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Adventure & Hobbies

Adventure — lifestyle

Toronto – A City Of Brick

I want to change up my style of blogging a little over the next couple of posts to give you the highlights of our month off to travel. First stop Toronto.

I have a fear of flying. Well not really. I used to, but what I do have a fear of, is being stuck in a small cylinder, cruising along at about 750kph at a height of 37,000 feet with three hundred or so other people.

I learned a long time ago that I can only deal with this for about three hours. The solution? Pop a sleeping pill. And I mean a proper prescription pill from the doctor, not some herbal remedy or melatonin. A good strong pill that will knock me the hell out. The result? A blissful flight where I’m out cold before we even take off and don’t wake for hours.

After landing, we took a train from Pearson Airport to Central Station (it’s quick and easy). From here we took a taxi to Liberty Village where we were staying with our friend Donna.

After breakfast, in an effort to practice Yoga as much as possible, we hit Pure Yoga. The studio has a cool vibe and offers (tough) hot yoga classes. I don’t usually practice hot yoga but enjoyed this for a change. I recommend this studio if you are staying in the Liberty village area.

Once we got ourselves in order we headed to the Art Gallery of Ontario which was showing an exhibition called Anthropocene. It is a photographic display of the permanent effects that humans are having on the planet. Future man made fossils or remnants which may outlive us as a race. The most stunning visual for me was the video of burning elephant tusks which had been collected over the years from poachers.

As darkness fell (across the land) we hit Casa Loma, an early twentieth century castle which done its best to scare the living hell out of us with a haunted house display. It is one of those haunted houses where you’re not entirely sure if its an actor or a dummy you are looking at until they come to life and give you a mild aneurism.

I highly recommended it if you are ever in Toronto around Halloween. It was a long line up but it moved quick. The journey through the castle took us about an hour and a half and brought us through an underground tunnel, across the street to finish in a separate building. The bar at the midway point was a welcome stop off also.

An ancient Jamaican taxi driver named Gordon Neville took us home as jazz music played in his cab and he recommended that I cuddle my “wo-man” when I got back. Or was his name Neville Gordon? Who knows. I love the random conversations like this with people who you will likely never see again.

The next day, Saturday brought us to yoga again, followed by a walk around the Kensington market area. It has great character and  diversity, I hope it will not be replaced by the poor-quality development that we see so much of in Vancouver.

 

 

The Burdock Lounge hosted Danial Champagne that night. He is a refreshingly humble Australian singer songwriter who is absolutely fantastic on the guitar.

Sunday, our last day in Toronto brought us through the Brickworks area a beautiful, quiet getaway in the Don Valley, clear from the hustle and bustle of the city but close enough to see the CN Tower on the skyline. Apparently, the history of Toronto can be told through the brown and red brick which presents itself to you everywhere throughout the City.

After this we explored the characteristic brick buildings and cobbled roads of the Distillery District where we had lunch in El Catrin. It was strange to wake up and walk to yoga at zero degrees knowing that it would be approximately thirty degrees at our next destination.

This was my third time to visit Toronto. It is too urban and vast for a country boy like me to live in but I don’t think I will ever tire of visiting here. Toronto’s defining feature, for me, is the character of the City, which shines strongly through the people, streets and buildings, brought together by the characteristic autumn shades of the yellow, red and brown brickwork found at every corner everywhere.

Hiking Trip: The West Lion, Vancouver

Hiking the West Lion, if I’m to be honest was a tale of hardship and ego. A beautiful hike nonetheless.

For those of you who are not familiar with the hiking offered in and around Vancouver, the West Lion is one of two peaks called The Lions, made up of, as you can maybe guess The West Lion and The East Lion.

I had been up here twice before but had never made it to the summit for different reasons. The East Lion is out of bounds as it is in a watershed and the West Lion is for experienced hikers / climbers only but the views are amazing from the plateau before the summit. I have let my ego get in the way before and gotten into dangerous situations while hiking so we were not going to attempt the summit unless it was safe.

We packed around 5 litres of water (between  two of us), sunscreen, a small first aid kit, bear spray and snacks. The first aid kit and bear spray may seem like overkill but they’re small, don’t take up space and could save your life. Just make sure you know how to use the bear spray and everything in your first aid kit and make sure your bear spray hasn’t expired.

 

It is a 15km round trip with 1,280m of elevation gain. If I ever do it again I would split it over 2 days as there are nice places to pitch a tent or just lie down with your sleeping bag.

We set out around 10 in the morning from the parking lot. Click here for the Google Maps location. We had to park further back at the elementary school as the parking lot was full. It is a pay parking lot, so bear that in mind.

We set out up a logging road, the trail is clearly marked all the way and it’s difficult to get lost, but I recommend using a GPS map on your phone like Topo Maps. It’s free and you can download the areas you need before you head out so you don’t have to rely on cell signal. Put your phone into flight mode and you should get most of the day out of it. I brought a battery charger just in case. Better still, know how to read a map and use a compass – people die every year in the local mountains and it is avoidable.

The trail generally gets steep after an hour or so and doesn’t really let up.

In the photo below you can see our destination, the flat, rocky outcrop to the right and the West Lion just left of that.

 

As you can see, once we got above the tree line, the views were spectacular, but that also meant that the sun was relentless.

We pressed on through the heat, making sure to take water breaks every fifteen minutes as it was approximately 31°C. We ate enough snacks along the way to keep the energy up.

 

Just before the approach to the plateau, close to the junction for the West Lion and Unnecessary Mountain (no point goin up there), after gaining around 1,200m in total the sun was taking its toll. My ego wouldn’t let me give up and I insisted that we press on. I wasn’t turning back but lucky enough after my next break I saw sense and we decided it was time to turn around.

