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Flood waters rush in to the HOboken PATH station through an elevator shaft (Port Authority NY&NJ)

As Hurricane Sandy pummeled the northeast coast of the U.S., flooding much of lower Manhattan, media were calling it the Frankenstorm. Sandy is 1000 km wide and was due to collide with cold air and a storm coming from the west. Facebook friends were posting links to emergency preparedness. Friends of Facebook friends were checking to make sure their friends were ready. And me? I was hoping for a day off work. Read the rest of this entry »

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I read an article today in the Ottawa Citizen about scary intersections for cyclists following the death of a Carleton University student last week. I’d put a link to it, but I don’t support their charging readers for content. I was able to grab the image before the annoying pop up box appeared demanding me to log in or pay to read what should be free. But I digress. Read the rest of this entry »

Okay, it wasn’t really a walk around the neighbourhood, more like a walk through the hood to check out some cameras at Henrys. I didn’t take any photos, so you’ll have to put up with my description of the changes.

Starting with the ugly Theberge building at Carleton, the “much anticipated” (insert sarcastic grin) Southam Design location is way behind schedule. It doesn’t reflect well that they’re still not open, given it was supposed to be open in August. Next door, a new coffee shop will be opening up. I imagine Caffe Mio may be affected when it opens. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Saturday morning, we set off to the Gatineau Park for a lunch time hike. We parked at P7, Kingsmere, and hike along Ridge Road to Keogan Hut. I’d brought along a toasted sandwich with leftover Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf (topped with cheese, spinach and tomato) wrapped in tinfoil, baby carrots, yogurt and clementines.

I didn’t used to like hiking at this time of year because the fall colours are all gone. But this year, the ground has been relatively dry and the fall sun is warm on your back when you need it. The other bonus is that the Gatineau parkways are now closed, so it’s serious hikers only, especially when you get deeper into the park.

As we descending down the path to Keogan, I could see the smoke coming from the chimney. Yes! We would be able to have toasted sandwiches! And a group of teenagers, who looked like they were training for crosscountry skiing, was just leaving the hut. I lit the leftover candles by our table and took out lunch from the backpack. NosyNeighbour went out back to chop up some wood. He loves to firefuck. But who doesn’t when you’ve given up a wood fireplace for a gas one?

So with the sandwiches warming up on the woodstove, we started to eat the trailmix and then the carrots. The outside door creaked open, then the inner one. In walked a lone man. He sauntered over to the other side of the room, swung up a leg over the bench, then sat down.

After a few moments of silence, we struck up a conversation. He was from Texas. It was completely unexpected. Maybe in the thick of the Fall Rhapsody, but mid-November?

In fact, he had moved from Texas to Sherbooke, but hadn’t found work. So he came to Ottawa, where he still couldn’t find work. So he decided he needed to learn French and enrolled in a college. I’m sure you’re wondering why a Texan would move to cold Canada without a job lined up. I know I was curious.

It turns out his extended family was from the Sherbrooke area. His parents had moved to Texas so he’d never learned French. Spanish would be the more obvious choice of a second language in that part of the USA. He went to Bishops for university and now that he was divorced and his son an adult, he decided to make a fresh start. I wonder if he’ll have a drawl when he speaks French?

 

I saw a tiny little news blurb in today’s Metro News Ottawa and curiosity got the better of me so I googled to find out more.

Ottawa’s first-ever Plaid Parade takes place November 3, 2012. The ride starts at Suzy Q Donuts in HIntbonburg at 11 a.m. heads over to Dow’s Lake, through the Arboretum, over to the Experimental Farm and then back to Hintonburg. In case you’re late, Tall Tree Cycles has posted the route.

The ride and post-ride celebrations are brought to you by Victoire., Apt163, Tall Tree Cycles, Velo Vogue and Kichesippi Beer.

