Friday, March 19, 2010

the canadian experience, day 1

{I journaled while on our trip-on the back of our boarding passes-so forgive me if the next few bloggy days read like diary entries. My emotions went through the wringer this week for many a reason, but in the end, I'm so glad Dan and I were able to join my mother-in-law, Connie, and my sister-in-law, Becky, for this awesome experience}

Technically our getaway started late Thursday night-our flight was due out at 11:50 or some such ridiculous time, so by the time we got to the airport, it had already been a really long day. I was stressed to the max because of my test earlier at 11:30 (found out a week later I got a 94% on it, yay) and was in need of a getaway. Yet, when we joined Becky at the airport, we found that none of us were really excited. It had been such a chore up to this point, planning, re-planning, re-re-planning. . . I really was just ready to get it done. Poor attitude to start out with right?

Our baggage claim/security check point was an adventure in itself; I swear those people must hate their jobs! Grumpy and frowny and short-tempered. I was a little bit afraid.

Once through all that, we started to get a bit excited and wanted to have a good time. We knew this was an opportunity we wouldn't soon be repeating, so it was best to just relax, have fun, and soak in the experience.

That first flight was awful; I couldn't sleep for nothing. 5 hours, in the dark of course, and I was in the middle seat. It just wasn't comfortable.

So Friday came around, we spent a 3 hour layover in Cleveland where we found some breakfast, a corner to nap, and I worked on CNA homework. I'm so glad I took my books with me-I'd really been wavering on the idea. But there ended up being so much time spent sitting and waiting and flying and driving that in the end I was really glad I'd decided to study while away.

Our flight to Buffalo was awesome. Our flight attendant Dawn was a riot! I so wish I'd thought to get a picture of her. We were on this teeny commuter plane and she kept us entertained by memorizing the entire flight's drink orders, asking us geographical trivia questions and just being very funny and pleasant. We flew over Lake Erie which was frozen over with ice. . . and HUGE. This was a one-hour flight and we spent 90% of it flying over the lake.

Weather in Buffalo was very pleasant-we knew we were due for rain for the next three days, so we were glad that the NY weather wasn't too cool. No wind or rain yet. We rented a PT Cruiser and were on our way to Canada.

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I fell in love with the architecture back east. The buildings in Buffalo were so gorgeous; made of brick, all so different, so old looking. I took a lot of pictures of buildings as we swung through town, but it had started raining lightly so I didn't get too many good ones. {And you'll have to forgive me if my pictures are a bit mixed up-for some reason when I uploaded them to my computer, they got completely out of order, so I may have Toronto and Buffalo's pictures a bit confused}

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Because there are so many lakes and rivers and streams, there are tons of bridges; another thing we just don't have a lot of back west. I loved the structure of these bridges and found them really interesting to look at.


At the check point, we got asked a bunch of odd questions. . . was this our car? Did we have a car? What were our jobs? Why were we visiting? etc. My biggest regret this day was that the border guy didn't stamp my passport! Come on. . . my first passport, my first time to get a stamp, and he didn't do it. We then joked that we'd be stuck in Canada forever because we wouldn't be able to prove that we'd legally come in.


So, on our way. The drive from Buffalo to Toronto took about two hours. We made it to the mission office and met up with Connie. It was so great to reconnect after so long!



Wind and rain makes Amie's hair a mess.


This is her church and mission office. Isn't it amazing? I sure wish I'd gotten a clear picture of it.

Connie looks great! Longer hair, but otherwise the same. She's so brave, so confident, so tough! I'm proud of her. We met all the elders, her mission president and others who all seem to love her so much. We toured the offices and rest of the building; truly magnificent. I just loved the look of buildings here! So much brick work, so beautiful.

She said her goodbyes and we made our way towards food. On the way, we stopped in at a bank to exchange American $ for Canadian (enter the loonies and toonies, Canada's one and two dollar coins).

