Monday, April 19, 2010

Transport: Stuck in Toronto

TORONTO, ONTARIO - When the volunteers of the Toronto Railway Historical Association work on the track of the miniature railway located in Roundhouse Park across the from the CN Tower, it is not uncommon for a family to watch our activities. If we are working around a piece of full-size equipment, it is routine for us to offer to take a picture for them, move a fence to create a better photo angle, or generally engage in conversation.

Today, there were several families with young children who paid attention as we re-laid the very first track laid in the park to our contemporary standards and added the last switch on the mainline. One young boy was especially taken with the large steam locomotive, Canadian National #6213, behind a fence in the park. At some point, his family was invited inside the fence to pose with the locomotive.

It soon came out that the family was stuck in Toronto because of the current flight bans over Europe as a result of the volcano eruption in Iceland. (Is anyone else amused that almost no news agencies refer to the volcano by name, which is to say Eyjafjallajokull?) Having to stay here on an extra Monday, they were wondering what to do, and headed for the CN Tower, then noticed a roundhouse with a bunch of railroad equipment across the street.

The father seemed rather serene about the whole scenario. "These guys need to get to school," he stated, gesturing to his sons, "I need to get to work. But, we can't fly back right now." There are thousands of people in Europe and wanting to travel to Europe in the same predicament, many of them bleeding money from scarce accommodations where they are located and multiple re-booking fees.

Somehow, there seemed an irony in looking at historical transportation equipment--which never could have gotten them to their destination even when it was in operation--while waiting for the modern transportation system to become operational again. Hopefully, as winds and the eruption shift, the planes will start flying and start bringing the world back to normal.

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