DISCLAIMER: All of the pictures I took on this trip are currently being stored in little plastic rolls until they get made into real, paper pictures. Full credit for all of the pictures appearing in this post must be given to Rachel, who, unlike me, has a functional digital camera and does not appear in any of these pictures, since she was hiding behind the viewfinder the whole time.
Monday, 8:45 am
I answered the door in my towel because Rachel was ready to go, but I was not. I quickly got dressed and we folded the load of laundry that I had decided to wash on Sunday night. I finished packing and we hit the road at about 9:15.
After an extremely beautiful drive through Pennsylvania, New York, and a bit of Ontario, we arrived at my mom's house in Ottawa. She wasn't expecting us until 6:00, so dinner was not quite ready yet. We decided to stretch our legs and took a walk around the storm pond.
We drove over to the experimental farms to see what sort of beautiful flowers they had at the ornamental gardens. The answer was: very few. It was a really nice evening to walk around, though, and we did photograph a few interesting plants.
We went home, and I called four friends that I was hoping to see while I was in Ottawa, and left messages for each of them, because apparently, no one is home on Monday nights. We played a game of Quiddler with my mom, then headed to bed.
Tuesday, 9:00 am
While eating breakfast, we received a phone call from Jenn and Rob. It turned out that we were all planning on taking walks in tulip-infested areas that morning, so we made plans to meet them at the church and walk together to Dow's Lake and Commissioner's Park, which has the highest concentration of tulips in Ottawa.
Interesting fact: Ottawa has the largest tulip festival in the world. During WWII, the Dutch royal family were harbouring in Ottawa when it came time for the Princess to be born. Canada temporarily gave the hospital room to Holland so that the Princess would be born on Dutch soil. Out of gratitude for this, and for liberating them during WWII, Holland sends Canada a bunch of tulip bulbs every year. There is something like a million tulips at the tulip festival in Ottawa.
We took lots of pictures of tulips. Here is a picture of Jenn and I taking pictures of tulips. Jenn's belly is attacking me, because she is 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant.
Jenn and Rob suggested that we go back to their place for home-made BBQ chicken and sundried tomato pizza, which sounded much more appetizing than the cold-cut sandwiches that were sweltering in our car, so we did just that. We spent a really nice afternoon chatting with them about their life in India and pregnancy and why I dropped out of seminary. It was really nice catching up.
Rachel and I decided to make the most of a road trip without husbands and do something that generally bores them: shop for second-hand clothes. I wanted to get a few new tank tops for the summer, because I have mostly outgrown my "tight little spaghetti strap tops" phase and need more of the "practical, wide straps that fit over my bra straps" variety of tank top. I found four wide-strap tops that I loved for $2 each, plus two really comfortable built-in bra tops for $6 each and a Tim Horton's little league shirt for $2. A wonderfully successful trip. Although I was disappointed when $100 US, which used to buy me $150 Cdn, only bought $108. Poop on that.
Rachel and I chopped up veggies for a stir fry. I burned the onions, though, because I got a phone call at the exact same time that I remembered that I had forgotten to cut up the chicken for the stir fry, and while I might be okay at multi-tasking two things, I generally fail at one when I try three. The phone call, however, was successful, as we were able to make plans to go over to Geoff and Marg's after dinner for dessert. My mom even made us a tasty rhubarb cobbler to take with us so we wouldn't have to stop and buy dessert.
We met Geoff and Marg outside as they are returning from their walk with the girls. We had a really lovely evening visiting with them and holding their babies. Geoff and Marg have twin girls who are five months old. I had my camera with me, but I didn't have my flash, and I forgot to tell Rachel to take pictures of them with her digital. So you'll have to use your imagination. Just picture the most adorable little five-month-old you have ever seen, and the proudest, most glowing parent, then times them both by two.
Wednesday, 9:30 am
We received a phone call from Katie, asking us what our plans were for the day. We decided to meet up at the War Memorial and walk down to Parliament Hill. It was another incredibly beautiful day, and I actually broke out one of my new tank tops and a pair of shorts. Ironically, I think I have returned from my trip to Canada with a tan. Take that, Hawaii.
We met up with Katie, who is about 7 1/2 months pregnant, and another friend, Peter, and spent a beautiful day walking around downtown Ottawa. Our tour of Parliament was a bit of a flop, as it included a Library that we couldn't enter due to renovations, a House of Commons that we couldn't enter due to a high-publicity budget vote, and a Senate that we couldn't enter due to afternoon nap time. We did get to go up to the top of the Peace Tower, and Rachel took some fantastic pictures from up there. This one is my favourite, because you can see the shiny, new roof to the Library and the Museum of Civilization across the river in Quebec.
