Good news, everyone: I’m back!
Oh – you didn’t notice I was gone? Sheesh.
The happy fact is, I spent the latter half of last week touring Ottawa, Ontario. My friend and fellow conventioneer drove, but the 14-hour ride (both ways) was grueling on me – I wasn’t allowed to sleep at all, lest we both end up snoozing with no one steering the RAV.
After a stop at Indian Echo Caverns in Pennsylvania and a time-out for geocaching in both Pennsylvania and New York, we finally arrived in Ottawa on Thursday morning. We picked up Janet’s dad, as he had arrived earlier in the week with her mom, and headed for the RCMP stables. Sadly, for me, the Mounties were in Saskatchewan performing a Musical Ride demonstration, so I didn’t marry any of them as originally planned. Also, most of the RCMP Musical Ride officers are chicks, so…yeah…that ain’t happenin’ either.
Even though Janet, her mom, and I were in town for a convention, I squeezed in more touring than should be humanly possible. Ottawa is an extremely walkable town and, it’s safe to say, I did some extreme walking. For instance, I walked to Quebec and back. Twice.
I cannot say enough good things about Ottawa. Once you get past the fact that everyone smokes and they have Canadian-style winters, there’s plenty to love: the city is clean and safe; walking and bicycling are encouraged; Ottawans are friendly and enjoy chatting up tourists; there are enough cultural activities and historic sites to keep a person busy for ages; and it’s just plain beautiful. The Parliament buildings alone are a knockout. Think “castle in the city.”
I’ve uploaded a few photos to my business blog, and you are more than welcome to head over there to view highlights from my trip. During my stay, I took the Haunted Ottawa tour, the Ottawa River boat tour, and the Parliament buildings tour and got some great photos along the way. Thanks to Doors Open Ottawa, I got an inside look at the Mayor’s office, as well as the inner corridors and meeting rooms of City Hall.
More highlights: I saw several brides and bridal party photo shoots – Saturday was the day to get hitched! The lawn at Parliament was hopping with Syrian demonstrators waving flags and calling for peace in a distinctly Western manner; Libyans rallying for the ouster of Gaddhafi; and Chinese representatives quietly reminding people about ongoing atrocities in their home country. After all that fuss, I located a Chapters bookstore and went to town picking out books for myself and others. Then I rewarded myself with a journey over the bridge between Ontario and Quebec. Once in Gatineau, I relaxed in a waterside park before heading to the Museum of Civilization. There, an IMAX movie transported me to the shores of Tahiti, though I never left Canada.
After a brief stop at an observation tower in the Thousand Islands area (and, yes, that is where the salad dressing came from), Janet and I made the loooong journey home, arriving safe and sound Sunday night. The trip to Ottawa marked my fourth journey to Canada – including Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal – and one thing hasn’t changed over the years: I will always want to go back up there. Just not during winter.