Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Snow Melting Machines - Taking Care of Business at Parking Lot Mississauga Library Port Credit Ontario

Update December 31, 2009 - see photo bottom of page!
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Walking into Port Credit village in Mississauga (Ontario, Canada), it was hard to miss the large snow and ice mountain outside the library. Even harder to miss were the noisy, large, yellow snow melting machine and the front end loader that was busy feeding it large bites of snow and ice.

Snow Melting Machine and Truck
This photo shows the view from beside Hook's restaurant on Lakeshore Road, on the east side of the Credit River and Port Credit lighthouse.

Closer View : Snow Melting Machine Port Credit ON
The snow and ice are fed into the top of the unit, then melted, and the water runs down the sewer.

Close Up View - Snow Melter Machine
Making a mini lake in Mississauga: According to the company's web site (link at bottom for info), melting snow is more cost efficient than hauling it to a central dumping site, then waiting for Spring!.

Outside Mississauga Library at Port Credit
This photo shows the view from the library drive, looking roughly north from Lakeshore Road. A few years ago, I'd watched a smaller truck snow melter unit on a Toronto street. These more mobile machines drive slowly along the curb, the front of the unit sucking up snow banks, melting snow, then spitting out hot water.

Snow and Ice Pile beside library - Mississauga Canada
This is a picture of snow that's as far from a Winter Wonderland as possible! This dirty, gritty, frozen solid snow mountain looked set to stay. I took the photos above at around 2 p.m.

Night time snow Melter - Men Working, Still!
The snow melter and loader were still clearing snow and ice that night at 8 p.m. Though a little hard to see in this photo, the pile of snow has been reduced by roughly a third, maybe more. Just after I took the picture, the truck shifted the melter to the area that had now been cleared of ice. I have to wonder how late they kept working!

New Year's Eve Day - Still Working in Port Credit
I went into Port Credit at noon today, and the snow melter is still working! About 48 hours from when I first saw it. The snow and ice pile is nearly gone. The temp was about minus 10C (14 F) with gusty winds. The cold snap had more firmly frozen the snow mountain, and the loader was breaking chunks up with the shovel bucket. I took a short video of the snow melter in operation.

See my video of this machine in operation at YouTube
For information on how these types of ice and snow melters work, see this site.
For pictures of pretty snow, see this post from last January.
For more winter in Canada pictures and tips, see snow in Canada page.

What a difference a year makes!!


Lakeshore Road at Port Credit Library

 This picture, above, shows the same location December 31, 2009 at 2 p.m. Instead of a huge mountain of snow being melted, the parking lot is actually being used for parking. A light rain was falling, temp was about 4C (39 F). My kind of winter but I do sympathize with the snow removal contractors who are temporarily out of work.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cheap Flights Toronto YYZ to UK Spring 2009 - Travel Planning Step One

I'm planning to travel from Toronto (YYZ) to the U.K. in Spring 2009, and the first thing I like to do is check out the flights. Once you have your flight set, then you can make a start on booking the hotels, tours and ground and domestic travel.

It's early days yet, to actually book a flight for travel in May or June: Airlines are in a state of flux, not sure how they will come through the recession, or what fuel costs will be; others, usually discount cheap air fare or charters carriers, do not start Summer season flights until May or June; and many airlines will not have their summer fares available yet.

But I can at least check what the scheduled fares are right now, so I have a base to help me choose a flight as I get closer to my travel date.

Travel dates are flexible, in that one attraction I really want to see in Britain is Exbury Gardens, to see the rhododendrons in bloom. That event is very weather-dependent, but rhodos can bloom over a 4 week period; Here in Port Credit, that's usually from mid-May to mid June. I suspect the dates may be a bit earlier in the south of England.

With that in mind, I chose somewhat randomly, May 6, 2009, to go from Toronto (YYZ) to London Heathrow (LHR). For flights TO the U.K., I check the arrival time, first. I like to arrive early morning in London; there's a 5-hour time difference ahead of EDT (Eastern Daylight time) and it's about 7 hours flying time.


Air Canada Fares Toronto YYZ to London LHR

So, if I get on a flight that leaves Toronto around 7 p.m. EDT, it's already midnight in London; add 7 hours flying time, and I would arrive around 7 a.m. London time. Good time to get through customs and immigration, and make ground or domestic air connections.

Mind you, a red-eye flight is not a lot of fun, but I prefer it to taking an early morning Toronto departure.

I checked Air Canada, for May 6: All four non-stop direct flights are the same fare at this time. Three flights meet my departure time needs; two have the red star beside them, meaning the cabin interiors have been remodelled. This is good. And of course, I go tourist class.

