Friday, October 31, 2008

Goodies and ghouls

Halloween 2008

It's that time of year again when everybody gets their ghoul on and goes door to door trying to score some treats from strangers. This year, for the first time in about 10, it was my turn to stay home and dish out the candy. It sure was busy! We had nearly a 100 kids this year. Ok well technically not all of them were kids (it was their non-Disney friendly costumes that gave the teenagers away).

"Don't you touch my candy!!"
"Don't you touch my candy!!"
Halloween 2008
Halloween 2008

Once again the haunted house in our neighborhood put on its scary show. Skeletons, ghosts, and killa klowns everywhere. The kids (and adults) loved it. A definite highlight of the night.

Halloween 2008
Halloween 2008 Halloween 2008
Death carraige

By the end of the evening I had handed out all the candy only to have our kids return with enough for another hundred kids. Boo!!

Halloween 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Snow day in October

Wicked. I love snow but this is even a little early for me. That said, my x-c skis are ready to go should it decide to stick around.

Snow day in October

Here in the Ottawa area we awoke to the following headlines...
Wet, heavy snow downed tree branches and power lines, knocking out power for about 22,000 Hydro One customers in eastern Ontario and more than 73,000 customers in Quebec.

Luckily we were not in that number. By storm's end we had about 15cm. We'll see if it survives Friday's forecast of sun and 12°C.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When duty calls...

Ack!! I've been selected.

Summons to Juror

This summons recently came in the mail. I can't win a lottery but I somehow managed to beat the odds and get picked for juror selection. Well it's not over yet but in order to avoid the long arm of the law this will be the last post you see from me on this subject.

Oh and it's not something to ignore. If Canada takes their lead from the US (when has that ever happened, eh), dodging the summons would not be a wise option.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Driving under a rainbow

Double-banded rainbow in the yellow glow of the setting sun.

Spotted this rainbow on the way back home from Peterborough yesterday. I actually saw it coming as the conditions were just perfect, a misty rain and a setting sun. Five minutes before the rainbow starting developing I told the kids in the van to keep an eye out. Then blammo!

I tried to stitch something together here. Use your imagination.

Although it killed me to pull over and ruin my ETA, it was just too good an opportunity. Alas my camera (or me) was not able to do it justice. It was much more impressive in person.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Apple picking time again

Apple pickers

More apples! The last batch were delicious or should I say, Empire. We just had to get out and pick some more (and get them in a yummy pie or crisp) before the season passed us by.

Mysterious apple machine
Mysterious apple machine. I'm not sure if it picks or peels or houses illegal immigrants who jump out at night to make a couple of bucks.

In our house we use an awesome little apple peeler from Lee Valley that makes short order of an apple under the right supervision. Peels and cores in less than 5 seconds. Sweet.

The apple train

This mini train wasn't operating but the bell certainly was working fine. The entire time we were out there picking we could hear it going off as everybody and their grandma just had to give it a pull. What could be more fun?

Pick Your Own

This is turning into a regular family outing and yes, we'll be back again next year.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Colvin and Indian Head

Indian Head, Colvin

Elevation: 4057 ft (1237 m)
Peak: N44 05.655 W73 50.072
Parking lot: N44 10.945 W73 57.769
Distance: 22.7 km

Not long ago I thought my last hike of the '08 season in the ADK was Big Slide. Boy was I wrong.

Mike and I left Ottawa before sunrise at about 5:15 am. After several photo ops along the way we arrived at the parking lot a little late but luckily we found a spot and wouldn't have to contemplate parking roadside.

Tupper Lake

The day was a little chilly but beautiful which of course slowed us down as we stopped here and there for a photo or two. After the golf course and manditory hiker sign-in the road follows the east branch of the Ausable River. It was here that I spotted a crane fishing in the small river (more like a creek really).


