Category Archives: Walking

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: SAND and DIRT

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This picture of all the debris on the sandy beach may not be what beach and nature lovers want to see. It fits the theme for this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (Sand and Dirt) nonetheless. With each tide, the debris is washed onto shore and then back to the sea.

I leave the next picture to your imagination.

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A footprint here…Mine! It would be washed away by the next tide. Ephemeral our existence is in this world, how can we leave a cleaner footprint, and make this earth a more beautiful place for everyone?

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Book Club Review: Beach Strip, John Lawrence Reynolds

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POSSIBLE SPOILER

I have a chance to read Beach Strip by John Lawrence Reynolds through the book club of my local library branch, which is in support of the One Book One Burlington Event this Fall.  Our discussion surrounds some of the questions prepared by the librarians, with insight from a member who has taken part in the initial shortlisting of the book.

Most of us know where the Beach Strip is as a local landmark in Burlington and some of us have walked along it, including myself. (This is another reason why I read this book, because of the familiarity of the setting.) If you have been following my blog, you may wonder if I have an obsession about this area–the beach walk, the waves and the lift bridge. I tell my group that as I am reading the book, the scenery appears vividly in my mind’s eyes, even though I walk along the strip only in daylight and the crime in the book takes place at night. I figure out roughly where the author refers to as the first crime scene, and know exactly the location of an unexpected twist in the plot in which Josie Marshall walks on the lift bridge, looks at the guard on duty in the tower and throws the ashes of her husband in the canal. After that she walks on to discover a dead body, whose head is missing! I have not gone back to Beach Trail and the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge by myself since reading the gory details. Honestly, I need some company here.

When it comes to the plot, we have a perceptive remark that every ingredient one wants for a crime story is here. There is more than one murder, and the cops play a key role. There is more: Sex, flirtation, violence, a gangster boss, a suspected pervert, filial piety, sibling rivalry, extra-marital relationship and police corruption. Reynolds must be having fun with his canvas of the book, and puts a dab of this character and that character, as well as the various themes, viola! We are wondering whether with all these catchy ingredients the film right of a TV movie may be forthcoming.

The biggest misgiving we all have is the characterization of Josie Marshall, whose husband Gabe, a police detective, is found dead on the Beach Strip outside their house.  Josie does not believe that Gabe has committed suicide, as the police has told her. She takes it upon herself to find the murderer. There are too many inconsistencies. One moment Josie is grieving her loss and crying that she is feeling weak, but the next moment she is charging around talking to people and functioning like a cool and balanced-headed detective. Then she is in Vancouver with her sister, spent after all her experience. Next she is on a flight, calling and emailing all the people she wants to see to expose the murderer. This is all within three weeks of losing her husband. Mind you, she has seen at least two dead bodies in this short time. She appears like Super Woman.

The most upsetting part for us, all being female readers, is the stereotype of a woman’s strength to be her sexual appeal. It is only too superficial to see Josie deliberately wearing a tight top and a short pencil skirt when she visits the gangster boss. Reynolds says that he is experimenting with a female protagonist in this novel and when he tries to get into the head of the Josie Marshall,  it seems that it still comes from a male perspective. Anyhow, Reynolds will be appearing in an event to talk about his book. It will be interesting to see what he has to say.

The book is an interesting read, but likely not Reynold’s best. We think that it is selected for One Book One Burlington more because the setting is a local attraction, and Reynolds is a Burlington resident.  It is also easy to fit in other activities for this “one book one community” event which is gaining popular support in  the province.

Hendrie Valley Trails: An Ecological Haven

I had been wanting to go back to do a longer walk since my last visit to the trails in the Royal Botanical Gardens. I made it back at the end of the summer. This was what I found  when I entered the grounds from Valley Inn Road with my walking group. The Laking Garden, which normally attracted many bird watchers, seemed quiet.

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It gave us a serene start to our walk without the fowls fluttering on the surface of the water. We had the calming reflections all to ourselves.

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We entered  Grindstone Marshes Trail. It was unpaved, but footing was good. I think the trail is so named because there are thick marshes bordering the footpath.

The vegetation was so tall that anyone walking on the boardwalk and the bridge would find it hard to distinguish whether it was water or ground underneath the weeds and marshes.

