Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Touring with the World of Fantasy Players often was a thing of habit. There would usually be new cast members from year to year, but the tour was essentially the same. I liked it that way. Playing the same towns at about the same time of year made scheduling easier for me.
One of the routines that became established was the jump from North Bay, Ontario to Orillia which was about two and a half hours south. We were always there in late March or early April so winter conditions still prevailed.
After the North Bay show we'd be on the road by about 9:30 that night. Before leaving town I'd hit the drive-through at the McDonald's and pick up a quarter pounder with cheese, fries, and a large coke. It seemed like I developed a taste for that meal as a part of the routine.
With our meals to go, we'd hit the road for the journey south. There wasn't much traffic at that time of night so travel was easy. On a few occasions we had to deal with snow, with near blizzard conditions at least once. This was not a deterrence. After all we were road warriors, troupers who like the post office were not deterred by weather of any kind. Bad weather might slow us down, but it never stopped us.
In Orillia we'd head to the Highwayman Inn where I'd made our reservations. It would be around midnight and freezing cold. This would be our home for the next two nights. I'd arrange for a room that had sliding door access since my wife and I had one young child at the time which required taking a lot of stuff into the room.
The rooms at the Highwayman smelled of pizza, paint, and chlorine. The motel had a large indoor pool and a steamy vapor permeated the interior of the place. When we'd go to the restaurant for breakfast we'd cross a footbridge the spanned the swimming pool. The pool room was like a sauna there was so much steam, but it was a refreshing respite from the cold outside air.
We'd have time the next day to go downtown. Orillia is a small town overlooking Lake Simcoe, the fourth largest lake in Ontario. At that time of year the town is quiet and seemed almost empty when we were there. Summer brings vacationers who come to enjoy the lake recreation. Typically we might do laundry or go to some local stores. And then of course we'd go to restaurants and eat. Life on the road consists of eating in restaurants much of the time.
Orillia is the home of folk/rock singer Gordon Lightfoot who had a string of hits in the 1970s. Also from Orillia is blogger Ron Easton whose blog is Dads Unlimited.
The last time I visited Orillia was in 1991. That was my last tour with the World of Fantasy Players. Orillia has probably changed a great deal since I was there last, but I'm sure most places have.