Summer Planning!

It’s that time of year again – Summer Time! (Also known as Vacation Time!)

Obviously, I have started making plans. If by any chance you’re interested in coming to visit me and/or seeing me during my travels this summer, please leave me a comment or send me a message so I can make sure to fit everyone in!

My first plans are already for next week!

Solo Road trip #1 – Cheticamp in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. 

I’ll be landing in Cheticamp Thursday, June 29th late at night – not making any plans other than crashing at my best friend’s house. I’ll be spending the entire day there on Friday June 30th, hoping to do supper with family, then heading back to Moncton on Saturday morning so I can spend Canada Day with my better half.

(Side note – if you want to make plans for Canada Day at night, let’s meet up for the fireworks!)

Solo Road Trip #2 – Cheticamp, again! 

I’ve marked this down as a solo trip because Max and I are both aware that he probably won’t be able to tag along. Summer is the hardest time of year for us to make plans because we just don’t have the same days off. I had requested to get Sunday-Monday off, but it wasn’t possible, so I’ve got Friday-Saturday, which are the only two days that Max works every week.

Despite being disappointed that I’m doing the trip home by myself again, this time it will be to visit the LeBlanc/Bourgeois family, all of whom will be camping out at the Beach! It’s gonna be a fun family weekend, and we’ll even be celebrating my step-mom’s birthday!

Although that was the main point of my trip, I was fortunate enough to get an extra day off work on Sunday to stop by the Inverness County Centre for The Arts where they will be hosting the grand opening of a Tiny House Exhibition! Really looking forward to attending this event and meeting some people from the area to talk about Tiny House Living! If you plan on going to this event, let me know!! And if for some odd reason you need a drive from Cheticamp on the way there, and a drive to Moncton on the way back, I have room in the car! 🙂

Garage Sale

Ok, so that’s not exactly a trip, but it is a part of our summer plans! We don’t have a date picked yet, but I’m hoping in early or mid-July! We’re going to have a ton of stuff to sell for cheap, so make sure you keep an eye out for our poster or Kijiji ad in the coming weeks so you don’t miss out!

Magic Mountain Day with the Mills Family

Nothing is set in stone, but my mom and all of my step-dad’s family usually come up to Moncton once each summer and we spend an entire day at Magic Mountain water park! My mom mentioned it might be in mid-July, so fingers crossed for good weather and that everyone can come visit at the same time!

Camping in Cap Pelé
Ok, we won’t be the ones doing the camping, but the Bernard’s will! Max’s parents have been camping in Cap Pelé every summer for quite a while now, and we are really looking forward to seeing them and spending time at the beach together! Weirdly enough, this is actually where I met the entire Bernard family for the first time ever, when Max and I had JUST started dating! Pretty special spot. 🙂

Halifax Buskers Festival

So this one isn’t even written in my scheduler, but I haven’t attended the Buskers Festival in at least 4 or 5 years now, and I really miss it. Plus, Max has actually never been, so I’m going to try to see if we can squeeze it in, if he’s not working. We could even do a day trip and just get home super super late… (fingers crossed!)

CHANTAL’S WEDDING!

And the most exciting event of the summer… my university roommate’s wedding!!! I am so incredibly excited for this! Did I mention I’m flying over to Winnipeg for their marriage?? Yeah, it’s gonna be quite the adventure!!

During my stay, I’m hoping to visit with some of my friend in the area, and most definitely check out the Assiniboine Zoo!! Any other suggestions on what to see during my 4-day stay? Let me know in the comments below!

It’s gonna be an amazing summer, I can already feel it!

Tiny House Meet-up! 

On Friday May 26th, I was already excited. I cleaned the house and packed our bags so we would be ready to go as soon as Max was done work. I was off on Friday, but he got called in, so we would be leaving later than planned. Fortunately I was able to get Sunday off – something that almost never happens – and so off we went to Cape Breton!

Destination: Sydney, Nova Scotia

Purpose: Attend a Tiny House Meet-up for the first time ever!

(And also visit family)

So I should probably begin by explaining what all of that means.

To sum it up, a Tiny House is a very small home, often built on a flat bed trailer, that is meant to be eco-friendly and often, a means to be more financially independent. As for the Tiny House movement, it is not actually about owning Tiny Houses or building them, but rather about a minimalist lifestyle, about community, about teamwork, accountability, and financial stability. To quote Carey Rolfe, it allows us to “[enjoy] all the things that life can bring.”

When we talk about a Meet-up event, well it’s basically as the name states – an organized meeting of people who have similar interests to discuss about a specific topic. The topic in question this time: Tiny Houses.

Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I figured not many people would show up, that it might not even be a real thing. But I dragged Max over there and we were pleasantly surprised.

As we entered the room where the event was taking place, we were greeted by over a dozen people, maybe even twenty, and not everyone had arrived yet. We looked around to decide where we would like to sit, and we landed where I always prefer to be seated: right in the front.

Immediately, I looked around to see if I could find who was leading the event, because it was one of our goals to record and film during the entirety of the event, and we certainly didn’t want to do that without permission. Everyone seemed OK with the idea, and they jumped into it right away.

The first person to take the stand was a woman named Tracey. We soon learned that she had attended a Tiny House Conference in Portland, OR – side note, they cost a fortune to attend, which is why we have never been – and that she was challenged to take action to help the Tiny House Movement. Finally, she decided what she would do to help, and that was to organize a Tiny House Meet-up in Cape Breton.

She then went on to introduce our speakers: Carey Rolfe, from Underway Tiny EcoHomes, followed by July Pratt and Nicki Duenkel, whom you may have heard of in the news, who moved into their Cape Breton based Tiny House in late 2015.

Carey spoke to us a bit about the purpose of Meet Ups, because he is actually the head organizer of Tiny House meet-ups all through Nova Scotia. But mostly, his talk focused on his business and what they do. It was surprisingly impressive, especially to find this kind of work being done in Nova Scotia. Basically, his company not only works on building Tiny homes, but also acts as a supplier for materials specific to Tiny Houses, some of which are just not available at the local home renovation stores.

“Our goal was never to be the builder of choice, but rather to be the supplier of builders of sustainable homes.”

One of the products that they are encouraging others to buy are Structural insulated panels. In short, they consist of two sheathings – I am pretty sure this means two pieces of wood, one of the outside, one on the inside – with an insulating piece of foam core in between them. Why is this is better than regular insulation, you might ask? Well, for tiny homes, it’s definitely the space aspect of it. Using this type of insulation makes for thinner walls and allows you some extra space on the inside of your Tiny House. And of course, that’s on top of all the usual benefits of their strength, their efficiency, and how cost effective they are. According to Cary Rolfe, the R value – I was told this means the power that the insulation has to keep the heat in – is “as much as a 2X6 wall.”

 

Carey also touched on other subjects during his talk, and one thing that really spoke to me was when he started mentioning financials. Reality check – it’s not always possible to build a Tiny House for under $20 000 in our climate. We live in East Coast Canada, not in Portland, Oregon. We have really cold temperatures, we have strong winds. We have large amounts of snowfall, and we have large amounts of rainfall too. We live in a 4 season environment, so our Tiny Houses need to reflect that. And that being said, it is – in my opinion – better to put more money into your Tiny Home to ensure its longevity if you do plan on living in the Maritimes.

And speaking of living tiny in the Maritimes, that’s exactly what Judy and Nicki were there to share with us.

