I was only eleven years old when I traveled to Canada. My next door neighbors Lori and Joe invited my sister and I with them on their vacation. I remember running next door to my Mom in a mad dash when Lori told us the news. “Mom,” I shouted running up the stairs, “can we go to Canada with Lori and Joe?” She stopped what she was doing, paused for a second or two then silently nodded her head.”Yaaay!” my sister and I yelled both anxious and excited. This trip was going to be different because we would be gone for nearly one week. My Mom had developed a relationship with the neighbors (Lori and Joe) and had established a friendship and trust. My Mother would allow us to go on night-runs with Joe delivering medical supplies and accessories to various places in Indiana. One of our favorite places to ride along was Kokomo. Kokomo was just north of Indianapolis and it took about an hour and a half to get there. On the road my sister Erica, older cousin Teena, and I would sing songs, play highway games and entertain Joe. Joe was like a father figure for us girls. He and Lori had no children but treated there nieces, nephews, and neighbors like children. Sometimes I remember people starring once three little black girls marched out of the van with this Caucasian man. We found it second nature though. It was around the late nineties when we would travel by car to Canada.
I had no clue of where Canada was so Joe took me in his den and showed me where it was located on the map. Lori and Joe’s den consisted of a large antique world map that had pins attached at various places they both had traveled. It almost looked like a dot to dot. I remember sitting in the den while Lori folded laundry, or Joe used the computer thinking, “man, I want to travel to far away places.” We were scheduled to leave during the summer after school was out. I was so anxious I remember packing my bags nearly a week before we would leave. I would go visit Lori next door and ask her questions about the trip. She must have answered a million questions from me but always smiled and laughed.
We would travel via the Black beauty. Black beauty was the name of the luxury van Joe recently bought. I remember the back door slide open and shut by itself, it was very fancy. The day we were leaving I remember watching Lori pack various snacks in a basket. They were very meticulous. When the time came we said our goodbye’s to our Mother and grandparents then hopped in the van. On our way to Canada we listened to great blues and soul music. One of our favorite tapes were The Blues Brothers. Erica and I had grown fond of the tape having listened to it many times at Lori and Joe’s house. The drive took one day and we made a brief stop to sleep and grab some breakfast.
When we arrived in Toronto, Canada Erica and I couldn’t help but smile. With grins from ear to ear we were excited to be explorers in a new place. Looking out the van window we seen various restaurants like McDonald’s, hotel chains like the Four Seasons, even shopping malls. The people drove cars walked through the street, and even rode bikes. They were just like us. We took a brief stop at convenient store. Erica and I got out of the van and went inside. The store excepted American dollars however the items were marked with two prices. Each candy, soda or souvenir item read, Canada X price and U.S. X price. The Canada price being the more expensive one of course.
Our first day in Toronto was great! We all gathered to take a boat ride called Maid of the Mist. The Maid of the Mist was a ferry ride that took tourists near the Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls was an enormous waterfall in the Niagara River that borders the International Canadian Province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York. Once we boarded the boat we were given a blue poncho to wear. We were going to get wet. As the boat left the dock Joe, Erica and I went to the second level to see the view. It was beautiful! We could see the river and the falls just ahead. As we got closer to the voluminous falls we began to feel the mist from far away. As we approached the bottom of Niagara Falls the water felt like a small rainfall. It was cool to get so close. That was my first boat ride, ever! I loved it. Afterwards we went back to our hotel and decided on where to eat for dinner. Canada had so much in store for us…