Although the weather has been unusually mild for January in Toronto, last Sunday finally brought some cold weather back. Cold weather, however, is a poor excuse to not go for a bike ride! Since I was planning on meeting up with a few people for dinner on Spadina St. in the evening anyway, I took the opportunity to ride my bike downtown and explore the Kensington Market area for a while too. So go ahead and click here for some more photos of my ride downtown and walk around Kensington and Spadina.
I haven't been taking very many photos yet this year, even though I've been riding my bike quite often! The weather has been unusually warm for January in Ontario, so the winter has sucked from that perspective. But then again, I've had some great days of riding my bike in above-freezing weather. Anyway, check out the recent pictures if you're interested. I'll have some more entertaining stuff to post in the near future!
Wednesday December 21st was the shortest day of the year. The winter solstice. Every year on this day, there is a Festival of Lights in Kensington Market in downtown Toronto to celebrate. Since this is my first winter living in Toronto, I had never been to the Festival of Lights yet, so Jen and I went down after work.
When we arrived at the corner of College and Augusta, we lit up the lanterns that we built the night before. Nothing fancy, really. Just jars and cans with red duct-tape handles! Not the prettiest or most functional lanterns, but at least we tried. ;-) Thousands of other people were there. We were surrounded by other people with lanterns, costumes, stilt walkers, drummers, etc. What a festive atmosphere!
To start the event off, there was a fire-breathing show set to the beat of samba drums. After the fire-breathers finished, we kept following the parade through Kensington Market as it zig-zagged through the narrow streets. Along the way we were treated to many art displays on the sidewalks and rooftops, musicians, singers, etc.
The parade ended in Bellevue Park, where the huge crowd crammed into the park for a bonfire. This part reminded me of the movie The Wicker Man. We didn't stick around too long here because it was so crowded and we couldn't really see much more anyway, so we went over to our favourite asian vegetarian restaurant for some dinner. What a great night out!
More pictures here.
Today I spent the afternoon out on a nice walk, mostly around the Humber River north-east of home. I had a great time exploring some places not too far from home that I hadn't looked at too closely yet. Check out the picture gallery for a detailed look at my day, especially if you like bridges and birds. ;-)
Figuring that it might be the last chance to take a long ride on my recumbent bike this year before the snow and salt take over our streets, I decided to go for a long bike ride after work. Basically, I rode from work near Square One in Missisauga, down to the lake, east into Toronto, up Yonge St., and back west to Etobicoke along Bloor St. What a great night out. I really need to do that more often. I took a bunch of photos of various places that I stopped at along the way. More pictures and the complete story over here.
I wanted to get out of the apartment today, and since the winter bike is in the shop, I decided to go for a long walk. I covered more turf than expected, escpecially once I threw in a couple of subway and streetcar rides. Dundas and Islington, Chinatown, Nathan Phillips Square, Dundas Square, Yonge St., Yorkville, and more...
The whole photo gallery with descriptions of where I went is over here.
The Toronto Critical Mass rides gather at the corner of Spadina and Bloor at about 6pm on the last Friday of every month.
Of course, there are plenty of pictures from the September ride over here.
On September 5th, I went for a late-afternoon / evening bike ride. I decided to explore part of Toronto that I hadn't really been to yet, especially since there was a good chance to see the aftermath of the Black Creek flood that washed away part of Finch Ave.
I left home and rode to the Humber River by the Old Mill. Good thing I wasn't far from home yet: My front disk brake had finally worn down too much and the clip that holds it in place got mangled up. I had to go home and change it before re-starting my ride.
I rode up the Humber River all the way from Bloor, through Weston, right up to Finch Ave., basically. It's a bit tricky once you get farther north, and the Humber River recreational trails disappear in places, and they're not very well signed. But it was a nice ride anyway. I always enjoy cycling near water, especially twisty rivers. I really like bridges too, that's why I seem to have photographed so many of them.
Heading west along Finch Ave. isn't excatly the nicest ride. Pretty much an ugly suburban freeway out there. I knew I was getting close to the collapsed section of road when I saw all the signs to re-route the traffic. A large area on either side of the collapse was fenced off, patrolled by a sleeping security guard who didn't seem to care that people were wandering through an unlocked gate to get a closer peek. I didn't want to venture in there, and I was a bit bummed out at first that I couldn't get a closer look.
Fortunately, a few minutes later a worker came up and said that the new sidewalk / bridge is open! Excellent! I was among the first group of people to walk over this bridge and get a look at the re-formed ravine from this angle (I have some paint on my shorts and bike seat to prove it..from sitting down on the bridge to take pictures...heh.).
It was funny, in a way, looking at the destruction. Black Creek is really just a small trickle. But the strong rain on August 19th caused an amazing surge in water levels that the creek couldn't handle. Maybe if everything up there wasn't so paved over and channelized, the water would have had a better chance of slowly making its way into the creek instead of creating that flash flood?
September 4th was Jen's last morning in Toronto before flying back to Vancouver to continue her studies at UBC. After dropping her off at the airport and taking the bus back home, I decided to use the rest of the day for a long bike ride.
My bike ride took me down to the lake where I stumbled across the huge crowds gathered for the air show. It was interesting seeing the jets fly so quickly (and LOUDLY!), but it sure was a pain getting through the crowds of spectators along the pathways. I gave up and hopped on Lakeshore Rd., where the traffic was less chaotic. :-)
The first destination was Tommy Thompson Park, or the "Leslie St. Spit". I've been to this rubble-dump-turned-urban-oasis before, but this time I decided to explore it off of the main "roads" that go through it. Wow, this place is truly fantastic. I didn't realize there were quiet little beaches tucked away behind the trees, and beavers to chomp on those trees too. The number of birds on the spit is amazing, and I spent quite a bit of time just gazing at them flying around. I wish I knew more about birds so that I could tell you what they were. Even the freshly-dumped-rubble areas of the spit are interesting. It's like walking on top of Toronto's past. People have also taken pieces of rubble to construct temporary figures of various shapes and sizes.
When I left the spit at around 6:00, I decided to keep riding east, heading for the Scarborough Bluffs because I had never been there before. Once I got past the end of Queen St., the riding went from interesting city roads to the ugly suburbia of Kingston Rd., which seemed to go on further than I expected (plus it was uphill!). I didn't realize the Scarborough Bluffs park was on the bottom of the bluffs, so the steep downhill road was a real blast to ride down! I paid for that on the way back up... Well, it was already starting to get a bit dark by the time I got there, so I spent some time looking around and taking pictures, but I'll have to come back some other day to really take it all in and explore it some more.
This morning I read on the Spacing website that there was going to be a Subway Party starting at 11:22pm at the Downsview TTC Station. I convinced Jen to go, and we headed out there in the evening. For two bucks each, this was a pretty fun way to spend the night out in Toronto. Click here for pictures and more.