Judy and Nicki first moved into their Tiny House about 18 months ago, which is located in a small town outside of Sydney, Nova Scotia. If you haven’t heard of them, you definitely need to check out this CBC Article and watch their video.
Their Tiny Home is nothing but ordinary. It is incredibly unique, in the sense that it meets all of their wants and needs, all inside a very small space. They have all the luxuries they don’t want to live without – and that includes a tiny dog elevator!!

You read that right – a doggy elevator! Judy and Nicki have an 11 year old corgi named Shanti with a bad back who has slept in their bed since they adopted him, so they told the builder that they couldn’t move forward until they could find a way for him to get upstairs. And after much research, the builder – Matt from Howling Dog Construction – came up with the idea of a small electric winch-powered elevator that the dog would fit into!

Of course, there is much more to their Tiny House than just their doggy elevator. I was happy to see that they decided to go with steps instead of a ladder to get to the main loft – our preference as well. They also had a very cool kitchen design, which was U shaped, with one of the back corners being used as storage – from the outside of the house!

When it was finally time for them to make the move into Tiny – that’s what they named her – they found themselves asking one main question: “What am I attached to, and why?” A very important question indeed, as I think we are all aware that one of the biggest sacrifices when making the move into a Tiny House is downsizing the amount of stuff we own/keep.

As for insurance – which is one of my biggest concerns – Judy and Nicki explained that their Tiny House is insured as a Mini Home. However, they did have to get it tied down and skirted for it to be considered a Mini Home. We still aren’t too sure how that will work in New Brunswick, but I’m assuming it’s probably the same as in Nova Scotia. (More info on that in a later post…)

To finish the Meet-up, Matt from Howling Dog Constructions brought up some photos of his two Tiny House builds, the first being for Judy and Nicki, and the second being a much more luxurious Tiny House for a couple from New York who wanted a summer home in Nova Scotia. And of course the question came up: how much does a Tiny House like that cost? This New York couple paid a whopping $130 000 for their custom made Tiny House – keeping in mind that they paid a builder for his time, on top of all the materials including furniture and appliances, one of which included a special order backsplash from a showroom in New York. At this point, Judy and Nicki spoke up to let us know they most certainly did not pay that much for their Tiny House, but it just goes to show you can put whatever amount of money you want into a Tiny House and make it work for your wants and your needs.

And of course we stayed after it was all done, just to say thank you to everyone, and to ask some more questions. Max went to speak with the two builders, with one of which he had a very interesting conversation about the design he had done in regards to structural integrity. As for myself, I went to speak with the organizer of the event, Tracey, and had a great conversation about what our plans are for the future – Max and I, that is. She proceeded to tell me she was actually writing a book about the Tiny House Movement and would love to stay in touch and possibly ask us some interview questions for her book. I thought that was so cool because we are planning on documenting the entirety of our project, and not only would this be extra publicity for us, but I could also get her advice and expertise on the whole writing aspect.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say we had an amazing time attending this event and it has just instilled even more motivation for us to get started on our own project. We know we’ve still got a long way to go, but we hope you’ll all be following along with us as we go through this new journey in our life.

Summer Plans – Tiny House Festival

You must be thinking, “Did I read that correctly?” Well yes, yes you did. Apparently, this year is the third annual Tiny House Festival. The event is happening August 12th & 13th in Old Port, Montreal. Oh… AND IT’S FREE.

I’ve been looking around for workshops/meet ups/conferences – anything you can think of that has to do with the Tiny House Movement. Finally, I stumbled upon this.

Fingers crossed that I can get the full weekend off of work to be able to make it there, because it seems like a pretty cool event.

SIDE NOTE: If this is something that interests you and you’d like to drive up from New Brunswick with me, leave me a comment so I can contact you and therefor save myself lots of money on gas by bringing you with me. 

From what I could read on the website, the festival grounds will permit attendees to visit Tiny Houses models that are on site, listen to inspirational speakers on various subjects about Tiny House living and self-sufficiency, attend workshops about construction/finances/alternate energy sources, and much more.

The festival’s mission is outlined as follows: to promote an eco-friendly, affordable and healthy lifestyle which allows for increased self-sufficiency and independence. They also hope that by creating awareness about the Tiny House Movement, an increased amount of municipalities will accept the creation of Tiny Houses and/or will amend their laws to allow Tiny Houses in their region.

To be quite honest, I’m super pumped about attending this event, and I hope you’ll consider going too!

If you’re not convinced, you definitely need to check out this video.

And this one!

Solo travelling: Ups and Downs

Everyone will tell you there are ups and downs about travelling alone. I find it so interesting how some people cannot stop raving about how amazing it is to travel solo, while others tell of their completely disappointment when travelling all by themselves.

It is surely very dependant on a person’s personality, but I know that every single person is capable of travelling – or doing anything for that matter – alone. There’s just the matter of doing it or not.

Honestly, I completely surprised myself when I made the decision to do this trip to Australia alone. I’ve never travelled alone, although I always told myself I would one day. I certainly did not think Australia would be the destination. All I knew for sure – back then – was that when I was going to travel alone, it was going to be in a relatively safe country, especially for women. Well, what better place than Australia?

As I was preparing my trip, I didn’t feel nervous about going alone. Again, this surprised me. Why wasn’t I beginning to feel anxious? Why didn’t I feel scared? Well I’ll tell you why. Because I knew I was capable of doing this. I was confident, excited, and determined. I was going to live out on my life long dreams of visiting Australia. Nothing was going to hold me back.
Honestly, I think that’s what pushed me to decide to make it a solo trip. I didn’t want to be held back. I wanted to live this and experience this at its fullest. As the young folks say, “You do you!” So that’s what I was going to do. This trip was going to be all about what I wanted to do, when I felt like doing it.

Inevitably, there always comes a time – whether you’re travelling alone or even in a group – where you just don’t feel like doing anything. OK, maybe not everyone feels that way, but I know I’m not the only one. I’ve experienced it every single time I’ve travelled. And the good part is, I’ve always been aware that that’s what I needed, and so I took the time to actually do nothing.

It sounds a bit silly. Planning to do nothing. But I think it’s important, crucial even, to respect that your body can’t be in super intense mode 24/7 during the entirety of your trip. Your body needs rest. Your body needs self care. And your body will always let you know what it needs, you just need to listen.

For me, the hardest part of travelling alone so far is not giving in to that little voice in my brain that tries to disguise itself as my body telling me to slow down. That little voice in my head that tries to bring me down, that brings up thoughts of loneliness and the feeling of being homesick.

And of course, after that starts happening, I can’t stop but think of the “Cons” about travelling alone.
1) I don’t have anyone to share these experiences with

2) I don’t have anyone here to laugh with me

3) I don’t have anyone to suggest we do something new

4) I don’t have anyone to kick me out of bed right now

5) I don’t have anyone to watch my bag, but I really need to pee

6) I can’t go out now, it’s dark and I’m alone

Etc, etc…

I’m fortunate to be able to communicate with all my family and friends from home via Facebook and e-mail and all that junk, because I made the decision to purchase an Australian pre-paid phone plan for a month, and it came with 8.5 GB of data. This helped me in many ways, namely because I am constantly – ok, not always in the outback, but everywhere else! – able to connect with someone, and because I got some beautiful and touching messages from old and new friends alike, showing me that those “cons” I kept thinking about were insignificant compared to the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is this: I have always dreamed of visiting Australia. And here I am, doing it!!

