Doug versus The Volcano

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The volcano won the first battle.

Last week, we were supposed to have a long-planned vacation to Belgium. On Thursday morning the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted from its glacial hibernation in Iceland. Flights across Northern Europe were canceled to avoid the dangers of flying through the volcanic ash plume.

It gave us an opportunity to teach The Son about Iceland, volcanoes and volcanic ash while we waited to see if the volcano would calm down, upper air currents would change and, ultimately, whether our flight would be canceled. (See these great pictures from Boston.com’s Big Picture: Iceland’s disruptive volcano and More from Eyjafjallajokull.)

Five hours before our Friday night flight, British Airways canceled our flight with little prospect for re-booking a new flight in the near future.

We had gone through the hassle of getting passports for the kids. (In case you were wondering, it is very hard to get a two-year old to stand still for a passport photo.) Since the easiest way to travel internationally from Boston is to head North, we scrambled for a Plan B trip to Canada.

We looked at Montreal, but a municipal strike had shut down many venues and others were not yet open after their winter closings.

Toronto was the winner. They had some great kid-friendly places to go. We had a back-up plan for the volcanic disruption.

We first stopped at the Simon Pearce factory in Quechee, Vermont to eat a delicious lunch and watch some glass-blowing, pottery wheels and their waterfall. Then we went on to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science to see their great raptor center. Finally, we spent the night in Burlington.

After a long drive from Burlington to Toronto we settled into a great hotel and went to the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Science Center. All three were great for the kids (and us).

The next stop was Niagara Falls. The kids loved the scenery and the ride on the Maid of the Mist.

Our final stop was Syracuse to visit my sister and her kids. The cousins had a blast playing together.

More to come on some of the individual highlights of the vacation.

The volcano won the first battle, but we seized the victory.

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