Sunday, 28 October 2012

Darn Tough Socks

Sometimes it's the little things in life that matter.  Other times the little things become big my favourite socks.  I have several pair and hide them from my boys who regularly raid my sock drawer.

 I have a pal who represents several outdoor products and on occasion he puts samples my way.  The auger tent pegs, the water bottle with solar charged light in the top, the waterproof sleeve for my phone - all useful for an outdoorsy guy, but these socks are far and beyond the best.

They're made of very fine merino wool and don't itch. They aren't knit so much as engineered.  The sole is thicker than the top, the heel and toe are shaped and the ribs over the ankle are smooth on the inside so you your skin doesn't look like you've been extruded after wearing them all day. The machines that do the knitting must be amazing.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Little Star Shine Bright

This little Star Magnolia has been glowing with its yellow, orange and brown fall colours all week.  It's cousin, a Saucer Magnolia in our front yard, was also magnificent, but lost all its leaves in one day.  This little tree in the more sheltered rear garden flowers first in spring and goes longer into autumn than the big Saucer Magnolia.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Big Ol' Elm

If you look for them, it's surprising how many elms are still around considering that they were decimated by Dutch Elm disease about 40 years ago.  Here in Ottawa, the National Capital Commission has taken special custody of several dozen elms along major streets and scenic parkways.  This has involved injecting pesticide into the 'viens' of the trees to kill the parasite which kills the trees.  Money well spent in my opinion, considering the devastation to main streets across the country with the demise of these majestic arching trees.  Here in Ontario we associate the removal of the elms from small town main streets in the late 1960's with the 'progressive' widening of roads for parking.

If you mention elm trees here in Ottawa, its really surprising how many people recall this one.  It's located on Queen Elizabeth Drive, just east of Bank Street where the road divides each side of a treed median.  If anyone, besides me, considers large trees to be heritage elements, this surely qualifies.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The tugboat Kenneth A.

Now that most of Toronto harbour has been gentrified with condo towers you have to work a little harder to find authentic working boats.  I climbed a fence on the east harbour and was ejected by security before I found this old tugboat down by the outlet of the Don River under the shadow of the Gardiner Expressway.

The Kenneth A. appears to be abandoned and may well be past restoration, especially now that there are so few freighters to tow.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Cruising the North Shore of Georgian Bay

The North Channel, north of Manotoulin Island is regarded as one of the best cruising grounds in the world.  The north shore of Georgian Bay, east of Manotoulin Island is also exceptional.  There are thousands of islands and shoals so the cruising is often more open rather than through the channels, but the bays and inlets are far more complex and offer some incredibly sheltered anchorages.  Often we push up a channel and tie off to shore .  After a windy day out on the lake this feels about as cozy

Strawberry Island Lighthouse

There are still some lighthouses on Georgian Bay.  This one on Strawberry Island is just east of Little Current.

Not far away is the charming village of Kilarney where there are still working fishing boats and a number of lodges.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Little Current

Little Current is the name of the channel and town whcich separate the North Channel of Lake Huron from Georgian Bay.  The name describes the interesting hydraulic effect here, where there can be a current from either direction due to wind, and differing atmospheric pressures and consequently surface elevations on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.  This is called a seiche effect (or sometimes a slosh effect) and is similar to hurricane storm surges on ocean coastlines in that the surface of the water tilts.  On the Great lakes this can work back and forth as it settles to equilibrium.

There is a large swing bridge (112m span) which opens on the hour to allow large sail boats to pass.  It was built in 1913 as a rail bridge but now serves as a one lane road access to Manitoulin Island.  Seldom have we arrived on time for the bridge opening and usually tie up at the town docks for a few minutes to pump out the holding tank, take on fuel and inevitably a dash to the liquor store.  Rob, who gets called Wally by most of the boaters, from Wally's boat service even recognizes us our penchant fro sailing through the bridge passage.