Toronto Trip Day 1, Arrival

On March 7, Debs and Errol, a geek band from Toronto, had their farewell concert. Being huge fans, my family decided to take a trip up to Toronto for the weekend, so we could not only attend the concert, but also meet several people from the area that we only knew from the internet. It’s been over two weeks since my family made that trip from Indiana to Toronto. I wanted to write this blog post shortly after we returned home, but I didn’t. With how long it’s been, I realized that it was time to either do it or give it up completely. The entire trip was such an adventure, and I really wanted to get my thoughts out there for anyone who is interested to read. So here goes.

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We left on Friday around noon, with two kids aged 4 and 12. We had a laptop for entertainment for the kids because we knew it was going to be a long drive. Google maps put it at seven hours. The first part of the trip was uneventful as went through Michigan to get to the border. The border crossing was much more exciting. We were told that their policy was to search anyone who had never been to Canada or had not been there in 10 years (my husband, Logan, and I had been there when we were teens, so more than 10 years ago). So they had us pull over, and they searched her car. We were in a parking lot that was covered but not fully enclosed.

We stood in front of the car while they searched it, and did our best to stay warm. The parking garage-type structure created a wind tunnel, and it was cold. I hadn’t grabbed my gloves or scarf when getting out of the car, because I was a little flustered. Fortunately the kids at least were bundled up. Even still, my daughter, the four-year-old, grew colder and colder, and I did my best to keep her warm. We were worried they would unpack most of our tightly packed trunk and we’d have to fix it before we could leave, but they either didn’t pull much out, or fixed it themselves. After they searched the car, they let us get back in to warm up while they performed some other checks on our ID, but said we would probably have to get back out again and maybe even go inside. Fortunately, they quickly said the check had been done, and we were free to go. So we were on our way into Canada.

I’m not much of a traveler overall and haven’t been out of the US since the times I went to Canada as a teen, so this was all an interesting experience. Somehow even though the road was not unusual in itself, just knowing we were in another country made me feel more anxious. I should mention I am a painfully shy introvert who is not good with new experiences in general. I tend to get anxious easily. When Logan and I travel somewhere I’m not very used to, he almost always has to do the bulk of the driving, because I can’t handle it very well. It’s not fair to him, but he knows it’s easier than trying to have me drive, especially in big cities. He had told me before we left that there would be a long stretch once we were in Canada that he would probably ask me to drive for. Once we are in Canada, thinking of this upcoming drive maybe very nervous. He has issues staying awake when he’s driving for a long time, whether he’s tired or not. So I knew it would be important for me to be able to help when he needed it. Somehow though, perhaps because it was another country and he was more interested, he had no trouble staying awake on this drive.

When we first entered Canada we noticed the gas prices. One of the first prices we saw was 102.9. In America of course we’re used to something like $2.33 on the signs. My first reaction to the sign I saw in Canada was to say, “Wait, is that $102 per gallon?” Of course I didn’t really think it would be that high, but I also did not immediately think it’s meant 102 cents. And Logan quickly pointed out to me that it would be by the liter, not by the gallon. I did not do the math to figure out how much gas was in our terms, but if I had, I probably would have forgotten as well that it would be Canadian dollars, not American dollars. Another thing of note on our drive to Toronto were the numerous warning signs along the road, which made us chuckle. Signs warning drivers not to follow too closely, because it will kill you; not to speed, because it will kill you; not to get too tired while you’re driving, because it will kill you. Every one of these warning signs said “Doing this kills. Don’t do this.”

After several hours of driving, we made it to Toronto. Coming into Toronto was a new experience for us as well. We’re from a state without many big cities, and this was bigger than our biggest city. We have both been to Washington DC, Chicago, other larger cities, but not often. We were like small-town hicks out of water. The road we were on was up off of the ground already and still the buildings towered over us on both sides as we drove through downtown Toronto. It was very imposing and a little overwhelming. Logan was driving around unfamiliar turns and turnoffs with people speeding by him.. We both remarked that when he went around curves he felt like he should slow down but if he did, he would be slowing down traffic. It was a unique experience.

The place we were going was in a residential area, so we left downtown behind us. Traffic thinned out and we felt like we could breathe a little. It was not difficult to find out if you’re going to, however we cannot find anywhere to park quickly. We actually went around the block a few times trying to figure out where to park. You see every other parking spot on the street was taken up by a giant pound of snow. We did finally see someone pull out of a spot and went around the block again so we could lineup to take that one. It was down the street a bit from where we were going, but at least we had landed.

Then we walked to the house, and everything got real. We had been invited to stay at the house of one of the members of the band–Errol. Logan and I had met him before, when they were in Ohio last October, but the kids hadn’t. His older daughter answered the door and let us inside. We quickly realized that Debs and Errol were inside practicing. He had mentioned that they’d be practicing for the concert that night, but I didn’t realize it’d be right there in the living room, or that they’d be doing it when we got there. Errol’s daughter Ekko showed us to the room we’d be staying in, and we proceeded to go down the street and start bringing in our stuff. It took us a few trips, and we kept telling the kids to be quiet going by the room where they were practicing. We didn’t want to disturb them.

After we were unloaded, Logan and I were a little uncertain about what we should do. The kids were much less so. Errol had already introduced himself to them, and they stood in the doorway watching the practice. Debs and Errol assured us that we weren’t disturbing them, and said we were welcome to come in and sit or whatever we wanted to do. In fact, Errol and his wife (who came home a little later) assured us that we were welcome to make ourselves at home the whole weekend. So we went in and watched the practice, chatted between songs a bit, and eased into the whole situation. I am always awkward and uncomfortable as a guest in someone’s home, much more so if I’m an overnight guest. I just don’t know etiquette and proper ways to behave and such, from either side, because I am not a very social person. Add to that that these two were basically celebrities to us, and it was a very tense situation for me. I did relax eventually though. Also during that time, ‘Manda, who lives in an apartment in Errol’s basement, came in. She is one I hadn’t met, but knew online and was also a fan of. She does some creative activities with Errol as well, the most notable of which (for me) is the NaNoMusical. I made sure to get off the couch and give her a proper greeting when she came in.

The practice was loads of fun, just being able to be there and be part of it. I even took some video with my Kindle Fire. Our daughter found a toy house in the room and occupied herself with that most of the time. In fact, it was difficult to pull her away from it when it was time to go to bed late into the evening. And speaking of our daughter, one of the best things about the weekend involved her. Her name is Lena, but when Errol first met her, he said her name back as “Leeloo.” She corrected him, but the nickname had stuck. For the rest of the weekend, he’d call her “Leeloo,” and she’d promptly respond “Lena!” The next day, we were all in Errol’s daily webcomic.

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This is Errol’s version of our arrival. It’s actually pretty accurate.

I’m going to stop this post at the end of Friday. It will be far too long if I write about the whole weekend, so I’ll continue in another post. Before I leave, though, I’d like to share 2 of the videos I took of the practice.

The song in this one is one of my favorites (though I realized recently that I have maybe too many that I consider favorites), “BSG.” At the end of the song, Errol decides to hold out the last note for a while, which is not how the song normally knows. I’d say it’s a good look at his personality when he’s not performing, but the truth is, he’s the same in person as he is when he’s performing as he is in his comic as he is anywhere else. It’s still fun though.

This second video shows the point where Errol first realizes I’m taking video. The interesting thing is that he actually seemed self-conscious after that, which is not a trait often seen in him. The song is another of my favorites. Also, he did hit the camera on my Kindle dead on.

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