Saturday, July 02, 2005

Trip to Toronto part I

Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
After making plans to fly up, then deciding not to, then deciding to again, then finding that Canadian Customs would be closed when I got there - I drove to Toronto Thursday evening. I'll have to try the flight again another time, now that I have my paperwork and my customs sticker for the plane. But I made good time in the car, five hours and a few minutes. Just in time to meet up with Gail, Serge and Dax for a quick drink before checking into the hostel.

This is my first time back in Toronto in a long, long time; I came here on a "bolt" back in my college days, 1988 or so. Suffice it to say that I don't remember much; I may have had a drink or two, as was my custom at the time.

Friday was the perfect day to start off a weekend with our neighbours to the north; Canada Day, the celebration of Canada's 138 years of sovereignty. Maple-leaf flags flew everywhere, as Gail and I started our day with lunch, as we are wont to do while on holiday. A combination Hungarian-Thai restaurant, which is a good snapshot of this community; like Vancouver, immigrants from all over the world make Toronto truly metropolitan. After a large meal of schnitzel, spring rolls, goulash and lemon-grass chicken (!) we meandered towards the waterfront, gathering some groceries along the way.

We rushed to the ferry terminal, where we met up with Gail's friend Serge and his friend David, from Chile; and our online friend Dax, and two of his friends. Dax came up with the plan to go out to the islands on Lake Ontario, have a picnic on the beach, and watch the fireworks from a great vantage point.

Which is what we did. The weather during the day and in the city was hot and muggy, but later out on the island it got very cool as the sun went down. So like many of the others on the beach, we gathered driftwood for a campfire. (As a group, we seven were not exactly forest rangers; we had to borrow starter bricks and a lighter from another group down the beach; and even forks, to eat the salads that Wanda had brought!) Dax, Chris and I gathered some driftwood and fallen timber, and eventually managed to set it blazing as the stiff wind whipped around.

'Round the fire
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
With the fire going and the sun setting, we waited for the fireworks. A group of college-age kids came by and asked if they could join us to keep warm, and we all made a big circle. A big giggly circle. I should mention that, not by design, we chose our campsite next to the clothing-optional beach. Now, as I noted, it was quite cool and the wind was blowing briskly; but there was one fellow out on the beach who had chosen the "no" option. A big, bald, fiftyish man was walking the waterfront nearby, au naturel as they say. He shows up, hilariously, in the background of some of our photos. It was just so incongruous; especially when he would occasionally hop up on the picnic table nearby and stand, looking boldly out over Lake Ontario, like he was waiting for the ship to arrive with his clothes.

We couldn't help snickering. Could you? What if he was wearing, as this gent was, dark socks and sandals? We all thought this to be a fashion faux pas; clothing may be optional, but we needn't be savages.