Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

Earth Hour 2009

The kids and I shut down all systems electric for Earth Hour (8:30-9:30pm). Candles were lit and a close game of Sorry! was played while Mom was off at the local coffeehouse sipping chai lattes with a friend. Is this what it's going to be like when rolling brownouts become a daily reality? Should keep the fire department busy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Spring ski in the GAT

Last ski day of the season

Today I hit the GAT ski trails for what will very likely be my last ski of the season. Joining me was Mike and Ken on what turned out to be a sunny warm (12°C) spring day.

Monster grooming machines

Not long after leaving P10 we passed the monster grooming machine... two of them. They were doing a great job tidying up the scars of the skate skiers and giving the illusion of a fresh snowy surface. This early in the day the trails were a little icy in the shade but just right in the sun (this would change as the day continued to grow warmer... but still very ski-able).

Our first stop was Shilly Shally were signs of spring were breaking winter's grip in every direction. The birds were busy singing and eating their fill of seeds now uncovered by the melting snow. We even spotted a robin in the mix sparking a debate surrounding the old wives' tale that a robin is the first sign of spring. (closing arguments can not be printed in this family friendly blog)

Skiing in shorts, sitting at Shilly Shally

From here we skied straight on through to Huron Lookout where we spotted our first patch of blacktop. Now that's a sure sign of spring. Here we snagged one of the free picnic tables and relaxed to a fine lunch and a couple of tasty pints.

Kenmore hits the end of the line

After lunch Ken decided he was going to part company and head back to work for one last meeting. It wasn't until he had skated off into the distance that I realized he still had one more pint in his pack. Luckily so did I.

From here Mike and I skied on the next lookout and then over to Western were we were greeted by the duct tape "ICE" sign at the top of the trail leading down to cabin (btw somebody should come back and update this sign to read "MUD"). After removing the boards we walked down the mud soaked hill to enjoy some more rays and one last pint on the back bench.

Grizz throws caution to the wind IMG_4908

Western's back bench is a great spot to catch some sun and enjoy another great view of the Ottawa River and valley below. My only complaint here is that some cautious do-gooder has placed a rather ugly chain link fence between me and the view. Arg.

The ski back to P10 was much slower as the sun had cooked the snow up into a mix of watery slush and ice pellets. No complaints though, it only helped stretch out what Mike and I knew was going to be our last ski of the season.

Celebrating another great ski season
Cheers to another great xc ski season...though not nearly as awesome as last year.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mountain Jam 2009

Fifth Annual Mountain Jam Fest. Two tickets. VIP. Camping in the Catskills. 30+ bands. Nuff said.

We're pumped. This year also happens to mark the 40th anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band. Add to that, Gov't Mule headlining and solo shows from Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks. Sweet. And if that's not enough there is a whole slew of other great bands in the line-up; notably Umphrey's McGee, UK's Gomez, Tea Leaf Green, Alberta Cross, and Gene Ween Band (WEEN).

Now all we have to do is wait and hope for dry weather.

Friday, March 20, 2009

United Steel Workers of Montreal

USWM @ The Black Sheep Inn
USWM - March 20, 2009 @ The Black Sheep Inn

I'd only been back a few hours from our March break vacation in the Great White North when I hopped right back in the van and headed off to the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, QC. Tonight was a double bill, Enter The Haggis was opening for the United Steel Workers of Montreal. ETH is a five man band from Toronto and USWM is a six-piece from (are you ready for this?) Montreal. Both can have a Celtic/bluegrass feel to them but I'd put USWM on the folk side of that and ETH on the rock side.

Enter The Haggis @ Black Sheep Inn
Enter The Haggis

The night felt a bit like an after after party from St. Paddy's Day. Fiddle, bag pipes, mandolin, banjo, accordion,... it was a very eclectic bag a tricks coming from these two Canadian bands. Needless to say it was high energy and very entertaining.

