Extended family vacation to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
  • Day15


    July 17, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Day fifteen. The bed had no sheets, just a fitted covering and a scratchy blanket...the blanket probably a welcome nighttime commodity in winter. It was July...
    So no real sleep, again... hot, humid, uncomfortable bed...James. We dragged ourselves out of bed and began the tedious chore of packing one final time; we go home today.
    Vacations are a mixture of emotions, experiences, challenges, and rewards. Traveling with a large family and small children carries its own special category of all those things. Today, at this moment, I was happy to be headed home.
    We washed one last load of clothes, herded the scatterings of clothes, toys, and shoes into our bags again and extinguished any signs of our stay in this apartment. Barb and Kevin were the first to depart, we said our goodbyes and hugs all around and watched them drive off to the airport; leaving us, Forest, Heleen, and Mies.
    We had a few hours to kill and had to be out of the house soon so we all went to a park nearby to let the kids play. James had a close call here; he’s become interested in trying to stalk then capture birds lately. If he sees a bird in the near vicinity he will start his predatory advance until the bird flies away, followed by him chasing it as far as he can. He went after a bird at this park that is pretty close to several roads...he spotted his target, and off he went. The bird, either very wise or very stupid, sought refuge in the street. James was going for it, Heather of course wasn’t far behind and in a few long strides scooped James up just as his little feet were about to cross off the sidewalk. Toddlers.... no sleep for the wicked.
    After the near brush of toddler frogger...(that’s a game where you are a frog and you try to cross a busy street)...(clever), we grabbed some nearby pizza because nobody was tired of pizza, then said our goodbyes to the Netherlands contingent of our group.
    We returned our trusty rental car at the airport and proceeded to do the airport shuffle in Halifax, Toronto, then finally Atlanta; finishing the already long day of travel with a 3 hour drive to our home. We arrived at 2am eastern standard time...about 3am our body time. But we were home, our home, our bed...sheets on the bed too...our pillows, our dogs happy to see us.
    Travel these days is so damn frustrating, the lines, the security, the price gauging...(talking airports here), it’s a challenge no doubt, similar in ways to running a marathon. It’s exciting at first, followed by the thrill of your exertion; pushing yourself because you know you got this...then comes the what the fuck have I done? and WHY?? But then comes the reward of getting to your destination, the excitement of a new country, and of all the things your about to see and do. And when you come home you get that afterglow of having done something pretty awesome, of having seen things and tasted things, and shared things with people who you love and who love you. An accumulation of combined experiences that somehow become tempered into one strong memory, and the planning for the next adventure begins.
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  • Day14

    Halifax, again.

