Spent a couple days in Toronto, Ontario Canada last week starting with a 3-hour Southwest flight delay and ending in an 1-hour Southwest flight delay. In between, it was an assault on the senses with new and different experiences.
Arriving in Buffalo, Jim met me at the Airport and we raced to Toronto and directly to the Rogers Centre for the main purpose of the trip: Cardinals vs. Blue Jays baseball games! The tickets found on Craig’s List fell through, so we were at the mercy of the scalpers… …or the scalpers were at the mercy of Jim! Having watched the prior nights game on TV, we knew that there were a plethora of available tickets and the demand curve was in our favor! It’s funny to hear a scalper talk about the popularity of the night’s game with a 3-inch stack of tickets in his hand – irony? Maybe.
Chris Carpenter pitched a gem with 8-innings 3-hit shut-out baseball even though he did not look as sharp as he did at any time in 2009. Ryan Franklin came in for the save, and the Cardinals won 1-0 by scoring in the top of the 9th. Good night for the Cards fans! Rogers Centre Sippy-Cups were a fan favorite:
At the Rogers Centre, the imminence of the G20 Summit in Toronto was vivid — with police and dogs investigating railroad tracks, overpasses and underpasses. There were police in water taxis, on wave runners, on bikes, standing, sitting, riding, being fed from a cart driven by what would be called the “beer wench” at the golf course. They were in good spirits and glad to be profiting from the $1,000,000,000 that the government was spending on the G20 Summit. Once officer told us she would be getting at least 100 hours of overtime for the event… …and that she had been called in from her ‘holiday’ – ‘vacation’ in American English.
After the game, we chatted with locals at Shoeless Joe’s restaurant near the shore of Lake Ontario! Beautiful full moon to add to the ambiance of the evening. As Mike Shannon would say, “I hope you can see this full moon back in St. Louis.”
On Thursday, a crappy breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express was followed by a crappy pie at Mamma’s Pizza on Yonge St. Food was not the highlight of the trip! We walked up to Eaton Centre and hung out at Yonge-Dundas Square for a bit. Smoke and Java are two Ontarian favorites as the smell of cigarettes and coffee filled the air wherever you went. The European influence could be seen in the attire of the folks on the street. The corner at Yonge-Dundas Square was reminiscent of Times Square in New York City with giant billboards and enormous active media screens.
A call from the office interrupted the people-watching and work ensued. We headed back toward the coast (as it were) and ran across the St. Lawrence Market – Soulard on steroids! 120 specialty merchants with everything from Apples to Zinfandel on sale. Two floors of fresh foods and other shoppes to browse. Oh, and all of the outside activity was closed on the week day. Talk about KING CRABS!
After a stroll through the market and a coffee, we stopped at the pub for a couple lagers, watched a bit of the Spain/Uruguay (I think) soccer game. No one hates the vuvuzela more than me!
Back to the area near the Rogers Centre, we visited a couple drinking establishments, had some dinner and relaxed near the Lake Ontario shoreline… …readying for the night’s ballgame. More and more police (G20) seemed to be arriving on the scene. Even the police men and women teased us about our Cardinals attire. Tonight’s game was a disappointment as the Cards couldn’t complete the sweep. Adam Wainwright was serving meatballs and the Blue Jays looked like they were enjoying some batting practice. Cardinals bats were cold.
Time to head back to Buffalo. Stopped for more diet cheating and grabbed a Wendy’s Frosty. It may be frozen ‘stuff’, but it’s delicious frozen stuff. It was nice to see Jan, and it may be the first time in 6-8 years that I’ve seen her!
Up and at it on Friday, Jim made pancakes and eggs — probably the best meal of the trip. We dressed for a wet ride on the Niagara river and off we went to the Niagara Falls Whirlpool Jet Boat Ride. What a rush… …of cold. We dressed in yellow ponchos and orange life jackets and boarded the Jet Boat with 7000 Horsepower to drive our ride up and down the rapids. It was not warm at 11:00 in the morning on the Niagara river with the spray of the cold water flying over the boat as it careened up and down the river. The captain executed a few 360’s in the calmer waters and then headed for the Level 5 Rapids up toward the Falls. Further up river, we powered up through the rapids and watched as other boats navigated back down for their joyrides. It was our turn and we took 5 ‘named’ runs at the rapids. One was called the ‘Nasal Flush’ and it lived up to its name. The water poured over the front of the boat, pounded our faces and blew up my nose as the boat bounced up and down through the rapids.
Before the final run, we powered a bit further up the river to see some Level 6 Rapids and the Whirlpool itself. God given beauty! Just a short 12,000 years ago, the Niagara Falls were 2 miles further down the river. We headed back toward the dock, knocked out another 360, and disembarked, wobbly, from the boat.
After a quick lunch at Wegman’s deli counter, we headed towards the Niagara Falls proper and enjoyed the beauty there! What power the water has as it flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. We visited Goat Island and the 3 Sisters on our walks. Then, we went down to the Falls ‘proper’ to enjoy it’s beauty there!
Time to head back to Buffalo, enjoy an hour-delayed flight back to St. Louis and home again. Thanks to Jim and his family for the hospitality, and thanks to God for the gifts He gives me and the beauty He created!