Sunday, August 28, 2016
Peter, Fiona, Heidi, Janice and I made our annual pilgrimage to Pomodoro in Wellington, Prince Edward County today. I joined them after they met for breakfast at The Stockyards on St. Clair. Originally I had planned on going to the CNE with Willy. But we postponed that until Tuesday.
Like our previous trips, we encountered heavy traffic eastbound on the 401 on our way out. Another accident. Again. It never fails. We had to take the side roads from Pickering/Ajax through to Whitby. It always happens. What else would you expect?
Our first stop was for homemade doughnuts. Unfortunately I can't remember where. Peter was driving and he had gone there in the past. These were smaller than regular doughnuts and were dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Very tasty. Though a little on the pricey side at $10+ for a baker's dozen.
Next we went back to Slickers County Ice Cream in Bloomfield, PEC. Heidi, Peter and I shared a 3-scoop cup of Campfire Creme, Apple Pie and Black Cherry. The general consensus was that the Apple Pie was the best. The Campfire Creme was pretty good too. It had a burnt marshmallow taste. Not sure how they did that. The Black Cherry was the weakest. Kawartha Dairy's version is much better.
After that we headed over to Wellington County to go to Pomodoro for dinner. We were a bit early so we went to the nearby park to hang out for half an hour. It overlooks Lake Ontario, so we took off our shoes and went in up to our ankles. The water was nice. If we weren't eating and we had our swim trunks, it would have been nice to go for a swim.
I have to say, we were somewhat disappointed with Pomodoro this time. They changed their menu to what they termed "Italian Dim Sum". I think that's their way of saying we're going to give you the same Italian menu as before in smaller portions, but at the same price. So, in the end, you end up paying way more than before.
As for the food, I thought it tasted fine. The others didn't quite agree. They were disappointed with what we had. This may be our last visit here unfortunately.
And, as usual, we tried to catch the sunset. Instead of rushing 23 kilometres to Sandbanks Provincial Park as we did in the past, Peter found a closer park - North Beach PP. At 18 kilometres from Pomodoro, it's six minutes closer. And, as per usual, we missed the sunset like we always do. Though this time it was obscured by cloud cover. So, even if we did make it on time, we may not have gotten to see it anyway. Some things never change.
After a rather unsatisfying dinner we decided to grab Korean food at Oh Geul Boh Geul on Yonge south of Finch before calling it a night.
Monday, August 22, 2016
Peter's friend, Rizvan, visited from the United Arab Emirates last week. On Saturday Peter posted in our WhatsApp group seeing who was interested in grabbing a Donair for lunch. For those of you who don't know, I supposed they can be best described as an East Coast variation of a Greek Gyros.
Even though there are restaurants that have them here in Toronto, Peter, wanted to try a place called Halifax Donair. One of his co-workers from the Maritimes said they're the best there. When we checked on-line we found they had two locations - one in Burlington and one in Milton. Neither of them close. To make matters worse, Environment Canada had issued a tornado warning for the GTA. So it would be an effort to get out there to say the least.
We decided on going to the Burlington location. Just because we thought it would be less boring than going to Milton (sorry, Milton). According to Waze it was supposed to take about an hour. From Peter's place we took the 401 to the 427 to the QEW. Along the way we did encounter bouts of heavy rain which slowed things down.
As we neared our destination Waze suggested getting off the highway which was clogged up. We took a few local streets and arrived at the restaurant a bit before 2:30. Unfortunately when we pulled up in front we discovered they were closed for three weeks for summer vacation. Really?
There wasn't much we could do except check Peter's smart phone for an alternative. Eventually we ended up just down the street at a local fish and chips shop named, Thistle Fish & Chips. We each had halibut and chips at $15.25. Peter also ordered a small bowl of mushy peas for $2.75.
After that we had a hankering for sweets. So we headed back east into Oakville to the Danish Pastry House. Peter had gone there before. We shared three pastries and ordered three coffees to wash it down.
Now what? After having lunch and dessert, what to do? How about dinner? This was actually pre-planned. Earlier Peter had arranged to meet Roger and Patsy and Paul for Malaysian food at Restoran Malaysia at Major Mackenzie and Bayview in Richmond Hill. So we headed up there.
Dinner was good. We ordered quite a bit of food. From sea bass and lamb skewers to mango salad and friend rice. It was pretty filling. But not filling enough I guess. Because we decided to go to Maxims just down the street for more dessert. Coffee and cake for everyone. Enough already!
