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Wednesday 30 August 2017

The Polar Express

The Polar Express

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  210 Princes' Blvd.
Date: August 2014
Website: theex.com

  Do you wanna go faster ?   YEAHHH !!

  The Polar Express has been a part of the Canadian National Exhibition midway for as long as we can remember.  The ride spins backwards as the riders are pulled away from the center of the spin by centrifugal force.  A ride operator blasts music and asks the all important question.  Even if you don't want to go faster no one will hear your screams of protest.

Polar Express is a lesson in centrifugal force.

   We had not been on the ride for many years when we decided to give it another go.  We had forgotten a few of the basic rules of riding the Polar Express.  Each car holds several people in one big seat.  The first rule is that the bigger people should sit on the outside edge of the car.  Once the ride starts to spin, everyone gets pulled towards that outer edge and small riders could find themselves getting crushed by their seat mates.

Princess Polar Bear VS Queen Of The Snow Tigers.

  Another important rule is that you should not bring items onto the ride with you.  They also risk being crushed as the ride spins faster and faster.  This particular year at the CNE, Coca-Cola was printing special cans with your name on it.  We had our cans printed and then put them in a bag right before lining up for the Polar Express.  Next we proceeded to sit on the ride with the smaller person on the outside and our bag in between us.  The music pumped away and the ride picked up speed.  Soon we found ourselves pulled against the far wall of the car with big person pushing on Coke bag against little person.  We feared that now not only did the Coke cans have our name on them, but so did the contents inside.  This ride is always a blast.

Do you wanna go faster ?   Always !!

Map of Our World
CNE Midway

Post # 188

Friday 25 August 2017

Canadian National Exhibition

Princess Margaret Fountain.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  210 Princes' Blvd.
Date: August 2013
Website: theex.com

 The Canadian National Exhibition (C.N.E.) is one of the largest fairs in North America.  It started in 1879 as the Toronto Industrial Exhibition and later the name was changed.  The C.N.E. only runs for 18 days each August until Labour Day weekend where it finishes off with the air show.  It is a great place for rides, food, music, shopping, farm animals and entertainment.  We almost never miss making a visit to the fair each year.  Below are some of our favourite things from The Ex.

The Princes' Gates

The Princes' Gates.

  If you enter the fair from the east side, these gates welcome you.  Princes' Blvd. starts at the gates and then cuts right through the center of the C.N.E. grounds. (Read More)

CNE Midway

CNE Midway.

  The Midway fills Princes' Blvd. with food stands and rides.  You can use the Sky Ride cable car to get a birds eye view of it all or you can choose to join the crowd eating gooey, drippy treats and then trying to hold them down while getting spun around on classic rides such as the Polar Express.

The Food Building

Food Building.

  If you have not had enough to eat after leaving the Midway, you can always make your way over to the Food Building.  Here you will find rows and rows of food vendors ready to please any taste buds.

The Farm

Wolverine VS Aliens

The Farm building has your usual farm animals such as sheep, cows, horses, pigs and more.  It also has a large refrigerated container full of a collection of butter sculptures.

Alpaca Hairstyle.

  There are often more unusual animals such as ostrich or alpacas.  The alpaca above had been freshly sheared and was rocking his new hairstyle.

Rock Balancing

Keep On Rocking.

  Speaking of rocks.  Daryl Maddeaux has been defying gravity at the C.N.E. for almost two decades.  Somehow he manages to build towers from rocks of varying shapes and sizes. Read More

Sand Sculptures

Woman On A Rhino.

  If sculptures of butter are not enough for you, there are usually giant sand sculptures as well.  Star Wars and Star Trek have been featured in recent years along with other creations such as this woman riding a tired rhinoceros.


Top Tomato.

  Who has the best tomatoes?  The Exhibition also features agricultural competitions.  In 2013 the best tomatoes were these pictured above.


Super Duper Dogs.
 The Sitting Wallendas.

  There are always daily shows happening all around the C.N.E.  The hard part is planning your day to fit them all in.  The SuperDogs show is always popular as various breeds compete in obstacle course races.  Other acts such as the Flying Wallendas risk it all to entertain the crowds.

Mardi Gras Parade

Mardi Gras Parade.

  Near the end of the day a Mardi Gras parade passes through the grounds with floats and music.  People scramble to collect the Mardi Gras beads tossed from the floats.

Canadian International Air Show

The Snowbirds.
  The last weekend of The Ex sees the Air Show come to town.  CF-18 Hornets rip through the sky and a sonic wave follows behind them turning heads.  The whole thing wraps up with the acrobatic formations of the Snowbirds.

Let's go to The Ex.  Oh Baby!

Map of Our World
Canadian National Exhibition , CNE Midway
Princes' Gates
CNE (Better Living Center)
CNE Food Building

Post # 187

Sunday 20 August 2017

The Blue Whale at the ROM

Blue Whale Skeleton.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  100 Queens Park
Date: July 2017
Website: www.rom.on.ca

  Did you know the blue whale is the largest animal on earth?  It is and during August 2017 the Royal Ontario Museum is running a blue whale exhibit.  Back in 2014 there were nine blue whales that became trapped in ice and died.  Two of these whales washed up on the shores of Newfoundland.  Scientists quickly jumped at the rare opportunity to closely examine these mammals.  The exhibit at the ROM is a direct result of this work.

