Adventure in the Treetops

Last week, my husband and I went away for a couple of days. We hadn’t been able to coordinate vacation time all summer so this was our last chance.

Having discussed our plans a few weeks earlier, we decided to do something we had wanted to do years ago but never got around to it. And we had thought we’d go on this adventure with our children. Instead it was just the two of us, and we enjoyed it tremendously.

Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve was our destination. This 100,000 acre plot of land has a lot to offer its visitors. Campsites, cabins, hiking trails, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and dog sledding are some of the outdoor adventures in which visitors can partake.

The property is also a research facility and education centre, and many universities from around the world come to Haliburton Forest to work and study the area.

But what brought my husband and I to Haliburton Forest was none of the above mentioned. We went to walk in the treetops on the world’s longest canopy walkway and to visit the Wolf Centre.

The adventure started with a brief introduction from our tour guide and then each treetrekker introduced themselves. There were only four of us on this particular day, however the tour can accommodate up to twenty hikers and it runs twice a day.

After introductions, we climbed into a van and drove about 20 minutes on the property, past campsites and lakes, where our guide explained to us a little bit about the history of Haliburton Forest.

Once we arrived at our destination, we disembarked and hiked a short distance to a small shed. Here we picked up life-jackets and paddles. Then we walked down a trail to the water’s edge where two voyageur style canoes waited. Each canoe can hold ten passengers.

Our guide gave us a quick paddling lesson, and then we boarded our canoe for a short 600 metre paddle across the lake.

With the canoe docked and our life-jackets hanging from tree branches, we set out on another short hike to another small shed. Here, our tour guide handed us our harnesses and ropes and then we headed out on another trail. This one a little longer and much steeper.

Halfway up a hill, we stopped at a flattened resting area, where our guide showed us how to put on our harnesses. This same area was also a practice station. We learned how to open our carabiner-type clips, walk on a board and slide the clips along a guide wire, and then transfer over to the next wire safely. Oh, and she also told us the oldest visitor to walk the canopy trail was a 95-year-old woman.

With our lesson over, we hiked the rest of the way up the hill to a platform, the beginning of our canopy trail. Here, the guide lowered the first section of a bridge with a crank, like a drawbridge. Before we embarked, as protocol our guide asked us a few questions – like, are you here to walk this trail at your own risk and free-will, and are you comfortable with the equipment and its safe use (or something like that).

The canopy tour was a most enjoyable trip and great fun. At no time did I ever feel scared, even when the bridges bounced a little. The scenery was great, especially at the platform where you could look out over a pond and trees didn’t hamper your view. And it went by fast. I would have gladly walked back to the beginning, but unlike most trails, this is a one-way route.

After we arrived back to our car, we took a short drive to the wolf centre. This is a 15-acre enclosure where a pack of seven wolves live. We were able to view them from the observation room as all seven were nearby. The observation rooms have one way glass, and while the wolves can’t see you, they can smell and hear visitors. The staff at the centre were very informative, and I learned a lot about these magnificent creatures.

If you live in Ontario or coming for a visit, perhaps this is something you would be interested in. I definitely recommend this adventure!

The Sun is Setting on Summer

It always seems (to me anyway) that as the end of summer approaches, not enough has been accomplished.

If you live where there are four seasons, you will understand this. Summer is so fleeting, while the other three months seem to drag on, summer is truly over in a blink. We tend to pack in as much (or try to) as we can during those three months of hot and (relatively dry) weather. When it ends, I can’t help but wonder, did I do what I wanted? Did I accomplish what I planned on doing on my vacation time?

This year, my vacations were spent at home (staycations). The first was a week at the end of July, the second the first week of August, and my last week starts on Sept 2. Unfortunately, my husband was not able to take any time off apart from the Friday at the end of my second week of vacation. However, he is taking the Thursday and Friday next week, and we have planned a little get away and will be going Treetop Trekking. More on that when we get back.

