|Great Escapes||Canada in Spring||
(Entered May 10, 2007)
|Recent Great Escapes:|
At long last, I finally made it back to Canada in a season other than winter. Just makes it so much easier to get out and do stuff! Last time I went home I intended to do stuff like skiing, snowboarding, etc, but instead ended up waking up at noon everyday and staying inside where it was warm. This time I managed to keep all my promises!
And one of us standing in front of the fall's splendor.
While the falls themselves are still beautiful, the city of Niagara Falls has become way too touristy. I've been there a few times before but it was nothing like I remembered it. As we drove into the downtown area, we were greeted by a scene that looked like it came out of Disneyland. Weird tourist attractions were everywhere, and seemed to have no connection at all to the falls. Stuff like Dracula's Haunted House, and Spiderman/X-men rides and amusement centers were all over the place. There was also a casino and I think every single fastfood chain was represented. It was all a bit of a turnoff actually. Another disapointment was the Maid of the Mist, the boat that takes you close to the falls, was closed. This was the major draw for both Kumi and I. I've ridden it before and it was the highlight of the whole experience. We had to settle for going down some tunnels that went under and behind the falls.
It was pretty cool I guess, but not as exciting as you might expect. It was pretty narrow and crowded down there, I can't even imagine what it would have been like if Niagara Falls was in Japan!
We arrived in the early afternoon and decided to head to the CN Tower first. Still the world's tallest structure, the view from the Skypod which is 147 stories, or 447 meters up, is pretty impressive. One of the cooler things was a glass floor you could step out on, making it seem like you were walking on air. Actually it was damn scary at first! They say it's stronger than concrete and able to support the weight of 15 hippos, but your mind doesn't trust it at all. Definitely not for people afraid of heights.
Toronto is a huge city, and time was short so we didn't get to see any other attractions which was disapointing for Kumi. In the evening we met up for dinner with Alex and Junko (who used to live here in Tokyo), then went to their recently purchased house! They were nice enough to let us stay over for a night. No pictures unfortunately but it was a very nice place out in the suburbs. We spent the evening playing the Wii and chatting. Thanks again guys!
We also found various abadoned buildings including an abandoned motel near Silver Lake. I'll post them here just to make UK Mike jealous.
I actually remember way back when this motel was open and running. I wonder what happened?
There were almost no cars on the road with us which added to the scariness factor. Is it haunted?
Kumi refused to enter any of the rooms with me, nor would take any pictures.
Messy rooms, probably home to animals now.
A toilet seat sits on an old bed....
Broken junk everywhere. Would you spend a night here alone? I wouldn't.
We continued down the road to what was definitely the highlight of the our whole vacation. I've known my friend John for almost my whole life, and have been going to his family's cottage since I was a little kid. I've been to quite a few nice cottages in Canada, but none of them compare with the Meyer's. No roads go here, boat or floatplane access only!
The three of us took a hike back in the bush to the first pond (as we call it), where we sat on a rock and chatted for a while, sometimes just listening to the silence and the wind. No human noises here. About 30 minutes after, Kumi suddenly pointed and said 'what's that'? It turned out to be a bear cub! Bear mothers are exremely dangerous and protective of their cubs so we left in a hurry even though Kumi wanted to take a picture.
My favourite method of transportation! We took a leisurely canoe trip after, and saw two bald eagles (who almost attacked us) and their nest, as well as a number of loons. Unfortunately those pics didn't turn out. The lake was calm and the air was cool, perfect canoe weather!
We stayed overnight of course, and mainly just relaxed the morning after. It was too cold to swim but we did a little fishing and saw some more animals, including a couple of snakes.
On the way home, Kumi had a motorboat lesson from John, and drove us back to the marina. I had to cut the video short as Kumi's driving almost put me overboard! :-)
We were back in the city again, and the first thing we did was pay a visit to my sister in the hospital. I'm an uncle again! Here I am holding my second niece, Sasha. Congratulations Cathy and Tyler!
Here's my other niece Annabelle with her dad. Cute huh? Looks exactly like my sister did when she was the same age. She was quite shy and never seemed to warm up to me or Kumi though. I guess we weren't there for long enough.
The next day Kumi, my sister Liz and I headed out to Omega Park, which is kind of like a Canadian version of a safari. Instead of zebras, elephants and lions you get to see deer, deer and more deer. There are also a few wolves, bear and buffalo thrown in as well but the deer rule the park. They wander around and are tame enough to walk up to your car.
They expect carrots so don't disapoint them. Don't look for the majestic kings of the forest like those potrayed in Bambi though, deer are actually kind of ugly, smelly creatures up close. In fact, having the animals come up to your car all domesticated was vaguely disapointing. Seeing a fleeting glimpse of a deer in the wilderness is special, but that feeling was missing here.
We drove by a herd of bison who just ignored us unlike the deer. One big one looked like he wanted to charge the car though. Might have been cool had he done so.
The predators were behind fences, but I managed to get a nice closeup of a black bear. It being spring, and fairly cool, most of the animals were out and about. Don't get out of your car!
Wild boar and piglets! They mingled with the deer and sometimes ate carrots too.
Some Arctic wolves. The guy on the right kept staring at us. He looked hungry....
Skip ahead to the following day where Kumi and I headed to Jaques Cartier Park to try out Ottawa's disc golf course!
And here's Kumi doing her best not to bogey. Whoops, a bit off though.
Other days were spent shopping for clothes (that actually fit me) and souvenirs, hanging out with friends and family, and most importantly, eating! Of course I went to my favorite pizza restaurant Lorenzo's! John and Ximena took me and Kumi there for dinner and treated us! I ate Canadian pizza a total of 4 times while back for 9 days! Yum.
Besides pizza, I also needed to go to Swiss Chalet and to my favourite Chinatown restaurant 'So Good'. Kumi and I both gained some pounds for sure.
Time just flew by and before we knew it we were back on another uncomfortable flight home. But we'll be back! Thanks to everyone, especially my parents, for all your help.
Hakodate - Day 3