Air Canada total fares Toronto-London return
For flights from the U.K to Toronto, I like to take one that gets me here around 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. This avoids some of the Toronto airport rush hour traffic; if I have been used to U.K. time, then in effect, I am landing in Toronto close to midnight according to my body clock. If I can stay awake until 10 p.m. Toronto time, then I can often get a good night's sleep and minimize jet lag.

Minor points, to be sure, but if I have a choice to better suit my preferences, why not take it? Especially since this fare is showing as just over $1,000 CAD (Canadian. And who knows what the exchange rate will be in a few months?) As I said, early days to actually book. But now I have a base ticket cost to make comparisons.

I checked Air Transat: I am not a fan of charter airlines to other than all-inclusive holidays to the Caribbean or Mexico. Why, you ask? On an all-inclusive, with the one carrier/holiday package, it doesn't matter much if they change the flight times, or dates. I get there when I get there and the carrier is more likely to care about my business.

Book an air-only charter flight from Toronto, to say, Florida, so that you can take a cruise: See what happens when the flight times get pushed around, and you arrive in Florida a few hours after your ship has sailed.

Will the cruise company care if you miss the boat? Will the charter airline care if you miss your cruise? Not likely. Trust me on this one.

So if I were to get a cheap charter fare to the U.K., I'd not book any onward travel for my arrival date. Leave a day or two to explore London, and then hit the road.


Air Transat -- depart midnight Toronto - arrive noon London
I checked Air Transat fares next, and they are so much cheaper, at this time, that I am sorely tempted. I will keep in mind all the above cautions I outlined before booking onward travel. If the flight times change, I may have to 'eat' one night hotel, but that is still cheaper than full fare Air Canada.


Air Transat Toronto YYZ to Manchester (MAN)
Transat also goes to Manchester, which I plan to visit anyhow, so why not start my U.K. trip there? I checked the cost of a flight to Manchester (MAN): Hm-m-m $100 CAD more. Not sure if this is good value or not until I check the BritRail Flexi Pass I plan to use.

Other carrier options include Flyglobespan.ca, recommended to me by Tourism Ireland for flights directly from nearby Hamilton Ontario International Airport. However, Globespan isn't showing any flights at this time. There's also Canadian Affair, for around $650, all told. The flights shown are on Transat, so the rate is a bit lower via Canadian Affair, though the charter airline issues are the same.

Now on to British Airways, to see how those fares compare.

See also Air Canada flight finders and Air Transat schedules.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Snow Scene Lake Ontario Canada Beach

It's the day after the snow storm (see previous post) and the sun is shining, the sky is blue, there's little wind. What a change! The air temp is frigid, but the sun feels warm on your back. I headed to the beach at Lake Ontario here in Port Credit to see what it looked like today. It was glorious!
Ice Covered Lake Ontario Beach - Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens
The waves are gentler, though the swell looked pretty strong, and the spray had covered the beach in ice. I almost took a header as I made my way through the snow (about 6 inches deep) to get a closer look. It's not how deep the snow is that matters so much; it's that snow hides things, like rocks and ankle wrenching holes :-)

Stone Covered in Ice - Lake Ontario Canada Beach at Mississauga
It's a little difficult to make out the ice covering the beach, though the large rock, center bottom (at least, I think it's a rock) is easy to see. Notice the chunks of ice floating on the waves.

Lake Ontario Bay - Mallards Ice and Cottage - Winter in Canada Scene
The white area (left, middle) is ice formed by the waves repeatedly splashing spray on shore. Larger waves, on larger Great Lakes, like Lake Huron, can form ice hills many feet high. Most of the birds had gone this day, save for some mallards on the beach, and a few on the water.

Zebra Mussels on Ice - Beach Lake Ontario After a Storm
When I took a closer look at the beach, I realized that it was covered with clusters of mussels. I am guessing they are zebra mussels, but stand to be corrected. There were so many of them, and they were so perfectly flash frozen as they hit the shore in the minus 17 C (1.4 F) temps that I wondered if they were edible. Certainly they should make some species a good meal!

Walking Through Woods - Footsteps in Snow on the Waterfront Trail Mississauga
Wow! I live in the best part of the best city to live in in Ontario! Port Credit, just across Lakeshore road from this gorgeous gardens - park and Lake Ontario beaches! If I still had my cross country skis, I would have had even more fun this afternoon.

Now, writing this an hour or so after I took these photos, I can see dark gray clouds moving in. I guess the weather forecast -- more snow! - must be right.

See more Winter in Canada pictures and tips on dealing with winter weather at my travel site.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ontario Canada Snow Storm Port Credit Lakeshore and Shawnmarr

I took this picture the day before yesterday, at the Lakeshore Road and Shawnmarr Road intersection in Port Credit (Mississauga Ontario, Canada). Note: No Snow. At all.