Kayaking on Charleston Lake

Kayaking with a friend on the St. Lawrence

Boating on Charleston Lake

Anyway, it is only when I look at my pictures do I realize that, yes, I did accomplish quite a bit. Sure I may not have gone kayaking every week (I managed three times and I am hoping for at least one more paddle before the water gets too cold.) I did get out in the boat (albeit only twice but again, there are plenty of nice days ahead). I golfed with my son (only once). I toured the new cidery and bakery close to home. And spent a day with my husband and adult children in a picturesque town where we dined and window shopped. (I saw plenty of things that I need to go back for, good thing it’s not too far from home.)

April 2019

My biggest accomplishment by far was the garden I created/built where an old barn used to be. I started the project back in April. I had always wanted this garden and tried about 20 years ago (you know, when I was younger, had more energy, and my body didn’t ache as much as it does now). But back then, I didn’t have the vision. And after allowing the weeds and the rocks to deter me, I gave up. Now that I am in my early fifties, I decided to create what I had always dreamed. I am paying for it now with overused muscles, tendonitis, etc. There is still much work to do, but I think I got the hard work done.

May 2019

I spent a good amount of time visiting greenhouses, purchasing plants, dirt, & mulch. I also had a number of family and friends give me some plants, for which I am grateful.

June 2019

July 2019

August 2019

At one particular greenhouse, I showed an employee some of the pictures of the garden I was creating to which she said “You must be retired.” I chuckled and said, “Nope, I work full-time.”

There was also a lot achieved in the writing world as well. I attended a few book signings (more to come in the next several weeks). My newest book was released in June. Two of my books are now available on Audible and one of my books has book-inspired merchandise now. The only thing I have not completed are the edits on the final book of my trilogy, but I am close to finishing with only about nine or ten chapters to go. Thing is, as I sit here and type this, I have an ice-pack to rest my right wrist on as either tendonitis is flaring up (again) or perhaps a touch of carpal tunnel (not sure which but I am betting more on the tendonitis as it travels up into my shoulder at times.

So, while in my head I think I didn’t get all I wanted done, I only need to look at the many photos I took, recording my summer, to realize that I packed those short three months with as much as possible. And while there may only be three weeks left in the season, that still leaves many possibilities. Besides, I love autumn. Cozy times are ahead!

A Moment in Time

 

One heartbeat, one breath, one blink,

A fleeting moment like a blip on a screen,

Like a dot on a timeline.

 

An inkling, a distant memory, a fading dream,

A few photographs and an empty space in the heart

Are all that remain to prove your existence.

 

Time moves forward, life goes on, the world keeps spinning,

For all that remains, your memory will live on in

Every heartbeat, every breath, and every blink.

 

In loving memory Laura Helen Jackson Aug 6, 1995 – Dec 3, 1995

Mini Vacation to Algonquin Park

There were no big vacation plans for us this year, but my husband and I did manage to get away for a few days. Back in August we planned a little get away to Algonquin Park a place we haven’t been in 17 years. 

Algonquin Park is a Provincial Park located in southeastern Ontario, Canada. The park covers 7653 sq kms (2955 sq miles). It is larger than Prince Edward Island (the smallest province in Canada) and about the same size as the US states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. It is the oldest provincial park in Ontario and was established in 1893. (Thank you www.algonquinpark.on.ca for the information)

We booked into a motel (more about that later) just outside the park checking in on Monday, Sep 17 and leaving on Thursday, Sep 20. As it is a five hour drive to the park we decided to get away a day early. So we headed to Peterborough on Sunday night.

On our drive to the park on Monday we stopped at Dorset Tower Trail. The idea was to hike the 2.3 km trail then to climb the Dorset Tower which stands 30 m hight (100 feet) tall. What we ended up doing was climbing the tower first as our GPS lead us to the tower and not the trail head. That ended up being a good thing.

I always forget how much I don’t really like heights until I start climbing. Going up wasn’t so bad, I just kept my focus ahead of me. Going down, however, was a little slower as I made sure my feet firmly planted on each steel grating step and both hands gripped the handrails.

Back at the bottom our legs felt like jelly. And then we went on the hike which was a loop that started and ended at the tower. First down a steep hill, across the bottom of the trail, and then back up an even steeper incline over rocks. Literature on the trail says that the hike should be completed by people who have a reasonable level of fitness. I’m not sure if we have a reasonable level of fitness, but we didn’t die.