Whale Flipper.

  A team of scientists had the difficult and smelly job of taking the whale apart in order to preserve the 80 foot long skeleton.  The exhibit included a watch from one of the scientists that will never smell clean again.  After 2 years the bones were finally ready to be on display in Toronto.

A Blue Whale Weighs 90000 Kg.

  Nothing about a blue whale is small.  It weighs 90,000 kg which is the same as 15 elephants.  Elephants are the heaviest land mammal.

Blue equals 1200 humans or 1437 of a particular human.

  In terms of humans it would take 1200 to equal the weight of the blue whale.  That was quite a few more than the amount of people crowding the exhibit hall with us.

Heart Car. Plastinated Heart.
  The heart of the whale had been plastinated and was on display.  It was almost the same size as the car parked across from it.  This is the first and only blue whale heart to ever be preserved.  A human heart usually beats somewhere between 60 to 100 bpm.  A blue whale heart beats at a rate of 10 to 30 bpm even when the whale is active.

Costco Sized Jar Of Krill.

  Whales eat a small crustacean called krill and can eat up to 40 million krill per day.  Krill eat plankton.  Plankton eats some of the nutrients found in whale feces.  Plankton can also perform photosynthesis which removes carbon dioxide from the air.   This cycle makes the planet better for all of us.

Whale Feces From The Air.

  Blue whale feces, like the orange stain above is large enough to be seen from an aircraft.

Baleen Mouth.

 Blue whales eat krill by using the baleen in their mouths.  They do not have teeth.   A blue whale takes a giant mouthful of water.  It then pushes the water out through the baleen.  Krill is trapped inside its mouth as it can not pass through the baleen filters.  Dinner is served.

The First Whale?

  The first whale is believed to be derived from Pakicetus (above).  The fossil above shows the Pakicetus and eventually it would evolve into the whales that we see swimming in the oceans of today.

Whale Bone Products.

  People used to hunt whales to make whale bone products like those pictured above.  More needs to be done to protect these endangered animals.  The blue whale at the ROM is here to help educate and amaze us.  Scientists are working hard to make sure that we do not see the last blue whale in our lifetime.  We hope to see our very first blue whale when we visit the Saguenay River in Quebec later this year.

This location is near Museum subway. Visit other Toronto TTC stations.

Map of Our World
Royal Ontario Museum

Post # 186

Thursday 10 August 2017


Rocky Mountain View.

Location: Banff, Alberta, Canada
Address:  405 Spray Avenue
Date: June 2005
Website: www.banff.ca

  Banff, Alberta is located in the Rocky Mountains on the west coast of Canada.  The Rocky Mountains are filled with beautiful views.  As long as a mountain is in your shot, it is impossible to take a bad photo.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

  We started with a meal at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  The hotel has been on this spot since 1888.

Bow River.

  Behind the hotel runs the Bow River.  This river starts further north in the Rockies and then runs down through Banff.  It is best known for the portion that wraps around the capital city of Calgary.

Bow Falls.
Banff Springs Hotel from the Bow River.

  The section of the river in Banff contains a small waterfall.  Standing beside the waterfall we could see the Bow River wind through the mountains in one direction and in the other direction we could see the back of the hotel through the trees.

Banff Gondola.

  After being down by the river's edge, we headed to the nearby Banff Gondola for a completely different view.  The gondola slowly lifted us towards the top of Sulphur Mountain.

Looking Down On Banff.

  As we rose to the top of the mountain, we could see the Banff Springs Hotel and Bow River behind us.

Top of Sulphur Mountain.

  At the top of the mountain is a series of stairs and wooden platforms to make it easier to climb and take in the panoramic view.

Sulphur Mountain View.

  As you get higher up a mountain you reach a point called the tree line.  After this point the ground and climate make it impossible for a tree to grow.  We could see the changes from the denser forest below.

Tree Hanging In There.

  This tree had its roots wrapped around a rock searching for some soil to keep it alive.

Lonely Tree.

  This lonely tree looked as if it had lost its battle with the elements while its nearby neighbours were all growing strong and tall.

Clark's Nutcrackers.

  Banff is filled with large creatures like grizzly bears and big horn sheep.  Up here at the top of the mountain we only encountered a few smaller creatures.  A pair of Clark's nutcrackers sat on the railing near the gondola station.

Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel.

  A golden-mantled ground squirrel checked us out from amongst the rocks and then just as quickly ran away again.

Peek At A Peak.

  We were in awe of the mountain scene that greeted us in every direction.  We would never tire of this mountain view.  The small creatures seemed to agree with us as a Clark's nutcracker flew into the branches of a tree to admire a snowy peak in the distance.

Squirrel On Top Of The World.

  The golden-mantled squirrel reappeared again and stared out into the wilderness.  As we descended the mountain once more we were jealous that the animals get that experience every day of their lives.

Map of Our World
Banff Gondola , Bow Falls
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Post # 185