Canada Trip

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Photos

Part 4

On the fourth day, August 10, our time in Canada was to come to an end, and it was time to return to the States. So, the first order of business was to get up, shower, dress, and then eat. So, we did. We went down the blue elevator, and went to the Market Garden for breakfast. Before we got there, though, we met up with Sarah and Darlene, because Sarah had a doctor’s appointment in Toronto, and they were on their way out. We exchanged greetings, and hoped to catch them again before we left.

After this meeting up, we continued on to breakfast. We had the usual breakfast fare for the Delta Chelsea, as previously described, and ate and enjoyed, and consumed lots of coffee (the coffee was the only thing that had free refills).

Upon finishing breakfast, we returned to the room, and proceeded to pack. After I had finished packing, I popped on the TV. The only thing even remotely good on was Maury Povich’s talk show (a big jump for me, since I usually prefer game shows over talk shows). So I watched that. This particular episode was a “flashback” show.

And then, the PA speaker in our room made itself known, emitting a long beep, three short beeps, a long beep, three short beeps… you get the idea. Unbeknownst to us at the time, that was the fire alarm. Wondering what the sound was, we tracked down a nearby housekeeping person to find out this important fact.

The Delta Chelsea’s alarm system is a voice system, and that is partly the reason we didn’t recognize it as the fire alarm right away. Instead of your standard system, where you have dedicated alarm units in the walls that are usually red and emit a horn sound and flash a strobe light when activated, the Delta Chelsea has a voice evacuation system. One long beep followed by three short ones means stand by for instructions and be prepared to evacuate if necessary. One long continuous tone means evacuate immediately.

Then this beeping was replaced by a higher-pitched steady sound. This, however, was not the tone to evacuate (I believe that this would have been the same pitch as the long beep, but continuous). This longer beep was followed by a voice giving some instructions. These were the instructions:

Ladies and gentlemen, may we have your attention! Ladies and gentlemen, may we have your attention! The alarm is originating from the 20th floor. We need all guests and employees on floors 19, 20, and 21 to please evacuate at this time. All guests and employees on floors 19, 20, and 21 need to evacuate at this time.

And then the one long, three short, etc. continued. This would from time to time be interrupted by the higher pitched sound, and then a repeat of the announcement.

Then the lights went out. This made us both a little nervous. But we remained calm, and finished getting our stuff together for our planned check-out. As time passed, and they continued making the announcement, you could hear that there was increasing commotion going on in the lobby.

As more time passed, we determined that we could not wait any longer for the alarm to end and then wait for the elevators to be put back in service (for as we all know, elevators are out of service during a fire alarm). So, we gathered up our stuff, and hoofed it down fifteen floors (there was no floor 13) to the lobby, taking the stairs the whole way. All the while, the alarm was still going, and the announcement came on about four times while we were in the stairwell. And as we carried our stuff, we passed the floors. 15… 14… 12… 11… 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… ground. Finally! Whoo! I’ll tell you – carrying luggage down fifteen stories as well as “Toronto in a Box” (purchased at the store and still in the bag) is some exercise! By the time we got to the bottom of the stairs, my legs were tired, and I needed to breathe for a second. So we were now in the lobby. The alarm was still going off, and firefighters were going up the blue elevators, which were set to fire mode, in order to get to the “problem” on the 20th floor.

Since we had some time to spare, but had to get checked out before the cut-off time (recalling that the Delta Chelsea would NOT be lenient about the check out time after Sarah’s room was not ready for so long), we checked out. We turned in our key-cards, and that was that. So we waited for a while, in hopes that we might catch Sarah, Darlene, and Norman again before we left. While we were waiting, the fire department was still doing their thing, and there were fire trucks and police cars outside.

Finally, the Delta Chelsea staff, with the guidance of the fire department, shut off the fire alarm. Silence – such music to my ears! This shutting off of the system was followed by the tone that preceded an announcement, with an announcement as follows:

Ladies and gentlemen, may we have your attention! Ladies and gentlemen, may we have your attention! The problem on the 20th floor has been rectified. Elevators will be in service after a 15-minute delay. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.

Eventually, they stopped making the announcement, and got all the elevators back in service, except the blue elevators. They could not get these back in service due to the power outage in that part of the hotel. So blue elevator guests had to use the service elevators, which served all floors. Eventually, power was restored, but not until after Market Garden employees had just finished lighting candles in the restaurant.

