Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Our Summer Vacation

Usually, Joanne and I have several camping and hiking get-a-ways during the summer, but usually Jo’s not pregnant! So, this year, our summer was rather tame. Instead of overnight stays in a tent, we simply packed our cooler for afternoon trips to the nearby beaches. We did, however, plan a 3 day, 2 night ‘mini’ vacation trip to Toronto to enjoy the city and some good ‘ol Rock’N’Roll!!!

I managed to get a really good rate at a hotel right in the downtown core of Toronto. We took the 401 freeway until we hit the world famous Yonge Street and soon we were passing Dundas Street and the Eaton’s Centre.

The location of our hotel was great. We were so close to many attractions, restaurants and transit vehicles, so we could walk or go for a ride. This triangular shaped building was just two blocks away from our hotel, as we set off in search of cold beer! You will see this building in many of the Toronto travel commercials on TV. The ‘Y’ intersection that it creates is interesting, as well as…

… this fun mural, found on the backside of the building. Only the middle windows are real. The others are a part of the mural’s design.

Steps away, is another famous Toronto attraction, the St. Lawrence Market. Vendors bring in fresh fruits and vegetables from local Ontario farmers, fresh baked treats, meats and fish, along with many other tasty yummies. After a stroll through the market, it was time to rest and enjoy…

… the cold beer that I was looking for. Ahhhh! Beer! I wonder if the Jupiler Beer Company will send me some money for this advertisement on my blog?!!!

Again, within walking distance, we strolled to the shore of Lake Ontario. We did a lot of walking, sitting, walking, sitting, during this trip. Joanne was using a lot of her energy making a baby and I didn’t want to tire her out so she wouldn’t be able to enjoy our time. So, for a while we relaxed and watched the boats in the harbour. Had we a bit a more time, we might have taken a fairy boat ride to the Toronto Island that you can see in the background of this photo.

As we made our way back to the hotel we spied this view of the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre – formerly known as the Skydome. The Rogers Centre is the turtle shaped building at the base of the Tower. We got excited cuz we knew that the next evening we would be sitting inside listening to the world’s greatest Rock’N’Roll band!

After a short rest and a change of clothing I took Jo’ on a fun ride on the Queen Street streetcar. You guessed it – to ‘the beaches’ we went for a stroll along the boardwalk and then an amazingly yummy dinner!

I lived in Toronto for three years while I was studying Architecture, half a lifetime ago, so I got to know the city really well. During this trip, I was able to make decisions about where we were to go and how we were to get there so we could see all the interesting areas in fun ways.

The next day, we decided to journey on the underground subway to visit the ROM – Royal Ontario Museum. We started our tour in the south wing of the museum that is dedicated to the North American Natives, including the Inuit and the Haida Natives who created this monstrous totem pole.

I’ve always respected and admired the indigenous lifestyles of the Earth’s people. In many instances their philosophies have influenced my own art creations and I strongly believe that the future of humankind will aided by adopting these reverences for Nature.

Next, we visited the displays depicting the history of the Asian continent. It took a little convincing to get Joanne to pose with her Buddha belly alongside these other Buddha bellies, but eventually she thought that it would be funny, too! Ohhhhmmmmmmm…

Of course, it would be impossible to learn about the history of humanity without learning about a thing called ‘WAR’. Many people believe that violence is in our nature, an inherent characteristic, a human quality… the way we will always be. I disagree!

As humanity treads upon its path into the future, I can see that we have only two very distinct choices… continued greed and violence leading to the fall of our life sustaining ecosystems and all of the Earth’s life forces or, humbled respect and love leading to the Earth’s first ever unified peaceful global civilization.

Seems like a simple choice!

Yes, the world’s history is marked with many acts of violence and suffering, but humanities capacity to learn, grow and love is also evident in many of histories artifacts… like this – the world’s first ever Peacebus!!!!

Next up on our visit was the Dinosaur display! I don’t know what was more enjoyable, seeing all the amazing displays or watching all the children’s reactions to these displays!!

We wound our way from these ancient creatures, through bat caves and into the present, with displays of North American animals and birds. All the exhibits were great, with interactive teaching tools, but I fumbled for words when I saw…

… this depiction of the common raccoon! Somehow I don’t think that the raccoon’s natural habit is a cottage porch, littered with Campbell soup cans!!

