Monday, January 29, 2018

That time we drove to Canada and learned how to cross the street

Last night I suggested driving Betty and the kids to Duluth, MN this summer to visit my cousins. It couldn't be a whole lot farther than Toronto, could it?

You may recall that I occasionally decide it would be really fun to drive somewhere. Like Texas. Or Denver. And then Nick points out the distance and difficultly.

When I pulled it up on Google Maps it said it would take me 378 hours. Then I realized it had defaulted to the walk option. (Also, I'm a fast walker, and am confident I could do it in like 350 hours.)

Even so, it is almost 1,200 miles far, and I'm not sure how we will go. We have time to decide.

But. I still haven't told you about last summer when we drove to Canada!

We drove to Canada. My car was in park when I took this picture.
Last August, Betty, the kids, and I set off in the direction of Toronto. We had Waze, passports, Kindles for the kids, a giant bag of snacks, and the Hamilton CDs.

We figured we'd get as far as we could--hopefully Buffalo--sleep the night, and then drive to Toronto the next day. I was going to call Nick when we knew where we'd stop for the night so he could get a deal on reservations online.

About an hour out of Buffalo I got the kids to get out of the car and use the bathroom at a very clean convenience store by saying, "Nana will buy you candy if you try to pee pee."

I'm not proud of this, but it worked, and let me just be totally honest and say I am not above blatant bribery.

Nick asked if we could make it to the Canadian side of Niagara. I polled my passengers, who said, "Sure!" So I said, "Sure!"

We were super bummed that they didn't stamp our passports at the border. We also didn't jokingly ask for asylum. Best not to push the humor with border police.

I mean, I it's all fun and games until you're in isolation getting a cavity search.

So I just said we're here to visit old friends and we'll be staying for five days and then heading straight back home and thank you very much for letting us in.

The next thing I did was get stuck in the E-ZPass lane for the toll. I was all, "Look, they have E-ZPass! I have E-ZPass!"

But! I don't have Canadian E-ZPass! I...couldn't pass. And then a van pulled up behind me. And I got all panicky. Then the van driver signaled for me to back up, and I was trying, but I am a sucky backer-upper and there wasn't much room.

And then a lovely man opened the gate for me and we drove forth into Canada. EZ!

Nick had booked a room with a spectacular view.
Right? We were astounded and delighted.
Our room had a better view than we managed anywhere else. Also, they light the falls different colors at night.

And then! Then Toronto! Oh my gosh, Toronto is incredible!

We headed straight for Sophie and Sean's house. Sophie had organized for us to stay the house of one of her friends who was away for the week. So we were super comfortable in a truly lovely nearby  house.

Sophie, one of my dear Delhi high school friends, immediately poured us wine in cups from her childhood days in Pakistan. Sean grilled. Our children began playing with each other.
It is as I have long believed: Canada is a magical land.

They taught us how to ride the streetcar. Toronto has amazing public transportation.
We went out for dim sum. The kids tried everything. Everything!

We went downtown. We hung out at the Toronto sign. We shopped.
We took the kids to the local park, which has a wonderful playground with a splash park, a skating rink, and a pool. And a farmer's market on Wednesdays!

We went to the Don Valley, which houses an old brick factory. It's a gorgeous, giant park right in the middle of a huge city.
One night our high school friend Jon and his lovely wife Christine invited us over for a cookout. They built their house to back up to their best friends' house. Between them they have two yards, a trampoline, and a heated pool.

Also! We had ice cream with maple sugar. Which is what I imagine pixie dust tastes like.
My kids never wanted to leave. According to my children, Oakville, suburb of Toronto, is the best place in Canada.
This is how you cross the street in Toronto. You push the crossing button and you point. All the way across. I am not kidding.
Taught me how to walk this way...
Sophie's neighborhood has everything. My friend Rob, who you may remember from my NYC Overnight walk, came down and joined us for a delicious dosa dinner.

One night we walked over to a local brewery. While we were there a new brewery opened up across the alley from Sophie and Sean. Our last night, we tried poutine.Yum!

Sophie and her family were the most extraordinary hosts. Toronto is an incredible city. We all loved it. I could spend so much more time there. And now I know how to drive there and back.

So maybe we will.


  1. Wow...This post is such so fragrant with fun! I almost feel like I could drive out to Toronto if i wished and believe me i do. But geographically I am just one mode of transport further away from the moon than Toronto so......

    1. I would've deleted the "such" if only I had previewed the comment before shooting it off. But previewing is so not me. :)

    2. Ooh, I love how you put it: fragrant with fun! I'm not a previewer either. Unless I'm editing for others. But even so, I find it tedious. Toronto by car would pose an very interesting challenge for you. I'd be interested in reading about that journey, in fact!

  2. I live in Oakville! I've been reading (but not commenting) your blog for years. This post made me so happy! Isn't Toronto fantastic?

    1. Hi Katherine! Thank you for reading and commenting! Almost all my comments are now on FB, and I miss having them on the blog.

      Toronto is AMAZING. And Oakville is lovely and so convenient!


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