The Rex Hotel and Jazz Bar

I needed a place to stay last minute in Toronto, quick look online and the Rex fit two main categories. It was inexpensive and well located for where I needed to be the next morning. Plus there was the bonus of live entertainment and food onsite which made for an appealing one night stay.

The Rex Jazz Bar (Hotel Entrance is around the corner to the left)
I arrived at night after a long day of surface travel

Check in at the hotel was pretty straightforward once you located the entrance, then I headed straight to the bar where a live band was setting up to play (fun note: staying at the hotel meant you get to skip the cover charge at the bar!)

Live Twelve Piece Jazz Band – You Like Jazz right?

The band was exceptional and played a variety of musical pieces, several of which were composed by various member of the band. Overall a solid performance!

After a long day of Travel, Familiar Comfort Food are the best… wait is that avocado?

At this point in the day is when I remember to eat, I ordered the Rex Burger and a cider from the menu. Wait staff were kind and managed the patrons during the breaks between songs. While it did slow the ordering process a tad, better than then trying to yell over the music.

Mason Jar Cider – Yum!

The Hotel… right… so the hotel is above the Jazz Bar, and the entrance is at the back. The receptionist is kind and originally from Ireland with a thick Irish accent (I’m heading to Ireland in three days… what a coincidence!) and the Rooms are quite spacious considering the cost.

The Room!

The bed has much to be desired (its basically a metal spring bed, good for a night but I’d be hard press to sleep comfortably on it for a week). Also of note while there is a functional sink in the room, the bathroom is down the hall and shared.

It should be pointed out that in order to stay at the Rex you really need to enjoy Jazz music until 10-11pm at night. Because the hotel is directly above the bar you will hear the jazz music until closing. Its not ear shattering, but you can’t turn it off.

Wake up to a Beautiful Toronto Morning

So I enjoyed my one night stay at the Rex, but then I love good Jazz music lulling me to sleep 🙂

Kanata Badminton Club 2014 AGM

Kanata Badminton Club 2014 AGM

Traditionally, the Kanata Badminton Club’s Annual General Meeting has been held in Tommy’s restaurant at the old town center. This year, the meeting had to be delayed a couple of months while renovations at the restaurant were underway. Happily, the renovations were finally completed and we could have our meeting.

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As a club with about 140 members, the club operates during the winter months utilizing the facilities of two local schools in Kanata, Ontario. Since the City of Kanata amalgamated into the City of Ottawa a few things changed but the Kanata Badminton Club still operates much the same as it did many years ago when I first became a member. Over the years, my ability to see the bird has diminished somewhat and, with each passing year, the entry players seem to be a bit younger :-).  It’s a community based recreational club and it’s still a fun way to survive the winter months.

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Kanata Badminton Club Executive 2014 – 2015

This year’s executive should have an easy year as usual even though it will once again be a year with some changes :-). Maybe, my play will improve and I’ll be moved back to the competitive red level again!

Sir John Carling Building Demolition – Ottawa, Canada

P1070802.MOV.Still001July 13,2014 – Sir John Carling Building Demolition – Ottawa, Canada

It was a dull, dreary, overcast morning with lots of rain threatening from the south but, after 2 1/2 years of planning and preparation work, the planned implosion demolition of the 11 story Sir John Carling Building went ahead as scheduled and in only about 14 seconds the 11 story building became a contained pile of rubble. I was happy to have the opportunity to be there for the event and to assist Front Page Media Group in the documenting of this event. Unmanned GoPro cameras were stationed at various locations to capture the event from as many angles as possible.

The above high resolution video was taken with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 4K Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera from a prime location offering direct line of sight of the whole building. I left the camera filming after the explosions to capture not only the initial explosions that started the demolition process but also to capture the billowing cloud of dust that moved across the field toward our position a safe distance from the explosions. A pretty unique experience and the first of its kind in Ottawa, Canada. If you view this high resolution video at full screen size, you can see an employee scurrying to get to the safety of the cab of his truck before the billowing dust quickly closes in around him.

Haunted Walk Ottawa – Time Traveler Trail

The Haunted walk has a new trail for the time-travelers among us, its called the Time Traveler Trail and it focuses on Ottawa’s past when Ottawa was Bytown and riots and pistol fights in the market were more common than Beavertails. Guided by Steampunk attired guides prepare to set off on an adventure in time.

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The new walk has already gathered the attention of the Whovians in Ottawa, as the Society of Doctor Who made an appearance to take the walk through time.P1070732 P1070738Our guide was quick to take us back in time with the help of their timely-whimey device.

