Scenic Discoveries & A Little Good News
Tuesday, 10 June 2008 - Yesterday, I decided to give a look to a park beside the Rideau River at Billings Bridge. I'd seen the parking lot for the park on one of my drives to the hospital and thought the park was worth a closer look and that turned out to be the case.
Sandra went with me and on arrival we were greeted by a scene of ducks covering a large patch of ground (the photo on the left is of just one of them, a mother mallard and a couple of her chicks). There were more ducks than I've seen in any one spot since visiting the Reifel Bird Sanctuary two and a half years ago while we were staying near Vancouver, British Columbia.
The park here is along a section of the Rideau River Pathway that follows the river for several miles in a parklike setting. Ottawa is great for providing miles of such parkland along both of its rivers, the Ottawa and the Rideau, as well as along the Rideau Canal.
And there were more than just ducks at this spot, for which I can't find a park name, but there were also quite a number of geese, gulls, and red-winged blackbirds. Nothing rare, but still interesting. There are also supposed to be a few swans that frequent this part of the river in the summer, but we didn't see them this time, although we have seen them at other times in the past. Such elegant birds.
Fletcher Wildlife Garden
Then midmorning today, I went out in search of a photo, intending to simply stop by the Ornamental Gardens and grab a quick flower shot, but decided instead to at long last give the Fletcher Wildlife Garden (FWG) a visit. Its entrance is across the road and just south of the Ornamental Gardens and we've driven by it a thousand times, but only went in once years ago to give it a look and didn't even get out of the car. I don't remember why we didn't and can't explain why we never went back, but better late than never and I'm extremely glad I went there this morning.
The wildlife garden is essentially a 17 acre (7 hectare) nature reserve right in the city and like the neighboring Ornamental Gardens and Dominion Arboretum, the FWG is part of the Central Experimental Farm. Great location, but once you're out on one of the numerous paths and trails you would think you were out in the wild.
The photo above right of a bee buzzing around a Lupin flower was taken along one of the trails. Click on the photo for a larger view.
The FWG has an Interpretive Center with a cultivated 'backyard' garden behind it, an Amphibian Pond out in the reserve and it actually had frogs in it, a Butterfly Meadow, as well as several fields returning to nature, woods, and a hedgerow. I saw quite a few birds, but will have to work at getting photos of them the next time. This time was more of an exploratory nature and I expect Sandra will fall in love with this place, as I have.
That was a good start to the day. This afternoon good things continued as I got a call from one of the staff at our family doctor's office and was told they'd gotten the initial results of the MRI and there was now no sign of the valley fever. However, the staff member didn't know any more than that and there were other things we were looking for with the MRI, so I still have questions and hopefully will get some answers on Saturday when I go in to see the doctor herself, and if not then, I certainly will in two weeks when I have my next appointment with the specialist. Anyway, a good initial report is very encouraging. Stay tuned.
Click here for Sandra's account of the day.
My New Magnetic Personality
Sunday, 8 June 2008 - Bright and early this morning, 8am specifically, was my appointment with the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine at the Ottawa Hospital General Campus.
What an experience! Nothing painful about it, but you have to hold as motionless as you can and try not moving a muscle and in my case it was for an hour. Of course, no sooner do they start the scan than your nose starts to itch or you feel a sneeze coming on or your throat starts to tickle and it takes almost superhuman will power not to cough or sneeze which would ruin the scan. On the bright side, exerting such iron control over yourself keeps your mind occupied.
Anyway, the noise of the device was incredible even with the ear protectors they put on you and, of course, it often can startle you as the noise can change suddenly and does quite often, but you can't react to it and jerk or twitch or that too would ruin the scan. All in all though, despite all those difficulties in remaining absolutely motionless (except they do allow you to breath) it was a fairly relaxing experience. I just hope it reveals what's going on with the fungus inside my body. However the results come out, for some reason I feel more attractive after the experience.
That was this morning. A little after noon I got the wild urge to wash the truck, which had become embarrassingly dirty during the time since I came down with Valley Fever and either didn't have the strength or inclination to wash it. I can't account for the urge, except maybe my brain was addled from having its hydrogen atoms jerked around by the MRI machine, but wash the truck I did and even managed to finish the job, something I wasn't sure I could do when I started it.