We finally hopped off the road and on to the Bypass Trail that would soon meet up with the Gill Brook Trail. From here we followed the signs until we stepped out on our first lookout. Nice. Moments later we were officially standing on Indian Head and looking at Ausable Lake surrounded by numerous high peaks.

Indian Head lookout
Ausable Lakes panorama from Indian Head

Here are a few shots of Indian Head from Fish Hawk Cliffs.

Indian Head
Indian Head's view Squishing Indian Head

Next stop, Colvin.

From Fish Hawk Cliffs we headed down towards Colvin and Blake. The trail was about 3 km from here with some ups and downs and even a scramble or two. The extra effort was well worth it though as the views from Colvin are sweet.

Haystack, Basin, Saddleback, Gothics
Haystack, Basin, Saddleback, Gothics
Nippletop - Colvin junction Colvin (4057') marker view
Giant, Rocky Peak (Noonmark, Round in front)
Giant, Rocky Peak (with Noonmark, Round in front)

And that should be it for peak baggin' in '08. No (viewless) Blake for us today. We left Colvin around 15:40 which meant that it was well dark by the time we finished the death march and arrived back at the parking lot. A quick stop for some fast food and coffee and we were ready to make the trip back to Ottawa.

Falls on Gill Brook

Friday, October 17, 2008

Po' Girl jam with special guests

As the night wore on at the Black Sheep Inn, Po' Girl called to stage various friends from the audience to join them for a tune or two. Luther Wright, Lyndell Montgomery, Kristin Sweetland, Jeremy Lindsay (JT & the Clouds), Rueben deGroot and Asia Matthews.

Here they are playing "O Mary Don't You Weep", a track first recorded in 1915 and years later one of the highlights of the 2006 Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Po' Girl at the Black Sheep Inn


Last night some friends and I drove out to the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield QC to see Po' Girl. I last saw them play at Guelph's Hillside 25 in July. They were great at Hillside but they were smokin' at the Black Sheep.

Opening the show was Lyndell Montgomery formerly of the band Ember Swift. Her show was rather unique as the majority of it was solo with her on vocals and electric bass. She did switch it up for a couple of tunes when she picked up the violin and impressed the audience with the depth of her musical ability.

At the end of her set, guitar sensation, Kristin Sweetland stepped on stage to help her out. I really enjoyed Lyndell's set and would have loved to see more of Sweetland.

Kristin Sweetland joins Lyndell Montgomery
Kristin Sweetland joins Lyndell Montgomery

Joining me on this Thursday night were Dave, Rick, Jen, and Yvan. I'm not sure if everybody knew exactly what they were in for but by the end of the night they were definitely hooked. Alli was as angelic as ever and although I've often heard the saying "she has a smile that lights up the room" I had never honestly come across one as glowing and infectious as Alli's.

Alli at Hillside 25 in Guelph (July '08)
Po' Girl's Allison Russell
Po' Girl's Allison Russell

What I like most about this venue is its intimacy. By the end of the night you walk away feeling like you've just spent an evening in the band's living room. There's even a little pug that wanders around table to table checking everybody out.


At the end of the night Dave and I stuck around to talk with some of the band. Dave chatted with Benny Sidelinger about guitar making and with Kristin Sweetland whom he recognized from last years' Canadian Guitar Festival while I spoke very briefly with Alli and Awna who were busy saying goodbye to friends.

Alli and me Awna and me

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving weekend

Apple picking

Saturday morning I rushed out with the kids to pick apples at the local pick-your-own farm. The apples were perfect. We opted for the row of Empires and had two small baskets full from one tree alone. I had to scrounge up some change from the van (I rarely carry cash anymore) in order to pay for them but I pulled it off without having to pawn off one of my children as cheap labor collateral.

Frosty apple

From there we zipped over to the grocery store to pick up the last of the missing items from what was about to be the second Thanksgiving dinner ever served at our house. Normally we head out of town for a feast with family and friends but this year we're not heading back to the hometown until later in the month.

