A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood

After being sick for the past week, I was finally feeling well enough to get out for a couple of longer walks with the dogs, first on Friday to Morningside Park...

... then on Saturday, to bluffs near my house...

... then to the beach, where construction is ongoing to extend the trail along the lakeshore...

From 20081018 Morningside Park And Lake Ontario

... and finally, by bike to my favourite spot by the lake.

From 20081018 By The Lake


Sourdough Schedule, Part 2 of 2

Continued from Part 1:

08/15: Learn about the earthquakes in Alaska, then visit the Native Center in Anchorage, followed by dinner at a forgettable restaurant in town. Swimming in the hotel pool.

08/16: Board the Wilderness Express train to Talkeetna.

08/17: Back on the train, this time to Denali. White water rafting on the Nenana River that evening and then dinner at the lodge. Great halibut quesadillas.

08/18: Wilderness safari in Denali National Park. Over 6 dozen animals seen, including moose & caribou, hares, ptarmigans, a boreal owl, a golden eagle, ravens, bears, a woodpecker and a red fox, Dall sheep, and a couple of wolves. Visit to Jeff King's Husky Homestead to meet his puppies and learn about mushing & the Iditarod.

08/19: Bus to Fairbanks with views of The Mountain enroute; riverboat cruise & visit to a native village; flight over the arctic circle into Coldfoot and a visit with Jack Reakoff in Wiseman.

08/20: Collapse for a few hours, then fly home to Toronto and back to reality.

More photos here.


Sourdough Snaps: The Sequel

Instead of posting more pics on Facebook or on my http://www.divbyzero.com/pix/ site, I've decided to simplify things and just upload them to my Picasa Web Album, now that the tool works on linux.


Still 1000s more pics to process. Stay tuned.


August Wrap-Up

Last night: took mom out for her second foray into cycling this year. Afterwards, did another 25K or so.

Today: paddled 6K from Galloway to Bellamy and back, in about 80 mins.

Tonight: 20K along Kingston Rd to Danforth to Bloor to Sherbourne; stopped for dinner and a couple beers with Jakub & Lori, and then after a half-hour Comedy Central fix (South Park's "Bloody Mary" episode), 20K home. W00t.

Including some short trips around the neighbourhood, that's another 92K on the odometer since 08/23, for a total of 652K this season by bike and 78K by kayak.


Sourdough Schedule, Part 1 of 2

A quick recap of the schedule of events in Alaska, along with some photos.

08/06: Arrive in Vancouver, BC.

: Visit to Stanley Park the Vancouver Aquarium, and some last-minute pre-wedding shopping.

: Embark on the Celebrity Millennium, and shortly thereafter, get married onboard. Set sail a few hours later.

: Full day at sea, cruising to Ketchikan, Alaska. Dinner at the Captain's Table with the Environmental Officer, Alaskan Ranger, and a number of Captain's Club guests.

: Ketchikan events include ziplining, rockclimbing, horse-drawn trolley tour, and shopping for diamonds & souvenirs.

: Juneau events include tram car up the side of the Mt. Roberts to get a better view, and dogsledding on a glacier, accessible only by helicopter.

: Skagway - a goldrush-era town still including brothels, breweries, and of course, diamond shops. We took the train north into BC to go kayaking; others went as far as the Yukon on the same rail line.

: Icy Strait Point / Hoonah Village - explored the now-defunct cannery, souvenir shops, and local town. Sadly, no diamond stores this far north.

: Full day at sea, including a visit to the Hubbard Glacier. We were within 0.3mi of the glacier at closest approach. Managed to lose my wallet some time after dinner. Pooh.

: Disembark the Millennium, and board a bus to Anchorage for the start of our inland tour.

More photos here. Continued in Part 2.

Sourdough Snippet

I have now categorized and merged the 10.6G of photos shot by the 6 people with cameras on this trip (7 if you include our wedding photographer, Ivan Vidic, who did an awesome job and taught me a few things about digital photography in the process!). How many photos is that? Over 5000. So it'll be a while before I've found the best ones. In the meantime, here's a taste:


Sourdough Starter

Back from Alaska, exhausted, enraptured, and espoused. Had a great time: great people, great food, great scenery, great adventures... great everything.

But because we collectively shot over 9G of images and video over the 15 days out west, it's going to be a while before I get everything online.

So, here's a 'by the numbers' account of the trip:

Date married: 08/08/08
Guests/relatives in attendance: 12

Ports visited by ship: 5 (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Seward)
Cities visited by land: 4 (Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, Fairbanks)
Cities visited by air: 2 (Coldfoot, Wiseman)

Distance from Hubbard Glacier at closest approach: 0.3mi (by ship)
Distance from Norris Glacier at closest approach: 0.0mi (by foot)

Days on ship: 7
Hours on train: 10 (2hrs + 3hrs + 5hrs)
Hours in air: 15 (helicopter x 1, twin-engine plane x 2, commercial plane x 12)

Number of reindeer meat meals: 4
Number of Tex-mex meals: 5
Number of times I ate halibut, salmon, or other seafood: too numerous to count (highlights being halibut quesadillas, salmon tacos, scallops on the Millennium & smoked salmon on the riverboat)
Net weight gain (lbs): 5

Methods of transportation used: 20
* car (relatives', rentals, hired), taxi (first time in a hybrid!), limo, shuttle bus, motorcoach bus, city bus
* helicopter, twin-engine plane, commercial plane
* cruise ship, tender/rescue boat, kayak, stern wheeled riverboat
* train car (2-level glass-domed Wilderness Express), train car (White Pass)
* climbing harness on belay (up a climbing wall), climbing harness + zipline (between trees)
* horse-drawn trolley
* cablecar (tram)
* feet (walking, hiking, swimming, spinning in the gym on the Millennium)

And a quick overview by map:

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T Minus 39 Hours

[W]e copy the end of life as you know it.

It's 11am PST / 2am EST, and here's the view from my hotel room, captured on my new Olympus Stylus 1030SW. Still getting used to how it works, but the many presets and toys built into it are very cool -- as is the ability to shoot through glass in low light and capture the glowing dome of Science World.

Yesterday I started reading John J Nance's novel Orbit, heavily laden with politics, aerospace engineering, technology, psychology, sociology, discussions about honesty within family relationships, and some interesting questions about why relationships can sour and die. Couldn't put it down throughout the flight here. Considering it's about a guy trapped in orbit and wondering about his life, his family, and his marriage... it's perhaps not the ideal reading material for the flight out to Vancouver to get married. That said, definitely worth a read. :)

Despite being on 3 hrs of sleep since 6am yesterday, I can't sleep -- my mind is racing with all the things that are to happen in the next 39 hours. By 2008/08/08 14:00, I'll be married. Mindboggling.


Toronto Harbour Island Tour 12K

Went out paddling with some friends tonight around the Toronto Harbour, with the intent to circle the islands. Little did I know it was a 12K route, which we did in just over 2hrs.

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Of the three boats in our fleet, ours was the widest and shortest, which meant we spent almost the entire time at the back of the pack, wondering how the others were enduring our slowness. Still, I had a great time, and SWMNBN got her first (and probably last) taste of paddling Lake Ontario this season. She's more a river paddler, she says.

I'm hoping to get in at least one more trip on the lake before we set sail for Alaska next month. We'll be paddling in Skagway, Alaska on August 12th, but that's a mere 1-3mi (1.6-4.8K) for up to 80mins -- nothing like the grueling counter-current 6 km/h we sustained tonight.

I'm now entertaining the idea of paddling from Toronto to the US next summer, right across the lake: over 50K! At 5-6km/h, that's 8-10hrs of solid paddling. We shall see if such things are possible. Might have to try Scarborough to Bowmanville or Toronto to Burlington first, to see if 50K is doable in a single sitting.


Fishleigh Dr to Nursewood Rd

Been sick for the last couple weeks, but did manage to do a couple rides w/ my fiancé - one for 20K and another for 23K, both helping to break her out of her '5K radius from home' comfort zone. Other than that I've been pretty tired lately.

Today, however, I finally got out and got paddling again -- this time from the corner of Glen Everest Rd and Fishleigh Dr to Nursewood Rd and back.

I'd planned to paddle to Woodbine, but the trip west was much choppier and windier than I'd expected, so I only made it to the water filtration plant at Victoria Park Ave and Queen St East. Oh, well, at least I was able to see the CN Tower from there!

After a brisk swim to cool off, I continued west looking for an easy roadway access point, and Nursewood Rd will certainly work for the next leg of my paddling around the lake.