    July 16, 2018 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 21 °C

    Day fourteen.The ferry provided a pleasant wake up call promptly at 6am, by alerting us with nautical tones on the speaker system with no volume control in our room... in my fitful sleep my initial thought of abandon ship was quickly replaced with thank god this is about over.
    We pulled into Sydney at 7am and slowly purged ourselves from the ferry, following the long line of cars out off the little port town into Nova Scotia. The plan was to distance ourselves from the busy restaurants and gas stations that surround the ferry terminal and find someplace quieter along the way towards Halifax, about a 4 hour drive away.
    We did find that spot in Baddeck; a small lake side town that had a beautiful harbor and quaint little restaurants and mom and pop bed and breakfast joints sprinkled about. We all settled down in such a place with the morning fog slowly lifting around us as we ate a delicious breakfast on a wide covered porch that belonged to lovely little Inn. In reality the hostess wanted to segregate our toddler infused group to the chilly, still damp, outside deck so we wouldn’t disturb the other guests... No matter, it was the better option anyway and one we were all glad for. Afterwards we walked down to the harbor where there were many sailboats tethered in the bay and ample room for the kids to get out their energy. We also spotted a huge, beautiful double masted sail boat that was at port with lots of people milling about it. We discovered it was the famous “Bluenose II”, the “sailing ambassador of Nova Scotia”. The Bluenose II sails around the world for the most part with a crew of 23 full time sailors. Today we were lucky enough to catch them here in Baddeck, a stop for them during their summer sailing schedule. They open up the top deck for anyone wanting to see first hand what a classically trimmed sailing vessel looks like. It was beautiful and shiny, the deck just recently washed and all the brass just polished. We spoke to a few crew members who were scattered about answering questions for people. Like, how in the hell does anyone get so lucky to call this a job? The crew are mostly young 20ish folks who still have freedom in their lives, that committed to a six month stay aboard the Bluenose. The crew is then run by 6 officers and one captain as they sail around Nova Scotia and other far away ports spreading the nostalgic image of their beautiful ship wherever they go. It made me a bit jealous I have to admit, sailing has always been something I’ve wanted to do. So I pulled Addie aside and tried to plant as many seeds in her head about doing something like this when she’s a bit older... I’ll live vicariously through her.
    When we finished drooling and wishing about future sailing adventures...that may of just been me... we loaded back up in our caravan of two and drove the rest of the way to Halifax.
    For the last night we found another airbnb, an apartment near other apartments that could easily accommodate us all. So the ensuing debate of room selection and dinner options commenced, for one last time...
    I’ll just say here that my suggestion of staying at the harbor front Marriott, that had next to it the boardwalk, the restaurants, the view, the all things I thought we would enjoy on our very last night here...was rejected unanimously in favor of this apartment in the apartment district of Halifax next to nothing... but hey, I’m just along for the ride and need to keep my mouth shut and drive the car!
    Ok, the Marriott was very expensive...but I’m very easily able to rationalize such things while on vacation, especially when it’s our last night. Anyway... to celebrate our last night in Nova Scotia, we got pizza take out and ate it in the apartment. Ok... so everyone, including me was tired...the kids were bordering on mutiny and if we did drag them out for one last hoorah they probably would of suffered a complete breakdown and made us all, and the rest of the restaurant, miserable. So, it was probably a good decision to stay in...damnit. At least we had one more night’s worth of 14 year old whisky.
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  • Day13

    Green Gardens

    July 15, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Day thirteen.The morning was beautiful, coffee out on the porch is a gift from the airbnb gods. It is our last day here in Gros Morne, we have a ferry to catch late tonight that’s about a 4 hours drive away. So we wanted to fill in the time with as much as we could. Heleen suggested that Heather and I hike the Green Gardens trail alone, while the rest of the group check out the park’s Discovery center and then play at one of the local beaches for a time. We accepted.
    The hike was a 6 miler round trip; so we packed a half a bottle of water and a banana and set off. To start the hike Heleen dropped us off at the trail head so they could use our car while we were gone for kid transport logistics. The beginning of the trail is very exposed on a rocky hill face that slowly winds you up to the top. Once there, it’s a slow decline into a very thick forested area with a lot of wooden steps needing repair. We were beginning to become skeptical about this hike and wondered if we made a mistake by not choosing a different one.
    Soon the thick trees and underbrush opened up a bit giving us a glimpse of the sea and the craggy, dramatic coast line below. The trail then took us out of the woods and into a prairie of sorts...the grass was long but not overgrown due to the sheep that were roaming around. We had not expected sheep on the trail, but there they were, about two dozen some with lambs, all baaaaaing about as sheep do. It looked staged to the cynical hiker. This was just about as perfect of a landscape as you could ask for. The black cliffs merging with the black sand, the green grass in all it’s shades matching the blue of the sky just right; the off white of the lamb’s wool as it grazed next to a patch of wild purple lillies; all mixed to created a scene that was truly beautiful. And the best part...the part that made it all so wonderful, was for a time Heather and I were the only humans on this cliff prairie.
    We explored the area like two children, each twist of the trail a new discovery of beauty. The cliffs were perfect observation platforms to view down the coast side and provide that little kick of thrill each time you stepped to the edge. The crashing of waves, the gulls with their calls, even the sheep, all played together creating nature’s version of Beethoven’s symphony #3 in E flat...
    Ahh, but all good must come to an end, and our time on the cliffs of the Green Gardens was up. So back through the dense underbrush, back UP the steps in bad condition, back DOWN the rocky trail to the road parking lot to wait for Heleen to pick up back up; which she did, precisely at 3:00pm.
    We rendezvoused with the rest of the family in the little fishing town of Trout River still in the park and prepared for the 4 1/2 hour drive to Port Aux Basques to catch the midnight ferry to Nova Scotia.
    Traveling with kids just means that you’re gonna stop, and stop often...it’s a given. Traveling with a group of 9, three of which are kids, 2 of which are little kids means you’ll be lucky to accomplish 50 miles in 2 hours. Two cars trying to stay together in unfamiliar roads with funny numbers on signs is tricky...add crying, whining, fighting to the mix, throw in some hair pulling for good measure and brief moments of insanity and it’s a small miracle that we didn’t end up upside down in a ditch. After one such stretch, we pulled off the road at the only restaurant Google had in its brain that was nestled inside a gas station, and apparently the only “restaurant” in the area. When we walked in the small, cramped, busy I’ll admit but probably because there wasn’t another choice, dining room the place literally went quiet. We just discovered Newfoundland’s deliverance...
    These people were related, you could tell...and not in the normal, “ you’re my sister I’m your brother” kinda related... more like “you’re my sister and my grandma and I’m your cousin and your uncle”. The “waitress” looked at us and sorta sneered, said something like “good luck” and scurried back into the dark recesses of what I presumed to be their kitchen.
    So naturally everyone in our group is just tickled pink to be eating here and settled down in some tables that were free of people, but not free of the last 7 meals it looked like still sitting on plates and dirty napkins, with dirty forks still wet and shiny from something...all this mess just collecting flies and not a concern, not at all... to the friendly “waitresses” that were still casting looks of severe annoyance in our direction. The two young kids in our group, and with good reason I’ll add, picked this time to start making a lot of noise. James just wasn’t happy, he could sense I think, the deviant thoughts of child eating ogres, ogling his veal like shanks. I was not having it... Heather quickly took James and left, motherhood instincts in full bloom, and went back to the relative safely of our car. I told the rest of the group that we’re not eating here, because I enjoy my health, and left as well. Thank God they listened and agreed, otherwise I don’t think we would of left. That place had to have been a portal to the twilight zone.
    The remaining drive was beautiful, the landscape turned desolate and dramatic. This part of Newfoundland is very sparse, not much here except amazing mountain ranges that when hit with the setting sun, glow gold and green. When we arrived in Port Aux Basques we found a simple seaside restaurant that catered to the ferry crowd. It was nice, because they mainly wanted us there and were normal. The food wasn’t bad either. After eating we drove a short distance to the ferry terminal and prepared to wait forever until we were allowed to board like last time. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, soon after we cued up we were told to drive aboard the ferry. We unloaded our bags and found our small, cozy, windowless cabin and settled in for the overnight ferry ride. Addie wasn’t satisfied yet until she explored the ship, we had to find the snack bar, the observation deck, and the gift shop before she was ready for bed.
    The night was hot and stuffy in our small room; but it was our small room, we had privacy and our own space and the kids slept soundly.
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  • Day12