Lakeshore and Shawnmarr roads Port Credit
Early this morning, the wind picked up and the snow started blowing.

Lakeshore and Shawnmarr roads Blowing Snow
I took this photo from almost the same location as the first one. (I couldn't tell where the path was under the snow.) By noon, this parking lot was snow covered, and the traffic lights barely visible. Cars driving along Lakeshore eastbound (toward the Port Credit lighthouse) had trouble getting up the hill.

Port Credit Townhouse -- Blowing Snow Makes Snow Drifts
I took this picture outside my front door to show the blowing snow on the rooftops. The winds were gusting up to 60 km per hour (37 mph), and the temperature was about minus 7 C (19 F). When there are high winds and low temps, there's a wind chill: How cold the temperature really feels. The wind chill effectively made the temperature minus 15 C (5 F).

Swans on Lake Ontario Shoreline - Winter Snow Storm
Too cold and windy a snowstorm for these swans, who seemed to be waiting out the storm along the shoreline. I walked through the new snow in Rhododendron Gardens and headed towards the lake to see if the wind was setting up waves, and how large.


Swans Lake Ontario in Winter
The still photos don't do the waves justice, and really, neither does the video. I had my little Canon Powershot A530, and though it's a good little camera and I do treat it roughly, it cannot film as well as a proper camcorder would.

But here you go, for what it's worth -- a Lake Ontario winter snowstorm in Mississauga. By the way, an hour and some minutes after I returned home, my face still has patches of bright red. That's the thing with a good wind chill -- you can get frostbite before you know it.

See Video here if not showing on page.


December 20 2008 - Wonder how the intersection of Shawnmarr and Lakeshore looked today?


Day After the Snow Storm
See more pictures from December 20 2008 - The sun makes it all gorgeous! The snow plows make it easy to get around :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Canada Geese on Snow Lake Ontario Three Days Before Winter Solstice

I took these pictures of several Canada geese who had wandered up the hill from Lake Ontario, in Rhododendron Gardens, Mississauga. The geese had come to look for lunch in the grassy areas exposed where the bright sunshine had melted last night's snow. With only three days until the winter solstice (Dec 21), yoo'd think they'd have flown south long ago.

Canada Geese Rhododendron Gardens
The day before, when there was no snow at all, at this same location, hundreds of ducks - Mallards, white and black coloured ducks ( that I can't find in my Peterson Field Guide to Birds), gulls, geese and swans -- filled the waters of this small cove and covered the waters far out into the lake. It was late afternoon, on a cloudy day, and I couldn't get a decent photo.

Two Canada Geese Walking in Snow
A passerby mentioned that the annual bird count had taken place the previous Sunday December 15. I had been there on that day, and there were significantly fewer birds of all types then. Yet on Friday, and on Tuesday (Dec 16), the birds were here in huge numbers. I hadn't known the date of this year's annual bird count then, or how to get involved, but I did find this information today.

Geese at water's edge, Lake Ontario in Mississauga
While half a dozen Canada geese had waddled up the embankment from the shore, larger numbers walked along the water's edge or bobbed out in the waves. It was a glorious day, with temps around zero C (32F), little wind, and a cloudless sky. How quickly the weather changes here! As I write this, an hour after I took the photos, the sun has gone, and huge clouds pregnant with rain or snow (my money's on snow) are rushing in over the lake.

Canada Geese Foraging for Food
I sat for a goodly while on one of the park's benches, warmed by the sun, out of the wind, dripped on by snowmelt falling from trees, all the while keeping watch that none of the geese got too close. I have a healthy respect for all geese: My grandmother's geese on the farm served as very reliable guard dogs. Those beaks can give you a good nip if you get too close.

Here at Rhododendron Gardens, I've watched while three hawks soared and dove, and a red headed flicker hammered a trunk for his lunch. Port Credit is a great spot to live, people! Who needs to drive to the cottage when the best of cottage life is right here, for free?

Ontario Field Ornithologists
site may be of interest, too, for the types of birds found in Ontario.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lake Ontario Late Fall Weather Mississauga Canada

What a difference a week makes along Lake Ontario ! The first picture taken on a mild Saturday, November 29, shows the wind whipping up the waves under the ducks and seagulls.
Lake Ontario Mississauga Waterfront Trail
And after the cold winds and low temps of the past week, today brought a change in the weather to mild temps and no wind. Still lots of ducks and gulls bobbing on the waves. It was about plus 4 Celsius (49 F) and remnants of an inch of wet snow from last night were being melted away by a light drizzle of rain.
Curly Willow in Late Fall Mississauga Ontario
Not a shred of sunshine to be had, as you can tell from the gloomy picture of this curly willow against the low dark sky.

