Entries in day trips (26)



My sisters and I used to go apple picking with my parents when we were little kids. Of course, I have no recollection of where we went or if we even ate the apples we picked afterwards. After doing a bit of research online, we decided we would go to Chudleigh's Farm. They had a pretty good variety of apples available for picking and would still be open when we returned from Hawaii. Perfect!

We drove to Halton Hills with Gaby and Adam on the Sunday after we returned from Hawaii. We made plans to meet up bright and early to avoid any potential crowds. Within minutes of us arriving and parking the car, the parking area behind us rapidly filled up. Since this was our first visit to the farm, we were a little unsure of how to proceed. We referred to a few posted signs just inside the entrance and spoke to a lady behind a counter who was waiting for slices of apple samples to arrive. We were told that we needed to wait for the hay wagon to get into the orchard. So we did. As it turns out, waiting for the wagon was entirely optional. We should have just walked into the orchard and then followed the signs posted inside the orchard. Rows of trees that were ready for picking were marked with orange pylons and signs that told us what apple variety was represented. The wagon would stop only at the rows with orange pylons. Well, we could do the same thing with our feet!

About a dozen different varieties were available for picking and several more were available for sale (already picked and bagged) at their general store. The variety that we were most interested in was Ambrosia, Matt's favourite eating apple. Ambrosia and Creston apples were priced at $2.00/lb while all the others were $1.25/lb. It comes as no surpise that Matt likes fancy apples.

We could see the signs for Ambrosia apples from where we were standing around, waiting for the wagon. What the heck. We just walked over to the marked rows and started picking apples and stuffing them into the designated bags. There were numerous apples lying on the ground around the base of the trees. Many of them were damaged in some way, but some of them had simply fallen off the the trees because they were too heavy. Through the course of the morning, we worked our way through the rows of Ambrosia onto Fuji, then Mutsu, and finally Creston. We caught a quick ride on the wagon from one part of the orchard to another when we saw that some of the distances were a little further than we thought. Otherwise, we spent the majority of the time walking amongst the rows of trees. 

The apple trees were quite different than the ones I remembered from my childhood. Most of the trees in the rows were young trees grafted onto older stumps. The trees I picked from as a child were mature adult trees. Of course, there were also far fewer available varieties at that time. We finished up our visit to the farm with a visit to their general store. Gaby had planned to make an apple pie when she got home. Adam ruined her plans by picking up a ready-to-eat Chudleigh's apple pie. Oops. 

We returned to Toronto and had a hearty lunch at WVRST. After lunch, we all agreed that we would compare notes later to see what we had done with our apples. I haven't heard from them yet, but I can safely say that the Ambrosia apple pancakes that Matt made for dinner that night were delicious. =)


Montréal, a mere 3 months late...

In late October, we had packed up and ventured off to Montréal with a couple of friends.  Our friends were going to see a concert, so we all thought we'd make an entire weekend out of it.

We left on a Friday morning, and arrived in Montréal in the early evening.  Our friends headed off to the concert, while Cess and I spent the evening in Old Montréal.  Having never spent any significant amount of time in Montréal, I could immediately see why everyone says Montréal has a very European feel to it -- it does.  The architecture, the layout of the old part of town, and the overall atmosphere are certainly very reminiscent of European cities.  We wrapped up our evening with a dinner at Garde Manger, a restaurant owned and operated by Chuck Hughes, of Chuck's Day Off fame.  The dinner was excellent, albeit, a bit on the pricey side when you consider what type of food you're getting.  Regardless, we had a great evening.

The remainder of the weekend was spent doing various touristy things.  The two highlights were Pikolo Espresso Bar (awesome coffee and pastries) and Jean-Talon Market.  The latter is one of Montréal's largest open air markets and is extremely impressive.  In short, it puts Toronto's St. Lawrence market to shame.  Jean-Talon is much larger, has a much better variety of products, and in most cases, the products are much better priced.  Between the four of us, we loaded up on 10lbs of peppers, about 15lbs of tomatoes, and other various goodies.

