Monday, 26 June 2017

Two very different days for sailing

I haven't been on the Committee Boat this year as I have had the opportunity to race on both Mondays and Wednesdays through the month of June. Therefore there have been no sailing pictures, but last Wednesday the forecast was for light wind and I thought I might have the opportunity so took my camera.
I was too busy during the race to take any pictures, but after we were finished I took a few shots of the JAM (Jib and Main) Fleet finishing.

Our motley crew, having finished the race about to indulge in a beer before bringing down sails and packing the boat up.
PHRF or handicap racing means the fleet is made up of boats of all shapes and sizes.
Messenger coming in with a setting sun.

Rogue Tiger was also out. She takes people out for evening cruises from the Port Dover pier.

Looks like we are heading for the Port Dover Harbour but actually we turn right and go into the Harbour Marina, so we don't get to go between those 2 lighthouses.
Driving back from the Junction Summer Solstice, on Sunday, I dropped in to Port Dover to see if the Erie Interclub, Round the Bay Race was ending. On the way from Toronto I had gone through 2 storms, including high wind and hail so I didn't envy those out on the lake.
This is what I saw from the top of the Harbour Marina hill.
I'm sorry but that just doesn't look like fun to me.
Neither does that
Everyone looked glad to be out of that rough water (which takes its toll on the body) and into the calm harbour.
Everyone on Dreamer had their foul weather gear on.
Next stop will be the Port Dover Yacht Club, a few drinks, a perch dinner, presentation of flags to the top 3 finishers in the first 2 races  and the exchange of war stories. I saw a ripped head sail and an incompletely furled headsail just in the half hour I was there.

The Junction Summer Solstice Festival

George and I helped out when Christine was involved in Word on the Street (WOTS) and Give Me Liberty (Liberty BIA) and this week I helped at the the Junction Summer Solstice Festival (Christine is now the Executive Director of the Junction BIA). I went down on Wednesday after sailing and put in 3, 12hr plus days. Events are fun if you are just helping, unbelievably hard work if you are responsible for them. I was very glad that this was "not my circus, not my monkeys" and I just needed to do what I was asked and trouble shoot as best I could.
I love the Junction area, walking around there are many trendy eating and drinking spots, clothing and furniture stores, juice and health food stores, butchers, bakeries and places to buy ice cream and gelato. But there are also places that look like they have been there for decades; appliance repairs, shoe repairs, etc. It is not yet super trendy but it is definitely on its way up.
The Dundas Highway was built as a military road in 1850 and the Keele family established a racecourse here (first running of the Queens Plate in 1860). The area was at the junction of 2 railway lines and became an important industrial area in the 1880s and has gone through a number of name changes, always including the word Junction, until amalgamated with the City of Toronto in 1909.

Christine asked me so many times if I liked the colour palette she had chosen for the planters, that I banned the phrase "colour palette", for the duration.
The Junction BIA office, and my "home" for 3 days, is through this door and upstairs. Floor to ceiling windows on 2 sides and overlooking Dundas and Pacific.

One of my main jobs was stocking the boxes and bins for the 4 information booths: decorations, misc supplies, pamphlets,  surveys, prizes and the gum ball machine balls (more on that later)

Also stocking the boxes for the 4 stages, electrical supplies, schedules, decorations
 In between were trips to stores for supplies, to Home Depot for a generator, photocopying, collating and.......
cutting out these little pieces of paper with prize names on them (water bottle, sunglasses, bubbles, tote bag). Then putting them in the clear plastic balls and counting them to match the number of prizes we had. I worked with 2 other volunteers on this job.

4 bubble gum machines for the 4 info booths.
 There was never a dull moment and a great variety of tasks to be completed.
I have no pictures of the actual event though I know there were a few photographers around and that Sarah was putting stuff up on social media. I was on dispatch, at the office, most of the day, listening and co-ordinating through the walkie talkie headset that began to feel like part of me. It is amazing what has to be accomplished for an event like this; all the permits and bureaucracy that has to be dealt with, businesses that need to be assisted and satisfied, volunteers that have to be found, scheduled and trained, bands and performers chosen and scheduled and accommodated, electricity and sound systems arranged,  street performers found, scheduled and co-ordinated, washrooms, tents, garbage and recycling,  tables, chairs, security, police and "the Keele guys" (from a nearby halfway house who did a lot of "the physically hard work) not to mention that a TTC bus had to be rerouted for the day.
Chris, Robyn and Peggy were phenomenal. Aside from all their pre-planning, they started the day, while it was still dark getting barricades, signs, garbage and the tents started. When I arrived at 7:30am they were in the throws of co-ordinating all the tents, tables, chairs and getting the stages built. When I was in bed, sleeping, that night, they were supervising and helping take down tents, chairs, toilets, barricades, garbage etc etc.
One of the street performers left his penny farthing in the office when he was out on his stilts.
I have no pictures, but I have little snapshots in my memory from when I walked the streets twice during the day (replacing walkie talkie batteries); a woman with a baby in a "snuglie" getting her picture taken with the guy in stilts when the baby wakes up and is just amazed, the banjo player serenading a couple in the front window of a restaurant, a couple struggling to decide were to eat because there were too many delicious things displayed out on the sidewalks, a group discussing whether you had to be high to paint like that while examining works at the art market, kids with fabulously painted faces, kids mesmerized by the magician, the acrobats, climbing on the pirate ship and drawing with chalk on the sidewalks, a little boy crying because his balloon animal burst in contact with hot pavement, 2 husky puppies curled up on a bench while their owners had a drink on a patio behind them, a volunteer at an info booth surrounded by people talking and handing out stuff as fast as she could, a volunteer stage manager who didn't need a walkie talkie because the bands were too loud for him to hear on one anyway, a couple dancing in a slow stylized manner and a woman spinning her 2 daughters around in front of the main stage, a band member asked if I was doing a Madonna impression (walking around with my headset on) and I said it was more likely I was Lily Tomlin as a phone operator, from Laugh In, and although he was young he laughed and recognized the character (though neither of us could remember if she had a name).
At the end of my shift, about 9pm, I sat on a patio with a glass of red wine and listened to TIKA, (a jazzy, soul singer) on the main stage, the next band, Sam Cash, was also good, which resulted in a second glass of wine and a need to take an Uber home to Chris and Jason's place.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Considering our first hike on the Bruce