Monday, August 15, 2016
My friends and I graduated high school 30 years ago this summer. I thought it would be a nice time to gather everyone together for dinner. Actually, I first had the idea of doing it five years ago for our 25th, but never got around to it. So I figured, I'd better not miss the chance this time.
I don't see many of my friends from Don Mills Collegiate Institute very often (at least in person). A good many of them are on Facebook and we sort of keep in touch that way, but that's about it.
I did see a number of them back in 2009 when our school had its 50th Anniversary gathering. But, for a few of the others, the last time I saw them was when we graduated.
I first reached out at the end of March, floating the idea in an e-mail. I put out and Doodle poll trying to see which date was best. Most people agreed on Friday, August 5th (at 6:30 p.m.), so three weeks beforehand I called the Jack Astor's at Shops at Don Mills to make a reservation.
Unfortunately I was told they couldn't take a group that large (around 20-25) at that time on either a Friday or Saturday. I could either book for 5:00 p.m. or for after 10:00 p.m. Not very good options. They also said, I could try Thursday, August 4th at 6:30 p.m.. So I had to reach out to everyone again to see which day/time they preferred. Argh!
Eventually we settled on Thursday at 6:30. We may have lost a few people because of the date change, but some of the folks who couldn't make it Friday were able to come, so we may have gained one or two there.
Vince Lo, Brian Berry and Peter Lipson arrived first. I was next, having walked from my parents' place (where I parked). Slowly the others filtered in - Livia Wong, Karl Konze, Andrew Hunter and Brent McDermott. Next Sabrina Arvanitis and Marcia Jones came in followed by Dan Eugen, Scott Gilland, Jay Lin, Alice Zee and Dave Thompson and Ewan Geddes. Manuel Lapus rounded out the group. Unfortunately Carolyn Burias had to work late and couldn't make it. That was too bad.
We ended up staying at least four hours. I think we were there around an hour before we even placed our dinner orders. And after eating we stayed another couple of hours just making the rounds from seat to seat trying to catch up with as many people as possible.
I didn't get the chance to talk with everyone. Maybe, in depth, with half the group. It was still great to reconnect. I know everyone really enjoyed it. A lot has gone on over the past thirty years.
Afterwards we decided we should try to meet up regularly. Our excuse for next year? - Most of us will be turning the big 5-0. That's as good a reason as any!
Friday, August 12, 2016
Day three started off nicely. But, unlike the day before, it stayed nice. Brian and Emily #2 were up first. We heard them in the water swimming and Peter and I decided to join in. Since Emily #1 couldn't swim she stayed by the shore.
Like I mentioned before, the water was relatively warm. And, since there were only four campsites on Grey Lake, it was even more quiet and peaceful than Bell Lake. While in the water Peter and I even saw a loon swim unhurriedly by.
It was magical swimming/floating on our backs looking up at the pine trees and sky above. Just so relaxing. A brief while later I got the idea of wearing our life jackets in the water and floating around. This would allow Emily to join us (which she did). We bobbed up and down in the water for a good part of the morning. It was wonderful.
We packed and headed back to the parking lot shortly after 1:00 p.m. It didn't take us too long to get there. We did our last portage and were attacked by mosquitoes once again.
After returning their canoe to the outfitters, Emily #2 and Brian hit the road. We had to lash ours to the top of Peter's M3 before heading off.
We stopped at Burger Priest in Barrie for dinner. Before that we grabbed milkshakes at Kawartha Dairy to drink. Yummy, yummy.
The traffic was still pretty bad going south on the 400. Even at that time in the evening. I don't believe we got home until after 11:00 p.m. after dropping the canoe off at Peter's friend's place in Etobicoke.
The trips had its ups and downs. It was mostly the mosquitoes that annoyed us. So many bites. The canoeing was amazing. Just being on, or even in, the water was great. I'd surely do it again. Especially in a place like Killarney. So pleasant, so serene.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Our second day at Killarney started off well. The sun was shining and the skies clear. We took our time with breakfast and just hanging out before heading over to our next campsite at nearby Grey Lake. It was a short paddle to the 530-540 metre portage point from our first site.
At the beginning of the portage I thought I'd try carrying our canoe solo. It was Kevlar after all, so it's not as heavy as the ones from the olden days. Still, two-thirds the way through, I was dying. Dyyyying.
The paddle to our campsite on Grey Lake was pretty easy. It's no more than a kilometre and a half long. After passing on the first site we saw, we found a decent one around a kilometre from the end of the portage. We set up our tents and headed back out for a hike. We were going to Silver Peak.