Looking back up the trail as we hiked down
The hike back up the trail

Later that afternoon we checked into our motel, which was a bit of a dissapointment. We had stayed there the last time we visited the park and it was beautiful. The dining room served amazing meals and you had to make reservations because it was so busy.

Today the motel is run by a new owner and without going into too much detail the place is very run down. Grass hasn’t been cut all summer, overgrown gardens, roof shingles need replacing. Our first room had a leaky toilet (needed a new wax gasket) so we were upgraded to a much bigger room. The rooms are clean but are still decorated in the 1980-1990 style. Our second room only had one of three lamps working, the crank on a window was broken and we had to remove the screen and pull the window shut with our hands, the bottom track for the shower door was behind the bathroom door and we put it back on the shower. Plus many more other things but the owner would rather line his pockets with profits instead of putting it back into his motel. It really is a shame. Despite the “meh” accommodations we had a fantastic time enjoying the park.

On Tuesday we spent the day hiking and completed 8 trails with a total of 14.6 kms.

On Wednesday we ended up renting a canoe instead of hiking (my husband’s knee was bothering him), and we spent 4 hours paddling on Canoe Lake inside the park.

If you ever get a chance to visit Algonquin Park, do it. It is a beautiful place. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any moose this trip. Fortunately, we didn’t run into any black bear as the first trail we hiked had some bear droppings here and there.  (Pictures without timestamp were taken with my cell phone).

Pictures with timestamp (forgot to turn it off) and the canoeing pictures after the turtle were taken with Canon wifi digital camera. The rest of the images were captured with my cell phone.

More Entertaining than We Thought

The Daily Post – Entertain

 

Many years ago when I was somewhere around 6-8 years old, my younger sister and I entertained the idea to entertain our extended family. It was our mother’s turn to host the Christmas party which meant aunts, uncles, & cousins from both sides all gathered at our house.

We loved to sing. My sister and I practiced our Christmas carol and when we were ready, we happily performed in the living room – in front of everyone.

“Deck the Halls with Black & Decker…” We sang and boy we nailed it. Our family smiled and laughed and cheered, and we smiled and laughed. Of course, at the time, we didn’t know that those weren’t the real words to that particular Christmas carol but were the words adapted by Black & Decker for their holiday commercials. It was all very entertaining.

Reminiscing

A month ago today my husband and I returned from our summer vacation – the first in a very long time. We spent eight days in Newfoundland, the only eastern province we had yet to visit. It was everything we hoped it would be and more.

Newfoundland is a large island. We spent our time touring the Avalon Peninsula and drove a total of 1819 kilometers. The scenery constantly changed from barren land to forests, from ocean vistas to lakes and streams. We visited museums and archaeological sites – learning as much as we could about the history. We hope to return some day to visit the western part of the province. It is truly the land that time forgot. 

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed looking at them again.

If you travel, perhaps you’ll consider Newfoundland. It’s fantastic!!!!

Bell Island

Iron ore mine – mine #2 – Bell Island

Flatrock – Me taking pictures of a whale. The first of many we saw from the shore.

Flatrock – Humpback Whale

St. Johns Harbour from Signal Hill

Newfoundland is not only surrounded by the ocean but there are lakes, ponds, rivers, and creeks just about every turn of the road.

Harbour Seal sitting on a rock

Grates Cove – Iceberg

Salmonier Nature Park

Cape Spear easternmost point of North America – modern lighthouse

Cape Spear – Original lighthouse

St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve – Gannets

Brigus, Nfld

Brigus – entrance to Wilcox Gardens

 

 

 

I Never Liked Hockey….

Dylan's first hockey game 002

until my son played and I became a hockey mom.

That’s him at centre ice in the yellow jersey, number 6, and this was his first hockey game –  ever. He was six years old and he played IP that year (Introductory Player, I think it’s called). It was mostly learning about skills. They didn’t play any games except for this one, which was during one of the breaks for the bigger boys – the Junior B team.

