Monthly Archives: June 2013

Go Free-Wheeling on Car Free Sundays | Adventure #39

With a tagline of “Get Up, Get Out, Get Moving,” Car Free Sundays are back again this year to spread a message about the importance of alternative transportation and also to promote physical activity.

The first event was this past Sunday on Appleby Line. New this year were two “Bike Trains” organized by the Burlington Cycling Committee. One train left from City Hall and the other from Tansley Woods Community Centre. Both made their way through the community towards the Car Free Sunday street festival while stopping along the way to pick up more riders.

We joined the Bike Train as it pulled into the station at Orchard Community Park.

Joining the Bike Train to Car Free Sundays

The Car Free Sunday events are designed to connect families and neighbourhoods by bringing the streets alive with activities organized by a variety of organizations and community groups.

When we arrived at the Street Festival, there were hundreds of pedestrians enjoying access to the roadway. Last year, more than 2,000 people came out to support Car-Free Sundays.

big-turnout

Not surprisingly, highlights for my 6-year old were the four free inflatables for kids to bounce, jump, climb and slide on.

bouncy-castles

Burlington Transit had one of many community displays. I wrote recently about taking a tour of the Burlington Transit Operations Centre hosted by Bob. After that adventure, it wasn’t until I got home that I realized that our tour guide was well-known in our community as “Burlington Bob.” This time I had to get a photo of Mr Burlington and Burlington Bob together!

Burlington Bob was conducting a timed challenge for how quickly cyclists could place their bike securely on the rack in front of the bus.

burlington-bob

While I spoke with Bob, a group of boys played “bus driver” inside.

burlington-transit

Along the way, we also met Tic Tac the pony from Bertin Stables in Oakville. Free pony rides were being provided to children along the Multi-Use path.

car-free-sunday-pony-rides

As we progressed down Appleby Line, many forms of entertainment lined the street. A band played on the stage, a Zumba class gave viagra webmd a high-energy demonstration, a martial arts school showed off their skills and this clogging group danced the day away.

community-groups

The Burlington Alliance Church hosted an extensive Fun Fair with all kinds of kids activities. Here, they dressed Jr Burlington as a pirate and told him to “walk the plank.” Kids could also knock down bowling pins, go fishing in a plastic pool or try a number of classic carnival games. At each activity, prize tickets were awarded that could be later redeemed for a Freezie.

car-free-sundays-fun-fair

I stopped to speak with the host of the event, Councillor Paul Sharman. We also saw Mayor Goldring along the way, a man who never seems to miss a community event.

councillor-paul-sharman

Scooby Soccer had a “field” setup for kids to play an impromptu game.

scooby-soccer

A number of nearby retailers had moved their sidewalk sales to the street.

sidewalk-sales

There are many events in Burlington throughout the year but most of them are centered downtown or at area attractions. As a resident of the east end, it’s a nice change to have an event hosted in our area of town.

street-closure

The second Car Free Sunday this year is on June 23. It will be hosted by Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster and will take place in the Alton neighbourhood on Palladium Way, starting at when to take cialis for best results 2 p.m.

Be care what does viagra do to blood pressure free when you go car free and take the lane to a more livable city!

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Escape to the Edge of the Escarpment on Mount Nemo | Adventure #38

Many Burlington residents don’t realize that there’s a mountain in their own backyard. But the families who live in the newly developed Alton Village community can’t miss it poised majestically above their homes. And those who live atop this rocky ridge never tire of their expansive view that extends all the way to Toronto.

Mount Nemo

Over 450 million years ago, a shallow tropical sea covered a vast area of Ontario and beyond. Along the shore stood what we now know as Mount Nemo.

Today, the Mount Nemo Conservation Area provides five kilometers of hiking trails that lead to fantastic vantage points looking over Burlington and all of Halton region from the edge of the escarpment.

Usually, access to Mount Nemo requires an entrance fee which is used to help fund the operation and maintenance of the park. Once a year on “Mount Nemo Day,” however, admission is waved as the community gathers to celebrate the rural beauty at our doorstep.

