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Arno
Well, it seems only fair that Robert gets a comic dedicated to him. In addition to sleeping on the floor, with merely a giant auto-inflatable bed between him and the dirt, he also did a lot of chauffeuring for two dragons who tend to sit in a tree.

We actually had two cars available; one was Kessalia's, the other Robert's, and we needed both. On the way to MAui's wedding we discovered that, indeed, Robert's car will fit 6 people, but only when one sits on the lap of the other, and since the five minute drive turned out to be a fifteen minute drive, Dubble and Jenn wisely opted to be driven around in Kessalia's car from that moment on. So when we drove to the reception, we split into groups: we had the girl's car, with Kessalia, Dubble, Jenn, Kessalia's maps of the area and the directions, and the boy's car, with Robert, myself, Beedoo! (whom I'm making an honorary boy for the purpose of this story) and G.I.N.A., the homicidal GPS system. Little could we predict that things would go horribly wrong.

To understand how things could go wrong so horribly, one needs to understand a few things. Firstly, Downtown Toronto, where our hotel was, is a maze. The hotel was a maze, the parking garage was a maze, is was, not to put to fine a pun on it, amazing. Still, one could wonder how a section of city with a Manhattan type layout could be made a maze. Well, you can start by making left turns illegal on every single corner except on certain times. Robert noticed this just in time, but Kessalia did not. And so, as he slammed his breaks in the middle of the intersection on the tram tracks, and the red light before us prohibited us from moving, we watched Kessalia, Dubble, Jenn, the maps and the directions disappear into the distance. Kind of stuck as to where to go now or what to do, the issue was finally forced by an oncoming tram. Now, we all know that trams and cute and quaint little things that go "Ding, ding, ding," right? Turns out that when they get angry, they go:

BWOOOOOOOOOORRRRRGHH!!

Robert quickly avoided total traffic meltdown by swiftly moving off the tracks and heading straight ahead, leaving scores of Candians behind us muttering "Stupid Americans" and "What's up with that, eh?". Now, on the wrong road, with no directions and no maps, our first priority was to find Kessalia & co. So, our first course of action was to turn left, right?

...

So after driving further and further away from our intended route, and asking a friendly Canadian (a tautology (Google it)) for directions, we finally managed to be roughly where we needed to be, only to get lost again almost immediately because, as it turns out, all paths through and out of Toronto lead through the same elevated highway, which was closed for construction the whole weekend. We finally managed to get ourselves stuck in a traffic jam under said highway near the CN Tower - A perfect landmark - and contemplated giving in to dispair. That's when either Kessalia called us, or we called Kessalia. Finally, we had a stroke of luck: it turned out they were way, but not that far, ahead of us in the same traffic jam. We actually were headed in the right direction! Of course, not even Kessalia, who eats maps for breakfast, knew for sure that exactly how to get there from here, but we had sort of a plan again.

"But wait!" you may have been crying for the last three paragraphs or so (and if so, what is wrong with you!?), "What of G.I.N.A, the homicidal GPS?" Asking that question is answering it. G.I.N.A. was just a little ten year old device which sucked, specifically with a suction cup to the car window. Its batteries ran out in no time flat, and it got confused when we were not driving through the road construction she kept insisting on steering us into, until she finally gave up and litterally tried to steer us into Lake Ontario. Fortunately we were a bit too shrewd for that. I can only assume that after ten years of use by Robert the machine has developed both sentience and a burning desire to murder him...

Anyway, things went pretty okay since then, even if it didn't feel like it. I was the one constantly on the phone getting directions, which made no sense at all since I have all the sense of direction of a dead homing pigeon. Beedoo! studied maps, and Robert complained about how he hated driving in cities, on freeways and basically, when all is said and done, anywhere in the entire space and time continuum.

Still, we owe our thanks to Robert and G.I.N.A. for getting us there, and back, and to Niagara falls, and back, and to the airport. He was a great help.

And Robert? That intelligent phone you have, where you can just say "Call Kess" and it calls Kessalia?

I think it wants to kill you...


Beedoo!
I think Arno has covered just about all there is to say in his post above, but he is correct in the mazey-ness of downtown Toronto and everything in it. (He also says over my shoulder as I type my post now, that he meant to make note that the comic is barely an exaggeration, and he's right.) Downtown Toronto is not made for tourists, locals, the weak of heart, or those under 48".

When Kess brought us to the hotel the first night, we discovered the nastiness of the parking garage, which I can only guess is layed out like a double-helix pattern. The ceiling had us a little worried as it was coated in an exposed dark gray substance, until Robert confirmed the next day that no, that's not what asbestos looks like. Besides that, it's a very cramped little area, and parts of it, though I don't think we ever figured out which, were dedicated to the hotel while others were supposedly for regular traffic. In either case, parking there was $28 a day, which I find outrageous, but I don't live in a city. Hell, I've always found parking in Phoenix under $12 per day, but Phoenix is also much more spread out, and more parking is to be found.

The next step, getting up into the hotel and to our room, was also confounding. The doors out of the parking lot are a little confusing, going around twists and turns and really more doors than necessary to just get in an elevator. Airlock-schmearlock... you just don't need that many doors in rapid succession. Rob pointed out the elevator button that seemed to mean that you could take this elevator sideways. "Do we go UP or RIGHT?" After taking the elevator to the ground floor, we had to wind our way diagonally (around load-bearing obstacles) to an inside elevator that went from floors 4-9. Lucky for us, our lovely big room was on the 9th floor. If we had been any higher or lower, we would have had to use a combination of elevators, as Rob, Arno and I found out when we went to scope out the swimming areas and waterslide. (The pools weren't deep, but how many hotels can boast about a waterslide??)

Also lucky for us was the fact that downtown Toronto is a very hip, happenin' kinda place, and we were never far from a huge selection of eateries, drugstores (which I needed desperately, having picked up a horrible cold, I assume from Kessalia, if not from the plane ride itself...), and shopping places like The Bay, where Arno charmed them into giving him a Filthy Foreigner discount of 15%. Charisma, peeps... it's not just a dump stat anymore.

Unfortunetely if you weren't on foot, you were kind of screwed. It's kind of a place that screams, "Tourists, GET OUT!" It's impossible to get anywhere and not make an illegal turn somewhere along your route... or once you're in, you can never find your way out even if you have a very long piece of string or a handy bit of chalk, or breadcrumbs or whatever. It's like the spiral of death. At one point, I saw two signs on the same street for No Left Turn and No Right Turn, though maybe they were in place only certain days or hours... but how can you tell this when you're driving??

In summary, we were treated well there, but if you have other options, don't go to downtown Toronto unless someone else drives. It's kind of a deathtrap.


Robert
First, I would like to confirm that Toronto IS a death trap and surprisingly enough, this had nothing to do with Maui! Additionally, Kess is some sort of traffic-anarchist in addition to being a Typhoid Mary (There were only SIX of us most of the time! How the hell do you end up with Con Crud with a con of SIX people??) And Im pretty sure the garage parking lot was designed to double as a fallout shelter. After a nuclear war, the Canadian government would convene there to secretly complain about how RUDE us Americans are to be getting fallout all over their country, and discuss sending us a fruit basket and their condolences about that whole Armageddon thing. Seriously! Why else would you need all those doors if not for decontamination airlocks? *l*

And G.I.N.A isnt really THAT bad! Weve just been... hitting a rough patch lately!

Sure, shes a little short with me sometimes (Always complaining about the low grade rechargeable batteries I get for her, then giving me the silent treatment) and I will admit to sometimes eyeing.. newer models of GPS.. Ahem but at the end of the day, shes always there for me and gets me where I need to be! *nod nods* Youre the only one for me G.I.N.A. baby!

Plus.. shes kinda the only female who will talk to me on a regular basis.. *sniffles* ;>

Oh, and for the uninformed G.I.N.A. stands for Geographical Information and Navigation Assistant. ;>

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