Jenn Jam-Packed Weekend – Friday

Our friend Jennifer Norcross decided to fly to Toronto from Connecticut via Boston, but just for a weekend to spend time with us. How special is that? After getting a good airfare deal, she was able to score a hotel room using her Marriott points. As luck would have it, the hotel was one Legislative Assembly of Torontoblock behind the apartment building we are living in. We just needed to walk down an alley and we were at the Marriott front door.

By 2:30 pm on Friday, she was e-mailing me that she arrived, was in her room, and ready to hit the road. Thanks to Ron’s excellent planning, we had an hour-by-hour schedule for her time here. We had sent her a list of things we wanted to see and do so when she picked out what she was interested in, Ron went to work.

I have to say that Ron has been a super planner for many friends and relatives who have visited Budapest, but generally, all of his hard work falls by the wayside when others deviate far from his agenda. Jennifer was a trooper, following the schedule without a wayward complaining peep, but instead she oohed with plenty of positive reinforcement sounds along the way. It was truly gratifying.

Our agenda started with a lovely scenic walk to the Legislative Assembly of Toronto, admiring the many high rises along the way. Directly across from the building is a small park where we watched black squirrels hunting, playing and eating. Jennifer was as amazed as I was with my first sighting. Neither of us had ever seen black squirrels before.

There are free tours of the Legislative Assembly building every half hour on the half hour. We arrived just moments before the 4:30pm tour was to begin. Jennifer was the one who instigated Legislative Assembly of Torontoour touring the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines. She scored an A+ on that suggestion, so when we found this tour, we knew we would have to do it when she arrived.

Our tour guide was a delightful young man who is a student at the University of Toronto. One man on our tour had numerous questions, though thoughtful and pertinent, they were time-consuming. Our guide dealt with them most diplomatically.

Leaving the Legislative Building we walked back to show Jennifer the Firefighter’s Monument at Queen’s Park. We later learned that at the base of the monolithic stature representing a building, there is a red Maltese Cross, which is an international symbol for firefighting. I never knew this. There is a life-sized statue of a firefighter saving a young child. There are four granite walls displaying the names and death dates of fallen firefighters over the decades. Some date back to the early 1900s. We are unable to figure out the order; they are not in alphabetical order (impossible to maintain) or chronological.

RootsThe next stop was the Easton Center a huge mall with the largest Roots store. Jennifer wanted to do some holiday shopping.

By the time we finished, we could not decide on a restaurant for dinner, so we stopped for groceries and went back to our place for a quick and easy spaghetti dinner. After eating and drinking through the evening, we walked Jennifer back to her hotel with plans for our next morning all set up.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.