Hiking Stick

Aluminum Hiking Stick

This light weight aluminum hiking stick extends from 28” to 57” and locks in place. The wrist strap has a thermometer and compass. The rubber tip is removable to expose a carbide tip which is great for slippery conditions.

Removing the knob on top reveals a camera mount which is excellent for taking steady wild life photos. In the shaft is a heavy spring that allows you to put a lot of pressure in the stick and have it cushion the force rather then your elbow or shoulder.

If you are a hiker of photographer you will love the versatility of this hiking stick.


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Here is another great outdoors weekend game. Horseshoes can be played by most people and in most locations. The only real limitations are that the horseshoes are 2.5 lbs and not everyone will be able to throw that weight with any consistency. That being said it is a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and family and is an excellent spectator sport for those not participating.

The Set:
A horseshoes set consists of 4 horseshoes weighing 2.5lbs each and 2 stakes 24” long.

Object of the Game:
Throw your horseshoes closer to the stake then your opponent to score points.

General Rules:
The game of horseshoes is broken down into innings, each consisting of 4 pitched horseshoes, 2 by each opponent.

The first player will pitch both shoes and then wait while the other contestant does the same. Each player must take care not to cross the foul line which is 3′ past the stake or risk having the thrown shoe deemed a foul disqualified from scoring.

Once points have been determined, players pick up their shoes and then begin the next inning, now throwing in the opposite direction.

In each inning, after all four shoes have been thrown, scoring is determined in the following manner. In order to be considered for points, a shoe must lie within 6″ (approximately the distance between the open ends of the shoe) from the stake – all shoes outside of this area score no points.

Of the shoes within this 6″ area around the stake, the closest shoe gets one point. If one player has two shoes closer than any of the opponents’, it’s worth 2 points.

Leaners are shoes which lean against the stake and worth 1 point are considered closer than any shoe which is not touching the stake but not closer than Ringers.

Ringers are shoes which completely encircle the stake so that the ends can be touched with a straight edge without touching the stake.

Ringers are worth 3 points each. If a player has both a ringer and the closest other shoe it would be worth 4 points.

Cancellation Scoring Anytime the shoes of opposing players are equal distance from the stake or of equal value they cancel each other out and score no points. For example: If both players have ringers they would cancel out and the next closest shoe within 6″ from the stake would score 1 point. Or if Player One has 2 ringers and Player Two has 1 ringer – two of the opposing ringers would cancel out and Player One would score 1 ringer for 3 points.

Winner of the Game is the first player or team to reach the predetermined point total.

Doubles Play:
Four players can play horseshoes in teams of two players each. Players of each team pitch from opposite ends of the court against an opposing team. The points of the players of each team are added together and players do not change sides after each inning. Otherwise, doubles play is no different than conventional singles play.

Winning the Game:
In backyard play, it is not uncommon to play to 15 points. The winner of the Game is the first player or team to reach the predetermined point total.

The Court:
Horseshoes Court

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Hotdog Spiders

This is one of the simplest recipes and a tradition for me around a campfire.

Prep time: 1 min

Ingredients: 1 thawed hotdog


Make a straight cut starting from one end of the hotdog 1/3 of the way down towards the center. Rotate the hotdog 90 degrees and make another cut so that a cross is made when looking at the end. Repeat these steps on the other side of the hotdog.

Stick your Telescoping Fork right in the middle of the hotdog. Now roast the hotdog over the fire by turning the fork as if it were a spit. As the hotdog cooks the ends of the hotdog will curl creating the spider effect.

This is a lot more fun to watch, the hotdog cooks quicker, and it gets a little crunchy!

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Telescoping Campfire Fork

If you are planning on having a campfire this year and have a tradition of roasting marshmallows or hot dogs, like we do, then you will want to get at least one of these Telescoping Forks.

The fork extends from 12” to 34” giving you more then enough clearance from the fire so that your hands don’t get burnt. The fork is far better then finding a stick in the woods since it is usually difficult to find the ideal “roasting stick”. If you are concerned about bacteria you know that the fork is clean.


You’ll probably want to buy at least two of these if you will be with a group of people. Once I pull this fork out everyone wants to scrap their sticks and use my fork!

Make sure you let people know that the fork is not to be used as a fire poker. There have been many times that someone moves logs around in the fire with the fork and I end up with ash on my marshmallows.

When I’m at a campfire with this fork I like to make Hotdog Spiders. Find out how to make them in the recipe section.

