Outdoor time

I really like biking. And I really like being outside. These are things that I hope Andy will come to like as well.

Andy’s too small for his own bike at this point, but I did want to take him with me on rides, so Kelvin and I decided to invest in a bike seat for him. We opted for the WeeRide Kangaroo Ltd. Centre-Mount seat, which I installed this morning. I do have to ride a bit bow-legged because of the angle of the posts on my bike, and it is significantly harder than cycling without the added weight, but we both loved it. On our first trip out, which was really close to Andy’s nap time, we didn’t even make it out of our subdivision before Andy fell asleep. I opted to turn around. After a trip to the library, and lunch at grandma and grandpa’s, we rode home. Again, he fell asleep. This made me feel really good about getting the seat with the padded pedestal/pillow :)

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As for general outdoor time, we visit Lemoine Point regularly, and if we can’t make it down there, we go to our community park. Our backyard is currently nothing but a plot of grass (we don’t even have a deck, so if we opened the sliding doors from the dining room, we would fall straight down about 4 feet). Despite this, Andy and I sometimes spend our afternoon out there on a blanket, watching our neighbours’ dogs play. We also have snacks out there.

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We’ve had some crazy cold spells over the last little while, but here’s hoping this spring-summer weather is here to stay.

Cycling on the K&P Trail

I’ve written about my adventures on the K&P Trail before, seeing as how it’s one of my favourite places to cycle. But yesterday, I managed to venture further than I’ve ever been! I travelled to the very end of the K&P trail, to where it meets the Cataraqui trail. That’s roughly 20 km from the trailhead in Kingston. From there, a short jaunt west would get me to Harrowsmith. Or, if I preferred, a slightly longer jaunt east would get me to Sydenham. I’ve outlined my ride from Kingston to Orser Road in a previous post, but I thought I’d add a few notes on the stretch north of Orser to where it intersects with the Cataraqui Trail. The KFL&A Trail Map shows me that the trail actually winds north past Harrowsmith and ends at Hartington, but I have yet to travel there.

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So in the map you’ll see that long stretch between Unity and Orser, which is roughly 5 km. The maintained portion of the trail used to end here, at Orser Road. However, as of two summers ago (I think), the northern stretch of the trail has been upgraded for easy access to the Cataraqui trail. In general, they’ve been putting some money into the trail. Within the last two years, they’ve also put interpretive signs and large trail maps along the stretch of the trail. The picture below was taken from the Gorway group website – the people responsible for making the signs.

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The kilometre north of Orser Road to Murton Road was tough for me – not because it was steep, but because the gravel was really uneven and bumpy. You pass through a field of hydro towers, but there’s not much else to look at in this short section. From Murton Road, it’s about 2.5 km to Scanlan Road and another 2.5 km or so to get to the crossing. This stretch is windy and quite scenic, with rock cuts and lots of wildlife. I saw 4 turtles (or maybe three…that last one I saw on the way back, and it may have been the same turtle) as well as frogs, birds, and other small creatures.

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There is a bit of a grade heading up towards Scanlan Road, and though it is long, it isn’t too strenuous. Past Scanlan you cross a bridge that goes over Millhaven Creek. Next time, I’ll make sure to take more pictures. This time around, I just wanted to power through and make it. When you finally arrive at the intersection, you are met with some signposts, and another trail map.

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I was pretty tired by this time (it’s the furthest I’ve ever biked!), so instead of heading into Harrowsmith, I turned back and pedalled towards Kingston. It was a slower ride (heading there I averaged 20 km/hour, but on the way back I was 1 or 2 km/h slower. Instead of going around the vista at Bur Brook, I sped down the street, hitting my max speed at 60 km/h. Kelvin was playing a softball game at Cloverdale, so I cycled there to watch a bit of the game. The hill on McIvor almost did me in (my legs were very tired by then) and ironically enough, Kelvin drove past me just as I was struggling up it.

In summary, I was very happy about this ride, and am excited to see where else this trail can take me. I’m hoping to explore more of the Cataraqui trail one day, and I’ll make sure to record more of my thoughts here. Anyways, it’s Canada Day, and strawberries are waiting to be picked at Fruition :)

Biking at Night

I love biking, but up until yesterday, I could only bike during the day. I didn’t have the right gear. That restriction is now a thing of the past, as I have fitted Pansy (and myself) with objects to keep us safe.

