Toronto Islands a Second Time
I've been trying all summer to think of somewhere to go on a day trip. My last outing was to Toronto Islands, and despite a flat tire at the tail end of it, it was a success. I decided against venturing out of town. That was necessarily because I was worried about catching COVID-19 on a train or bus, since the stories I had read of people doing it seemed OK. I just didn't know what I'd do once I got to, say, Kitchener-Waterloo, in-person events having been put on hold this year. So I did what was easy: I took a Bike Share Toronto bike to Toronto Islands again, and this time was even better than the last.
I play location-based games when I'm out and about. It's a way for me to interact with my surroundings while also passing the time on walks and bike rides. On this trip, I played:
- Fog of World, with a mechanic I saw first in Warcraft. If you visit a place on the map in that game, the fog at that location dissipates. Once you leave that place in the game, your vision as to what's there becomes limited, but the fact that the fog is gone marks that you had been there. Fog of World is the real life version of that. The game, if you want to call it that, will lure me into places that I haven't defogged, and this time, it was Algonquin Island, a highly residential area of Toronto Islands.
- Ingress, which defies an one-line explanation, but in brief, you join one of either two teams, and the goal is to cover the most territory in fields. It had occurred to me recently that how one does that is actually faire daunting, but thanks to teamwork, much of the work (laying down resonators, making paths for links) is often done for you. Since it takes a little bit of effort to get to, the portals on Toronto Islands were unclaimed, so I "captured" quite a few by biking around, especially in the amusement park area. It being a non-holiday weekday, there wasn't anybody around to wonder what I was doing there. I haven't stopped playing Ingress completely. Until this trip, I had been holding steady at almost-but-not-quite Level 14. On this trip I crossed the threshold.
- Foursquare's Swarm, where you get points (coins) by checking into nearby places. Since the start of the pandemic, Foursquare has discouraged people from venturing out by reducing the amount of coins (and thereby reducing your chances of climbing the leaderboard) one gets by checking in. I do it in part out of habit, but also to be able to easily retrace my steps if called upon to do so.
- Untappd, which tracks beer consumption, and has a location component to it (where one drinks the beer, and, if applicable, where one bought it from). There's no leaderboard or points system, so it barely qualifies as a game.
- While not a game, I ground-truthed two microconfluences. (What's a microconfluence?) It so happened that one was pretty much the exact location of a church. Did the people who build it know that at the time?
On my last trip to Toronto Islands, the last hour was marred by a flat tire, and I ate the hot dog I was so looking forward to at the ferry terminal, waiting an hour in blustery conditions. This time, I got a seat on the patio overlooking the lake, and enjoyed it a lot more.
I noticed I wasn't the only one who took a Bike Share Toronto bike on the ferry. While on the Islands, on three separate occasions, someone asked me where they could get one. Being from British Columbia, having grown up on Vancouver Island, I think of a larger body of land that's adjacent to an island as "The Mainland" (after B.C.'s Lower Mainland region). So I told them "the mainland" was where they could get it, hoping they knew what I meant. The bike rental shop (a separate entity from the Toronto Bike Share system) was closed that day, so I assumed that's why they were asking. I knew that if I didn't dock a bike every half an hour, it would cost me $4 per hafl and hour not docked. I looked at my credit card bill afterwards, and it cost me $45 in rental. I knew more or less what the cost would be, and happily ate it as a cost of the day trip, but I still wonder what the effect would be of having one or two docks on Toronto Islands. It would make it easy for a family or friends, or even me solo, to justify a trip there and not have to take a bike on a ferry each way. I made my feedback known to Bike Share Toronto, so I hope they consider that if we're still under pandemic restrictions and need a pleasant getaway from the city.
This trip elsewhere on social media: