Over drinks with friends Andrew and Jess (People of the Cul-De-Sac) we decide a summer weekend trip is in order. The only July weekend free for both of us is July 25/26. Date is set, promises made, and the destination brainstorming begins.
Destination decided - Boston and other nearby salty, fishy sites of interest.
Watch Perfect Storm for the 10th time to brush up on local dialect and customs.
After checking map and talking to cousin, Ana finds out it's at least a 9 hour drive to Boston. Shortly thereafter, plug is pulled on Boston, new destination planning begins. Emails circulate in earnest.
Tuesday Cul-de-sac meeting called. Charges of procrastination are exchanged since destination has yet to be decided. Team congregates around internet explorer browser and begin googling. After Chicago (too windy), Kingston (too much traffic), family cabins (already full), Niagara Falls (too close), New York (too far), Cleveland (already went there), are considered and dismissed, we finally decide on Rochester, New York with day trip to Ithica. It is a good compromise. Meeting dismissed, people of the cul-de-sac disperse.
Friday - disaster strikes. Andrew has to work Saturday night as his food and beverage manager as gone awol. Rapid brainstorming ensues. Within moments a new plan emerges like a summer mayfly. Hotel in Toronto Friday night, followed up with a trip to the Woodbine horse racing track on Saturday. Disaster averted. Weekend trip back on.
Friday, 6 pm
Jam bags in car. Take a week's worth of luggage along for the night just in case. Kids narrowly miss being run over by Andrew's 4x4 as he rallies into the cul-de-sac. Everyone in van, depart.
Friday, 7 pm
Arrive at the Keg in Hamilton, eat big juicy steaks. Andrew manages to get them to comp us the meal, what a star. Pile back into van, crack a beer, head to TO and battle traffic all the way.
Arrive at downtown Marriot. By some miracle kids are both sleeping. Haul kids and bags to adjoining rooms, dump kids in bed, proceed to drink heavily, say lots of bad words, and enjoy the spectacular view over downtown Toronto.
Friday, 2am or thereabouts
Saturday, 7:40 am
Awoken by two very alert looking children ready for action. A flurry of plastic animals ensues and the room is soon alive with the roar of blowdryers, which ignites the morning headache.
Saturday, 10 am
Breakfast at Eggspectations, delicious as expected. Talk of life, children, choices, dreams and bowel movements.
Saturday, 11 am
Walk to Andrew's single brother Kyle's super cool downtown condo. Find multiple specimens of women's underwear laying on bedroom floor. Fondly reminisce of the "good old bachelor days".
Saturday, 11:30 am
Leave Kyle's place with his entire Playstation 3 set of Rock Band gear, a well received donation to spark my children's future musical career. It's really not for me at all.
Saturday, 12 pm
Drinks at a scummy downtown Toronto bar. Stella for me, Rum and Coke for Andrew, Margarita for Jess and Diet Coke for Ana. Jess complains of strange and offensive odours in ladies toilet. Leave shortly thereafter.
Saturday, 1 pm
Arrive at AGO - Art Gallery of Ontario (http://www.ago.net/). Elongated heads, little ships, squirrel heads, furry cubes and ivory carvings intrigue, inspire and amaze us.
Saturday, 3:00 pm
Leave Toronto in a blinding rain storm, fight traffic, drop Andrew off at hotel in Hamilton for the evening shift. Along the way, we decide to go to Cleveland after he's done work to look at boats. No sense stopping now, the weekend is not even half over.
Saturday, 5:00 pm
Arrive home, have a nice dip in the hot tub, eat dinner, put jammies on kids. Jess spends quality with Bell the dog.
Saturday, 9:30 pm
Pick up Andrew in Hamilton, proceed to drive to Cleveland. Along the way Andrew suggests trying to find a ferry to take across Lake Erie Sunday afternoon. Idea well received.
Sunday, 1:30 am Arrive in Cleveland, only one 15 minute stop required for entire trip, must be a new record. Get checked into hotel. Too late to embark on drinking session, feel the ravages of old age.
Sunday, 7 am
Wake up. Get kids and women moving. Jess does Stella's hair and she looks like a beauty queen. Mental note that the "ragamuffin" is not the only look Stella can pull off. Investigate ferry options. Quick brekkie in hotel lobby. Leave hotel. Note that it's a gorgeous day.
Sunday, 10 am
Arrive at National Liquidators boat yard after driving through the inner city slums of Cleveland. Feel good about our situation in life.
Sunday, 10:13 am
Find our ultimate dream boat. 1996 Catalina 40 foot, pristine condition. Call broker to make offer. Find out boat already sold that week. Feel bad about our situation in life. Andrew continues shuffling through Sun Rays, Rinkers, looking for the ultimate deal.
Sunday, 12 pm
Arrive at WWII submarine, right between boat yard and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Women stay outside and sun themselves while kids join the men inside and cause trouble the whole way through. Amazed and astounded that 97 men could live on such a vessel. Imagined smells are overpowering.
Sunday, 1 pm
Depart for Sandusky, 40 miles west of Cleveland. Arrive, buy tickets, eat lunch and drink beer in shabby but cool downtown pub.
Sunday, 3 pm
Ferry departs for Pelee Island. Lovely ride on a beautiful day. Girls mix us deadly strong rum and cokes.
Sunday, 4:45 pm
Ferry arrives. Clear Canada customs. Drive around island to public beach. Remove shoes, play in water, skip stones. Magnus picks up dead fish and brings it over. Later, inspects flattened garter snake on roadway. Nature trip over, back in van.
Sunday, 5:15 pm
Arrive in the southernmost tavern in Canada. Listen to country music, drink OV, eat greasy stuff, watch the strange people.
Sunday, 8 pm
Ferry departs for Kingsville, Ontario. Much larger ferry this time, retire to canteen to drink, eat popsicles and talk about life. Conversation gets very serious. Andrew is barely talked out of a career as a low paid pilot.
Sunday, 9:30 pm
Arrive Kingsville. Grab a Timmy's. Girls take over driving duties while boys make obnoxious comments from back seat. Kids watch movies. Along the way, try to figure out why on earth we weren't able to fit a blimp ride into the weekend.
Sunday, 12:15 pm
Arrive Paris Ontario. All hail the Power Weekend.