As we walked through these displays – of present day animals – I noticed that more and more signs were stating facts that, “habitat loss, agricultural runoff and excess harvesting,” are the reasons for so many issues threatening the survival of so many important creatures. Boy! We sure do have a lot of changing to do in order to create that utopian global civilization. Recognition of a problem is the first step, though, so let’s all be conscious of our present day situations!

Lunch with a cold beer and then a shower got us ready for an evening at the Rogers Centre and U2! This is ‘The Claw’ and as you can see, it looks like something that you’d find in a kid’s Lego set! Banks of speakers spill downwards and I must say, the sound was the loudest and crispest I’ve ever heard.

Usually after a concert, people’s ears are ringing for days. But, during this show you were engulfed in sound with now side effects.

This guy became very well known in my part of the arena… the Beerman! There was always a crowd around him!!

As I sipped on the most expensive beverage I’ve ever bought, stretched out on the turf lawn, watching the crowds fill the stadium, a natural light display caught everyone’s attention. The roof hatch was opened at just the right angle at the same time as the sun was at just the right height at just the right time of day and “Voila!” A ladder of light appeared to usher in all the angels of Rock’N’Roll!!!!

The day’s forecast was for afternoon rain followed by clear skies. All we got were the clear skies, so soon a decision was made to open the retractable roof. Very cool to watch that happen!

Later, in the evening, the CN Tower put on a little light show of its own and this added to the overall atmosphere for this event! What a great night!!

Bono and the boys really had the crowds jumping with excitement as they deftly pounded out ‘Even Better Than The Real Thing’ as the opening song. The Edge’s guitar rift in ‘The Fly’ had my brain bouncing around inside my skull as the crowd got into high gear. These songs were followed by ‘Mysterious Ways’ and then ‘Until The End of The World’ and then I told Jo’ that maybe we had traveled back in time to the early 90’s. All four of these songs were from their album ‘Achtung Baby!’ I thought we were here to listen to their most recent tunes.

Bono said something about ‘why’ this album was being highlighted on this evening but I missed this cuz I was busy lookin’ for the Beerman again!

Usually, U2 goes on tour to promote their most recently released album and most of the songs performed are from that album. Last year, they started their tour to promote ‘No Line On The Horizon’ and the last leg of the tour was postponed due to Bono’s back surgery. I’m thinking that once they got the tour going again that they simply decided to play all their favourite songs cuz ‘NLOTH’ was old news by then.

Here is the rest of the set list from this evening…

I Will Follow
Get On Your Boots
Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Stay (Faraway, So Close)
Beautiful Day w Major Tom
Miss Sarejevo
City of Blinding Lights
Crazy Tonight/Discotheque
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Scarlet w Amnesty International Speech
Walk On

Where The Streets Have No Names
Kiss Me, Thrill Me
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

Joanne and I had a great time! We ended our night on a restaurant patio, enjoying a cold beer as we chatted about the concert. I was pleasantly surprised to hear ‘Zooropa’ and ‘Miss Sarejevo’. I thought it was really cool how U2 dug into the vault to bring ‘Scarlet’ to life as a subtle backdrop for Bono’s little speech promoting Amnesty International. I was a little disappointed that none of the songs broke into a heavy jam session, as many of their songs often do in a concert… like ‘Last Night On Earth’. I had a hard time getting into their new version of ‘Crazy Tonight’ but I thought that it was really cool the way they delved into ‘Discotheque’ from that song. I listed off a few tunes that I would have loved to have heard, like ‘Love & Peace… Or Else!’, ‘All Because of You’ or ‘Like A Song’ which I’ve never heard live - - but it’s one of my favourite tunes! Joanne told me to quit complaining and she suggested that next time I should send Bono a list of songs that they should play for me, next time they’re in town!!!

Hey! A true fan is a bit of a critic, but that’s just because we want only the best of the best!!! If they had played the songs that I listed above I would probably turn around and complain that they didn’t play ‘Elevation’ or ‘Stay (Faraway So Close)’!!!

Maybe I should have simply complained that the concert wasn’t long enough. If it was longer, then they’d have been able to play every song off of every album, making everyone happy!!!!

Hmmmm…. there’s an idea!


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