First things first, it is important to have a headlight and a rear light (like the one below). It is even better when that rear light has different settings so that it can be flashing or blinking when you are riding. I picked up a simple bike light combo at Canadian Tire for under $20, and proceeded to mount the hardware onto my bike that day. My only complain with my Supercycle headlight is that it is not bright enough for my liking. The rear light is fantastic.

I also outfitted myself with flashing lights to draw attention to my existence. That’s right – I bought a jacket that has flashing LED lights. It charges via USB which you can plug into your computer, and you can choose to turn on the strip on the front of your jacket, the back of your jacket, or both. My dad, who also loves biking, kept urging me to get a reflective construction vest, but this jacket (my pink Women’s Sonic HDX ViZipro by Saucony, to be exact)  is definitely cooler. It is meant to be a running jacket, but I am going to use it for biking. It cost me a pretty penny at Sportchek, but I think it is totally worth it.

Last but not least, I wanted to be extra safe by purchasing two reflective ankle bands to keep my pants out of the way as well as to catch the attention of anyone who missed all the flashing lights. My legs will not be pumping fast enough to give off any cool circular illusions, but the bands will do the trick nonetheless.

So with all of those things in place, I am now ready to extend my biking to darker times. If you see me, or any other lovely bikers on the road, I ask you please to give us a little extra room. Thank you kindly!

Amazing Things Around the Web

I love to read blogs. On my iPhone, I have an app called Newsify, and every morning I try to make it through all the posts that have come up. Admittedly, some of them I will gloss over, but there are others that draw me in and move me to action. Here are four posts that I dwelled over for a while – 2 of which I would like to see come true in Kingston, and 2 of which were more for my own personal interest.

The Happy Post Project: Spreading Cheer Via Post-It Note (via GOOD)

Last year, I initiated Kingston Through My Lens. It was an amazing experience, and my plan was originally to run it again this year. However, as circumstance would have it, I need to do something a little less involved for Culture Days this year, and I am leaning towards organizing a Happy Post Project in Kingston. Simply put, people will come and answer the question “what makes you happy?” on a post-it note, and then you display it in some shape or form. Then, you take all the post-its and mail them to The Happy Post Project to help them reach their goal of 100,000 happy posts.  If you live in the Kingston area and want to help me out with this, just send me an email!

Little Free Libraries Around Toronto (via Apartment Therapy)

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As it says in the article, the idea of book swaps is not a new one. I came across Book Crossing a few years ago, and really liked the idea, but I wanted something that kept the books more so in the local community. This idea of little free libraries is great, but the price of purchasing one of their libraries is quite prohibitive, and I really don’t trust my ability to create one from scratch. Most likely, the thing will fall apart, and we will be left with a yard full of books that have been destroyed by Kingston rain (though lately we have been getting no rain…and my lawn is definitely showing evidence of that). That being said, I think Kingston could really benefit from doing something like this – maybe we could use little mailboxes or something like that. According to the little free libraries global map, there is one in Landsdowne, Ontario, on a boat dock…but alas, I do not have a boat. Don’t worry, I will find a way to get this off the ground. Again, I am sending out an open call to people who live in the Kingston area, if you can help in some way (maybe you just happen to have a vast quantity of mailboxes that can be used for this project), please email me!

A $10 Bicycle That Actually Works! (via Apartment Therapy)

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Can you tell I love Apartment Therapy? =P After watching this video, I was amazed not only at the bicycle, but at the man behind it. His process of trial and prototyping, his determination for success amidst the skepticism of others, and the way he used his skill set were inspiring. Though this is not something I would do, I have so much respect for him, and would love to try out the bike!

Monday Giveaway! (via A Cup of Jo)

There are a few personal blogs that I subscribe to, Joanna Goddard’s being one of them. I have this attraction to people who live in NYC and SF, so it seems most of the individuals that I follow are from one of those two cities. Anyways, her giveaway yesterday was this SWEET diaper bag from So Young. I am not yet at that stage of life where I will need a diaper bag, but I forwarded it to Kelvin nonetheless, after which I received a text that said “That is one of the best baby bags I’ve ever seen…How much?”. We then proceeded to scour their website, amazed at all the cool features the diaper bag has, and how it has such a rugged exterior that Kelvin would proudly tote around. In particular, we liked the built in sunglasses case, though Kelvin and I will need to determine whose Raybans will go there. And for those of you who are curious, it is $175, and available at a number of fine retailers as well as online (with free shipping for orders over $50, which this bag definitely is).