Telescoping Campfire Fork

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Bocce Ball

Bocce Ball – The greatest weekend outdoor game

For anyone that has not played bocce ball they should try it when they get the chance. Anyone can play, young or old, which makes it a great family and get-together-game. It can be played virtually anywhere on any terrain. You will be limited only by your imagination.

The Set:
A bocce ball set includes 8 bocce balls and 1 pallino. In some sets there will also be a type of measuring device. Depending on the set, bocce balls will have 4 different colours and 2 balls per colour. Other sets will only have 2 colours, but will have 2 types of markings (circles and squares) within a colour. The pallino will always be white.

Object of the Game:
To get your bocce balls closest to the pallino.

Number of Players:
2 teams consisting of 1 or 2 players each

General Rules for Recreational Players:
Flip a coin to see which team gets to throw the pallino first. The team that throws the pillion will throw the first bocce ball. That team will be considered closest to the pallino, since no other balls have been thrown, and the next team will attempt to throw one of their bocce balls closer then their opponent. If that team is closest to the pallino then play goes back to the first team and shots will continue to alternate in this manner. If the second team’s first throw is not closer to the pallino then the second team will continue to throw until they are closer or run out of balls.

Once all the balls have been thrown the team closest to the pallino receives one point for every ball that is closer then the closest opponents ball

Winning the Game:
The first team to reach 12 points is the winner.

The Court:
For those that want to take this a little more seriously and have the time and means to create a court here are the dimensions.

Bocce Ball Court

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Second Harvest – Turkey Dinner For Christmas

Second Harvest, Christmas Food, Christmas Dinner

Christmas isn’t far away now and I’m sure a lot of you are making plans for Christmas dinner.  This year you might want to help provide some food for those that can’t afford a turkey dinner.  Second Harvest is an organization that helps feed hungry people by picking up and preparing excess fresh food and delivering it daily to social service agencies in Toronto.

This weekend and next is Second Harvest’s 6th annual turkey drive.  Second Harvest volunteers will be at local grocery stores collecting donations and turkeys.  Those that would like to donate can simply buy a turkey at the grocery store and hand it to the Second Harvest volunteer.  There is no need to drive anywhere else and lug a turkey around town.

If you live in the Toronto area and would like to donate or volunteer you can get more information at Second Harvest’s website.  www.secondharvest.ca

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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The Knuckleball – A Woman’s Pitch

Well folks it looks like I was right.  Here is an article in today’s Toronto Star newspaper telling about a 16 year old girl that has been signed to a professional baseball team in Japan as a knuckleball pitcher.  Now this team isn’t a top tier team in a top tier league, but it is professional baseball.  I guarantee she won’t be the last female pitcher to make it in to the pros.

Here’s my post from May 2nd 2007.

It has been proven time and again that as athletic as any woman is they can’t compete against men in sports. In general men are faster, stronger, and have quicker reflexes.

Even in the game of golf, where I figured women would be able to compete well, it is a great accomplishment for Michelle Wie to even make the cut. So if I’m so sure that women cannot compete with men then why would I possibly say that women should pitch in the major leagues? Because of the knuckle ball!

Tim Wakefield - Boston Red Sox (MLB)

I was watching Tim Wakefield pitch on the weekend and marveling at his numbers this year as well as learning that he is 40 years old! So I took a look at the stats of Phil and Joe Neikro and Charlie Hough. Phil pitched until he was 48 and the other two pitched until they were 44 years of age! What that tells us is that you don’t need a lot of arm strength to throw a knuckle ball. There is no one criticizing knuckle balls if they don’t reach a certain speed. All they have to do is get batters out.

Now it’s not as easy as saying I’m going to throw a knuckle ball and pitch in the majors till I’m 50. It would take a lot of hard work and practice, but the key argument here is that none of this work and practice necessarily excludes women. I believe that, similar to men, if women tried throwing knuckle balls there would be some that are good at it, some that are mediocre at it, and some that are flat out bad. For those that have a knack for it a good knuckle ball coach is required. They will be able to teach the pitchers the proper techniques and mechanics to throwing a knuckle ball. Once they are able to get the ball to dip and dive then it will take lots of practice to, and I use this word loosely, control the pitch.

I think the keys here are some natural talent, interest in playing baseball, good instruction and most of all practice and perseverance. I believe most knuckle ballers are made because of necessity and natural ability. Some pitchers introduce the knuckle ball into their repertoire to extend their pitching career like Tom Candiotti. Others become knuckle ballers just to stay in the league like Tim Wakefield who was originally drafted as an outfielder. I think most players have probably attempted a knuckle ball once or twice, but found it so unconventional that they just didn’t bother with it again. They don’t feel that it is a real pitch. So for those reasons I think you don’t find as many knuckle ballers as there could be.