USWM @ The Black Sheep Inn
USWM @ The Black Sheep Inn Gern F. and me
Felicity Hamer of USWM

Check their websites for tour dates and be sure to check them out sometime. You won't be disappointed.

Here are some HD youtube clips from USWM :
Shot Tower
For the Love of Your Mother's Sake
Meaner Than You
Emilie Bertrand

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March Break sunset

Sunset... day 1 at Purdy Lake

We're enjoying some nice warm weather in central Ontario. March break is upon us and once again we're spending the week with friends in the Great White North. Makin' memories...

IMG_1359 High Falls hiking trail
IMG_0979 St. Paddy's Day geocache
Happy St. Paddy's Day IMG_1084
"Trapped Under Ice" IMG_1137
IMG_1108 IMG_1272
Happy St. Paddy's Day Happy St. Paddy's Day
Happy St. Paddy's Day

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jack Johnson, Donavon Frankenreiter, G. Love

Thought I'd share some tunes with ya...

Once in a while I go on a youtube blitz and occasionally I find a gem or two. This was one that I found while spinning off from Gov't Mule to comedian Louis CK to G Love to BLAMMO! (don't even try to follow the logic... there is none).

I have the solo releases from these three guys and it's all solid. And I've seen Jack Johnson jam with G Love before and I've heard him jam with Donavon before but never the three of them all together. Sweet. Here's another track from the same session: Mudfootball. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

March Meltdown

Jack Pine Trail

A Sunday stroll along the fast melting Jack Pine trail. Both the birds and bird feeders were abundant today.

Downy woodpecker (female)

Although it pains me to say it, it was very spring-like. That said, I'd like to see a little more snow before I pack away my x-c skis for the season.

A new boardwalk

It was nice to see the new boardwalk was in working order. With all the warm temperatures of late, I for one wouldn't want to risk crossing the swamp without it.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Indoor soccer season wraps up

Saturday was the wrap up of the regular season for our kids' indoor soccer. One finished in last place and another finished in first overall. Both enjoyed the season immensely.

OSU Green U10 Italy U12

This was our first winter playing indoor and as such we (as in parents) took the opportunity to have the kids (as in guinea pigs) try both leagues offered in our area. One is the Polar Bear League which plays in the large domes and the other is the Ottawa Carleton Futsal League (officially sponsored by FIFA). By far and away we found the Futsal league to be the better choice. Essentially there's more opportunity for skill development as there is more time on the ball. It also helps develop quick decision making as the game is played in a very small environment (school gyms). Next year it will be Futsal for the both of them.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sliding through the Marlborough Forest

Crazy horned creature stump
Does anybody else see a scary antlered deer-like monster?

This morning we decided to leave the skis at home and make a trip out to the Marlborough Forest for a hike and a slide on the pond. After a quick stop at Sobey's for lunch and snack goods and we were on our way.

At the last minute we decided to load everything up on our toboggan and pull it in along the hard packed trails. It was a little noisy but it was certainly effortless as the trails were covered in a layer of fresh ice after the recent thaw-rain-freeze.

Heading down the trail
New Rideau Trail sign Rogers Pond, Marlborough Forest
Sliding on the pond

By the time we reached the back of the pond we were ready for lunch. We gathered some wood and I set to lighting a good cook fire. After a little effort we were roasting wieners and sipping hot coco. Yum. The dogs were complete with fresh buns and ketchup and a small side of Old Dutch Rip.L (lightly salted, of course). I think you're beginning to see why we decided on the toboggan.

Gimme Shelter
Dwyer Hill Rd 9.5 km IMG_0786

This is a great little slice of the 300 km long Rideau Trail that runs from Ottawa to Kingston. One of my first experiences on this section was shortly after the '98 ice storm - what a mess! There are still some reminders here and there but the trail is definitely navigable once again thanks to the help of some volunteers and new signage. A highly recommended hike/bike/ski... but NOT during hunting season.