Best tips I received about staying positive and looking at the pros of travelling alone:

  1. Concentrate on living in the moment
  2. Be aware of what you’re experiencing – not everyone has such an opportunity!
  3. Make new friends, new connections, even if they don’t last
  4. This won’t last forever, before you know it you’ll be back home – so don’t leave with regrets!
  5. Focus on the fact that this will probably be the last time you see or experience these things
  6. You’re not forced to stay in one place; you can always change your plans
  7. You are not completely alone, everything you share on social media lets everyone back home feel like a part of your trip
  8. Live fully for those who cannot
  9. You do you
  10. Let your mind wander. Let your soul wander. Feel. Live. Breathe. Be you. Be that moment. Live that moment. Live you.

I had a really hard time the first few days. I couldn’t connect with anyone, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. There was a super cloudy day in Sydney one day, and I know most people feel the same way on a dull day, but I just couldn’t get out of the rut I was in. I missed everyone from home. I missed joking and talking and telling stories with someone who actually cared. I had no energy and I had no motivation. It was my “down” moment.

But now, my down moment is over. I have taken the time to rest, to ask for help and support, to take care of myself. The next morning, I woke up and I was proud that I had gone through that. I was aware now that this happens when you travel alone. It will always be a struggle, but it will always pass, if you let it.

That last full day in Sydney was spent relaxing at Bondi (pronounced bawn-die) Beach all morning – I love to do things early in the morning! – then spending some time at the hostel before heading out for a nice walk to visit the Public Library and the Sydney Opera House.

While I was at the hostel mid-afternoon, a fellow roommate had asked if I wanted to join him back at the beach to do the Bondi to Coogee walk. I had told him maybe, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. And the more I talked with that guy, the more I realized how different I was than most backpackers. You know what? No, I don’t want to go do that walk. No, I don’t want to get absolutely plastered every single day/night. No, I don’t want to go home and feel like all I’ve done is party during this entire trip.

You know what I want? I want to be a tourist. I want to travel like old folks do. I want to visit museums and libraries. I want to go to every single zoo, aquarium and animal sanctuary. I want to learn new things. I want to love this trip. So fuck your stupid drunken beach walk, Joey.

Out and About in Sydney!

Well, it wasn’t my first day in Australia, because that day was spent mostly recuperating from the long and tiring flight from Canada, not to mention the incredible jet lag. But on my second day, after sleeping for a good 12-13 hours (forcing myself back to bed every time I woke up in the middle of the night), it was time for a day out in city!

I’m currently staying at this super cute hostel called Eva’s Backpackers, located pretty much near the downtown/waterfront/whatever you call it area. It’s nice and quiet, somewhat easy to find, near lots of amenities like a grocery store (called supermarkets here), a bank, and lots of other crap. I’m staying in a 10 Bed Dorm room, and I’m happy to say that I nabbed the last bottom bunk when I checked in early!

But anyways, back to the story! So I decided that I would go out and explore the city after being well rested. I grabbed a map from the front desk, but was also very aware that I would probably be relying on my phone to check online maps in real time. Here’s the surprising part: I was actually able to make my way toward the water without checking too much. I knew it was to the left of the hostel and a little higher up, so I just went from there. Although there was a super confusing part. I didn’t know this, but there are lots of areas in Sydney that have stairs. Like… what? Public walkways where you have to climb up to get to the next street. How does the layout of this city even work?? I was lucky that as I was confusedly checking my map/phone, a lady stopped and asked if I needed help. I told her I was looking to get to Circular Quay to catch the ferry. She told me I had the climb the stairs nearby to get there, and that I could cross the Botanical Garden if I wanted to and that would lead me there. Initially, I did not like the idea of zigzagging around in a public garden, but in the end, that’s where I ended up going to avoid crossing streets. And you know what? It was actually pretty easy to navigate! This is a pretty big deal for me by the way, because I usually have a terrible sense of direction. More on that later…

So I cross the Botanical Garden-ish, and get out onto a street that I remembered seeing on the map as being one of the main streets leading down to the water. Lucky me, that’s exactly what this street was, and it led me directly to the Sydney Opera House.

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I took some time to take some pictures and look around a little. Then I checked the signs for the ferries and found out that I needed to get to Terminal 4 to take the ferry to Taronga Zoo, which was departing very soon! I hurried over and asked the lady at the ticket counter how it all worked. She said I didn’t need a ticket or anything like that as long as I had my Opal Card I was good to go. As I walked passed her, I saw the ferry leaving. Dang it! I was hoping to get to the zoo right when it opened at 9:30AM. I asked the lady when the next ferry would arrive and she said it would be at 9:50AM.

I decided I would take this time to get a small breakfast or snack while I waited. I looked around and didn’t find much that interested me, so I went to a place that sold small breakfast items (little pricey) and went with a simple fruit salad. And holy jeez, was it ever good! That’s probably due to the fact that all the fruit in that salad were actually grown right here in Australia!

After I was all done eating, I grabbed my Opal Card – the public transit card used in Sydney for busses, trains and ferries – and scanned in to take the ferry. I sat down and waited, although it didn’t take too long for the ferry to arrive. I got on board and sat down outside, although not too close to the water. I was just hoping to God I wouldn’t start feeling queasy again and that the ferry ride didn’t last too long.

It didn’t help that an old lady working on the ferry asked if I could fill out a form about the quality of service. I didn’t feel like saying no, so I accepted the paper and a pen, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to write anything down without starting to feel sick so I just set them aside.

The ferry ride was actually pretty short, less than 10 minutes I believe. I stepped off and headed where everyone else was headed, assuming that was the right path. What I hadn’t known at the time was that you were supposed to “tap off” when you were done, but I hadn’t seen anyone else doing it, so I didn’t do it either.

I started looking around to see which way the entrance would be, since I hadn’t bought my ticket in advance (I had a coupon, which in the end would save me more money than purchasing in advance). For some reason, there was an employee greeting everyone and insisted that if we did not have a ticket that we needed to board the bus. I thought this was odd – why couldn’t we just walk there? But apparently the entrance where there is a walkway was under construction. Plus turns out the bus fair was only like ten cents.

When you walk inside, it’s very different from the Magnetic Hill Zoo where I work in Moncton. First of all, there’s no actual entrance building. The arch leads you back outside, where you are directed to make a line to pay the entry fee at the windows to your right. When it gets to be my turn, I ask the lady at the admission booth to see if they had any discounts for zoo employees from other countries. She said she could ask, but that she would need to see some ID. Darn it. Stupid admissions workers don’t have swipe cards so no proof that I actually work there. Ah well. At least I had my trusty coupon, saved me 15%!

After you pay, the admissions employee hands you your receipt, and apparently this is your proof of payment. Right after that area is another wooden structure on your right hand side, and I can see that everyone there has a volunteer tag on. They are giving out maps and information and such. On the left, there’s one of their many gift shops. Part of me REALLY wanted to go inside and see, but I knew that the presentations were starting soon and I really didn’t want to miss those!

After you pass those things, there are washrooms, and then a toll-like area. Two employees stand there waiting for you to show your proof of purchase, and then they stamp you on the hand. I can already tell this zoo has way more employees than the zoo back home…

I open up the map right away.

I’m so excited, I don’t know where to go first! The map is also pretty confusing, because there are lots of higher and lower areas, and 3 or 4 coloured paths that I couldn’t quite find in the beginning. But the super obvious path had green circles painted onto the asphalt. I figured that would be a good place to start.

