Trumpeter Swans in Muskoka

Trumpeter Swans in Muskoka

Some Good News

Three of these beautiful creatures have been hanging around the lake near the cottage for the last week or two.  I was able to sit on the dock and take a few photos as they meandered around the lake early one morning. 

If you do see Trumpeter Swans, here is a great website to report them.

These swans were almost completely wiped off the face of the earth due to uncontrolled hunting by the Hudson’s Bay Company up to the 1800s.  In the early 1900s, Trumpeter Swans were surveyed to be less than 200.  By 1959, the numbers were up to around 2000.  Very cool.  They roam Ontario through Western Canada, north central United States … and Alaska.  In 2015 the count was in the neighbourhood of 63,000. Not bad. 

The Trumpeter Swan Society has tons of information and a section for reporting sightings.  These reports help them keep track and ensure the birds’ survival. 

If you are not sure what type of swan you are looking at, there is a pretty good description of the three types found in Canada and the USA on the website above.  The Trumpeter Swan and Tundra Swan are native to North America.  The Mute Swan, is originally from Eurasia and is not as numerous in Canada. 

We normally see the Trumpeter Swans in the Autumn, sometimes cruising the lakes for a couple of days to a couple of weeks.  They very likely could be making a way stop on their way from Alaska to North Carolina.  Makes for perfect timing for photos with the trees in colour.

For my portrait site go to

#muskoka #trumpeterswans #swans #muteswans #tundraswan #trumpeterswansociety #birds #cottage #cottagelife #fallcolours #fallcolors

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Stuff Chicken Recipe

Stuff Chicken Recipe

Stuffed Chicken wrapped with prosciutto


Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Red Pepper: about 4-6 half inch wide slices
Hot pepper rings
Asparagus tips - basically cut length to fit chicken
Fresh Spinach
Prosciutto 4-6 thinly sliced pieces per chicken breast
Healthy slice of cheese - one per chicken breast (I use cheddar)Spices is you feel the need.  Flavours are pretty strong so not likely.


Flatten chicken breasts
Add herbs or spices to taste
Lay out a couple of layers of spinach leaves covering the open chicken breasts
On one half of the breast lay out parallel, the cheese, asparagus (one or two pieces per chicken breast), about three thinly sliced pieces of red pepper, and some hot pepper rings.
Fold the other half of the chicken over the fillers.
So you now have two chicken breasts folded over the fillers
Wrap each with prosciutto several layers so that the three open parts are covered/closed in.
Get some oil and butter sizzling in a deep pan.
Sear both sides of each of the chicken pieces. —> (Important step)
Then turn down to simmer for 20 minutes to cook through.  Turn at least once.

Side dish for us:
A small handful of noodles - your choice
A couple of large handfuls of frozen edamame beans
White sauce from a jar
Salt, pepper, basil.

Boil water with a bit of oil and throw in noodles
At about half way point throw in the edamame.
When cooked drain.
Add some butter (magic ingredient) and  some dried basil to the noodles in the drain and swirl around a bit.

Use the now empty same pot to heat up white sauce.

At this point your chicken should be done.  Don’t overcook it. 
Remove chicken pieces from pan to a cutting board and slice across the length of the stuffing.  Roughly half inch slices.  Whatever works for you.

Place about 3 slices each in wide bowl.
Add to the plate a small amount of noodles and edemame
Drizzle with white sauce over all.

If you think you need a bit more, place some halved cherry tomatoes, sliced green onion, and feta in a bowl.  Mix in some olive oil, dried basil and black pepper.  Serve on the side.

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My New Moose Bicycle

My New Moose Bicycle

and the book: Just Ride by Grant Petersen

My New Bike

In 1968 or 1969, I forget which, one of my best friends and I hopped on the GO train and took it to Union Station in Toronto.  From there we managed the subway system to Bloor Sport & Cycle.  I’m pretty sure that it no longer exists but there are several others in the same area. Or maybe it was renamed. Not sure.  

My friend and I bought identical bikes.  We each purchased a Dawes Galaxy 10 Speed - Black.  It had centre pull brakes and a Brooks leather saddle.  We each paid $159.00!  You can’t buy the saddle for that anymore. 

We managed to ride the streets back to Union Station and took the bikes on the Go Train back.  At the time this commuter train didn’t go all the way to our town so we rode the last few miles.   The ride from Toronto to our town would have been about 30 miles, a distance we were doing pretty regularly not too long after our purchases.  

The next couple of years I did a couple of good summer road trips on my bike; one through Vermont and upstate New York and another from

Dawes Galaxy and Gear At Lake Louise

Dawes Galaxy and Gear At Lake Louise

Calgary to Vancouver.  In Canada in case your geography ain’t so good.  That last, out west, was other worldly.  I really should do a separate post on that; I remember it in such detail even though it happened roughly 50 years ago.  10 speeds up and down a couple of the highest passes in the country.