After the "tour" of Parliament, we headed to the market. On the way, we visited the statues of the feminists from the famous "Persons" case, which established that the constitution does, indeed, include women in the seemingly gender-inclusive term, "persons".
We also wandered quite a bit in the market, where I bought a replacement for my canvas purse that the strap fell off of, and we acquired many maple products. Then, we went back to Katie's house to rest and rehydrate before walking, again, amongst beautiful tulips along the canal. Peter loaned me his macro lens for a little while, so I had a lot of fun trying to get close-ups of lilacs and apple blossoms.
You wish you lived in a city where scenes like this are only minutes from downtown:
We picked my brother up from work and headed back to my mom's house for dinner. (My sister-in-law met us there.) We had bought some fiddleheads in the market, because Rachel had never tried them before, so we delayed dinner a little bit by making everyone wait for us to cook them. It took a long time, but they were worth it. So yummy.
After dinner, we played a game of Hoopla, then drove Trish and Benjie home.
It was lovely to see Katie, but I felt a little bit bad that I had missed out on seeing her husband Mike, who unfortunately had to be at work during our tour of not much of Parliament and a fair bit of the market. But, Katie had told us that he would be playing at Open Mike night at Rasputin's that evening, which is only a few minutes away from my brother's house, so we swung by to see if we could catch him there. Sadly, he had already left before we got there, but we did enjoy a few songs before heading back home to bed. I mean, before heading back home to watch the episode of Lost that we had recorded earlier before trying to go to bed but staying up like kids at a slumber party talking non-stop about Lost instead of falling asleep.
Thursday, 10:00 am
We decided to take Thursday easy, because we had been keeping so busy up until then. A friend who lives a little ways outside of the city had been keeping three bikes of mine that really probably aren't worth saving but could at least work with a little fixing up. We had borrowed a bike rack from Jer's aunt, but decided that we should probably get a bike lock, too, so that no one would steal the broken-down-crappy bikes. I finally decided that the $16 lock was enough better than the $8 lock to be worth the extra money, only to discover at the cash register that it was actually on sale for $8. So that was cool. We got the bikes, then headed back into town to do more of that shopping that our husbands don't like to tag along for: buying Cadbury's candy bars at Giant Tiger and all sorts of random, boring-to-husbands things at the Bulk Barn.
We met my mom at the church so that we could take her out for Indian food as a Birthday/Mother's Day gift. We got to the restaurant 30 minutes before it would open for dinner, but fortunately, it is in a neighbourhood full of neat, little shops that occupied our time with no trouble whatsoever. Dinner was wonderful, although the beef curry was a bit too spicy for my mom (it was on the outer edge of okay for me, even), but the nice waiter got them to make gulab jamun for us without rose water, so that alone gives the dinner a thumbs-up. Call me crazy, but I just don't like my food to taste like perfume. But man, do I love those little syrupy balls otherwise.
We decided that it was getting too late to go to the Art Gallery, so we were going to just go home. But my mum was appalled to discover that I had not taken Rachel to see the Prime Minister's residence or Rideau Hall (the Governor General's residence). So we did a bit of a driving tour of Ottawa. We stopped at Rideau falls, and were disappointed to be prevented from getting anywhere near them by 100,000 metres of construction-grade chainlink. But, after giving up and starting for home, we discovered that there were no fences on the opposite side of the locks, so we were able to see the falls after all.
Here is a picture of me and my mum in front of the French embassy:
We met up with Elf and Anna, two friends from my Bible Study from last year, at Second Cup. We chatted for a while, then headed home to try and get some sleep before our long drive the next day. We went home and looked at some of my mom's pictures of Australia until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, then went to bed.
Friday, 7:45 am
The alarm went off.
I actually got up and started getting ready to go. We packed up all our stuff and loaded it in the back seat of the car, since we couldn't really get into the trunk under all those bikes. I foolishly placed my bag of chocolate bars on the floor of the back seat, next to the center hump that gets nice and hot when the engine gets warm. They are currently re-congealing in the fridge - I hope at least a few of them are still okay :(
Before we left, Rhonda, a friend of my mom's, arrived to whisk her away for a surprise weekend. I hope I have friends like Rhonda when I'm my mom's age. They have such a great time together.
We left Ottawa in the pouring rain, the first bad weather we had encountered since we had arrived. It cleared up around Syracuse, but it slowed us down a bit for the first leg of the journey. The astute border guard counted three bikes and only two passengers, but he he didn't seem too concerned once I told him that one belonged to my husband. We really had no trouble at the border either way, which was a blessing. We arrived home at 6:00 on the nose, and were greeted by the smell of hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob cooking for dinner. And now, I really should get to bed, because I need to be at the store in less than eight hours for work. Whee.