A new journey

First off … here’s what happened last summer as I cycled 500km across Ontario’s Greenbelt Route. A one-minute summary 🙂

So after a lengthy time away … I’ve found some new inspiration. I’ve retired Sidetracked & Wandering as I’m spending more time working on a collaborative project with my friend Serena draw.post.repeat. At the same time, I’m consolidating what I’ve written and drawn (and continue to do!) while outdoors with stuff that I’m beginning to write about minimalism and random musings or observations.

Between studying and learning new skills for my work — I also spend a lot of time reading about and pondering life in urban environments, the way we choose to live, and the things that influence our decisions. So expect a mishmash of different areas of interest that I am exploring and if you choose to follow along, I hope you enjoy the journey (and pardon the work-in-progress as I build out this new site).

Driving towards a sunrise

Hiking the Cup and Saucer Trail

The trail was great.  It was full of fallen trees.  This made for a great hike but it was also difficult because when holding a camera and trying to climb over some huge tree or ducking down, balance is a huge issue!  I got injured once during this trip.

Having started 2015, I took a look at my photographs from my first real hike in 2006.  Prior to that, my family and I went on numerous road trips across the United States.  These opportunities to see so many beautiful places led me to eventually yearn to photograph and hike deeper into the natural environment.  I knew I wasn’t ready but a friend from university years ago had told me about the Cup and Saucer Trail in Manitoulin Island and I figured it was the perfect opportunity to take my first step in learning how to camp and hike!

A great view of the escarpment.  It really shows how high you're going as you go up the Cup and Saucer trail.

The Cup and Saucer Trail provided a perfect and straight forward hike to some very beautiful views along the escarpment. I wanted to return for another visit in 2010 but the weather wasn’t co-operating. Perhaps in a year or so, I’ll get to take in the atmosphere of this beautiful island once again.

The Cup and Saucer Trail had many lookouts (or as I keep on saying, outlooks), this would be one of the great views of the eastern part of the island... i think.

Returning to the Adirondacks

In a month or so my friends and I intend on visiting the Adirondacks again in the late Spring. It’s been quite some time since we visited at this time of year.
I had just started in a new job for a few months and this was my first little bit of time off over a long weekend.  My friends and I drove into the Adirondacks region for the first time.  Unfortunately we arrived when it was raining so rather than try and set up camp immediately and make dinner, we found a small local restaurant serving mainly the campers in the area.

My friend noticed that they served fiddleheads and exclaimed we had to try them.  I had no idea what they were but apparently they were only picked at this time of year because they eventually will grow and become too hard to eat.

Anyhow, after we finished enjoying our meal and got back to our campsite, the rain had stopped.  At least, long enough so that we could comfortably set up our tents and avoid the rainfall later that night.  The next day was a beautiful sunny one.

fiddleheads... apparently a delicacy in the spring... who knew?

I’m looking forward to hiking in the Adirondacks once again in the Spring.  A nice quick road trip to satisfy the travelbug until July.  Don’t know if I’ll have fiddleheads again but we’ll see!   Currently, we’re looking at what trails to hike while we’re there for a few days.  Recos would be great if you’ve got any!

How I ended up sandboarding

Some really cool snowboard designs I spotted in Chile

When I was in school, many of my friends made visits to Mont-Tremblant for ski trips. I didn’t have a chance to try skiing or until quite a number of years later after university. Still struggling to figure it out. I still haven’t tried snowboarding but I did surprisingly have a number of opportunities to sandboard!

It was during my travels in Chile when I had my first opportunity to sandboard. I hadn’t tried snowboarding yet but the fact that sandboarding was significantly less expensive was already enticing! What made it even more enticing was the fact that it seemed relatively straight forward and didn’t require as many pieces of equipment as snowboarding.

Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley) in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile is where lots of folks go sandboarding

Passing through San Pedro de Atacama on the way to Bolivia, I had the opportunity to stay for a day or so in the town.  One of the major activities in the area is sandboarding so a group of my fellow travellers and I took a brief truck ride into Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley) to join in on the fun.

To sandboard, you just need a board and the will to hike up giant sand dunes.  Then strap yourself in and slide down!

While many folks might point out that sandboarding is very similar to snowboarding, I’d say that it is actually a bit more challenging for those who sandboard.  You have to hike up the giant sand dune with your sandboard as opposed to an enjoying a ride on a ski lift up a mountain.  Those who have hiked in sand will recognize the extra effort involved.  Nonetheless it was totally worth it, even if all my pockets were full of sand afterwards!

I also had the opportunity to sandboard while travelling in the United States.  In Colorado, there are the amazing Great Sand Dunes.  It is — simply put — a stunning natural environment to be in with such a diversity in the area.  Sand dunes, forest, marsh, mountains.

The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado

There is a great opportunity to hike (bring lots of water!), or alternatively, you can rent some sandboards nearby and have some fun on the dunes!  These are not just snowboards, they are actually designed for sand dunes so be prepared to remove your shoes and either use the sandboards with bare feet or with socks.

