Autumn in High Park – Discovering Art!

After work the other day, I decided to go out for a walk and enjoy the autumn colours.  Now that B and I live within a 10 minute walk of High Park, I have no excuse.  I have every opportunity to enjoy the largest green space in Toronto.

It was a gorgeous evening and there were dozens of photographers floating around the park trying to capture the changing of the leaves, including me.

I don’t know why I don’t visit more often. The path near our apartment enters the park at the northern tip of Grenadier Pond and it’s a beautiful walk.  Paths like the one below always bring to mind Anne of Green Gables…a HUGE part of my childhood…and such landscapes make me want to sit down wherever I happen to be and start writing.

Our entry point to High Park

Saw some interesting ducks that I don’t believe I have seen before.  Cool markings, as though they got into a fight with some liquid paper.  And they all had this haughty attitude…as though they knew it would soon be time to go but “Damnit! Until then, this is OUR pond!”

 

 

There were some awesome fiery coloured trees in the park.  Unfortunately, I still haven’t learned the ins and outs of our new camera so the pictures I end up taking are never exactly what I’m seeing.

Sometimes, I think that’s the trick to photography.  Not only is it catching a moment, but it’s catching the moment as we actually see it…along with all the nuances and processing from our visual cortex that makes a sight so damn beautiful!

Often I find pictures similar to a dull photocopy of a photocopy.  They don’t carry the same impact as our actual experience.  Luckily though, done right, they can pry out a memory that is at times even stronger than the original moment and brings it all back…smells, reflections, thoughts, sensations.  Those are awesome pictures…and they’re few and far between.

Prior to my visit, someone or someones had spent A LOT of time creating an artistic rendering of fallen leaves.  I was walking across a small bridge when I saw this to my left:

Every leaf positioned perfectly and even the colouring chosen to give it a darker, deeper centre.  I spent a long time examining this creation. It was crazy how perfectly all the leaves had been placed and I wondered how long it had taken to create!

Then, I looked to my right:

 

Isn’t that absolutely fabulous!  So beautiful that I couldn’t help but take a dozen pictures! There is such movement in the stream, even though it has dried up and is choked with decaying leaves.  Whoever did this…thank you! It made my day!

I took some other shots on my way home…Grenadier Pond was quite still, offering some lovely reflections….

…and of course, a self-portrait had to be taken! 🙂

If you haven’t been to High Park…go!  It’s a getaway…a tiny piece of cottage country in the middle of a large, busy and often-times frustrating city!

Long Weekend Cycling Kicked my Butt! (And I liked it!)

This weekend, B and I finally kicked off the cycling season!  The weather had been so crap that I hadn’t the desire or the energy to pull out my bike and be rained upon so I held off going for any extended rides…until now.  This weekend brought with it the lovely sun.  B and I  took full advantage!  Well…after a few setbacks.

First off, Friday night we went out for dinner and ate at WASS Ethiopian Restaurant.  I have been there a few times.  Amazing staff, incredible food!  Be sure to plan a stop if you’re ever passing through Hamilton!

Saturday was gorgeous…high 20s, sunny and almost too hot but I’m not complaining since it was the first ‘almost-too-hot’ day of spring.  About time!  We headed out with our bikes securely attached to our rental car and stopped by Mountain Equipment Co-op. My new bike rack required some extra bits and pieces before it would attach properly.  I also had some items to return and other stuff to buy, including a new set of panniers!

Over an hour later…purchases were made and we were on our way!  I’ve noted the equipment I bought at the end of this post for those interested.

Sad to say…we didn’t actually get to bike that day. By the time we made it to Kelso Conservation Area (which took longer than normal due to the fact that I thought it was somewhere…where it wasn’t! Ooops) clouds had piled high in the sky, rain was threatening, and there was a queue at least 15 cars long waiting to get into the park.

So we gave up on biking for the day and headed over to Crawford Lake instead.  I’ve been there a few times but B hadn’t so we hiked around the lake, a meromictic lake (as B would say to me, look it up :P), and visited the reconstructed Iroquoian Village.  Awesome place to visit if you’re ever in the area!

Sunday, we finally got to go cycling.  We did a 7km route that we have biked in the past.  Fairly flat with a few hills, enough to kick my butt as my first ride of the season.  I have mapped the route on Google pedometer HERE.  It’s a lovely ride around the bay.  A good chunk of the route is part of the Waterfront Trail and is quite scenic with numerous benches along the way (and porta-potties for you brave souls!)