Waterfront Trail Lake Ontario Footprints - Looking West
The number of recent footprints on this section of the Waterfront Trail was somewhat surprising, given that no winter maintenance had yet been performed. Perhaps an early morning group of runners had happened along. As we walked into Port Credit along this trail, the only human we saw on the 20 minute walk was a fellow driving a truck with a plow at Saddington Park.
Footprints in the Snow - Canada Geese
On the trail in Saddington Park, these footprints (webprints?) made by Canada Geese brought to mind 1970s wallpaper pattern. Further along, heading east into Port Credit, I took a short video of the river ice heaving in the currents. ( I know, don't quit my day job!)

See the video at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHGj3v38iFs


Or right here:



Update Photo December 15, 2008
Credit River Ice at Snug Harbour
The night before, the temperature had climbed steadily, until just before noon, when it reached 11 C (52F). A light rain was falling, the cold front moving in had high winds lifting me off my feet. Here at Snug Harbour, the ice floes heaved at the shoreline.

Here's a very short shot of the cold front moving in. This video is taken on the west side at Saddington Park.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

2009 Year of the Ox Chinese Zodiac Horoscope Predictions

The Year of the Ox begins Monday, January 26, 2009. Chinese zodiac horoscopes are based on 12 animals, like those made from cultured pearls in the picture.

Since the Lunar New Year is a movable feast, those of you who were born during the first 6-7 weeks of a year should check the exact date of New Year's for the year you were born.

A friend whose birthday is January 2 told me he was a Tiger, but it turned out he is really an Ox. Indeed, you could tell he was an Ox by his personality, which is not at all like a Tiger :-)

Here are the 2009 zodiac predictions (used with permission) compiled for, and by, and courtesy of, the Hong Kong Tourist Board, who stress that they are intended for entertainment purposes only. (See disclaimer at bottom.)

Ox: 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
This will be a sociable year for you, and you’ll generally bring good cheer wherever you go. However, you’ll also be susceptible to unstable periods when you may abandon projects because of your impatience – be self-disciplined.

The second quarter of the year will prove difficult for matters of the heart, but problems and jealousies should quickly clear. Don’t let your desire to party at the end of the year cause friction with a homebody partner. Your efficiency and realism will allow a very positive year for career development.

Financial gambles are not advisable in the first quarter, and any financial decisions in the second quarter must be fully informed. The second quarter is the best time for changes in career path. Professional (and therefore personal) life will become less stressful in the third quarter.

A piece of luck and resisting temptation should allow budgetary stability in the second half of the year. Temporary hurdles at work may arise at the end of the year; these can be overcome by negotiations.

Tiger: 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998
This will be a lucky, creative year if you judge wisely and are discreet about your plans. The year may start with quarrels between couples, but these will give way to a period of tenderness. Beware romantic delusions (and arguments about space and money) in the third quarter, but expect full-blown romance at the end of the year.

Although you’re ambitious, this isn’t the year for whizzing up the career ladder, so you’ll have time for a fulfilling personal life. You might take up a new activity outside work which will have significance in the short-term future. In the third quarter, co-workers will be demanding and critical. Work will go well in the last quarter, but don’t be complacent.

Take special care of your health at the end of the year, avoiding stress from overwork. You may receive unexpected money in the first quarter; don’t spend carelessly in the second. You’ll improve your financial status in the third quarter and may receive an unexpected bonus in addition.

Rabbit: 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999
This year you’ll focus on projects close to your heart, which will try your patience. Go easy on yourself and keep at it -- you’ll be rewarded. There’ll be adventure in romance. Singles can expect to meet a partner or renew an old flame. Couples may be unfaithful in the second quarter, reunite in the third, but then experience problems afresh. Don’t take decisions in anger.

You’ll have every success professionally this year, just communicate clearly and don’t strive for the limelight. Immediately grasp an opportunity abroad in the second quarter. You’ll have choices to make in the third quarter: trusting your instincts will pay off -- even if you change your working environment.

Always be professional with co-workers to avoid clashes. You’ll solve some financial problems in the first quarter, but remain vigilant: don’t spend more than you have allowed for; don’t gamble. The second quarter may bring significant financial success. Seek expert advice if you wish to invest unexpected income. In the last quarter you’ll have a healthy bank balance.

Dragon: 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000
A very positive year is in store for you. Don’t be overly idealistic; protect yourself from disappointments caused by other people’s actions. In love, in the first quarter, you’ll reap what you’ve previously sown. Make efforts not to let your natural jealousy sour your relationships. Be extra solicitous to your mate. The third quarter is particularly blessed for romance, and a good time for wedding plans.

