The hockey adventure has begun. I've taken quite a round-about route to get this far, but now, (it's Thursday as I write this) we're in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.
I flew from BWI to Nashville where I met up with my daughter and grandson for the trek northward. My grandson, Jake, is a 15-year-old hockey goalie from Alabama and has been recruited for an opportunity to play junior hockey for the Essa Stallions of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. He’ll be living in Essa, Ontario, for the next seven months with a host family while playing in one of the premier junior leagues in Canada.
After a stop in the Detroit suburbs for a needed nights sleep, we proceeded to Port Huron, Michigan for the border crossing.
That was an adventure unto itself. After presenting our passports to the Canadian agent and answering the usual questions, “Where are you from? Why are you entering the country? And how long will you be staying?” she handed back our passports along with a yellow slip of paper and directed us to a building to the right of the entrance to the highway.
“Proceed to the stop sign and an agent will direct you where to park and advise you where to go once inside.”
We did as directed but didn't see any agents until we got near the entrance to the building. Then there were several surrounding our vehicle. One asked to see our passports and after a quick examination we were told where to go and whom to see once inside. These guys and girls were most courteous, but very serious nonetheless.
Once inside, the desk clerk/agent took our documents, directed us to the waiting area, and there we sat for nearly 2 hours before Jake's name was called to complete the paperwork.
During our time waiting for Canadian immigration to clear Jake's seven-month stay we met some very nice and interesting people who were going through the same process. A family from Iowa, a couple of MMA fighters, and a man who was legally carrying a firearm, properly in a locked case.
Once all of this was completed it was on to Toronto to meet up for dinner with an old friend who used to coach hockey in Huntsville, Alabama, but is now the goaltender coach for the Minnesota Wild of the NHL, and another much-needed night’s sleep, and then on to Barrie and some sightseeing in the very pretty and easily walkable little town on the shores of Kampenfelt Bay on Lake Simcoe.
Friday is free, so far, and what we might do is still up in the air. Whatever it is we'll be needing to be bedded down relatively early since Saturday brings an early wake-up call and it will be a very busy day.
My grandson, Jake, reports to his team and gets introduced to his host family on Saturday morning, early, and then he's on the ice for the first practice. Another early wake-up on Sunday morning and it will be the very long drive straight through to Huntsville, since my daughter has to be at work on Monday. I'll be sharing the driving this time.
Your copy of this edition will probably be in the recycle bin by the time I get back to Taneytown sometime after midnight Tuesday morning. I expect to be very tired, but excited all the same, after seeing my only grandchild off on his personal adventure in the world of hockey.
That world is large, but small at the same time. Friendships made at every level, from the smallest beginners to the NHL, last a lifetime.