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The Grand Reunion-An Epic Road Trip Continues

  • Michael 
The Grand Reunion

When I left you back in my earlier post, Epic Road Trip-Of Tiny Lakes And Stubby Trees, we were just arriving in the big smoke, Toronto, Ontario. You know, “The Centre of the Universe”. It was almost time for “The Grand Reunion”. Seeing my high school buds for the first time in many years. Yes, it was going to be EPIC!

We drove west, away from the big city, and made our way through miles and miles of suburbia. It’s funny, given that I grew up in the suburbs of Montreal, but I don’t really think much of suburbia. Weird, I know! There’s too many people, too many cars, and endless houses of the same shape and size.

I’ve become a small town boy! I like my small town life. C’est la vie…

But anyway, here we were, coming into Oakville, excited to meet up with my friends. Excited for a shower…

A short time after exiting the freeway, we found the house. We were staying at the parents of my pal from Belfast, Mike. He and his family had arrived a few days earlier, so they were waiting for us when we pulled up.

Picking Up Where We Left Off

Mike and I went to high school together, waaay back in the ’70s. Yup, we’ve known each other for about 50 years now. I suddenly feel old…

But, as I mentioned way back in my earlier post, Making Deep Friendships to Last a Lifetime, it didn’t matter how long we had been apart. Reconnecting here, in Oakville, was just picking up where we had left off. It was as if we were just getting together again on a Friday night after a week of work. But this was going to be an epic “Friday Night”!

Soon after Heather and I arrived, Jeff and Richard, from Montreal, pulled in. In another day or so, we’d be meeting up with a few more old friends. But for now, spending the evening with my 3 buddies was perfect. The perfect start to the Grand Reunion!

I confess, on our drive east, a part of me was a little nervous about Heather meeting my friends for the first time. Would she get along with them? Would they like Heather?

But it was just a little part of me. And it was soon apparent I had nothing to fear. Everyone got on well, spouses and girlfriends and my buddies all connected over three days of laughter, stories, lies and adventures. And, I believe, a big reason was my friends and their efforts to make Heather feel included as part of the group.

The Kid Magnet

Mike and his wife JoAnne had their young children with them, and they formed an instant bond with Heather. Being a primary teacher, this was pretty much a foregone conclusion. She is a bit of a kid magnet! But she took that connection a step further.

Mike’s parents had a little kiddie pool set up in the back yard for Mike’s and JoAnne’s children. They were a bit apprehensive in the water, but Heather got in there with them and made it fun. (She also used to be a lifeguard!) It wasn’t long before those little kids turned into enthusiastic tadpoles, splashing and swimming around like, well, tadpoles.

the grand reunion-Heather as the kid magnet
Heather, the kid magnet

For three days, we barbecued, had dinners and lunches out, visited attractions like Niagara Falls, Marineland, and drank the odd beer. Maybe it was an even amount; I’m really not sure…there were so many… The Grand Reunion had a few fuzzy days.

The grand reunion-barbecue with the buds
Mike, Richard and Jeff deciding who’s going to turn the skewers. It’s amazing we didn’t starve!
the grand reunion-Niagara Falls
The boring American Falls at Niagara
The grand reunion-Marineland
Showing off to the crowd at Marineland. I wonder how the orca feels…

Shootout In Suburbia

Funny thing, throughout our time visiting, water seemed to be a central theme. I mean, Marineland, Niagara Falls, kiddie pools and swimming lessons… it’s all water-based, right? Granted, it was the middle of summer in Southern Ontario, with it’s inherent high humidity. So it’s no wonder we spent most evenings running around the neighbourhood, chasing each other with water guns!

The grand reunion-epic backyard water fights

Our first morning in Oakville, we had a quick breakfast, then drove to the nearest department store to arm up. After all, we didn’t drive 5000 kilometers with water guns in the trunk!

From then on, we were never far from our guns. If we were anywhere outdoors, we had the water guns with us. Other than our trips to Niagara and Marineland, we pretty much spent the next three days soaked to the skin. Actually, even at Niagara and Marineland, we were wet. From the rain at Niagara, from the whales at Marineland…

Our nights were spent laughing, drinking, and chasing each other through people’s backyards. My legs were sore from running so much; my cheeks were sore from laughing so much! It was wonderful. Just a bunch of 40 year old kids, running, playing, and enjoying each other’s company.

And while I didn’t bring water guns, I did bring photo albums. As the unofficial keeper of records, I always had a camera with me. Every time we went camping, or to a party, or just hanging out together, my camera was with me. So I had several albums of photos of our various escapades.

The grand reunion-laughter and drinks with best friends
Going through the old photo albums.
The grand reunion-nighttime water fights
Heather reloading before the next assault.
The grand reunion-epic water fights
Empty headed-looks like the water is going in one ear and out the other!
The grand reunion-deadly spray
That’s a wet one!

On To The Next Wet Adventure

But alas! The Grand Reunion was coming to an end. Three days is much too short to spend with good friends. Mike and family were heading back to Belfast, and we were continuing east to Montreal, and finally to the Maritimes.

On the way east, we stopped in Morrisburg, on the St. Lawrence Seaway, just west of the Quebec border. Jeff has a cottage there, and we hung out for a couple of days, going out on Jeff’s boat and tubing. And finally, we arrived in Montreal, back to my childhood home for a visit.

Heather almost losing her head while tubing.

Even though The Grand Reunion was done, I still got to visit with Richard and Jeff for a few more days. We hit up some of our old haunts, had more barbecues, and more beers. Of course more beers!

Quebec City And The Maritimes

Our new car, still in the break-in phase, was ready to carry us east, to Quebec City. We would spend some time visiting the old city before heading further east to New Brunswick, to see my sister Patti. And from there? Who knows? More adventures in our little three door coupe. But that’s for another time, another blog post.

For now, the Grand Reunion over, it’s time to sign off. I hope you enjoyed our epic road trip, culminating in the Grand Reunion. Next time I revisit this road trip, I’ll tell you about our time in Sturgis, South Dakota, and the 59th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. That was different!

The Grand Reunion-me in Sturgis, South Dakota
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