If you're going to try this paddle, I recommend accessing the water from the east side of the path that heads down from the corner of Glen Everest Rd and Fishleigh Dr, as it's smooth until you get to the rocky beach. The west side, as I discovered on the trip back, is muddy, rocky, and difficult to portage by wheel. Either way, the path down from the street is a VERY steep hill -- much steeper and longer than the Galloway Rd access. Portaging, even with wheels, is difficult here.

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The great thing about today's paddle, despite not getting as far as I wanted, is that as of today I've successfully paddled the entire width of Scarborough, about 20K. Admittedly, I haven't done it in one single paddle -- rather, it's been 4 trips of varying length: Rouge Beach -> Galloway Rd -> Bluffer's Park -> Cliffside -> Victoria Park.


Walkin' on water

Took the dogs out for a walk today to a new place -- Cliffside. This was partly to explore a new area w/ the dogs, but mostly because I wanted to scope out the lake approach coming down the hill from Fishleigh Dr & Glen Everest Rd.

It's pretty steep, as this top map (with the path we walked) shows:

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What's fun is that at the far east edge of the map, we apparently walked right off the trail and into the water. This was not the case, as this satellite map shows:

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I suppose I prefer Bikely.com's path mapping tool to Google Maps' My Maps, though Google gives you the option to locate points of interest and businesses on your map, as well as a whole raft of other options:

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New crank & pedals

I'm lovin' my new crank & pedals. Also trying out a helmet-mounted rear-view mirror, which is... difficult to get used to.

Biked over to Ten-Ichi on Sheppard between Markham & McCowan tonight for some AYCE sushi.

Only 8K to get there, and tons of great food. After dinner we drove over to the theatre at 401/Morningside to see HellBoy 2.

Biking home was another 8K, for an average speed of 23 km/h, max 47 km/h. The hill-valley-hell that is Morningside is great on the way down... less fun on the way up, and the road's pretty badly in need of repaving.


Frenchman's Bay @ Dusk

Tonight I drove out to Pickering to pick up my bike and its shiny new crank assembly & pedals. Afterwards, I drove over to Frenchman's Bay, ended up on the east side, got lost briefly in suburbia, and finally found my way to West Shore Blvd and the lake. The east side was much more lively, with a band entertaining people loudly enough I could listen in from a distance from the shore.

An hour and 5.5K later, it was time to head home. The moon -- even at half -- was bright enough to be caught first with a lens flare and then reflected in the bay.

I'll definitely have to do more night paddling -- there's a full moon next week!



Friday/Saturday: 20K. With my other half's bike, went to and from my mom's house twice, including taking her out for her first ride of the season.

Sunday I did my usual 6K paddle from Galloway Rd to Bellamy Ravine and back, plus a short swim in the still *very* cold, but refreshing lake at the midpoint.


A broken pedal

Clearly I'm not handy-capable. Sunday I reinstalled the pedals I removed in order to get my bike home from Ottawa, but they didn't want to go on properly, so I ... forced it. While it worked for a 25K ride w/ Paul that day, it seems like that was a bad idea.

4.5K into my ride today with Andrew, my right pedal fell off. I tried to make it work, but there was nothing holding it on, so every revolution it just fell off again. After another few K of one-pedal-action, we gave up and headed back to Lawrence Ave to await a lift home.

On the second attempt we did about another 13K, this time using my fiancé's bike. Aside from the over-zealous seat (it's just too soft and springy!) her bike rides like a dream. Mine is going in for service tomorrow, since it's Canada Day today.

On the plus side, as of today I've done 400K by bike this season and just over 40K by kayak (covering about 18K of lake shore). Woohoo!


Scarborough to Pickering

In my continuing quest to paddle the whole north shore of Lake Ontario, I've now mapped another chunk of the lake: about 7.5K from Rouge Beach Park, the far east side of Scarborough to Frenchman's Bay in Pickering.

This also marks the first time I've paddled back to the car and had to use the Yakima rack twice in a day. It certainly makes loading easier than last summer's el-cheapo foam pads, especially since I can now load single-handedly.


Ottawa Cycling Trip: Day 2

Day two began with coffee & a Vector energy bar, then 17K of biking with about 30lbs of clothing and hardware on my back, to retrace my route from the night before and get back to the Eclipse Foundation office by 10am.

Stopping a few times to snap pictures (and seriously consider jumping in the river to cool off), it took me about an hour to get to the office... drenched in sweat. New to the area, I overshot Woodroffe and added a couple K to the trip.

Luckily, since I had everything with me, I was able to change quickly, and the workshop began with Denis chairing things while I attempted to cool down.