    Gros Morne National Park

    July 14, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Day twelve. James found our bed at some point in the night...I thought we confused him well enough before he went to bed by telling him our bed was really Kevin and Barb’s...smart kid; I think he can sense Heather’s aura or something.
    Coffee on the porch: Holy shit what a place for coffee on the porch. I could walk out that back door with coffee every morning for next 60 years and it would never get old or boring. So we did the breakfast thing and the indecisive thing and the debating thing until someone..... until someone came up with the plan to go hike on the Tablelands. Sounds pretty cool I thought, hiking on the tablelands sorta implies dramatic vistas with high altitude and condors soaring around your head. Well I had a different country in mind apparently because this hike was full of migrating tourists that came by the bus load; all equipped with huge backpacks and the ever important trekking poles! So they don’t suddenly tip over I guess. James was being his toddler self and refusing to go an inch unless he was carried by Heather. She was developing some impressive arms I’ve noticed. The trail was ehhh... and the destination was umm.... but the overall setting was cool and different. The looming mountains were borrowed from Mars and we all learned we were looking at an exposed portion of the Earth’s mantle. So that was neat. Heather threw in the towel after about an hour of James’s dead weight and went back to the car with Barb. Addie stayed behind and learned about the Pitcher plant; a carnivorous plant that kills it’s prey by digesting them in acid that is kept in their pitcher like leaves... nasty. I followed the trail to it’s end and sat on the bench that was my reward for doing so.
    Back at the cars we drove to the little bay of Trout River to dine at a very good, we were told, seafood restaurant. We were told correctly as it turned out, I had Newfoundland cakes; a crab cake like dish with cod instead of crab. They REALLY like Cod here, it being in their diet since...well since forever. But it was delicious and it came with a bowl of pea soup...yummy!!
    From here we split up the group with Barb coming with us. James needed a nap and nothing makes him nap better then a curvy bouncy road, so we decided we would drive over to Norris Point, about an hour away and see what it had to offer.
    Not much... but we did get gas and Heather and the kids DID tour a small aquarium actually; the kids liked it. I stayed out of the aquarium and walked along the rocky shores being artsy and creative with my camera.
    At the last minute Heather and Barb took the kids back to Woody point via a water taxi. The hour long drive it took to get here, took them 10 minuets by boat to get back to Woody point. I drove the car home alone, stopping when I wanted to to take pictures. The quite car was weird and unsettling for a few seconds...then it was marvelous.
    Home for the night now, more view soaking up, more whiskey soaking up, bath time for kids, and nightie night we go.
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  • Day11