I wandered around for a little while, taking some shots as I walked by some cool and interested creatures. I skipped some on the way because I was trying to rush to get to a show. I couldn’t find the lemurs right away, so I gave up and decided I would go to the seal keeper talk instead. And holy camoly, was it ever worth it!!

Get this – they’ve got about 8-10 different seals, all trained very much like dogs! I couldn’t pick my favourite, but here’s a good shot of Pepper:

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My God, they are such majestic creatures!

Next up were the elephants! Some were getting bathed, while others were doing exercices. It was pretty cool to see, especially since I think this was the first time I have ever seen an elephant in real life (except that one time Max & I saw the circus elephant’s butt as he was being taken out back at the Magnetic Hill Zoo like 10 years ago).

I also saw loads of birds, various monkeys, something called a binturong which is also called a “bearcat,” some hippopotamuses from behind, and so much more.

OH, AND I SAW A RED PANDA!

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Ok it’s not the greatest shot, but it’s the only spot where you could see him. And he was just so cute!

I’m probably boring a lot of you, but you know what? I had a a BALL spending my entire day at the zoo, so I’m just gonna go on and keep talking about every animal I saw!

After I spotted all those guys, I walked down to see the seals again, now that they were all in their enclosure. And oh they looked like they were having so much fun! Playing with each other, swimming up and down, flipping around… so much fun to watch.

But you know what’s even better than seals?? TINY PENGUINS!!

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Next up I went to see lots of reptiles and bugs and whats-its. It was in the kids area but there’s was lots of interesting information about all the animals. Next to it was a barnyard area, but I pretty much grew up with most of those so I just walked through. But then was a super cool spot that they called “Kangaroo Walkabout.” There’s actually two spots like these, the first one was right next to the koalas (more about them later…) and had wallabies, ostridges, and two different kinds of kangaroos, then the other one had your typical Australian kangaroos.

OK so here’s the deal with the koalas… turns out it was not a great time to try to see those guys because usually, they have 3 different enclosures throughout the entire park, but today (and probably for a few days to come) two of those enclosures were under construction, and the only one left that was open to the public was the one where you had to book to go for an encounter. Well, that was obviously sold out all day, so the best I could do (for now…) is this:

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I didn’t get to see any Tasmanian Devils, they were probably all hiding or sleeping. But it was interesting to read about the conservation project that the Taronga Zoo has going on to help save the population from going extinct.

What I did get to see though were some FREAKING ADORABLE LEMURS!! I went by for the keeper talk in the afternoon and then she said we could do a walk-through of their enclosure 12 at a time. Well, you can imagine I ran up to be first in line (ok, fine, I was third in line because two people had coincidentally already been standing there while watching the presentation). I was among the first to go in, and she explained the rules to us very clearly. Apparently these guys don’t like to be touched (the ones in Moncton, I’ve been told, will tolerate you petting them, especially if you give them food) and get nervous is people crouch down. So I couldn’t get lots of different angles, but I did manage to get some good shots. Check this guy named Julian:

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He was an excellent model.

After that excitement was all done and over with, I continued my walk and went back to see everything I had missed. I saw some meerkats (Timon!), a beautiful zebra, an animal similar to a cow called a bongo, some mountains goats, very vocal chimpanzees, and many more. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see the Fennec Foxes, which I was really looking forward to, but for good reason. The female had just given birth recently and was likely out back tending to the kit.

You thought it was all over, didn’t you? Well, I saved one of my favourites for last…

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And that’s where I’ll take my leave.

Honestly, that’s pretty much the only thing I did on that first full day in Sydney. By the time I took the ferry back to Circular Quay, it was almost 5PM. I had to walk back to the hostel, that was another 20-30 minutes, then I had to cook supper, eat, and it was almost time for bed. (Don’t judge me, I’m still pretty jet-lagged)

If there’s somewhere you think I should absolutely not miss out on while I’m in Sydney (or along the East Coast), please feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll gladly look into doing some new stuff that maybe I hadn’t thought of!

Cheers! xo

Travel Shower

You’re probably a little confused by the title of this blog post, I’m sure I would be too. So let me explain as briefly as possible so we can get right down to it.

It is common knowledge that most women’s dream – feminists aside – is to get married and/or have kids. And quite honestly, I am envious of a lot of those women because I wish I knew that that was what I wanted.

Relax mom, I’m not saying I don’t want to get married or that I won’t have kids.

But what I’m trying to say is that regardless of whether or not I want those things, those two kids in particular are special events that are very often celebrated by having a “shower” of sorts. For example, when you’re an expectant mother, you have a baby shower. When you’re about to get married, your family and friends throw you a wedding shower. But why is it limited to celebrating only those specific “traditional” events? Why can’t I celebrate the fact that I’m going to friggen Australia in less than two weeks?? I know it’s very different than giving birth, but in a way, that is my most recent and greatest achievement. I’ve been working hard to save my money for as long as I can remember to go on a trip specifically to Australia. It’s my dream vacation. And it’s actually happening. I’m still in shock.

When I spoke openly about this “travel shower” concept to my boyfriend, he was skeptical.

“Why?”

In my mind, there was no “why,” but rather, “why not!” Especially knowing the type of people I associate with, most of whom are all avid travellers. Wouldn’t they all appreciate my idea and rejoice in celebrating the success our own special life goals?

Picture this. Guests are invited to an afternoon gathering at my house. Gifts/cards are optional, of course. If guests would like to bring something for the hostess, it is suggested to bring something small that they feel you shouldn’t travel without. At the event, finger foods and desserts are served. The decor is very fitting to the theme of the event. There is a world map pinned up on the wall. There is a vintage luggage set and a globe to be signed by guests – where have you travelled to? There is fruit punch served in a bowl decorated as a sail boat. There are games to be played throughout the afternoon, and lots of wisdom to be shared. My favourite part: a travel advice & well wishes nook where guests can leave notes and invaluable information. And of course, guests would not be allowed to leave without first grabbing a little something from baggage claim!

“It sounds kind of selfish,” my boyfriend had expressed. “You don’t need help like expecting mothers.”

But it’s not about getting help or receiving something, even though I might have made it sound that way. It’s really just about one thing: celebrating something that holds a great deal of importance to me.

I know how it sounds, I’m not foolish. A lot of people will think this is a dumb idea. And that’s OK. They just won’t be invited to my party. 😉

Holiday Travels – Part 2

This next Christmas celebration was the most difficult to organize. I blame myself a little bit, I should have assumed it would end up like this.

Basically, every year my mother hosts a Christmas dinner and gift unwrapping at her place in Halifax, and every year it lands on December 27th. When I asked her in October when she was thinking of having her celebration, she answered that she still wasn’t sure. Unfortunately, that meant I had to guess which day it would land and ask for that day off because if I waited any longer, I might not be able to get time off at all. I decided to play the flexible card with my boss. I had requested days off before Christmas to see my dad, and I asked for one day off after Christmas, but that I had no preference and that the other girls could have their pick first. I ended up with December 28th. Oh how foolish I was…

Of course, the dinner lands on December 27th, but this was only decided in the month of December, so too little, too late. There was no working around it. We didn’t have any extra staff for that day, and I was unable to switch because the co-worker who had gotten that day off had already made plans to do supper at her mother’s place. Just my luck.

On top of that, I was trying to see if we could make December 28th work, but my brother was working early the next morning so he had to be back in Moncton on the 28th. On top of that, the 28th is my step-niece’s birthday, so all the family in Halifax had already made other plans. To make matters worse, Max coincidentally got news that he would be working on December 28th. All that to say that I was now the only person who was available, so I guess that day is a no go.