Welcome to Mount Nemo Day by Nemo 7G

We attended the third annual Mount Nemo Day organized by a group named Nemo 7G. This committee was created to gather community input and form a 7-generation vision for the Mount Nemo plateau. Another of the group’s objectives is to educate the community, businesses and governments about this “unique, ecologically sensitive and prominent geological feature.” Hosting Mount Nemo Day is one way to do this.

On the way into the park, Nemo 7G and some like-minded community partners had set up informational displays related to the Niagara Escarpment.

Meeting the Mount Nemo Day Volunteers

We stopped at the trailhead for an introduction to what makes the park unique: soaring turkey vultures, limestone cliffs and ancient cedars.

Mount Nemo Conservation Area, A World Biosphere Preserve

As we got underway, we found ourselves among many other families enjoying a sunny day on the trails. One group of hikers ahead of us turned off on the Bruce Trail. We decided to stick to Mount Nemo’s two looping trails and continued down the old quarry road to where the trails diverged.

We picked up some suitable hiking sticks and stopped to talk with a nature photographer who alerted us to watch for bats flying about. The mention of bats got our six year old junior scientist, very excited!

Lots of Hikers on Mount Nemo
As we arrived at the Brock Harris Lookout, the sweeping view from atop the escarpment was revealed. We could see Milton, Brampton, Oakville, Burlington and all the way to Toronto where we picked out the CN Tower in the distance. Thankfully signage helped to confirm what we were looking at and offered up facts and figures that I read aloud. It was at this point I wished I had remembered my binoculars!

Family Portrait at the Brock Harris Lookout

Now it was time to decide… do we take the orange North Loop Trail or the yellow South Loop Trail? We agreed on the slightly longer south trail as we hoped it would give us more expansive views of Burlington — we wanted to spot our neighbourhood!

Baby Burlington loves the view back there

With Baby Burlington happily looking on from his carrier, we set off following the yellow trail markers.

The Mount Nemo website captures perfectly the sights we encountered along the way:

Rich green ferns blanket limestone boulders scattered among old growth forests that are alive with jewel like birds. Crevice caves and ancient cedars, a thousand years old, can be seen all along the meandering cliff edge trail.

Watching Turkey Vultures from Mount Nemo

Just a few minutes down the path we caught sight of a large Turkey Vulture soaring near the cliff’s edge (just as pictured on our complimentary Mount Nemo map!). And after a few more minutes, we stumbled on a group of chipmunks scrambling back and forth across the trail under rocks and branches.

A Turkey Vulture in Flight

We came across a massive boulder just off the trail and, figuring we were near the halfway point, decided that it would be the perfect place to stop for a break.

At this point, it seemed we had the forest to ourselves so we rested, enjoying the tranquility of nature. That is, of course, until the boys broke the silence when they started playing King of the Forest.

Who's the King of the Mount Nemo Forest?

As we headed back on the path again, we came to the point that the South Trail starts to loop back to the old quarry road returning to the entrance. It was here that we had the best views over Burlington.

We spotted a massive Canadian flag flying off in the distance and realized that was the Walmart flag at the corner of Appleby Line and Dundas near our home in the Orchard neighbourhood. We had fun picking out other Burlington landmarks before continuing on.

A View of Burlington on Mount Nemo Day

The return on the south loop is through an open meadow with fewer sights so we entertained ourselves by playing charades with our hiking sticks. I’m rowing! I’m skiing! I’m kayaking! I’m a moose! I’m an ox! I’m a hobo! Between the six of us we used our hiking sticks as props for about 20 different clues all the while Baby Burlington just kept on smiling in his carrier.

Hiking Stick Charades

As we headed back to the car, family after family streamed by us while others sat at nearby picnic benches having a bite before starting their hike. We’ll be back again to hike the North Loop Trail in the other direction along the escarpment rim.

To learn more about Mount Nemo, visit Conservation Halton’s website: conservationhalton.ca.