It's safe to say that we would definitely like to go back again.  Even just to experience the market!

Old Montréal At Night:

Old Montreal at night

Pikolo Espresso Bar:

Brewin' it up

Jean-Talon Market:

Jean Talon market

Fresh Mushrooms at Jean-Talon Market:

Fungal bounty

Montréal - Old & New:

Old & New


A three-hour tour

Several weeks ago, we made plans to ride down to Pennsylvania with a group organized by BMW Toronto.  This would be a Saturday to Monday trip.  We were looking forward to closing out our riding season with some nice twisty roads and colourful scenery.  We were going to ride down with a friend, Darlene, who we were also going to share our accommodations with.  I made some chocolate pistachio biscotti and packed sandwiches for our lunch for the ride down.  We were even going to surprise another friend of ours who would be travelling with the main group when we would all eventually arrive at the hotel.

We met up with Darlene on Saturday morning at a gas station near our condo.  We filled up and headed to the border.  It was a balmy 8C and the air was "wet".  As we rode towards Buffalo, the wind picked up and it started to drizzle.  Just after Grimsby, we stopped to put more layers on.  We were freezing.  As we layered up, we pondered continuing on or turning back.  Although Darlene said she'd be fine with turning back, we decided to push on towards the border. 

So we continued on.  And it started to rain in earnest.  The riding conditions just became miserable.  Matt and I were ok with riding in wet weather, or cold weather, but not both.  We stopped again when we were no more than 10 km from the border.  We donned the rest of our rain gear and then we all decided that we were going to abort the trip.  We knew the forecast for the rest of the day in Williamsport called for 90-100% probability of precipitation and would only reach a high of 11C.  In other words, it would be miserable for the entire ride.  Seeing as we do touring on our motorcycles to have fun, and this was definitely not fun, there didn't seem to be any point in continuing onwards.  And Darlene agreed.

We turned around and headed to the nearest Tim Hortons to warm up.  The Tim Hortons we arrived at happened to be just outside of Niagara Falls.  It took us all a few minutes to take off layer after layer after layer once we got inside.  I'm sure it was quite the amusing sight.  Once we unlayered, we got ourselves some hot beverages.  Matt informed the ride organizer by email that we had decided to turn around, and Darlene called the hotel to cancel our reservation.  We were all prepared to pay a penalty for such a late cancellation.  We were pleasantly surprised to learn that there would be no penalty at all.  We joked that we should take the money we saved and go to the casino to try and make more ;) We didn't; instead, we stayed at the Tim Hortons long enough to warm up and then headed home to Toronto.

On our way home, Darlene parted ways with us as we neared Toronto.  Since Matt and I live downtown, and she does not, there was no point in her following us all the way downtown.  By this time our fuel reserve lights had been on for a while.  Matt and I debated stopping for gas or pushing on towards home.  Well, didn't I run out of gas on the highway.  Matt had to leave me to fend for myself on the shoulder of the highway and continued onwards.  He'd come back with some gas for me as soon as he could.

Lucky for me, I ran out of gas on a section of the highway that had a fairly wide shoulder.  I parked my bike as far away from the moving traffic as I could.  To kill some time, I snapped a few shots with my camera.  Then I stood on the shoulder and ... ate a sandwich.  Why not?  I was hungry. ;)  After finishing my sandwich, I stood near my bike and just watched the traffic go by.  Not a single person stopped to check on me.  But the weather had vastly improved since we returned from our trip to the border.  The sun was shining and the wind had died down a bit.

