Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Busy Month, Part 2: Toronto

Toronto's CN Tower, No. 2 in our tour of North America's
Space Needles

Shortly after our return from Seattle, we packed up and headed to the airport again, this time for a trip to Toronto. This was the first time either of us had actually been to Canada. Unfortunately I had convention duties at the Toronto Comicon a few hours after we checked into the hotel, so the photos above and below showing some of the unusual architecture around the hotel document pretty much all of what I saw of Toronto and Canada this trip. I won't complain, however, because the convention was another nicely run and very successful affair and everyone I met--both fans and organizers--treated Xan and myself very well! Since I spent the entire weekend hunched over a clipboard sketching again(except for a wonderful dinner Saturday night), I'll turn this blog over to Xan, who actually got out and saw some of the city/countryside thanks to friends Sara and Henning.

Hey all, Xan here, finally writing about our Toronto trip! As Chris mentioned, this was the first trip to Canada for both of us. Which is pretty shameful for me, considering I live and grew up in Ohio. Anyway, for leaving the country, it was pretty painless. The Columbus Internation Airport can pretty much call itself "International" only because AirCanada flies out of it, so our flight was mercifully a straight shot with no connections. The down side to that was that both going into and coming home from Canada, we were on a prop plane. I had never been on such a small plane before. There were so few people that our one flight attendant just took drink orders and walked a few feet back to the drink station to prepare them as a drink cart was a bit pointless on such a small aircraft. And my opinion of prop planes? Loud. Not just white noise loud like a jet can be, but loud and you vibrate. It was very Indiana Jones. I kept picturing a little red line tracing our path from Columbus to Toronro.

The organizers of the Toronto Comicon were nice enough to provide us limo service from the airport to the hotel, so getting to the hotel was even less painless than getting into Canada. They gave us travel vouchers, and when we showed ours to the limo driver he said "Everything's cool" and took our bags and got us on our way. And I have to say we could not have had a more stereotypical welcome into the country. Not only did we drive by a Molson bottling plant, but we swear, the air smelled of bacon once we got off the plan. We just looked at each other and said "Canada really does have the bacony stink of Canada!" (see "The Final Sacrifice" episode of MST3K for more information on the bacony stink of Canada)

Our hotel was right by pretty much every touristy thing in downtown Toronto. It was within walking distance of the convention center, right below the CN Tower and had rooms overlooking the stadium where the Toronto Blue Jays play. So there was plenty of food and souvenir shopping. I'm still working on my box of maple fudge! The gift shop of the CN Tower was as far as we got. No way in hell were we going up in that thing. No way in hell, I don't care if it is the world's tallest structure. That means it is high up. No way.

After a quick lunch and unpacking session, I called my friend Henning who I learned conveniently works in downtown Toronto and could come pick me up. So Chris went to the con (where he says he was swamped from the second he got to his table! I am so proud of him!) and I went with Henning to Markham, a suburb about 30-40 minutes outside of Toronto depending on traffic. He lives there with his wife, who is my friend Sara that I met in the 1st grade. Her blog is One Blue Tree that you can check out by clicking our link. She has photos of what it is like up in the CN Tower, if you are curious.

At the time I went to their house in Markham, Sara was pregnant with who we now know as her daughter Vala. We hoped she would arrive while I was there, that way I could stay home with their 2 year old son Gavin (who I love) and their dog Bonnie. But alas, Vala waited another 2 weeks before she arrived, so I spent Friday night hanging out with Sara, Gavin and Henning, and Sara's very active pregant belly. They took me to this fantastic restaraunt called Firefly, which was this odd Chinese Russian fusion that was amazingly tasty. More Chinese than Russian, but all the dinners came with an order of borscht, and beef stroganof was on the menu. We then went back to their lovely townhouse filled with even lovlier furniture and inspired by our restaraunt, we watched Serenity outtakes and geeked out until we fell asleep. The usual for me and Sara.

The next day, Sara and Henning piled Gavin and Bonnie into the car to drive me back to the hotel. They took me the long way so I could see some of the countryside. That part of Canada is very similar to the American midwest. Very urban, but if you drive a bit and pass the suburbs, you are way out into the country.

They dropped me at the hotel, and I went up to the room to shower and get ready for the convention. I got dressed, watched a little bit of King Kong, then made my way to the convention to meet up with Chris. The convention was small (I started calling it the appetizer convention since Toronto holds the 3rd largest comicon in North America in August) but was quite fun. I of course spent my day shopping while Chris was pretty much at his table the whole time. This being his first time in Canada, it was a whole new group of fans for him, all of whom were great. After the con on Saturday, the organizers took a bunch of us out for Italian, and I am kicking myself because I forget the name of the place. We ate, drank, hung out with other comic creators (I finally got to talk to Kevin Nowlan for more than 3 seconds) and had a generally good time. Needless to say, we were pretty bushed when we got back to the hotel.

Sunday was more convention, but we had to leave a few hours early to make our flight home. But it was still fun as all get out and we were so glad we were able to go. Thanks again Amat for inviting us, and thank you Tiz for putting a word in for Chris. We owe you guys-you are the best.

The trip home was again loud but uneventful, which is my favorite kind of air travel. My mom and dad picked us up from the airport, and Mom had food waiting for us, which was so great as we were so tired. And, since I pretty much had the rest of the week off for my birthday, I could just veg all Sunday night and Monday because Mom had bought meatloaf and pizza. So Sunday night we spent reading all the comics and books we bought, eating meatloaf and watching The Simpsons. Really, the perfect way to wind down from a convention, and the perfect way to start a week of birthday decadence!


Our hotel(at right) with a sculpture celebrating
25 years of baseball in Toronto in the foreground

Giant woodpeckers threaten the convention
center(left) and Xan(center)

Young Gavin does his best Count Dracula impression

Sara and Gavin await the arrival of baby #2;
note bunny suit at left

1 comment:

Neil Hill said...

Sounds like an absolutely awesome time! I've only been to Canada once, but unfortunately it wasn't for a comic convention. One of these days I need to get back up there for one of those shows.

I'm also glad to hear that people at the show were checking at Chris' table and giving him lots of "driveby" business. Chris is shamefully not as recognized for the artistic genius he is, but the more the word spreads and the more new fans discover his stuff at shows the better!