This from Victoire’s page:

After the Plaid Parade, there are other great bike-related events happening around Wellington Village: a bike themed art exhibit “Self Propelled” at Grey Area (next to 5Cent Tattoo), an open house at Tall Tree Cycles and an after party at the Kichesippi Brewery where there’ll be food from Murray Street Charcuterie & Flatbread Pizza Co. will be bringing their mobile pizza oven and selling artisan pizza by the slice! Plus music by local bands  Hamilton and Fellow, as well as free Brewery tours all day.

Okay, so I have a plaid shirt, NosyNeighbour has a plaid shirt, we have bikes … so maybe? Maybe Wellington would like to go for a ride and enjoy the leaves too?

Today we invited Mountain Goat (formerly known as Nanny Goat) for another hike in the Gatineau Park. This time we chose Wolf Trail, which starts at Blanchet Beach on Meech Lake. Mountain Goat arrived at our place just before the designated arrival time of 8:30. We were ready to start the trail just after 9 a.m. A few keeners were just finishing up as we were starting off, but the majority of leafers and tillies had yet to arrive.

We typically do the trail counter clockwise so that the rockiest, steepest sections are climbed first. This worked well for Mountain Goat, who also happens to have washer woman’s knees. We’ve climbed the rocky, wet section a few times, and I much prefer the ascent than the descent.

We stopped at the first lookout, which offers your first glimpse at the Ottawa River in the distance and the valley going back towards Camp Fortune. The ideal time of day for this view is mid-afternoon, when the western sun lights up the leaves.

Our next stop was a small lake on the south side of Ridge Road, almost half way through. Mountain Goat started telling stories like he was in an episode of Survivor Man: It looks like a wild animal has been visiting this lake. See how the tall grass has been trampled there into a path. He also told us a story about when he was mountain biking off Conroy Road and came across a moose on the path. VERY LARGE ANIMAL.

We continued on to Tawadina Lookout, where we usually stop for lunch when it’s warmer. The late morning was still quite cool, despite the sunshine. A cold wind rushed past the rocky outcrop. We sat down in a somewhat sheltered area and snacked on some trail mix and apples. After snapping a few shots of the view, with us appropriately placed in the foreground, we set off for the return trip.

Last year a lot of work was done on the section of this trail from the Tawadina lookout to the split near the beach. I’m not a big fan of the heavy bridges and boardwalks that were installed. The trail was built up around the swampy areas with crushed gravel so now there are few challenges during the descent. But I suppose if it helps protect the sensitive ecology, then I’ll put up with it.

All in all, a nice hike. Very few leafers were out in the morning. They’ve eaten their turkey and are probably watching TV sucking back a pint.

And the pics:

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After one of the hottest, driest summers I can remember, I was expecting the autumn leaves to disappoint. Last weekend, the leaves had barely started to change, and many of the maples had dropped their leaves without any vibrant colours.

Since Saturday wasn’t the greatest weather day, we spent the day puttering around the house, with plans to go for an early morning hike on Sunday. I kept changing my mind between Wolf Trail and the hike from Old Chelsea to Keogan Hut. We arrived at the Chelsea Parking lot just before 9 a.m. There were only a few other cars, but we knew by the time we were done the “leafers” and “tillys” would take all the spots.

It was a chilly morning, and I’d opted to wear my old gortex jacket that has a light fleece liner. At least it has pit zips to help cool off during exercise. Under it I had a long-sleeved mid-weight merino wool top. Because the temperature was just above zero when we left, and I thought we were only going for a couple of hours, I wore my lightweight cross country skiing pants. That was a mistake because the ventilation wasn’t great and I soon overheated.

By the time we’d hiked up Ridge Road and crossed the parkway to the Penguin parking lot, sweat was dripping off my nose. We stopped at a picnic table and I took off my jacket, attaching it to my backpack. The parking lot at Penguin was deserted, but we knew that as soon as people had eaten their turkey and desserts, they’d be out for a stroll.

