Sunday, May 27, 2007

Peterborough road trip

Flying the kite

Waited all weekend for a strong enough wind to test out a new kite but no luck. This is about as high as it got. The kite is now back in Holland with my uncle. I do hope he has better luck.

Riverview Park & Zoo Totem pole

On Saturday we headed over to the Peterborough Zoo for a stroll. Things were pretty quiet. The new river otter display was ready to roll... but they have yet to locate some otters. The splash pad was ready for some action... but they had it fenced off.

Dead tired camel

This camel was declared dead by many of the passerbys... but if you looked closely you could see his eyes blink.

Coon in a cage

Later in the weekend we finally managed to catch a pesky coon that had been pillaging the barn for food. The little guy was relocated where he can test his smarts against the wits of the Trent University summer students as they hike along the nearby birdwatcher trails. My money is on the coon.

Pileated Pecker
Managed to snap this shot of a pileated woodpecker knocking about along the Otonabee River.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tulipfest Bike Tour

Painting the tulips

This was the last weekend for the Tulip Festival and you couldn't ask for a better day to cycle around on Ottawa's famous bike paths. Agenda set, all I had to do now was put the bike rack on the van and load up the bikes and helmets. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong.

Turns out that leaving my trailer hitch on my van all winter was not a wise thing to do. And apparently locking my trailer hitch to my van was another act of brilliance on my part. Thanks to a coating of rust and road grime the lock was...well...locked. Hell, I couldn't even get the damn key in.

Luckily I have tools. Armed with a can of WD-40, a can of compressed air, a hammer, and a page or two of choice curses, I set to work. Twenty minutes later... success! "Git in the van kids we're running late!"

So with the kids ready to go and sitting in the van I then proceeded to wrestle with my trailer hitch which apparently had also rusted and welded itself to the van. Fun.

After 10 minutes of jerking the van back and forth (all the while, gas sloshing and kids laughing) and banging the piss out of it with the hammer I yelled (yes yelling at this point was acceptable behavior) for my wife to get some rope and get in the van. The plan? Find a tree to tie the hitch to and then squeal away in the van and hope the tree doesn't fall on us.

And then it happened. BLAMMO! I had movement. A few more strategically placed whacks and off came the dang hitch.

Crossing over

From then on the day was nothing but smooth sailing... or in this case smooth biking.

Locks in action

We cycled from Mooney's Bay, along the canal, crossing at one of the locks, and then circling around Dow's Lake. Stops were made to check out the flowers and festivities. For lunch we had beef donairs and french fries.

The history behind the tulips

In the end, we chalked it up as another great day.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Montreal Tour

Montreal Biodome

Early last week I booked a night at a hotel through the online site, It's an interesting website that offers discount hotels, flights, and car rentals. Basically you select your destination ( i.e. Montreal - downtown) and your dates of travel, then hotwire will give you a list of locations and prices to pick from. Using this information you make the purchase. THEN they send you a confirmation email with all the details - confirmation number, hotel name, address, and contact information. The catch? No refunds. Although for the price we paid that can hardly be considered a catch.

So we managed to scoop a one night stay at a 4-star hotel for less than half the price. The deal was even sweeter than that considering that it was May 2-4 weekend and there was a 2 night minimum stay for the rest of you chimps.

Le Stade Olympique Flowers in bloom
Starfish Penguins

Saturday we hit Montreal hard, checking out the Biodome, the Botanical Garden, and the Insectarium all before 2. Then we headed over to the hotel for some hot-tubbing and a swim in the pool.

Butterfly Wasp killing spider
Monster spider The winged beetle

After that we watched history as the Sens beat the Sabres and made into the Stanley Cup Finals. Go SENS go! Ok, I'm not exactly a diehard but I do strongly support our Canadian teams.

After the whoops and cheers died down we headed out for a stroll down Ste Catherine St. in search of a family friendly restaurant. We finally settled on a pizza joint overlooking Phillips Square and Christ Church Cathedral. No complaints here. For dessert we hit a Second Cup for a Chillatte and some chocolate chunk cookies. Yummy but freakin' expensive.