Maybe we would have made it to the plateau, but I have found myself dehydrated, vomiting at the top of mountains before, with an unpleasant 6 hour hike down. We were taking no risks. It will be there next summer.

The journey down was long and slow and the flies were relentless all the way up and down. It was difficult to enjoy any rest. I remember at one stage, sitting on a rock with the sun beating down on me, covered in sweat and surrounded by flies. I didn’t even bother to beat them off as it was a waste of energy.

The fact that we managed to get through all of our water is a testament to the heat – Luckily there were numerous water sources available which were safe to drink.

It was not all bad, the views are absolutely amazing but be prepared for a long and challenging hike with lots of scrambling. Also, if you decide to do it in the height of summer, get up there early in the morning and beat the hot afternoon weather, or split the trip up into two days. I would imagine the views of the stars are amazing at night time. It is definitely on my list to spend the night up here.

Happy Hiking / Camping,

George

You Can. I Can. We Can. Learn to cook.

I don’t cook.

I can’t cook.

I never cooked.

Don’t, cant, never. Look at those words. Look at the negativity.

Recently I changed my outlook towards cooking.

I do cook.

I can cook.

I cook breakfast every week.



My friend Jerry Trimble tells me, never to use that word (can’t). Your brain hears it and your brain accepts it. Lets take it out of our vocabulary.

We CAN and WILL do anything we want to do.

Cooking is a small example but the principle applies to anything whether it be climbing Everest or cooking a pizza. We CAN do it and we WILL do it if we want to.

Opinions of people we trust are important but be careful with other people’s opinions. Some are not useful. Constructive feedback is important. Negative opinions are useless.

You CAN do whatever you want. Get advise, but be wary of the naysayers. Maybe even cut them out of your life. That’s seems extreme but there have been people in my life that I cut off because they were negative influences. Sometimes its ok to be selfish.

Go out and do what you want to do. Achieve what you want to achieve because you can and do not listen to the naysayers.

The person who says it is impossible should not interrupt the person doing it.

Anyway, back to the cooking, I used to have resistance then one day I decided I would cook breakfast once a month. This quickly became a weekly thing.

I started easy with scrambled eggs on toast from Gordon Ramsay’s YouTube channel and I blew myself away. I couldn’t believe it. Yes it was a simple recipe but so what. I put my all into it and did it again and again until I perfected it. Then I moved onto pancakes and then avocado toast. Gordon again. The pancakes are excellent but the avocado toast is probably the best avocado toast I have ever had. I am not writing here to brag, I simply followed the steps and used the ingredients, but I am here to show you that a man who never cooked regularly for about 35 years can whip up the most excellent food by just finding the right tools and instructions.



The same applies to anything. So go out and do it. What ever it is you want. Climb a mountain, travel the world, write a book, start a podcast, learn to memorize a deck of cards in random order. Whatever floats your boat, put the pieces in place and get out there and do it.

Say goodbye to the negative opinions and embrace the positivity. Most of all, have fun and do what you love.

Peace

George

Camping: The Simple Life or Is It?

Camping is a time to reconnect with nature, break away from the everyday routine, and disconnect from the world even only for the weekend. You bring what you absolutely need, and you survive on just the essentials. Shelter, food, warmth, fresh air, nature and sleep. After a camping trip you feel rested, refreshed and super excited for the next trip. Right? For me the above is everything I love about camping, the freedom from disarming yourself of all your possessions and accepting the fact you will not shower for 2 days, your hair will be a mess and you don’t have an idea how bad you look because there are no mirrors! Win win😉

Our favorite type of camping is backing our backpacks and heading off into the mountains to camp overnight in a peaceful campsite by a river, on a summit or under the trees. We have experienced some epic climbs and hiking trips and they never get old. We can get addicted to the feeling of climbing and camping very fast.

This weekend however we went car camping, we pulled into a camp site in Moncks Provincial Park and pitched our tent. We were there to celebrate our friend’s Birthday. It was a beautiful place, the sun was shining, birds singing, and it was such a lovely feeling to be outside all the time. We prepped all our meals in the open, read, ate, socialized, napped and sipped our drinks out in the open. The convenience of just pulling the car into your campsite after a tough week was nice too.

However, immediately the contrast between our campsite and our surrounding neighbor’s campsites was very apparent. As George was chasing after our little 2-man tent which blew away down the hill as he was reaching for the tent pins, I noticed how many massive RV’s there were in the campground. I swear they were larger than our apartment, our permanent residence! Lol! Outside these RV’s were rugs, lounge chairs, canopies for shade, fairy lights, decorations, and the best of all plants! I mean why do you need to bring plants when you are camping in a forest?! The time it takes to unpack and pack up these sites must be enormous.

Everyone has their own definition of camping, but I think most of us would agree that it is a time where we get to enjoy the outdoors and we leave behind the kitchen sink, not bring it with us. I feel we don’t need to take our household plants along for the ride either.

Maybe I am wrong (I am wrong a lot! Lol) but all these extra things that we bring with us are holding us back. It steals our time and our focus. We are spending too much time setting up the perfect camp, with the perfect lighting, the perfect furniture and the perfect grill and not enough time noticing where you are. You are missing the changing color of the sunlight on the trees, the movement of the clouds over the lake, the sound of the osprey overhead and the warmth of the campfire in front of you. Your precious time to become still and relax is stolen by material things that don’t belong in the forest in the first place.

Its just a thought and an observation I noticed this weekend. I am not perfect when it comes to leaving behind unnecessary material things when camping but when I start bringing my plants along with me I know I have gone too far!

Let me know your thoughts on what camping is for you.

Always a pleasure,

Chat soon.

Theresa x