Monday, July 24, 2017

Goderich - Ottawa

Packed up with nearly three weeks of (un)necessary things, we took off for an east coast Canadian road trip.  The first stop would be an easy 660 km to the nation's capital.

Goderich to Ottawa via the 401.  Sunday June 23rd.

Pretty easy driving all in all.  There was a lot of traffic, but we always were able to skim the road at that magic 100km/h speed.  The truck would be our method of travel with our bikes and an assortment of other goodies to keep us occupied.

Being that it is 2017, technology isn't a must, but it s certainly a convenience in this day in age.  I get that yesteryear kids suffered through such journeys by car with imagination and books only, but that doesn't have to be the case.  So we let the just ride along for the first 90 minutes, then busted out the iPads.  I got a HooToo Travel Mate Router and loaded up a collection of movies that would undoubtedly quiet and occupy the worst kid traveling by car.  Sure enough, Frozen was finishing by Bowmanville, and we needed a gas and bathroom break.  Not a word from the back seat!   So these HooToo items are pretty neat.

We are staying in an AirBnB in Ottawa.  It is good because there are two rooms fully furnished, a kitchen free parking and it is in a great neighbour with shops and a huge kids play area.  But it does feel a bit weird.  It feels like a working house rather then a traditional hotel.  I don't get this feeling in a hotel that you are I'm someone else's place.  Obviously the owner is not here, and the privacy is great, but it is just a bit of a different feel.  No matter.  It has all been good this far.

We all had a great walk last night over to Bank street and around the Glebe neighbour.  It all is coming back to me from my adventure here in September 2015....

So now it is Monday and it has poured rain all day.  No biking.  No walking.  No Byward Market.  No Typical Ottawa stuff.  We took the kids to an indoor play area which was over priced and not that great, and then walked around the Bayshore Mall for a few hours.

The rain is sure to subside, and we will get out to explore and navigate.

I'll probably be consistently updating and editing as I figure out how to add pictures.  I can't understand why people don't add pictures to non fictional work/blogs.  This is also the first blogging ever on the IPad and it isn't as intuitively easy as a computer, but alas, it'll get done.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Golf and Rodeo

My buddy's in-laws have quite the hospitality house.  It is complete with 4 holes of golf, an indoor pool, ping table, a huge property with trails, and a sizable pond too.  A few weeks ago I asked if we could have a few hours out there to enjoy said things.  It didn't seem to be a problem, so we loaded up kids, siblings, cousins, friends and parents for a great afternoon outdoors.

Upon arrival most of the kids bee-lined it straight to the indoor pool.  They would be under the watchful eye of my sister and Leanne whilst the rest of us hit the links.  There were about 7 of us golfing, and another 2 or 3 using frolfing with Frisbees.  There aren't any t-boxes, so one just shoots from wherever they get an inclination.  The four greens are more then suitable.  Everything looks regulation like for the most part.  So we just hit from this place and that place into the direction which seemed the best.  If the shoot wasn't so good, well, I just hit another ball in my pocket.  No scores.  No real etiquette.  No pressure.  It was a super terrific afternoon.

The pond was the next stop.  It is a gravel pit being drenched.  There is a dock to let go off of into the water and climb back up on.  It is an enormous thumb print which would be as big as 10 football fields perhaps.  The golf course was about that big too.  The water was not only crystal clear, but it was warm, clean and refreshing.  Shelly and Wally weren't able to enjoy the afternoon, but they'll get out on another occasion.
A couple days thereafter Shelly, Molly, Wally and I hit up some pro/semi-pro rodeo in the swinging hamlet of Dungannon.  There was about  1100 people there watching all there is to watch.  I have to say that it was really, really good - just a few notches off excellent.  Its organization was highly professional in that the announcer was terrific, the pace of the events were quick, it looked professional, and the talent of everyone involved seemed very good.

What else made it good was that they always had something going on in the lag time between events.  At a sporting event there is always something happening on the jumbo tron between play, but at a rodeo you don't have that form of technology.  But they did have this entertaining clown.  He did some lasso tricks and was highly animated.  Kids were involved in different things like the mutton ride, and 60 kids exploded into the ring to take flags off the tails of calves to win a prize.

The rodeo started a bit cheesy with quite the religious prayer and a display of Canadian nationalism that is nice, but not very common in Canada.  However after that, it was straight to the bull riding.  We came for the carnage and wipe outs.

There was an equal amount of events for men and women.  Lots of beasts were ridden and roped throughout the 2 hours.  There were a number of barrel race runs in the 15 second area - which I assume is good.  There was a ninth girl whom just graduated 8th grade from the school I work at who was in it and her and her pony made it around the barrels in mid 17 seconds.  I was very impressed as her horse was much smaller then the rest, and she wouldn't be any older then 14.  So good on her and her horse.