Bjorn offered to drive me to the train station to save me another gruelling 15K trek -- the added bonus being I missed the afternoon thunderstorms & rush hour traffic.

VIA was reasonably accommodating to my need to get home with my bike, and rather than forcing me to use Purolator and to maybe get my bike back on Monday, if not Wednesday (because of Canada Day), they instead allowed me to transport it on the train for $20 + taxes.

I thought I was adhering to the "only two articles" rule:

But digging through the site further, their site DOES state which trains and trips allow checked baggage, that bikes must be checked, and that checking a bike as baggage is $20. However, I had to dig through a number of locations before I found this information, so perhaps it's really a usability issue.

Or I'm just stupid, and misread the statement that bike BOXES are free to mean that the contents would also be free.

Still, it seems odd that the Toronto-Ottawa corridor wouldn't provide a baggage car given all the traffic that line apparently gets.

Ah, well, live and learn.


Ottawa Cycling Trip: Day 1

Ottawa-Gatineau, for those who don't live there and already know this, is freakin' beautiful -- especially by bike.

Unfortunately, VIA doesn't provide checked baggage service on its Toronto to Ottawa trains... so while I was able to bring my bike onboard because there was an empty train car (and their staff sympathized w/ my predicament), it's looking like I'll have to courier it home w/ Purolator for $40 or so.

So, after arriving at the train station, I biked the 7.6K to my hotel, showered, changed, and found some bike shops in Ottawa and Gatineau from which I could get the tools I'll need tomorrow to remove my pedals and twist my forks around so I can put it in a box. Yet another service VIA could offer, but doesn't, is to stock $25 work of wrenches to enable customers to adjust their bikes for transport.

Since there were 3 bike shops on my way to the Eclipse Foundation's Ganymede Release party, I decided to detour from the Google Maps route I'd brought and trek across Carling. Of the three, Cycle Power (with an actual website linked from Google Maps) came first and were friendly & helpful. I learned that bike prices are going up 15-20% over the next year due to rising fuel costs and rising demand for bikes. Until the supply catches up to the demand, expect to pay more.

Got to the party fashionably late, but with my return travel plan solved. Missed the food, but caught the dunk tank festivities.

After clocking 38K on an empty stomach, I walked over to the Thai restaurant across from the Museum of Civilizations on Rue Laurier, and ordered the special/sampler. Great soup. Nice, spicy chicken curry. Tasty, but unimaginative pad thai w/ two large shrimp. Despite the slow service (a table for 1, with one one beer, one dish, and desert took 90 mins), I'd go back. Unfortunately I didn't have time to hit the hotel pool... ah, well, next time.


By The Numbers

Paul suggested I keep track of my elapsed transit, so here's a quick recap of 2008 so far:

Bike Odometer Reading, Last Season:1917km
Bike Odometer Reading, Currently:2214km
Elapsed Cycling Distance This Year:297km
Est. Distance Travelled By Water (5 trips):30km
2008 Transit Distance:327km

And on the 7th Day...

Today started with a beautiful walk with the dogs along the creek that runs through the U of T Scarborough campus, both in and out the water. The easiest way to get to this creek is to drive to Old Kingston Rd, park, and head north along the trails that track the water.

After some YouTube timewasting, including the discovery of Project Aiko -- a working female android prototype with the ability to read, do math, have a conversation, and learn -- I decided that it was time to get out of the house and do something useful. If a young engineer can build an android in his basement, the least I can do is get in shape so when SkyNet comes online I'll be able to fight back (or be assimilated, either way). :)

So, I biked down to the lake and did some more vigilante gardening, this time to repair a thunderstorm-damaged bit of connecting trail, and to improve a second path through an otherwise intractable mud pit.

After digging and moving dirt, and lugging stones to try to build a better set of stepping stones, it was time for a dip in the lake... which is still crazy cold, but very refreshing.

Went home, fed the dogs, watched the latest Homestar Runner cartoon, and headed back down to the lake, this time to Bluffer's Park. There, I launched the kayak and the paddled the 6.4K home to Galloway Road in about 80 mins, including stops to take pictures of the shore, the mist on the ever-so-glassy water, and a precariously balanced house with a whole lot of empty air beneath it.

After putting the boat away, I biked the 8.3K back to Bluffer's Park, retrieved the car, and headed for home.

What a wonderfully exhausting weekend!