You’ve every likelihood of successfully furthering your career. You’ll spend a lot of time at work, are well-armed to achieve your goals, and a turning point at the end of the year will go smoothly. The second quarter is a good time for setting up a business.

You’ve a chance at being extremely lucky in the first quarter – perhaps you’ll win some sweepstakes! However bear in mind that you are prone to poor money management. Be careful not to lose all your winnings, especially as you’ll be tempted to shop and lavish attention on your home or family during the rest of the year.

Snake: 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001
You’ll become more extroverted this year, and should indulge your creativity. Don’t be too compassionate; take care of yourself first. In the second quarter, you may fall prey to impossible love -- avoid an affair with someone who isn’t free. Break-ups, make-ups and proposals will follow. Be tolerant and don’t involve your family. The last quarter bodes well for love – singles and couples.

Your problem-solving abilities will help you progress professionally as long as you keep your perfectionism in check. A good team, your instincts and advice from others will help you steer clear of any problems. However, difficulties will arise in the third quarter and you must act in a straightforward way to overcome these; don’t be too ambitious.

In the last quarter you’ll need to adapt to changes; this will prove beneficial eventually. Those travelling in the first quarter may have unexpected expenses. Your financial situation will improve, but you should be cautious in the third quarter and shouldn’t take risks in the fourth.

Horse: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002
Your life at home, with your partner, in the office and in your social circles looks set to blossom this year. Always act as you would expect others to act, and you have much to look forward to. The year will begin passionately. Singles have a good chance of finding their paramours, though they must be discerning. The third quarter will be a decisive time for couples.

The first quarter will be good for you at work; take every opportunity that you can. This trend will continue. Don’t let self-doubt hinder your professional growth and your efforts should pay off by the end of the year.

You may be prone to stress this year but sports and diet can help you overcome this. Those with a serious condition will find a good remedy in the third quarter. Take care not to exert yourself too much physically in the last quarter. Your financial situation will be stable this year as long as you act sensibly.

Goat: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003

You’ll start the year full of energy. Luck will be with you but you’ll still have to work hard to realise your ambitions. Those in a relationship should initially keep a close eye on their mates, then fend against temptations themselves.

Singles should be wary of appearances in the first quarter. They may meet a soul-mate in the second. The second half of the year will bring great romantic joy, followed by tranquillity. The beginning of the year will be a favourable time to take risks, start projects or improve the terms of your employment contract.

Some upsets may follow in the office, but if you keep your cool and your confidence, these won’t escalate and may even work to your advantage. Your balance sheets will glow, and by the third quarter you might be in the position to take financial risks, with a strong chance of success as long as you don’t disclose your plans unsuitably. In the final quarter however, you should be extremely attentive in this area.

Monkey: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004
This year you’ll have the willpower to carry out your good resolutions in different areas of your life. You’ll be bursting with vitality for most of the year, and Fortune will smile on you. The beginning of the year will be a calm period for couples, and the second and fourth quarters will offer singles the chance to find romance. The end of the year will bring reconciliations for those who have been arguing.

You could consider a new course of training in the first quarter of the year as professional life will not be too demanding. The first quarter would be the time to make any purchases or investments.

By the third quarter however, you’ll have choices in the workplace and you’ll be able to make progress. You’ll need both patience and organisational skill to reap the benefits of these opportunities. Beware of extreme sports in the first quarter. Your finances will be healthy throughout the year, and might bring some welcome surprises.

Rooster: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005

You’ll have good fortune this year as well as chances to prove yourself. Be brave, meticulous and rational, and success should come your way. Singles should be careful at the beginning of the year not to let fantasy overtake reality regarding a potential partner; Wait until the third quarter when you might not only fall for someone instantly, but have an array of choice on your hands. Your love life may be disrupted in the second quarter – don’t react hastily!

You’ll be happy at work and in a position to take control of your career, although you’ll probably have to wait until the end of the year to see concrete results. Planning and prioritising will be important in the second quarter, and protecting yourself from office politics in the final quarter. Don’t be too modest. Your finances might cause you some stress at the beginning of the year; Be very careful and don’t exceed your budget, and take heart, for things will improve.

Dog: 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
This will be a year of positive change, both unexpected and worked for. If you do need advice, though, don’t hesitate to consult professionals. Your love life will start out stable but then become rather melodramatic – follow your heart but don’t make snap decisions. The second half of the year will be charmed for you – and a good time for singles to fall in love.

Be confident about your professional life -- it’s on the up. If you’re unemployed you’ll certainly find work in the first quarter. You’ll be increasingly able to shine at work, but steer clear of being too demanding and keep a clear head.

Stay focused, and your enthusiasm and abilities will bring rewards and new responsibilities -- perhaps a promotion. There’ll be no initial upheavals in your finances, and after a couple of months you should find that your benefits increase. You’re good with money and by the end of the year should be able to start to build up capital.