Ignoring any prejudice against whether or not the knuckle ball is a ‘real’ pitch, if a woman had some natural ability to throw it, had the proper instruction, and the desire to be a professional baseball pitcher I think you would find successful female pitchers in the big leagues and for a long time.

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Stages of Building a Cottage – Framing

So the Foundation was finished and the next step was to get some quotes from framing contractors.  They ranged anywhere from $48,000 to $8500 and this was just for the labour since I had all the materials from the cottage kit I purchased from Home Hardware.  I think some of these local contractors think “here’s a big rich city guy building his summer home, I’m gonna milk him for everything he’s worth” because $48,000 was so ridiculous I can’t imagine how they came to that total.  Anyway I lucked out with the framing contractors because it ended up my bosses family have been doing professional framing all their lives and agreed to do the job for me.  I paid for their room and board for a week and they were still cheaper then the local guys.  They started on a Monday, and on Saturday morning I had a cottage!  Truly amazing for a crew of 3 guys.

Stages of Building a Cottage - Framing

A week later I was able to get a local crew to put the shingles on the roof.  TIP: Find your contractors ahead of time.  Roofers and Framers are extremely busy and booking well out in advance.  The roofing crew took one day to get the job done and the cottage is now weather tight.  I’m working on getting hydro in now and the excavator is finishing up installing the septic tank.  That will pretty much do it for the winter.  In the spring I’ll get the plumbing, heating, and siding installed then start to finish the inside.  I hope by the end of June everything will be finished.

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Stages of Building a Cottage – Foundation

It has been a while since the last article and a lot has changed since then.  In my previous article Construction Begins we had just cut down the trees to clear space for the cottage.  That alone was a huge visual change after looking at the densely treed lot for more then a year.  Once those trees were cleared it didn’t take long for the site to be ready for concrete to be poured.

The site excavators stripped back the top soil and were only able to dig down 2ft for the foundation because of the high water table.  Digging down any lower would leave them swimming.  I had scheduled about 2 weeks for excavation to be completed and I got a call 3 days in saying they were done!  I needed to get a foundation contractor in there quickly to set the footings before the soil was disturbed too much.  I asked my excavating contractor if he knew anyone and he put me onto a guy that was very professional so I went with him.

I took a day off work to spend a day by the water with the family in the summer and meet the foundation contractor to go over what we wanted to do.  We went with a full basement 8ft walls for two reasons.  The main one was it would only be another $2500 to have 8ft walls as opposed to a crawl space.  The second was we didn’t plan any storage room into the cottage so a full basement would provide ample space.  So I met with the foundation contractor for about 15mins.  He left to get permits from the city and 30mins later he had a crew there framing the footings for the walls and floor.  An hour later they were gone and the family and I enjoyed a peaceful day in the sun and water.  Again I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and speed in which the contractors went about their work.  This gave me peace of mind seeing how I live 2.5hrs away from the job site.  The foundation guys were done in a week and a half due to some rain delays.  Here’s a picture of the foundation with a weather barrier wrap

Stages of Building a Cottage - Foundation

With the foundation finished I needed to find some framing contractors to build the cottage.  Look for my next posting on framing.

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Construction Begins!

In the last posting It’s Alive! I mentioned that we got our entry permit and pre approval of the building drawings so we went about finding someone to clear the lot of the trees while we waited for the drawings to be finalized.  I had to wait a few weeks for our heating drawings to be completed and the trees were cleared just last week.

Cutting down trees in Trent Hills does not require a permit so we hired a local tree removal contractor to clear the lot.  The family and I went to the lot last week to see what it looked like after the trees were cleared and the result was fantastic!  We brought some camping chairs and a couple of beers and sat by the water for the day.  I went for a swim in the lake and just looked around imagining what it will be like coming here every summer.

The second purpose for going to the lot was to meet with the Chief Building Officer and get the building permits allowing for construction to begin.  From what I’ve heard from other people it often takes 2-3 weeks before the permits are issued so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the meeting.  As it turned out the Building Officer was very friendly and helpful.  We had a couple of changes that needed to be made to the drawings, but the Officer gave us the permits and I was on my way.  I had a quick meeting with the septic contractor and he is going to start this week.

So everything is looking up.  I’ve got to make sure I stay on top of the budget and do my best to keep the contractors on schedule so that I have a weather tight building before the winter comes.

Here’s a picture of my lot now that a number of the trees have been cleared.

Cottage Construction Land Clearing

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