Saturday, February 19, 2011

Toronto

After consulting the Knighthawks' schedule this season, I decided to take off work on Friday to head up to Toronto for the Knighthawks game against the Toronto Rock. We decided to make a day of it and bring Jacob along. We had tried to bring Jacob along at least once before, but he ended up being too sick and had to stay back with my parents. Let me start by saying that Toronto is one of my favorite places in the world--and strangely, I've hardly explored any of it. Usually when we go there, we stick to the same general paths...same hotels, same restaurants, same activities. I suppose that's because we're only there for short periods of time, and frequently we're going for a sports event and we like to hit up our favorite restaurant, Marche', which is conveniently in the same complex as the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is a frequent shopping destination. Still, I love the city. I remarked on Facebook later in the day how much being in Toronto on a weekday made me appreciate city life. There was so much activity, so much going on, and so much to see. Even just the concourse by the Hall of Fame was bustling with quick-serve restaurants and little shops, all crawling with families, businesspeople, and shoppers. I wish I worked in a complex like that...though I might go broke and/or never get anything done! I just like that cities have millions of "stories" walking around them all the time, visitors from all over, people just living their everyday lives...just a different world than the one I live in every day. When I was younger, I dreamed of living in Toronto. I guess in the end I didn't have the guts to go that big and different, and preferred to stick closer to the suburban life I knew. It may not be as fancy, but it's still a good life. Anyway...

We drove to my parents' on Thursday night, then headed into Toronto on Friday morning. Jacob slept the whole way up, which was a relief since he woke up at 6:30 that morning...way early for him. It was a bright, sunny day...a little windy but in the 50s, which was so much better than it could be this time of year! Driving into the city was darn near majestic, and we were so excited to introduce Jacob to the Hall of Fame. Craig had to take care of a work thing before we parked and headed to grab lunch in the concourse near the Hall of Fame. Craig had Subway and Jacob had McDonald's, but I was excited to get something more interesting--a foccacia slice with chicken, mushrooms, zucchini and cheese from Marche's quick serve location (the real restaurant is upstairs). Yum!

Unfortunately, Jacob's nap didn't exorcize the crazies, and he was a handful for the whole day. He wouldn't listen, he'd run away, and as usual, he had his own agenda and it didn't match up with ours. He wouldn't smile for pictures and was ready to dart off at any given moment. I lost patience awfully fast. Still, it was a fun trip to go back to the Hall of the Fame for the first time in a long time.

Here are Craig and Jacob with the sculpture outside the hall. This was especially cool, because the "Z is for Zamboni" book we got Jacob has "Hall of Fame" for "H", and this sculpture is the picture they show.

Initially Jacob was super afraid of a number of bronze sculptures--a huge goalie outside the HOF store, and then two big ones just inside the gates. But once past those, Jacob ran around like a madman. He wasn't looking at anything in particular, but he was wielding his trusty hockey stick which we had to watch closely with all of the glass display cases. He really liked seeing a couple bubble hockey games they had, and loved the interactive area, which had a few simulators and a fake ice surface....
One of my favorite features of the HOF every time I've been there is the replica Montreal Canadiens' dressing room. I was a little disappointed to see that the area that used to be the training room had been turned into more displays, but the main room is still lovely. After lots of trying, this was the best picture we could get...
Here's Jacob with the giant goalie mask in the International area...
When we headed up to the Great Hall where the Stanley Cup is, Jacob was getting particularly difficult. Craig tried to get a picture of Jacob and him with the Cup, but Jacob was squirming all over the place and the guy that was there watching over the Cup was seriously concerned that Jacob was going to knock it over. Ugh. I spent a bunch of time in the Great Hall trying to get cool pictures of the many visual splendors of the room--shiny trophies, gorgeous lighting, and the most amazing stained glass dome. Craig was chasing after Jacob a lot. Right before we left I tried to get a picture of Jacob and me with the Cup, but once again, nothing but squirms...
I did manage to get a solo picture as well, to update the one I got when I was 15 or so. We headed up to the store after that, to seek out Jacob's long awaited hockey guys, the ones he uses for his hockey games. He was ready to shop...
In case you can't see, he's got an armload. We only allowed him to get two--one for now and a second for later, maybe when he's making strides with potty training. We had a lot of guys to search through, though...
While I was trying to take a picture of another cool statue in the store and Craig was distracted by a phone call, Jacob managed to topple over (on purpose) a two-foot high metal trash can full of soft knee hockey balls. Seriously? Geez.

Before we left, Jacob got up enough guts to get somewhat near one of the big sculptures, the one outside the store...
We wandered around a bit to kill time and try to find the newest Brady Brady book, but no such luck. Eventually we headed to the Air Canada Centre so Craig could set up for the game. We got kicked out of the hallway by the Knighthawks locker room (twice) by a security guy, because Jacob's incessant yelling (for various reasons) was filtering into the Toronto Maple Leafs press conference announcing a trade they made, which was being held in the adjacent press lounge. How emabrrassing. We did manage to get a good look at the arena from floor level, then headed up to the press box...


Jacob and I had to kill a lot of time from there while Craig did work, and shortly before game time we headed out to the concourse to get some dinner and watch the game. We left early, though, as I was exhausted and had a long drive back to North Tonawanda alone since Craig was going back with the team so he was able to get back into work first thing this morning. The drive back was as windy as I've ever experienced, but I managed to stay awake and Jacob slept the whole time, starting from before we even left the arena!

We were coming back this morning to welcome my oldest friend, Heather, for a weekend visit, but thanks to the sudden burst of snow across the state this morning, that didn't happen. So, it was just Jacob and me for the rest of the day today, another trying day. More on that later, but at least we have a day with Craig tomorrow. Can't wait!

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