    Gros Morne

    July 13, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Day eleven. The drive to Gros Morne was a lot better than the drive to Gander. The sun was out doing its job; the storm had moved north and out of our concerns. We did the 4 hour drive in fairly good time with only one pit stop along the way.
    We drove into Gros Morne and followed a narrow road along a huge inlet that flanked several small towns and villages. Our rental for the next two nights was in the township of Woody point, nicely situated above the harbor with views that were simply amazing. Walking out on the covered back porch was a pleasure each time you did it. The water below and the cliff walls that came to its edge were as postcard perfect as you could ask for. The rest of the house was very nice, probably the nicest of all of our rentals so far. It was a wood cabin with plenty of space for us all, nice bathrooms, and a very functional kitchen. The house also had a viewing room, high on the top floor there was a small room with floor to ceiling windows in all directions that allowed us to soak up the views when the wind was a little too much on the porch. I could have lived in that room, watching the boats and birds and clouds and the sun, then moon.
    This house was also the perfect location to deploy my drone. I probably flew my drone further than ever before. I had perfect line of sight with nothing but open space to fly in. Up and down the inlet I flew, I hovered over kayakers and took a great photo of an older couple on a small cliff next to a lighthouse that I didn’t even know about until later as I looked at the photos. They were smiling for the photo too...
    We all agreed that we wished we had more time here in Gros Morne. Our shortest stay in the most beautiful area just doesn’t make sense to me...oh well, next time.
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  • Day10

    On the road.

    July 12, 2018 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Day ten. We woke up and started packing for the long road trip across Newfoundland to Gros Morne National Park. Originally, we had planned to spend one more night in St. John’s and to do the 8 hour drive in one go. But word was a tropical storm was on its way and pretty soon St. John’s would be swathed in rain and wind. So the new plan was to leave today and only drive half way to a town called Gander to spend the night. Forest and Heleen were worried about Mies being in the car for so long I guess, and the other point was the weather, what would we do in the rain all day besides stay cooped up together in that wonderland house? I’ll tell you, bars...pubs...drinking holes...St. John’s is famous for the pub scene.
    Regardless, we did as we were told and we left the city headed west. About an hour in we found out that the storm had missed St. John’s all together and instead settled in the middle of the island, more precisely, the middle of us. So we drove in the pouring rain for several hours until we reached Gander and the Comfort Inn, our accommodations for the night. Hotels are great fun for children. The elevators, the hallways, the ice machines, the double beds...all a playground mecca for the young, and a hellish, headache inducing prison for the old. Luckily for us there was restaurant next door that was the top reviewed eatery in Gander...it was also the only place in Gander to eat dinner so we headed over. James poured ice water in his hotdogs and fries, Heather hated her scallops that were bathed in some weird cream sauce, ( I had the same thing as Heather and didn’t mind the cream pudding). Addie had Cod tongues...yeah, Cod tongues. She actually saw Cod tongues on the menu and said, “I’ll have that!” Good on her too, she’s a hell of a little traveler. Anyway, that meal sucked. So back to the Comfort Inn we go where I have a bottle of 14 year old whiskey waiting for me.
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  • Day9

    Thar she blows...

