Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 29 and 30, Markham to Montreal to Ottawa

Today was day 29 of 41 of the 2015 Pan-Am torch relay and it brought me right to downtown Toronto. I was impressed with the buildings around Park road so close to Bloor St. and the downtown core. While some of the relay team was off to Montreal, city 4 of 5 of the national city relay stops, I was sequestered as the command vehicle driver for the 2015 Toronto Pride Parade, which among many, many interesting things to see, there would also be 10 torchbearers carrying the flame along the route.  

We actually had to have our two vehicles in the staging area at 9:30. (the parade started at 2 p.m.). In front of us was this float, go ahead, speculate away.

A lot of sponsors in the relay. I only had a chance to see what was around us in the staging area, once the parade started, I did not get a chance to be a spectator.

I am sure this is not the real logo on this truck. (this was the float for the Toronto Police)

back on Park Road.

a block away from downtown

close contrast

that's one narrow duplex
behind us in the staging area was this antique fire truck showing the pride colors

It was very busy in the staging area, which ran all the way down the Rosedale Valley Road.

Then, at about 10 to 2 p.m. we moved up to the start point close to Bloor Street.( the parade is about 2 km, and ends at  Yonge-Dundas Square)(in front of us was a couple of vehicles from the Canada Olympic team.

I have seen the pride parade in Vancouver and it was an almost 3 hour spectacle. Today, because I was driving, I only saw what was around me, but it was still a lot of fun. (It rained hard today, but let up during the parade. ) It took us about an hour to complete the route. ( 10 torch bearers, 200 metres each)

Our two media people, Chloe and Hannah, were in place on the road, all decked out in their rain ponchos.

and darned if the float in front of the torchbearers had none other than Cyndi Lauper going along for the ride. (Apparently sponsored by a local radio station and the musical Kinky Boots, which she wrote music for)

The pictures do no show the thousands of spectators that were out today, it was surreal being in the parade, like being in a fishbowl

The torchbearers walked as a group, passing the torch every 200 metres.

It was a slowest thrill ride I have ever been on.

The flame burns bright for Cyndi Lauper

There was people in every nook and cranny along the route.

and lots of television coverage. (top right corner)
the flame burns brighter on the grey rainy days. We were the number 12 entry out of about 175, so it was short and sweet and we were on our way back to our hotel in Markham.

Day 30, as I look out my hotel window, I can see all three shuttles are still here. Everyone else is in Ottawa, or are on their way.
Leaving town, I saw the potential of a steamroller relay.

Close to the hotel "Viva Panam"

I had to go to the Markham GO station to pick up relay staff that had gone back to their homes for the week-end. (most live in the GTA) I spied this banner in downtown Markham celebrating the flames arrival 2 days prior.

I never did get to see downtown Markham until now, just the ugly strip malls and restaurants that surrounded our hotel

heading out with Wendy and Garnet, driving the other two shuttles, heading east.

Omg! the picture does not tell the story as I drove by this truck that was hauling live pigs. (not a happy ending, I'm sure)

finally after a couple of hours, the traffic was thinning out. (we were on about a  375 km jaunt)

cruising through downtown Belleville. (looking for food)
Back down the highway, this time we decided to take the scenic route, not the busy 401 highway, but the 37 to Tweed and the Highway 7, of course!

Back into farmland country, I love it!

We shuttle drivers decided to stop at Stoco lake, in the quaint berg of Tweed. ( population around 6,000)

It's hard to take pictures when your driving ( and I do not recommend it), but believe it or not this is the Mississippi river. (did the GPS steer me way wrong?)
down the road, random cloud shot

and then, before traffic chaos ensued, I could see Ottawa in the distance. Now I must concentrate on driving, good night!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 28 Whitchurch-Stouffville to Markham

Day 28 is going to be short and bittersweet in blog land. We started our day in Markham at the very beautiful Angus Glen Golf & Country club.
Angus Glen Golf Club, one of Canada’s most prestigious golf courses, will host the first-ever Pan Am Games golf tournament in July 2015. The championship-level golf course has hosted the Canadian Open twice — once on the south course in 2002 and on the north course in 2007. Angus Glen was selected through a request for proposals (RFP) process conducted by Golf Canada on behalf of TO2015 in 2012

Our torch bearer meeting point was in the most pretty neighbourhood of Unionville.
The history of this suburb of Markham dates back to 1794.

the meeting point was at the local arena, the Crosby memorial community centre.

The picture does not do the downtown core justice, this was the definition of quaint.

the calm before the afternoon storm, our first group beat the weather

a quick drive by shot, but I soon noticed, all the quaintness will soon be gone, this area is the fastest growing and one of the most affluent areas in the GTA (greater Toronto area). New home construction was everywhere.

back to Angus Glen to drop off our first torchbearer, who was to receive the flame from another torchbearer who arrived on, of course, a golf cart.....

By the time we got back to Unionville to drop off the rest of the torchbearers, hundreds of locals lined the streets of the downtown core, very cool.

A random photo op with the torchbearer and a couple who had just got married at a church around the corner.

The last torchbearer in our group ran the flame into the new Pan-Am pool built for the 2015 games in Markham.

Our second group of the day proved to be the most resilient I have seen to date, we all knew the rain was starting, but they made the most of it and enjoyed every moment. Our meeting was at another suburb of Markham, the Thornhill Community Centre.

clever?, or................

A list of the events that will be held in Markham

Our job is to get the torchbearers ready for their on the road experience, but it all goes out the window when the Pan-Am mascot, "Pachi" , shows up. (We lost about 1/2 hour on our briefing, but it was worth it.)

It was raining so hard outside, we had to have the group shot inside

bus shelters and ponchos were very popular today for torchbearers and their supporters

 Originally scheduled for outside, there was a small celebration at the Thornhill community centre.

The weather will not dampen the spirit of the relay, maybe it's time to relocate for a day. Tomorrow, Montreal