We just got back from a trip to Canada. It was a bit of a strange journey – we flew SFO-YYZ on the 29th, stayed at an AirBnB in Toronto, took a train from Toronto to Ottawa on the 30th, stayed at my aunt & uncle’s AMAZING lake house from the 30th to the 4th, trained back to Toronto, and stayed at a hotel until the 6th, when we flew home.
The initial part, getting to Toronto, was uneventful, which, when traveling with kids is good. Lots of movies & games on the iPad, nothing special. Whew! Getting from YYZ to Toronto was interesting – we took a new express train called the UP, which is really nice, but also pretty darned expensive ($55 family one-way). Compared to a taxi, unless the traffic is abysmal, it’s a really difficult proposition. If they can get the price to something reasonable, though, it was really, really nice.
Immediately after arriving in Ottawa, my uncle drove us up to their place on Meech Lake. We went there last time we went to Ottawa, a few years ago, and it’s just as beautiful now as it was then, just worn in a bit. They’re building a workshop for my uncle to build boats, so they’d just poured the foundation for the boathouse before we’ve arrived. He’s going to build the rest himself (!!!). Amazing.
J’s been really into birds recently. Ei-Nyung got a bird feeder & a hummingbird feeder, and it’s been really great. He’s spent hours watching the birds as they come in to feed, and in our backyard, we have a bunch of stuff – Anna’s hummingbirds, Western Scrub Jays, House Finches, Oak Titmice (mouses?), Mourning Doves & more. But he’s seen those. A lot of those.
So this trip promised to be interesting because Aunt Kim has been posting tons of pictures of birds from the lake house, which is surrounded by forest. We saw a handful of neat things – Loons, a family of Downy Woodpeckers, a Red-eyed Vireo, a P-something that had nested under the house, some Great Blue Herons on the lake, Turkey Vultures & a lot more.
J also got to feed some chipmunks from his hand, which was really neat. There was a Red Squirrel competing for the food, but I think it was a bit more wary of approaching quite as close.
K loved tromping around the lake, splashing things, looking at fish and the like. He accidentally fell in off the dock one time while my cousin & I were watching him, because he’d reached down to pick something out of the water, but after a moment of surprise, he was a-ok.
We took my uncle’s rowboat (that he built himself! by hand!!) out for a spin, and chased some Loons. We ended up about an oar’s length from a couple of them, and there were some fish jumping out of the water (probably to get away from other Loons hunting around underwater), which was pretty cool. Sitting in the middle of a lake on a rowboat is just a really pleasant experience. Something that I think we can & should do more often on Lake Merritt.
So from that perspective, big success!
From every other perspective, frankly, big success as well. The family got to meet Mr. K, who was gestating-but-not-yet-born when we were here last. I got to hear a bunch of family stories I hadn’t heard before (including one about my dad getting arrested accidentally wandering into a protest at MIT & my uncle protesting with the Weathermen!!).
After spending a few days in paradise, we headed back to Toronto. My cousin awesomely had driven up to hang out with us at the lake, and then drove back down while we trained over to pick us up at the railway station. Which was pretty amazing of him. That afternoon we just crashed around, but the next day, we went to the Royal Museum of Ontario. When I get the pics downloaded from the other camera, I’ll post some, because it was epic. They had an astonishing display of dinosaur fossils, and a brilliant bird exhibit that were both utterly mindboggling.
Everything was going great, until that afternoon, J got some sort of stomach bug/food poisoning and barfed a handful of times. We went out to dinner, and the poor guy was miserable, but at least feeling a little better. I thought, “Well, better today than tomorrow, when we’ll be flying.”
Sure enough, a few hours later, my stomach started gurgling, and I spent the entire night in the bathroom. The next morning, we flew home, me on about an hour or two of sleep, and still feeling consistently like I was going to puke at any moment. Ei-Nyung heroically took care of the kids for the vast majority of the flight and after we returned home. After about 12 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling much, much better. And then installed a new ceiling fan.
Overall, a really genuinely spectacular trip. Up until the last few hours, I loved every second and can’t wait to go back.