P1070748- ShunkThe tour was full of great historical stories about a time when Ottawa wasn’t as tame as it is now, in fact traveller’s beware, time travel can be hazardous to your health and you could end up finding yourself in a duel as a way of solving slanders and slights!

A duel was the way to settle disagreements in the past, although what these two had against eachother we will never know.
A duel was the way to settle disagreements in the past, although what these two had against eachother we will never know.

Also this might be a cleverly disguised Dalek, just saying…

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Along the route we had a chance to seem some clearly historical signs, some on purpose and others by time traveler luck?P1070761 - Cropped

P1070751-CroppedP1070764 - Cropped Finally as the night drew dark (7:30pm tour rather than the weekend matinee 11:00am tour) our Time Travel energy grew low with the fading light and we got to see some of Ottawa’s premier buildings in their evening glory.

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In the end, all by Steve (poor Steve) made it back to our present time alive and well about 2 hours after we headed off on our adventures through time and walking distance.

Canada Day 2014 – Kanata, Ontario

Canada Day 2014 – Kanata, Ontario

Graeme and I took a short walk around the Kanata Canada Day 2014 activities, met some people whom we have known from past events and activities and met some new people. Lots of things happening during the day and, if the threat of blustery weather passes by (appears to be heading off north of the city), it should be a great night for the fireworks. (Kanata weather)

When we arrived at the base of the toboggan hill, the Holy Trinity Catholic High School Rhythm and Blues Band were setting up on stage under the direction of Neil Bateman, so, while waiting for their performance, we just wandered around.
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Of course, our cameras were busy when the band did arrive on stage.

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We did consider stopping at the Lemonade stand but Dan Robidoux and his group had a better offer. It was pretty tough to walk past a free draw for a bike and also get a free bottle of cold water and a free carabiner, all from the same booth. So, of course, we stopped; filled in a ballot; got some water; and ended up with a green carabiner and a red carabiner. Now, I’ll have something green for next St. Patrick’s Day (LOL)

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Although I would love to win a bike, it would have been even nicer if the vehicles on the other side of the pathway had been up for grabs. Each Spring, for the past few years, I have traveled hundreds of kilometers of rather rough gravel forestry roads in Northern Ontario while conducting breeding bird surveys and other surveys. For that, a big, high clearance muscle truck would have been awesome (gas economy notwithstanding).

014_0940-Ballot-Box 014_0939-big-truck 014_0938.Prowler-jpgWhen the temperature outside is above 30C who could possibly be thinking about curling but, there, right in the middle of the heat, was the Huntley Curling Club of Carp, Ontario tent complete with brooms and a bit of black ice to show the next generation how to sweep -:).

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I wanted to see how the USA would do in the World Cup match on television today so had to head home pretty quickly but not before stopping at the large soccer ball that marked the display promoting the FIFA World Cup Soccer Event which will be coming to Canada (and Ottawa) in June/July 2015. (FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP website)

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IMG_66401-EVA2EVA should be ready to compete after another year of practice !!!

(see EVA, the Cockapoo, in training for FIFA)

For those reading this blog on Canada Day who might still have time to get to Kanata for the evening activities, there is plenty scheduled

(see official Canada Day in Kanata website)

If attending fireworks, take a moment to review our on-line fireworks photography tutorial before heading out with camera in hand.

HAPPY CANADA DAY EVERYBODY

Ron & Graeme Hay.

Returned late in the evening to listen to the stage group “Amos the Transparent” which is a Canadian rock band from Ottawa, Ontario, featuring Jon Chandler, Chris Wilson, Dan Hay, James Nicol, and Olenka Reshitnyk.

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Westfest 2014, Westboro, Ottawa, Ontario

Westfest 2014, Westboro, Ottawa, Ontario – Today was the first of three days of Westfest entertainment in the Westboro area of Ottawa. (Official Westfest festival site: http://www.westfest.ca/) All of the Mainstage performances are FREE! thanks to the generous sponsorship support that the event receives.

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Tonight, I was able to enjoy the performance of George Leach  whose album “Surrender” won the 2014 Juno Award for Aboriginal Album of the Year sponsored by APTN. (George Leach offic1al site)

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I do enjoy photographing performers doing things other than playing music

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Two more days of entertainment. Click on schedule image to enlarge.

