Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reviving the Comfort of Home

Well, we are back. Having spent 4 days in Ottawa for some family downtime and battery charging. Travelling with the kids is always fun. We spent 6 hours discussing the merits of personal space, debating the musical virtue of Lady Gaga vs. Aerosmith and ironing out hotel sleeping assignments.

All in all we did a pretty great job of travelling to Ottawa. We managed to leave our driveway 90 minutes behind schedule which in actual fact was only 45 minutes behind the family adjusted departure time Mike calculates and holds secretly in mind until we are on the road. One stop for gas, a run into the grocery store, a stop at the bank. 2 washroom breaks and a detour to follow a truck off the highway to an apple pie factory that boasts "home of the BIG APPLE" (it was very big and the pies were very big and the candy apples were apparently very delicious.) 1 stop for coffee, sandwiches and a winning scratch ticket. We arrived right on time!
Parliment Hill

The weather in Ottawa was unusually warm for February which put a bit of a chink in our plan to enjoy Winterlude and skate on the Rideau Canal. (activities which were the logic behind choosing Ottawa for a midwinter escape.)

Fortunately The Delta was a good choice of hotel despite the scary aspect of picking up our room on Expidia for less than half price. I secretly had visions of a bedbug infested 4 star that couldn't fill it's suites since word got out but it was actually very nice, clean and attentive. I had a moment of horror on Sunday morning when Lula woke up covered in an itchy rash. I was greatly relived once we realized that it was an allergic reaction to an over chlorinated pool not my worst hotel fear come to life.

We really did get lucky with the hotel. It was central to the world. We parked our van in underground on Friday evening and left it there. We were within a 10 minute walk to everywhere.

Michael & E-man take on the ice slide
While we waited for the canal to freeze we toured the Parliment Buildings, The Byward Market, The Mint, The National Gallery, Confederation Park, Gatineau Quebec, Jacques Cartier Park and The War Memorial. We ate Beaver Tails and drank hot cocoa, E-man drank Root beer in the pub from a brown bottle and KJ salivated over the best burger in the world. We talked about the Confederation Flame, protesters, freedom and security, national pride, civic responsibility as well as the usual talk of bodily functions, personal space, idiosyncrasies, and peeves. A note to my Dad and Sister...We ate poutine from a shack in Quebec made by a little french lady... yes it was great and yes I concede defeat.

Lula, Michael, KJ & E-man were at Winterlude...me too, I'm just always on the other side of the lens.
The temperatures took a dip while we were busy and by Sunday a portion of the canal had been re-opened for skating. Mike, E-man and KJ speed skated the entire 4.5 open kilometers while Lula and I leisurely traversed half the distance. The ice may have been open but it wasn't easily skateable. Lula opted for boots and pointed out rough patches for me to avoid. We missed the steel drum party awaiting the rest of our skating party and others who made it to the end of the route but we enjoyed some long overdue conversation.

Monday was a travel day. We packed our bags. I always wonder why we have less room in the van on the way home from somewhere.  Do miniature shampoos, soaps, body lotions and hotel pens take up that much room? Travel coffee in hand we departed 30 minutes behind schedule (according to Michael's adjusted departure estimate) A quick drive past the Priminister's address and a stop at the ByTown market for a departing BT (beaver tail as nicknamed by E-man) We successfully navigated our way through the maze of downtown one way streets back out to the highway and towards home.

One stop for gas, a washroom break and a winning scratch ticket. Two more washroom breaks, lunch and a detour for ice cream from the Colburg Dairy which happened to be closed but fortunately close to Dairy Queen. We spent 6 hours talking about reality and future adventures. We refrained from the music debate in favour of making up our own lyrics to popular songs. We discussed the merits of personal space. We arrived home right on schedule.

Back to normal
We unloaded suitcases to the laundry room for washing and within minutes resumed ordinary life. Tuned in, logged on, plugged in and dealing with illness. In the span of a car ride E-than developed a fever, sore throat and stuffed up nose.

Getaways are fantastic for changing the pace and the scenery. They provide great memories to relive over Beaver Tails made at home and allow us to catch up with the growth of the individuals in our family. Getaways provide alot to be grateful for. Perhaps the greatest gratitude is heard in the comfortable collective sigh as we pull into the driveway of home.