Late Fall at the Wye Marsh

November 19, 2013

The school groups aren’t doing much at the Wye Marsh this month.  We were incredibly busy in October but there are only occasional groups coming until, I guess, next year when cross country skiing starts up.  A coworker and I felt the need to canoe and see what the marsh looks like in mid-November.

First, I found this wonderful swan-foot print and needed to compare it to my own hand.  Sure, my foot is longer, but this is huge for a 12 kg animal.

DSC09976 b We were using a smaller canoe so we explored areas we couldn’t earlier in the giant ten person canoes.  Here, the edges of the channel were so narrow, we just pulled our boat through.DSC09971 b Did I say, November?  I meant Movember.  Squint or click on the image to increase the size if you cannot see my luxurious mustache!DSC09971 cWe had passed this beaver den almost every day for around five months.  After three weeks away, we arrived to find a cache of small trees and branches with delicious bark for the beavers to access through the winter in front of the den.
DSC09968 b This kestrel is the Marsh’s newest resident of the Birds of Prey program.DSC09966 c

I guess this back end of a cheetah needs a little explanation.  My son loves cheetahs and this is around half of a Christmas gift I am working on for him.  There is more, and another mustache shot at Creativiti Project.  Midland Wood Carvers is a group of carving hobbyists that I sometimes join to beg for assistance and wisdom.  Their workshop is at the Wye Marsh. DSC09981 b

Cheetahs and other cats of the Toronto Zoo

October 21, 2013

On Saturday, The Little Guy and I went to the Toronto Zoo.  We were there in part to meet an old roommate from  university but we also had a set of animals we had to see.  Those animals were Pandas, cheetahs, Komodo Dragons, and Orangutans.  The other animals were expected to be interesting but not nearly as important to The Little Guy.  In fact, it was only with difficulty that I convinced him to see the pandas.  My tiny knowledge of Hanja allowed me to read one character in each of the pandas names.  Er Shun was ’2′ Shun and Da Mao was ‘great’ Mao.  My friend and I chuckled that ‘Great Mao’ might have been a dangerous name to have not too long ago.

I gotta say, this is a great time to visit the Zoo.  We were among perhaps fifteen people who entered at the nine AM opening and we didn’t feel crowded at all during the day.

 

The animal that most caught my attention was this feral cat carrying its lunch into a ravine.DSC09822 b The Little Guy and a lion.DSC09785 bTLG and a orangutan statue- the plaque is in honour of a friend of mine.DSC09816 b Three chameleons.*DSC09815 b A resting cheetah.DSC09795 b

The single best part of the trip of TLG’s interactions with one of the cheetahs.  It saw him running along the path and ran to meet him.  Then the two had a few running races.  I wish my camera had a better focus as I think it focused on the fence and not the animal inside but here it is clearly interacting with TLG.

 

 

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* I think there is only one chameleon in the picture.  As with Ninjas, one can never be sure.

Hallowe’en at the Library

October 20, 2013

Finally, a Penetanguishene Library event that had good attendance.  My son has had a great time at the Friday evening activities – Lego and chess are his favorites but there is also a Scrabble night and…something else.

Anyway, Hallowe’en came early on Saturday October 19 at the library.

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Mad scientist Mel enthralled the kids…with science!  I don’t know how much the kids absorbed but I want to make a smoke ring cannon now.
DSC09830DSC09832 DSC09831I have tried to avoid children’s faces in the images.  If anyone notices a problem, I will happily edit or remove a photo.

 

Awenda on Thanksgiving Monday

October 14, 2013

We had a picnic at our backyard provincial park today.  Awenda is just 10 km from home and really haven’t gone there as much as we should have.

My son learns to take chances:

awenda thanksgiving (3 b) awenda thanksgiving (3 c)

 

The variety of rock forms is suddenly interesting to me.  I have lived near Georgian Bay for years and never cared about the rocks.  They were mostly good for snorkeling over or diving off of.awenda thanksgiving (24 b)

Methodist Point:awenda thanksgiving (36) Stitch

I have had trouble capturing the vibrancy of the fall colours.  It has something to do with the right distance.  I can get one tree or one leaf but getting the feel of the forest eludes me.

awenda thanksgiving (39 b)

Today was the last day for camping this year.  Awenda Provincial Park is open for day visits until sometime next year

Great Muskoka Paddling Experience 2013

October 13, 2013

The Little Guy and I were fortunate to get to Bracebridge for the first part of the Thanksgiving weekend.  We met friends and did the Family Paddle event in the Great Muskoka Paddling Experience.  On Friday, we borrowed a canoe from some friends and  tried it out on the North Branch of the Muskoka River near Wilson’s Falls.DSC09620 b

Here are the Falls in question.

