Trail detour

Watch that first step

Trail detour? Maybe when the harbour was frozen over a couple of months ago, but not right now. This sign is next to the condo construction site at Stadium Road and Queens Quay and is either intended to get cyclists and pedestrians around occasional intrusions by construction equipment into their realm or a forgotten relic from some long-ago temporary trail closure. Either way, shouldn’t it be pointing to the path straight ahead instead of directing unfortunates to make a right turn into Lake Ontario?

My own personal Quay to the City

Taking the lane big time

With the TTC strike on (and possibly over by tomorrow), I thought I’d get out and enjoy the promised bike lanes on Queen’s Quay. I couldn’t find them at first, but then realized that in all its wisdom, the City had put them smack in the middle of the road. And what wonderful bike lanes they are: nice and wide, smoothly paved, and grade separated. I think this temporary installation is even better than the original Quay to the City almost two years ago. I could live without all the streetcar tracks cluttering the lane, though. What’s up with that?

I was surprised that the new bike lane was so deserted on such a nice day. I heartily encourage more cyclists to take advantage of these lanes while they last.

Spring on the Spit: Quonset hut

Quonset Hut on the Leslie Street Spit

This old Quonset hut is familiar to anyone who has gone for a stroll or bike ride on the Leslie Street Spit. Shawn Micallef wrote an article in the Star last fall about the history of Quonsets in general and this one in particular:

Above the front door are the faded words “Testing Building.” It once housed the Toronto Port Authority’s gauge for measuring lake levels.

It has played a role in films over the years, including Bulletproof Monk and Canadian Bacon. For the 2006 Michael Douglas film, The Sentinel, it was converted into an east coast fishing shanty, complete with lobster traps.

Shawn also reports that the Quonset will be demolished and a proper visitor centre erected in its place. Although the building is obviously past its best-before date, I’ll still miss it when it’s gone.

Tomorrow: the final edition of Spring on the Spit.

Spring on the Spit: busy beavers

Beavers have done a real job on these trees

There’s a good-sized beaver lodge not too far from the southern tip of the Leslie Street Spit. It’s in the pond behind these trees, just out of camera view. Even if you miss the lodge during your visit, you can’t miss the work of its residents throughout this section of the park. The tree in the foreground of this picture has a large pile of fresh shavings at its base and will probably be felled by the industrious beavers within a few days. Their impressive lodge is big enough to be seen on Google Maps.

I didn’t notice whether the beavers on the Spit have been tackling any trees as large as their Don Valley cousins have been.

Spring on the Spit: pointing the way

Moon & pylon, Leslie Street Spit

Today’s spring picture from the Leslie Street Spit shows us an artfully-placed traffic pylon pointing up at last week’s waxing gibbous moon, already high in the sky in the late afternoon.

As an aside, I always used to think this phase of the moon was called a waxing gibbon until I was old enough to realize that the term would more accurately describe an ape with a Brazilian.

Snow mountain revisited

Snow mountain revisited

All of the heavy equipment was parked at the other end of the lot when I revisited the Unwin Avenue snow dump this weekend, so there’s not much in these photos to establish scale. The top of that pile of white snow at the centre of the picture above is about 8 feet high, if that helps. Enough of the snow has already melted that what’s left is indistinguishable from a pile of dirt from a distance. As the spring progresses, it’ll become indistinguishable from a pile of dirt even close up. All of this will be melting untreated virtually straight into the lake. The Don is also in for a rough spring and summer with melt from the snow dumps in the valley almost guaranteed to foul the river through July.

Unwin snow mountain with Hearn Station & smokestack poking out from behind

Tumour on Snow Mountain

Bike Train II: The long way home

View north along the Welland Canal

Well, I did it. As I’d threatened to do earlier this year, and just four weeks after reiterating my vow, I rode back home to Toronto after taking the Bike Train to Niagara Falls.

As on my previous Bike Train adventure with Risa, the ride to Niagara was a joy. We were a little late leaving Union Station and about 45 minutes late arriving at Niagara Falls, but it was still better than driving. Especially when I looked out the window between naps and saw the stop-and-go traffic on the QEW.

From my perspective as a two-time rider, the Bike Train has been a resounding success. VIA Rail and the other partners are seriously stupid if they don’t expand the program next year, running more frequently and to more destinations. And don’t make Bike Train founder Justin Lafontaine load and unload the bikes at Niagara Falls any more!

Ride Details

I’d originally planned to ride from the Niagara Falls train station to Niagara-on-the-Lake and follow the Waterfront Trail from the very beginning back to Toronto. But I decided earlier this week to cycle west to the Welland Canal and ride down the Welland Canal Trail to Port Weller before continuing along the Waterfront Trail to Toronto. Taking this road less travelled taught me three things:

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Chernobylesque. For some reason, that’s the word that’s been stuck in my mind since I took this picture of the stacks rising at the beautiful Portlands Energy Centre last month. It’s not even that it looks particularly like a disaster zone. It’s just a sensation that the visual evokes. How lucky we are to have it on our waterfront.

Unlike many who are not exactly in love with the PEC, I’m glad that they didn’t use the empty Hearn Generating Station to house a new power plant. When the port lands eventually become a community, Hearn will make one kick-ass community centre, market, museum, shopping gallery, or some combination thereof.

If The Powers That Be absolutely must have a new power plant on the waterfront, I’d rather have it in some anonymous steel box that we’ll be ecstatic to tear down when the time comes. And honestly, better a new power plant than a new power centre.