I lived in Calgary for almost 10 years more recently and drove those roads from Calgary into and through the Alberta and BC mountains a hundred times.  I could never get over the fact that I biked up all those mountains.  I even cycled up the road to Lake Louise.  With all my gear!  Back then, early 1970s there were dozens and dozens of people doing the same thing.   We saw the occasional one, very few, more recently.

I’ve had these types of road bikes since the Dawes Galaxy.  Nishiki, Bianchi, Schwinn and more recently a Raleigh. All with the gear changers on the down tube of the frame and usually centre pull or side pull brakes.  

I’ve watched the evolution of bikes over the years and never really liked what I saw.  When I was sizing my bike and setting the seat and handle bars, we had rules of how to to that.  Seat height was: 109% of the distance measured from crotch to floor.  Use that measurement and with pedal extended in line with seat tube, go from centre of pedal axle to top of seat.  When you are sitting on the seat with your toe on the pedal, your leg would then be very slightly bent.  

Then raise the handle bars so the top of the headset is level with the top of the seat.  Place the seat forward or back using this measurement: tip of your fingers to your

Moose Gravel Bike

Moose Gravel Bike

elbow = length from front tip of seat to just touching the handle bar stem/headset.

One could do minor adjustments from there.  

After riding these road bike for 50 years or so, I was searching for a bike where I wouldn’t be practically upside down.  I’m sure I’d last about 10 minutes before my hands would go numb and I’d have neck issues that I’d never recover from.

On same day that I received my new bike, I came across and downloaded a great book called ‘Just Ride’ by Grant Petersen.  His website and blog, are here  The blog is equally amusing as the book.

You can likely find the book at the library, hard copy or digitally or you get here:

Just Ride by Grant Petersen

'Just Ride" by Grant Petersen

I love Petersen’s irreverence.  I agree with so many chapters of his book.  He lays waste to the false standards that the Bike Racing industry has set.  His ultimate goal seems to be to keep it fun.  And still use cycling to get and stay fit.  Filled with good, useful tips and a hoot to read at the same time.

I’m not retiring my old road bike just yet.  The frame is still excellent; I just have to figure if it is worth getting new components, wheels etc.  I like the geometry and not sure I’ll be able to get what I want otherwise. We’ll see.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter! If you can’t find that on the right, then check out the contact page. 

Thanks for visiting.

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Kayaking 15 Mile Pond

Kayaking 15 Mile Pond

Kayaking 15 Mile

There are so many rivers in the Niagara Region. Not as many as I'd like are accessible.  There are a couple a little further afield for me, like the Grand River and Big Creek which runs into Lake Erie at Long Point.  There a few nice places to drop in a kayak there but it's a two hour drive.  I like that river as it is small enough, you get the trees overhanging and plenty of bends and twists to keep me happy.  

The Welland River has a few spots to drop in and there is Lyons Creek off that near Chippawa.

But I'm always looking for something new to explore.  Do lots of hiking and driving around see some, what look like good rivers to kayak but nowhere to get in.  Not sure which website showed 15 Mile Pond, it may have been,  Hook up with them and you can go out with some groups.  

So, back to 15 Mile.  There is a small dock at the bridge crossing the river on Glass Avenue, just west of Gregory Road. If you are coming off the QEW take the immediate right to service road then south on Gregory.  A little ways down it forks.  The right fork is Glass.  Down the hill there is a small parking lot.  Built into the dock there, is the perfect way to get into the river with your kayak or canoe.  Some genius built this thing.  

From the dock you can go up river (south) or north toward Lake Ontario.  We didn't go north but apparently one gets as far as the QEW.  About 2.5 KM.  Most were going north so we went up river.  My Paddle App wasn't working, so not sure how far but I'm guess we got about 2km. It was pouring rain and as it was our first outing on the kayaks, we thought we'd had enough.  Couple of bridges.  The one for the railway is an amazing structure. Cut stones making an arch.  Should last another thousand years.

Someone has seen fit to go up there with a chain saw to keep as clear path. So whomsoever is doing that, I thank you.  

A few photos here.  One of us waiting under a bridge for the rain to stop.  Didn't help much.  

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Horse Selfies

Horse Selfies

Horse Selfies

Horse Farms Near Ganaraska Forest

Roaming around yesterday up near the Ganaraska Forest (Ganaraska Forest is just east of Highway 35/115 about 30 minutes before you get to Peterborough.)  Great horse country just south of this forest.  Horse country is just about everywhere if you are looking.  Wonderful, curious, friendly animals.  I'm sure that some think that my phone is food when I'm doing the selfie thing.  If they are not trying to nuzzle me and kiss my neck.

