I had a trip to Ottawa planned that ended the Friday before Mom's birthday, so I decided that I would try and surprise her with a visit on my way home to Vancouver. At first, this was a simple task, until I found out that they weren't going to be home on the Saturday, but that they were planning a trip to Toronto for the day. So that complicated things.
Saturday was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by the Canadian Armed Forces in World War II. The Netherlands have always been very appreciative of the efforts that Canada made in the World Wars, and this is a continuation of that recognition. There was a parade and event planned in Nathan Phillips Square, and Mom and Dad wanted to participate.
So that kind of messed up my plans. I couldn't really surprise them at home on the Friday night, so i thought I'd try and surprise them in the city on Saturday. To facilitate this little ruse, Lisa provided some support, but we kept everyone else in the dark.
The side benefit of this new and revised plan was that I now had a night in Toronto, and so I decided to stay downtown, close to where I used to live when I was going to school at Ryerson. It had been quite a number of years since I'd been downtown and I was eager to see what had changed.
I got downtown late afternoon/early evening, and got checked into my hotel. I was staying near Yonge and College, close to ryerson. I had lived a couple of blocks away for most of my University life, so it was a bit like coming home. I was pretty beat after a long week, but I wanted to explore. I went out and down to the Ryerson campus, passing the newest edition - Maple Leaf Gardens! It's now part of the Ryerson athletics facilities. What the... As I discovered, there have been a huge number of very cool changes to the campus. Where was all of this when I was going there?!?!
I continued down through the campus, and down onto Yonge Street. Wow, everything is new! New massive skyscrapers, cool new building on the Ryerson campus, plus some old favourites were gone. I wandered for a while, found a spot for some dinner, and generally enjoyed my evening.
I was up pretty early on Saturday. I had to track down Mom and Dad around 10:30 a.m., and I needed to get a run in. After the run, breakfast and a shower, it was back out to enjoy the beautiful day, and find the parents. I wandered back through the Ryerson campus to get some pics of the cool changes I had seen the night before.
Around the time that Mom and Dad were due to arrive downtown (thanks to my mole...), I called Dad on his cell to wish Mom "Happy Birthday". I found out that they were on Queen Street West, and coincidentally, I was on Queen Street as well. I kept talking with them until i could see them, then hung up on Mom. She was very confused - until she saw me. It was all pretty funny.
The day was starting with a parade up Yonge Street, and so we found a good spot to watch that would leave us a short walk back to Nathan Phillips Square to enjoy the rest of the festivities. The parade was pretty fun - lots of old vehicles, and how often do you get to see a tank run up Yonge Street? We watched the parade, then headed across to City Hall.
There was a big party going on in Nathan Phillips Square, with some booths set-up, lots of Dutch treats and lots to see.
We stayed for a while, then headed back to Yonge Street where we found a spot for lunch. The I got my car from the hotel, and drove them to the subway where they had left their car. Then it was home to surprise Shawn, Leanne and the kids.
I spent the rest of the weekend catching up with everyone. It's really nice when I get to spend some time with everyone, especially when it's a surprise.