When my boss suggested I go to ISSCR, I knew I didn’t want to go if I had to go alone. The conference ran from Wednesday morning through Saturday evening- which meant being away from Tuesday to Sunday, 6 days. That’s a long time to be away from my little family.
I considered bringing that little family with me- like I had done in the past. Back in October, the three of us had squeezed into a hotel room, eaten only at kid friendly places, and dealt with the 3 hour road trip to Philly to attend an AACR conference. There was no way we’d shell out for airfare- and flying versus driving was a toss up, time-wise, since Toronto is a seven hour drive from my house. However, the thought of making that long of a trip with a 17 month old was not appealing. Plus, visiting a new city is much more fun without a little kid in tow!
So before I agreed to go, I spoke with my husband, Mac. I told him that I only wanted to go if he would come with me- it would be up to him if he wanted Mabel to join us (since he’d have to watch while I conference-d), but we could try and arrange for family to watch her and go just as a couple. He was a little reluctant- it wouldn’t be exactly like a romantic vacation since I’d be at the conference for most of each day. However, the prospect of five uninterrupted nights of sleep was too tempting to turn down and he agreed to go. We would drive- since my company would pay for mileage- and only have to pay for his meals, since my per diem would cover my meals.
We hadn’t been on a road trip together since our honeymoon exploring the southwest. We hadn’t been away without Mabel except for a single overnight (less than 24 hours) when she was 5 months old. We were overdue for a get-away.
So, we decided to go! We’d road trip up and back.
We enjoyed the ride up- making a stop at Sonic. We navigated the confusing streets of Toronto with our uselessly inaccurate ‘smart’ phones (WTF Google Maps!). We checked into the Fairmont Royal York and our room with a view of the lake and the CN Tower. It was late, but we went out for dinner anyway. We crawled into a king-sized bed and drifted off to sleep- without having to decide who would get up in the morning with Mabel. It was GREAT!
The schedule of the conference was forgiving- with few relevant morning sessions, 2 hour long lunch breaks, and only two 2-hour poster sessions. That meant it was easy to sleep in, meet for lunch, go exploring, see a couple of movies.
Mac was easily able to fill the hours I was at the conference by relaxing (a rare treat for a stay at home dad), exploring Toronto Island Park, and researching where to dine and what to do.
Our big splurge of the trip (off-set by my per diem) was dinner at the 360 Restaurant at the top of the CN Tower- which gets it’s name from its rotating dining room! The food was REALLY good. We went big and got the 5 course prix fixe menu- complete with cheese board and fancy dessert! I finally learned my lesson and took a picture of the menu with my phone so we could re-read the descriptions as the courses came out and not just wonder what we were eating because we couldn’t remember!
While the food was REALLY expensive, it was worth it. What made it almost a bargain was that your reservation also entitled us to entrance to the Observation Deck of the CN Tower. So, after our delicious, leisurely, picturesque meal, we made our way down to the Observation Deck. There was a Blue Jays game going on at the Rogers Center next door, and we could look down on it and see how empty it was due to the NHL playoffs game that night.
We did the standard hand-held shot of us at the top of the Tower. The view was awesome- and since it was light when we sat down for dinner, and dark by the time we finished- we got to the city in daylight, at sunset, and at night. Beautiful at any time of day.
It was a really wonderful trip for us. It was so nice to go back to being husband and wife, not just mom and dad. I think we generally do a good job of keeping our relationship a priority and not letting parenting overwhelm it. However, getting away- to a new place- and adventuring together was definitely a re-connect for us.
Toronto, as a wife, was fabulous and I can’t wait for another chance to go adventuring with my husband! Is it wrong to pick conferences based on their desirability as vacation destinations?