DSC09615 Stitch b

On Saturday, we went to Annie William’s Park for the paddling.  You can see that it was not just any canoe but a Langford 16′ Cedar Strip, made in Bracebridge, beautiful and a joy to paddle.  Many complemented the boat and I felt compelled to admit that I had only borrowed it.DSC09627 bThe colors were good during the paddle, and the trip in general – but I don’t think they have peaked yet.  This striking tree was opposite the Riverside Inn and where the North and South branches of the Muskoka meet.DSC09630 bI was impressed by the variety of vessels competing.  First up below is what I consider a sprint canoe, a very modern version of what I once competed with for Akomak Sprint Canoe Club.  OUr races were up to 500m and I really can’t imagine going 10 or more kilometers in one.DSC09629 DSC09628 b SUPs were common and another craft I would not want to race long distances in.DSC09626My friend Glen is in this boat and, as of October 13, 2013, the one used in the promotional materials here.DSC09624 b I really can’t say what kind of boat this is.  I am especially intrigued by the high stern seat.DSC09622 A few leading members of the 10km race passing our vantage point.DSC09621

I would never have finished it, but I wish I had seen this race, also on the Muskoka River.


Added later:  Results -for the actual races, not the ‘family paddle’ I was involved in, are now up.

First blood donation in Canada in thirteen years.

October 7, 2013

When I lived in Canada, I tried to donate often.  During my thirteen years in Korea, my rate dropped as it was too much effort to break the language barrier.  See here (for Busan) and here (Gangneung in Gangwondo) for those stories.

 

This will likely be my only donation this year, which is pretty weak.  My grandfather donated around 100 times and that was back when you could only donate two or three times a year.DSC09589 b DSC09588 bThe clinic was at the Best Western at King St and Highway 12.

 Here is where you can make a donation anywhere in Canada.

 

Cycling, in October, and more

October 4, 2013

I’ve been trying to cycle to work every other day, weather permitting, and really enjoying it.   I’d always been an early riser and my son really is so I am definitely up and ready in good time.  The weather has been cooperating, too.  It hasn’t always been sunny, but it has been obviously poor or obviously great in the morning so I haven’t been caught in miserable conditions.

One fly in the ointment is my weekend work.  This weekend are two rides I’d like to be involved in but I am scheduled to lead some cub scout activities at my workplace.  On Saturday, in Nobel, a village near Parry Sound is a 7.6km ride.

October 05th (Saturday) Parry Sound Area Active Transportation presents a “Fall Fun Ride” starting at the Parry Sound Mall and wrapping up at the McDougall Recreation Centre (7.6kms). It’s a free event with registration from 09:00 am to 10:00 am, with the ride starting at 10:00 am. Register and ride for an entry into a bike draw. The Rotary Club of Parry Sound will have a BBQ at the finishing point. For information call 705 746 5801. www.psactivetrans.org

This would be a great event for my son and I, again, if I were not working.  While searching for online info about the Nobel ride, I found the Sudbury Cycling Union page, which has information about work to create bike trails around Georgian Bay.

On Sunday,  the United Way is running a series of rides from 25 to 100km in Simcoe County near Barrie.

 

On Facebook, friends shared two videos that fit with today’s topic.  One is about a man who was fined for not riding in the bike lane in New York and so wen tout of his way to show how dangerous the bike lanes were  The video is interesting but his method - crashing into obstacles left in the bike lanes - seems a little too personally costly to me.

The second video was made by a Dutch visitor to the US and compares the cycling culture in the two countries.  Briefly, he feels that the way cyclists locally (Canadian bike culture is nearly identical to American) dress up and prepare for riding shows it is not yet normative or entirely accepted.  I get this: one doesn’t really need spandex and lycra to ride.  The situation reminded me of hiking in Korea.  Korean hikers often dress in brand name hiking clothes and boots, and with poles and packs suitable for Nepal when shorts and running shoes are entirely sufficient.  Perhaps Thorstein Veblen’s views on conspicuous consumption are still relevant.

Back to the video.  The Dutch rider also compares infra(structure) in the two countries and this is fair although I think geography is at least equally relevant.  I don’t know much about the Netherlands but my impression is that it (they?) are pool-table flat and so more bike-friendly from the get-go.

 

Two pictures from recent rides I have taken.  The first can be found in a previous post but is worth showing again.  It is a Dekay snake or Northern Brown snake that I shooed off the bike trail.

DSC09531 bThe colors are just turning around Midland and the views are only going to get better in the next two weeks.  I predict an incredible Thanksgiving next weekend.  The bike trails around Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay and Tiny Townships will be the places to go!DSC09564 b

Northern Brown Snake – my first sighting…and my second, and third

September 28, 2013

 

I’m in the biz, so I don’t expect to see a snake new to me very often.  I’m happy (ah, not quite ecstatic, but thrilled enough to write about it) to say today is one of those days.