Eventually, a car did stop.  But not to check on me.  The driver got out and walked around his car, looking at it intently.  He eventually walked over to me and asked if I had a cell phone he could borrow.  He needed to call his office to let them know that he would either be late or not in at all; he needed a tow.  Oh really?  It turns out that he was drinking his coffee and somehow started choking on it.  While this was all happening, he managed to swerve into the guardrail before regaining control of his car.  I didn't go to inspect the damage to his car, but he certainly had fresh wet stains on the front of his t-shirt.  I dialed his work for him and let him yell into my cell phone while I watched.  It amused me greatly that he walked up to me, like I was standing on the side of a normal road at a bus stop, and asked to use my cell phone.  After his call, he thanked me and went back to sit inside his car.  By this time, Matt had arrived with some gas for me.  He emptied the container into my tank and then we left.

What an adventure!


A quick FLW addendum

While we were staying at the Penfield House, I found a magazine that featured the Penfield House ... and 3 other properties that were FLW designed and also available as rentals! We will probably attempt to stay at the other properties in the future.

Penfield House

Haynes House

Seth Peterson Cottage

Bernard Schwartz House

All of these properties have a booking requirement of a minimum 2 night stay.


Penfield House Wrap-Up

Yes, we realize this is loooooong overdue, sometimes life keeps you busy though.  We had a great time staying at the Penfield House.  It was somewhat surreal to have a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house all to ourselves for a few days.  You can't help but relax while you're there.  The house is situated in a very quiet part of Ohio without any nearby distractions and the design of the house really promotes that state of relaxation.  The huge floor to ceiling windows running the entire length of the house blur the lines between being inside and outside.

Other than the relaxation, we did spend a fair bit of time photographing the house and property.  Here are a few of my shots.



Another adventure is about to begin ...

Last year we rode to Bar Harbour for Labour Day weekend. This year we've chosen a different destination. Quite by chance, I found out from a friend of ours that we could actually rent a Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built house. Wow! Since Matt is a huge fan of FLW, how could we pass on such an opportunity?

We reserved the house and rented a car. We figured that since this would be a mostly photographic experience, it would be easier to just haul all of our equipment in a car instead of on our bikes. Unfortunately, we won't have internet access during the duration of our stay.

I guess you'll just have to wait and see after we return home!


Aaaand ... we're back!

After breakfast, a quick clean up, and packing a lunch for the road, we were ready to go home. We made sure that Mojo and Momo had plenty of food in their dishes and plenty of water in their bowls before heading out. Unfortunately, Mojo likes to play with the water in the bowls. He sticks his paw in and splashes the water around and out of the bowls. With 2 full bowls of water at his disposal, who knows what disaster will happen.

The drive home was uneventful. The only disaster: I forgot the bottle of maple syrup on the counter that I was supposed to take home for my dad. Oops. I guess my sister will bring it the next time she's in town. =)

Goodbye, Ottawa. Until we meet again!


Explorations in the backyard

Matt met the neighbours while he was in the backyard yesterday, barbecuing our dinner. "What happened to the other couple?" "We're just cat sitting for them." "Oh." When I wandered out for a moment, I could hear an accordian playing and singing coming from someone else's backyard. The neighbours joked that we should all go and crash that party. We all got a chuckle out of that.

Every time Matt went out to the patio in the back, Mojo wanted to go too. When we realized that there were 2 thin leashes attached to the deck, we let Mojo out and hooked him up with one of the leashes. Eventually, also Momo decided she wanted to go out. We obliged. And then we discovered that their collars weren't very sturdy. Shortly after Momo was allowed outside, something freaked her out and she started tugging at the leash, wanting back inside. The collar suddenly snapped apart and she bolted for the door. Well! Back inside for everyone. No more outdoor play time.

