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

Photo: The Setting Sun

It’s been a very busy few weeks here in and about Toronto. But I wanted to share this picture that, every time I look at it, I relax a little bit and slow down.

This is in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, on the last day of my two month summer trip. The same moment as the current header on my blog. Great way to end the summer!

Thursday’s Top 5: Sushi Restaurants

My boyfriend and I were discussing our favorite sushi places while out for that very food one evening last week. He then came up with a brilliant idea – why not dedicate one day on this here blog to a top 5 list?

Done.

So my first top 5 list, should appropriately be my top 5 Sushi Restaurants.

5. Sushi D – Little Italy – Toronto

All you can eat sush-magoosh. Sorry, that’s what my friend calls it when she craves sushi. And she was the one that introduced me to good all-you-can-eat sushi!

Green Tea Ice Cream – get it.

4. Fune Japanese Restaurant: Simcoe Street Downtown Toronto.

Great atmosphere – free sample appetizers – helpful staff. A tad bit expensive, but it’s worth it, once a year.

3. Asahi Sushi – Toronto (640 Church St. (south of Bloor))

Best in the city that I can find! I always go for the Agedashi Tofu, Miso Soup, and share the Asahi Boat (30 mixed sushi/sashimi).

2. Agrigato Sushi – Horeshoe Bay, West Vancouver B.C.

My first Vancouver sushi experience. Le boyfriend took me there, as it was the closest to where we were staying on this trip. He warned me that it wasn’t “good” Vancouver sushi, and that I shouldn’t base my Vancouver sushi on this restaurant.

Geez – it was delicious! The fish was so fresh – and REAL crab!! Yippee!

1. Alpha (1099 Richards Street – Yaletown) Vancouver, B.C.

I wish you could have a #1 that goes beyond #1…like a #0 or just a shocked face ( 80 – that’s my sideways shocked face) or something to that effect. I have NEVER tasted anything this good. It was melt in my mouth, an explosion of amazing flavours, with an outstanding staff to boot. Of course, I went there in style…with the former mayor of Vancouver. Yep, that’s how I roll. Sushi roll.

I am going to give an honourable mention to my homemade sushi – she says modestly. I’m pretty impressed, the three times I have made it. It just needs a bit of fresh fish going on, instead of the safe cucumber, avacado, fake crab, and smoked salmon business.

If I lived in Vancouver, or I have been to a few more sushi restaurants – like  Tojo’s or Blue Water Cafe – my top 5 would wipe out any hint of Toronto sushi. In a city that is home to the creator of the California Roll. You just can’t beat fresh seafood on the coast. The end.

Photo: Wish this was me…

Wait a minute – that IS me!

This is where I wish I was right now, though. It’s cold and rainy here in Toronto, and the school year is in full gear. Soon the leaves will change colour, the snow will begin, and the dreary winter months will drag on and on and on.

Me thinks it’s too early to be daydreaming about my summer 2013 plans, but I know that it will involve this position – on a rock, with a good book, beside a gorgeous lake, in a park, waiting for wildlife to appear in front of my camera.

Home, aka Toronto

BAM!

I am back to being a city girl once again. The place fueled by road rage, bright lights in tall towers, sounds of multiple sirens flying across the streets, and smoggy layers of air.

But I still love it.

Totally missing nature already though. And work was quite a culture shock today (and yesterday when I drove in). I couldn’t quite get used to all the people around, the makeup I had to apply, and I just couldn’t seem to figure out how to use a blow-dryer.

This has been on my mind all day at work:

Jasper, Alberta

Stay tuned for #3 from my top 3 hikes this summer! Hint – hellooooo Wyoming!

Hittin the road again

I am off today on a 9 day journey back to Toronto, via Nelson B.C., Waterton, A.B., Grasslands National Park, Sask., Riding Mountain National Park, Man., Thunder Bay, Ont. and one final stop to break up T. Bay to Toronto.

Phew.

So long Vancouver, I’ll miss you!

Let the driving begin!!

R.I.P. Sir Elk

It’s been such a wonderful summer.

So many fabulous wildlife adventures and photographs taken, a ‘new’ camera inherited (story to come soon), and countless amazing meals eaten along the beaten trail.

I am so sad that it is coming all to an end…BUT not just yet.

There is this brief hiatus in Vancouver babysitting my boyfriend’s parents dog while they are off on an amazing African adventure. After that stop, we are on the road again.

This time, it’s not through the states, but through the quirky Trans Canada Highway en route back to Toronto. Instead of the 2 loooooong driving days to Yellowstone from Toronto, we are taking 9 – 10 days to slowly working our way back across Canada via some interesting Canadian historical sites (eg. The last spike, the burial ground of Louis Riel…).

BUT I must share a very brief and very sad short story with you that has been casting a gloomy cloud over my head, despite a very sunny and warm Vancouver, and a very excitable and heart warming dog to babysit.

There I was in Jasper, Alberta among a huge crowd of people photographing one of three amazing bull elks with crazy racks that I have now known for three years. Ps, a side note – I’ve been learning all the innate wildlife talk – it could have gotten more technical than that 🙂 more technical than ‘crazy racks’.

These elk were so docile and accommodating to the throngs of people, young and old…in their faces snapping off photos with flash, yelling, running in front of them, stalking them, attempting to feed them…you name it. I was impressed, yet again this summer, and so happy to see these stunning elk so healthy after three years running.

The morning we were set to leave Jasper, just 3 days ago, we were stopped to photograph a black bear with one cub on the Icefields Parkway when a motorcycle stopped beside us and gave my boyfriend some very saddening news.

This one guy from the three bull elks (the smaller one as he is known) had just been hit and killed by a transport truck on the Yellowhead Highway where we always see him.

It was heartbreaking and so damn frustrating and it has kept me heavy hearted ever since I heard the news.

R.I.P.