To say I was bummed out would be putting it lightly. I found it pretty difficult knowing I would not be able to make it to my mom’s for Christmas this year, that I would be missing out on all our traditions. I won’t deny it – I sulked, probably way more than I should have. I didn’t let it show at work, because it was no one’s fault but my own. Next year, I’ll know better.

On the night of the 26th, I was looking up the weather online while at work. I noticed that it was not giving very nice weather for the following day. I started to wonder… what are the chances my boss would be willing to give me the day off since we surely won’t need full staff for a stormy night like that? The worst she can say is no… And so I sent off a text asking for the day off, explaining that it would be to visit family since I was the only person who had initially been unable to make it. It took a while to get the response, and I was getting pretty anxious. But just before closing, the boss sent a reply saying that if it was alright with the supervisor, it was alright with her! I was fairly certain the supervisor would agree – it had been a little tough trying to keep 3 people busy on slow nights. Trying not to get my hopes up – just in case – I awaited the supervisor’s response.

That was a longer wait, but I eventually got a positive response from the supervisor, thus giving me the OK to go ahead with my plans!

Step 1: Don’t tell mom that I was able to get off work.

Step 2: Choose when to leave.

Step 3: Text my brother to tell him about the plan.

Step 4: Leave early the next morning and surprise my mom in her nightgown, slaving away in the kitchen! (For some people this might seem awkward, but honest to God, it was just hilarious)

You can’t imagine the look on her face when she realized who was walking through the door. It was like a scene from a movie. She had the biggest smile I had seen in such a long time, and it was so genuine. To my boss, it might have meant nothing to give me an extra day off. But to my mom, it meant so much. Ok, I’m tearing up thinking about it. Let’s change the subject.

Happy day, we made it to Halifax to celebrate with all of my mom’s family! We spent most of the afternoon running around and/or helping prep everything for that night.

The first to arrive was my step-brother, although unfortunately all by himself. His girlfriend had had to return to Newfoundland the day before so we had just missed her. Next up was my step-aunt, step-uncle, and my step-nan. (Ok, I’m just gonna drop the word “step” from now on. I think you all get the point…) Not too long afterwards came my sister with her husband and three kids, as well as my other brother, his wife, and their two daughters. What a bunch!

All of a sudden there’s another knock at the door. I was a little confused, since I thought everyone had already arrived. My mom goes to the door to answer and in walks her best friend Bonnie, accompanied by a very handsome man I had yet to meet. I rushed over to give her a big hug! Since my mother hadn’t been sure if I was coming or not, she hadn’t told Bonnie I would be there. And since I had surprise her, she decided to surprise me by not mentioning that Bonnie was coming over!
Introductions were then in order. Max, my brother and I each had the pleasure of meeting Bruce, Bonnie’s dreamy boyfriend. We had heard so much about him – maybe a little too much! – but we had never met him until that day! And what a wonderful man he is. Very caring, with a warm heart and a bright smile.

After some more socializing with the group, my mom rounded us all up and we started digging in. There was so much food, and it was all so delicious – as always! And then, my mom comes out with not one, but TWO desserts! It was mandatory, of course, to have a birthday cake – it was Maggie’s birthday on the 28th after all. The second dessert, however, was not one of her usuals. This time, it was a no bake blueberry cheesecake, and OH MY GOD. It just melted in your mouth… I’m actually drooling right now just thinking about it! OK, next topic!

After we ate until we couldn’t eat anymore, we all sat down in the living room and my mom began passing out all the gifts. I was surprised at how many there were, because we had been told it would be a smaller exchange this year. There were presents for the kids, of course, for me, for Max, for Remi, for my mom & her husband, for the brothers and sisters, and a few even for Nanny Mills. It took quite a while to get everything unwrapped, but we had such a fun time doing it! Lots of wonderful surprises for everyone!

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My mom & her husband opening gifts from the grandkids!
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Nan got a billion pair of slippers!

We are so fortunate to have such thoughtful family members, who gave us amazing gifts, from a waffle maker, to a new set of bed sheets, and a beautiful colander and bowl set!

Can you believe there is still one more Christmas celebration to go?!

September Sum-up

Every year, September has been pretty hectic for me. Usually though, it’s due to the school year starting up. This time, it’s just real life – and I am not complaining!

This entire month consisted of amazing memories with family and friends, I felt constantly surrounded by loving and caring people. I almost cried of joy so many times, it was overwhelming to realize how fortunate I am to have all these incredible people in my life.

First example: the month started off with me getting home from an exhausting day at work, after having worked 50+ hours that week, and finding a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the counter with a post-it on it saying, “To Carmen, From Rémi xoxo.” Just like that. For no reason. Flowers. For me!!

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That same day, Max and I headed up to Miramichi to see all of my dad’s family since they were up there packing up all of Katelyn’s stuff for her to move back to Cape Breton. She wasn’t moving on that specific day, but she was moving out of her apartment and crashing at a friend’s place for a week instead of paying a full month’s rent for only living there the extra week to finish her work contract.

We had a really great time up in Miramichi. We went walking down the streets, got some coffee, had supper together at the hotel where they were all staying that night, and spent some time relaxing and catching up. Ok, so it wasn’t exactly the most exciting night of my life, but it’s moment like these that I appreciate the most because as we get older, it is becoming harder and harder for us to get together, and when we do, just each others’ presence is enough to warm my heart.

And speaking of my heart – oh my heart! September 6th marked our one year anniversary. I was trying not to get too excited about it, because I always expect too much and go way over the top for things like this (birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, etc). I had been very hesitant about what to buy him as an anniversary gift, and I could just not think of a single thing. Every time I thought about getting him something, there was an immediate after thought of, “But what if he would rather have that other kind/brand instead?” And that would convince me not to buy it. Every. Time. So here I was, on the day of our anniversary, still no gift or anything. Plus, he had told me not to make plans because he was in charge of that tonight. Luckily, I was off that day, and so was my brother, so I dragged him along and we went shopping.

After going to a few stores, I finally decided I would get him a gadget and found a great purchase Best Buy. I also made a few pitstops to get him some candy from Bulk Barn and some homemade fudge from Cabela’s.

When we got back home, I felt proud that I hadn’t overspent, but that I found a good gift and added a few small gifts that I knew he would appreciate. Go me!

Our plans for that evening were still a surprise, so I (im)patiently waited for Max to get home from work. It was quite a rushed evening, as he had to make sure he was home for 5PM to sell a dolly he had purchased to move back East, and then, he mentioned, we had to hurry because his plans were timely as well.

I wasn’t sure what to wear/what to bring/etc, so I just went with it. He asked me to lock myself in our bedroom for a little bit because he had to prepare some stuff for the evening and I wasn’t allowed to see the preparation process – it would ruin the surprise, he said. So off I went and cuddled with my kitty in bed, browsing through Facebook on my cell phone.

A good 10-15 minutes later, we were all ready to go. He hurriedly asked me jump in the car, but to make sure I brought a sweater, because he knows me, and I always get cold at night.

As we start driving, my heart is pounding. Where on earth is he taking me? He looks over at me and tells me he is sorry, that everything isn’t going as he had planned. I’m not sure how to react. “What do you mean?” I say. He says he will explain after we arrive.