Earlier in the day, we did some shopping, and then some window shopping. The shopping was a result of a brain cell failure when we were packing to come to Ottawa. The window shopping was for fun, the way window shopping aught to be. We went over to another local motorcycle dealership and accessories store. This one was much larger than the one we had visited the day before. They carried a wide variety of Rev'it gear. I will have to do some research on prices to see if the local prices are worth coming back for. =)


Lazy day, Lazy cats

Friday was a lazy day. Matt got up before I did and played video games until I woke up. In the meantime, Mojo decided he was going to be a lap cat and plunked himself down on top of Matt who was sitting in the couch. That's how I found them when I eventually got up and went downstairs. Matt had made himself a pot of coffee. I put together some breakfast for us and refilled the cats' water dishes and food bowls while Matt played and Mojo snoozed on Matt.

It's been a while since we were here and spent any time with Mojo and Momo. We remembered them to be not quite so ... pudgy. Of course, we had just spent 3 weeks with a much younger, very talkative and active cat. Mojo and Momo are a bit older and lead more sedentary lives with an unlimited supply of food. 

We eventually left the house and paid a visit to a local motorcycle dealership and accessories store. We were somewhat excited as they advertised themselves as an Aprilia dealer. Unfortunately the Aprilia section was quite small compared to their cruiser section. On the way to the store, we joked that Matt could consider coming here to have his bike serviced if he liked what he saw. Well. I think we'll stay local for that.

We returned home for lunch and to figure out what we could do in the afternoon. Ah yes, the Tulip Festival. This weekend would mark the end of Ottawa's Tulip Festival. Despite the impressive numbers of tulips on display, they were getting to the end of their lives. Quite a number of them were starting to lose their petals. After our stroll through the tulips, we had ourselves some caffienated beverages at Planet Coffee in the Byward Market. We spent a bit of time enjoying the ridiculously nice weather and sipping our beverages. When we were done, we spent a bit of time meandering through the Market before heading home again.


Travelling without a plan

Our original intent was to ride out to Ottawa to spend the weekend with my sister, her husband, and their two cats. What actually happened was a little off target. I had completely forgotten that they had made plans to meet up with some friends for a week-long trip to Las Vegas and had asked if they could stay the night with us before catching their flight out from Buffalo. Oops!

As it turned out, however, they had been unsuccessful in recruiting anyone to cat sit for them while they were going to be away. Well! We could still go out to Ottawa, but instead of being a burden, we'd be doing them a favour. Ha! Done! Sold!

But then there was the weather. As much as we love riding, we don't "love" riding in pouring rain if we know it's going to happen. We waited until the last possible moment, hoping the weather forecasts would change (remember Earl?). We caved and rented a car. And boy was that the best decision, hands down.

We left Toronto just before noon. The sun was out in full force. The weather was absolutely perfect ... if we were on bikes. Grr. When I saw the signs for Prince Edward County, we made an impromptu decision to have lunch in Picton. We had hoped to stop in at Buddha Dog, but they were closed. Instead, we walked into The Painted Peppercorn, located just around the corner from Buddha Dog. We both enjoyed lamb burgers with salad. The burgers were fantastic; the patty was moist and full of flavour. The portion size was satisfying. We'll definitely be back!

As we ate lunch, the weather started to change. By the time we walked back to our rental car, it had started spitting. The rental started to look more appealing. We continued our journey to Ottawa. After a ridiculous amount of time spent crawling through construction zones, traffic finally started to move freely again. We passed a rider on a Ducati who was wearing very minimal gear: helmet, jacket, and gloves. He was stopped on the side of the highway. I commented that he better be stopped because he was putting on rain gear as we could see huge dark clouds looming up ahead of us. He passed us about 5 minutes after that. About 15 minutes later, the rain came down so hard that we could barely see any vehicles around us. We spotted the same Ducati rider stopped under a bridge. Wise move.

We drove through this crazy rainfall for quite a distance. It eventually cleared up. And then it came back with a vengence. This time, the rainfall was so heavy that we slowed down to a crawl and turned on the hazards; all the vehicles around us did the same. Wow. When we got through this second storm, we were extremely thankful for the rental car. Riding would have been absolute misery and extremely dangerous.

And now we're here! Safe and sound. And DRY. Yay!