Our special guests were coming to stay the weekend... actually its the very same family of friends that came for our first in-house Thanksgiving. And once again they were going to cook the turkey. A sweet deal indeed. (mark that down as another thing I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving)


The girls cooked up a storm while the men sat around being men and the kids took turns playing with Izzy the dog. A sweet deal in hindsight. (yet another thing I'm thankful for)

Turkey stuffed, and stuck in the oven we headed out for a fall hike around the local dog park. Actually Bruce Pit is no simple doggy park, this is heaven for both the dog and the dog owner. And in the winter it makes for a smoking toboggan hill too.

A walk thru the dog park

We arrived back home to the delicious smell of turkey and fresh apple crisp. Added to the dessert table was a delectable pumpkin cheese cake from Swiss Pastries.

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving
A hungry looking bunch.

The weekend ended up being perfect - good friends, great food, blue skies, and the fall colours at their peak. Thanks be to God and Mother Nature... hmmm, are they one in the same?

Tree on fire

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Big Slide for-a-6er

Big Slide

Big Slide
Elevation: 4240 ft (1292 m)
Peak: N44 10.933 W73 52.260
Parking lot: N44 11.340 W73 48.965
Distance: 19.3 km

'Tis the season for hiking. Fall is upon us and finally we're starting to get some sunshine. In the Adirondacks, the leaves have reached their peak and that means it's time to drop everything and bask in nature's light show.

Sunrise on the Raquette River
Sunrise over the Raquette River

Only two days after having nailed his last 46er peak, Ken was ready for another fall hike. Unfortunately Mike was suffering from "it's the end of my vacation blues" so he decided not to join us on this one. However sticking to Mike's original fall plan, we chose Big Slide. At 4,240 feet, it is number 27 on the 46er list.

Our first view point of the day
Snow on Mount Marcy

Big Slide starts its climb immediately out of the parking lot. However an early gain in elevation only means that the views are going to come that much sooner. Just as we were starting to work up a sweat we found ourselves stepping out on the First Brother and staring down at some eye-popping colour carpeting the valley below. Marcy's snow capped peak was looming in the distance. It was going to be a stellar day.

Ken on The Brothers

As we hiked our way over The Brothers the wind was blowing cold and hard but the contrast of a cloudless sky and warm sunshine provided the perfect offset.

Later as we finally hit the summit of Big Slide, the wind stopped entirely and the sun began to heated up the rock making it the picture perfect place for a break and some lunch. Oh, and did I mention that we had the entire summit to ourselves? Sweet.

Tripper on Big Slide
Ken summits Big Slide Lunch time

Some time during lunch we opted for the slightly longer loop back to the Garden parking lot. From Big Slide we'd head over Yard Mountain (nearly a 46er at 3,990 feet), down to Johns Brook Lodge (JBL), and then along the north shore of the brook back to Garden. While Yard didn't give us with the view of Big Slide that we were hoping for it did provide us with a much more gradual slope down to JBL.

Johns Brook Lodge

We stopped briefly at that lodge for a snack and a rest in the Adirondack chairs. There was one person relaxing inside with a warm fire but he didn't seem overly friendly so we left him alone to stare at was must have been the park's one and only elk now mounted over the fireplace.

After an hour and a half "death march" we reached the Garden parking lot where we signed out and immediately cracked a celebratory Saranac Ale. After a quick clean up (thank you Wet Ones) and a change of clothes I was again feeling like a million dollars. From here we drove straight to the nearest diner for some supper.

As it turns out the nearest spot to eat was just down the road at the Ausable Inn and Diner and it most certainly deserves mentioning. The atmosphere was great, the large stone fireplace was roaring, and waitress Lulu was bouncing from table to table making sure everybody was satisfied with their service. We even met a painter named Robert Selkowitz who lives in the Catskills, vacations on the shores of Nova Scotia (with Elizabeth May and family no less), and paints landscapes everywhere in between.

Snowman on Big Slide
Winter is coming...