So we keep driving up towards the northern end of town, and I try to keep calm. We come to a halt at one of the highest points in city, and he hurriedly starts getting stuff ready. He puts down 2-3 blankets on the ground to make sure it is comfortable and he asks me to sit. He open up a cooler with a beautiful bottle of white wine, pours us each a glass. He starts taking everything out of the trunk and backseat – he really packed everything! He set up the portable BBQ that we have and lit it up to heat up veggie burgers and corn on the cob. We also had salad in a container to share, and typical Max, he brought out some fancy cheese and baguette as a starter!

“Ok, so if this wasn’t even the original plan, what exactly was?” I asked him.

“I was going to set up the futon mattress with dozens of pillows in the back of my truck so I could drive us down here to eat supper while we watched the sun set.”

My eyes started welling up. Wow.

I felt bad that he hadn’t had more time to get everything done for tonight. I knew he wanted it to be just perfect. But the thing is, it already was.

Except it gets even better…

So there we were, lying down on the blankets, finishing our glasses of wine and watching the night sky, when all of a sudden Max asks me to go grab the extra blanket I keep in the trunk so he can cover his legs – the mosquitos were attacking the heck out of us! Of course I would, so I got up and went to the car.

(Side note: I get pretty tipsy when I drink, even if it’s just one glass of wine.)

I get to the trunk and open it.

Me: “Max, there’s a box in here! I don’t think I’m supposed to see this.”

Him: “What?”

Me: “There’s a BOX in here!”

Him: “Ok, so what?”

Me: “Well, am I not supposed to see it?”

And finally it dawns on me that he didn’t ask me to get the blanket for his legs – he wanted me to see the box.

Him: “I donno… why don’t you uncover it and find out.”

I start giggling. I can’t believe he got me something else! The romantic evening was already so wonderful.

As I remove the blanket from the box, my jaw drops and my heart nearly pops out of my chest…

“OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DID THIS!!!!!!!”

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I start BAWLING. I’m not even kidding, he has it on video! I just kept repeating and repeating, “I can’t believe you did this!” Except you can imagine it in a super high pitch squeaky voice and I try to hold back the tears of joy.

I have wanted a Kitchen Aid Mixer for as long as I can remember. I have even teased him about it a million times since he broke my old electric mixer. But never in a million years did I actually expect him to get me one!!

I’m still in shock.

Ok… breathing now.

So that was the beginning of September. Hard to beat, let me tell you!

About halfway through the month, it started calling for frost at night, so Max and I started doing our tomato haul. We only had two plants, but they were pretty big and wielded more tomatoes than we expect. In the end, we decided it was best to just pick the ripest ones for now, and move the plants into the garage so they wouldn’t be too affected by the overnight cold.

But now was the time to make a plan. What would we do with all these tomatoes? Recipe number one: homemade salsa.

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We also started making lots of homemade stuff, especially since I got the Kitchen Aid Mixer! To review everything we made, here’s a small list:

  • Fresh homemade biscuits
  • Homemade carrot zucchini muffins
  • Homemade blueberry pie
  • Homemade chocolate cake from scratch
  • Chocolate butter cream icing
  • Vanilla butter cream icing (because we didn’t know you weren’t supposed to put buttercream in the fridge and the chocolate one got too hard to serve the next day)
  • Homemade banana chocolate chip muffins (all gone within two days)
  • Homemade chocolate chip cookies

Yum.

Next up: getting sick. Ugh. It’s that time of year. I got this terrible cold that hung around for over a week and I even had to miss a few days of work. Fortunately, I knew it was coming so it probably helped that I asked to leave early the first day I started feeling iffy. I got lots of rest, drank lots of fluids – you know the deal.

The following weekend, I still wasn’t back to 100%, but we had places to be, people to see – it was Nicki’s baby shower!! I was so happy it was a Sunday afternoon because it was a lot easier for me to take the day off work to drive to Cape Breton, plus Max and Remi are both off on Sundays too. Did I mention they both have jobs now? I don’t think I did! Well, more on that later.

I felt bad for making Max and Remi come up, because I had assumed the guys were having a diaper party the same afternoon. Oops. Guess not. Michael was actually working a +12 hours shift, so we were probably not even going to get to see him.

As for the party, it was a blast! It was a lot calmer than the other (and only) one I had been to, which was good given that I was still a little sick. It was really fantastic to see Michael & Nicki’s new house! They had bought it not too long ago and did a total flip of the house, all in such a short amount of time! Luckily they had great helpers, my dad and step-sister’s boyfriend included.

After it was all done, the boys (my dad, my brother, Max, & my step-sister’s boyfriend) all came to the house to join us and got to enjoy LOTS of leftovers. My God. I could not believe the amount of food that had been brought to this party! In any case, the guys loved it and they all stuffed their faces. Unfortunately, this meant that supper had been postponed to later that night, and we had to get home at a decent time since Max was working the next day at 5AM. At first, dad had said he would just take us all out for Chinese food, but then everyone wasn’t sure about what time we would go, and some people didn’t feel like Chinese, so in the end, dad said he would just transfer me some money and would pay for our meal on the road. We said our goodbyes to everyone and went back to the house, packed our stuff, and hit the road.

The following Sunday was just as hectic, but with the other half of my family! Max, Remi and I headed up to Halifax for the last Sunday of September to celebrate not one, not two, but three birthdays! My mom decided to combine my step-sister’s husbands birthday with my step-dad’s, plus my other step-brother’s birthday since they would be out of town for his birthday in early October.

We didn’t want to show up empty handed, so we all pitched in to get each person one gift. Steve received a book that I had found on the Indigo website that seemed really interesting, while the younger men each received a NSLC gift card.

Just to put it into perspective, each of my step-siblings are in a relationship, and in total, there are 5 children. And we can’t forget aunts and uncles, plus Nan. So all these people, plus my brother, my boyfriend and myself, were all gathered at my mom & step-dad’s apartment that Sunday night to enjoy a lovely home cooked meal. It’s always a feast when they have people over, no lie! There was so much food, half the people there took some leftovers home, us included! Oh my God, and the desserts! Mom had bought a beautifully decorated cake, but also wanted to make a second dessert in case there wasn’t enough cake for everyone. Just thinking about that dessert is making me drool. She made a homemade blueberry cheesecake with whip cream. YUM!!

And to finish off the month of September, I voluntarily took three shifts to work at the Magnetic Hill toll booth, and figured I could get lots of knitting/crochet done while I was there. Check out my newest product:

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And that, folks, sums up my entire month of September!

Did you do anything amazing this past month? If so, drop me a line and let me know about it!

xo

ENTIRE SUMMER RE-CAP

OH MY GOD! I CANNOT BELIEVE I HAVE NOT HAD TIME TO POST A SINGLE ENTRY SINCE THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER!

Ok… Ok… so let’s go back, month by month. Dear God, where did I even leave off? Somewhere in May? And still, that last post was basically just a super quick recap since I got back to Moncton. You did know that I’m back in Moncton, right?

So many things to talk about, so little time to type them all out!!

First things first: work! So, for those who didn’t know, I currently work at the zoo again – this time as a casual full-time working 10 months per year. And get this? My title is ‘Inventory Manager.’ I’m a manager!! I mean, of inventory. But still! This job has been keeping me insanely busy ever since I started, which hasn’t been so great for my social life,but pretty nice for my bank account!

When I did get some time off from work, I made sure to make the most of it – and this meant making tons of summer travel plans to see family, friends, and so much more!

JUNE

The first trip on the list: Cheticamp for a Boudreau family get-together! What a fantastic weekend – seeing my little cousins, catching up with all my uncles and aunts, plus best of all, eating fresh lobster!! There really is nothing like going back home and catching up. Plus I was so fortunate that Max and Remi were both able to come for the trip!