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Ivanhoe Lake Provincial Park, Foleyet, Ontario

Ivanhoe Lake Provincial Park, Foleyet, Ontario

Well, we made it from Ottawa to Ivanhoe Lake Provincial Park without incident. Leaving Ottawa before sunrise made for a pretty early wake-up call but would also allow us time to stop a long the way more often and also allowed us time to get the tents set up before dark. The new lake side boardwalk and docking area in Temagami was nice to see and as good as any a reason to stop and stretch our legs. After a short leg-stretch stop, we were on our way again soon to reach Timmins in time for a short lunch break.

 

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Quite a bit of road construction along the way but, for the most part, the skies were blue and the winds were light – no fog, no rain, no snow! Along the way we saw moose at two different locations along the highway and black bears at two other locations. When I see moose and bear grazing along the ditches in broad daylight I usually assume that the bugs are plentiful in the woods. Such was the case. When we stopped at the campsite to set up our tents, the mosquitoes and black flies were quick to find our bare skin – out came the DEET before we went for a short walk along the shoreline. The Bonaparte’s Gulls were along the shoreline again and park staff indicated that they had seen some birds picking up sticks along the roadway so that it would appear that these gulls are in fact breeding in the area. Other wildlife spotted during our short walk included Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies, Red Squirrels, Cedar Waxwings, a Yellow-Rumped Warbler (a.k.a. Myrtle Warbler), many fast flying Dragonflies and a small blue butterfly.

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Since it was Friday night, the restaurant at Ivanhoe Air was open, so, with tents set up, it was off for supper before getting into the sleeping bags for a few winks before the 4AM alarm would go off.

Breeding Bird Survey 2014

Last minute packing is underway as I prepare to join Gerhard Bruins once again for our foray into the northwoods of Ontario.  I’ve joined Gerhard for a number of Breeding Bird Surveys, Christmas Bird Counts, and other birding activities.  He carries the binoculars while I carry the camera (s). During any given outing, he might view 30 – 100 species while I am happy to get decent photos of 5 – 10% of total sightings.

RON_3465-Magnolia-Warbler While he is counting and recording numbers, I provide some of the location information, GPS info, descriptive prose and maybe work in time for a photo of a passing butterfly or moth or bear or moose or … and then off we go to our next scheduled stop.

Our normal BBS day starts at about 4AM with the expectation that we’ll be back near civilization around noon.  Then, it’s back to the campground to pack tents and head to the next campground location (if available) or motel nearest to the start of the next day’s route. Rarely in tent or bed before 10PM or 11PM, it makes for a pretty long day!

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To see the blog entries for some of our previous birding outings start here: Birding Surveys.

Most of our BBS routes are outside of normal telecommunications tower coverage and I can’t get WiFi in most tenting locations so blog entries for our 2014 Breeding Bird Survey blogs will be entered later in June or ….

A Spring Outing

A Spring Outing

Graeme wanted to get out on the trail to obtain some high speed shots of birds in flight with his Sony NEX-FS700 with SELP18200 lens.The easiest place to do that is on the many trails in the National Capital Commission’s Greenbelt where the Chickadees and Nuthatches are quite happy to come in close and personal to obtain a sunflower seed or two from outstretched hands. Graeme was shooting at 1080p and either 240fps or 480fps. I on the other hand was shooting with my Nikon D300 and a 70-300 f2.8 lens. I restricted myself to 1 frame at a time. My finger can’t click at 480fps LOL. I hadn’t been out on the trails much this winter, so was a willing participant and offered him a hand – actually offered to hold out my hand with an offering of sunflower seeds.  The temperature has continued to be rather chilly so winter clothing was a necessity and outstretched hands can become uncomfortably cold rather quickly.

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It was a Sunday, so the birds had already seen plenty of outstretched hands offering all sorts of bird seed. All along the trails, there were small piles of seed left behind by hikers and skiiers sharing the trails with the birds and the squirrels. After leaving a few seeds scattered among the snow-covered branches of the cedars alongside one portion of the trail, so that Graeme would have plenty of winged visitors to photograph, I headed further along the Sarsaparilla Trail to see if there was anything else that might catch my attention.

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There had been reports of a Barred Owl in the area and others had seen a Porcupine sleeping in the higher branches of the trees, but I saw neither. Often, when I walk along this trail, I will be greeted by a Blue Jay or two, but this particular day, the Chickadees were my only companions. There were signs that a Pileated Woodpecker had recently been hard at work, but as this large woodpecker tends to be a bit wary of humans. I suspect that this particular woodpecker had taken a few days off from its labours to avoid the weekend crowds of humans.