It was a long day. Unfortunately we had to do the portage again since the beginning of the Silver Peak hike was at the far west end of Bell Lake. In total I believe we paddle around 10 kilometres (5 each way) and hiked about 8 kilometres (4 each way up and down the hill).
By the time we started the hike the skies had clouded over. When we reached the peak we could see rain in the distance. It caught up with us maybe an hour or so before we got back to the canoes. We pretty much paddled most of the way back to our Grey Lake campsite in the rain. Yuck.
The views from Silver Peak were decent. Besides the rain, the hike wasn't too bad either. Especially after doing Alberta last summer. Nothing here can compete with the steepness or the rocky terrain there. The third time doing the portage was pretty tiring. The mosquitoes along the way were relentless. As well, back at the campsite, they were ready to feast. It was miserable.
Brian and Emily #2 prepared Shepherd's Pie using mashed potato mix from Bulk Barn. We were pretty much famished from our daily activities that we happily wolfed it down. Afterwards Peter, Emily and I went for a quick paddle to catch the fleeting sunset before bedding down. This time we put the tent flies on turning them into sweaty saunas. So uncomfortable.
Friday, August 5, 2016
Peter, Emily, her friend, Emily, (yeah, I know...) and her husband, Brian, and I went up to Killarney Provincial Park to go camping and canoeing over the Civic Day long weekend.
I slept at Peter's place Friday night and he drove Emily and I. We met Emily #2 and Brian at the Barrie ONroute at around 9:30 Saturday morning and we continued together. Without traffic the drive is just over 4 hours. Being the long weekend, it was busier than normal though. We arrived at the park a bit past 2:30.
Peter had borrowed a canoe from his co-worker, while Emily #2 and Brian rented one from Killarney Kanoes (at the park). After doing the administrative work at the park office/store we headed out onto the lake.
Since it was a long weekend, the park was fully booked. We were unable to get one campsite for the two nights. Instead our first site would be on Bell Lake (where Killarney Kanoes is located). The second would be a 540 metre portage east on Grey Lake.
Each lake has a certain number of campsites. They're first come, first served. Though they only book enough reservations per lake to fill all the spots, no more. So you don't have to worry about not getting a site, just which one.
I think Bell Lake had at total eight campsites while Grey Lake had four. We paddled about 2 kilometres to find one we liked on Bell Lake. On Grey Lake we found a suitable one just over 1 kilometre from the end of the portage.
The Bell Lake campsite was really nice. At the tip of a short peninsula/island it had a nearly 180º view of the surroundings. There was a nice clearing amongst the tall pines where we set up our tents and where the fire pit was located.
After setting up camp, Emily #2 and Brian went in the water for a dip. At this time of the year the lake was pretty warm.
As for Peter, Emily and I... we took our canoe out for a short spin. Since I was the most experienced canoeist of the three, I took the rear seat and guided us to our site. But now that we weren't in any hurry to get anywhere, Emily took a turn at the back. She did pretty well overall. Peter was content to sit in the middle.
I have to say, the first day was beautiful. The sun was shining, the skies were blue. It wasn't overly hot and the lake was calm. Since there weren't many campsites on the lake it was peaceful and quiet too. Amazing time to be in or on the water.
We paddled for nearly an hour before coming back for dinner. Brian and Emily #2 made some sausages and veggies. There were also vegetarian hot dogs for Emily #2. They looked like regular ones, so I ate one. Eh... not so good.
After eating, Peter and I went back out onto the water to catch the sunset. There were some wispy clouds in the sky and the reds and oranges that bounced off them were stunning.
We came back to shore and sat around the campfire until the stars came out and then photographed them too. There were a number of great vantages points because, as I mentioned before, we were on the tip of a peninsula.
Bedtime was at 11:00. It was warm out, so we all slept without our tent flies.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
I took my mom and dad out to dinner for their 50th wedding anniversary last Tuesday. My sister had bought some gift cards from The Keg. She and her kids couldn't go because they were in France visiting our aunt and uncle on vacation.
We went to the location on Leslie, just south of the 401. It's the one closest to where my parents live. We went there once before for a birthday celebration in the fall.
This location always seems to be packed. It doesn't help that their parking lot seems to be small. Upon arrival I dropped them off at the door and drove a minute or two away to a small lot for other businesses that were closed for the day.
Dinner was good. The food there is always tasty. My mom had the same thing as last time, the Black Cod. I had the Filet Mignon, medium-rare. That's what my nephew, Avery, had before. My dad had the Prime Rib (what I had last time). Of course we all shared. It's what we Asians do.
At the end the waitress brought us a piece of ice cream cake on the house. As a gift for their anniversary. That was nice.