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Soar Sky High at the Burlington Kite Festival | Adventure #37

There is nothing like flying a kite! It is one of childhood’s favourite memories. The face of a child lights up as he carefully releases the string and watches his kite climb higher.

Burlington has hosted an annual summer Kite Festival for many years. The Burlington Events team believes that, especially in this screen-obsessed age, every child should have the opportunity to experience the simple joy of kite flight. Families are invited to build a kite (or bring their own) to help fill the sky with colour.

We had purchased a new “pop-up” Eagle kite to debut on this adventure but decided to leave it in the car initially while we had fun building our own. Am I ever glad we did.

Free Kite Building at Burlington Kite Fest

When we arrived, our first stop was to pickup our free kite building supplies. We received a plastic cutout in the shape of a kite, two wooden dowels, a length of string and two tails.

The materials needed to make a kite are simple, everyday items. The kite shape is cut from a blue plastic recycling bag, the wooden dowels are from Rona and the tails are lengths of crepe paper party streamers. The Burlington Events team must have worked hard prepping all of these materials for hundreds of kites.

Our next stop was to find a table for construction. When we arrived, a dozen or so families were busy building their creations.

Many kite builders in Burlington

Taped to each table were instructions that led us step-by-step, teaching us the art of kite making. Volunteers roamed the area, answering questions and helping out where needed. We crafted our kite in less than five minutes.

Making a kite at the Burlington kite festival

Next came the fun part! The kite decorating area offered many ways to personalize our new kite. Jr Burlington drew and added stickers and pasted glitter until he was satisfied with his creation.

Decorating the Kite

With the kite built and decorated, we were ready to try to make it fly.

Finished kite ready to fly

And you know what? It worked!

I think we’ve all had kite flying experiences where it’s been a struggle to get the kite off the ground. On this unsettled day, the wind was on our side. There it was, our simple, do-it-ourselves kite hanging and dipping and bobbing in the air against the bright blue sky above Brant Hills Park.

Kite flying high at the Burlington Kite Festival

“They look like floating paintings,” my boy said, as he marveled at our kite — and the dozens of kites around us — dancing in the air.

There is something soothing about flying a kite. As our kite soared against the backdrop of Mount Nemo and the Niagara Escarpment, it seemed like we had formed a quiet bond with nature.

burlington-kite-festival-brant-hills

Brant Hills Park is one of Burlington’s largest open spaces (we visited the playground here on Adventure #31). There was plenty of room for everyone, from expert kite fliers to kids flying their first kite.

Throughout the day there were also professional kite flying demonstrations. Hobby and Toy Central was in attendance with an assortment of Diamond, Delta, Parafoil and Stunt Kites available for purchase or test flight.

Running with the kite

After flying our kite for 20-minutes or so, we decided to take a break and discover what the rest of what the festival had to offer.

A bubble making demonstration at one end of the park had all the kids in awe of the giant bubbles being made — up to 10 feet long!

bubbleology-kite-festival

A number of food vendors had set up shop too, including a stand selling “Beaver Cheeks” which are fried balls of soft dough covered in cinnamon-sugar. They were so yummy, I forgot to take a picture.

Mr Burlington also met Mr Sweet Tooth in his ice cream truck. You can’t have a summer festival without ice cream!

burlington-kite-festival-ice-cream

Conservation Halton was in attendance too! Their booth showcased their nearby conservation areas and gave kids free animal stickers. Of course, the biggest draw here was the kestrel perched on the keeper’s hand.

kite-festival-conservation-halton

While we were at their booth, we noticed behind us that the Mountsberg Birds of Prey talk had started. Jr Burlington was excited to see Octavious, the Great Horned Owl, whom he first met at the Lowville Winter Games (Adventure #5).

Birds of Prey show at the Kite Festival

Next stop was the Fun Photo Booth which has become a trademark of events hosted by the Burlington Events team. Everyone loves to ham it up in a photo booth!

Kite Fest Photo Booth

By this time, the sky was becoming ominously dark and we knew that if we wanted to fly our store-bought eagle kite, we should do it now.