I later learned from another friend in Canada who read the next day’s paper that it was a minor electrical fire that caused the alarm.

We hung around in the Market Garden until around 11:00, occasionally checking the lobby to see if Sarah, Darlene, and Norman had returned yet. The answer each time was no. At 11:00, we found the bus that would take us to the airport (seen at right), showed the driver our ticket, and boarded. As it turned out, another passenger had forgotten a bag at Ryerson Polytechnic University. Everyone (all of two people – Mom and I) was fine about making a quick stop there to pick up his bag. So off we went. On the way to Ryerson, we were treated with a surprise pass by the store! So that was nifty, getting one last look at the store before going home.

After the other passenger picked up his bag at Ryerson, we proceeded on to the Sheraton Centre, where more passengers boarded, and then the Royal York, where we took on more passengers. Then we were on our way to the airport, but not before a quick pull-over at the Westin Harbourcastle Hotel in order for the driver to straighten out his passenger-side mirror, which had accidentally gotten whacked while the bus was in motion.

So on to the airport we went! Upon arrival at the airport, the bus first dropped off passengers at terminal 2, then 1, and then finally 3. We got off, went in, checked our bags (except for Toronto in a Box, still in its bag from the store, and one other bag), and proceeded. Note, though, that the bags were not out of our hands yet, though we had checked them. We were asked the standard questions about our stuff, and then we proceeded on through to customs.

In Toronto, if you are going to the United States, you go through U.S. Customs in Canada. So we took all of our stuff through customs, showed the guy our passports, and proceeded on. After passing through customs, we placed our checked bags on a conveyor belt, which sucked them into airport-land. I thought it was an interesting way to put them in (being something totally different from what I’ve seen), but I’m not complaining, because it worked, which is better than could be said with the retrieve, customs, and recheck procedure in Philadelphia from England, where, a year before, our luggage was not sent along with us, but remained in Philadelphia overnight after the airline failed to send it on its way.

But with the bags checked, we proceeded to our gate. Eventually our flight was called, and we boarded our plane to go to Philadelphia. I thought it was odd that we made our connection at Pittsburgh on the way up and then at Philadelphia on the way down, but I’m sure that Dad knew what he was doing when he booked our tickets, and it turned out that he did.

The flight to Philadelphia was 55 minutes long.  On this flight, we had beverage service.  I had the standard-issue pretzels, and I had a Sprite. As it turned out, that Sprite was a big mistake.  This was because, as we approached Philadelphia, it was not exactly the best atmospheric conditions to land in, so we had some turbulence.  Add to that my love for ocean liners, and in Philadelphia, laid up in the Delaware River near the Walt Whitman Bridge, is the former Blue Riband holder, the SS United States.  And I wanted to take a picture of it.  With the plane’s having the turbulence, and my constantly searching out the window for the “Big U” in order to take a picture of it, combined with the gas in my stomach from the Sprite, I started to feel just a little green.

But I got the picture! I got the United States on film, and here's the relevant part of the picture.

But I got the picture! I got the United States on film, and here’s the relevant part of the picture.

The reason I say “relevant part” of the picture is because the ship actually ended up being in the lower right-hand corner of the photo. This picture is also greatly enlarged, and thus the photo has been considerably sharpened. But that thing with red and white funnels in the center of this picture is the SS United States, formerly of the United States Lines.

Once I shot this picture of the “Big U”, I proceeded to close my window shade, and face forward. Then I ended up doing a quiet burp, which released the gas from the Sprite, making me comfortable again. Needless to say, I was thankful for not having to pull out the barf bag and use it. I wanted to take the bag home as a souvenir of my close encounter with it (I seriously thought we would have a bag-to-mouth encounter!), but Mom wouldn’t let me. Still, some of the things I think of for souvenirs… all kinds of cool stuff.

But then we landed in Philadelphia, and the plane went on up to its gate. They turned off the seat belt sign, and we got off. Our first order of business was just that – doing our business. But after that, we went from the B terminal at the Philadelphia International Airport to the D terminal, in order to change our money. During this walk, we passed Philadelphia’s “Philadelphia Marketplace”, which is a strip of stores similar to that at Pittsburgh, but smaller, but included a food court. In the process of getting to the money changing stand, we nearly got run over by a few of those airport cars that you see the people driving in there. Obviously these people drive like they’re in a hurry, because they’re quick to run you down if you’re in their way.

