Saturday, January 07, 2017

Back in O-Town For Risk Showdown

I needed to be at the train station by 6:40am. I woke up at 4:30am to the sound of the fire alarm. Fantastic.

Just yesterday I had been talking to some guys at work about the fire trucks that had been at my building a few nights ago. One guy who lives nearby said that he once saw the mezzanine level of this building on fire. Huge flames coming out the windows. That means that they aren't all false alarms. I stayed in bed all the same.

I figured that I shouldn't leave unless I took all my stuff with me, otherwise, I might not be able to get back inside in time to get my stuff for the train, and then that would be a huge mess. But I didn't feel like getting up, because I didn't want to kill time for 2 hours either. I just pulled my covers over my head and tried to sleep throught the racket.

A disembodied voice told me that the alarm was on the 6th floor and that the fire department was on the scene. Both of those things sounded good to me. I would stay on the 25th floor for now.

The alarm finally turned off by about 5:00am, but I couldn't go back to sleep. I kept thinking of things that I needed to do when I got up. Plus I worried that maybe I would sleep to long and miss my train, even though I had set 5 alarms on my phone. Eventually I gave up and got ready. I suppose it was a good thing, because I was able to have a good breakfast and take out the garbage and take care of a few other things.

I made it to the train well in advance and boarded without any trouble or fuss. I had the window seat, which was nice, although I was on the side facing north, so I didn't get all the great views of the lake and the St. Lawrence River. Instead, I saw the backside of buildings in the more unfavourable parts of several eastern Ontario towns.

The seats on the train have much more leg room that an airplane, which was much appreciated. Pretty much everything about the train was preferable to an airplane. You don't have to shut off your phone, or put away your tray table, or raise your seat to the upright position. The windows are huge, there's plenty of space in the overhead bin, and you can show up 10 minutes before your departure time because you don't have the hassle of check-in, security, baggage handling, or any of that. And then once you get on the train it cruises at 160 km/h (100 mph), which eats up the distance very quickly (I have a speedometer app on my phone which comes in very handy).

If you ride all the way to the main Via Rail station in Ottawa then the trip from Toronto is about 4hrs 40 min. It could be faster if you didn't have to stop and decouple the cars at Brockville so the rest of the train could head off toward Montreal. I got off the train one stop early at the Fallowfield Station SW of the city, so it was 20 minutes faster.

My friend Les W picked me up at the station and we got 2 huge shawarma platters on the way to Darren's place, where the troops were gathering for an epic game of Risk 2210. When we first moved to Ottawa we had a lot more spare time and I was able to play board games frequently with work friends when R was teaching in the evening. We loved playing Risk 2210, which was a variant of the traditional Risk board game. I haven't played it for years, but it worked out that Les had just taken a different job and was going to move away and I had just moved back out East so we could get together for a grand event.

Although more than 9 years had passed since I had last been in Ottawa, it felt so great to step back in time with old friends. The battle raged on for at least 4 hours, and in the end I came 4th out of 5, but it was still a great way to spend the day. Darren was able to dig the game out of his storage room and found it with all sorts of hilarious paraphenalia from those days, including 2 copies of a corporate poster that I had designed using a Risk 2210 theme, which ended up being selected and displayed around the building.

The hits continued after the game when another great friend / former-coworker showed up with his wife and daughter for dinner. He and I immediately devolved back to the inane antics and inside jokes of our years working together in the cubicles of room C521. He now works in the Privy Council Office, and it is really neat to see how each person's career has taken a different direction that seems to really suit them. Their daughter played with Darren's son, and they are all about the same age as Scott. Can't wait until we can all get together again when I can bring the whole fam.

I even went to bed at a reasonable hour, which was very welcome, given the unfortunate circumstances of my morning alarm.

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