The Summer of ’23
’twas a busy one, was the summer of ’23.
In case, you’re wondering, the apostrophe replaces the ’20’ in front of the ’23’, thus, ’23 means ‘2023’. Now, you’re wondering what’s all this then? Why this overuse of apostrophes? Why are you wasting my time?
Well, the truth is the summer of ’23, also known as the summer of 2023, was a tough one. Not difficult, but a lot of hard work went in to it. Lots of calories were expended and a few consumed, in this here summer of ’23.
Why am I repeating that phrase so often?
SEO and Yoast
SEO is Search Engine Optimization and Yoast is a service that helps one optimize for search engines. It offers an analysis of the text, and provides helpful guidelines to help search engines find your content and bring it up to the top of the search results in those search engines. (for the term ‘search engine’ substitute ‘google’.) Usually I get bitter complaints about my writing style and I have to ignore most of it’s suggestions…
Anyway, back to the summer.
The summer followed a winter and a spring that was equally busy. Not traveling, but planning for the traveling, kept us on our toes. Why you ask? What’s so difficult about going on a holiday?
Aha! You see, our holiday was expected to last 6 (six) weeks, covering 4 (four) states in the west of the USA, The Land of Perpetual Elections, host of The Longest Courtroom Soap Opera In The World.
This was longer than the Summer of ’22, which had lasted a mere 4 (four) weeks and covered two countries.
It required, we found out later when we did the post-trip analyses and licking of wounds, the counting of pennies and attempts at trying to remember where we ate what, so we could preserve the memories, that we spent 29 (twenty-nine) days living in hotels, across the four states. If you add on the 5 (five) days we spent living in hotels on the Part 1 road trip that merely covered the cities of Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa, that we spent a large portion of the summer in hotels.
We have a plan, always. The idea is not to stick like glue to the plan, but to have a sort of a roadmap, with sure knowledge of a safe bed at the end of each day. We start each day knowing the starting point, and a list of things we’d like to cover, with the expectation that the list of things to do is a sort of rough guideline, open to modifications or Mods as we go, so we can Rock the vacation and be Rockers. (Digression Alert: Google ‘Mods v Rockers’, while cursing my stream of consciousness writing style…)
Flexible! That’s the word! Flexible but Purposeful.
Like this blog, Legible but Purplefull!
The Plan for the Summer of ’23, was actually two plans. One for the House Guests who arrived in late June and stayed on till mid-August. And one for the US portion of the trip.
Part 1: Ontario and Quebec
This consisted of driving our guests around to show them the sights. We made trips in to Toronto to see Casa Loma, which we hadn’t ourselves been to, and the CN Tower, which is defacto standard for visitors to Toronto. Also included in this, was a cruise around the harbour, a trip to Steam Whistle Brewery and Rail Museum, lunch at a lovely Indian restaurant next to the St Lawrence Market, a Day at The Zoo, a day at the African Lion Safari, and a trip on the GO Train.
The last one, I can tell you, I do not miss, having spent more than 5 (five) years of my life watching the doors close in my face as I stood on the platform, panting from the run up and down the tunnel, or catching by the skin of my teeth.
We made 3 (three) trips to Niagara Falls, a city I lived in for two years, but had never been to the Butterfly Conservatory and the Aerocar. I’d also never had dinner up the Skylon Tower and watched the fireworks. Done!
Of course, we did the Maid of the Mist and the Journey behind the falls as well. And Niagara-on-the-Lake, which I always enjoy. I find nice and peaceful.
We took them on a road trip to 3 (three) cities.
- Montreal: We saw the harbour, paid outrageously for lunch at Place Jacques Cartier, drove up to Mont Royale (Mont Real – see?) for a walk to see the cityscape, and the Olympic Stadium which was apparently high on the list for one of the guests. Also the MontMorency Falls, remembered from a previous trip we had made.
