Day 94 Toronto to Darlington Provincial Park, Ontario: Busted! - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

August 2, 2011

Day 94 Toronto to Darlington Provincial Park, Ontario: Busted!

For 10 km, 15 km, actually, forever going East on Danforth from Coxwell there is nothing of any interest. All you see is an endless procession of convenience stores, laundromats, banks, drug stores, and a bit further out, motels.

As predicted by Karyn on her guest book entry, Toronto charmed us once Marsha was there to guide us to the charming bits. Now, going out as we came in, it is again unlovely. We stop at a donut shop, but the offerings are low grade. We stop at a McDonalds and not only are the offerings low grade but the clientele is made up of very sketchy looking people. We have cycled into some sort of urban twilight zone.

Following the cue sheet we made up for the lakeshore trail from brianhedley.com, we turn down onto Ravine Drive. After a bit we are making the final turn that will bring us, we think, to the lake shore and the trail. A man pulls up in a small SUV and calls out "you can't get through that way!" This turns out to be Ken Martin a firefighter that lives nearby and someone who has not only cycled across Canada but has also done the lake shore several times. Ken advises us on how best to do the route ahead, and leaves us with a map and good wishes.

Our first waterfront trail sign of the day. Like many others (or the lack thereof) it was misleading.
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Dodie and Ken Martin discuss the route on the hood of his car
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This is not the first time we have been lucky enough to have someone helpful materialize out of the roadway just as we are lost or about to become lost. It's always a treat, though, when it happens.

We go back to Kingston Road and fight the traffic for a while. When the traffic stress became overwhelming, we dove back down toward the lake, and were able to pick up the "trail".

The route may be blocked for cars but with friendly workers it is open for us.
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The Lakeshore Trail is a route cobbled together from existing paths and trails through parks and conservation areas along the shore. It features supposedly consistent signage and a yellow stripe dividing the paved path.

In practice we found the trail to pass through some of the most gorgeous scenery around, to be mostly paved, and to go through areas offering everything from fishing and swimming to playgrounds and hot dogs with fries. As such, and given its great length, it deserves to looked on as a superstar in the world of bike trails.

The route passes fishing lagoons
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and runs right by the lake a lot of the time
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The quality of the path is often first rate
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On the other hand, the signage failed us repeatedly and we lost the trail at least a half dozen times. There is also a large gap at Whitby, where we had to travel on Victoria St., with no shoulder and many whizzing cars.

This is where we are
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We pass the Pickering nuclear plant
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This photo shows the route marker but also seems to indicate that Margaret Attwood has gone into real estate. Maybe she had to drop out as an author after finding out that the Ontario premier has never heard of her.
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Token wind turbine at Pickering nuclear
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Close up they go woosh woosh
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Reassuring?
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I am also an armed responder, two armed
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Views from the trail
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Bridge
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Zillions of houses like this near Ajax
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Natural meadow and the lake
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Forest glade
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Chain broke
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Dodie claimed it was because I insist on cycling rather than pushing on steep hills.
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We entered Darlington Provincial Park off the trail, as it runs by General Motors headquarters near Oshawa.

GM headquarters, near the Darlington Park entrance
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There was no signage at all (what else is new) and we landed up at a lagoon with a parking lot, where several people are fishing. Rather than hunt up a campground here, we are just going to throw down our tent and collapse. The distance was not great, but today's impediments were moderate heat and humidity and food that makes you weak rather than strong. We do have some medjool dates that Dodie and Marsha found in Little India. A supper of these probably worked for Lawrence of Arabia, so it will work for us!

Just at twilight a ranger came along into the parking lot. We weren't hiding, so he just parked his truck and walked up to tell us we couldn't camp there. We said we were willing to pay the camping fee but were not willing to hunt up and/or pedal to the unsigned mystery campground/office. Because this is Canada, we reached a compromise. The ranger gave me a lift to the office in his truck and a lift back, while allowing us to stay in our unauthorized location. At the office I was fleeced for $36.75, the lowest price they have, which buys a regular customer a totally unserviced place to put a tent. Remind me to never, ever, camp in an Ontario provincial park. It would be much cheaper for what you get to go into a motel!

Today's ride: 69 km (43 miles)
Total: 5,723 km (3,554 miles)

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