Next up was getting to see two different CD releases from lots of my talented friends. Not only did I get to listen to Chrsitine Melanson accompanied by my old high school friend Maxim Cormier, but I also got to be there for Cy’s amazing CD launch too! Both took place at the Aberdeen Centre in town and sounded absolutely phenomenal! You definitely need to check out their music if you haven’t already done so!

And to finish up the month of June, I got a wonderful visit from all of my family on my dad’s side! We had a big BBQ supper at our place and then we got some big news – my step-brother Michael and his girlfriend Nicki announced that they are going to have a baby girl! We knew that a baby was on its way, but they surprised us by bringing in a big gift, which we opened after the BBQ. I suspected it had something to do with the baby, but we were all so happy when we opened it and saw a pair of pink little cowboy boots! She’s going to be some spoiled, that little girl!

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Oh, and did I mention that it was Rib Fest that weekend? Ok, I, personally, wasn’t super excited, but the rest of the family sure was, so we made sure to swing by and we all got to stuff our faces. Yes, even me! There was corn on the cob, poutines, ice cream, and loads of other stuff, most of which did not have meat! The ribs were basically the only meat part of the event.

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And although we forgot to take a big family picture together, we got this great shot of Remi, Dad, me and Max at the Rib Fest!

 

JULY

July was definitely the busiest month of the summer – 4 trips, a baby shower, some beach days, concerts, and so much more!

Ok, let’s start from the beginning. On the first of July, Max and I made a day-trip to Shediac on the motorcycle! We actually ran into my good friend Sarah, who was working there near the beach, so we caught up with her for a bit, got some ice cream, and then made our way to the beach for the afternoon to relax and catch some rays!

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And for those of you who don’t know, July 1st is also Canada Day! So we spent that night watching the fireworks like we do every year, by the river in the downtown area.

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As the days went by, I started getting everything ready for the craft fair in Cheticamp in mid-July. I made some new stock, got a Mailing List printed off, found some baskets and displays for my table, and made some signage. But it wasn’t time to go to the craft show quite yet. First off – Janice’s baby shower!
Our friends were expecting a baby girl, and this was the first time I had ever been invited to a baby shower in my entire life, so you can imagine I was pretty stoked! Max and I went shopping a few times and got them a few things, although I wasn’t too sure how it worked. I went to the baby shower by myself and was so glad when I saw there was at least one person I knew. We played lots of games and ate loads of food that all the guests had made. I actually got lots of compliments on my dessert – Aero Bar Squares! (Thanks Val!)

It actually lasted a lot longer than I thought, but it was fun. When it was all over, I headed home and Max told me that the diaper party was kind of an open party for guys and girls so I could head over if I wanted! When I got there, this is what I found:

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Next up was the Craft Fair! Max was hoping to get some time off to come with me, but unfortunately he ended up working all weekend, so I drove down to Cape Breton with my brother – thank God, I have no idea how I could have managed without him!! Oh and my mom was an enormous help too, since she and Steve decided to come down to visit the same weekend! This visit down home was definitely the busiest one I’ve had so far. I hardly had any time to see family at all, so they all came to see me! I spent most of the two days at the Craft Show, and believe it or not, but I actually sold products for a total of $90! I was pretty proud. But mostly I was overwhelmed with the support from family and friends and I just wanted to take the time to say thank you to every one who came out to see me, even if it was just to say hi!

Not only was I super busy with the craft show, but I also had a gig the second night! I got asked to play some acadian folk music with two friends from home and I couldn’t have imagined asking for a better pair of musicians to play with! We had to practice the first day, so that took up the rest of my free time, and then the second night was the concert. We did get to see more faces at this event so I pretty got to see a big chunk of people I knew, however visits down home never seem to be long enough!

You would think that that would be it for the month of July, right? Well you would be wrong! We still managed to get even more things done! The following weekend, Max actually did get some time off, so we headed up to PEI to visit my dad and step-mom who were out camping for two weeks. We had made plans so that all of us could go up at the same time, so Remi, Max and I drove up from Moncton, and Joel went up to Miramichi to pick up Katelyn, both of whom met us there the second night. Unfortunately, Michael was working so he and Nicky couldn’t make the trip from Sydney. Nevertheless, we had a great time together, playing on the bouncy hill, going for walks along the beach, making campfires and best of all, eating delicious meals surrounded by my favourite people all weekend!

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Finally, there was one last trip! Unfortunately, Max couldn’t get the time off for this one either, and Remi had started working as well, so I was on my own. I drove down to Cape Breton all by my lonesome and made it to Cheticamp during the day Friday. That night was the first concert of The Phantom’s 50 year reunion!! I was pretty excited and was really looking forward to heading there with Val and her boyfriend David. However, I was a little disappointed because everyone else I knew who was in town was only going to the concert the second night, which was going to be the biggest night. We still had a good time, but Val and I kept thinking it wasn’t as good as other concerts we’ve seen. It probably didn’t help that we were both dead sober.

So I went home around midnight, because I’m a party pooper and most definitely an early bird kind of gal. I crashed at my aunt’s house for the night as I usually do and slept so well. The next morning, I decided to take it easy and go grab some breakfast and eat it on the beach. And what a beauty of a morning it was!!

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After I took a little time for myself, I headed up to visit my bestie at work, where they were having a Pokemon Go lure party – with free WIFI!! So I pretty much spent the rest of my morning there before heading back to Moncton. From there, I basically only had time to stuff my face with leftovers, pack a new bag, and Max and I were off to Charlo to visit his family!

We had debated how to proceed with travel plans for this because we were going up to see Cream Cheeze’s 50th anniversary concert on Sunday, but I was working on Monday so we decided to drive up Saturday as soon as I was back from Cheticamp/when Max was done work, so we would be able to spend some time with his family. It was still up in the air about when we would drive back, but his mom convinced us to stay overnight Sunday as well and we would drive back early Monday morning, since my shift only started at 11AM.

In Charlo, it was just as nice if not nicer weather than in Cheticamp! And lucky us, one of our friends – who currently lives in Alberta – was down for a few weeks and he invited us to go out on his speedboat! So off we went on a little adventure to visit Bird Shit Island, as they call it, and Heron Island.

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AUGUST

You might be wondering, ‘Now what in the heck have you been up to in the month of August?’ Well I’ll tell you, a lot less. It was more down-time for this month, although I did still get to visit with lots of family and friends too.

The month started off pretty much the best way a month could possibly start. So our friends – same ones who had the baby shower in July – had announced during last Christmas break that they were expecting a baby. We later found out that it was going to be a baby girl, although we were still in Alberta at the time and at that point, we weren’t even sure if we would be back in town before she was born. Fortunately, both of us made it back to the East Coast, as you must all know by now, and we got to go see little baby Kaylee the day of her birth! Max went to visit earlier in the day while I was at work and actually sent me a picture of him holding the baby. When I opened it on my lunch break, I basically broke into tears. (Prepare yourself for “AWW”-ing)

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Ok, let’s change the subject before I start bawling again!

As if that wasn’t enough, nothing marks the month of August quite like freshly picked wild blueberries!!

Max found the spot one day when he was driving for work, although he didn’t quite know what all those folks were picking. Since it was my day off, I decided to go have a look, and not surprisingly, it was a giant field of blueberries!! I hadn’t brought a bucket with me because it was quite hot and I wasn’t in the mood to actually go picking, I had initially just went to see what it was. But then I started picking a few. And then a few more. And then I filled up my purse!

