The last couple of days have been ideal for my kind of vacation. As my grandma would say, I’ve been vegging.
Tuesday morning, I woke up with the idea that I would be on the road Wednesday… hah! I’ve been tempted to remain in Sunderland, Ontario since before I got here. I never get to see my mom’s side of the family over here, and Lord knows when I’ll be seeing them again. So why not stay? I am kicking it until Blue Rodeo tomorrow. Blue Rodeo is a Canadian band I grew to appreciate over the years as a radio DJ for Golden West Radio – Moose Jaw. Their debut album dates back to 1987, a solid time for Canadian artists. No lie.
My Aunt Andi’s “favourite” song by them is this one.
Aside from the fact that I get to enjoy some long overdue live music tomorrow night, I might get to put my Music Maker Productions experience to use! Apparently, there are volunteer positions available… and since I know how to do it all, thanks to one hell of a four-year opportunity at Mississippi State, I figured I’d throw it out there that I can help. Yay! Not even graduated for a whole month and already, my college experiences are coming into play again. Anyways, while I was pretending that I would be leaving Wednesday morning, I happened to map out the rest of my trip. Words cannot explain my excitement… I will be visiting the home of Winnie-the-Pooh. It’s somewhat of a long story, but that is where it ALL started – White River, Ontario.
I pretended I was going to be leaving Wednesday morning until about 11 PM on Tuesday night. Uncle Brady made an awesome dinner for us. He made a mushroom and leak pasta (picked me up rice noodles and a gluten-free baguette, the wonderful man) and we had salad too. Ugh, it was beyond delicious. Plus, when you know it’s made with love, the flavors have a twist on them like no other. Shae-Lyn, my cousin who is now unbelievably 17 years old, and I went to Lindsay, Ontario that night. She had to pick up something for a school project and I wanted to see this Lindsay place everyone was talking about. They had a Starbucks! And Target… so I was happy. While we were at the mall, I picked up some maple flavored tea (Oh, Canada!) and a few other knick-knacks. It was when we got home that I decided to stay here for a few more days. Shae and I woke up and headed for an adventure – The ROM!
The Royal Ontario Museum is a wonderful place. It felt really good to nerd out with a fellow nerd. Shae and I drove to Whitby, Ontario where we got Starbucks (yep… twice within like an 18 hour window) and hopped onto the Go Train. It took us directly to Union Station in Downtown Toronto. I’ve been on quite a few public transit systems (Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C.) and I must say, this was indubitably the nicest and cleanest. From there, we walked to the subway station which smelled of Tim Horton’s coffee and Cinnabon. The subway took us straight to the museum.
I was pretty excited because I got to flash my Mississippi State student I.D. card and take advantage of a student discount. Shae and I grabbed some food before hitting up the exhibits. We started off with Egyptian and Roman civilization. The Egyptians baffle me every damn time. How did they pull off all of the things that they did? And the Romans… well they really liked their statues. At one point, Shae-Lyn and I entered a room, captivated by one specific object. We looked up at the same time and realized we were absolutely surrounded by genitalia carved out of marble or whatever. It might have been a “you had to be there” moment, but it was hilarious.
From that floor, we moved onto the “Birds”, “Mammals”, “Hands-on Biodiversity”, and “Biodiversity: Life in Crisis” exhibits. The birds made me so happy. If you don’t know, I am a bird nerd. The binoculars in my passenger seat can attest to this. I liked seeing birds in the exhibit that I have and have not spotted out in nature. The coolest thing there was the albatross. Officially on my birding list. I HAVE to see one of those in real life. Damn.
There were bats, tigers, bears, bugs, fish, turtles, wolves, moose, bees and more to look at. Seriously! They weren’t kidding with the whole “biodiversity” thing.
I think my favorite part about this floor was the “Hands-on Biodiversity”. Shae and I had fun pretending to be bee-keepers and inspecting the skeletal system of a frog. Yep, we’re just that nerdy. Shae-Lynn also tried out a pair of waders.
I also really liked this exhibit because it was full of specimen from Ontario specifically. I have a heavy interest in regional ecology wherever I am, and I got to see fish, bird, tree, reptile, and amphibian species from this area. It was really cool. There were so many pressed leaves! It felt good to tug on my Dendrology knowledge a little bit. From there, we moseyed over to the dinosaur displays. The dinosaurs are always incredible. Honestly, I could go to school for a lot of things and be happy, but Paleontology seems especially interesting. Of course, I thought of my baby sister (Okay, she’s 18… but still) the whole time. She LOVES dinosaurs. I loved this section mostly because the fossils they had came from Alberta. There is a huge fossil presence in Alberta and the Dinosaur Provincial Park even gives people the opportunity to go on guided excavations. “Oh hey, remember that time I found a dinosaur fossil?” Yes, please! That’s freaking COOL. They also had the history of flight in birds. Birds are glorified reptiles, let’s face it. Archaeopteryx was this creature that developed from the terrestrial dinosaur and was the ancestral being to all birds we know today. People have different depictions of what this creature looked like, and The ROM had a display of one idea, alongside a couple of fossils of Archaeopteryx.
Last but not least, I will share with you the most exciting thing I saw at the ROM.
AN IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER.
Yes, it nearly brought me to tears.
In a brief synopsis, this bird is critically endangered, but most say extinct. Or that’s what we’re told. There are few taxidermied specimen of this amazing bird, and I never thought I’d get to see one. They’re incredibly allusive and typically, those who say they’ve seen an ivory-billed are laughed at by ornithologists and called “crazy”. My Amazon Wish List has a few books about the ivory-billed in it if you feel like reading more about the amazing thing.
We spent a solid 30 minutes in the massive gift shop, where I purchased a good amount of post cards and a really pretty rock I will try to incorporate in the next dreamcatcher I (attempt to) make.
Shae-Lyn is the best, and here’s why – I have been talking nonstop about fish tacos since I got here. It’s safe to say that I miss Casa Bravo. Well this girl looked up the best fish tacos in Toronto and found a place right up the road from The ROM. We went, and sure enough! They had local pickerel and handmade corn tortilla tacos. Thank the Lord because I was seriously about to order all of the ingredients for fish tacos online somewhere. Authentic corn tortillas are apparently hard to find here. Sad.
I had a margarita (okay… two), and it was delicious. They used a blanco Canadian-branded tequila called “Tromba” and it was so unexpectedly perfect. I missed my Espolón though, I won’t lie.
From there, Shae-Lyn and I hopped the subway back to Union Station. She gave into her Cinnabon craving and I grabbed a Jugo Juice. We passed back through Whitby after a nice little Go Train ride from the Downtown area and may or may not have stopped at Starbucks again. We got home and I visited with the fam jam for a bit, walked the dog with my cousin Blaine, and started a new dreamcatcher. I was re-inspired by the Aboriginal exhibit at The ROM.
My night cap was a splendid FaceTime sesh with my love, Jessica. We parted ways on my birthday and haven’t gotten to talk much since. That was the best “goodnight”. Love you, baby.
I am excited for the days to come when I depart from Sunderland, Ontario. But for right now, I am really enjoying drinking my maple tea and talking with my Aunt Andi while she works from home.