On Monday, we mounted our bikes onto our rental car and I drove us out to Hamilton’s Beach Trail (also mapped on Google’s pedometer), another lovely paved trail that runs along the shore of Lake Ontario between Hamilton and Burlington.  Very scenic and very flat, so quite an easy ride.  The only drawback is that it is a popular spot and you have to be well-aware of all the people sharing the trail: walkers, rollerbladers, other cyclists, dog walkers, lovebirds etc etc….It’s a multi-use trail after all! 🙂

We cycled an 8km length of trail to the ends and back, so 16km overall.  Sure, as I said, it was a flat easy ride…but for me, the one who hasn’t really biked since last summer (when I maxed out at 20km), those 16 flat kilometers kicked my ass.  It is presently Tuesday evening and I am still having trouble walking up and down stairs!  Hehe

Of course, it’s a good hurt.  It means I pushed myself a little further than normal.  Which, I plan to do again and again.

The goal?  To cycle THIS 35km route by the end of June.  From there, who knows??

So, overall, our first cycling weekend was a great success, albeit with a slow start.  We had a good time, took in some lovely scenery, spent time together and got some exercise…not to mention kicked it all off with some fantastic Ethiopian food!

Now to plan for next May’s long weekend! *wink*

MEC BIKE EQUIPMENT

For those interested, here are the items I bought for my bike with a short commentary on each one…

MEC Micro Wedgie Cycling Seat Bag

I love this little bag.  It fits perfectly under my seat and is just large enough for my Blackberry, small wallet, keys and camera.

MEC PF-2 43L Cycling Panniers
So far, I’m really liking this pair of panniers (I bought the grey/black style).  They have a number of small pockets and are a good size for my purposes.  I haven’t packed them full yet, still getting used to having them on the bike.  They do add a little bit of weight, while empty probably a couple of lbs, but overall SO much better than having to don a backpack while cycling.

MEC Seatstay Rear Cycling Rack

This rack is awesome for carrying weightier bags.  Not to mention, the price was right at $15.  Installing it though, was quite the pain in the ass, as B can attest.  The screws that came with it had heads that were so big, they would have interfered with my chain so the guys at MEC gave us flatter headed screws (not to mention they had to saw off about 1/4″ since their replacements were too long).  I also had to buy a separate bag of hardware as the metal clips that secure the rack weren’t long enough to reach my bike frame.
Regardless, for $15 I definitely think this item was worth the trouble.  I think B would agree since I’ll be the one carrying all our stuff when we pack up the panniers! 😉

MEC Bicycle Frame Bag

B used this frame bag over the weekend.  Another great buy!  It isn’t huge but is just big enough for a few necessities.  The one downfall I’ve noticed so far is that it interferes slightly with my water bottle holder, which is also placed on the main frame of my bike.

Snowshoer Extraordinaire!

One more item scratched off my Life List!

This past weekend, I finally got to try snowshoeing!  Sort of.

We went to Crawford Lake, which is north of Burlington, Ontario.  It’s a lovely place to go hiking, summer or winter and contains a lot of history.  The remains of 10 Iroquois Longhouses were discovered on the site (among thousands of other artifacts) and, as a result, there is now a reconstructed 15th century Iroquois village on site for visitors to explore.  Definitely worth the trip!

I admit, I was hoping for traditional snowshoes…the kind that I imagined would cause me to walk bowl-legged the next day. *grin*

Instead, we rented these:

They were easy to get used to, not as wide as I had expected, and a good introduction to snowshoeing…but I tested them in snow drifts and they didn’t allow me to walk on the snow.  The woman behind the counter had told us that proper snowshoes would be fitted to a person dependent on weight and that our rentals were more of an ‘all-purpose’ snowshoe.

So, I admit I was a little disappointed, but it was still a great experience.  And once we started walking down unbroken trails and carving our own paths, we really started to feel the burn.  Good exercise and a good time was had!  Not to mention we got to take some pics and practice our snowshoe ballet!

As a last reason to go to Crawford Lake (and really, like you need more of a reason!), it’s definitely worth mentioning that the snowshoe rentals were only $12!

  • Conservation Halton’s Website on Crawford Lake – Click Here
  • Wikipedia’s Crawford Lake entry – Click here

For more pics, click here!