Neighbourhoods and Suspicious Minds

Once when my father was walking our dog, working on his own map, he parked his old Volkswagen in the middle of an upscale neighbourhood.  It wasn't a private neigbourhood but it did have much larger, nicer-looking homes than anywhere else in the Sault. He went for his walk but when he returned to his car, a police officer was there to ask him a few questions.

The officer asked, "What are you doing today, sir?"

"Walking my dog," my father replied.

"Do you live around here, sir?"

"No."

The officer was confused but has my father was doing nothing wrong he let him leave. My father's out-of-place appearance in that neighbourhood was enough for someone to think suspiciously of him. I sometimes wonder if something like that will happen to me on my walks, especially when I have to walk roundabouts like this one:

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I can't blame someone for being a little suspicious. You don't see many people walk straight down a street, walk around a loop, and then continue walking. Nor do you see someone go down every single dead-end road in an area. However, as the air is getting colder outside, I've changed my focus from walking across the city to systematically completing neighbourhoods. As the rules say, you can't skip a cul-de-sac nor dead end; if you don't go down them, it doesn't count. 

For many weeks now I've been slowly walking my way through Ottawa's Centrepointe, but I took a break over the weekend to cover the small Medhurst neighbourhood. 

 

 
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It only took me three hours to walk 14 kilometres as many streets were marked as private. There are not many private streets back in the Sault, but they seem to be all over Ottawa; sadly cutting my challenge short. 

The Sault was built, and continues to expand, in a grid system. Most of the neighbourhoods are squared off, but in Ottawa there are loops, dead ends and maze-like features. Many sections force me to double back from where I came to make sure I cover the area as efficiently as possible. 

These are minor inconveniences. I still enjoy the journeys I take on my outings. Medhurst has all the things I love to see on a walk: diversity, green space, and community. There is a little community centre with an outdoor activity announcement board. One of the announcements is for community members to join a Walking Club. What a great idea that is, socializing with your neighbours and getting to know your community while also getting outdoor exercise.  

It reminded me of a YouTube video I saw by PBA30, about an urban hiking group in Atlanta.
 

In the video Eli Dickerson says, "It's just a different way to see the city, even if you’ve been to a spot near there in a car; it's totally different on foot." He is completely right. Even if you've driven by a neighbourhood, you don't really get to see it like you do on foot.  On top of getting out and exploring, be it in a group or just solo, everyone can benefit from taking a walk. 


HOLLY DREW

Holly Drew is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Holly is originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where she spent a lot of time hiking in the beautiful Algoma District and Upper U.P., Michigan. Holly’s other home is in Lima, Peru, where she lived for one year as a Rotary International Exchange Student. Holly enjoys adventure, photography, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and writing.

Twitter ~ Holly Road Blog 





These Streets

Sun in my eyes, coffee in hand, and music fueling my thoughts, I walk down the road. All of my work and responsibilities have been put on hold as I follow my feet around town. I turn up road after crescent after avenue, examining all that I pass by. In some neighbourhoods, I walk as if I’ve always lived next door to the people I pass. They smile and nod from their porches, and children wave their tiny hands at me from their imaginary front-yard kingdoms. Other times, I’ve felt like I’ve never been to Canada before in my life.

You can live anywhere, and have it remain foreign territory until you go out and get to know it face to face. As of today, I have covered quite a bit of ground in Ottawa in such a short amount of time. I know where the local shortcuts, paths, and alleyways are, and where they lead. I know where everyone prefers to go on family outings, and I know the places most people avoid.

Just as when I was living in Lima, Peru, walking down the streets of this metropolis, there is so much diversity to experience. I could have been staying on the steady track of being at home, shuttling straight to school and back, only traveling at high speeds in a metal capsule through this city.

By taking on this challenge, I've been able to see what a tourist rarely gets the chance to. I’ve strolled through the streets of the wealthy and secure, and I’ve wandered through the roads of the downtrodden and troubled. I’ve chit-chatted with the white-collar worker, and I’ve bought from the local artist.

