After only a few months of employment I'd found myself with vacation time. The end of the year is fast approaching and our company is trying to schedule in our earned time off rather than carry it over into next year. So there I was, with over a week of freedom and nothing to do. Ryan was headed to Indiana for his own job, so I was left to fend for myself when it came to entertainment... a daunting task in my snowy, cold hometown.
I was in luck. My mom, like myself, felt in need of a whirlwind weekend away. Our flight discounts made it possible for us to fly to Ontario, visit family, and then return home in time for the week to begin. We set out for the airport Thursday evening. We figured our odds of getting on the flight would be substantially greater if my mom would take Friday off of work. We arrived to our gate just in time to be handed boarding passes... always a thrilling moment when you know nothing but standby travel. We stocked up on candy and boarded after my persistence that we had to hurry. I'm early for everything and have been my entire life. My mother (and fiancé, lucky me) on the other hand, take their sweet time getting from place to place and it wouldn't be the end of the world if they got on a plane at final boarding call. That for me, is unacceptable. I need to be on time. I don't know how I got this way with a persistently late mother, but it's who I am and as a flight attendant it's a pretty key trait. We finally got on the flight and settled into our seats... me stuck between my mom and a talkative old man who staked his claim on the armrest. We hadn't had time to have dinner, and therefore I felt it acceptable to satisfy my desire for a cheese tray. As I pointed out other items on our menu, my mom agreed to all of them and we found ourselves with loaded table trays as I forked over my credit card. It was a party! A quick 3 hours later, we were in Hamilton!
We disembarked and walked down the stairs at one of the only airports I know of that actually still uses stairs as opposed to a bridge. Waiting inside we found my smiling grandma, and there were hugs all around. When our bags finally arrived we hauled them to the car and set out on our way. It was past midnight by this point, but we ended up staying awake to chat and catch up until nearly 2 in the morning.
Morning came too soon. In a zombie-like state, we got ready for what was sure to be a fun day. My grandma, aunt (I feel the need to add that she is not in fact married to my uncle.. only because I know how much she's tired of hearing it), and mom had rented a car and we were going to cross the border for some shopping in New York! Before you get too excited, hang on a minute. People tend to forget that not only is there a big city called New York, but it's also a state. We weren't going to beautiful NYC (a far too lengthy drive for a day trip), but rather Buffalo. At the border we handed the customs officer our passports. Flipping through mine, he couldn't help but to ask what exactly it was that I did for a living. Once I told him, he understood the heavily stamped pages. We were sent on our way, and soon found the shopping mall that we'd come for.
We strolled through Macy's and the halls of the rather large mall, and I'm quite proud to say that I didn't purchase a thing. Okay, almost. My mom and I were both drawn to a ridiculous (awesome) hat with bear ears, covered in fur, complete with paws. It had paws! How could we resist?
We spent hours walking and browsing until we were so tired and hungry that we couldn't walk any further. We set out in search of a delicious meal and much to my satisfaction, we settled on The Cheesecake Factory. We were told that we'd be waiting for 15-20 minutes, so we ordered drinks to pass the time. Over 30 minutes later, we were still waiting. When we asked the hostess she checked our pager and said it would be about 20 minutes more. This news was not taken well by the 4 of us hungry shopped-out ladies. We had skipped lunch and my one drink was going to my head. We expressed our concerns about the miscommunication and before we knew it, they bumped us up and we had a table! Our next challenge was deciding what to order from the massive menu that sat in front of us. Everything sounded delicious and I was too hungry to make decisions. I finally settled upon barbecue salmon, and was very satisfied with the very American sized portion served to me. Dinner was over and I was certain that I couldn't eat another thing for at least a day. That was until our waiter brought dessert menus and I remembered exactly where I was. I couldn't leave without cheesecake. My mom ordered a slice of red velvet and I chose peanut butter cup.
We took them as souvenirs to be enjoyed upon our return to Canada only hours later. It had been a great day, although a long one. We called it a night and left the mall, stopping for a quick wander around Target before proceeding onwards to the border. We flashed our passports and carried on our way home. I was exhausted, as was everyone else. I was going to have the best night's sleep.... but first, I had to sample my cheesecake. It had been about 2 hours since dinner and though I was still far from hungry, I like to believe that there is a separate spot in my stomach dedicated solely to dessert. Oh my goodness, what a perfect combination of amazingness that cheesecake was. Peanut butter and chunks of chocolate all snuggled in between layers of cheesecake. I could think of no better end to our day.
It was off to bed, and this time around I had an amazing sleep.
The next day was a day to be spent with family. My grandma was organizing a dinner and we'd spend the afternoon and evening visiting and catching up with those that we don't get to see very often. My mom and I had some time to pass before anyone showed up, so we went for a drive in search of a quick snack. We somehow ended up at Homesense and my willpower was put to the test as I resisted buying any of the beautiful home decor. My mom picked up a couple of rhinestone-covered dog collars for our beloved puppies. At the grocery store we grabbed a small tray of sushi and enjoyed it for a quick lunch, before deciding it was probably time to return home.
Dinner was delicious, as it usually is when made by a grandmother. We stuffed ourselves full and then enjoyed a dessert of lemon meringue pie.
Once everyone had gone home and we'd said our goodbyes, it was time to call it a night. Well, almost. I must not forget that I felt it necessary to finish my slice of cheesecake before returning home. I force fed myself each yummy forkful, and then crawled into bed. (And yes, I did purchase a gym membership the day we arrived home...)
We'd originally booked for the evening flight back to Calgary, but after checking the loads and finding that it was completely sold out, we were forced to switch to the earlier flight. Unfortunately, that meant a 7 am departure, which meant a disgustingly early wake up time. We were practically sleepwalking as we packed our suitcases. My grandma drove us to the airport and we hugged goodbye before disappearing through security. It was a long 4 hour flight as we tried our best to get some sleep. We finally landed and I immediately hated our decision to return home. It was so darn cold!!! It had been well over a year since I'd felt such bone-chilling temperatures. I donned my bear hat and was thankful that we were in my mom's vehicle instead of mine. I'm quite certain that my next car should have heated seats.
It's not often that we start a day off in Calgary, so we decided to take advantage of it. After a breakfast at Denny's, we wandered Ikea and then headed to the karaoke store for my mom to update her song collection. Once we'd accomplished our tasks, it was back home to our warm house that I vowed to never leave until sometime in May!