Lots of info about North Brown snakes can be found here.

Here is the first of the three I saw today.  I found it on the Tay-Midland Trail at the mouth of the Wye River.DSC09534 b

 

I included my cycling glove to give scale to these scalies.DSC09531 b

I don’t know it was because they were sliding on the asphalt, but they really seemed to side-wind across the cycling path to escape. DSC09529 b

Legoland, Toronto Island, the ROM and more in Toronto

September 24, 2013

The Little Guy and I spent a good weekend in Toronto, but one that left me wondering just how computer literate I really am.

First, the activities.  We met a fellow ex-Korea ESL teacher and his children at Legoland in Vaughan.  I’ll describe the pics, then the day.

A miniature of the ROM – ironic that we finished the weekend at the real thing.

DSC09479 b

Building a Lego camera takes serious concentration.

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Peddling for height on the Lord of the Rings ride.DSC09485 b

 

My son loved Legoland as did the other kids.  I thought it was as good as it could be.  We entered ($18 per child, $22 per adult) and learned how blocks were made, then really enjoyed a dark ride where we could use laser guns to protect various Lego people.  Then, we were in the common room which contained many giant bowls of blocks, a workshop room that offered assistance in building things, a few ramps for Lego cars, a jungle gym (that the eldest child was too tall to be allowed in), an LOTR ride and a 4-D movie theatre.  I guess my main concern is that Lego is all about building things and blocks were provided in abundance but it just felt like, “Come in for a Lego adventure! Now sit still and concentrate!”  Loud adventure and contemplative concentration just don’t mesh all that well in my opinion.  The ramps, which looked like they were intended for cars were just used to roll wheels which were connected to nothing.

Again, perhaps I am being too much a middle-aged adult because the kids had fun, but the ‘serious’ activities were underutilized.  The LOTR ride seemed fun but was a weak fit with the general Lego theme.

It was a great place to be because of the miserable weather that day, that’s for sure!

 

On Sunday, we went to Toronto Island and I want to go again, soon.

Does Parks, Forests and Recreation want us to have fun or to tramp down the goose poop that was everywhere?

DSC09492 b

There was an ‘Island Girl’ run going on that featured Hawaiian and steel-drum music along the edges of the course.DSC09496

Mute swans.DSC09497 b

Toronto’s skyline from the Island.DSC09498 b

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next to the ROM was The Word on the Street Event, featuring TVO Kids.DSC09506

Finally, we went into the ROM.

DSC09508

 

 

Now the description of my poor internet savvy.

It was raining on Toronto Island -OK, probably everywhere – and that dampened our spirits but we were having fun.  We wanted to rent bikes but were concerned about interfering with the race.  the TVOKids Word on the Street event took us completely by surprise.  Why did I not think to research our destinations to see if anything special were happening? The information was not pushed to us but why didn’t we think to look ahead?  Next time.

Finally made it to Algonquin Park!

September 13, 2013

On Tuesday, I rented a beautiful single seater canoe from Swift  and took it to Access Point 3 in Algonquin Park. marked algonquinmap

Here is my full load for the canoe.  NOT packed were eating utensils and a big ziplock bag for the map.DSC00005

 

Although I described the canoe as beautiful, the sleek lines and speed came at the cost of forgiveness.  This canoe was one for hijinks.  After the first portage, I waded out with the canoe, lifted one sandaled foot out of the water, shook the water out and stepped into the canoe.  Mostly in the canoe, I shook the other foot, still hanging over the side… and rolled!  I hopped out so the canoe was only a third full of water but I was in belly deep water and my camera was in my shorts pocket.  I raced ashore and opened the camera up, took out the battery and all that, then set it on a rock while I tended to the rest of my gear.  By Wednesday evening, it had dried enough to take acceptable shots again. Basically, there are no pics until the last day of the trip.

I had planned to paddle (and portage) to Misty Lake and the clerk at the Park Office in Kearney remarked that it was a beautiful place but after the drive and the paddling and portaging, I had only made it to Little Misty by 5:15 and chose not to do the final portage and just camp there.  The site was great and involved 935 metres less canoe-and-gear carrying.


During some downtime, I carved two clothespins for the drying line, a spoon and a spatula.
DSC00024 Each of the three days had their best weather in the afternoon with the mornings being warm enough but ranging to dark and threatening to full downpour.
DSC00015 c

For the Big Hominid, some unidentified scat with remarkable fungal growth I had to step over during a portage.

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I saw several beavers, otters, great blue herons and a few moose.  Here are a mother and child shot I took in the pouring rain on my return home.DSC00040 c

I’m glad I traveled solo and I felt comfortable doing so but this is the sort of trip that I won’t really enjoy until more time has passed.  It will feel better in hindsight.


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