Now that I am at the end of this post, I just want to say that I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts. Often times, these thoughts will get sent off to twitter or in emails to Kelvin, my sister, and my parents, but perhaps I should use this outlet more to share cool things I find.

Getting away to Nature

I always say that Lemoine Point is my natural haven within suburbia. Recently, I discovered another haven, which I now frequent on a weekly basis (if not more). Introducing: The K&P Trail (named K&P for the once rail bed between Kingston and Pembroke that the trail follows).

This morning, with the sun out and a wonderful breeze blowing, I decided to head out for a mid-length spin on the trail. One thing I love about my home is the location – separated bike lanes right from my back gate. I ventured on up past Cat Woods Drive to the Centennial Drive extension that is slated to open sometime soon. If you head to the very end of the street and turn right (you will think that you are going to nowhere), you will see a small cut through in the woods on the left near the end of the sidewalk.

The cut-through, guarded by my bike

A quick ride along that path brings you right to the K&P Trail. Over a few occasions, I’ve travelled the length of the K&P trail from its trailhead off Dalton Avenue to the Kingston municipal boundary at Orser Road. I don’t venture the length between Centennial and Dalton very much, as I like to head up north, but here is an overview of the route.

The first few times I went on this trail, I was deeply enamored and wanted to capture everything on camera. However, I realize now that that really slows me down and it takes me a while to get my speed back up when I stop. Here are some pictures that I have taken over the last little while. I will try to take more once I head further up (I want to eventually connect with the Cataraqui Trail). To begin, we have the Dalton Avenue trailhead.


You ride along the backs of industrial factories and warehouses for a few short minutes, past a body of water that has clearly seen too many nitrates. And then you come upon the bridge. I bold “the bridge” because it played a pivotal role in my discovering the K&P trail. You can see this bridge from the 401 (actually, you have a great view of the 401 along this one stretch of the trail between Centennial and Gardiners), and it was seeing other cyclists cross that particular bridge that made me want to get there. When you go up to it, though, it really isn’t anything fancy. But how the allure of cycling alongside the 401 pulled me in!

Something I really appreciate about the trail is that it has these really funny signs, and very clearly marked trailheads. This is one you encounter when biking across Sydenham Street. Please note the peculiar laws about the killing of dogs.

Though this is the urban portion of the trail, it still gives you beautiful views. You cycle between backyards, but also behind old barns like this one.

Continue on and you will reach the stretch I talked about earlier, where you can see the 401. It’s really calming, actually, to be biking peacefully while hearing the roar of trucks going by. On either side of you, there is marshland that threatens to overflow onto the trail. And yet, in all my times on the trail, it still remains about an inch below the height of the trail. Many a time I have been tempted to test its depths, but common sense continues to intervene.

One of the unique things about this trail is that it actually goes under the 401. Yes, you heard me. Not only does it have an awesome bridge, it has an underpass. It may be a dark, scary underpass that turns the sounds emanating from your bike into ghoulish tinklings, but it is a structure nonetheless.

Once you cross over the 401, it suddenly seems as if you are in rural Kingston. You’ll come across McIvor Road not long after, with Jackson Mills Road following shortly behind that. This is an easy ride, abundant in flying animals, chipmunks, and the occasional bunny. In fact, I accidentally bumped into a butterfly today (or you could say the butterfly bumped into me). Don’t worry, the butterfly lived, as it continued to fly away once it hit me. When you reach Jackson Mills, you make a right onto the street, cross Bur Brook Road, and continue along what I like to call the Bur Brook Loop. This is a steady, but shallow incline that circles a nice vista, and ends off in a rather nice tree stand.

The end of the loop will bring you back to Bur Brook Road, to where it intersects with Cordukes Road. If I am tight on time, I will turn left on Bur Brook and head back towards Kingston, but if I am feeling a bit more leisurely, I will turn right on Bur Brook and continue up to Unity Road.

