Top 5: Wilderness Escapes in Toronto

This past weekend, I was feeling very restless and decided that I needed a good dose of fresh air, in the form of FRESH air (not the busy street smoggy stinky downtown Toronto air).

My fiancee was also feeling this same restlesness, but also, his finger was itching to try out a few new ‘gagdets’ he purchased for his Nikon D800. He is the ultimate wildlife photographer, so he busily searched for places near to us where I could take my meds consisting of fresh, nature filled air (umm, I am not sure what that is…), and he could satisfy his trigger finger (FOR HIS CAMERA).

We discovered Leslie Spit, which was exactly 15 minutes away from my condo. I could not believe it. There we were, standing in nature, yet able to see the city skyline right behind us. It was perfect.

The investigation is going to continue as I list the top 5 ‘wilderness’ escapes in and around the city of Toronto.

5. Lynde Shores Conservation Area – Probably about a 45 minute drive to find this nature retreat, but worth it to hike around a swampy scene filled with deer, birds and beaver!

4. Colonel Sam Smith Park – Can’t wait to check out this park. Probably a 25 minute drive from my condo, I could be there, exploring the trails along the Toronto waterfront. It would especially be neat to find the beaver and snakes to photograph.

3. High Park – This park is surrounded by the Gardiner Expressway to the south, Bloor Street to the north, and subdivisions on either side. I completed a 5K race here a few years ago, and marvelled at all the green around me, while dragging my feet up and down some tough hills.

2. Rouge Park – I haven’t been here yet, but I have heard so many wonderful things about this area, that it could quite possibly beat out Leslie Spit for the #1 spot.

Right next to the Toronto Zoo, it boasts many birds, deer, plant and reptiles, some that are endangered and rare. Can’t wait to go!

1. Leslie Spit/Tommy Thompson Park – it had to be #1, since I have been here. It’s home to  countless species of birds, mink, beaver, fox, coyote and owl – oh and muscrat, which we ran into accidentally on our hike.

This semi-man-made spit became quite a wonderful ‘accidental’ wilderness right in the heart of Toronto.

Further Reading:

Toronto Wildlife: Where to Find Wildlife and Birds in Toronto

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Photo: Le Fog

Taken in Chicago, Illinois on a damp and foggy evening. I love the perspective, but I wish I had a better camera at this moment.

That just means I have to go back to Chicago and try again, right?!

 

Quote: Poland = Peace

My most ardent desire is that my country will recapture its historic opportunity for a peaceful evolution and that Poland will prove to the world that even the most complex situations can be solved by a dialogue and not by force.
Lech Walesa

Polish Cuisine: Krupnik

Krupnik is a hearty barley soup with veggies. Perfect for this cooler weather.

1/4 ounce dried mushroom (preferably porcini)
2 cups boiling water
1/4 lb chicken or 1/4 lb turkey, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, quartered lengthwise & sliced to 1/4-inch long
1/4 lb fresh string bean, trimmed, washed
1 small turnip, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh peas
8 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup pearl barley
3 potatoes, sliced to 1/2-inch rounds & diced (about 1/4 lb each)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely cut
Directions:

1. Soak dried mushrooms in boiling water until they are soft and flexible (at least 2 hours).

2. Drain the mushrooms (reserving water), and chop them coarsely.

3. In a heavy 3-4 qt casserole dish, combine the mushrooms, reserved water, chicken, celery, carrot, string beans, and peas.

4. Add the stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

5. Reduce to low heat and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is done and vegetables are tender-crisp (20 minutes).

6. Strain, setting aside chicken and vegetables and returning stock to the casserole dish.

7. Melt the butter over medium heat.

8. Add the barley, and stir for 1-2 minutes (do NOT let barley brown).

9. Add the barley and butter to the stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

10. Reduce to low heat and simmer, partially covered for 10 minutes.

11. Add the potatoes and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes and barley are done (20 minutes).

12. Return chicken and vegetables to the soup.

13. Add water if needed, to thin the soup.

14. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then let simmer for a few minutes to reheat the chicken and vegetables.

15. Garnish each bowl with a spoonful of sour cream and sprinkle with dill, if desired.

Fantasy Friday: Poland

I’ve wanted to go here since I met a very nice girl when I was in grade 1 that had just moved from there. She was so nice and kind and only had good things to say about her former home (and we were in grade 1….).

Lonely Planet has my dream tours:

  • Gdańsk

    A port with great historical significance and many architectural delights

  • Słowiński National Park

    An unusual national park filled with lakes, bogs, meadows, woods and shifting sand dunes

  • Toruń

    Gothic architecture at its best, and the birthplace of Copernicus

  • Poznań

    Lively commercial city with plenty of museums and great entertainment options

  • Wrocław

    Poland’s fourth largest city, with plenty of cultural and architectural attractions

  • Auschwitz-Birkenau

    The Nazis’ largest extermination camp is Poland’s most moving sight

  • Malbork

    In a country strewn with castles, this monumental Teutonic masterpiece tops the list

  • 8 The Great Masurian Lakes

    A region of myriad lakes and patchwork forests, loved by sailors and kayak enthusiasts

  • Białowieża National Park

    Home to wild European bison and Europe‘s largest patch of primeval forest

  • 10 Warsaw

    The country’s capital, a place of unshakable energy and stamina

  • 11 Zamość

    A city with an abundance of Renaissance splendour and oodles of charm

  • 12 Zakopane

    The country’s most beloved mountain resort, with ample opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and winter sports

  • 13 The Bieszczady

    A forgotten corner dominated by mountains, meadows and pristine forests

  • 14 Kraków

    A city life no other – a royal seat for 500 years, its beauty will leave you gob-smacked

Photo: Le Moose

Moose on the Loose – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

I miss those days in the summer, when I had the time to settle in by a big bull moose and take pictures of him for 2 hours.

Oh well, something to look forward to next summer!

Back to the Grown-Up World

I had a great time at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida over the weekend with my sis. I really felt like a kid again. A very tall kid. A very tall kid that loves roller coasters.

Here are some highlights: