Sunday, June 24, 2007

Montreal Tour II

View of Montreal

Another great deal on an overnight stay in downtown Montreal - on St. Jean Baptiste Day weekend no less!

After never having been to Montreal before we have now made two family trips in the last month. Crazy, eh?

Lac des Castors

This time we started with a walk around Lac des Castors in Mont Royal park. Lazy day picnickers, kites, and dogs chasing Frisbees. Everybody was kicking it back. The only ones working here were the cooks looking after the church buffet. The smell of charcoal bbqs and ethnic food was enough to make our mouths water.

Mounted police giving parking ticket
Passed this Mounted Police officer writing up a parking ticket.
A quick glance at my watch said we better get back to the car.

Dog fountain Wii in the trunk

On the way out we spotted three Wii Smart cars giving demonstrations out of the back hatch. It looked like a lot of fun but our meter was running and our bellies were complaining so we headed out.


After pit stop at the grocery store and a short break at the hotel we strolled back down to Old Montreal. Bellies grumbling (again), we read menu after menu before settling down to a patio table along Place Jacques-Cartier for some pizza, poutine, and chicken fingers. I opted for the Griffon Rousse during the meal and a Green Mountain Coffee to go.

Place Jacques-Cartier
Great ambience.

From here we headed down to the Old Port.

Artist on the port Ice cream, Place Jacques-Cartier, Montreal

Old Port, Montreal

Then back past the Notre-Dame de Montreal cathedral and the line of patient horses and colourful carriages.

Horse and carriage
Notre Dame de Montreal

This last picture showed up in my GPS as "Arc de Triomphe".
Not quite what I expected.
Arc de Triomphe

A nice 6km walking tour by the time we returned to our hotel - almost enough to burn off the poutine.

Another great weekend trip. Smiles all around.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Class tripping

Dumping zone
Dumping zone

This week was officially my volunteer parent week. My first call of duty was to act as parent/guardian to a small group of kids as they headed out on their year end class trip to the Baxter Conservation Area. Sounds important but essentially my duties consisted of applying bug lotion and sunscreen, dumping water out of rubber boots, opening lunch drinks, and repeating the various instructions already provided by teachers and conservationists. Not a problem.

Frog watchers Got him
Baxter pond Buzz buzz

We had a blast catching bugs and frogs, doing scavenger hunts, and sifting through the pond.

Mill of Kintail

Later in the week I headed out with my other child's class to the Mill of Kintail near Almonte. Essentially my duties remained the same but my practice earlier in the week left me better equipped to handle the wild ones. Back in the day we used to call these high energy kids rambunctious but now they refer to them as having anger management issues. When I asked one of the little guys to explain further what this term meant he said, "you know, a little screwed in the head." Ok, gotcha.

Mill of Kintail

In the morning we played a survival/scavenger hunt type game where I got to take the lead role as "deadly disease". Other parents got to be Mac trucks and run the kids over as they attempted to cross the road. Some of these parents took their role quite seriously and mowed down every poor child as they attempted to find all the water and food stations. In an attempt to balance this slaughter "Mother Nature" and I decided to go easy on the little ones. Lucky for them.

Stream study
Stream study prep

Last stop for the day was the stream study. Crayfish, frogs, dragonflies, nymphs, leeches, whirly bugs, minnows, and lots of refreshing water to splash in.

Dragonfly nymph shell
Dragonfly nymphs

Note the hole in the upper body from where the dragonfly emerges. Just like in the movie "Aliens".

All in all it was time well spent. I really love these trips and I highly recommend them to all you parents out there. Make the time, you won't ever regret it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Coon raid!

Mama coon calling her 3 babies

Apparently we have some new neighbors. A coon and her three babies. These bandits may be cute but they sure are troublesome.

I was out enjoying an evening on the back deck, having a beer and watching the new solar garden lights flicker on while surfing the net when BLAMMO! I needed another beer.

I stepped inside for about 3 whole minutes and when I returned it was dark. As I opened the patio door all I could hear was a mad scramble as some mischievous critters climbed up our cedar tree. Turns out it was three baby raccoons (aka kits).

Baby coon

As I sipped my beer and snapped off a couple of photos, mama coon sat on the fence staring at me with her evil glowing eyes all the while hissing and calling her little ones.

Mama coon staring me down

They think they're hidden up there high in the tree but their eyes always give them away. Can you spot them?

Can you spot the baby coon?

Eventually I headed inside and mama took her kits and headed off down the road to harass some other home.

Then to top the evening off a skunk decided to tear our garbage apart in search of stale bread crusts and chicken bones. Great. And as if that wasn't enough, the skunk sprayed it's skank all over our front yard... again. Seems like only yesterday that we finally managed to air out our house from the last skunk spaying incident. Of course the truth of the matter is we may just be immune to it now.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pedal power

Bike path

The past couple of weekends we have found ourselves rediscovering the Ottawa bike paths. Our trips tend to be around 10km or less which may or may not seem like much on a bike but keep in mind that our youngest is still cruising on a contraption that is only one step up from a tricycle. With no gear system she is either pedaling like a hamster in a wheel or hopping off to walk it up a hill.

The important part is everybody is still having fun.
Kickin it

"Fun" while biking in the sun is maintained by inserting soccer, Popsicles, basketball, swimming at the beach, and lots of water and snack breaks.

This weekend we used the Britannia Beach as the starting point. With blue skies and 27°C this place was hopping with sun worshipers, windsurfers, sailboats, and ice cream vendors.

Also hitting the beach in full force were the "Lifeguards in Training". The beach crowd was not bothered in the slightest as whistles were blown and young red bikini clad lifeguards jumped off their stands and hit the water running carting their trusty surfboard.

Lifeguards in Training

I'm happy to say that not one of the 20 odd mock drownings ended in a fatality.

Tiny painted turtle
Some kid on the beach managed to catch this little painted turtle and then submitted it to a series of hand-offs and fumbles.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Wakefield tour

Trail sign and bench

Although the weatherman was threatening us with a severe thunderstorm I decided to take the gamble and head out to Wakefield, Quebec for some hiking in the Great Outdoors.

I see you deer

Previously I had only been to Wakefield 3 or 4 times to see live music performed at the Black Sheep Inn. Arriving well after sunset my trips left me with the impression that the Inn was the only thing in Wakefield. Dude was I wrong!

Wakefield is chock full of bakery stores, pubs, restaurants, patios, and various gitchy shops selling local and imported goods.

There is a covered bridge just down the road. (I still haven't checked it out, hence the lack of a photo)

Lester B. Pearson (Prime Minister and winner of a Nobel Peace Prize) is buried here.

Wakefield has it's own cemetery. (see above)

Did I mention the Wakefield Steam Train and the Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa?

Falls and mill

And while it may not be a selling feature for some, Wakefield has easy access to Gatineau Park.

Green hall trail

And throughout the area Wakefield has marked out it's very own hiking trails that bring you from one view to another and then back down to the village for a pint and a poutine. What more could you ask for?

Wakefield trail