There was a lot of family there that night. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and of course us – his parents. He told us before the game that he was going to score a goal for every one of his family members that had come to see him play – and he did. He shoved (literally) 6 goals into the net. From that moment on I knew that watching him play hockey was always going to be fun and exciting – I wasn’t wrong.

So, why didn’t I ever like hockey? Yes, I’m Canadian, but in my house hockey was not something that was ever watched or talked about. My father grew up in The Netherlands during WWII and my mother never liked the sport – but my grandfather did, he was a huge Habs (Montreal Canadiens) fan. He watched a lot of hockey. Anyway, in short, I never grew up with it. Then I met my husband and hockey came into my life. Although it was more like he watched hockey and I found something else to do. But then we had a boy and things changed. Though I wish now we had put our daughter into hockey – for some reason we never thought of it, and then again she never asked either.

So here it is 3:43 in the morning and I’m up typing this blog when I should be sleeping, but I can’t. Today at noon our son will play in his last game. It’s actually not really his last game, he has one more next week – the championship game. His team is in the running to win the division. However, they have one more game to put under their belts, to seel the deal, and very likely put them into first place heading into the championship game.

It has been an amazing 12 years and our son has always made us proud. He is one of those players who has always done his best. He has played both house league and Rep (representative – traveling team). He has been called up to play for higher divisions when they were short players. He was even called up to play for the Junior Bs last year (now Cs – you can check out what the difference is on Wikipedia). He has played forward and defense, though mostly forward and probably equally as either centre or winger. He has played as an assistant captain and captain (he’s a captain again this year). He has received player of the game awards on many occasions. He has scored numerous goals over the years and probably more assists, and he has sat in the penalty box. I can proudly say he has never been a “goon” and never fought – even when opposing players tried to start something. He has impressed his coaches and the coaches of opposing teams. One year one such coach commented on his great conduct and sportsmanship after he’d congratulated their goalie on a job well done.

So here I sit, now 4:08 AM, feeling a little emotional as yet another of my child’s stages/phases/milestones – is coming to an end. In another week there will be no more freezing in other arenas (our home arena is the warmest – no need for a blanket there). No more dining at some fast food place before or after a game as they always seemed to be right around meal time. No more smelly hockey equipment hanging up to dry on his hockey tree. No more cheering for his goals, his assists, or some other play he has made. I have albums and frames of pictures. There are  hooks for his medals and shelves for his trophies. And in my mind I will always remember and hear his little voice:

“Look ma, it’s the Tie Domi!” he said to me as we stood outside the glass before stepping on the ice for another practice skate before we enroll him in to hockey. He isn’t quite steady on those blades yet, but he is determined.

I laughed a little as we watched the ice surface being cleaned. “No honey, it’s a Zamboni.”

I laced up his skates and the two of us headed out on to the ice for the parent and tot skate. He held my hand and together we went around the rink. Every once in awhile I stopped to pick him back up. After one turn around he was ready to try it on his own.

“If you can make it around all on your own, daddy and I will sign you up for hockey.”

“Okay!” He smiled, his blue eyes shone, he let go of my hand, and off he went on his own and he never looked back.

The Lemon Tree

lemon-793932_640

For the last couple of mornings I have been squeezing the juice from half a lemon into a glass of water and drinking it before I eat. I’d read that there are several advantages to doing this such as aiding digestion and the added benefit of vitamin C. As for the rest, I can’t remember.

This morning I squeezed the juice over a spoon to catch seeds as yesterday I ended up with three in the bottom of my glass. The seeds popped out and I placed them one by one on the counter. When I was done there were several seeds sitting there. I began gathering them up, preparing to throw them out when I was suddenly hit by another of my favourite childhood memory.

When I was little, probably around eight, I found some lemon seeds. I imagine I scooped them off the counter or out of a lemon my mother had just finished using. I remember taking the seeds and laying them somewhere to dry. My mother always grew a fairly substantial vegetable garden and so I knew about drying seeds out before planting them. As to whether or not anyone knew I had these seeds, I don’t recall.

Several days later, I pushed my dried seeds into the dirt inside a flowerpot. My mother had a number of houseplants and there were always pots and small bags of potting soil. I watered the seeds and left the pot in the basement.

