We headed for my cousin's place North of Toronto on Friday, the last weekday of March Break.
The girls slept pretty late, so we left around 10 am, and made excellent time getting to the 404. Then we had to wait to get past all of the people trying to head down the Don Valley Parking Lot (er Parkway).
We got off the highway, and turned North, pulled over for mutliple ambulances and police cars, and then crested a hill, only to find out that those emergency vehicles were all gathered directly in front of us, and there was no way by. I don't know this area very well at all, so I had no clue where to go once we got turned around. I dialed my cousin, and we headed East, then North again. Finally, we made it to her house and had a great visit.
When it was time to leave, the girls wanted to go visit my Grandad's memorial tree, and since it was the middle of rush hour, I figured we might as well go down into the city. Off we went, on a route planned by my traffic analyst cousin to help us avoid the back flow from the DVP on the 404. I made one adjustment to her route, taking the 407 ETR west from the 400 to the 427. I am really really glad I listened to my gut and did that.
As we came off the 407 onto the 427, I noticed an enormous very black plume of smoke, down to the South and East of the airport. I wasn't quite sure where it was, but I knew it was close to the highway we were to have taken. As we travelled south, this plume of smoke continued to light up with smaller explosions. It was a very bad fire. I kept trying to scan radio stations to find out what was going on and where, but the traffic was thick and I couldn't remember what station was the all news and traffic station. When we got down to the area of the airport, the traffic pretty much stopped, except for the people heading onto the 401 westbound. The 427 takes a curve eastward at this point, and we were in the edge of the smoke. I decided to go west to Dixie road and make a phone call - especially since there were police vehicles closing off the 401 Eastbound.
Cause, here's the thing, I have no idea how to get out of the city if the 401 were to be closed. Because at that time of day, the only other route I know would involve going directly into the downtown core, and then getting stuck on the Parking Lot.
Turns out my options were to got through the core, or to head North and find the 407.
I finally found the radio station, and as we fought our way down Dixie, I discovered I was right, the 401 was closed between Kipling and the airport since the smoke was though to be toxic (that made me really glad we moved away from it as soon as we could smell it), and that it was a 4 alarm blaze in a hydro substation. 10 minutes later, the newscaster announced that the 401 was being re opened, as the smoke was deemed non toxic, and the firefighters were beginning to get the blaze under control.
We had our visit at the tree, picked up my cousin, and went to see my Aunt at work. Then it was time to hit the road.
We were moving at a good pace, cleared the city very quickly, the kids were sound asleep in the back and I was doing okay behind the wheel. Then........
Huge noise of something exploding, and a percussion to go with it. It was so close I thought it was one of my tires. But the car didn't swerve or become uncotrollable. Then OH SHIT brake, avoid, reocover, dammnit, brake, avoid, recover. A car carrier at my 2 o'clock, about 20 feet ahead of my bumper, had blown a rear tire, which came at me fast, hard, and showing all kinds of shreds of its steel belt. NEVER have I actually witnessed this happening, let alone happening close enough I could feel it, and then had to avoid all kinds of pieces flying at my car, with the potential to pop my tires and do other serious damage.
My heart was doing staccato beats for at least 10 km after, thankfully, the girls didn't notice a thing.
And I thought this was the end of the curse.
Turns out my poor cousin began vomiting, etc. at 4am, and then my kids began at 7:30.
Next time I head to Toronto with the kids, I am definitely going to be keeping my eyes open, cause this trip was insanely crazy.