When I first heard we were going to Toronto the main thing I was excited about was getting to see Niagara Falls. We got up Sunday morning and met up with Mr. Rusty and Mrs. Charlotte for breakfast. After breakfast we went back to their room to have worship service together (which I ALWAYS enjoy! It’s great to talk intimately about the Lord with people!). We went back to our room so I could pump then we headed down to get on one of the buses.
The ride to Niagara was about 90 minutes. We knew it’d be an interesting day from the moment we got on the bus. Our tour guide was a cute old lady and she was counting the people as we got on the bus. Zach said “Are we all going to fit in the bus?” Her response was “You can fit in my bus anytime!” No joke! It was hilarious. On the ride there she was pretty tame but oh my gosh wait till you read about the ride home 😉 On our way our guide, Gloria, told us a lot of history about Canada. I really love to learn about the places we visit. You can see the sights yourself but hearing things from someone knowledgeable really allows you to learn so much.
Here’s a few random facts I learned about Canada:
- The people there don’t like the French
- CN Tower stands for “Canadian National Tower”
- The lake we could see from our hotel was Lake Ontario
- Harriet Tubman brought slaves into Canada to help them escape
- It is a younger country than the US
- The Great Lakes hold 25% of the fresh water in the world and all but one of them (Lake Michigan) are shared borders between Canada and the US
I would have learned more but we happened to be at the back of the bus, and have you ever noticed that at the back of the bus people don’t pay attention and instead talk loudly?!?! So annoying!
When we got to Niagara Falls they provided us with a lunch and we had a little time to look around. The whole thing just wasn’t the awe-inspiring view I was expecting. It felt rushed and touristy. Not at all like some amazing wonder of God’s creation. Sure, it was pretty but it just wasn’t naturey feeling if that makes sense?!? Our lunch was good, like super good, but the service was very slow so we didn’t have much free time. We did a tour behind the falls. We were told we may get wet…well that was an understatement!!!
Ready with our ponchos!
View before stepping out from our safe little cave area…
My poor camera got a nice little bath!
Haha our picture together!!!
Mr. Rusty and Mrs. Charlotte
I don’t think people can always tell how HUGE my head is…this picture shows it off nicely 😉
Great view behind the falls huh?
Zach managed to stay 100% dry because he tucked his hands inside the poncho. Since I attempted to take pictures my arms were soaked…stupid me I should have taken off my jacket! It warmed up pretty quickly though and I was fine. We checked out the gift shop for awhile (we got Mom a thank you gift for watching the kids and Britt a little Moose that said Canada on it and we also got our ornament!). Once we tracked down Mr. Rusty (he’s one of those people that will just randomly disappear…we had to call for him over the loud speaker!) we went outside to take some more pictures of the falls.
The ONLY picture of the four of us from the trip! Boo!
There is a constant rainbow there 🙂
The Canada side is supposedly the prettiest view of it but you can also see it from New York
My grandparents (Nana and Papa, Mom’s parents) actually honeymooned there so I thought that was special!
You would think no idiot would dare climb over the railings…but it’s happened several times. People have actually ridden the falls on purpose. Some have lived, but many have died (what a DUMB way to go out!!!)
I REALLY like Canada’s flag. I love the leaf and the simplicity of it 🙂
I also LOVED the tulips in bloom EVERYWHERE. They are totally my favorite flower!!!
Canada on one side, US on the other
When we got on the bus I had to pump. We were some of the first people on it so I went ahead and did my junk in the bathroom of the bus. Well…then we started moving. Oh my goodness I felt SO sick. I really thought I was going to throw up. We went to a cute little town called Niagara by the Lake. They handed out free sample coupons for some fudge so that was our mission. Find the fudge place! We only had a brief stop there and I wish we could have spent more time as it was an adorable little town. It felt GOOD to be out of that bus though!!!
The fudge place was PACKED with Aflac people. Us Aflacers sure do like something for free. And of course they give free samples to EVERYONE so we didn’t even need the coupon haha. The only thing I really wanted was water but the rest of my crew got some goodies. Mrs Charlotte was hilarious about her fudge. The whole way there she kept saying how excited she was about it!
