Monday, January 29, 2007

A heart-warming, gut-churning trip to Ontario

Hey, what a trip.

We flew out to Ontario on Saturday for a week-long tour. We flew with Westjet, and really enjoyed it. The price was on par with Air Canada, and a lot more fun. The satellite teevees in the seatbacks made the time fly. The cabin crew cracked jokes and sang. Free cookies. Lots of fun.

My dad picked us up from Pearson and drove us to Stratford for a quick visit with mom, and then over to visit my sister Shannon and her hubby Chris, and their new baby Ewan. Chris and Shannon are taking to this parenting thing really well.

My folks hooked us up with a mack-daddy suite at the Arden Park Hotel, which was our base for the first half of the week. They also kindly lent us the pick-up truck for easy and reliable transportation in the cold and snow. Cold (!!!) and snow! What a novel concept this winter!

Amanda drove us in to Toronto on Sunday. She went to Ajax to visit family while I spent the afternoon with my good friend Sandra. It was nice to spend time with my buddy, talk, and play some video games like in the old days. Amanda and I went out for a classic dinner with Sandra and Byron at Swiss Chalet, then headed back to Stratford to rest.

Spent lots of time hanging out with Shannon and the baby. I got to hold a baby for the first time. It was sweet. Such a little tiny person. Y'know, cats are great. I love my kitty. Kitty is fun to play with. But it's not the same as holding a baby and just watching its face. And this baby certainly has Simpson in it -- it can fart like a cannon.

Dinner at the the Boar's Head was cold (air, not food) but nice. The baby kept quiet through the whole meal.

Got some hearty exercise from shovelling my parents' driveway. Holy crap, apartment living has its benefits -- indoor parking and no shovelling.

Back to Shannon's for dinner on Tuesday, with some tasty lasagna. Things took a churn for the worse later that night, though, as you'll see in the Un-Weighted entry below. Dinner with mom and dad Wednesday at the hotel was nice, but would've been nicer if I'd had an appetite to eat more than a few forkfuls of the tasty stir-fry.

We got a whole bunch of fantastic pictures and videos from the Stratford leg of the trip. The baby and family are photogenic, for sure. I panicked when my camera choked on the new memory card, though. I bought two 1GB CF cards on sale at Future Shop during the boxing day sale, and tried them out on this trip. Somehow the camera believed there were no photos on the card at one point. Then, the pictures showed up. Then, memory card error. Then, no pictures. I went back to the old card for safety. Thankfully, all the photos have been recovered. Check the galleries later to see what gets put up.

After spending as much time as we could with my side of the family, it was off on the VIA train to Toronto on Thursday for a visit to the folks at my old station, 680News. It was nice to be recognized and welcomed by so many familiar faces. Howdy to Leah, Anne, former bandmate John, Kevin, Peter, Sultan, James, Ron, Thomas, Cara, Taiwo, Marlane and anyone else who I got to see again. The place looks the same as ever, but with more awards on the walls and new faces in some of the seats.

Wendall picked us up and took us up to Bradford for the next leg of the trip. We were greeted at Amanda's mom's place by two of the most enthusiastic dogs I've ever met. Smoochie and Molly love to play. As much fun as I wish the cats would play catch with us, I still prefer kitties.

After chilling with Amanda's sisters Amy and Ruth (who's heading off to Australia for six months) and family members visiting from the west coast, we all got dressed up Saturday for a wedding. Amanda's cousin Stephanie married Phil at The Doctor's House in Kleinburg. It was a lovely ceremony. The four-course dinner was delicious -- cream of broccoli and asparagus soup (yeah, yeah, but it was good!), spinach leaves with almonds (yeah, yeah, but it was .. spinachy, but good), those little miniature chickens stuffed with wild rice (yummmm) and cheesecake for dessert. I got to chat with some regular BigAssSuperstar.com readers -- apparently this blog is a popular read with Amanda's family, including one prominent member who reads while at work for the Peel Police. Well, that explains some entries in the server logs! The Derbyshires were warm and welcoming folks.

Sunday we visited Amanda's granny at the Sunrise Senior Living home in Aurora. Nice place! They have a separate family dining room that Barb booked for the whole clan to have lunch. And lunch was delicious. It's a pricey joint, but appears to be well worth the money.

Amy and her boyfriend Kendall drove us back to Pearson for the return flight home. By then, Amanda was quite sick with a cold and unable to fully enjoy the Westjet experience.

We arrived back at BigAss HQ in Halifax and sat down to some grub before unpacking. It was nice to be back in our own beds after a wonderful, rewarding trip to see friends and family who are far away but not forgotten.

It'd been more than a year since I'd seen my mom and dad. Months since seeing Shannon and Chris. Longer still since seeing Sandra and Byron. Bloody ages since seeing many of the folks at 680. But it's heartwarming to feel that things are still the same after all this time.

Thanks to everyone who helped make our trip so special! I love you all and miss you. We look forward to seeing you again, whether here, there, or on the infernet.

And special thanks to Laura for taking care of Kitty and Kitty while we were away. We think they missed us, but they're not as easy to read as dogs.

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