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Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

Embryo Cave, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

JC and I spent the weekend at one of our favorite northerly destinations exploring both Embryo and Twin Trickles caves. Both these caves are seldom visited and if it were not for the initial visit by Marcus and Brad they likely would be entirely forgotten by now.

Both Embryo Cave and Twin Trickles are marble caves at the edge of the Canadian Shield (near Toronto Canada), but they are very different in character.

Much as you might imagine, Embryo Cave is a cave that is smooth inside, easily traversed, the long borehole crawl being in soft silt, while Twin trickles is a cave in which you shred your knees, cave suit and anything else on or around you. The rock in Twin Trickles is sharp and jagged, the cave dips quickly downward through jagged portals and though the marble is beautifully banded there is more a feeling of intimidation in this cavity, it varies between tight and spacious, dry and soaking wet, jagged and more jagged, with lots and lots of black flies – see video on Embryo Cave here.

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While up in Bancroft on a caving expedition this past week, I had the good fortune to speak with Jody Raven of the Sacred Path Center. Like myself, Jody also has a deep respect for the natural world and in the accompanying video she talks about shamanism and shamanistic healing. At the Sacred Path Centre Jody and Henry offer workshops and courses in self and spiritual growth as well as counselling and healing from the perspective of earth based studies.

Click here for a short video of Jody Raven speaking on Shamanic healing, shamanism, spiritual growth and counselling at the Sacred Path Centre.

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Some time ago I did some winter hiking near Toronto (Niagara Escarpment) and explored behind a waterfall to see how it would look with all the icicles. Needless to say it was amazing – exceeded my most hopeful expectations. Most impressive was this low rumbling sound that filled the whole cavity, it was a new dimension to my unusual Ontario based travels – sound.

Check out this video of behind an Ontario waterfall – here.

In line with the publication of my first book in 2005 (Rockwatching), in the video that I have linked to just above, I show a little bit of the local rock and the contact between the Queenston Shale and the Whirlpool Sandstone.

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As I am still recovering from my mexico trip – (a nasty ailment that leaves me wishing that I’d been a little more cautious in the cenotes), we thought that we’d take it easy this weekend and though we pass Greig’s cave several times a month, we finally stopped in for a visit. Cost is $10 per adult and there is a nice picnic area, washroom, free walking sticks and the use of a flashlight, having my caving helmet I did not inquire about the cost (of the flashlight rental).

When I was younger I recall seeing that great and tacky classic ‘Quest for Fire’ and so it was with some amount of recollection that I viewed one of the larger caverns and I believe it was there that one of the epic battles between the Neanderthals and the other hairy guys took place. Another vivid memory was that unforgettable scene when the three stone-age morons were sleeping up in the tree and one of them had eaten all the leaves. I believe he was taunting a lion or a tiger beneath when the branch he was sitting on broke.

Anyway, more significantly, after a very interesting trip to Shallow Lake and the observation of one of it’s sinkholes, JC and I donned our packs and helmets and spent a little time looking for evidence of something other than the usual sea cave formative processes at Greig’s. I can’t really be totally sure of what I was seeing, I sometimes like to mull over what I have seen before I come up with a theory. For the most part there is a lot of collapse and evidence of wave action, but there was this one spot where a massive joint cut into the rock and from there a low crawling tunnel branched off along an anastomosing route – quite different from the smooth worn walls in other areas. It may have just been a rotting corroded section of rock, but the tunnels were somewhat regular and unchanging in size and one passage that I should have crawled down further, but was filled with porcupine feces, seemed to be quite promising – not so much for what you could see, but rather the floor was dirt and I wondered if there was anything that could be unearthed with a little digging (like a passage that had been miraculously overlooked). Several people have suggested the possibility of solution tunnels playing a part in the formation of Greig’s Caves – I’d like to prove that theory.

The above picture is of a little squeeze beside a pool. Up ahead JC’s camera on a telescopic extension revealed a small cavern that slopes down to the left with the possibility of further going tunnel, but that is just a guess by looking at his pictures. We both tried fitting through here, but neither of us had either the ability or inclination, but Jeff is strongly considering giving it another try – I believe he will fit. It seems that there are sseveral passages oriented along the bearing of a joint that runs somewhat parallel to the clif face – one is quite long and the crawl was increasingly painful in jeans and tanktop. I hope to prepare a little video sometime later in the week.

All in all, the $10 was well spent. The property is very scenic and we suddenly realized that we’d spent several hours in speculation. Admittedly this is not a wild cave, but it certainly has some interest and who could possibly shun it for the fact that it was the setting of that great theatrical masterpiece of my teenage years – Quest for Fire. If you are looking for a casual outing with your kids, providing you keep a good eye on them as there is plenty of opportunity for injury, this could well be one of the fun things to do near Toronto. This is a good example of what cavers call spelunking. I felt a little overdressed with my helmet, but what the heck.

