Feral! report — Day 1 and 2

Well now. As it appears Jeffery Core has begun posting his report on Camp Feral!, it would appear I must do likewise, lest I appear to be a slacker. Besides, I am sure that one or two of you are curious to know what it was all like. Check his blog for the short version once you reach Friday morning.

My adventure began a day before the ‘fin’s, because I had the great idea to fly from Charlotte to Toronto the day before we were to take the bus to camp, so I would not have to get up early or make it from the airport terminal to Yorkdale at top speed, especially since I had to clear customs and all that. (As it turns out, that concern was for nothing.) Anyway, after dropping off my four-legged friend Virgil and experiencing separation anxiety, I made it to the Charlotte airport. Now, I always give myself a few extra minutes because I always opt out of the scanner, and the TSA always gives me the up-close-and-personal screening instead. You also immediately become their lowest priority when you do opt out. They make you sit there and wait for a while.

Finally get through security, force myself to eat a little bit of something for lunch (a hamburger that wasn’t all that interesting), and board the plane. All well and good so far, but once we taxi to the runway, we just sit there. When you have a connecting flight, sitting there is the last thing you want to do.

After a few more minutes of waiting and the coyote on the verge of panic, we finally take off, and before too long we’re at LGA. Maybe it was longer than I thought… I was reading Jeffery Core’s story at the time. Of course, when I land I learn that my plane to Toronto is in a different terminal, so I have to leave the secure area and go through my second TSA encounter of the day.

In the future, be very careful when you have a connecting flight at LGA.

I finally make it to Toronto and go through customs. They waved me through in a hurry, no questions asked. I was slightly surprised; most countries I’ve visited ask “Where are you staying?” at the very least. I get my bag, hop on the Airport Rocket from Terminal 3, and away I go to the hotel, taking the subway along the way. I like their subway; it is clean, if kind of old.

I do some sightseeing around the hotel, find food, and retire for the night.

Next day I get up rather early (I tend to do that) and did some more sightseeing, walking from the hotel, to Queen’s Park, to the CN Tower. Along the way I stopped at Tim Hortons for breakfast and also exchanged some of my American money for Canadian at the bank. By this point I am not running late yet, so I check out of the hotel and get on the subway to Yorkdale.

Then an announcement comes over the intercom: the train I am on is being taken out of service, so everyone must get off at the next stop. So we do, and we all wait for the next train. That one actually made it all the way to Yorkdale though.

I know Jeffery Core is waiting for me somewhere in Yorkdale, but first I have to find my way around. The layout is actually rather simple, but it was still enough to be disorienting and I wanted to make sure I did not take a wrong turn. When he and I finally meet, he’s been waiting for about a half hour. Don’t feel too bad for him, though. I was a few minutes late, yes, but he was also early. We embrace, find food at KFC (it wasn’t wonderful), and meet up with a few others going to Feral!. We walked with them to the meetup point which was in a residential area, and kind of hung out until the bus pulled up and everyone was ready to go.

While I enjoyed Feral! and appreciate the work the staff put into getting everything organized and ready, I must tease them for a moment. While waiting for the bus, I began developing an idea of what I called “Feral! time,” which I took from my trips in Latin America. That’s when you say one time, but you really mean some indeterminate minutes later. The bus was supposed to leave at 2 PM sharp… it was more like 2:40 PM dull. The Canadians talked about how hot it was, but this Southern ‘yote was quite happy in the mild heat. Maybe it was a little on the warm side, but surely they were exaggerating.

After about five dozen head counts, we were on our way. The ‘fin and I talked for a bit, but he was tired so he tried to nap. Others successfully napped in very awkward positions on the seat; how they did it is anyone’s guess. There was quite a bit of traffic between Toronto and Barrie, putting us even more behind, but we did eventually make it to our Tim Hortons stop. They gave us 15 minutes. About 40 minutes later we’re all back on the bus and ready to keep going.

We go farther and farther into the wilderness, and finally we arrive at Arowhon. It’s gotten noticeably cooler as we’ve traveled, so I’m beginning to wonder just what the weekend will be like. It’s fine though. We stand in line to get our badges (they got my species wrong! : ( ) and sponsor bags, and then we eventually find ourselves in a cabin.

The cabin hunt is a story all by itself.

We drop off our things, we have supper, get acquainted with the grounds and some of the campers, and then it’s time for sleep after a snack, and a late-night talk with Callaster Nightwings. Well, try to sleep. It’s hard to get to sleep the first night someplace new, especially when the beds are a little harder than you’re used to.

Bark at me