Vieux Montréal

The next day was spent strolling the streets of Old Montreal and the Old Port (check out the live webcam). It was a little cool in the wind but the sun was still shining and the good times were still rolling.

Notre-Dame de Montreal

After checking out the Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica (yes folks, this is where Celine Dion was married to her manager/husband aka "grand-papa" in 1994) we made our way back up to Ste-Catherine in time for lunch. Our stomachs were growling so we basically hit the first restaurant that looked like it had something on the menu for the whole family. Reuben's Restaurant & Deli. Food was okay fine but I couldn't help but feel that it was quantity over quality.

Bellies full we waddled back outside to check out the shopping in Montreal's Underground City. Wow! This place is huge... well, technically it's the largest underground complex in the world. So if your heading down there and your sense of cave dwelling navigation is a little off I suggest taking this map.

A fine start to a long weekend.

Underground City Montreal
We'll be back, Montreal!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bluesfest 2007

I picked up my tickets for a couple of shows at the Ottawa Bluesfest.

The White Stripes - July 8th
moe. and George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars - July 10th

80 smackeroos. But worth every penny.

Other shows worth noting on these same dates include Elmer Ferrer (an insanely wicked guitar player), Leo Kottke, Chris Duarte, and Los Lobos. Those gigs that don't conflict, I'll check out.

Drop a comment below if you're going to Bluefest this year and mention which band you'll be checking out. The rest of you useless gobshites can sit at home on your arses on a hot July and just wish you were here, there, or wherever.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A President's Lunch

This weekend was "yard work weekend". Sounds horrible, and normally it is, but this weekend it was okay alright to be out raking, digging, cutting, nailing, sawing, bagging, and drinking. The sun was shining, the temperature was cool (just right for working), and besides that the blackflies were out in the GAT so I knew I wasn't missing out on much there.

And thanks to the PC Insider's magazine I managed to pull together a mighty fine lunch.

Summertime lunch
(the beer was my idea)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Spring in the GAT

Spring has sprung
Purple trillium Young Yeller

This afternoon Mike, Ken, and I headed back into the GAT for another hike. Although there were some steep hills on this trail they were nothing like yesterday's scramble up the rock garden.

Crossing the beaver dam

We headed in from a secret parking lot near P15. Our first challenge was to navigate over a partially completed beaver dam. This later turned out to be no great victory as Ken pointed out that there was a nice wooden bridge just 30m away. But then again, what fun would that be?

Shortly after the dam we hit an open area on the edge of Lac Carman. This was once the site of some building or other (likely a small cabin) but now the cement foundations are all that remain. Lac Carman is a beautiful little lake with two rocky bluffs on the far side.

Lac Carman

After our hike we headed straight back to the lake in order to relax along the shoreline in the sun and enjoy a refreshing beverage. Thankfully the breeze was just enough to keep the blackflies from driving us into the water for cover.

Relaxing by Lac Carman

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Scramble up the Eardley escarpment

Kenmore heading down

Today I headed up to the GAT with Mike and Ken to test our luck on one of these new Mountain Man caches (GC107PX). From the parking lot, we passed the hang-gliding path, past several rock climbers, and then veered off towards a small creek cascading through a monstrous rock garden. Then it was a serious scramble up the escarpment as we hopped from rock to boulder and then crawled through the various assortment of thorn bushes.

It was somewhat surprising as we found a plethora of junk hidden among the rock crevices. No smoking sign, large metal bucket, and even a fire extinguisher. Then the mystery was solved as we hit the top and spotted the Western hut. Why is it that people can not resist the urge to chuck junk off a cliff's edge?

Fire extinguisher
Yes, we carried it out even though it wasn't Earth Day.

The next photo is an attempt to show you just how steep and rocky this climb is - not an easy thing to display with a camera.

Cliff side

We were glad to have made the trek today as soon the black flies will drive even a voyageur for cover. Not to mention that all these fresh buds are about to explode and block off this awesome spring time view.

Cheers Grasshopper

Cheers to the GAT! Spring time is definitely a great time to hike in Gatineau Park, so grab your refreshing beverage of choice and come on out.

French meets Dutch