These photos are all from yesterday.

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Rocky Mountain Horses

Rocky Mountain Horses

Rocky Mountain Horses

Fall Fun Taking Horse Photos

In the last two years, since moving to Ontario, I haven’t been taking as many equine photos. There are plenty of horses in the areas that I roam but life and routines changed. In Alberta, I had areas that I’d go knowing I would get some great shots of curious and friendly horses.

Yesterday we had scheduled to visit a friend that raises Rocky Mountain horses. She had to go out on an emergency but told us that it was quite fine to show up and shoot some horse photos. She knows that I’m comfortable with them, and they with me, so has no problem me going into the field and walk about. A few of the photos are below. The little one would hardly leave me alone. Loved having his hips massaged. Mama is a grey and you can start to see the colt losing some of his colour.

Lots of selfies which I’ll post separately on Instagram. @faffyrd or search my full name.

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Ball’s Falls Fall Colours

Ball’s Falls Fall Colours

Ball’s Falls Fall Colours

This is the perfect place to go whether you want a short or long walk or hike.  Parts of it are on the Bruce Trail.  And there is a short walk up the river to the Upper Falls that, in this time of year is quite spectacular with the Fall colours.  The reds are a bit late in coming this year, so I had to tweak the photos a bit.  I hope you don’t mind.  The parking is $8 a person.  We have been there at times past 4:30 when the office closes and ended up not having to pay.  Not sure if this is usual or not.  Seniors are $6 - that helps a bit.  Although, I don’t mind paying really as it goes to support these beautiful places.

There are a bunch of old buildings there - old mill, house, blacksmith barn, etc but none have been open any time we have been gone through the park.  We went on a 10 km hike a couple of weeks ago from this location -  north along the Bruce Trail but decided we just wanted a day of puttering around and enjoying the scenery and taking photos.  It was the perfect day for this.  

If you are ever in the Niagara region and want to check some of these places out, please contact us and we’ll try and go with you.

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More Wellandport Kayaking

Kayaking near Wellandport - Niagara Region

There aren't that many places to drop in the rivers around here.  Google maps helped me with this one.  There is a little park on the east end of Wellandport, just to the left of the Library when you are facing south.  Follow the road to the loop at the end, not very far at all.  Generally, it is not busy there and there is parking with an easy spot to put in your kayaks.  A couple of weeks ago my brother in law and I went upstream about 4 km so this time Yvonne and I tried the downstream stretch.  I wouldn't have tried this in the Spring when there was so much rain as this river was really moving then and I don't like coming back upstream.  Something to think about when you are planning a trip.

The river is really quiet right now and quite muddy.  We went in the evening - started about 6:30 PM and got back just after 8.  We didn't want to be coming upstream in the dark.  Might miss our exit!  Sun was low which was nice as it had been a very hot day.  Chatting with a fisherman on the edge of his property who told us that we could take a side route a little up on the left and on into Wellandport.  But we found the river too low presently to traverse it there.  So, did an easy one down the lazy river about 2 km then back.  No bugs as it is late enough in the season.  Pretty quiet in spite being near the road in parts.  When it is a bit cooler we'll start early enough that we can go further.

Here is a few second video.  You can see how muddy the water is.

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Kayaking Welland River

Wellandport Kayaking

Peter and I went out on the Welland River last evening for about 2 hours.  There are not that many places to put in a boat along there but a few weeks ago on a drive-a-bout Yvonne and I found the perfect spot near the Wellandport Community Center/Library just outside of Wellandport.  

If you are coming west along Highway 20, just past Fonthill go south on Canborough Road.  About half a mile before you get to Wellandport on the left hand side of the road (south side) is the Community Center.  To the right (west) side of that is a gravel road/lane that goes back along the park.  Follow that to the river.  There is a loop there with parking.  And a small spot to put in boats. 

We put the kayaks in about 6 PM - it was still very hot for the first hour.  We went up the river for about an hour - did just over 4 km going up the river.  Wind and current coming toward us.  Coming back was nicer as the sun was lower and there was some shade.  And it was a lot easier as we weren’t fighting the current.  

It was a very pleasant evening.  There were some houses in the town that back onto the river and we got some friendly waves.  And we got to watch a bunch of kids working on getting a pontoon boat unstuck.  It had been parked at their dock when the river was about a foot higher it looked like.  They were using boards to lever it out.  I didn’t think they would be successful but about 25 minutes later they were cruising along behind us. 

Generally a nice quiet evening. Total a little over 8 kilometres.

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