    July 11, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    Day nine. We awoke early, not hard when your bed decides to eat you and your wife by sucking you down into the middle of it. We all gathered in the kitchen to pound some coffee before our whale watching adventure began. We drove about 20 minutes out of town to a little harbor with a well reviewed whale watching boat floating in the bay. We were welcomed aboard and all sat on the top observation deck; cold but excited. The outfit was named O’Brian’s and they promised fun, puffins, and whales...what more could you ask for?
    The weather was foggy and cold, the captain forewarned that the low level fog could make spotting the whales difficult but tried to sell us on the puffin thing to make up for it... So we slowly cruised by “Bird Island” and saw thousands upon thousands of birds, puffins, gulls, and a few other species of sea fowl all making a symphony of squawks and defacing the rock cliffs they were perched on. It was a very impressive site, and it was pretty cool to see hundreds of puffins all sitting outside of their little borrows on the side of the cliff. Watching them fly would be like watching a penguin successfully fly I think, it’s awkward and amusing all at the same time.
    We left the bird paradise and went further out to sea, still somewhat enclosed in the large bay in search of water spouts as whales resurface to breath. Soon the captain spotted a few spouts close together not far off of our port side...(that’s left in captain speak). He ran on top to the bridge to control the boat better while maintaining a higher vantage point. He was getting excited you could tell as he called out the locations of the whales for all the passengers to find. Soon we easily saw three different spouts appear, all moving closer to us. The Captain informed us that we were watching three Fin whales approach; the second largest marine mammal in the sea with the Blue whale taking first. The Fins came closer, no doubt curious about the noisy humans and smelly boat that constantly roams the water. They spouted a few times and said goodbye, letting us all marvel at their size, mysticism, and our good fortune.
    On the way back to the harbor I was screeched in along with Heather and Heleen. We became honorary Newfoundlanders by wearing a stupid hat, repeating something stupid, and drinking a shot of “screech” that is supposed to resemble some sort of rum. I think the whole initiation is just so Newfoundlanders can make stupid Americans look stupider. But I got a hat out of it.
    On to Petty Harbor for a seafood lunch where we ate Moose. Some of us ate Moose anyway, Moose is good...sorta like venison but a lot bigger. I personally ate moose stew with a big heaping bowl of lobster mac and cheese; comfort food for sure on these chilly July afternoons... I wonder what they eat in January, seal fat and whale blubber perhaps.
    On the way home Forest and Heleen felt like they needed to hike off the 200 calories they ate during lunch so we dropped them off at a trail head nearby that apparently led them along some really breathtaking views. We have to take their word for it because they don’t take pictures of anything. We were tasked with kid wrangling for the evening as it was Barb and Kevin’s turn to experience Raymonds.
    We took the kids to the park, that’s just what you do when you don’t know what else to do, but they don’t seem to mind. Addie swam in the pool, naturally, and James and Mies ran around like insane small people. All had fun...all the kids had fun.
    Addie and I had a date; so we all headed home after prying little fingers away from slides to get ready.
    Addie and I had dinner alone this time at a nice downtown restaurant called Travola. It was a tapas bar and slightly out of Addie’s norm for dinner fare, which was the point of taking her here. Addie is a amazing big sister, she’s a natural at appeasing James when he’s being hard to deal with, and because of this we, her parents, often call on her to help when nothing else is working. The toddler often rules the roust, so tonight was just me and her. Addie surprised me by ordering without any prompting from me a summer salad to start, followed by pan seared Cod with vegetables, a side of Gnocchi, and a side of truffle oil fries. We shared. Before we ordered dessert I talked her into trying a raw oyster for the first time...she did too, she ate one oyster prepared with a little lemon and some sea salt. She only had one, but she said it was “unusual” and “interesting”. Not bad considering I fully expected her to tell me it tasted like a huge snot ball going down her throat. That girl always surprises me.
    After dinner Addie and I walked around the harbor for a bit wasting time before our haunted hike. St. Johns is a very old city, the oldest in fact in all of North America. So with all of that history there are some ghost stories to be sure. Awhile back some local history buffs started taking people on a “haunted hike” at night, walking around the downtown area to different sites where murders and revenge crimes were thought to occur. The guide is dressed all in black and has a wooden staff adorned with a skull. This has become a popular thing with tourists and locals alike; tonight was proof as there were roughly 80 people in attendance. It was a fun hour and a half, being led around the town by this person in black; making traffic come to a halt while 80 people suddenly streamed by coming out of some dark alleyway. Addie really enjoyed it and loved retelling the stories to everyone back home. It was a fun ending to a great stay in St. Johns. I hope to return to this little seaside city in the future; I could see spending a lot of time here.
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  • Day8