One of us with a keen eye spotted a flattened patch and pointed out to us that probably a herd of deer had gone over this area.

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Grindstone Marsh Trail joined North Bridle Trail. We left the marshland and were now walking on narrow paths. We tried to look out for the much publicized bald eagles and their nest, but they were nowhere in sight. The Royal Botanical Garden was careful not to specify their exact location in view of public interests in this rare specie. The path took us to Creek Side Walk which ran along Grindstone Creek.

There was more uphill and downhill in this area but on a late summer day like this we were well protected from the sun. We emerged from Creek Side Walk to the residential area along Unsworth Avenue, where we could follow the city streets to end our walk.

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Thursday Special: My 200th Blog Post

I celebrate my 200th post to-day with a link to my first post. I also submit this post to Thursday Special, that Paula of Lost in Translation has set up. I entitled my first post “Impossible? Possible!” It was the banner in the photo that gave me the inspiration to start blogging, and the words also reflected my determination to power walk to bring health to my life. Blogging and power walking are now two activities that I engage in regularly, together with my other passions–reading, food, and music and art.

I was standing under the same banner at the start line of the Sporting Life 10K earlier this year in May and took a picture of it myself. It dawned on me too that I had been blogging for one year. These two activities have enabled me to connect with many lovely people, who have shared with me their interests and their lives. They have broadened my perspectives, challenged my usual way of thinking, and in short, they have enriched my life.

My walking friends have supported me through races and hikes. I have covered distances that I have never dreamt that I am capable of doing. They have also given me the privilege to share their blessings and joys, as well as trial and tribulations. Without walking with them, and being part of their non-walking related activities, about half of the contents of this blog would have been missing.

My blogging friends (yes, although we have never met, yet I consider you my friends) are generous and embracing. They open their world to me. Their posts have made me laugh, made me cry or rendered me speechless in awe.  I learn about books, movies, music, crafts and hikes, as well as classics. Their blogs have taught me how to take pictures, how to write and how to cook. They help me update my bucket list of things to do and places to go. They have offered me comments and “likes” that have encouraged me to keep blogging better posts. The benefits I have derived are too numerous to count.

Now that I have reached the 200th post mark, I want to take this opportunity to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

This blogging milestone is making me reflective, but not sentimental. I am determined to live by the Tagline of this blog to “age with peace of mind”. I have made a choice to appreciate my blessings in the vicissitudes of life. I have likened races as a metaphor of life. Walking and Blogging are part of my Life. Thank you for celebrating my 200th post with me–if you reach this far–and so, let us walk on and blog on.

For other Thursday Special posts this week, check out: Lost in Translation.

 

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A Terry Fox Legacy: Terry Fox Run 2013

1-IMG_1839One of the first things every school child in Canada learns is that Terry Fox is a Canadian hero. The Terry Fox Run every year in mid-September also draws crowds from every city across the country to raise funds for the Terry Fox Foundation, set up in memory of Fox to support cancer research. This event has also become worldwide, and millions of participants in some 60 countries come out for the Terry Fox Run.

Terry Fox’s story has become a legend. When he was only 19 years old, Fox’s right leg was amputated after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. He was a distance runner and continued to run with an artificial leg. In 1980, he embarked on a cross-Canada Marathon of Hope to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. His noble endeavour to run a marathon distance every day was sadly cut short when it was found that cancer had spread to his lungs. He had reached Thunder Bay, Ontario, after walking for 143 days from St. John’s Newfoundland . He died nine months later. His effort has resulted in the establishment of the Terry Fox Foundation in 1981 to carry on his dream.

I was with a group of friends in the recent Terry Fox Run. We power-walked a 5 Km distance in memory of a walking buddy who lost his battle to cancer. It was a beautiful day, and everybody at our walk location, Coronation Park in Oakville, ON, was upbeat and excited about the walk.

There were a festive atmosphere around. Stores were selling souvenir items. The cheerleaders were all already to go. The first group to head out at the start line were children on their bikes.

Then came the runners and walkers doing 1 Km, 5 Km and 10 Km, and of course our pets could take part too!

As the Terry Fox Foundation website has put it, this is a “non-competitive and all-inclusive” event. We can run or walk at our own pace, and the most important part is to remember our loved ones who have lost the battle to  cancer, pray for those under treatment or in remission, and to cherish the hope that one day the disease will find a cure.