And of course there were a number of missed roped steers, barrels knocked over, and ejected riders from the backs of bulls during the session.  However I suppose that is the way it goes.  I gathered that these people are doing it for the love of the sport and the tradition of rodeo.  The weather cooperated and I would go back again if it was happening next year.  I'd tell the riders though to not do as much looking at your phone and riding your horse....  Saw a lot of that.  Or maybe not a lot per-sea, but shouldn't you see none.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Knife/Ax Throwing.... Huron County Chuckers

I think I have mentioned something like this before, but people are serious at the things they do.  Or, there is a lot of seriousness at the top end of all kinds of activities.  No matter what the activity, there is a select group who are vested.  Serious model airplane pilots are meticulous in the craft of aerodynamics, flight, controls, and the like that that world involves - model air planing.  So anyway, knife and ax throwers have a heightened awareness within their craft.  Weighted knifes calibrated to the ounce.  Set distances which can't be fudged.  Targets hung at a precise vertical limit.  Fancy holsters for the knives.

It was out to a buddies place the other day with Tara, Trevor, and Craig.  There is an indoor throwing facility only a few kilometres outside of town.  I know many people throw knives in town, but this group prefers to keep in all on the down-low so that they aren't really a business, rather just a social club.  I get it.  But when it comes to the actually throwing, sets of rules and norms are strictly followed to a tee.

I started with the knives.  There are no sharp edges on them whatsoever.  They have a tip, but it is not sharp at all.  If the knife does get a burr on it, they immediately polish/grind.buff it off.  I think I was throwing from between the 2m and 3m line with 1 spin.  I held the knife by the handle, of course, and after its spin it either penetrated the wooded stop, thudded to a crash, or ricocheted back at me.  One does have to be very mindful.  Whether it was luck, maybe some skill, but I ended up getting the hang of it.  But like bowling and golf, there were plenty of off-the-marks despite getting a number of smooth throws to land.

As you move back with the knives, the spin increases.  Maybe between the 3 and 4m lines it is a 1.5 spin, therefore you throw while gripping the "blade", which is not sharp, part of the knife.  I can't say I hit too many of those throws in their respective mark, so I just moved forward and worked on the 1 spin throw.

It was actually a hatchet, not an ax, but hatchet throwing was also on the menu.  The same principles applied, although I don't recall any throwing done by its "blade" end, which again is not sharp.  Maybe a bit easier, but this throwing was fun and satisfying in that way bowling a strike is, or hitting a hole in one in mini-golf is.  When the hatchet leaves your hand you can almost instantly sense its worth.  Immediately you can feel whether it is on the mark and will impale into the wood.  Like knife throwing, it is all finesse and feel.  This is not a sport for muscle heads.  The speed or thrust in which you throw makes little difference - although in Game of Thrones that does not appear so.  I can tell you it is more about rhythm and touch.  Just for some fun, Craig also chucks a shovel which is about a foot and a half in length, and sure enough thump!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Beach'n It - Lake Huron

Over the past few days we have had a number of great visitors.  First we had Mark Kiteley and his family stay with us on their Ontario travels, and this was coupled with a Rich Tremain and his two kids visit too.  We had lots of fun, good food, good drink, backyard bbq, backyard camp fire, and the like.  We went for a run and were down at the beach having a swim.  All in all we had a great few days together doing this and that.  No pictures unfortunately.

Today my good buddy Drew was in town with his two kids in tow.  The weather continued to be fantastic, so after a bit of a walk around town to the neighbour shoppes, it would be down to the beach again.  I rented a stand-up paddle board for the occasion.  I had never been on one, but being a quick study and sure on my feet I didn't feel like it would be too much of a challenge in the Lake Huron chop.  It wasn't.

Basically it was a great day around town and down at the beach.  I suppose the lake water isn't as warm as I have made it out to be.  It isn't terrible - but it is refreshing.  That is okay because it is quite warm around here and the cooling nature of the water is a great reprieve from the mid day heat.

The paddle board was a huge success.  I was taken back by how stable they are - or this one was.  It wasn't at all like a canoe with its tippy disposition.  The kids loved going for rides on it and it wasn't difficult to steer or build up a bit of momentum whilst out on the water.  This one was a blow-up one I believe, or a portion of it was.  Whatever.  It was a lot of fun and if the forecast called for sunny blue skies and calm conditions out on the surf I would rent one again for a few hours.  And there were lots of pictures to take.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Start of Summer

As always, the summer holidays arrived.  I don't count down the days.  Nor do I feverishly wait for the last bell to ring and bus leave the school.  Year after year the day comes and that is that.  I can't say that I wasn't looking forward to the end, but I certainly don't quantify the occasion.  I always get asked if I do, and I don't.

