Saturday, October 27, 2007

Salmon in the Don

My wife and I went for a walk along the Don River last Saturday. (No bikes involved) She heard that there were salmon swimming upstream to spawn. She had been looking forward to this for days.

For anyone familiar with the Don River, especially the section near downtown, the idea of seeing wildlife in the river might seem a little abstract. The water gets murkier and murkier as it heads south. I understand this is caused by the channelization of the river that increases the flow rate of the water, causing more erosion from the river bed. Something like this.

We walked for about 1 kilometre south along the river. "Tramping" as my wife likes to call it. Tramping in the woods. It just doesn't sound good.

Most of the way was along a path made by previous walkers, but in some places the path just ended so we had to push aside some branches. We would walk 20 metres, then move to the river's edge, peer for fish, see none, then move on.

This part of the Don runs under a huge iron bridge that looks almost like it's growing out of the bush.


Just when we were about to give up (of course!), we were standing next to the river when we heard a slapping sound.

Salmon in rapids 1

Salmon in rapids 2

This big fish was working its way up a short rocky stretch of the river. My wife started cheering it on, which I think probably freaked it out more than anything. Eventually it made it to the top, so the cheering must have worked. It swam in a few circles, then fell backwards down the other side of the river. No!

Then we saw that the fish had a couple friends. They were moving around in the pool at the bottom of the rapids, usually doing a little synchronized swimming action.


We waited for a while for them to do something more exciting but they must have been tuckered out.

On the way back, I saw this bit of graffiti. I'm generally not a fan of "tagging". It's the laziest of all graffiti. This one, however, gets extra points for matching the nearby flora.

tag and leaves

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Darren J 10/27/2007 11:48:00 a.m. | 2 comments |

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Straddling the Ottawa River


Last weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, I had my bike with me for a visit to Ottawa. I was eager to go for a ride through Gatineau Park, on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river.


For anyone unfamiliar with this part of the world, Gatineau Park is a cyclist's paradise - long winding roads cutting through forest with the occasional rock face on the side. The hills are long but not too steep, and there are a few rewarding look-outs where you can take a break.


About 500 metres after crossing the river into Quebec, I asked a cyclist who I was following for directions. I asked in English, which seemed to offend him, judging by the look he gave me. I could have been imagining it.

This weekend was a little less ideal since the park roads were packed with cars carrying people interested in seeing the fall leaf colours. It didn't matter. The weather was so good, especially for October, and it was kind of nice to see so many people walking around at the lookouts, looking for hiking trails, taking photographs.

The ride out of the park was faster than the ride in. I didn't realize how much I had been climbing. I decided I would head along the Quebec side of the Ottawa river towards Parliament. Ottawa and Gatineau are filled with impressive buildings. This is the Museum of Civilizations on the right, with the Parliament buildings across the river in the background.


I always like to see if there are any protests or other events happening. Nothing this time. Just tourists, and kids rolling in the grass. I decided it was time for a coffee, so I headed towards Bridgehead cafe in the west end of Ottawa.


I took the Ottawa River Parkway bikepath. (This is the path where I really started bike commuting back in my university years. It's in better shape than it was back then.) I happened across this scene of balanced rocks. It was an amazing sight. It reminded me of this Dodgeville story. One of the coolest things was how people seemed to really want to walk around the rocks and pose for photographs with them.


The artist was hanging around the site to chat with people. He's been at it for many years, and even more seriously since 2001. I asked him what happens when the winter comes. He said, on the first stormy day of winter, pieces of ice get thrown by waves up onto the shore, knocking over the rocks.

I eventually left and found myself a coffee. It was a good day.

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Darren J 10/13/2007 11:37:00 p.m. | 5 comments |

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Election Day in Ontario

It's election day in Ontario.

We've had a dysfunctional election campaign here. Less than a year ago, the most important issue on our minds was the environment. This is finally recognized as important, urgent, critical to the survival of millions of people and to the economies of the world. What do the Progressive Conservatives decide to campaign on? Religious school funding, of course. Then, somehow it becomes the only issue talked about by the news media for the entire campaign.

The media claims to be blameless, based on the Jerry Springer defense. We're just giving the people what they want. It almost makes me want to believe in a vast left wing media conspiracy to make sure the PC party doesn't get elected.

I didn't shed a tear for the Conservatives. When you watch the Jerry Springer show, do you cry for the man in the tank-top who gets a chair thrown at him by his wife's sister who's pregnant with his child?

In the last four years, the Liberals have given us a few things, like a Greenbelt, the Places to Grow, and Move Ontario. You know what I don't love about these plans? They're plans. Just plans. Coal plants will close down. Trains and streetcar lines will be built. Things don't always go as planned. We're expected to ignore the past. The wife's sister says she'll never see the father of her child again, but you know you'll only believe her when she moves to the other side of the country.

A few people have tried to steer the conversation in a more meaningful direction. They mention the urgent issues of power generation, restricting developers, and transit improvement only to be drowned out by reminders that someone is a hypocrite about religious schools. "Go to Oprah! Go to Oprah!" yells the audience. You know what I'm talking about.

The saddest part of all is that the same thing will happen next time. There's even another trio of stars for tomorrow's episode of Springer, giving us more of what we want.

This system is failing and time is running out. I'll vote "yes" for MMP.

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Darren J 10/10/2007 12:11:00 a.m. | 2 comments |