I’ve only been up to Orser Road once, and it was on a whim after talking to a nice couple at the Unity Road trail lot. It was a Sunday, and though it was 3:30, and I had date night with Kelvin at 5:00, they persuaded me to extend my trip the extra 10 km (5 km there, 5 km back). “The map says it’s really flat!”, they said. They were right, and the ride was enjoyable, but still, 10 km is 10 km. That was by far the longest stretch I rode without coming across any other major roads (though I did bump into many nice people walking their dogs, jogging, or bike riding..overtaking me…). I must say, I felt quite the sense of accomplishment when I got there.

I’m happy to report that the ride back was quicker than the ride there, and I made it back to my home in the nick of time. It is still my longest bike ride to date at slightly over 30 km, but I hope to ride it again soon (and hopefully go beyond). You can see it a little bit in the previous picture, but starting at Orser Road, the trail is not as nicely maintained, so I don’t know if my hybrid will be able to take it. However, I will give it a shot – probably after I get a tune up – and hopefully make it all the way up to Harrowsmith.

Here’s one last picture, of Centennial Drive, heavily filtered thanks to my snapseed app (love that app).

Just an Ordinary (Summer) Day

I suppose you could say that my summer vacation is starting early. This is the last week of school, which means that I am anticipating few, if any, supply calls. Work at my other job is winding down as well, with tutoring sessions over, and just a few end-of-the-year type meetings and celebrations. My third job officially finished in April, but with the summer months approaching, I am going to start prepping for next year.

So what do I do on days like this, where I virtually have a whole day to do what I want? Well, for one thing, I can sleep in. This morning, I woke up lazily at around 9:30 am, with no morning supply calls or alarm buzzes to fling me into the day. Kelvin did text me at 9:20, though, so perhaps subconsciously that was what woke me up.

After boiling some hot water for my fake neo-citron (my throat has not been cooperating with me lately, and I see no point in buying the expensive stuff when the no name brand does the same job), I got to spend time doing morning devos. My personal devo life has been rocky over the past little while, with readings happening sometimes in the late afternoon, sometimes in the evening before bed, and sometimes not at all. Hopefully with the ability to set my own schedule, this will take precedence.

Then the morning routines began. I always read my Newsify in the morning (admittedly sometimes I multi-task, doing this while I brush my teeth…) and maybe squeeze in a quick game of “Move the Box” or “flow” (this super old school game where you are given pairs of coloured dots that you need to connect while making sure to use all the boxes that are provided…really fun, find it on app store if you are interested).

In light of my recent NSF fee post, I made phone calls to almost all of my utilities providers to remove my PAP plans. I decided to leave my gas bill (it’s the same price every month, plus there is a $250 deposit if I remove APP), my security system bill (I can’t track this online, so I figure preauthorized is the way to go), my hot water rental (which comes four times a year) and my monthly charitable giving. Everything else – water, hydro, cell phone, internet, credit cards – is now done on a pay-it-myself basis. I will have to make sure to be diligent about my payments, but I am confident that this will trump my $45 NSF fees (yes, they are $45 -__-).

Then came the household chores – general cleaning, mowing the lawn (which I do roughly once every 2 weeks; it is actually very fun, and I am immensely thankful that I have a relatively flat and regular lot), and trimming the large bush by my porch that is invading my front steps. By this time, it was close to 1, and I realized that I was hungry, so I needed to go get some food. In an effort to save gas, money, and the environment, I decided to venture to Loblaw’s on my bike. I made a pit stop on the way there to drop off my library items that were due today. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to remove one of the Wii games I borrowed from my Wii…

After my grocery trip at Loblaw’s, I came home, with not really enough time to make a proper lunch. I ended up wolfing down some yogurt and granola (Love Grown Foods Simply Oats granola to be exact :D) and biked down to a school to pick up a reference letter. That school happens to be across the way from a library, so I was able to “hit” two birds with one stone (it really wasn’t necessary to kill them).

I just started taking Spec Ed part 1 (yahoo for AQ courses!), so I managed to squeeze in a few hours of work before Kelvin’s rainy softball game up in Harrowsmith. I don’t often get to watch him play, so when the opportunity presents itself, I usually take it. Plus, the drive up Highway 38 is very nice.

Currently, it is midnight, and I am full from the bibimbap and milk black tea with tapioca that I consumed at Classics. It’s always nice to see friends, to laugh, and to catch up on life. In conversation with them, I learned that the wedding count for next summer is up to 6, and I am very happy that Kelvin and I will be close to the beginning of wedding season.