So first up was putting together a suitable float for the Canada Day Parade in Goderich on behalf of the Huron & District Labour Council.  It was my idea, so I quarterbacked the bulk of the theme and organizing.  I introduced topic and said I'd do it so long as it wasn't a Macaulay show.  So long as it wasn't just me, and the kids on the creation.  We have a very small committed labour council, but not that small.  I was assured a few others would show up and take part.

The parade in Goderich is actually quite big.  The route is about a mile and a quarter - and it is lined quite consistently with excited people.  At its peak there were people 10 to fifteen deep for about 400m.  Reading this in a big city you'd think that is nothing, but for here it is big....

The recipe for the float included my 8x8 utility trailer, a four wheeler, 4 bails of straw, and red and white decorations.  And the people too.  We had to have some people.  The float came together in about 15 minutes.  The staging area was only a few hundred metres from the house, and the rain had subsided in perfect timing.  We got a few brothers and sisters on the float - I adorned it with the Avon Maitland ETFO flag and off we went.....  The only bad decision was wearing my jacket as it was very hot.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hanging Around

Hanging around with a noose around your groin is basically what teacher's do (on field trips, and sometimes just daily).

We were off 14 km down the road to a gem of a spot I had never been to in my life.  All these years teaching in the area and living here too, I had never been to Camp Kintail.  Founded way back in 1929, they have a few hundred prime acres nestled along the shores of Lake Huron.  It has roots in the church, but it was a secular day through and through for the class Liesa and I brought this year.  I half figured there would have been a bit of a pre-meal blessing, or at least a token camp fire song about religion.  But alas, nothing.  Just a day of great weather and lots of fun and activities.

We got to the big stuff first.  The ropes course would be our first destination.  It looked good enough for Navy Seals in training.  In fact it looked great.  There were no less then 12 different vertical paths and challenges.  They all seemed rather difficult too.  However the inner climber sprung out among the adolescents and they were up walls, across wooden bridges, swinging from a zip line, and the like for a solid hour.  The only problem in this station was the 12 obstacles were only minded by 6 or 7 be layers.  So a bit of standing around.   I wanted to get-at a few of the challenges myself, but I figured the day and its liveliness was for the students, not for me.....  Though I did manage to get a few of them donkeys to hoist me up the squirrel swing or whatever it was called.  Thankfully they didn't drop me like a sack of flower.

Next up was the beach.  It was sunny and warm out at over 20 degrees centigrade, but Lake Huron must have been a fresh 60 degrees Fahrenheit max.  No sense no feeling - most of the students were in the water and splashing about.  The paddle boards came out, a number of kayaks, and even some canoes got going....  The water was a bit rough - I couldn't see the life guard having too much ambition to go rescue a capsized student in such cold conditions....  So I was out myself in a scow and keeping and eye on everyone.  I stayed dry and had a good paddle to boot.

There was a nice hot lunch for the 130 kids or so involved at Kintail for the day.  We sat in groups of 8.  I half expected a bit of a religious saying or prayer to kick things off, but instead roles were assigned and kids found themselves with a job in order to expedite our salad, fries, chicken burgers, drinks, and so on.  It was a well oiled machine indeed.  The fun, or so the newbies thought, was when it was post lunch and staff started walking around with a scrapper-spatula.  The promised this would be an exciting job to help.  All of the rookies put up their hands, and no sooner were they are garbage duty scrapping the excess food off of the plates and into the trash!

Anyway the rest of the day was good.  There were a number of other balance games and games of chance....  Archery and sling shots were also let-go.  They had a fairly large 100+ foot enclosed slide.... We were in groups to geo-cache....  Just a fun day.  Lots of pictures, but all of kids.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Invasion of the Shriner's

I don't know how it came to be, but there must have been a big southwestern Ontario Shriner's gathering in town this weekend.  They partied and paraded quite jubilantly on Saturday afternoon starting only a hundred metres or so from the house.  Other curious neighbours gathered to see them off on their loop of the square as I did.

There wasn't one lady to be seen in the lot.  Evidently women aren't or can't become a member of the order.  However it is a fraternity..  But what a shame...  All the little Honda dirt bikes and four wheelers, the Aladdin-like shoes, the dune buddies and fire trucks.... All the neat toys and gizmos.  They had a clown brigade too.  There were a few different bands playing.  It all sort of takes one to the middle east or off to Morocco.  Totally Lawrence of Arabia type atmosphere, but in Goderich.