- Quebec City: From the square overlooking the mouth of the river St Lawrence, we saw the harbour, walked around the city sauntering through the shops, watched people singing, dancing and had icecream that dripped all over and took the funicular.
- Ottawa: Where we saw the changing of the guard, something we hadn’t seen before, despite 5 (five) years of regular visits to the city, walked around near the government place of business, where J Trudeau rules.
Once we had seen them off on their way to India, we had three days before was time for Part 2.
Part 2: Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California
We arrived at the airport at the crack of dawn, aka 6:30am for our flight. We went hrough the gauntlet of security checks and US Border Control and Passport check, where the Border Guard wanted to know where we thought we were going. I said “Grand Canyon, Zion” and waved my hands in the air. He looked at me, stamped the passports and handed them to me with the words “Make sure you’re carrying hiking boots”. I showed him my feet, which were clad in hiking boots, and said “I’m wearing them”.
Now, this trick of wearing your hikers on the flight is a life hack. Remember you learned this here at SloWord!
Life Hack: Wear hikers on the flight and save space in your suitcases!
We arrived at the gate and were advised that the flight to Los Angeles, where we had a 2 (two) hour stopover before our flight to Las Vegas, was delayed due to aerodynamic issues with the plane and we would be delayed by 2 (two) hours and 30 (thirty) minutes! At this point I cursed, under my breath, and examined my head for the justification I had used to take a one-stopper to Las Vegas instead of the direct.
We hung around, in those chairs they keep at the airport to keep passengers awake and alert, then decided I should go get something to eat, because who knew when we’d get going. I walked in search for something not ruinously expensive, which is a mug’s game at any airport, but especially at Lester B Pearson Internation Airport, the world’s most expensive airport, but hey Terminal 1 is still “new”.
As I was paying for the croissants, my phone rang, then buzzed, then the text message alert came through. It was She Who wanting me urgently as they’d announced the flight!
At the gate, they made the “flight is full, so if any one wants to checkin their carryons, we’d be delighted, so delighted, in fact, that we’ll give you priority boarding.”
A quick and hurried discussion ensued between the planners and the decision was made to take up Air Canada’s offer. Two major reasons were cited.
- The stop over time was now down to around 30 minutes. Which means we had to jump off the plane and run for the United flight. Carry ons would slow us down.
- Priority boarding meant I could find a slot for our two backpacks and my sleep machine
We arrived at LAX. We pushed through the aisle saying ‘excuse me – I have a connection’, ran down to the United flight and soon we were off a very short and very bumpy flight over the desert to Las Vegas.
Off we went to the baggage carousel. Where we got our first setback. No bags. Not the big one and not the two smaller carryons which contained the finery we needed to attend the wedding in LA. Which wedding was the real reason for the trip, the anchor as it were.
We filed our claims, and took a taxi to the Palazzo, where a very large, two tiered room awaited us, in arctic conditons. We had dinner, took our clothes off and went to bed. In the nude. Um yeah, we waited until we were back in our room before taking our clothes off! Yes, thanks for asking!
Conclusion of Part 1 and Start of Plan 2
And that was the start of the Plan – Part 2.
The next day, we were supposed to pick up a car and drive to Springdale, UT, where we would spend 5 (five) days at Zion National Park.
We had hikers on. And the clothes we had travelled in. And the medications that keep me from sneezing at all and sundry, and the laptop.
And thus, the long summer wore on with nothing to wear.
We hiked in Zion, took photos in Bryce and hiked in the Grand Canyon, went back to Vegas to chill(!!), have mind-blowingly expensive cocktails, before running away 1 (one) day early to Simi Valley. After the wedding, we moved to Los Angeles and spent some time there, then took 3 nights to drive the 6 (six) hours up to San Jose where time was spent with family, friends and by ourselves, before the flight back to Toronto.
This one was a direct!!
If you want to know more about the hikes, the climbs, the drives and how we managed all this without clothes, you’ll have to ask. Use the comment section below!