Then this afternoon we had made arrangements with Danica to go with her to the Ottawa Spring Horse Trials show at the Nepean National Equestrian Park where her friend Lianne was putting her horse Saucy (such a cute name) through its paces. Pictured above is Lianne jumping Saucy over one of the show jump 'fences'. Danica had thought the show would give me something different to photograph and she was right. It was a most interesting time and the vast majority of my photos even came out the way I had wanted them to, for instance, with subjects in focus.
Now if I could just figure out how to keep metal objects from flying across the room and smacking me in the head...just kidding.
Click here for Sandra's account of the day.
We Head For The Hills
Friday, 6 June 2008 - The Gatineau Hills, that is. It has always intrigued me how Ontario south of the Ottawa River can be so flat and boring, while north of the river Quebec is scenic and almost mountainous, so in about a half hour drive (13 km / 8 miles of city from the RV park here) one can go from terrain that looks like central Illinois to something looking more like the Appalachians.
Ottawa is at an elevation of 200 feet (61 m) above sea level and as best as I can tell, the Gatineau Hills go to a little over 1,000 feet (325 m) in elevation, so not really mountains by how I think of them, but certainly taller than what I think of as hills (hilltains?). Anyway, if one is in the mood for some mountain scenery, the Gatineau Hills rise to the occasion and fortunately they are protected from the scourge of human development by having been made a federal park called Gatineau Park (or Parc de la Gatineau as the French call it) and Gatineau Park is one of my favorite areas around Ottawa, although it's enough of a drive that I don't get up there as often as I'd like.
However, yesterday the weather forecast was calling for a few hours of partial sun before several more days of overcast and rain were to move back in, so I thought we should get out and take advantage of that little bit of good weather and because it had been a long time since we've been to Gatineau Park and I've been yearning for some mountains, the hills seemed like a good place to head for.
We left around mid-morning. Miss Pinky wanted to route us through downtown, but I preferred the more scenic route via the Champlain Bridge and she adjusted herself accordingly, not that we actually needed her directions, but we need the practice in using her.
The Champlain Bridge passes across three islands in the Ottawa River Riopelle, Cunningham and the largest at 3.5 hectares (8.5 acres) being Bate Island, not Bates as it is often called by mistake, nor bait as in what the fishermen use there. Bate Island once held a very classy restaurant in a park setting, but the restaurant is now gone, totally, and the whole island turned into a park, which is no doubt for the best.
On the island, we were not only greeted with a view of the Ottawa skyline in the distance, three miles (5 km) down river, but by quite a number of wild, but not skittish, creatures. None of them were rare (basically groundhogs, squirrels, chipmunks, geese, and gulls), but still interesting as they were wary but not afraid of us and let us get quite close, one groundhog even coming within 5 feet (2 m) of us and posing for photos (as seen above), obviously viewing us as a potential food source, not as a threat.
The unplanned stop at Bate Island alone made the drive worthwhile, but we continued on to Gatineau Park, entering at its southern access point which is right in the city of Gatineau, Quebec (formerly called Hull). Gatineau is directly across the Ottawa River from Ottawa, Ontario and is part of the greater Ottawa metropolitan area.
The drive through the park is always beautiful and even more beautiful in the autumn, but green is good, too. Our first stop was at Pink Lake, my favorite spot within the park and as seen here from the overlook. On the surface, Pink Lake (named for a family of early settlers in the region, not for the color of its water) looks like any other mountain lake, but below the surface it is fairly rare in that it is meromictic, or in plain English, the upper layers of water never mix with the lower layers. There's a trail around the lake which is very photogenic but involves quite a bit of climbing, so I was able to only hike about a fourth the way around it before we had to return to the truck. I'm apparently still far from having regained my full strength.
From there we took one of the park roads less traveled as I wanted to look at some lakes we hadn't visited before, such as Mulvihill Lake, Bourgeois Lake, and Fortune Lake.
Mulvihill Lake proved to be small but scenic and with good access.
Bourgeois Lake was much the same although access wasn't quite as good, but it did have a beaver lodge out in the water (photo above right) which made it more interesting.
