Having come to Ajax, in the Durham Region, about 1991, it is amazing that I really had No idea how lucky this region is to be home to an abundance of wetlands, marshes, conservation areas, wilderness settings, forests, and more. Granted, I was used to TO and I missed the TTC desperately when we moved here, and at that point, my ex and I were kidless too, till '94. Once I had kids and was home for a while then also working only part time during the week, I got slightly familiar with some of the parks, like Rotary, which is near the lake front and also part of the waterfront path, as well as Lynde Shores, but had no idea that those areas were just the tip of the iceburg out here. Part of the reason was most likely because my inlaws lived up north and we were there often, so of course, outdoors there often, ATVing, walking, building bonfires, or what have you. We also did some camping as the kids got older, with friends as well as for my daughter's soccer tournaments in some cases.
I did one stint at Lynde Shores with a friend, taking pictures with our manual SLRs back in the late 90s, for a photography course through Durham College. But, frankly, I was Never an outdoor person generally - reading, drawing, etc. and didn't prefer being forced to play outside as a kid in the 70s. Go outside in winter? Uh....No lol! I still didn't really enjoy it as an adult either, though for my kids I did partake lol!
However, since having moved to Whitby in the last 2 years, and through a new partner and I guess through beginning to explore the pier and lakefront which was a walking opportunity that first summer, we began to expand our jaunts to what became 3-5 hr hikes in various areas like Heber Downs, Greenwood, Second Marsh, Halls Rd. and all along the lakefront into Thickson Woods, and even a trip or 2 into Bowmanville and exploring that waterfront and provincial park area.
Different reasons have brought us to neighbouring towns and cities in the Collingwood area, Niagara region, Brampton area, Beaverton area, Huntsville area again, etc. and we always make a point of looking up what conservation area we could do a hike in while there, if time grants.
I've touched on it before here but our draw is the excitement of possibly seeing some thing or creature new to us and also the exercise it provides. Photos are my way of hanging onto some sort of creative outlet as well as creating a secondary fun once home of having our coffee and breakfast and viewing our slideshow together, reliving the experience of things we saw. This found and now very much integral part of our leisure life has lead us to learn about the various birds and animals, the area, as well as allowed us to meet some really neat people who we run into off and on on these local jaunts.
We love the excitement of the blue jays landing to eat out of our hands, the snake we saw one time, various bones and creepy sights we've run across, seeing king fishers, getting to enjoy the baby birds, seeing various birds of prey up close, and lots of amazing atmosphere of fog and light both morning and evening skies, and so much more. I always expect to get bored of it but I have not as of yet and suspect I won't :-)
The most amazing and unbelievable experience lately has been discovering the local Barred Owl which was so very content and oblivious to all the people who eventually came to watch her. I tried on 2 occasions to spontaneously see if my kids wanted to come see the owl. Once, the owl took off before I could go get them, and once they were busy. Last weekend, my Dad came to visit from Toronto and I asked my daughter if she wanted to join us. My son was working. My boyfriend and I took them to see the owl and I was so happy to see that it was extremely active, to the point where it flew past my daughter's head even and landed in another branch quite near us all. I let her take some photos with my camera and she got some neat ones. She took the first 2 and I shot the 3rd one, of the owl focusing on prey. However, it ended up never going for that prey it thought it had spotted.
When you get to experience something amazing and exciting, it is such a strong impulse to want to share it with kids and family - people you love.