I took the kite from the package, figured out how to “pop” it into a 3D shape and sent it flying into the air. But it didn’t stay up for long. Over and over we tried without much success. The homemade kite started to look pretty great by now!

We decided to check out the last Mad Science show of the day before leaving.

Mad Science at the Burlington Kite Festival

It wasn’t long before the flood gates opened and a torrential rain started! Professor Pete bravely continued, graciously inviting the kids onto the stage with him. We took this as a sign to head for home.

Our fancy pop-up eagle made for a better rain cover than a kite!

Raining at the Burlinton Kite Festival

I must be a great dad for asking my guy to pose for one last photo before getting in the car! More that he’s a great kid!

Sudden Downpour at Kite Fest

There’s a lot more fun coming

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up this summer from the amazing Burlington Events team including:

We’re looking forward to them all. Aren’t you?

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Touch-a-Truck and Take a Transit Tour | Adventure #36

As the saying goes, “good things happen when you least expect them.” One of our recent Burlington adventures was a perfect example of this.

Usually, I have our adventures scheduled weeks in advance. When I heard of the Touch-a-Truck event just a day before, I was surprised it had escaped my radar.

The ad for Touch-a-Truck promised the opportunity to sit in city vehicles but it provided no hint at just how many trucks we’d get to see or how much fun awaited us. Afterwards, we all agreed that this had to be one of our favourite adventures yet.

“Free Barbecue” were the other words that caught my attention about this event. Free food and Mr Burlington get along quite well! 🙂 Our first stop was for burgers from the M&M Meats tent!

Touch A Truck BBQ Picnic by M&M Meats

We were just finishing our burgers when Jr Burlington scooted over to try his first hands-on experience of the day, a massive Toro riding lawn mower that was stationed nearby.

After a few minutes of pretend driving, he dismounted the tractor looking a bit disappointed. There were horns honking all around us as kids put them to the test — but the mower had no horn! It was off to find a vehicle that did.

Trying out the Riding Lawn Mower

Next he climbed up into a City snow plow, and then over to a street sweeper and then an aerial truck. On each stop he made sure to test all the knobs and switches and, of course, try the horn.

I wanted a closer look at the aerial truck myself and hopped into the passenger seat. This vehicle was added to the City’s fleet in February 2012. It is one of over 20 hybrid vehicles owned by the City and has resulted in fuel savings since the truck no longer needs to idle while servicing the lights.

Two Guys in a Truck

The fire truck beckoned us next. With its bright red paint and long extension ladder, how could any kid resist getting a closer look at this mighty machine? I have to admit, I wanted to see it too.

The line for the fire truck was long and we were trying to decide if we had enough time to wait before the next tour of the Transit facilities started. It was at this point that one of the firemen approached us and invited Jr Burlington to sit in the Chief’s seat on the other side of the firetruck instead of waiting in the line.

Burlington Fire Department Fire Truck

We lucked into own private tour! Captain Steve Jones showed the massive map book of the entire city and helped to find our street — the little dots on the map indicate where all the fire hydrants are positioned.

Meeting a Burlington Fire Fighter at Touch A Truck Event

From the fire truck to an ambulance, I pray this is the only time any of us will ever see inside this vehicle.

St. John ambulance volunteers were on hand to explain the equipment and answer questions. These well-trained volunteers attend many public events across Burlington and are there in case of a medical emergency. Volunteers are prepared to provide the care necessary to save a life and give comfort until emergency paramedics arrive. Of course, they’re more often called on for basic first aid.

Inside the St. John's Ambulance

The next truck to touch was a massive John Deere loader. What better place for a baby to enjoy a snack?

Eating Lunch Inside a Massive Earth Mover

 

The second half of our Touch-a-Truck adventure was focused on learning more about Burlington Transit from the BT Ambassadors.

