Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

As Henry gets a little older, I'm really enjoying our outings more and more. This spring we have enjoyed the time honoured classic adventure...taking a toddler to the zoo!

After visiting both the zoo in Peterborough and the Toronto Zoo I feel compelled to draw comparisons.

When we went to the zoo in Peterborough we spent the first hour playing in the playground. Henry had a ball running, climbing, swinging, sliding and driving on all sorts of fun equipment. Then my brother, Dave, and sister-in-law Crystal joined us with their four month old baby Abigail and we all took a leisurely stroll around the lovely shaded paths taking in the animal exhibits. The animals are not overly varied, nor exotic, but there is a lovely collection of animals ranging from reindeer, snakes and buffalo to camels, monkeys and otters. The park was very quiet when we were there. We passed other visitors along the paths, but rarely had to share an exhibit. The animals are behind fences, but can be viewed well for the full length of their enclosures. The overall experience was fun and relaxing.

More recently we visited the Toronto Zoo. If you haven't seen this zoo in awhile, let me advise you to pack your best walking shoes, plenty of sunscreen, lots of snacks, and a good hat.

The animals at the Toronto Zoo are many and varied. They have a huge map covering many of the animals from around the world, with different areas for Africa, Canada, the Americas, and Eurasia and Australia. In the course of one, or maybe two, days you can see the wide world of animals, all under one roof, so to speak. But you will walk, and walk, and walk. With our friends Stacy and Desi, Henry and I walked for almost seven hours and still did not see the zoo in its entirity. The crowds are large, so be prepared to wait for a good look through the glass at the animals in each exhibit.

Stacy and I packed a lot of snacks for our trip, and I'm really glad we did. First of all, you need a lot of fuel to walk for seven hours!! Secondly, the prices are high and the crowds are thick if you want to purchase snacks from the various vendors throughout the park.

I know that the small town zoo experience is bound to be different from the big city zoo, but I guess what surprised me was how much more I enjoyed the former.

The other big difference was in the cost of these outings. The Riverview Park and Zoo in Peterborough costs...wait for it...nothing! The Toronto Zoo was a whopping $23.oo per adult admission, and an extra $10.00 for parking. Their are a lot of extras at the Toronto Zoo that will cost you as well. The carousel costs extra, animal rides cost extra, the manta ray exhibit where you can pet the manta rays, well, that costs extra too. The only thing you can pay for at the Peterborough zoo is a train ride. I haven't been on it lately but I believe it would cost us less than $10.oo for our little family of three to ride this train for about 20 minutes. Not too much to pay for a wonderful day out at the zoo.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why Life on a Boat?

I recently had the pleasure of spending a weekend away with two of my girlfriends. We are trying to make this an semi-annual event as it is always a lot of fun and serves to recharge us for our daily lives.

While away with the girls there was a recurring theme in our conversations. 'Why in the world would I chose to live on a boat?' It started with the question, 'How long do you plan to do this?' My answer was, as it always is, 'As long as we're having fun'. Jennifer asked me many questions over the course of the weekend about the various inconveniences of my life, such as ferry service, laundry rooms, dinghys and just the general day to day affair of getting Henry and I to and from the city with a stroller, groceries and the like. By Sunday she said, 'I haven't heard anything that sounds like fun yet!' I do believe I left her with an impression of hardship which in no way reflects the zest of my life.

So...why do I enjoy living on a boat? Nature is a big reason. If you plan your vacations around camping, you'll understand. I live with the convenience of the biggest city in the country, and the serenity of quiet island life. I step out my door in the morning and watch the swans swim by. Henry and I step off the dock and walk the dogs in a park setting with no cars, where Henry can ride his car or run and play amongst trees and flowers and birds. We go to the park, two minutes from our boat, and while Henry plays I breathe in the fresh air and admire the view. Trees, water, and a beautiful city skyline, too far away to feel the hustle and bustle.

I have never enjoyed, nor thrived on decorating. This is another reason why boat life is perfect for me. With the exception of a couple of pictures and some bedding choices, there is zero decorating to be done. This gives us more time to enjoy the great outdoors!

I think there is an inherent peace that settles on your soul when you're near the water. Living on a boat you are surrounded by this serenity. You are rocked to sleep in your bed ever so gently (most nights!) and every day you come home to that peaceful feeling.

These are all reasons to enjoy life aboard, and that's just when we're at the dock! Travelling by sailboat is an experience like no other. You don't get anywhere fast, but the journey is incredible. You travel with your home on your back, going about your daily life, while enjoying the sun and the sea along the way. I believe that the coastal cities are some of the most wonderful in the United States. These historical cities are timeless beauties.

Now you may say, 'I understand summer life aboard, but what about those Canadian winters?' Even I have to admit that spring, summer and autumn are favourable, but even winter aboard has its perks. Living in a small space year round gets us out of our home every single day. I'm hearty enough to brave the coldest of winter weather, and we live in the biggest city in the country! There is always somewhere to go, and something to do. Virtually everything is within walking distance (which helps to keep me fit!) and even on the coldest days, it is steps to an indoor path system that travels under all of the streets and buildings in the heart of downtown. It's like one incredibly big shopping centre that takes you from just north of the lakeshore seven blocks north to Dundas St.

When all is said and done, the minor inconveniences of life on a boat are so heavily outweighed by the joy I find in doing it that I can't see any other life for me in the foreseeable future.