Fortune Lake though was a huge disappointment. We could find no trail down to it from the parking area other than what shows in this photo, nor was there a clear view of the lake from there or anywhere else along the road due to trees and undergrowth obstructing or interfering with the view. The lake might as well have not been there, which is a pity because from the little we could see of it, it looked like a very pretty body of water.
Nor was the obstructed view limited to Fortune Lake. Many photogenic areas we passed, such as marches and bogs, had views so obstructed by overgrowth beside the road that taking a photo of them would have been pointless or would have required crawling through the bush to get to the other side of it. I'm all for letting nature rule in such a place, but when it interferes with seeing the scenery beyond it, it is defeating the purpose of having a road pass by there, at least from a photographer's point of view. I suppose naturalists love seeing nothing but green growth that hides the more interesting scenes beyond it. I can't count the number of scenic 'overlooks' we've seen in our travels where trees and overgrowth have been allowed to grow up and block the view the overlook had originally been built to provide. There is sure nothing common about common sense.
Anyway, I digress. From there we found our way to Meech Lake, which was a whole other bucket of fish. Meech Lake is famous in Canadian political history as the site in 1987 of meetings on the Meech Lake Accord, which proposed the overhauling of Canada's constitution, but it's also a very scenic lake in Gatineau Park and unlike the other lakes we've seen there, Meech Lake is lined with private cottages, which detracts greatly from its beauty and is puzzling to find such a thing in a federal park, but at least you can see the lake and there are at least a couple of public access points.
From there we started back for home, but stopped on our way out at the park visitor's center where one of the photos they bought from me is supposed to be on exhibit, but we found the exhibit still under construction, so we'll have to go back when it's finished. On the return trip, rather than back track the whole way I opted instead to drive back through downtown this time as the city does have a lot of sights to see.
Sandra took quite a few photos there as well as the rest of our tour. They can be seen on her blog entry for yesterday by clicking here.
Still Pursuing A Low Key Life
Wednesday, 4 June 2008 - I continued to try getting as much rest as possible this past week, going out only for medical, dental, and financial appointments and to take a few photos each day.
For us, the end of last week was quite busy with me seeing the dentist on Thursday, when she did a couple fillings and then for the first time in recent memory, couldn't find anything else she needed to do to my teeth.
Friday, we met with our financial people, Canada Retirement Information Centre, where we learned that contrary to the US economy, which has been taking a hard hit lately, the Canadian economy, where most of our money is invested, has been doing okay. I was expecting gloomy news and was very pleased to get good news instead.
Saturday, during a break in the rain (it's been cloudy and rainy for what seems like forever and still is) we drove over to the Rainbow Natural Foods store, where they were holding a gluten-free day and had representatives from the different gluten-free food processors manning tables set up around the store displaying samples of their wares free for the tasting and questions to be answered for the asking. This informative and tasty event has become very worthwhile.
Monday, I went back to the chiropractor as my middle back is still bothering me and I've also gotten a stiff neck, but as has happened since contracting Valley Fever more than two months ago, the chiropractor got things to pop in my back and neck, however it didn't do any lasting good. Hopefully, the doctors will be able to tell what's going on inside me from the MRI I'm scheduled to have done this Sunday morning.
Otherwise, between appointments and during breaks in the rain, while we were out we would also go to the nearest scenic locale and take photos. We visited Andrew Haydon Park, the Dominion Arboretum, the Ornamental Gardens, where late spring flowers such as irises and peonies are starting to bloom, and Mud Lake in the Britannia Conservation Area, which is supposed to be one of the birding hotspots in the area, but of course, as is typical for us when we visit such areas, we saw very few birds other than gulls and red-wing blackbirds. Photo above is Sandra in the Ornamental Gardens photographing purple irises, her favorite flower.
Another highlight of the week was my most wonderful wife baked a loaf of my favorite gluten-free bread, Judy's Magic Multi-Mix, and Monday evening we had a spectacular rainbow, the equal of the one we saw over the Scugog River in Lindsay last summer and the one we saw in the desert west of Tucson this winter, but unfortunately had to make do for the foreground in photos of this one being the parking lot that's behind the RV, rather than a more scenic view.
Click here for Sandra's account of the last seven days.
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Updated Saturday, August 16, 2008
Copyright © 2008 by Gordon L Wolford .
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