73K: To Kipling Station and back

Seems I've been spending too much time in front of the computer:

So, to make things right, I took the boys for a walk from Sylan Park, down the bluff, across the beach, and home again.

On the walk home, I texted Paul and we decided to go for a ride. Little did I know that thanks to Paul's suggestion, it was going to be the longest ride I've ever done!

We started out at 2:10pm, and didn't get home until shortly after 7pm. In between, we rode from Guildwood to Danforth, across to Bloor, up Church to Davenport, down Landsdowne, back on Bloor to Kipling Station!

On the way back, we detoured through High Park. This is the first time I've ever been through this park, and I have to say it was beautiful! Out the east side of the park, we headed south to the Lakeshore, and tracked that until we got to the Beaches and picked up the Waterfront Trail, then eventually back to Kingston Rd and home to where I left the car. What a day!


Father's Day Weekend

Thursday: 4th time paddling this year: from put-in south of Galloway Rd to about half-way between Livingston and Brimley and back in about an hour

Friday: running from zombies

Saturday: moving and chopping wood (to further clear the lake access @ my favourite put-in); cycling 17K; first VERY brief swim of the season in Lake Ontario

Sunday: 23K by bike; the first 3K in thunderstorm, then lots of hills to warm up.

Saw a couple of deer in a field just north of Ellesmere, then biked under the road past a rather overfilled stream ...

... and some great graffiti.


Building A Boat Launch

Have you ever started a path? No one seems willing to do this. We don't mind using existing paths, but we rarely start new ones. Do it today. Start a path. -- George Carlin

Today I paddled for 2-1/4 hours, from Rouge Beach Park to the beach near my house.

This was partly to run a final test of the new boat launch path I've been building sporadically since April, and partly to finally break in my birthday present -- a new Yakima roof rack from Rack Attack.

Two months ago, I decided that since the beach nearest my house was a mere 10-minute portage from door to lake, I would take it upon myself to improve the access path, as the winter left a lot of debris on the beach and made getting a kayak down to the water very difficult.

One happy side-effect of this project has been to make the beach wheelchair-accessible, and on the first weekend I started, a group of local dog owners came by with their pack of collies, one of which is equipped with a pair of wheels to replace her non-functional back legs. In the past, her owner told me, it's been very difficult for her to get to the water. Now, she can roll right in with the rest of the pack. Her owner was thrilled, needless to say.

Anyway, I'm happy to say that despite some problems in the early beta tests (in May) today it worked great. The lake's still too cold for swimming, but the paddling's beautiful, especially with easy access to the water.


Towel Day @ Le Nordik

This past weekend in Ottawa-Gatineau, it was Race Weekend, and by complete coincidence, I was in town for it to visit my Grandmother and my Dad's ex, both the NAARB annual meeting. Sunday morning we got up and discovered that the road in front of our hotel was entirely blocked by the marathoners, so we opted to walk back over the bridge to Ottawa to meet them for breakfast.

Sunday was also Towel Day, and so we decided to drop in to Le Nordik Nature Spa just north of Gatineau for some quality time with our towels in the Nordic baths & saunas. HIGHLY recommended.



What a beautiful weekend -- so unlike last month's weather!

Friday night, Paul and I went out for my first bit of cycling in 2008. An hour an a half into our planned 45-min ride, we were ready to drop -- apparently I just don't know how to stop once I get going. All told, I did about 28K, and Paul did 33K.

Afterwards he introduced me to his Wii, his Mii of me, and Wii bowled for a while until SWMNBN arrived to collect us for some food & drink at the Fossil.

Saturday I took the dogs around our trail-lake-ravine-woods-Guildwood-Gardens loop, ending with a brief splash through the duck pond at the park entrance. Finished up some outstanding work for Rainbow Cinemas and had dinner w/ SWMNBN & her parents at a new Chinese buffet joint.

Today I went hiking with the boys across the beach & up the ravine that runs though Grey Abbey Park. Patch, in typical Patch fashion, decided that hiking up a ravine wasn't enough activity & took off when I dropped his leash to climb over a downed tree. I finally caught up to him just below the fence bordering the Rohm & Haas property, and we all climbed down together.

Later, after running some errands by bike, I decided to cycle down to the waterfront west of Galloway Road and along the trail there. The lake being still quite full this early in the season, I got a little wet portaging from where the trail ends to where it picks up again below the ravine @ Bellamy Rd, but it was worth it to get to a quiet place, to enjoy this beautiful day.

Total weekend cycling distance: 50K.