I left Colum at Legoland for a birthday party and strode forth into the mall. My purse was slung over one shoulder and I hoisted my laptop on one hip, figuring I’d walk around for a bit before settling down with a coffee and my computer. That’s when I saw the sign: Aldo Outlet Sale Up to 70% Off. I was going to need to buy myself shoes at some point. Not taking advantage of the sale would be pretty irresponsible.
I gave my best guestimate of my bank balance, deducted the sum of bills that possibly, maybe would be automatically withdrawn at any point and then decided I should probably deposit the two cheques I’d been carrying around for several days before buying any shoes, sale or no sale. The mall directory didn’t list any banks at all, so I stopped at an information kiosk.
“Is there a TD Bank in this mall?”
“There’s one outside Entry One and past the plaza on the north side of the mall. It’s just over by the Boston Pizza.”
“Oh, great. So I walk this way to get to Entry One?”
The mall guy looked at me. “Aren’t you going to drive?”
“Oh,” I said. “Should I drive?”
“Well, you’d have to walk all the way through the mall. Then you’d have to cross the parking lot. And then,” he squinted from the excursion involved in imagining such a walk, “you’d have to cross the … and then the plaza … and the other parking lot … So, yeah. I think you probably want to drive.”
I’d only ever been to Vaughan Mills incidentally before. Once we went to a media preview of Legoland and once we stopped for lunch at one of it’s satellite plazas after visiting Reptilia. It’s a Goliath of a mall, just built in 2004 on a large swath of farm land (if childhood memories of trips to Canada’s Wonderland serve me right). Billed as “Canada’s premier outlet destination,” it’s basically a very large, egg-shaped mall surrounded by an enormous moat of a parking lot. Then there are further rings of plazas and suburban box-style shopping undulating out in all directions. It’s big on parking, short on sidewalks.
I had started back toward my car when I thought, “Screw it.” I wanted to walk. I had three hours to myself and it was a beautiful summer day and, besides, I had a sweet parking spot near Legoland that I didn’t want to give up. How bad could it be?
I walked for several minutes until I found an exit on the north side of the mall. Looking out past the parking lot I couldn’t see a TD Bank or Boston Pizza. That’s okay, I thought, I’ll start walking and it’ll appear. I looked back across the inner ring of parking lots and thought, “That’s like five city blocks.” Still no sign of the bank.
The satellite plazas just north of the mall are full of interesting, independent businesses, but there’s no way to know that from afar because they are only allowed the most discreet and self-defeating signs.
The cars didn’t know what to make of me. What is this woman doing walking from one place to another on a glorious summer afternoon?! Get in your car, lady! Nobody does Vaughan Mills on foot.
I was tempted to get lunch in one of the independent restaurants but it seemed like such a long way to walk to find out if they had wifi.
The parking lots seem to have highways on them. Cross at your own risk. I finally found the bank and went searching for a cafe.
I didn’t even know drive-through Starbucks existed. But I did at least know Starbucks would have wifi, so in I went.
I came upon a very small patch of nature on the way back. It mostly served to make me realize how strange it was that there wasn’t any other attempt at gardens or landscaping.
Which way do I go to get back to the main mall again? It’s not even in eye shot.
Looking north toward the Canada’s Wonderland roller coasters, you might be tempted to mistake the interlocking bricks as walkway. The trees and lamp posts tell a different story.
The most depressing patio ever, amiright?
I made it back to the mall! At least they have a little lawn by the entrance, I thought. Except, wait. It’s plastic grass.
I didn’t see anything I wanted at the Aldo shoe sale after all, but that walk was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One can only hope.