Tonight the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Pretty much the middle of the country and the only city covered by a giant dome of mosquito netting.

Now, a few times in the past I joked about Winnipeg not having an airport and how ironically named the team is, but tonight I’m not going to sit here and make anything up about the city that most people forget about.

I’m going to be the mature adult I am, and not settle for simple, hackneyed jokes.

I’m going to be an adult and make an incredibly expensive joke.

I busted out my luggage, went to Pearson Airport, and tried to fly to Winnipeg.

Now, it wasn’t exactly my idea. My wonderful family somehow got sick of my airport jokes and for my birthday bought me a roundtrip flight to what they claim was Winnipeg to prove it has an airport. Wonderful! A weekend vacation! No. My flight was schedule to arrive at 7PM on Saturday night, and leave at 7AM Sunday morning.

My family does not like me.

Fine. I’ll take a day of travel just to get some time to myself, I have a lot of podcasts to catch up on. So, away I went.

I still had to drive to the airport myself. Just more punishment I guess.

Here I am outside my terminal at Pearson airport. It was cold, but not too bad. I had an easy time getting through security since I was only going to be away for 12 got-dang hours I just brought my laptop and a change of underpants.

Now, I didn’t travel recently. No, this was booked at the height of the “airports forgot how to be airports” nonsense earlier this year so my green and black coloured budget airline sent me a text saying I should “arrive 3 hours early due to security issues”. I’m not a well worn traveler. Before this I hadn’t flown anywhere, aside from one day trip to Montreal for work, in about ten years. I believed what I was told and got to the airport 3 hours early, and immediately got a text saying the flight was delayed an hour. I shouldn’t have listened to that 3 hour warning. I was through security in 10 minutes.

Damn it.

To sum my time waiting up, I got another one hour delay, and then two gate changes. Green & black coloured budget airline is not my friend. I ate an overpriced hamburger, and wrote my family postcards telling them how mad I was. But I did spend some time riding the rides that were available.

Oh, and my gate was a solid half hour walk from the entrance, in the far flung reaches of the airport.

Pearson airport: F- for food, D+ for rides. Worst theme park I’ve ever been to.

So I boarded the plane, sat for a very long time not moving, and finally we were airborne, hours late, but moving.

I logged onto the airlines app, and was greeted by a survery about my trip. Why was I going was an option.

Spite. Spite is why I was on that plane.

The airline also had a section of the app dedicated to destinations they travel to and why you should visit. Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, Fort McMurray?

Fun fact: They did not have an entry on Winnipeg. My suspicions about my actual destination were justified.

I did see a city from above. Not sure which one though.

I took some photos as we were coming in for a landing to try and figure out if I was actually in Winnipeg, but I must tell you it all looks the same from the sky.

Snow? Ontario has that too.

Rivers? Yep.

I could have been anywhere.

I landed, and it was 11:00PM. many, many delays and bad security advice turned this one hour flight into a seven hour epic journey. I was tired and exhausted, and I wanted to go to sleep. It was pitch black out, and I found my way out of the airport. I took a cab to my hotel that was situated in the midst of an industrial district. I thought it would be Winnipeg themed, or have some art showcasing the city, or something.

The most generic of all generic hotels. I couldn’t tell you the name of it if I tried. So, with it now being near midnight, and my flight home being only seven hours away, I thought I would hang out and at least eat something. Except all the delays made me land when anything nearby was closed, so I opened up a delivery app, ordered some food, and as I hit send....bloop! My phone died. I also forgot my charger. Luckily delivery apps have websites too, so I ordered a new charger off there, and when everything arrived, it was the wrong one. My phone is dead, how will I get my delayed flight notifications?

So, I reorder my charger and just as I hit send....the hotel internet goes down.

Now I can’t track my charger, or use my data to power my laptop, so I...go sit in the lobby hoping my things would arrive before the sun rose. They did, and I finally got to charge my phone, but after all that excitement, I promptly fell asleep. I woke up to a ping! telling me my flight was delayed an hour. At least there’s consistency.

But, the sun is now up so I thought I would get a chance to see outside and maybe tell where exactly I am.

No time for sightseeing because again, my family hates me, and I have to head straight for the airport. No lines again, so I’m stuck wandering around the airport. I my haste last night, I didn’t check the gate area for welcome signs. Now that I have time, I wander around, looking for clues.

Clearly I’m hallucinating due to lack of sleep, because how could there ever be a store full of Jets* merchandise.

The rest of the airport was incredibly generic. A Tim Hortons, water fountains, giant vending machines for tylenol and headphones.

But nothing that says “Welcome to Winnipeg” or “Here are the rules for the Winnipeg airport” or “This is a real place seldo, you jerk”. Nothing. There was this fun sign, but it made me wonder if I was actually in the territories.

Finally, after waiting, and waiting, and waiting, I’m off back to Ontario. As we took off, I snapped a picture of the lands around the airport, and it helped me feel I was correct all along. That I was never in a major city big enough to host an NHL team. If I was, why were the lands we flew over so barren?

That’s no NHL city.

So, in conclusion, with personal research done, an eye test of the airport, I remain convinced that the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, does not have an airport.

I flew somewhere, I landed amongst warehouses and transient hotels, saw some lights in the dark and some fields in the light. There was no evidence at all that I was actually in Winnipeg and remain convinced that I had an expensive, elaborate joke played on me.

Thank you, I suppose, to my family for this adventure, for my delivery drives for food and many phone chargers, the front desk staff at this hotel for not questioning my eight hours in the room, and to my hosts, because there was one (1) sign in my journey through the airport telling me where I was.

Thank you Red River Metis, but I won’t be back.