But we finally got to the money-changing stand, or what we thought was the money-changing stand. As it turned out, we had gone to the wrong place, with the money-changing stand being slightly further down, but within view of the wrong place. As an interesting note, I had thought that the money-changing place was a hot dog stand, because it looked like one, and was on wheels.

But we changed our money there. We went through our Canadian cash to determine what we wanted to keep and what we wanted to change, and then gave the lady what we wanted to change. And thus we turned Queen Elizabeth and several notable Canadians into Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson. In other words, we turned in our Canadian money and got some American money.

After this, we returned to the B terminal, and went down to the lower level, to await the calling of our flight for the trip back to Charlottesville. In the meantime, they had some problems with a flight going to Atlantic City. Originally, they were supposed to fly there. Then, all of a sudden they were going to have ground transportation to Atlantic City. Then, finally, they said that, “The flight to Atlantic City will be in an airplane. Things always work out for the better here at US Airways Express.” So that was good. And where we were waiting, they had an Auntie Anne’s. Amazing how those things pop up at airports like that. There was one nearby at Pittsburgh, if you recall. But we got pretzels, two each (we were hungry, all right?), and got some cheese sauce for them.

Now here is a very important rule for the consumption of pretzels when you have cheese sauce in your hand. Always, and I do mean ALWAYS keep the container level. I learned this lesson the hard way, which meant getting cheese all over my shirt. Thankfully, the restrooms were right there, and with the help of a little water, I got all of it out. But then of course, I had to walk around with this big wet spot on my shirt.  That was a little embarrassing.

After we were finished with the pretzels, and after enough time to get clean again, our flight was called. We showed them our tickets, and boarded a bus to get to our plane. We drove by several commuter planes, until finally, we reached ours.

Our plane, seen here after we landed in Charlottesville.

Our plane, seen here after we landed in Charlottesville.

Now here’s an interesting bit of trivia for you – when US Airways changed their plane color-scheme to the current dark blue, they also changed the inside of their planes. On the older planes (the ones painted white), the seats were blue cloth. On this newer plane, the seats were brown leather (or at least what seemed like it).  So we sat down into the seats of luxury, and then it was time to take off. They went over the standard safety procedures, and then, up, up, and away!

Now at this point in the trip, I was in the process of “burning” film, because I had half a roll left, and had to use up all of the pictures in order to be able to get the film developed. So the right propeller and the camera got to know each other fairly well, as evidenced by the picture at right. In this picture, we are in the air, somewhere.

The right propeller, in flight.

The right propeller, in flight.

We had beverage service on this flight, as was to be expected, with pretzels and drinks. This time, I had a stiff scotch. Just kidding. Seriously, I had orange juice, remembering the carbonation incident from the last flight. And so just in case, I went non-carbonated.

Now, here’s something you don’t hear about every day. You’ve heard of planes being delayed, right? Well, we got there EARLY! Yes, you heard right – early. The reason was, as the pilot explained over the PA system, was that he was taking a different route that would take us over Baltimore and Washington DC. And it seemed to work, as we got into Charlottesville earlier than anticipated.

Landing in Charlottesville.  Landing in Charlottesville.

Landing in Charlottesville.

Leaving the plane.

Leaving the plane.

Leaving the plane.

Going inside, and I proceeded to finish off the roll of film with that shot from above of the plane. Then we went from the airport lounge to the baggage claim area to pick up our stuff. They started the baggage carousel going (Have you ever wanted to ride one of those? Just around, and around…), and while Mom watched for the luggage, she asked me to call the house and let them know we were home. So I did. I pulled out the cell phone (which saw no use in Canada except showing it to Sarah), and called up the house.

It rang, and then Sis picked up. I said hello back to her, and then got her standard greeting for me: “What do you want?” So I told her we’re back, and may I speak to Dad, please. So she got him (here’s a note for you – take the phone away from your mouth when you yell for someone), and we told him that we were going to eat on the way back, and that we were going to be heading out soon. He said okay, and that they’ll be up waiting (as was to be expected – it was only 5-something).

So after we grabbed our luggage, we headed back to the car. We took the elevator down to the parking lot, located the keys, and then threw our stuff in the back. Then we got into the car, and left the airport. Leaving the airport we headed over to the mall, where we had dinner at Sbarro.

After this, we headed back to Stuarts Draft.  Fun trip!

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Photos

Part 4