August 14th – First Day of Summer

After the worst summer I ever remember in Toronto (and I had 43 of them), it finally arrived yesterday. Toronto had not had a day over 30 degrees since late June. It finally reached 33 downtown but was horribly humid.

Naturally I picked this day to walk and blade miles. I intended to take the bus to the foot of Islington Avenue, where I assumed, incorrectly, I would pick up the trail along the waterfront. After all the map showed "Waterfront Trail" clear as a bell. I ain’t no dummy, right? Wrong! The second bus left me at Lakeshore Road and I thought I could just see the lake in the distance, so I started walking. And walking. And walking. After what felt like a couple of miles in the blazing sun and oh so oppressive heat, I finally reached the lake. No trail and I walked out to the fence to see if I could find one (first picture). This was the first time I realized how hot and hazy it was, as I could barely make out downtown Toronto. As I looked along the lakefront I couldn’t see any sort of path anywhere, but I figured it might just round that next bend, so I set off walking, carrying my blades.

I walked and I walked and I walked, until I saw the little signs "Waterfront Trail". Trail? What trail? This was nothing but a road, but the bikes whizzing by told me they knew something. Okay, maybe just round the next corner? So, I walked and walked and walked. Eventually I reached, you guessed it, Lakeshore Road! I had managed to work my way all the way back to where I started from, albeit a few clicks down the road. The hot, muggy, dusty, miserable road. This they call a trail? Duh!

After more and more miles of walking, carrying my blades, which were now feeling very heavy, I came upon a sign that showed access to the Humber Valley Trail just ahead. The Humber Valley Trail! OMG, I had walked miles again just to get to the Humber, the trail I could have bladed down from the house in half the time. I found a bench and at long last put my blades on and headed off down the elusive trail. Eventually I ended up back where I had been on my bike a few days before, when I had made it as far as Sunnyside pool. As I bladed by the pool I was shocked to see it was still closed because of the recent strike. They were working on it, but, here it was the hottest day of the year and no one could swim in it? Brutal!

Memory is something you don’t want to lose, otherwise, I may have actually remembered how many miles it is to downtown Toronto from where I was. I was lucky the paths are good most of the way because I bladed a very long way before even coming close to downtown. At the access to the island airport I took off my blades because there wasn’t really anywhere to blade anymore. I remembered biking and blading in Vancouver and, boy, have they got Toronto whipped or what? I’ve biked all the way from Stanley Park around False Creek and back to Granville Island and never crossed a street. Toronto totally sucks as far as having decent bike paths.

By now I was really starving, having passed the burger joints along the beach miles ago because they were so busy on this gorgeous day, something I regretted now. I stopped at Pier Four and had a look at the menu, but quickly realized I was not going to pay $14 for an appy. I continued on, sore as my burning feet were, and found a Timmies at Queen’s Quay. Had an iced coffee, but didn’t much care for it. Kept going until I reached the ferry terminal where I thought of heading to the island. By now it was close to six o’clock and I wondered about how to get home later if I went over to the island. Decided I had best head up to Union Station to check on the GO train schedule first. When I got there I was shocked to discover that I had already missed the last train to Etobicoke, which left at 6:45. Why this is the last train out of downtown Toronto on a Friday night is beyond me.

So I hoofed it all the way back to the Swiss Chalet on Queen’s Quay for dinner. I asked my server about catching the streetcar out front and asked if that would take me back to Lakeshore and eventually Islington to catch the bus back home. No such luck! She said they don’t meet up anywhere. How dumb is that? She said to go back to Union Station then take the subway, Yonge then Bloor, back to Islington. My feet refused to take me another step so I caught the streetcar back to Union Station. Two and a half hours later I was waiting for the Islington bus. I think the GO train might have made one stop before Etobicoke North, so that might have taken forty minutes or so, tops.

As I finally got off the bus at Wal-Mart and started home I realized that by now I had developed huge water blisters on my feet because of wearing my sandals. Every step was getting more and more painful. I finally made it home, still hot and tired from way too long a day, but ready to do it all over again today, which is supposed to be even hotter. Can’t walk any great distance, but I might take my bike. I desperately wanted to get to Professors Lake, but it looks like quite the challenge by bus. Could take hours.

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