    July 10, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Day eight. The old townhouse was in a great location, it was close to the waterfront, close to coffee shops, and close to a kids park with a pool, slides, and swings. It was pretty damn perfectly placed for us, but the insides reflected the house that the mad hatter probably lived in with Alice, Tweedle Dee, and the Queen at some point I think. The town house was tall and narrow, as town houses tend to be, it was old and redone several times; the latest attempt of uniqueness backfired is some ways however. The basement, that is accessed by a dangerous spiral staircase has been christened a bedroom by its owner by simply putting a bed in a basement and calling in a bedroom. It also had a toilet with teeth...literally. The main floor was the communal living space with kitchen and living room. Middle floor was our bedroom that had its own living room and a bedroom with a spongy hospital like mattress that was not comfortable and probably not hygienic. Top floor had another bedroom and bath and same bed setup...so we didn’t really sleep well needless to say but sleep is for the rested and we have no time to rest. First outing was to the Ocean Science Center that had a small tank of sea sponges and starfish that kids could pick up and torture. Most of the starfish were missing appendages that haven’t grown back yet. We also saw some seals that were learning the difference between white and gray... you know, because that’s an important seal skill. I personally think that they just wanted the fish and will do what the fuck ever to get it.
    After all that fun, we headed to a little beach we read about called Middle Cove Beach, or better known as Middle Earth. I fully expected Gandoff to appear on the cliff above us on his horse and to fairy float down with his pipe. This place was cool... black pebble beach with jagged cliffs that went right to the water. Water was blue green like an iceberg because one just melted in it I think. The water was just slightly above freezing...nobody swam. But it was a fantastic place for a picnic and an opportunity to let the young wildlings run and roar. I attempted to fly my drone for the first time while on this trip here. For once the wind wasn’t hurricane force and I was NOT in a drone prohibiting environment...freaking national parks...but, stupid me did not charge my RC so I just threw it off one of the cliffs thinking it would somewhat sail down...
    After all that relaxing crap, Forest, Heleen, and myself thought we would take a small hike that just so happens to start at a brewery. Heather, James, and I already visited it once so I was a regular by now and loved by all the staff. I showed Forest and Heleen around, introduced them to the hip hipsters, and we enjoyed ourselves a tasty beverage before our hike. It was quick as hikes go, but beautiful as hikes should go... exposed for the most part on cliff sides and rock outcroppings, the wind was unrelenting. We ended up at the point of the inlet that led to the harbor and took in the view. Canada parks have started placing two red chairs in their national parks in certain places that offer a beautiful setting to sit down and relax for a bit. The idea started in Gros Morne National Park and has spread to others around the country. We found two and tried them out on our hike; they didn’t disappoint.
    After arriving back at the house, Heather and I got all prettied up to head out on a date in St. Johns. A few days before we left on our trip, we both watched Anthony Bourdain’s travel show, “No Reservations”, where he featured a restaurant in St. John’s called Raymond's. He said in the show that it was one of the country’s top restaurants, and it was extremely difficult to get a table. For some reason I can’t explain we got one, a two seater at 9:30pm, the last one.
    There are a few times in life where you have an experience that you really can’t do justice in explaining how it made you feel. It’s like when you take a photo of something beautiful, something unreal that you’re sure once you share it everyone will be instantly transported into your shoes and say...”Holy Shit!”. But it never really works that way; there are just things that have to be seen or felt or tasted to really understand the magnitude of the experience. Eating at Raymond’s was one of those times... We both had the 7 course tasting menu with wine pairing. The whole meal, from bar cocktails to the after dinner cappuccino was a story. Each morsel of food or drink came with a tale to tell; the manner in which it all was presented was an art form in itself. We left Raymonds knowing we wouldn’t eat like that for a very long time if ever again. Walking back to the house was nice, the night was cool and we were both basking in the experience of the amazing food we had just eaten. All of that came to a stop however when we walked inside to find that James had decided to have a melt down in our absence, it was past midnight and nobody in the house was sleeping...
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  • Day7