By this point in the day I just really wanted to go back to the hotel. Our next stop was a winery. I’m sure majority of you know this already but we don’t drink. Zach’s only had one sip of alcohol in his entire life and that was by mistake on our honeymoon and he spit it out right away. Someday I need to write a post about the reasons why we don’t drink. Another Aflac person asked us the next night (rather rudely) if it’s “some religious thing” and the short answer to that is that yes, it is. There is a MUCH longer answer that I’m not going to go into right now. Usually we don’t go into details about why we don’t drink, as we don’t want to offend people or make them uncomfortable or make them think we are judging them or anything (because seriously, we’re not!). But when that girl asked me that, especially in the way she asked me it made me realize that we shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed or hold back in saying that yes, we don’t drink. And YES it’s for religious reasons. So I told her that 😉
On top of going to a winery…part of our day included making wine. They divided us up randomly into teams but we did some switching around so the four of us could be together (MUCH easier to explain the no drinking thing once ya know?). We were grouped with four other people and it worked out to their advantage that we were all sober. It was a competition among the other groups to see who could create the best wine (some workers were the judges). Aflac people are mega competitive so even ZACH was into it haha. Since he was sober he did a lot of the pouring and mixing b/c you know some of those people couldn’t handle those responsibilities at that point!
Enjoying the snacks!
The people who worked there were all very accommodating to us and offered us sparkling juice instead. It was still served in wine type glasses though and I personally just didn’t feel comfortable with that. It would look like we’re drinking and that doesn’t set a very good example to others ya know? So we enjoyed some water!
Again, Mr. Competitive put the labels on the bottles too haha.
We each got a bottle of it as a keepsake…we gave ours to our hotel room keeper lady!
After everyone had finished each group had to give a presentation about their wine. Zach gave ours. It was pretty hilarious and I took a video of it that you can watch here! Our wine was the best wine he’s “never tasted.” Lara also presented for her team and I took a video of that too 🙂 Neither of our groups won, a team that called their wine “Viagra Falls” ended up winning…it was a hilariously inappropriate speech and I wish I had taped that one! Let’s just say it ended with the bottle representing a particular body part…
Leaving the wine mixing place took ages. A lot of the teams went over on their time and we ended up having long enough where I pumped in the bathroom of the bus again! During our wait we spent more quality time with Gloria. SHE was worth the trip! She was telling us all about when she went to jail to visit someone and how when they felt her up it was the best orgasm (legit word she used!!!) that she’s had since her husband died! She talked about her heating pad and how she loves that it has a special vibrating feature. In the bus her son called and she put him on speaker and held it up to everyone and said “say hello to my son and tell him that he has a horny mother!” Can you believe it?!?! Gloria made the day eventful, that’s for sure!
The wine trend only continued to dinner. We ate in a wine cellar. It was neat, but SO dark. And we had the darkest table! Luckily people brought over a bunch of candles for us 🙂 The food was SUPER good but it was very loud (200 drunk sales people…duh! it’s gonna be LOUD!) so we could barely talk to the people at our table.
Peller Estates is where we had dinner!
I was SO thankful to get on the bus to head back to the room. We watched a video on the way back and seriously I fell asleep before the beginning credits even rolled. I slept SOLID and didn’t wake once until we were back. It had been a long, exhausting day. I’m thankful we went as it is neat to say we’ve seen Niagara but overall it was my least favorite day of the trip!
Monday was our last day in Toronto. My ONLY desire while on this trip was to REST. I just wanted to lounge in my pjs, enjoy my husband, cuddle up and CHILL. I think having two kids at home all day makes me appreciate down time more 😉
We slept in and just took our time getting ready. At 11:30 we met Travis down in the lobby!!! Travis and Zach were best friends growing up. They are cousins (okay…Zach is cousins with like a million people…let’s see if I get the relation right. Travis’s grandmother was married to Big Daddy’s brother. I think!) and growing up their parents were super close friends so they hung out constantly. Family trips together and everything. Travis was a groomsmen in our wedding and moved to Toronto around that same time if I remember correctly! I know, this South GA boy in Toronto. When we told Aflac people that we were meeting up with him while we were there they couldn’t believe it!
We haven’t seen Travis in ages. The last time we got to really visit with him was at the Parker Christmas thing back when I was pregnant with KYE in 2008. It’d been WAY too long and when we first knew Zach had qualified for the trip, seeing Travis was item #1 on our priority list! We’re hoping that us seeing him in Toronto may result in him seeing us sometime when he’s in town 😉
Travis works somewhere near where we were staying so we met up for his lunch break. Mr. Rusty and Mrs. Charlotte came down to the lobby to see him for a few minutes then the three of us walked over to an Applebee’s type place for lunch. It was super good!!! We spent an hour or so just visiting and catching up. You know those few friends you have where when you see them after a long period of time you instantly feel reconnected and like no time has passed at all? That’s the type of friendship we have with Travis. It’s comfortable and easy and SO great!!! It was kinda unfair to only see him for an hour…it was like teasing us since we never get to see him anymore!
We were both eager to see if being a Canadian (technically I think he’s still an American who just lives in Canada but you know what I mean…) would change him at all and the only real difference we could tell was he said “right” a lot. Like it’s the Canadian version of “yall.” They said it A LOT there! Other than that he was pretty much the same old Travis and we loved every second we got to spend with him. Seriously, THE highlight of our trip!!!