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014_9218-Pileated-holesWhen we arrived back at the parking lot, we found that someone had left a copious supply of seeds and peanuts at that spot, so we stopped again to watch the Chickadees and Red Squirrels return time after time for another bit of food to add to their cache. As we were about to leave, a Red-Breasted Nuthatch joined in and returned a few times.

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014_9224-r-b--nuthatchOur next stop was the Bird Rescue center.  Although the sunshine was sufficient to melt some of the snow on the roof, it was still quite chilly when not in the sunshine.

014_9231Icicles-After that stop, we headed over to the Old Quarry Trail, hoping to see a White-tailed Deer or two. We saw only one doe this time around, and she was a bit skittish and raised her tail in alarm as the X/C skiiers passed by. The Chickadees and Red Squirrels were happy to entertain us, though, and in addition to a few Red-breasted Nuthatches, our more common feathered friends were also joined by one White-breasted Nuthatch. The sky was blue and the sun angle was warming, so I was able to tolerate standing with my hand out for quite a lengthy period of time, as about 20 Chickadees swooped in, one after another, to pick out their favourite seeds. Red Squirrels watched on waiting for their opportunity to run in and get something to eat.

014_9245-w-b-nuthatch  014_9253-red-squirrel 014_9256-Red-SquirrelTwo years earlier, the temperature was significantly warmer and snow had all melted away.  Not this year, though!!!  Nice to be able to interact with the birds and mammals we find along the trails and provide them with a few more seeds to help them get through the winter.

The Grand Canyon beckons

Three Ottawa, Ontario area kayakers won the lottery for a time slot on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Small problem. Their kayaks were in Vancouver, BC, 2200 kms away from the launch point. They needed someone to transport the kayaks to Las Vegas, Nevada. I volunteered for the task and so, here I was at 5:30 AM waking up to get to the airport for an early morning flight to Vancouver. This time around, I was flying Air Canada, but plenty were also there at that time of the morning to board the Westjet flight boarding at an adjacent gate.

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I was flying with point redemption so, as is normal, the only spots that tend to be available are the flights that leave early in the morning or arrive very late at night (or have multiple stops along the way). Since flying from Ottawa to Vancouver takes about 6 hours non-stop, it was the non-stop flight that I wanted to be on. Not interested in extending that part of the trip by stopping for a chat or plane change in Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg or Calgary which made up all of the other options and would have added another hour or two to the travel time.

Before we could take-off, our pilot had to taxi the jet to the deicing area so that a solution  could be sprayed onto the wings.  While waiting for the deicing process to be completed, the couple sitting next to me began a discussion of the costs of the deicing process both in terms of the cost of time as well as the cost of the deicing fluids and the manpower and machinery needed to apply the stuff and clean up the excess fluids. That led to discussion of how coatings based on nanotechnology might some day eliminate the need for deicing altogether.

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I was looking forward to visiting with my brother in Vancouver before loading the kayaks and heading south to Las Vegas. The slight difference in temperature between Ottawa and Vancouver was an added bonus of flying to Vancouver. When we were boarding the plane in Ottawa, the outside temperature was hovering around -25C while the forecast temperature in Vancouver was +8C and sunny.

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The flight with Air Canada went well with just a touch of turbulence as we approached the foothills of the Rockies near Lethbridge, Alberta. I was lucky to have a young couple sitting beside me on the plane who were involved in the mining industry in Peru. Although they had lived in places that I might only wish to visit some day (Chile and Peru), their Canadian roots in Squamish and Whitehorse (two places that I have visited) were locations of which we could share some knowledge and stories. Who knows, in this small world, my middle son’s career in Geophysics might some day lead him across their path on some flight in the future. Having interesting flying partners can certainly make the flight seem shorter.

As we flew along the 49th parallel, I could look south to see all sorts of mountains and patterns whenever the cloud cover thinned to allow a glimpse or two at was below.  Soon we were back on the ground at Vancouver International Airport .

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After my brother met me at the airport, we did a quick tour of Vancouver’s Gastown (cobblestone as demarcation from nearby Chinatown) The steam clock was an interesting piece of engineering.
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As we walked from place to place a number of different signs caught my attention as did Vancouver’s Flat Iron building which is a backdrop in many of the large number of films produced in Vancouver.
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Plenty of food establishments in the Gastown are but we finally decided on one with an interesting wall 🙂
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After my brother headed back to work, I wandered around Vancouver’s Gastown and Chinatown area. Overhead the skies were clear blue and the sun shone brightly. Rather an uncommon sight in Vancouver in the winter.