We first met Caroline and Bob as we entered the event (as we made a beeline to the barbecue). They  greeted us with friendly smiles and enthusiasm and invited us to join one of their upcoming tours. There were five tours scheduled with each one inviting residents aboard a city bus to visit the nearby Burlington Transit Operations and Maintenance Centre.

Burlington Transit Ambassadors

As we waited for our tour to start, Jr Burlington took to the steering wheel of a Handi-Van. He honked the horn and announced the next stops — Fortinos and the Library.

Handi-Van is a door-to-door transit service offered by Burlington Transit to people with physical disabilities. Approved riders book Handi-Van travel by phone and pay the same fare as on conventional buses.

Driving a Burlington Handi-Van Bus

Our bus arrived on scene and Bob climbed aboard to act as our tour guide. Bob seemed to be the type of cheerful, service-oriented “cast member” I might find leading a tour at Walt Disney World. For the next 45-minutes, we were all captivated by Bob’s knowledge and charisma as he told us about the day-to-day operations of Burlington Transit in a way that made it all seem so captivating!

Touch-a-Truck was being held at the Burlington Roads and Parks Maintenance Building on Harvester Road so it was just a short trip down the street to the Burlington Transit facility.

Tour of Burlington Transit Facility

As soon as we disembarked, we were greeted by the BT mascot, Buster the Dog! Buster hugged the kids and handed out Burlington Transit activity books, crayons and colourful stickers featuring Buster himself! Too bad it took my six-year old to point out to me that Buster is named after, well, a bus.

Meeting Buster the Burlington Transit Mascot

Inside the Transit Operations Centre, Bob continued our tour telling us about the recent 2010 renovation that almost doubled its size.

I was so impressed by Bob that I googled him when I got home. Entering “burlington transit bob” into Google did the trick. I learned that our tour guide has the nickname, “Burlington Bob,” and is widely known throughout the city for delivering outstanding customer service as a bus driver. In 2010, Bob received a national bus driver award from the Canadian Urban Transit Association — the first Burlington Transit driver to be honored with such an award.

At the time, Scott Stewart, Burlington’s general manager of community services said:  “Bob really is the face of Burlington out there. It’s the front-line workers like him who make the strongest impressions in the community. Bob goes above and beyond every day, and that inspires all of us.”

Seeing the Burlington Transit Storage Bay

After passing by some of the administrative spaces, we moved into the vehicular area that includes storage for 74 buses (with another 34 by 2026), maintenance space, equipment, inspection areas, fueling areas and wash bays.

Burlington Transit Buses on Lifts

The Touch-a-Truck event was a first for Burlington. It was offered as part of Public Works Week — a week that “seeks to enhance the prestige of the often-unsung heroes of our society, the professionals who serve the public good every day with quiet dedication.” It certainly met this goal with our family and I hope this becomes an annual event we can look forward to every year.

When you’re out and about in Burlington, keep an eye out for Burlington Bob and others like him who go above and beyond in making Burlington the best. A smile, a wave or a thank you can go a long way in continuing to fuel service excellence.

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Set Off on the Arf-Mazing Race | Adventure #35

If you’re ever feeling blue or just having a bad day, I know a surefire way to turn it around. A visit to the website of the Burlington Humane Society will do just the trick.

You can’t help but smile while reading the “Happy Tails” section of their site. There are dozens of joyful stories about families, felines and fidos finding each other and the impact these new adoptions have made

on all their lives.

The Burlington Humane Society is truly a special place. First founded in 1974, today the organization boasts 400 active volunteers and cares for almost 1,000 cats and dogs annually.

We wanted to support their largest fundraising effort of the year so we signed up to compete in the 2013 Arf-mazing Race!

Arf-mazing Race Registration

The BHS previously

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hosted an annual Pooch Promenade each year at Spencer Smith Park but they were finding that attendance and pledges were slowly decreasing. Something new was needed. After intense brainstorming, the Arf-mazing Race debuted in 2012. As big fans of the Amazing Race reality TV show, we think that this new fundraising format was a stroke of genius!