Zach and Travis
I KNOW Katie is mega jealous 😉
Before we left for the trip I asked Travis (gotta love facebook right??? keeps us all connected!) for must-see things in Toronto. He said we HAD to try these french fries they make that they cover in gravy (they are called poutine!). Um they were AWESOME. Like seriously this picture makes me want to fly back up there for some more 🙂 We love trying some local favorites when we visit other countries!
After we sadly parted ways with Travis we headed back to the room. It was SO COLD and RAINY! Yuck. We ended up checking out the pathway thing again and this time it was buzzing with people. AND we knew how to work the elevator so no more freak outs. We’re like total Toronto pros right? 😉
The rest of the day we stayed in our room. We hardcore did Italy planning and I loved EVERY second of it! We watched a bunch of The Office and didn’t even hardcore get ready for the awards dinner that night. We were just LAZY and it was wonderful.
For any Aflac Awards Night you’re supposed to be super fancy. Men have to wear suits or tuxes and women wear cocktail or formal attire. You can TOTALLY spot the newbies in the room because they are the ones in the sequence gowns with their hair professionally done. I am NOT about to spend that kind of money!!! It’s silly because you are sitting down the ENTIRE time. I go for something easy to pack that looks good on me and don’t stress over it 🙂 We typically like to match! We have also learned that the time they say to be there is actually when the cocktail hour starts. Duh, we don’t want cocktails. When we can (like this time the event was held in our hotel so we could go whenever we wanted) we wait to go until the actual dinner starts! We also leave before the awards are handed out. Zach’s name was called this time to get his award. Oops! We missed it!
We had a GREAT time at dinner! The people we got seated with were wonderful company to share and it was a nice relaxing evening with more wonderful food. Zach especially loved the desserts 😉
Aflac not only hooks us up with the free vacations, amazing hotel stays, food, activities, and transportation they also give us gifts! I mean are we spoiled or whhhhat?!?! Each night in our room we’d find a little present. Here’s a run down of everything they gave us (enjoy my modeling pics haha):
The last night they gave us a Michael Cavanaugh cd as he performed at the awards dinner (we left before his performance…I’ve never heard of him?)
A few mini bottles of wine from the winery where we had dinner
(We brought it home with us…but no clue what to do with it? Can we use it for cooking?)
Jade that has some history with Toronto or something?
And a box of salmon? Again we brought it home but we sure enough aren’t going to eat it???
We headed out first thing Tuesday morning. Mr. Rusty and Mrs. Charlotte drove back from Atlanta but we stuck with the flight to Valdosta as we had left our car there and I was DYING to get home quick to see my babies!!! Kye was PUMPED to see us and, no joke, Britt had NO IDEA who we were for a few minutes. She really looked shocked and confused. I was a little nervous about how she’d do with nursing after having a bottle (of pumped milk, of course!) for 5 days but she picked it right back up like a pro!
It was a WONDERFUL trip and GREAT practice for Italy. We will be gone for 9 days (our longest time ever away from either kid…) and the Toronto trip really helped prepare me for that. I think I’ll miss them less in Italy because I got adjusted to missing them in Toronto. Mom also has now kept them both together so I know she knows what to do and such. And I know what to pack for them while we are gone, I got a refresher on pumping while traveling and bringing all the milk home, etc.
As always, I’m SO thankful Zach works for such an AMAZING company. We are truly, truly blessed!!!
Sounds like so much fun! I'd enjoy visiting Toronto, but like you said, it's not like somewhere I REALLY want to go. Oh, that wine you got as a gift is Icewine, and definitely not a wine you'd cook with!! It's very sweet, and for sure wouldn't work for cooking at all. However, it's also SUPER delicious and my most very favorite wine, so if you won't drink/use it, I'd LOVE to have it! I'd pay shipping for you to send it to me!!
ummm, *I* am jealous of Travis! He's seriously one of my favorite dudes!!! Like, Seth almost gets jealous when I am around him, haha!OMG, that would've killed me if Olive didn't realize who I was, you're brave 🙂
If you ever get the opportunity to travel to Zambia/Zimbabwe and see Victoria Falls, it is SO much more impressive than Niagara. Also, much less touristy and more "naturey" as you put it.I so respect the fact that you all stick to your guns in regards to drinking. We don't drink either (I'm like Zach, one accidental sip in my life and I spit it out!), but sometimes that's pretty hard on business dinners/trips and we don't go on NEAR as many as you guys! It's so nice to "know" other couples out there that have similar convictions and stick to them!I hate that Britt didn't recognize you :-(. That would have broken my heart!
I love tulips too!