My oldest brother (by 12 years) had a bedroom in the basement and I believe he found me watering the dirt one day (there may have been a sprout). He asked me what I was doing and I told him that I had planted lemon seeds. I think he told me he would keep it in his room so that it would get some sunlight through his window. He said that he would help me take care of it. He did and the lemon tree grew.

When my brother moved out probably a year or so after that and he took the lemon tree with him. Whenever I visited, he would show me the tree. He nurtured and cared for it and whenever he moved to another apartment, it went with him. As the years passed, and my brother married and moved into his first house, he brought the tree with him. When I visited, he would show me the tree with its glossy green leaves and once I think it even had tiny lemons. I was always surprised and pleased that he still had the tree.

The tree is now long gone but right at this moment, sitting on a piece of paper towel are several lemon seeds. I think I will dry them out, plant them, and see what happens. After all, when life gives you lemons…. plant the seeds and grow a tree.

Farewell 2015

new-years-day-2015-16

 

 

 

 

 

I always feel a little sad on New Year’s Eve – a little choked up. I suppose it’s because I’m saying goodbye to a year I’ve grown comfortable with and adjusted to. I’m saying goodbye to the memories that were created, both good and bad, and stepping into a year of unknown possibilities and adventures. It’s both exciting and a little scary. But the new year gives each one of us the opportunity to start new, to grow and change, to become a better human being.  This is why we make resolutions, plans, and goals. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail, but no matter what, one thing is for certain – we learn, and through learning, we grow.

Like many, I have my own resolutions and I will do my best to reach my goals. But if I fail, I won’t beat myself up over it. I’m human – I’m not perfect.

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. May your lives be rich with health, love, peace, and happiness. Reach for the stars whenever you can.  On cloudy days find your silver lining. And when life hands you lemons – make lemonade.

S. S. Sassafras

It’s funny how memories from the past resurface every once in a while. Sometimes they bring with them feelings of anger, sadness, or great joy. I had one such memory pop up earlier today as I was washing dishes and I can happily say it was one that brought back joy. I have had this memory before and it always brings a smile to my face. In fact, I can easily say it is one of my favourite memories from my childhood.

I was probably somewhere between the ages of 10 – 12 years old. I had gone down to the basement and was on the side that housed the water heater, fuse box, washer and dryer, and a workbench.  The workbench was complete with a vise, securely mounted to its surface. There was a peg board attached to the wall behind the bench. Various tools hung from the nails on the pegboard and if the tool wasn’t found you knew what was missing by its outline drawn on the board. It wasn’t a very elaborate work area by any means and was mainly used by my father or brothers, but sometimes I wandered over to the bench.

On that particular day I had the urge to make something and as I sorted through the scraps of leftover wood an idea came to mind. I was going to build a small boat. I began by clamping a piece of wood into the vise that was going to be the hull. The plan was to saw each end of the block on a 45 degree angle to make it “boat-shaped. Then I was going to attach a smaller block of wood on the top for the cabin. My plan was set; I picked up the saw and began construction.

I had barely made the first few cuts when my older brother, the second oldest of four children, appeared. He asked me what I was doing and I told him that I was going to build a boat. I showed him how I was going to cut the edges and how I was going to attach the block. My brother smiled at me. I don’t remember what happened next, but I think he convinced me not to do it. He may have told me that he’d saw the pieces for me or something. Whatever it was, I ended up going back upstairs; supper was going to be ready soon anyway.

If memory serves me correctly, my mother called my brother up for dinner and finally after a couple of attempts, he came up the stairs. In his hands he held a wooden boat. He’d cut the ends as I’d told him and added not only one cabin, but two. A larger cabin was fixed near the centre and a smaller one at the back, but there was more. Tiny finishing nails were spaced out evenly around the edge of the wooden boat and he’d attached a string all the way around so that it looked like a railing. On the side of the small ship he’d written in black marker “S. S. Sassafras”, my childhood nickname.

I loved that boat and I kept it for a long time. Eventually the string broke, the nails loosened, the name faded, and it ultimately wound up in the garbage. However, the memory of the S. S. Sassafras lives on and occasionally appears like a ghost-ship at sea, always leaving behind a smile.

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