Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Let's Get This Par-Tay Started!!

It’s time to get the 60th Adventure started! And it started pretty early today. I got up at 3:30am in order to get a shower and to the airport for my 6:00 flight. Steve has a flight an hour later, but by leaving at 4:20ish, he still had time to drop me off, return home, shower, and get back for his trip.

The first step in this trip is to fly to Toronto. I decided to take the first flight, since I have to board the train tonight, and who knows what could happen with airplanes. Of course the first plane is Air Canada (no complaints there – I’ve flown them before) and is a “commuter jet.” Which means a little plane. Which is not exactly on my “favorite planes” list, should I ever have such a list. The only planes lower than little planes are “propeller planes”, one of which I could have taken and would have been a larger plane, but the propellers negated that choice. And the bottom of my planes list? That would be a small propeller plane. Including float planes. Would I ever fly in one? Certainly – if I had to. Like in the movie Independence Day (the first one) where the President and Jeff Goldblum and assorted others had to jump in Air Force One before the aliens blew up the White House. Yes, I would jump in a little plane with propellers before I was obliterated by aliens. But I digress …

I got to the airport with the backpack and my loud, garish Disney bag, which was chosen because the backpack was stuffed and I would still be allowed another smaller carryon and I still had stuff I needed to take (laptop, which Maribeth said I should leave at home, at which point she got fired from being my packing consultant) and various other things. By the way, when I said my backpack was stuffed, apparently it was with bricks, judging by the weight that I was carrying on my back. Trekking around Toronto should be interesting …

Anyhow, I got to the airport, which was not busy at that time of the morning, and headed to my gate. It was at a different part of the airport than my usual Southwest gates, so it was interesting. When I got to my gate, there were a few people waiting around. I chatted with a dude headed to Seattle and then to the Philippines. He was very nice.

Eventually they called for us to board. They said, “Usually we ask you to line up in groups, but since there are only six of you flying today, just come on.” Yup, you read that right – six people on the plane. The plane holds a total of maybe 48, but that is still a small number. I’m just glad they didn’t try to stick us on a smaller plane!

Once we were all boarded, it was time to stow the luggage. Apparently on this small plane, your big carry-on goes under the seat, which mine did once I kicked and shoved it under. Your smaller carry-on is supposed to go in the overhead compartment. But since we had plenty of space, we passengers were allowed just put them anywhere. In fact, some of the passengers just put them on the seat next to them and seat-belted them in. Oh, and did I mention that when the plane that is capable of holding only 48 people and is only carrying 6 people, then the plane seems hugely bigger?

The flight was smooth and safe and very nice, even without Wi-Fi. I read some of a book I brought (I brought seven), and soon we were landing in Toronto! Once landed, we had to wait for a gate to open because we had left/landed early. Once we finally pulled up to our gate, I found this information amusing, since it seems we pulled up to the “garage” section. In other words, we pulled up to the outskirts of the airport and had to use the airplane pulldown steps to get off. Lovely – me and my wonky knees and my 700 pound backpack full of bricks and my ridiculous Disney tote bag. I managed to get off the plane and begin the 800 mile trek to Customs. Eventually I arrived, did the Customs machine things, and was admitted to Canada!

Next I had to figure out how/where to catch the train to Union Station, where I shall be boarding my train tonight. Luckily I had done a bit of research (yesterday of course) and printed out directions on how to find this train – another 800 mile walk with the aforementioned burdensome backpack and garish tote bag. Thank goodness for signage! I found the kiosk to purchase the ticket, helped by some young lady who felt pity for this old lady weirdo, and was soon on the train to Union Station!

Once I arrived at Union Station, I realized the probability of going anywhere with this backpack was zero. I went to the ViaRail desk and asked if there was a place where I could store my stuff until my train left tonight and she said yes – just go to baggage around the corner! Thank you God for such wonderful blessings! And so I stored the brick-bag and obnoxious totebag and headed out to greet Toronto.

By this time I was starving, so I ate at the first place I could find. Keep in mind, this is right in between the breakfast and lunch dining times, so I ended up at a food court and ate noodles and bourbon chicken. Whatevs – I was starving! I had texted my peeps to ask what I should do and received several options. Molly suggested a hop on-hop off tour, and when I left the food court and went outside, there was a bus right there, so the decision was made!

The bus tour was great, but I was so sleepy by that point I kinda took a few power naps during the loop, so I took it again to see what I might have missed. By the end of the second loop, my phone battery was getting super low, so I went in search of a charging cord and brick – because all mine were in my checked luggage back at Union Station, and I did not wish to trek back there yet.

Eventually I found a place, got the needed supplies, had a Starbucks break to charge the phone, and went back outside. There was a Toronto Blue Jays game tonight, so the fans were really starting to come in for the game. I decided to go up the CN Tower, mainly so I could say I did it. I paid extra so I could see it earlier than wait the 2-hour wait. I was hungry again, so I had a burger in the bottom of the tower. The burger was yummy, and soon it was time to take the one-minute ride up the glass elevator to the top. It was fine – high and you can see stuff. And so I did it – and now I’ve said I did. There apparently is some cray-cray thing you can do where they harness you up and you can “walk the edge.” Nope – I certainly don’t need/want the bragging rights to that!

Anyhoo, once I was done, I took another Starbucks break to recharge my phone again. I was really tired and decided to go back to Union Station and wait out the few hours left until it was time to board the train. I retrieved my bags and asked an employee where I could charge my phone and went to that location until it was closer until boarding time.

I went to stand in line to board the train and a lady came through asking for “sleeper car” people. I’m one of those, and she took us to the “sleeper people lounge” where I could have been the entire time. There are free drinks and nice couches there!! Oh well, I got my dining assignment time and soon it was time to board the train. I found my car and my “roomette” (after having to aggravate the people in the hallway trying to hoist their stuff into their sleeping berths – berths are like bunk beds in the hallway) and met the train dude who is supposed to help if I have difficulties. He showed us where stuff is and how to fold down the bed. And soon we were off, and soon I was off to sleepy-time. It’s been a long, glorious day!!

And here are some photos from today!!

This lady decided to take a nap - why not? She had the whole row!
Later I helped her with her customs card - and saw my first green card!

Another passenger's backpack belted in for safety!

My bags shoved and kicked and wedged under the seat in front.
So what's your description of my Mickey tote?
Hello Toronto!  Now what ...

The Big Red Bus - my guide to Toronto!

Union Station - as long as I get back here by tonight, I'm good!!

A Doggie Fountain!!

The CN Tower from the bottom ...

And from the top!!

Made it back to Union Station - time to wait for Train #1!!

And there she is!! Let the adventure begin!!
Blessings today include: safe, smooth, uncrowded flight to Toronto; finding my way to the train to Union Station; finding out that baggage claim at the train station would hold my bags; red bus tour (thanks to Molly); clean Toronto bathrooms; nice ViaRail lady; getting on the train and into bed

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