    St. Johns

    July 9, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Day seven. The ferry purged us from it’s bowels at 10am and we were in Newfoundland. The juxtaposition of the cramped ferry and the wild desolate surroundings we found our selves in was not lost on me. From the colon to the forest floor, we were free...
    We had an hour and a half drive to St. John’s, but our quandary was time as it most always is. We had 3 hours to kill before we were allowed to take up residence in our new dwelling, so after a brief meeting that we had no part in, it was decided we would spend that time looking at goats and smelling their shit...to the petting zoo we go!
    To be fair it was also a huge produce farm and market of sorts, the goats along with the Emu’s, bunnies, Eeyore, ice cream, and sandboxes were all well thought out and designed to entrap us and rob us of all our pocket change. It worked. Thankfully they had carrots and eggs that we bought so we wouldn’t starve in the big city tonight.
    Finally, being allowed to enter our rental we found the townhouse without issue and debated on who would get what bedroom and all the pros and cons of each option. We celebrated our accomplishment by walking to a little coffee shop nearby then to an over crowded park that must have been in the middle of some camp outing...I believe all the kids in this city were there, all being polite and nice to one another...it was unsettling.
    Heather, James, and I escaped and drove up to Signal Hill, a national historic site that overlooks the surrounding bay and the city of St. John’s. It was beautiful and of course windy as hell. James had been really struggling most of the day, he was cranky and irritable and frankly just a little unstable...reminded me of a 3 year old...humm. But he did enjoy the view I think, a really big red boat went through the the little harbor creating a perfect photograph and he said, “boat”.... he was really excited.
    To capitalize on his good mood we took him to a local brewery called Quidi Vidi. It was oh so tasty and beautifully snuggled in a small little harbor in St. John’s. James did us a huge favor and didn’t scream the entire time were there, letting us fully enjoy our craft beers and for a time, forget about all the struggles that come with traveling with a toddler.
    From there we drove to a local grocery store that was beautiful. I’ve never written those words before but it’s true. It was big, somewhat out of place, and had all the goodness we were after. They even had a escalator for the grocery carts.... and I thought I’ve seen it all.
    Home now, dinner was prepared, ( it was vegetarian....”what?” Meat is bad...) and James didn’t disappoint by preforming one last encore. He is now passed out from all of that work and dreaming of sabotage and mayhem, just like all boys his age. Tomorrow brings new things, and we’ll be first in line.
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  • Day6

    Sydney to Newfoundland

    July 8, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Day six. It’s easy to rise with the sun when the sun smacks you in the face... I was grateful however as this was our last day in Cape Breton. The morning became busy and a little frantic as 6 adults dogging 3 children scoured the house for all belongings and tried to re organize our luggage. Once we packed, ate, and caffeinated ourselves to sufficient levels we took the obligatory group photo and got on the road. The plan was to meander around the famous Cabot Trail that takes you through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park from one end to the other. The road borders the sea for most of the way and the views and driving were dramatic.
    In most of the travel and guide books they say that July is the high tourist season and to expect crowds. Well if this is an example of Nova Scotia’s busy travel season then they either have no concept of “crowds” or our expectations of crowded is just ridiculous and an example of what we’ve become used to in the states with huge lines, bursting amusement parks, and claustrophobic beaches...I want to live here.
    We drove for several hours stopping a few times to gawk at the beauty, and once to swim in the freezing waters of a beautiful cliff lined beach ( i didn’t swim...I’m too smart).
    We arrived at the ferry terminal in Sydney and waited in a long line for a long time before we drove into the belly of the big ferry that would take us to Newfoundland. It was a cruise ship circa 1984... it tried to be a nice experience for its travelers, it tried to have entertainment, it overall tried to be everything we wanted it to be. But, no matter how to you twist it, we were all sleeping in a 4 person coffin with nothing but the sounds of your neighbors and the unvarying drunk spinning kinda feeling from the rise and fall of the ocean waves the entire night. It was a 14 hour ferry ride, they had beer...thank God, it would be complete mutiny if they didn’t, and of course ridiculous overpriced, over cooked, re-used...(just hypothesizing here) food. But, after only 5 toddler breakdowns we made it into Newfoundland. The last 45 minutes of the journey was beautiful as the big ferry navigated through the channel with the rugged coastline on our flanks. The wind was unrelenting and managed to find any opening, no matter how small, into your clothes and to your skin. But none of that really mattered as we watched the approaching harbor get closer. We were in a new place, a rugged place with cold and wind and unsurpassable beauty, and...ready to get off this fucking boat.
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