August Already?

2010 August 1

The summer is flying by. The weather has been hot and humid for much of July.

Camp Winston went well for Corbin. He became part of the maintenance crew – partly because maintenance crew gets to take their shirt off. He had an amazing time and the staff had no issues. The downside was that Corbin came back with only one of seven shirts. Aye carumba. That explained by Corbin’s bag felt lighter (despite the additional junk he brought back). A few other things did not make it back including a flashlight, a pair of water shoes and a brand new pair of rain boots. It’s something we will have to mention to the staff next year.

After Camp Winston, we headed for a week long vacation at a cottage on Lake Simcoe (near Hawkstone, about 5 minutes south of Orillia). Corbin spent a complete 24 hours with us after being picked up Camp Winston and before heading back to CPRI in London.

Before the cottage, Tina and I headed to the Air Canada Centre (aka ACC) in Toronto to see Rush on the Time Machine Tour. I was able to find a parking lot across from the ACC. We walked over to the Keg only to learn that it had moved around the corner. Things are constantly changing in Toronto. Had a great supper at the Keg. Every one else in our room was also attending the concert. The area around Union Station was busy for a Saturday afternoon.

Walked back to the ACC and hung out the main entrance. It rained lightly once, but we were able to get underneath a canopy. Then the doors opened. You could cut the excitement with a knife.

After showing our tickets to several staff, we eventually made it down to the front row. Yup. Front row on Geddy’s side. Those are the seat my wonderful wife got for us. Of course, we wouldn’t be sitting in them during the concert.

The lights went down and we walked up to the barrier. 3 hours later (including a 30 minute intermission) the show was over. It was amazing. Geddy was no more than 10 feet away from us. We could see Alex on the other side of the stage and watch Neil pound away on his drum kit.

Jeremy spent a week at Babcia camp before succumbing to homesickness. Tina picked him up. My mom tried to bribe him, but he would have none of it. So we were childless for only a week. Oh well, Jeremy being back home actually helped us the following weekend with travelling to Brantford, Toronto, Camp Winston, Cottage, London, back to Cottage.

The rest of July went by quickly. Too quickly.

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Niagara Falls

2009 August 26

Day two of our mini vacation. Todays destination: Niagara Falls.

They were calling for rain in the morning with sun in the afternoon. Since we were going to get wet, the forecast of rain didn’t deter us. We left Brantford shortly after 8 am and arrived in Niagara Falls about an hour later. We parked in the Falls Parking Lot and were able to get a space close to the entrance of Table Rock.

I got the Niagara Falls & Great Gorge Adventure Pass for all five of us through Air Miles. The pass includes admission to Maid of the Mist, Journey Behind the Falls, White Water Walk and Niagara’s Fury. Also included was two day’s rides on the PeopleMover and the Incline Railway and reduced admission to other Niagara attractions.

At Table Rock I got our tickets for Niagara’s Fury and Journey Behind the Falls. Niagara’s Fury is a four-dimensional show with a 360 screen, a shaking floor and real water and snow. When it was winter in the show, the theatre was cold. It was amusing. Journey Behind the Falls was next. You descend 150 underground and walk into tunnels that take you behind the falls where you can feel and hear the power the Falls. An outdoor observation deck at the base of the falls gets you close to the action.

It was still drizzling, so we had some coffee and donuts from the Tim Hortons in Table Rock. Then it was off to the  Maid of the Mist via the PeopleMover. We  began the walk down to the elevators, descended down in the elevator and walked along to the waiting area before getting on one of the Maid of the Mist boats. We were able to get a spot at the front of the boat on the top deck. The boys were excited. Corbin could barely handle the roar of the Falls. Jeremy couldn’t believe his eyes. We wandered around the gift shop at street level before catching the PeopleMover to go to White Water Walk.

White Water Walk is about 4 or so minutes north of the Maid of the Mist via PeopleMover. The elevator is located within a gift shop. Yet another descent down to the bottom of the gorge. By now, the sun was coming out, so we removed our complimentary rain ponchos. The walk takes you along the edge of the Niagara River in the Great Gorge. It’s amazing how fast the water moves and high the waves get.

The group was getting hungry so we took the PeopleMover to Edgewaters Tap & Grill for lunch. We sat in the outdoor dining area and had a great view of the American Falls, Horseshoe Falls and the Maid of the Mist boats. The food was good. Excellent portions. Nobody was hungry when we were done.

We crossed the Niagara Parkway and walked along the gorge towards the gift shops at Table Rock.  I got a Niagara Falls ball cap. Jeremy got a t-shirt and a few other trinkets. Corbin got a diary and some gems. We stopped at the Candy Shop and filled up on sweets.