Pig: 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007
Your qualities are courage and enthusiasm and you’ll be able to use these to good effect in different areas of your life this year. You can look forward to a spell of contentment. The first quarter of the year is a time for strengthening or starting (with prudence) relationships. You’ll feel pretty sexy for most of the year – just don’t let yourself be too na├»ve or you may be disappointed.

You won’t have any problems at work and may need to play an important conciliatory role. You may have a problem in the third quarter, which you’ll surmount as long as you’ve been thorough and stay determined. There’s the possibility of promotion at the end of the year.

Beware of overly indulging yourself by spending money -- you’ll regret it bitterly. The second quarter however will be ripe with financial opportunity and reward. By the end of the year, you should ensure that the management of your finances is in order.

Rat: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
This year has potential for great happiness if you behave reasonably. You’ll feel energetic, and might take up a new activity which will further boost your confidence. You’ve a strong chance for romance; you’ll feel super sensual in the first quarter of the year, and may well meet and date your ideal partner. In the spring, couples’ relationships will strengthen. The third quarter is the perfect time for love at first sight – but beware of delights which may bring you harm.

You’ll have good prospects at work. Don’t be too ambitious or rebellious, keep persevering, and you’ll be appreciated. Your creativity in the third quarter might win you a bonus or a coveted project. Your finances should also be sound for the whole year, with positive surprises or pieces of luck very likely. Investments made in the second quarter should be profitable, and your income may increase in the last quarter. Just take care to invest rather than spend.

Gung Hei Fat Choy !!

MORE

See how you fared according to what was predicted for 2008 Year of the Rat
See Hong Kong pictures and travel information at this page on snapshotjourneys.com, and at DiscoverHongKong.com, the official tourism site for Hong Kong.

Disclaimer HKTB; Snapshot-Travel-Blog
Feature articles compiled by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) are for reference only. Whilst the HKTB has endeavoured to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty or guarantee, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy. The HKTB accepts no liability for errors or omissions. Used with permission Snapshot Travel Blog.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Snapshot Journeys Travel Pics Video

I made a short video for my travel website using animoto, a free service for making photos into a short (up to 30 seconds) video with music. Have a look:





It's a lot of fun to use, and not too hard to follow. there's also a paid service, but just as I am a frugal traveller, so too am I a web tool user :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Larch Tamarack Maple Oak Trees Late Autumn Mississauga Ontario

Clear skies and brilliant sunshine sent the gift of late fall colors to trees in Mississauga (Ontario, Canada). I took this picture two days ago, and tonight, there are snowflakes drifting down. How fleeting the last days of Autumn!

Oak Tree Port Credit
This oak stands in the small park -- Ben MachreePark -- where Godfrey's Lane curves around to Ben Machree, overlooking Lake Ontario (see googlemap below).

Maple Trees and more : Fall in Port Credit
Lake Ontario is the flash of blue lower left; the background trees obscure a bench with a memorial plaque.

Tamarack (Larch) Trees in Rhododendron Gardens Mississauga
Tamarack or larch trees are a deciduous evergreen. To see a picture of these same trees on the first day of summer, go to this post: http://snapshot-travel-blog.blogspot.com/2008/06/larch-tamarack-trees-among-beech.html

Close up of Larch / Tamarack needles and cones in Autumn
The Waterfront Trail runs through Rhododendron Gardens, and for the first year ever, this section of the trail and the section that runs along the Lake Ontario shoreline east of here will receive winter maintenance. Winter maintenance, as well as newly installed lighting, will help turn these Gardens into an all season attraction.

Map of this area: (note-- on this map, Cranberry Cove Park is actually Rhododendron Gardens, and has been for some time)

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Winter in Canada Fun: Snowshoeing B.C.'s Sunshine Coast and A One Horse Open Sleigh Ride at Whistler

North Sunshine Coast in Summer BC Canada

Laura at Vancouver (B.C. Canada) Coast and Mountains (see site) sends some information about winter in Canada fun -- snowshoeing at the Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area and a sleigh ride at Whistler. (Thanks, Laura!)
"Most people think of BC’s Sunshine Coast as a summer playground of sandy beaches, warm waters, summer cottages, and outdoor promenades. What you may not know is that the Sunshine Coast is an incredible winter playground, too.

"One of the locals’ favourite winter pastimes is snowshoeing. The Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area, located just past Roberts Creek (see summer pictures of Robert's Creek on my main site at http://www.snapshotjourneys.com/sechelt-bc.html ) is an ideal spot for snowshoers of all ages and abilities.

