Onto Toronto, ON, Canada, eh!

It's no secret, I don't travel much. Working for a local community newspaper company, my travels take me usually as far East as Pleasanton and as far north as San Rafael. So, I was excited when I was given the chance to travel abroad to Toronto for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies 33rd Annual Convention.

It started off well enough, being dropped at SFO just after 9 a.m. with plenty of time to get through security and to the gate for my 10:45 a.m. flight.

Security is always a challenge, having to remember to take off your shoes, empty your pockets, open your bags, take your computer (if you are traveling with one) out of the bag, and finally step through the scanner. No problem. Check, check, check, etc.

So I walk through the scanner, no sound, the TSA person says thank you and I wait for my bags to come through the x-ray machine. My iPhone comes out first and the TSA on the other side of the track asks if she can swab it. Sure, no problem. I appreciate the care!

Then the TSA at the scanner asked me to walk back through the scanner again. "I'm sorry. I was talking to the person behind you and wasn't paying that close attention when you went through." I thought, ok, better safe than sorry and I thanked her for the extra scan.

With iPhone in hand, shoes back on and everything else repacked, I proceed to my gate where I see the sign for my flight and it says "Delayed". So, my hour long wait will be longer... the sign says 11:15 a.m. No problem, so I wait. Read some magazines, played with my phone, found a place to charge everything before getting on the flight, watch a little of a movie and wait. 11:15 rolls by and there is still no plane. Now the sign says 11:45 a.m.

Finally at noon, we are boarding and don't actually take off until after 12:30 p.m. That means Toronto is the next stop, but not until after 8 p.m.

Good enough flight. I had a window seat and it always amazes me to see the patchwork of the American heartland. The seats all have personal video screens, including a mapping function, but alas, that doesn't work for some reason.

After a quick pass through Canadian customs where I got my first stamp on my passport, it's off to a bus to take me downtown. It drops me near the hotel and it's off to my room, but first I figured I should get some Canadian money. Gave the lady behind the counter $20; she gave me $19.30 back in paper and unfamiliar large coins.

Not thinking it's now almost 10 p.m. local time, I set out to look for something to eat as I'd not eaten since just before we took off from SFO. Walked about half a mile before coming along a Tim Hortons, which happens to be a block from my hotel. It's a turkey sandwich and off to bed, but not before a Skype call home.

All and all a good day. Tomorrow the conference starts, but not until 3 p.m., so I have some time to explore.


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