My mom mentioned the Butterfly Conservatory, so we headed to the minivan and drove up to the Botanical Gardens. Our ticket package include half-price admission to the Conservatory. As we entered, butterflies of all kinds were everywhere. There are over 2,000 butterflies. I had a few land on my hat and back. I took a lot of pictures. My mom was overwhelmed.

The boys got a few more trinkets in the gift shop. Then it was time to go back to Brantford.

We all had a great time and the weather turned sunny when it needed to be. Jeremy wants to return during the winter to see the ice and snow and the light show.


Lets Go To The Ex

2009 August 25

Tina and I decided to give the boys a taste of our childhood of growing in or near Toronto and the summer ritual know as the Canadian National Exhibition or the “Ex” as the locals call it. It has been 15 or 16 years since Tina and I went to the Ex and some things have changed while others have not.

My mom came along and we left Brantford shortly about 10:15 am. We arrived at the Oakville GO Train station just after 11:00 am. I dropped everyone off at the main door and then looked for a parking spot. There were a few empty spots at the extreme western end of the lot, probably half a kilometre or so from the station. I walked back to the station and bought our tickets (a family day pass for the four of us and a senior’s day pass from my mom for a grand total of $31.25).

During all of this, Jeremy complained about a sore stomach. ‘Great’ Tina thought. She took Jeremy to the bathroom, but didn’t seem to help. Then Jeremy asked for some crackers. Well, that ‘pain’ he was feeling was hunger. Yes, it seems that Jeremy has never experienced hunger before. A container of fishy crackers later, Jeremy was back to normal.

Our trained arrived at 11:30. We headed up to the upper level and enjoyed the 30 minute trip to the Ex. It was a lovely sunny day with a nice breeze off the lake. We arrived at the Ex at noon and proceeded to the kiddie ride area.

Tina bought the boys unlimited ride passes and 20 tickets for us. And then the boys were off. Jeremy went on two ‘scary’ rides with Corbin and that was the last time he would go on a ‘real scary’ ride that day. Instead, he focused on the fun houses and slide rides. Corbin enjoyed some of the kiddie rides.

It was time for lunch. Off to the Food Building. Think of a mall food court and multiply it by five. This place was packed full of food vendors, including the Ex classic, Tiny Tom Donuts. The Food Building has changed since I was a child. Back in the day, companies such as Hersheys and Billy Bee, would offer free samples and products at big discounts. There were a few hot-food vendors. Today, the building is almost completely food kiosks. Choosing is difficult. But we all managed to find something to eat. My mom had sausage and salad. Tina had fries and pop. Jeremy a corn dog. I had a sausage in a bun and pop.

Headed over to the ‘adult’ midway so that Corbin could enjoy some ‘big kid’ rides. Jeremy went in every funhouse, and in some cases went two, three even four times. Somewhere between the bumper cars and the tilt-a-whirl (Corbin and I had a ball on that ride) I lost my cellphone. I got Tina’s phone and immediately cancelled that phone. No worries since I was going to get a new phone later this week.

Walked over to the Farm exhibit where the boys got to see llamas, bees, goats, cows, horses and sheep. Before the Ex, Jeremy mentioned to Tina that he wanted to see a cow up close. Well, finally saw his  cow up close and wasn’t too impressed when it decided to take a pee. Corbin and Jeremy didn’t like the smell too much. Back to kiddie land for some rides and then off to the food building for a quick supper.

Before heading home, we tried our luck at a few games on the midway. Tina did win a prize on Roller Ball. Corbin won a prize or two and got a chance to shoot out a target with a BB gun. Jeremy did the best of us all. On our way out, I went to buy some of those Tiny Tom Donuts, managing to get them just before our train arrived.

The train ride back was a good way to unwind and appreciate the excellent day we had. We didn’t do everything at the Ex, but the feedback from the boys was positive. That means we will be back next year and put in a full day including some shows, other exhibits and some night time fun.


Summer Vacation 2009

2009 August 24

With the municipal strike throwing a wrench into our vacation plans, I decided to take the last week of August off. Tina wasn’t working so our plans were flexible.

Originally, we were thinking of going to a hotel in the Greater Toronto Area and visiting various attractions. Wanting to minimize our spending and not seeing my mother in almost all summer, Tina and I decided to stay in Brantford and visit the Canadian National Exhibition (“CNE” or “the Ex”) one day and Niagara Falls another day.

I checked the Air Miles website and sure enough, I could tickets to both using my air miles. I got five admissions to the Ex and four Adventure Passes to Niagara Falls (Jeremy being five-years old was free). I didn’t know if mom would be coming with us so I made sure to get a pass for her.

We headed up to Brantford this afternoon after getting some errands done during the day. The drive was uneventful.

Upon arriving in Brantford, we had dinner at Boston Pizza due a refrigerator problems at my mom’s.

At my mom’s house the boys immediately went into “Babcia” mode, asking her to play with them.

Let the vacation begin.