Beyond all of the above, those moments when I’ve walk into a new neighbourhood like I was merely on my way home are the moments I cherish the most. They are akin to the moments when the sight in front of me inspires me to remove my headphones and fully immerse myself in the moment. To feel, smell, hear, and see without obstruction has brought me to a deeper understanding of this city. I look forward to what’s down the road ahead.

Thanks for reading.


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Holly Drew

Holly Drew is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Holly is originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where she spent a lot of time hiking in the beautiful Algoma District and Upper U.P., Michigan. Holly’s other home is in Lima, Peru, where she lived for one year as a Rotary International Exchange Student. Holly enjoys adventure, photography, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and writing.

Twitter ~ Holly Road Blog 

Four Steps to Heart's Desire Park

When it comes to an urban hike there is a bit more to it than just taking off. Just as when hiking in the woods it’s important to plan it out. If you don’t, you can walk into problems. Problems range from getting lost, getting caught in bad weather, or forgetting to take something as important as your map. It happens. The following is how I make sure I am always prepared for urban hiking trips.

Picture above of Heart's Desire Park. 

Step 1 - Choosing Where To Go.

This week I decided to start at Algonquin College and walk straight down Woodroffe Avenue to Barrhaven’s Heart Desire Park.

I chose this trail for this post because I wanted a simple path with a destination goal. Of course, it’s important to enjoy the journey while on a hike, but with so much land to cover when you are trying to walk all the streets in Ottawa, I find that choosing a destination and making sure you cover a lot of ground to get there is a useful technique.

I will be doing a neighbourhood hike another time, but for this week I thought I’d keep it simple.

Step 2 – Filling In The Blanks.

After choosing where I wanted to go I needed to figure out all the little details, such as: which day I am going, what will the weather be like, what is Heart’s Desire Park like, what am going to need to pack, and how am I going to get there and back.

 


These are my pre-hike notes on Heart's Desire Park:

When: Wednesday, October 21st, 9:30 am to 6:00 pm

Weather: Cloudy with a 40 percent chance of rain

Destination Details: A forest at  the south end of Woodroffe Ave. along a river, possible muddy trails

Things To Consider Packing: Umbrella, Rain Coat, Plastic Bags, and Extra Socks

Route To Destination: Begin at the corner of College Ave. and Woodroffe Ave. and continue towards Barrhaven to the end of Woodroffe Ave.

Return Route:  For this I have four options. I prefer to have as many ways back as possible that include transportation options in case of fatigue or injury.

1. Walk back up Woodroffe Ave.  
2. Walk up Prince of Wales Drive to Baseline to Baseline Station
3. Take bus 94 from Chapman Mills Drive bus station to Baseline Station
4. Take bus 176 up Prince of Wales to Baseline, then take the 118 to Baseline Station


                

Step 3 –What’s in the bag?

 
 

 

I have two sets of items. First, the mandatory items that every urban hiker should consider taking with them. Then, the items you may need judging by what the day is going to be like.

This is what I brought with me to Heart's Desire Park:

Other Items

  • Rain Coat
  • Mittens
  • Scarf
  • Head band
  • Plastic bags
  • Notebook and pens

Mandatory Items

  • My phone with the Nike+ app for tracking
  • Map of Ottawa
  • Water/Powerade
  • Snacks
  • iPod with headphones
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First aid
  • Tissues
  • Camera
  • Bus pass and extra change

Some people pack light. I do not.
 

 
 15.6 lbs

15.6 lbs

 

 

Step 4 – Take a Hike!

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This hike was 14.61 km long, and took me 4 hours, and 11 minutes.

The long stretch between College Avenue and Fallowfield Road had a few points of interest like the pumpkin and horse farms, however you can only see them from a distance. I also discovered  while walking this stretch Pinhey Forest. It seems to be a very popular spot for dog walkers as I could see them on the trails in the bush. 

When I made it to Barrhaven I was able to partake in one of the best perks of urban hiking, being able to take a break in a Tim Horton's.  I love hiking in the woods as much as in the city, but it is definitely a spoil to be able to rest at a coffee shop before continuing on. 

