to meet a friend (see number 3) and faced stairs up into the mall or stairs down into the mall. I had to walk around most of the mall to find a ramp on the back side. Some places need to be more accessible for those of us with wheels.
I knew quite a few bloggers in the Canucks Bloggers Network were in Toronto, so before I left I sent a note to the group asking if anyone wanted to get together. However, a mid-week evening proved difficult for most of them, especially since they are scattered around the greater Toronto area. I did end up meeting with Serena of Bewildered Bug, although ironically she no longer lives in Toronto but in England and was back for a wedding. So the two non-Toronto bloggers hung out for the evening in Toronto… We had fun chatting about blogging, husbands in law school, life in transition, and what makes a place feel like home.
Flying into Toronto brought back memories of my first big trip as a kid. My mom is from Ontario, so when I was about eight, we flew there to visit her family for two weeks. Mom bought us little notebooks to keep a record of our trip (we were homeschoolers, after all, and this was educational!). Not long after we’d taken off, I wrote that flying wasn’t as exciting as I’d thought it would be (much to our flight attendant’s amusement). I remember flying over all the lights of Toronto and then getting our rental van (woohoo, new vehicle!) and having to drive for an e x t r e m e l y l o n g time to get to my grandma’s in St. Catharines (I think it’s only an hour but late at night after a day of travel it felt longer). I had Koala Bear with me then, of course, and we visited Niagara Falls.
Reading David Thompson‘s two-hundred-year-old documents at the Archives has made me very appreciative of the age of computers and Google searches. It would have been very nice to type a word into the search box and have the microfilm reel spin right to that word. Instead, I had to manually scroll the reel, reading through David’s notes and records and trying to decipher his handwriting.
Despite the effort involved in reading, I found his journals to be very interesting. He was an early travel writer or guide book author and I feel like I know him better now than I did before my trip. (Although his wife Charlotte still remains elusive, because his journals were “business” and don’t mention her at all.)
I’ve always found taking public transportation (especially in large, strange cities) to be stressful (probably the result of my small-town upbringing). In Toronto, I decided it was easier to walk from my hotel to the Archives (it was only an hour) than take two buses. Jaclyn enjoyed the walk, smiling at me or watching the trees go past overhead. However, to meet Serena, we had to take the bus. I found one bus from the Archives to Shepherd Centre, and a friendly lady on the bus who dispensed advice about where to get off (especially since the police had the subway shut down right then so the buses weren’t going where they usually go). Then Serena helped me catch the subway and bus back to my hotel.
To and from the airport was another issue… On Monday night when I arrived, I simply grabbed a taxi—and then paid way more from the ride than I wanted to. So on Thursday, I decided I had to take the bus and managed to find a route that involved a short walk, one transfer, and several questions of the friendly bus driver once I arrived at the airport. Hurrah, I survived public transit in a big city!
Jade was awesome on the plane and in the archives. She slept lots and played on my lap or in the stroller. I was a bit worried about keeping her quiet in the research room, or when we were sandwiched into narrow seats on a full plane, but she was great.
On the flight back, we had to make a trip to the washroom, and a little boy (maybe 2 years old) saw Jade and said, “Baby, baby!” He and Jade smiled at each other and she waved her arms around while we waited for the bathroom, and then on the way back we stopped again to let them say hi to each other. Soon after I’d gotten settled in my seat, the little boy wandered past again, looking for her. She was just as happy to see him, and smiled and waved her arms. When he left, she kept looking at where he’d been and waving her arms. 5 months old and already she’s making friends!
And that was my quick trip to Toronto. It was fun to go, and just as much fun to come home again.