Hiking up the sand dunes

Of course, once again in Colorado, my friends and I were hiking up the sand dunes which was tiring after a number of times.  During the summer, I’d recommend heading out into the dunes early in the morning.  It isn’t hot yet and by the time you’ve made quite a few runs (at least 20) down the dunes, you’ll probably be tired out and ready to kickback in the shade.  The sand itself can get pretty hot by late morning to noon depending on the time of year.

sandboarding with friends in the Great Sand Dunes

Just like snowboarding, be ready to fall lots of times.  I can’t even count the number of times I fell or rolled down the side of the dune.  Other times, my sandboard was lacking wax so it’d slow down to a grind half way down the slope which made for some amusing times.

Yours truly, sandboarding for the second time

I’d love to go sandboarding again but just wish there were some places closer to Toronto.  I’ve heard about larger sand dunes in Sand Hill Park and will have to check it out sometime.

Memorable Road Trip Milestones

Back in August 2008, I decided to take an elaborate road trip all the way to Wyoming and down into Colorado. After a spontaneous and slight change of plans, I had changed destinations in my GPS and drove straight towards Denver.  As with all road trips, there are always memorable stops along the way.
Driving through Nebraska and Iowa was such an interesting experience.  There was something about the drive that made it a very self-reflective time, but I’ll talk about that another time.

One of the most memorable parts of my road trip back in 2008 was the drive into Colorado from Nebraska via highway 76.  One of the first things I encountered on the drive into the state of Colorado was Lucy’s Place.  It sat in the middle of nowhere.

a nifty slightly run-down cafe from Nebraska into Colorado.  Luckily it had gas ... but I had to pay the old-fashioned way ... cold hard cash.

I had to stop for gas but this was the only place anyone might stop for miles.  After this stop, the drive into Colorado was filled with smooth rolling green hills (in summer time).  For a guy from Ontario accustomed to lots of concrete and hot summers that resulted in rather yellow grass everywhere, it was a near surreal experience.  Vivid green hills and blue skies with no disruption in sight.

Reminded me of the old Windows default background, Bliss.

Taking in the scenic California Route 1

California Route 1

About eight years ago, I took my first step into the state of California with my family.  I had immediately understood why so many people love this state — the diversity of natural environments is simply astounding and their respective natural landscapes are so inspirational.  Being an avid reader of books by John Steinbeck, I really appreciated the vivid descriptive verbiage he used in his stories that involved different parts of California as a backdrop.

Driving along Route 1 was one of the first things we did after arriving in Los Angeles.  We couldn’t help but keep stopping off to the side of the road to look out into the Pacific and admire the beautiful Californian coastline.  The lush and vivid spring green, deep blue and turquoise blues, and the golden yellows or reds in the landscape really differentiated itself from the greens and earthy colours that I was accustomed to in Central Canada and the North-Eastern United States.

There were so many instances of the drive along Route 1 from Los Angeles to Monterey where we wanted to stop but it just wasn’t possible.  We even had the opportunity to see a number seals sun bathing.  I also noticed some trailheads — if I were travelling on my own, I’d definitely want to spend some more time along the coastline and even doing some hiking in the area.

I’ve returned to California again but mainly stayed in San Francisco.  I hope to explore more of California in the near future.

The Early Mornings of a Road Trip

It takes an incredible amount of energy for me to wake up on the average week day so it’s funny how I always find it extremely easy to wake up early when travelling, or starting an exciting road trip.  The advantage to waking up early in the morning are the opportunities to enjoy an experience that one rarely has the time to take in.
When I was in Boston, I would wake up at 3am in the morning, hop in a Zipcar and drive out to Provincetown.  I managed to avoid the traffic, enjoy a very peaceful and scenic drive that would normally be a pretty typical busy-sort-of-traffic road trip.  Having driven out to Provincetown early in the morning, I also had the opportunity to photograph and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the town before all the tourists woke up or arrived in town.

On the way to Manitoulin Island early in the morning

About 8 years ago (wow…) a handful of friends and I took on a long-weekend road trip from Toronto up to Manitoulin Island.  Being super excited I did not get a whole lot of sleep, my friend and I were awake waiting for another friend (the driver) to pick us up before we rendezvoused with another group of friends in a second car.

This predated the GPS era (although I did end up getting a GPS after this trip) so we were relying on the traditional map and a couple of short range walkie talkies.  We met up at a Tim Hortons and set off to catch the ferry from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island.  I remember unfortunately losing the hold your bladder game along the way to Tobermory (albeit, it was unfair since the others did make a visit to the bathroom earlier on whereas I did not).  It was a fun trip up but one of the most memorable points of the early drive was the sunrise.

We parked on the side of the road and stood around in the chilly brisk morning air watching the sky get brighter.  Everyone except one friend who didn’t want to wake up from sleeping in the car.  We didn’t make the ferry on time (it was extremely busy that long weekend in August), but this was one of those early morning moments that I never forgot.