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With the arrival of Toronto’s good citizens it really started heating up in the square around the Heart Machine.

I understand the mobile rave had nothing to do with the official Nuit Blanche, the mobile rave was a grass roots event, not for profit loosely organized and with a number that prospective ravers could call to see where exactly the rave is at any time through the night. As for one of my favorite activities – people watching, it was a very colorful crowd and a mega sound system that literally shook windows in surrounding buildings.

Rave organizers advised ravers to not “be that guy”, keep it legal, keep from blocking traffic etc. The actual rave would not be illegal, it would be the activities that were taking place by rave participants that might push the boundaries. Well from what I saw, they pushed the boundaries a lot.

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So I’d meant to visit the Heart Machine. It seemed to be a nifty concept, the idea of taking control of your city, instead of passively waiting for the city to happen and you just being an observer. As the artist had written, the interaction between citizen and city was meant to be symbiotic.

long before you saw the exhibit you could see the orange flicker of the Heart Machine on the upper walls of nearby buildings. I was especially interested as the Heart Machine had been featured last year at the counter-cultural Burning Man Festival in Nevada. the whole idea is that these 4 big severed arteries or maybe it was the Vena Cava would belch huge roiling puffs of flame into the sky when triggered to do so by some good citizen who was beating at the heart. Well it certainly was a spectacle and it drew a crowd of citizens who chose to interact with the exhibit.

Carl, Jeff, Maggie and I were standing around the Heart Machine somewhat passively watching this fire twirling girl toss a flaming stick around when this Mohawk’d  fellow climbed up onto a reddish mound that I took to be the heart. Imediatly the heart seemed to be picking up the pace. The pulse was increasing and the night above was lit by great roars and exhalations of fire and then the citizens arrived – planned or not they certainly added to the atmosphere and if it had not been for the chill in the air I could well have imagined that I was at the Burning man Festival myself.

I felt it first – this primitive vibration in my gut, a pounding beat explained as “step-Dub” by Jeff who is familiar with the raving scene. The street was packed and a mob was moving toward us – the smell of weed (cannabis) preceding their arrival. It was a mobile rave where the police were conspicuous in their absence, several hundred youths in varying degrees of stonedness, one fellow near me puffing a joint so large it lit the crowd up all around him. There was this guy who looked like Renfield from Dracula, faries, various pseudo Manga characters, kids in masks, costumes, fancy gowns and tons of neon glow sticks. And of course a couple of rave queens in a pickup and another vehicle behind that was kind of like a float. “Water, anybody got water?” a young fellow cried out to nobody in particular.

The music was pounding out so loud that I could barely hear Maggie saying “lets get out of here, this is getting out of control”. As though in reaction to the new arrivals the heart was now spewing flame as though it had just ruptured. A fire engine was caught up in the mess and its siren added to the chaos.

You might say that these citizens of Toronto had come to interact with the heart, and interact they did!!! It was a symbiosis that seemed symbolic of recent interactions – read into it what you will.

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Priscilla; Queen of the Desert – Palace Theater – London

After the disaster with the Visa that didn’t work, our unbelievably generous relatives sprung for theater tickets for what they suggested “Mick needs to give a chance as its really quite good.” Looks like the tickets were 65 pounds apiece which put us on the floor near the front.

The nearest tube station was Leicester Square and emerging up the stairs we found ourselves in the noisy carnival of people, lights and entertainment that is London’s West End theater district. Everywhere there were booths that were selling half price tickets. The best prices were on matinees – things like Stomp, Chicago, Billy Elliot and yes – even Priscilla.

The theater itself – the Palace Theater – was built in the 1880s and when the freehold was purchased in 1983 by Andrew Lloyd Weber they removed the paint to discover incredible onyx and marble panels.

Priscilla is the name of the bus in which 3 entertainers travel across the outback, headed for Alice Springs to perform at a casino that is run by the wife of one of these colorful fellows. Actually the entertainers are transvestites – highly talented as dancers I might add. What makes it a musical is that they lip sync the Supremes. The actual musical begins with 3 angels – well sort of angels – dropping down from the ceiling, they have phenomenal voices and the level of sound grows to quite an overwhelming volume.

Priscilla somehow spins on stage, lights up as though by pixels as every square inch is possibly lit by a light bulb or some kind of illusion to make it appear that way. Half the bus is cut away and part of the drama takes place as they are driving and you see the inside of the bus in cross section – and of course there is that fantastic scene from the movie where one of these fellows is atop the bus (in this case sitting in the stiletto that is pictured above) with silk train blowing out behind. Moving from its position atop the bus the stiletto somehow slides right out over the audience.

One thought though, I can’t imagine why some people took their children – it is certainly not for the younger audience.

All in all, that was money well spent, it was very funny and high energy.  Maggie and I are considering going in Toronto some time within the next few weeks to see how the Canadian talent compares.

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