I am at a crossroads now with whether to work a little more or to go to bed. Either way, I must say this is probably the most thorough post I have done to date regarding my daily existence. Thanks for reading :)

Pansy and I

For those of you who know me personally, you will know that I have a tendency to name inanimate objects…cars, computers, anything that I use on a frequent basis. Recently, I purchased my first adult bike – a purple-hued hybrid bike (the lovechild of a mountain bike and a road bike) – and because of her shade, I have named her Pansy. She is lovely (though I popped her tire tube the first time I took her out) and I look forward to many adventures with her.

A few weeks ago, I took her on two adventures – a more urban one on the Wednesday, and a more trail-oriented one on the Friday. Both were over 10 km roundtrip, and were fun rides (except for the slow and brutal climb back up Centennial). Work has made it so that I haven’t taken her for a longer ride again this week, but I am planning on making a trip down to Lemoine’s Point when the weather clears up.

This was my urban ride. It was shortly before lunch, and my intention was to go for a quick spin, heading down Centennial as per my usual route, then swinging back around at Queen Mary to go home. However, when I got to Queen Mary, the beckoning of separated bike lines was too strong, and I made a right and headed further on Queen Mary towards Johnson. After a slight uphill climb, I decided I would go to Portsmouth and Johnson and turn back. But as I rounded the corner towards the intersection, I could see Sir John A. in the distance, and figured that since I’ve already come this far, why not keep going? I pedalled through all the way to church, where I stopped in for a quick chat with P.Lo. It was a nice little break, and after about 15 minutes, my grumbling stomach told me it was time to head home. I headed back the same way I came (with a few small route changes) in time for some grub at around noon.

Friday’s adventure was quite a different story. Again I headed down my normal route, but after turning on Queen Mary, I ventured down a cul de sac to the access to the Rideau Trail.

About a week prior, I had ridden the Rideau Trail on the other side of Queen Mary, past the condos and up to Parkway Ave. It was pretty underwhelming, so I was hoping for a more riveting ride this time around. And let me tell you, the trail did not disappoint. Before I go any further, let me show you the sign that I came across at the bottom of the trail, after I had completed the ride…

In my “research” I had neglected to notice that this trail was meant for hiking only (That totally explained why there was a weird gate contraption present on the other leg of the trail). This accounted for why the conditions of the trail required me to dismount my bike approximately 17 times over the course of my ride (reminder: I have a hybrid bike, not a mountain bike). Large rocks, unforgiving tree roots, puddles and mud littered the trail, and I knew my wheels would not be able to handle it. On multiple occasions, I considered turning back, but every time I decided to press on, even when I encountered my first large obstacle…

The trail cuts across the railroad tracks not once, but twice. Each time, I had to lift my bike up the hill of gravel (with some degree of difficulty), cross the tracks and hope no trains came through while I was there, and walk my bike down the hill of gravel to the other side. I’ll be honest, part of me was hoping I would see a train go by, because that would have made for a really cool pictures, but alas that did not happen.

I continued on a little ways until I hit my second obstacle. This one really shocked me, partially for its beauty, and partially for the uncertainty of whether I would be able to traverse it…

That wooden bridge is less sturdy than it looks in the picture. I almost tripped over a loose board, and I kid you not when I tell you that if you fall off, you fall into marshland, the depth of which I do not know (and do not care to discover). It seems that this trail likes to do things in pairs, as there was another similar wooden bridge later on along the trail. Needless to say, I took my time here, stopping to take in the scenery and to take a few pictures, including one of Pansy waiting patiently to be walked across.

The rest of the ride was fun, some highlights of which included passing another pair of cyclists on the trail (they had real mountain bikes though, and one was carrying a guitar on his back), peering through the woods and onto the grounds of the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, and being eaten alive by mosquitoes. While Pansy endured a bit of a beating, I endured an overwhelming amount of biting. I was originally going to post a picture of the 10+ bites that I had received on my arms and legs, but decided against it to save you all the aggravation. Something I discovered on this ride: it’s really hard to swat bugs on your legs when you are cycling…

Anyways, I made it down to the trailhead, and looped back around on Country Club Drive to get back home. It was an enjoyable ride, though I think I will opt for hiking the Rideau Trail next time instead of biking it. Another route on my to-do is the K&P from the 401 up to Elginburg (and maybe beyond). Excited!