"Trek through snowy mountain forests, gentle hills, and wide ridges as bald eagles fly overhead. Access to Dakota Ridge is limited to 4X4 (4 Sheel drive) vehicles with chains, but the views make the journey worthwhile.

"From the parking area at Dakota Ridge you’re just a short trek away from a number of viewpoints that offer outstanding vistas of Georgia Straight, Vancouver Island, and Mount Baker. This is a truly special winter experience that is popular with all ages. For more details about Dakota Ridge visit www.scrd.ca"

And there's more winter fun north of Vancouver, at Whistler Blackcomb:

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola at Whistler Blackcomb grand opening is December 12, 2008. And in the spirit of the Chirstmas season, take a horse drawn sleigh ride through Whistler Blackcomb.

A horse drawn sleigh ride is a true Canadian winter adventure that anyone of any age group can enjoy. Horse drawn sleighs used to be the main form of rural transport in Canada, in the days before snowmobiles! Sleighs move on metal bottom runners that glide smoothly across the snow, pulled by Clydesdale-Percheron horses.

The sleighs at Whsitler Blackcomb, says Laura, are designed for comfort with padded bench seats and warm blankets – a thermos of hot chocolate is mandatory! Sleigh rides cost as little as $35.00 CAD (about $29 USD) per person.

Or, for $49.50 ($40 USD) to $99 ($80 USD) you can take a 30-35 minute ride through wooded trails beside Green Lake. More info at www.blackcombsleighrides.com

Monday, November 03, 2008

Roses Blooming Port Credit : Mid-Autumn Bonus for Fall Gardeners

Port Credit is set to enjoy a week of mild weather in mid-Autumn, as this blooming rose will attest. I took these pictures today at Rhododendron Gardens in Mississauga.

Rose in Bloom in Autumn
This fragrant rose is but one of dozens (Hundreds?) of bushes in the new rose bed at the Gardens. I have been weeding and spading and adding peat as time and weather permit. The name of this rose escapes me - when I recall it I will let you know.
Rose Garden Overview -- Rhododendron Gardens Port Credit
I took this picture from the hill overlooking the rose garden at about 10 a.m. this morning. You can see from the length of the shadow the time of year:In summer, this tiny valley is awash in sunshine much of the day.
Lake Ontario Port Credit : Wave Action on the Beach
The steady breaking of waves could be heard from the top of the hill that overlooks the Rose Garden, so I went down to watch them for a while. It had rained in the night, and was still drizzling a bit until 9 a.m., but warm south west winds that brought the waves onto shore also brought the warm temperatures.
Fallen Leaves : Fall Colour on Asphalt path After the Rain
As I stepped around the pattern of leaves on the Gardens path, I thought, "Gosh, that's pretty the way the black pavement sets off the colours of the maple leaves. Why not take a picture!"

And that's the way it was at Rhododendron Gardens Park on the 3rd day of November, 2008. With the rest of the week forecast to be above normal temperatures, I hope to put in quite a few hours at the Rose Garden. Once the snow comes, it will be a long time until I can garden again. May as well enjoy it while I can!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ski Canada Whistler : Whistler Air Airport Transfer New Service from Vancouver (YVR) to Whistler (YWS)

If you're planning a ski trip to Canada's Whistler this winter, there's a new faster, more luxurious limo and charter flight combo service from Whistler Air to transfer you and your group from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) via Pemberton B.C. (airport code CYPS) to the condos and ski hills at Whistler.

Less time on the road means more time on the slopes, is the idea: By shaving about 5 hours (based on round trip travel time only) off the time of a road trip, you can get in a lot more ski time.
Whistler Air already operates seasonal (summer) scheduled service from downtown Vancouver's Coal Harbour (airport code CHX) to Green Lake in Whistler (YWS). The 2009 dates for this existing non-ski-season service are early April 2009 to mid-October 2009.

Laura at Whistler Air sends these details of the new year round executive class airport transfer service:
"The new product that we are launching this year is a private service directly from the Vancouver (YVR) airport, with Whistler as the final destination. It will be offered year round. This service will remove up to 2.5 hours off your transfer time to or from Whistler.

"In winter, flights will land in either Pemberton or Squamish (airport code YSE), depending on the weather. In summer, flights will depart YVR South Terminal and arrive at our Green Lake terminal. We have a new Cessna Caravan with leather interior that will be used specifically for this flight.

"Executive limo service is included in the price (flight, transfers and limo -- $2,100 one way for up to 8 passengers). This is a full service package, and different from a regular charter. A driver will meet the group at the arrivals gate at YVR and assist with luggage to the plane at the South Terminal.

"Upon arrival in Whistler (or Pemberton / Squamish), another driver will be ready to take guests direct to their Whistler accommodation."
"Often times, a couple of families or a group will travel on a ski holiday together. This is ideal for those small groups as the cost of a car rentals and parking at a hotel for a week or 10 days can actually cost a small fortune!"

