southern ontario mini-vacation

Friends, baseball (most of it on the winning end), driving, dogs, a waterfront park and a long walk in the woods. Plus decent weather. What more can you ask for from a four-day holiday? We really had a lot of fun.

We spent a lot of time with Gito and Mrtew of Wondrous Canadian Renewal. We've known each other online for years, but this was the first time we met in person. The guys re-arranged their work schedules to hang out with us, and were the most amazing hosts. Seriously, I felt like I was at a bed-and-breakfast, Casa de Gito. We took walks, ate enormous amounts of sushi and other lovely meals that Gito cooked, watched "Corner Gas", went to Point Pelee, endlessly admired their house, and fell in love with Fang and Trouble, their two American Eskimo dogs.

This was also the first time we had heard the whole story of how Gito and Mrtew came to be a newly Canadian, married couple. I knew they had worked hard to be together, thanks to the idiotic, discriminatory US immigration laws. But I never knew just how bad it was, and what they went through. I know it's a story that many same-sex couples relate to, such as our friends Tom and Emilio. Thank goodness for Canada. (And yet another reason we have to make sure Canada stays Canada.)

Gito and Mrtew live in a beautiful neighbourhood in Windsor, much like our old neighbourhood of Port Credit, but without the the tear-downs and the constant construction of McMansions, at least not yet. The area is full of big, mature trees and lovely old 1950s homes, and is very near the river, the way Port Credit is on the lake.

windsor detroit may 08 067

The nicest thing about Windsor was the magnificent riverfront park. It runs for miles, with walking and bike paths, beautiful landscaping and a large sculpture garden. People fish off the railing; apparently on weekends the path is packed with fisherpeople. You can see the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline, which is impressive and beautiful.

windsor ontario riverfront park

windsor ontario riverfront park

We drove through some old neighbourhoods with gorgeous old homes, laughed at the ugly new faux estates, and saw the downtown.

The best part of Windsor was actually our friends' home. They are designers and photographers, and their home looks like something out of an interior design magazine. I often look at 1960s and 70s retro furniture and wonder how people make it work in real life. Now I know.

Their house is filled with crazy rotary phones, model cars (and trucks, airplanes, starships, construction equipment...), and retro technology like calculators and electric razors displayed the way we less imaginative folks put pottery or glassware on a shelf. It's playful and fun and amazing.

It's also a warm home filled with the love of two adorable dogs, two birds, a tankful of tropical fish and two very happy people.

* * * *

We saw three games in Detroit's Comerica Park. Although I wish the Tigers still played in beautiful, historic Tiger Stadium, Comerica is a lovely, downtown ballpark, beautifully done.

comerica park detroit michigan

In my travels, I've learned that every trip has a regret: something you dreamed of seeing that is closed for renovation, or the ferry has stopped running for the winter, or you realize it's a three-day journey and you only have one day left. Even short road baseball road trips have a regret.

For the second game, we got to the park early to watch the Red Sox take batting practice. Our ace closer, Jonathan Papelbon, was standing right in front of us, holding court for another of our pitchers (who we also love) Hideki Okajima, and another man, possibly Jeemer's translator.

Drawing diagrams with his toe in the warning-track dirt, Papelbon was earnestly passing along some intricate knowledge. Although we're not sure of what - possibly gambling. We were close enough to have heard every word, but the new ballparks all have music blasting during batting practice - goddess forbid we could just enjoy the quiet sounds of baseball - so we only caught a word or two. Okajima was signing baseballs, especially for (apparently) Japanese fans who had come to see him. Another pitcher, David Aarsdma, was also signing autographs.

The regret? We didn't bring our camera that day.

The Red Sox won the first two games. In the third, the Tigers took a lead, the Red Sox came back to tie it, but Detroit won in the bottom of the 9th. The Sox won the fourth game (we were already home for that one), but seeing two wins in three games is terrific.

And for the first game, we hung out with my blog-friend Nigel Patel. I thought we were just meeting before the game for a quick chat, but Nige scored a ticket and managed to sit with us. Much fun!

