Saturday, June 28, 2014

Camping in Tobermory Pt. 1

A group of us went car camping at Cypress Lake Provincial Park in Tobermory this past weekend. We left early Saturday morning and returned on Sunday afternoon. According to Google Maps the trip is about 300 kilometres from Toronto and is supposed to be 4-1/2 hours by car.

Emily, Peter and Gabe did the majority of the organizing. Emily and Gabe had a lot of equipment such as tents and sleeping bags already, so that was cool.

We took two cars up. Gabe drove Emily and Peter. I took Fiona and Keith. We met at the McDonalds in Brampton (410 and Queen Street), had breakfast there and departed.

Our first stop was Lion's Head. It's a quaint town off Highway 6, halfway between Wiarton and the park on the east side of the peninsula facing Georgian Bay.

We walked around for an hour. They had a very small farmers market there. We walked through the harbour where a lot of pleasure boats were docked. I chatted with an older couple who were sitting by the water enjoying the scenery. The water was crystal clear. We saw some pretty large fish swimming in the harbour. That was neat.

Afterwards we headed up to Tobermory (about 10 kilometres north of our campsite) to grab a bite for lunch. We had fish and chips at a restaurant called, what else, The Fish & Chip Place.

Next we had ice cream for dessert. I bumped into the older couple from Lion's Head again at the ice cream shop. They came up to Tobermory for a classic car rally with their 1958 Buick Special. It's a beautiful car.

At the car rally I ran into my Flickr friend, Georgette. She drove up from Toronto with her friends for the weekend too. What a funny coincidence.

After Tobermory we checked into the campground and set up our tents. Then we started on a hike around the park. We began on the Cypress Lake Trail and switched to the Horse Lake Trail. That connected us to the Bruce Trail and Indian Head Cove where some people were swimming and jumping into the water off the cliffs (which they weren't supposed to do).

Continuing along the Bruce Trail we hit The Grotto, a small cave, and ended up at Overhanging Point a scenic lookout that was great for pictures.

We headed back to our campsite from there. First taking the Marr Lake trail which connected to the Georgian Bay Trail and finally to the Cypress Lake Trail.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Walk with Cortina

My friend, Cortina, came to visit from Hong Kong last week. She actually came to attend her niece's graduation ceremony so she took the opportunity to visit me and some of her university classmates.

I was considering going down to the Taste of Little Italy along College near Bathurst, but was afraid of the crowds. It's normally quite busy down there for the event, but with the World Cup of soccer going on I knew it would even be worse. Especially since the Italy versus England match would be showing at the time. So we decided to avoid the area and go for a walk somewhere else instead.

I chose Colonel Danforth Park. I had gone there last fall and it was nice. The path is flat and paved which was probably more suited to the footwear Cortina had.

Colonel Danforth Park is located off Kingston Road and the 401. After you exit the 401 you head west on Kingston Road then turn south on Highland Creek Overpass and then take a left on Colonel Danforth Trail. That takes you to Highland Creek Drive which is the road into the park.

We arrived in late afternoon. I had a dentist appointment beforehand. The trail wasn't overly busy, so that was nice.

Of course I brought my camera. So that slowed things down a bit as I stopped to take pictures every now and then. That's why I often like going on outings on my own or with other photographers so I don't feel as guilty for going slowly.

The hike was pretty short. I believe it took under an hour each way from our starting point at the parking lot to Lake Ontario and back. Still it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Any time spent outdoors on a relatively warm and sunny day is great. Especially considering the long, brutal winter we had.

We finished the day off with dinner at Aji Sai. It's an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant on Bayview south of the 407.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hike at Boyne Valley

Last Saturday we went hiking at Boyne Valley. It's a few kilometres north of Orangeville, just over an hour's drive northwest of Toronto.

Peter picked up Martin, Edna and I at Finch station before heading up to What-A-Bagel on Bathurst north of the Promenade Mall where we met Keith for breakfast. I have to say it (breakfast) was underwhelming. I don't know why the place was so busy. The home fries that accompanied my eggs Forentine came out of a bag for goodness sakes. Perplexing.

After eating I hopped over to Keith's car from Peter's. He still took Martin and Edna. Besides keeping Keith company, I had a good idea of how to get to the park since I had hiked at nearby Mono Cliffs Provincial Park and had also driven the same way up to Owen Sound when I used to deliver to the King's Buffet restaurant up there. The trip should have been relatively straightforward. But, of course, it wasn't.

To go to Orangeville one would normally take the 401 to the 410 and go straight north. The 410 changes to Highway 10 north of Brampton, but it's seamless.

Since we were starting quite far north of Highway 401 we took Highway 7 west to the 400. From there we would go north to Highway 89 and head west to the park entrance on 89 and Highway 10. This was a route I hadn't taken before. Nonetheless it shouldn't have presented much of a problem.

Our first mistake was getting off the 400 at Highway 88 (the exit before 89). There was a lot of traffic going up the 400 because a dump truck had driving off the road into a ditch around 88.

Keith wanted to exit early because he was running low on gas. Peter was ahead of us and he exited at 88 too. Instead of heading east towards in the direction the sign indicated the gas station was we followed Peter west because we figured he must know a short cut or something.

Well Highway 88 ended at Highway 27, so we headed north on it. At a set of traffic lights Keith turned left because he thought he saw Peter turning left. Turns out it wasn't Peter. Peter was still going north on 27 to Highway 89.

To make a long story short, Keith and I ended up getting lost. And, of course, Keith was panicking because we were on small county roads with no gas station in sight.