Nothing was better for our team at the end of the walk than to enjoy a snack at our team table.

We shall see each other again next year!

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An Ecological Walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens

The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System is Canada’s newest urban ecopark. It is ‘urban’, because it is situated in a fast growing residential and re-developed area between Burlington and Hamilton in Ontario. It is an ‘ecopark’, because it is an area designed to preserve, restore and protect the natural lands in this western part of the province. It has taken seven years of planning and the Park has been open since June this year. Work is still continuing to reconnect the natural areas in this region that have been fragmented by roads, rail tracks that has come into existence as a result of urbanization.

I enter from Cherry Hill Gate on Plains Road in Burlington, and I am in the grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

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In front of me is a downhill trail and I cannot believe that the air already breathes cleaner and fresher once I walk into the shades . A colony of chipmunks has been breeding in this area and they take no notice of people when they scurry across the trail and in and out of their burrows, with their dollar-size openings on the grounds.

Fallen trees are kept as long as they do not create an obstacle on the trail.

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I take an incline–unpaved, with exposed roots but firm footing–and turn into an area of marshland.

The water may look mirky, but the marshland is home to many species of insects and wild life. I feel pretty lucky to spot a muskrat and get a picture of it.

Crossing the boardwalk, I arrive at a big pond rich in vegetation, like the water lilies. Take a closer look and one can see many insects such as water roaches, dragon flies and many others that I wish I could give their names.

My walk today is short loop from Cherry Hill Gate, and take up part of the North Bridle Trail, and then Grindstone Marsh Trail to return to Hendrie Park of the Royal Botanical Gardens. It is an easy forty-five minutes’ reconnaissance stroll. I’ll be back for more.

Hiking on Toronto Islands

If you are looking for a place for a walk or hike in downtown Toronto, you should go to Toronto Islands. Toronto Islands are a group of small islands off Toronto Harbour. The islands are off-limits to public traffic and are accessible only by ferries from the pier at the base of Bay Street, south of Union Station.

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This is where our journey begin. My hiking group takes the vehicular ferry, which carries services vehicles and cyclists across to Hanlan’s Point. I look back at the city and get a good view of how the CN Tower dominates the skyline. The sky is blue and it is a beautiful day for a hike.

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We approach the Hanlan’s Point docking area and on landing, the statute of Edward Hanlan in his swimming trunk and holding his rowing paddle greets us to his home. (I have since looked up on who Hanlan was. He won five world sculling championships consecutively between 1880 and 1884 and therefore probably deserved to be remembered by this larger than life-size statue.)

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Our group head across the grass towards the sandy path which takes us to Hanlan’s Point Beach.

During this hike, we either walk on the beach on the south side Centre Island, the biggest of the islands or keep to any path that runs along the shore, which sadly has taken the toll of erosion due to its exposure. Slabs of stone are piled up on some beaches to break up the waves as a preventative measure.

When we reach the “clothing optional area” (aka the nudist section of Hanlan’s Point Beach), we hurry on so as not to disturb the naturists who are sunbathing on the beach. To be honest, I much prefer the view towards the horizon.

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We are back walking on the path (Lakeshore Avenue) and shortly after we pass Gilbraltar Point Lighthouse, the look-out pier is in sight with its stone dyke –another measure to protect the shoreline.

This is time for a break–we stroll on the viewing platform and enjoy our packed lunch by the ponds in the garden.

Then it is time to pick up the pace again. It is a pleasant walk on the Broadwalk, which leads us to Ward’s Island at the far eastern end of the islands. From this direction, I can see planes taking off and landing at the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which is used by private aircraft and Porter’s Airline.

On Ward’s Island is one of the two residential areas–the other is on Algonquin Island–on Toronto Islands. It is disappointing to see some houses that badly need attention and repairs, but one has to look into the history of the governance of the properties on the Islands, an anomaly which will shock many people.

But don’t drag me into politics; let me enjoy and complete my hike. It does not take long to reach the ferry dock at Ward’s Island, and I can take a ferry for passengers. By now, the sky has changed and is clouding over. I am glad our group has completed our hike under the best condition one could hope for.

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Related Post for another city hike:
Hiking on City Trails in Oakville: https://opallaontrails.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/hiking-on-city-trails-in-oakville/