Monday, March 05, 2007

Blogging T.O., Part Two

On Friday I had a chock-full day of conference at the storied Royal York Hotel, a block east of the Intercontinental. It’s a beautiful, posh hotel full of history, Toronto’s “It Girl” where royalty and rock stars stay while in town, and have since 1929.

At the end of day Friday, I emerged from the Royal York and began to proceed a block west to the Intercontinental. Suddenly I realized that something was up. Police cars and flashing lights were everywhere. Front Street was completely closed. There was yellow “Police Line Do Not Cross” tape blocking every intersection and cops on every corner. Holy smokes – something was up. I continued on toward the hotel and the cop on the corner said, “Where are ya headed?”

“The Intercontinental,” I said, pointing to it. “I’m staying there.”

“Okay, ya gotta go down this side street around the tape and go in through the underground.”

“I’m not from here,” I said. “Do you mean the PATH?” (Toronto has an extensive underground shopping and transport system and I thought he might’ve meant I was to look for some entrance to it.)

“No,” he said, “The underground parking garage entrance to your hotel. Stay close to the buildings. There’s ice fallin’ off the CN Tower!”

(Maybe Brian, who many reviewers of Mom’s Cancer vaguely call a “science writer” or “technical writer”, can elucidate, but I am pretty certain that if a piece of ice the size of a tabletop fell from the CN Tower, at an acceleration rate of 9.8 m/s², the result would be as if the entire government falled on my haid. But Brian may be able to put it more succinctly, possibly with numbers and pretty algebraic Greek symbols.)

As I peered around the corner to where he pointed, I could indeed see the entrance to the underground parking at my own hotel, and two more cops monitoring that entrance and yet more yellow tape.

“Ok, I see… thanks!” I said.

“Run!” he said. I runned.

I took the elevator from the parking garage up to my room where I reflected on the folly miracle of 553-metre towers in a country where blizzards are de rigeur, and the unexpected and incredible results thereof.

The next morning, the situation hadn’t changed. In fact, it had worsened. Saturday evening they wouldn’t even let me return to the hotel by the same route, making me walk around the block to the north, where I could access underground tunnels farther away from the hotel. “They ain't no other safe way, ma’am!” the no-nonsense cop said firmly, as she pointed to the north.

That’s okay. On the way around the block (which took me past the Mothercorp - isn't Rick Mercer adorable?) I discovered a little Pakistani restaurant where I returned later for a nice supper of chaat papri and chicken jalfrezi.

Later still, conference delegates reconvened for the conference fête (hey, they named it) at the painfully trendy This is London nightclub (entertainment: reggae, courtesy Bobby Dreadful).

In spite of all the bother, I had fun. I love Toronto, it's one of my favourite cities. It is surely not the only city in the world, but certainly one of the only cities in the world, which has everything you could possibly want in terms of shopping, dining, culture, entertainment, and fun, and yet where the residents conduct themselves like citizens of a small town and you can still strike up conversations with strangers every day.

(Taken from my hotel room: The CN Tower reflected in the building next to my hotel.)

Well, all things must come to an end, bizarre twists and all, and now I am home again in the bosom of my kitties and Husband.

And guess what? The airport just called. They found my luggage.


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Blogger Xtreme English said...

Yikes! Glad the airline found your suitcase and glad the Canadian gummint dint fall on your head! Don't they have de-icers for this kind of thing? I don't want to think about what we have here that could shed ice like that.

12:18 p.m.  
Blogger Brian Fies said...

(Ice)*(Size of Tabletop)/Cross-section area of top of Ronnie's Head = (Blood + Guts)^10.

I calculate they would've found parts of you in Calgary. You did the right thing, and got a good restaurant out of the deal.

Does the CN Tower shed ice like that all the time? Seems like it'd be fairly routine. Me, I'd imbed heating coils in its outer shell so passers-by would enjoy a constant warm tropical mist. If I can have a frost-free freezer, y'all should be able to come up with a frost-free ginormous landmark.

1:19 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Hi Brian and Mary Ellen,
Yeah, that math adds up for me!

In answer to both your questions, apparently there is a heating system built into parts of the tower to stop this very thing from happening; this is a freak occurrance caused by the storm, then a thaw, then a cold snap, combined with the location of the ice buildup (just under the observation deck of the tower, which has much less surface heating because ice is not "supposed" to build up there.

I am writing this on Tuesday; the streets were first closed last Friday, and as of this writing good chunks of the Gardiner Expressway (to the southwest of the Tower) and some downtown streets to its north and west are still closed!


1:47 p.m.  

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