Saturday, August 21, 2010

A perfect birthday, indeed ...

When I discovered that Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition started on my birthday, I knew what I would do to celebrate. That, or I was going to go see the new movie, Piranha 3D. But then I did a little web research and discovered that the CNE's neighbouring amusement centre, Ontario Place, offered a special where admission was free on your birthday. Bingo. Free day. I'm in.

Keep in mind, Ontario Place is kinda sorta adjoining the CNE, so admission to one gets you into the other -- two for the price of one. And that price is free. Did I say Bingo yet?

I set my alarm nice and early. Then when it rang in the morning, I told myself it was my birthday; alarm clocks have no place on birthdays. (really, alarm clocks have little place in my life lately; I simply chose to blame my birthday on Friday) So, a little later than my plan had planned, I was off for the day.

[Aside: I had to forcibly keep my cheery nature while on the street car, because a blind woman got on but the (insert expletives here) who were sitting in the prefered seating section didn't move, didn't rise to move, didn't even speak to the woman to say "hey, someone is sitting here." And they weren't even teenagers. They were two middle aged men and one middle aged woman. And the street car wasn't even full. There were many other non-prefered seats for where these people could relocate their asses. After the blind woman felt for, and touched, the third person sitting where they shouldn't, I blurted out "Someone give her a seat, my god!" Then one of the lazy asses, the woman, did jump up, but I'm pretty sure it was from being startled by my exclamation, not out of an intention to give the blind woman a seat. I told myself not to let it colour the day I was determined would be fun.]

What I discovered, though, is if I take the street car right to the CNE stop, there is no walking around the CNE as I had planned, to get to Ontario Place. You have to walk through the CNE. Which yes, had a discounted admission price because it was opening day, but discounted is not the same as free. (have I discussed that I am a cheapskate -- I mean financially prudent?)

After determining that I couldn't go around to the east, I tried the west -- and discovered that when I walked on the road by a sign that said "Exit", I was suddenly on the fairgrounds without having paid admission. ?! "Frugal" as I may be, I wasn't looking to be a gate crasher (even though technically, what I was was a Road Walker).

So, in order to be as un-illegal as possible, I stuck to the very edges of the grounds, where there was no fun or cotton candy to be had, and circled around to where I could see the entrance to Ontario Place ... and found myself nose to chain link with a large fence erected to make sure people who haven't paid for the CNE can't get in. What's the rule about scaling a fence, when you haven't paid, so you can get out?

At that point, I saw a security guard watching me, so I walked up to her. She asked if she could see my ticket, and I quite honestly said "I don't have one -- I just want to get to Ontario Place." The confused look on her face quite rightly reflected that I shouldn't have been able to get to where I was if I didn't have a ticket ... but perhaps she was thrown off by my own look of general confusion.

I got the same confused look when I followed the guard's direction and found myself at a desk at Ontario Place -- how did I get here without a CNE ticket? Again, I was honest: "Really, I don't know either. I made a wrong turn somewhere, and ended up where I shouldn't have been. Can I get my free pass now?"

And then, cue the fun. Most of Ontario Place is a family amusement centre, full of entertainment for rugrats not in my possession. But it is right on the lakefront, so there was much sitting and watching the water on my part ...



... with some friends ...


... and my best friend of all ...


... and a bit of a show off ...


I did go on two rides that were adult friendly, but mostly just walked around and took in the atmosphere and the lovely weather -- not all that hot, but not all that cloudy. It was Goldilocks weather: juust right.

After a few hours, I returned to the CNE, this time with proper hand stamp and ticket. There is little of photo-note there. One exhibition is largely the same as another across this great country of ours. Again, just roamed around, saw a few performances at a couple of pavillions...

... picked up a few old friends ...


The ride home took me a little over an hour, what with traffic and stops for all the people stuffed on the streetcar and then subway. It occurred to me that in that time I could have gone from Pincher to Lethbridge. Odd that.

(I still had some old friends left over this morning ... for breakfast)

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