This was my first time in the area. From what I could tell from being only on Fallowfield Rd. and Woodroffe Ave., it's a pretty nice place to be. It appears to be very quiet yet still full of life.

When I got to the bottom of Woodroffe Ave. I found it was closed for construction, but they were still letting local traffic through. If you are going to this area any time soon I recommend you plan to make detours due to the construction.  

When I was telling my friends where I was going, even the ones who live in Ottawa and/or Barrhaven, none of them knew where Heart's Desire Park was. No one had heard of it. Turns out though it may be marked on maps, there are no signs around the park to tell you it's there. 

From what I know, you can go down a road that stretches straight off Woodroffe Ave. to an unmarked gravel road on the right hand side that runs through the middle of the park, or you can head to the end of Eisenhower Crescent where there is a trail opening.

Currently, some of the trails are hard to see because of the golden leaves blanketing the ground, but the terrain is mostly flat, and the trees are not too dense, so it is safe enough to go off trail to look around.

The park itself has quite a few points of interest in such a small area. There is a calm river that runs along its perimeter, a few pine tree lined trails, and a mysterious pit full of abandoned car parts.  

It's a gorgeous little park to wander through. Though it does see causal walkers, it doesn't seem to get heavy foot traffic unlike around Mud Lake along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. If you are interested in a quiet walk through the woods I highly recommend this park. 

Unfortunately, I had to take the bus back due to injury to my right leg. I was still able to see a lot and have a wonderful experience.

 

Thanks for reading!
Comment below if I missed anything important or any questions!


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Holly Drew

Holly Drew is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Holly is originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where she spent a lot of time hiking in the beautiful Algoma District and Upper U.P., Michigan. Holly’s other home is in Lima, Peru, where she lived for one year as a Rotary International Exchange Student. Holly enjoys adventure, photography, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and writing.

Twitter ~ Holly Road Blog

Like Father, Like Daughter

When I was young, my father took a map of our hometown, Sault Ste. Marie, and pinned it up on our basement wall. It took him two years, but eventually he walked down every single road on the map.

Tired of taking the same routes over and over again to walk our dog, he started his own walking project, with a few basic rules:

1.      You can walk, bike, snowshoe, or roller-blade. As long as you are moving with human power, it counts.

2.      You can only mark off where you have been; if you didn’t finish a road, you’ll just have to go back.

3.      Yes, cul-de-sacs and dead ends count.

4.      A walk has to be a minimum of 30 minutes.

As a result, we discovered new parks and hiking trails, and made our daily dog walks a lot more interesting.

Then back in 2014 I moved to Ottawa for school. I was alone in a new city and knew nothing about where I was, and so I took a look at my own map. It was the first thing my father gave me to bring to Ottawa. I tacked it up on my wall, and started my own walking project. At first I stuck to the neighbourhood I was living in, but the more I discovered Ottawa’s beautiful neighbourhoods and walkways, the further out I explored.

 Every where that is highlighted orange is where I have been.

Every where that is highlighted orange is where I have been.

Now in just a year of working on this project I’ve covered quite a bit of ground. Above is a picture of my map to date. Everywhere that is marked orange is where I have either walked or biked. 

Whenever I have the time, I pick a new part of the map, grab my iPod and start walking. Last year, I had to write down the name of every street I walked down. This year, I’m using the Nike+ app to track my walks. 

 My walks can be as short as this:                    

 
 3.88mi = 6.24km

3.88mi = 6.24km

 

Or full hiking days like this:

 
 

Come back and check in on how far I’ve progressed, and discover Ottawa with me. 

Let me know in the comments below where your favourite place to walk in Ottawa is!


Holly Drew

Holly Drew is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Holly is originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where she spent a lot of time hiking in the beautiful Algoma District and Upper U.P., Michigan. Holly’s other home is in Lima, Peru, where she lived for one year as a Rotary International Exchange Student. Holly enjoys adventure, photography, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and writing.

Twitter ~ Holly Road Blog