The traffic in Toronto is horrendous!!! Absolutely horrid! Add together the crowded streets, impatient drivers, and lots of rain, and I think we got honked at at least 5 times the first day. Totally crazy. Eventually we made it to a pizza place where we had a late late lunch/early dinner. The crust was thin and hard and the cheese was oddly congealed, but we hadn't eaten since 5am and we were starving. It tasted like heaven to us. The pizza place was full of Asians; pretty sure we were the only white folk there. Toronto is a really culturally diverse city. I had no idea.

The rain was coming down hard by then; I'm so glad I thought to buy and bring an umbrella because the wind and rain come at ya sideways! Connie had a lot of luggage, so our car was packed to the brim.


The smiles lie. We were fuh-reezing. If you stood the wrong way, the umbrella would turn inside out. Often. This is Lake Ontario-look how windy and blustery it is! And of course, it's HUUUUGE.


We drove past Connie's old apartment where she lived for about 9 months on the 18th floor.

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We took this shot because Connie said it reminded her of the hallway in "The Shining". (not that I'd ever in a million years watch something so scary) Can you see us way down there at the end?


It was so stinkin' windy; I can't even describe it. We were outside for about 5 minutes and nearly fell over several times. *stupid canada, why are we here??*

We then got a little slap-happy. It was a long day for us and suddenly everything was funny. Trying to plan out the next day so we didn't have to cross Toronto a dozen times (again). The four of us packed into this little car with all our luggage and jackets was just comical. My luggage was at my feet and my huge jacket was on my lap, and my backpack was wedged in there too. We laughed a lot about the emu/water buffalo story (I'd relate it here, but it wouldn't be nearly as funny now as it was then on zero hours of sleep), Becky's need for a jacket, and getting honked at by crazy canadians.

We went grocery shopping to get some snacks and dinner items for the next night at the Burns' home where we were staying Fri/Sat/Sun night. The canadian grocery store was interesting. Everything is more expensive, number one. And you have to 'rent' a shopping cart at some places! You also have to pay for grocery bags, 5cents each! I thought this was crazy, but now that I think about it, it really would save on plastic bags. We waste ours quite a bit because they're free. If we had to pay for them, we'd use less and recycle what we have. *smart canada!* We were introduced to the one and two dollar coins at this point, and I have to say, we made fun of the loonies and toonies quite a bit-onesies, twoies, tennies. . . Lots of laughs at the canadian money's expense. Eventually we got back onto the street with our added bags and were on our way to get honked at again.


We stayed with the Burns family. I LOVE this family. They are so friggin' awesome. Maria is just a riot! We love her and her 3 boys (her husband was at work). They are an "island family"-she from Dominica and he from Jamaica. She is so funny and sweet and welcoming. She was not interested in the slightest in the lasagna dinner we were going to cook, instead she had planned on making us island food the next night: chicken feet and/or frogs' legs. Who comes to Canada to eat chicken feet?? We were pretty nervous about that which was to happen the next night.

Dan and I had a room to ourselves and all I could think about when we got in was taking a shower and getting into bed. I'd been up for what felt like 80 hours at this point (really 38), and I stayed up as long as I could but ended up hitting the hay at about 8 (6p AZ time).

More to come tomorrow. :)


Jennifer ♥ said...

I feel like I just went on vacation with you! You're such a good story teller :) Can't wait to hear more!

I thought of The Shining as soon as I saw your hallway picture. I've been to the Stanley hotel and seen the movie and it looks very similar!

Christine #2 said...

I love the post, it's almost like I got to go, except I'm warmer. Can't wait for the rest!

Liz said...

I've been waiting for the post on your fun Sounds great glad you had a good time looking forward to more
of the adventure.

Emily said...

Sorry about the flights-but everything else sounds very neat/interesting. I'm looking forward to the other posts

Becky said...

Will everyone please stop talking so I can talk?!?!?!

from the back seat, "Water buffalo!"

Becky said...

Do you think Maria would ship me some Canadian Mt. Dew?

When do we get to see the pictures of you eating the chicken feet that looked like baby fingers?

Mark and Jessica said...

Wow, what a great trip! Did you ever get a stamp in your passport?