For a registration fee of $20 per ‘pack,’ humans and their furry friends complete a series of challenges. A pack can be just one person accompanied by their dog, or a larger group of family, friends or co-workers joined by one or more canine companions.

Arf-mazing Race Team Photo

This was a great opportunity to bring our dog, Dexter, on his first Burlington adventure with us. We let Jr Burlington choose the team name: Dexter’s Doggie Heroes.

We picked up our official passport at the registration tent and set off to our first challenge. Each challenge requires a bit of physical activity — but nothing too intense.

Arf-mazing Race Dog Food Challenge

There are ten challenges to complete and they can be done in any order. If there is another team at one station, you are free to move to the next and come back later. We chose to try the “Dog Food Dig” challenge first! The mission here was to find three dog toys in a huge pail of kibble.

The “Wet Dog” challenge presented Dexter with his first swim

of the season. It took him 45 seconds to jump in, grab the ball and get back out. His time was marked on our passport by a volunteer and we were off to the next challenge.

Wet Dog Challenge at the Arf-mazing Race

Next, it was time to “Jump!” Dexter’s a small dog with short legs so the volunteer adapted the challenge to his abilities. This was a great norton email error canadian pharmacy thing about the race — it wasn’t taken too seriously. If a team was struggling, volunteers would think of ways to help.

The Burlington Humane Society Big Jump

Another example of this was the “Doggy Dress Up” game. We were provided with a selection of dog clothes to dress Dexter up in but he would not stay still!

After a bit of effort, and with cialis marketing strategy the clock ticking, it was decided we didn’t have to get all his paws through the sleeves and that what we had accomplished was “good enough.” An official photo was snapped, our time recorded, and dosage of viagra we were on our way again.

Doggy Dress Up Challenge

“Doggy Criss-Cross” had both the boy and his buddy panting hard after they raced through a slalom course marked by plastic cones.

Arm-mazing Race Obstacle Course

Like comic relief in a good movie, the next challenge provided a humorous change of pace. In “Scoop the Poop,” Jr Burlington was armed with a Pooper Scooper and went off in search of plastic paddys. After scooping and disposing of six doo-doo droppings, the challenge was complete in just 1 minute and 33 seconds.

Scoop the Poop for the Burlington Humane Society

One order generic cialis of the best things about the race was seeing so many dogs of all shapes and sizes, colours and breeds in one place. From a tiny Chinese Crested to a large Bernese Mountain Dog there were dozens of dogs in attendance, all getting along just fine!

Fantastic Day in the Park for the Arf-mazing Race

A BBQ offered up plenty of picnic-in-the-park fare for a nominal fee.

BBQ for the Burlington Humane Society

We made our way over to the Finish Line where our results were added up to get a total race completion time. We clocked in with a canadian pharmacy rx world total race time of 7.53 minutes.

At 2:00, prizes were set to be awarded to the first and second place packs in each category (Family, Adult and Seniors). We couldn’t stay until the end but were promised a phone call if we won something. That call never came. I later saw on their website that we were just a bit behind the second place finishers — there’s always next year!

Tally up the Results and Time at the Finish Line

Many vendors also attended the race to lend their support to BHS and to promote themselves to pet parents.

Escarpment Pet Retreat

On our way out, we got to meet a two-legged walking (and talking) doggie mascot. Jr Burlington later confided in us that he knew it was just a guy in a costume because his sneakers gave him away. “The characters at Disney World have real feet,” he said.

Dog meets Dog

The Burlington Humane Society is Ontario’s leading no-kill animal shelter but receives no government funding. As a result, they have many fundraising initiatives throughout the year.

Coming up next is the “Fore the Animals” golf tournament on August 23. There are many other ways to help too. From donating clunker cars and empty bottles to supporting their two thrift stores or making a direct donation — we all can do our part to help the animals of Burlington.

Of course, adopting an animal from the shelter is perhaps the greatest contribution you can make. There are dozens of cats and dogs waiting to be adopted to their “forever homes.” Why not make the next Happy Tails entry a success story about a new addition to your family?

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