We continued along Ridge Road, and gradually started to see more people. When we arrived at Keogan Hut, it wasn’t even 11 a.m. Given that it was too early for lunch and our legs were still relatively fresh, we decided to continue on to Huron Hut. The leafers were out in full force. About 500m from Keogan is a parking lot. Groups of people scampered down the hill to the hut with their Timmy Hos in hand. Don’t think that hike will burn off many calories.

The leaves were spectacular on the weekend. We stopped at Huron lodge to eat our now cold chestnuts. I’d microwaved them before we left in hopes of tossing them on top of one of the wood stoves. But neither hut had fires going when we arrived and we couldn’t find any matches. (Note to self: pick up matches or lighter from the dollar store.) We ate part of our lunch, but quickly packed up when a plastic wagon arrived full of screaming children.

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Huron Hut is close to the Etienne Brule lookout. A father had pulled his two youngsters down the path. Sigh, we weren’t going to be able to “commune” with nature. We continued along Ridge Road and arrived at the parking lot for the Champlain Lookout. It was packed. Parking control was radioing down the hill when a spot opened up. Traffic went slowly around the loop before the parking lot. Tourists with cameras hanging around their necks strolled around snapping pictures of staircases (but not going down them). 

I admit to feeling a bit silly at this point walking around with poles. Every time they smacked the pavement, people turned around to see what was making the racket. As we stopped to unloop our hands, I noticed an elderly gentlemen trying to take a photo of his wife with the trees in the background. I offered to take their photo. He seemed quite surprised, but pleased. Then we arrived at the actual lookout, where the crowds oohed and aahed at the view.

Our hike down was uneventful except for the keys I noticed along the path. We debated what to do with them and decided to hang them off a sign using a branch in hopes that the person looking for them would see them.

All in all I think it works out to about 15 or 16 km. Next time I’ll remember to turn on the GPS in the phone before we leave home. It was having a hard time figuring out where we were in the parking lot.

 

I had a very interesting cycle home yesterday. I had left a bit later than anticipated so I called NosyNeighbour to see if he wanted to meet me along the path by Parkdale. Now that he’s starting work a half hour later, it makes it more challenging to meet up after work.

When I was waiting for the left turn arrow on Laurier to take me over the Chaudiere Bridge, a spandex-clad guy pulled up behind me. Typically cyclists use the left turn lane to go slightly left onto the bike path that runs on the opposite side of the street. But this cyclist followed me, so I decided to sprint along the bridge to get to my bike path on the other side of the river. He finally caught me on the slight uphill by the Domtar lights. Oh well, I’d blown the plan to cycle slowly. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m on a mission to ride into December this year. And now that I’ve rummaged through the basement to find all the appropriate clothing to help get me there, I’m ready!

This morning was much milder than I expected for the first day of October. While it was damp and still threatening rain, I decided to wear my sandals. That must be a first! I rounded out my outfit with my much-too-bit capri quick-dry pants, a merino wool golf shirt and my short yellow gortex rain jacket.

Once at my bike, I turned on my flashing red light at the back of my helmet and popped on one of the small flashing white lights I’d picked up. It helps to be seen but not to see. I suppose I’ll have to look for the big light and extra batteries in a few weeks.

As I cycled along the river pathway, my jacket hood flapped behind me sucking up the wind and holding me back. I should have tucked it in before I left. I tried a few times to tuck it in as I cycled, but the wind would grab the bit that wasn’t tucked in and pull it out again. At least the wind was mostly at my back, from the north west. When I joined up with the path at Parkdale, yellow and brown leaves blanketed the path tempting me to apply my brakes and wipe out. Thankfully, the path was empty and I took the corner without having to brake.

During my commute, I passed two joggers coming towards me and one cyclist heading downtown. Oh yeah, there was the asshole who passed me without calling out. Despite having my small mirror on my sunglasses, I couldn’t see him because my hood had ballooned up. JERK!

Fortunately, the Canada geese seem to have flown south. My $2 horn has fallen apart and is beyond repair. NosyNeighbour removed the last pieces of it from my old clunker on the weekend. Definitely worth the money to pick up another one next year.

a

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