For my birthday, Nicola sent me a map of the Bruce Trail. In various places on the internet it is referred to as being 885-890 kilometers long. It is the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in Canada.
Last Sundays hike, of 7.5km in 3hrs, is marked on it now. We are already gearing up for the next hike.
We did some things right:
  • we had lots of water and snacks
  • we started the hike in good time
  • we were aware of the weather forecast for the day
  • we both had our phones with us
  • we had small back packs
  • we had a first aid kit
  • we had hiking poles
  • we both had elastic ankle braces with us
  • we had, and used, sunscreen and bug spray
  • Nicola had light weight, "wicking" clothing
  • we had a map, written description and compass
  • we had toilet paper (don't ask)
  • we had identification with us
  • I had a rain poncho
We need to improve on some things:
  • I need some light weight, "wicking" clothing 
  • we both need some kind of head band to stop sunscreen, bug spray, sweat stinging our eyes
  • we should have hats in case the trail is out in the open
  • we need to learn how to use a compass
  • we should have the map in a waterproof covering
  • I need to get a camelback to hold water (my backpack has a place for one already) 
  • we should have cash with us
  • a spare pair of socks (suggestion from Heather)
  • we need to make sure we have the keys to the car at the end location, with us, not in the car at the beginning location (yep after all that careful planning, we had to call a taxi to go back to the start)
I'm sure as we do more of the trail we will refine the lists and hopefully not be too loaded up.
Here's a couple of cat pictures just to round out the blog post and because Rasta has not been featured prominently, lately.
Just hanging out in the laundry hamper

Giving his furry seal of approval to the partially hooked footstool cover.

Bruce Trail: Brock's Monument to Firemans Park

Nicola and I have been talking about walking the length of the Bruce Trail for a couple of years now and when we last got together we decided to stop talking and start walking. We looked at our calendars and marked off about 5 days this year that we can both dedicate to the project. Sunday was the first. We drove down to Niagara on Saturday afternoon.
We stayed in a cheap motel about a block from the Skylon.
I got there about an hour before Nicola,
time enough to walk down through the impressive gardens

and get a quick peak
at the falls.

I have always had a love-hate relationship with "the falls". It is always so crowded, too many cars and so tacky. On the other hand, as a family, we always had a good time there. When the kids were young a visit meant; a drive by the falls, cycling on the Niagara Parkway trail followed by buffet dinner at Ponderosa on the U.S. side. When the kids were gone it meant; staying at a hotel, driving or walking by the falls, cycling on the parkway and visiting wineries.
After Nicola got there we walked to a nearby restaurant and caught up over a glass of wine. We then took Mum and Dad out for Father's Day to the Ming Teh restaurant in Fort Erie (excellent food and a great view of the Niagara river).
Thunderstorms were in the forecast for the afternoon so we set an alarm, had a buffet breakfast and drove to our end point, Firemans Park, to drop off Nicola's car. There was a festival being set up in the park so we were glad we were there early to get a parking spot.
We were at Brock's Monument, by about 9am. Hot, muggy, windy and lots of dark clouds around. It drizzled rain while we were getting our hikers on and setting up our hiking poles.
The information that Nicola had printed off from the internet indicated that there was a cairn marking the start of the trail but all we could find was this sign.
We were feeling pretty pumped about finally getting started. Selfie by Nicola.
The first flash of white. The trail is marked by these white painted markers and turns are marked with one flash above the other. Side trails are in different colours.

We were often walking along the Niagara Escarpment ridge and could see glimpses of the plain, towards Niagara-on-the-lake, below us, through the trees.
This made us wonder what type of rock it was. Quick google and the answer is: dolomitic limestone.
Negotiating water over running its culvert.
A little slippery
but quite photogenic.
It was lushly green with plants and flowers in bloom.
There was no information signage along the way (and you know how I love my info plaques). This looks like a hoist of some kind, near an abandoned quarry.

This rock, with its trail marker, showed signs of the drill holes.
Occasionally we were traversing rocky gorges
other times it was woodland or meadow paths. Photo by Nicola.
A number of times we found ourselves on side trails and had to back track to find the white flashes again.
There were some really steep scrambles when we were glad to have the poles for support.

We actually didn't have to go over the stile, we went round it. Photo kindly taken by another hiker. There weren't a lot of people on the trail; one large group and a couple of couples. Probably the heat and humidity had put people off.
The Bruce trail joined the Laura Secord legacy trail for a while.

Then it joined a road
and this long gradual hill was probably the worst part of the whole hike. We stopped for a granola bar and for Nicola to put on her ankle brace, at the top of the hill where the trail re-entered the woods. At this point we were about 2 km from our destination.
It turned out that the festival at Firemans park was a rally of antique VWs.
Lots of jellybean colours
As well as the camper vans there were bugs, cabrioles and dune buggys.
Although we had been drinking water the whole time we were desperate for some caffeine. These were our celebratory iced cap and iced latte from Tims.
Next blog I will outline what we learned from this experience to take into our next hike, in July.