We got directions to the nearest one from locals and eventually found the park. It was a comedy of errors to say the least. Peter actually got off the 400 early because he saw us signalling. He didn't actually know where he was going.

If we had continued straight up the 400 to 89 we would have gotten to the park no problem and Keith wouldn't have had a meltdown. I believe this could have been avoided if he had more gas in his tank beforehand.

The Hike.

The hike itself was both good and bad. The scenery was really nice. Especially in the wooded areas. It was beautiful - green and lush. Along with the scenery, though, we had to deal with the mosquitoes. There were quite a number of them. That made it quite unpleasant.

The terrain was varied. There were some climbs. Nothing too substantial though. The trails are rated at a moderate level which was fine for most of us. Keith got tired near the end though. We did walk 12 kilometres and it was fairly hot in the open areas when you were exposed to the sun.

At the end we sent Peter and Emily ahead to get the cars to meet us along the road back. So they actually walked an extra kilometre more.

We all enjoyed a meal at Wild Wings at Yonge near Finch afterwards. I had a burger. The rest of them had wings (of course).

Friday, June 13, 2014

Liberal Wynne

Ontarians voted in their provincial election today. They spoke loud and clear giving Kathleen Wynne's previous minority government a majority with 59 seats at Queens Park. Tim Hudak's PCs lost seats ending up with 27 and Andrea Horwath's NDP party stayed the course with 21.

I believe you could count it less of a win for Wynne and more of a loss for Hudak. His idea of cutting 100,000 government jobs in order to create 1,000,000 others didn't resonate with voters. Either that or they didn't have faith in his logic and/or believe the numbers he was projecting.

Numerous unions and other groups showed their displeasure in him in their many attack ads. Wynne benefitted greatly from this without even having to lift a finger. In light of his party's stunning defeat Tim Hudak resigned as their leader.

Another group that miscalculated voters sentiments were the pollsters. For weeks they had the election neck in neck between Hudak and Wynne. Some even suggested the NDP were up there with them. It was "too close to call", they said. Well, they couldn't have been more wrong. The Liberals blew everyone else out of the water.

Voters were willing to give Wynne the benefit of the doubt regarding the past Liberal scandals. Both Hudak and Horwath tried to pin the blame on her, but she emerged unscathed from beneath the shadow of Dalton McGuinty.

So a new era begins. Ontario has voted in their first female premier. And I believe she's the first openly gay premier in Canada as well. I'm proud of the fact that we as a province are so open and inclusive. I wish Ms. Wynne all the best and hope she can deliver on her promises and continue to make this a great province to live in.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Hike at Glen Rouge Park

Our foodie group went on a hike last Sunday. We went to Glen Rouge Park which is located off Kingston Road. If you're coming from the city you take the 401 eastbound and get off at the Kingston Rd./Port Union Rd./Highway 2A exit and head eastbound on Kingston Road. The entrance is on the north side of Kingston Road, just past the McDonalds.

Six of us went on the hike - Emily, Gabe, Peter, Fiona, Keith and me. Emily picked me up at my condo and we went over to Fiona's. Keith met us there and we took his car.

Our first stop was at a Shawarma restaurant on Lawrence near Pharmacy where we grabbed a pre-hike bite. Gabe drove Peter and met us there.

The day was nice. It was warm and the skies were blue with a few white clouds. It did become slightly overcast as the day progressed, but, overall it was decent.

The trail was relatively easy. Not physically demanding in any way. Most of it was under the forest canopy. So we were in the shade most of the time.

We actually made it all the way over to Rouge Park off Twyn Rivers Drive, so we hiked there too. I know the trails there quite well as we used to mountain bike them back in the late 90's. They're half in the woods and half in the open.

All-in-all we walked about 9 kilometres in three hours before finishing the day off at an Indian vegetarian restaurant at Woodside Square. Peter ordered a number of dishes for us to share. It was tasty. Though, I have to admit, some of it was a bit on the spicy side... at least for me.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Lunch at Arisu

I organized a lunch for our dishwashing crew from the Out of the Cold program at Knox Presbyterian Church. It runs each year from the beginning of November to the end of April. So we just finished.

We debated whether we should have AYCE Japanese or Korean. Melinda and I are fans of sushi. Especially the all-you-can-eat kind. But Joe doesn't eat raw stuff and Young Wha likes Korean food (probably because she's Korean). So we went with that.

Originally they were thinking about going to a different restaurant. But I had seen a voucher for $40 worth of food for $20 for Arisu on one of those discount coupon sites. So I convinced everyone to go there. I set up a poll and asked people which date would best suit them. Saturday, June 1st won out.

It was about the time I was going to call the restaurant to make reservations when I read the fine print on the voucher - It wasn't valid on Fridays or Saturdays. I asked the others if they wanted to change the date, but we figured it would be too much trouble, so we kept it.

The Saturday we met was a nice day. It was sunny and warm out. I walked down from my condo. It's about 6 kilometres or so. I arrived a bit early - maybe at around 12:20 p.m. Melinda was next followed shortly by Joe who rode his bike over from Bloor and Dufferin.

Young Wha came next followed by Ken (who lives near me). He was a little late because he missed his first bus to the subway (which was actually closed for repair work). He had to take a shuttle bus down Yonge to Bloor.

We waited a bit longer for Sam, but he never showed up. It turns out that he mixed up the date. We had a good lunch anyway. Young Wha educated everyone on what everything on the menu was. I usually get the same thing (bibimbap), but Joe rarely eats Korean, so he needed some help.

It was nice seeing everyone again. The next time we'll probably meet up is in November when the program starts up again.