The Pemberton - Whistler - Squamish area is one of my favourite parts of British Columbia, sited inland from another one of my favorite spots in Canada: B.C.'s Sunshine Coast. I love this mountain country with its fresh, pine-scented air, and the handsome coastline and numerous islands.

By flying to Whistler, on clear days you'll get a priceless bonus: Fabulous views of Howe Sound, the Sunshine Coast mountains and inlets, and the dramatic peaks of Mt. Garibaldi Park.

See Sunshine Coast pictures: (http://www.snapshotjourneys.com/sunshine-coast-bc.html)
and Sechelt BC pictures (http://www.snapshotjourneys.com/sechelt-bc.html)

See www.whistlerair.ca for the fine print on booking and baggage allowances, and for some amazing aerial photos of this part of Canada.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Colors Port Credit : Leaves, Lake, Rainbow Lake Ontario

Port Credit (Mississauga, Ontario) is having a really good Fall season: Some days are hot and sunny, some are rainy and blustery, and this past week, most days have been alternating between the two, several times a day. Brilliant sunshine and glorious sunsets simply beg you to take their picture. Here are a few random pics I've taken over the past week.

Port Credit Village Trees behind LCBO on Lakeshore Road
The best way to see thr colors is first hand, in person, as my valiant little Canon Digital cannot do the reds justice. (LCBO is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, where one may purchase wines, beers etc. Or so I am told :-)


Rhododendron Gardens Park Lakeshore Road Mississauga
One afternoon, just as I'd finished working in the new Rose Garden in Rhododendron Gardens (we need something to show off once the rhodos are done blooming in June), the clouds parted briefly to set the golds and reds ablaze. Just as quickly, they took away the light.

Blustery Winds Make Waves Lake Ontario :: View of Toronto
I took this picture from the beach in the part of Rhodo Gardens at the end of Godfrey's Lane. Until a few days ago, I hadn't known that this park are was part of the main Rhodo Gardens, as it's separated from the main park area by a private residence.

Sunset Lake Ontario Rhododendron Gardens
The setting sun turned the waters of the Lake salmon-colored. I took this picture just before 7 p.m. on the weekend just past. The days are noticeably shorter now, and as I write this, it is dark at 7 p.m. This weekend the time will change back to EST (Sunday, November 2), and so it will be dark at 6 p.m. or a bit sooner.

Rainbow Over Lake Ontario October 27, 2008
East views towards Toronto: This rainbow is mirrored in Lake Ontario. Tonight, there were dozens of birds bobbing on the almost-still waters. Various types of gulls, a few Canada geese, and a wading bird or two. I must get out my Bird Book to find their names. I counted about 6 dozen in all in this small bay at Rhododendron Gardens beach, and wonder if it's migration time again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mississauga Road South to Lake Ontario

For those not familiar with our part of Ontario, the north-south oriented Mississauga Road loosely parallels the Credit River that flows south from the Brampton - Mississauga border to Lake Ontario at Port Credit.

As I walked south from Lakeshore Road along Mississauga Road, with the mothballed Petro Canada lands to my right (west) and tidy houses to my left, I could see a band of dark blue across the lake.

Clouds Mimic Mountains -- Lake Ontario Mid Autumn

This band of blue colored clouds looked for all the world like steep land rising like a mountain on the far shore. Now I am a reasonable person and know that there are no mountains across Lake Ontario from Port Credit but it was a terrific optical illusion.

Cyclist On Waterfront Trail Mississauga

I picked up the path and walked west along the waterfront trail past the south side of the fenced off Petro Canada lands.

The clouds in this view still mimicked shoreline across the lake; on a clear day, you'd be seeing parts of Hamilton in the distance. The dark needle of land projecting into the lake (middle, right) is Clarkson.

Lake Ontario at Dusk, Looking West Towards Clarkson (Mississauga)

I had hoped that the on and off blustery winds had set up interesting waves, but they hadn't. This beach is part of Rhododendron Gardens, and until volunteers this year removed weeds and scrubby shrubbery, was largely unnoticed.

Now, most days, but especially on clement weekends, it's a magnet for visitors.

Late-blooming Rhododendron -- Fall Color in Mississauga

While all the rhodos are sporting next springs chubby buds, this little rhododendron just couldn't wait that long. Mississauga had had a few wonderfully warm summer-like days that must have coaxed him out.

Update: By the next day, someone had picked the rhodo. (Sigh). The gardens are now named Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens and I manage a new and separate blog dedicated to the BRG.

See how this part of the Waterfront Trail looked on Thanksgiving weekend, a few days earlier.