* * * *

Yesterday, the last day of the trip, we drove in two cars out to Point Pelee National Park. With Pelee Island, in Lake Erie, this is the southernmost point in Canada, the same longitude as Rome and Barcelona. Point Pelee is full of wetlands, so it's a haven for many species of birds. We happen to be there during a bird festival, so the park was full of birders sporting binoculars, guides and all manner of equipment.

We walked on a long boardwalk out onto the marshlands...

point pelee ontario

...then took a shuttle tram down to the point...

point pelee ontario

...and walked back up along a beach trail.

point pelee ontario

The point, a sand spit, sometimes extends for a mile or more into Lake Erie. This time it was completely under water.

The trail is full of cacti. Cactus, in Canada!

point pelee ontario

I had hoped to also visit Pelee Island Winery, but it turned out that's an all-day project. The ferry is 90 minutes each way, and runs infrequently. We'll do it on another visit.

point pelee ontario
Our new friends.

More photos here.


L-girl said...

Some Pelee Island birds in the news.

the regina mom said...

Uh, yes, there are cactus plants in Canada. Not big honking ones, but cactus, nonetheless. We have them in SK, too. Just take a walk through the Qu'Appelle Valley, on land that has not been disturbed by agriculture and you'll see many!

L-girl said...

Regina Mom, was this something I was expected to know? My guess is plenty of Canadians do not know that cacti grow in Canada.

Amy said...

Sounds like a great trip....too bad no pix of the Sox, but the photos of the parks were great (baseball and riverfront and national).

L-girl said...

Thank you Amy! I didn't realize they were all parks of different varieties. :)

L-girl said...

Also Amy, more about this is coming in JoS. Shhhh... it's a secret.

Sarah O. said...

I'm moving back to ON for another degree in September, this time to Guelph. I plan to bring my motorcycle, and I can't *wait* to get the opportunity to visit Point Pelee, especially during a migratory period!

L-Girl, I think you're right about the cacti comment - growing up in Nova Scotia, I never thought cacti would appear naturally in Canada. I was used to the cactus garden at the Public Gardens in Halifax, but a cactus that overwintered outside? Wouldn't have considered it. It was only when I got in to gardening (and native gardening) that I learned that we do have some native species (and that you can grow certain types of agave as well). Canada is a big country, with many different ecosystems, we can't be expected (although we can be encouraged) to know them all!

L-girl said...

Sarah O, I hope we can meet after you settle in in Guelph!

To be fair, I don't know if Regina Mom meant that I should have known that or not. But I have noticed that many things I've learned about Canada would surprise many Canadian-born Canadians. Perhaps it's because I'm purposely exploring the country and many people who are born here take it for granted.

West End Bob said...

So glad you got to meet The Windsor Guys! Gito is always so nice!

Did their "children" have their summer cuts? I had an American Eskimo when I was a child, and he had LOTS of hair . . . .

L-girl said...

Bob, everyone kept asking, what kind of dogs are those, what kind of dogs are those?

Mrtew would say "They are shaved American Eskimo dogs..."

He keeps them short-haired. They look like a totally different breed!

And I agree, Gito is the sweetest guy. :)

M@ said...

Trouble and Fang are just the CUTEST dogs of all time. I say this after an afternoon outside with my own little idiots. Good lord, they look cute.

How big are they?

Also, welcome back!

L-girl said...

They are just the cutest and sweetest little devils. Would you believe they are 13 years old? They have real puppy faces.

They're 25 lbs. Very pick-up-able.

L-girl said...

And thank you :)

Sarah O. said...

l-girl, you're right about not knowing Regina Mom's intentions. I think I was responding to the "uh" she included in her comment. I think the biggest impediment to really 'knowing' where we live (in the local and national sense) is the complete lack of curiosity so many people have.

And I'm definitely looking forward to the chance to meet once I'm in ON!

L-girl said...

Yes, the "uh" was the tip-off. :)