Oops.

And then, when I told Max and Remi, they were excited and wanted to go out picking too! So we made plans to go together the following day, and even though it was pretty muggy/drizzling, we made it through the afternoon and they each filled one mason jar of blueberries!

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Then it was time to get to baking! We actually did a whole lot of baking during the month of August, especially with all these blueberries. Here’s the first blueberry pie I made:

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But we didn’t just do at-home stuff during this month. Mid-month, my mom, step-dad and all his family came up from Halifax and we spent an entire day at Magic Mountain together! This year, the kids were actually all old enough to go on a quite a few of the waterslides so they all kind of ran off in different directions and Remi, Max and I got into our own line-up. We knew it would be busy, as we chose to go on a Saturday afternoon, but it was giving rain on Sunday, and who cares about line-ups when you get to spend time with family. 🙂

The first line-up was actually the worst, so we avoided that area the rest of the afternoon. And after that, we got to go on pretty much all the slides, except of course I opted out of the big scary ones. Oh, and we couldn’t go to the water park without doing the wave pool and the lazy river!

But the water fun wasn’t even over yet! After we were done at Magic Mountain, we got cleaned up and ended up just ordering pizza for everyone at the hotel where they were all staying. And of course, immediately after supper, the kids wanted to go into the pool, so we made our way down there. Remi, Max and I didn’t have our bathing suits but we hung out with them while they swam to their little hearts content.

The next day, the kids and my step-siblings headed back home right after breakfast, but my mom, my step-dad and my niece were staying for an extra night so I went to spend the afternoon with them at the mall where I got myself this gorgeous new purse!!

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That night, we made sure to bring our bathing suits when we all went to visit them at the hotel and we spent most of the night going down the hotel’s brand new waterslide! Oh, and I spent most of my time in the hot tub.

The next day was a day that marks a very important part of who I am. August 15th is national Acadian Day! So that night was the big Acadie Rock concert happening downtown, and I was definitely not going to miss it! And to make the experience even better, my boyfriend made sure we stopped at some stores to get some acadian swag, and just LOOK how amazing his best friend looks riding on his motorcycle on the way to the concert!

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And of course, we rode on the motorcycle too so that Max could wear his Acadian flag cape.

The concert was just as amazing as every year. They never seem to disappoint! And this year, PJ was 19 so we could all be on the same side of the event! The best part was by far watching Serge Brideau from Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire dressed up as Évangeline.

Ok, now time for more adventuring! Since I had a week off of work, we decided whenever Max would have a day off that we would go off to try to find Memel Falls. Everyone from work had been going on and on about them and kept saying how easy they were to find. But let me tell you, some people are not so great at giving directions!

The directions that were online were just as confusing, although we decided to follow them figuring they would be our best bet. We went down one road, and then took a right when we got to a fork in the road, like it had said to do. Then is when it got pretty confusing. We figured we were probably at the right spot so we stopped the car and started walking down one trail. Turns out it wasn’t really a trail, so we turned around and kept looking. Then we found a real trail, obviously walk-able, unlike the first one. So we make our way up through the trees and actually find some cool stuff. First, Max found some wild blackberries that were delicious! Then Max found an old scrap car and got pretty excited about that. We kept walking for quite a while and still couldn’t hear anything that sounded remotely like falls. We didn’t feel too hopeful at this point, so I took some pictures of the scenery that was around us. Still beautiful even though they weren’t falls.

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After a good 10-15 more minutes of walking, the forest suddenly ends and we’re on a giant dirt road. Crap, this is the road we were at the first time. There are men working construction on the road so Max decides to go ask them for directions. They weren’t really sure exactly where it was, but they sure gave us better directions than the ones we found online. And lucky us, one of the guys offered to drive us back to our car instead of having us backtrack 45 minutes in the woods.

We hoped into the old man’s truck and he drove us down the rode, which was actually the correct road, we just hadn’t driven nearly far enough to find them. The road was only wide enough for one vehicle so when we came up to a car driving in the opposite direction, the man asked us if we were OK to walk the rest of the way so he could head back and let that car through. We thanked him very much for the drive this far, and our car was just up around the bend so he saved us a crap load of walking!

We started walking and the car from the other direction rolled down his window and actually gave us detailed directions about how to get to the falls. We thanked him as well and then saw a man and a young boy walking up, probably looking for the falls as well. We asked them and they were indeed heading there but also had no idea where to go. They had parked even further from the falls than us and had been walking for a bit, so we offered to drive them back to their car with ours, then we followed each other into the dirt trails until we made it to the right spot.

We all got out and were relieved to have found Memel Falls! Now all that was left was a quick hike down.

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Max and our new friends all went in for a swim, but it was so freezing cold, I could only bear to put my feet in. They even climbed up and jumped from the top of the falls!

I really couldn’t imagine spending all my adventures with anyone other than this wonderful man.

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And finally at the end of August, we got to spend some time with Max’s family who were down camping in Cap Pelé. We went up there a couple of times to relax.

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No better way to end the summer than going to the beach and watching the sunset with family.

We’re moving back home

It’s official – both Max and I are moving back home!! We didn’t want to start announcing it too soon, but things are coming along pretty quickly, and then yesterday I got an e-mail from my boss in Moncton who asked if I could come back next week to start work early, so I figured it was probably time to tell everyone. 🙂

It’s not that I don’t like it here in Alberta, but I am beyond excited to go back to the East Coast! I never thought I would miss it this much, but I do. So as always, I started planning this trip way in advance and I basically just have to pack my clothes and toiletries and everything is done!

Initially, the plan was for me to go back to Moncton to work for the summer since I had received a job offer back at the zoo. The contract is for a maternity leave from May to mid-august, at which point I planned on slowly making my way back to Grande Prairie to continue working in schools when September came around. However, things changed a little bit – twice.

The first circumstance was when we got the news that our landlord was selling the house. For Max, this was sort of the final push that convinced him it was time to move back home. I had asked him before – duh – because we both want to be living there; the only problem is finding a steady job. Right now in Grande Prairie though, Max is only working a scarce few days every month, which was another contributing convincing him to move back.

So that was the tentative plan a few weeks back. All Max had to do was figure out how to get all his stuff – mainly his truck and his motorcycle – back home. He started talking with one of our mutual friends, Ben, who has a truck that could potentially haul all of Max’s stuff, and he confirmed that he would be moving back to NB on May 5th. It’s unfortunate that it wasn’t closer to my tentative departure date, which was April 25th – until today.

The second circumstance mentioned above is when I got an e-mail from my employer in Moncton saying that their budget was extended and that they could hire me three weeks earlier. So guess what? I’m leaving in next Monday! I’ll be driving across Canada all by myself, and so I knew I had to give myself lots of time for rest. I plan on doing the drive on a span of 6 days, leaving Monday April 11th. I’ll be stopping in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Blind River, Montreal, and then home base: Moncton. I might make a detour and stop in Charlo, NB, but it’s still to be determined.

Of course, typical me rushed to make sure I could find somewhere to sleep in every region, and so far, so good. The only place I don’t have any contacts is in Thunder Bay, ON, but I plan on either doing some couch surfing or maybe getting a place through AirBnB. I actually found a place that’s within my price range, and that way I could even have access to a kitchen to cook food instead of getting take-out! But let’s slow down and focus on stuff that needs to be done here in Grande Prairie before we start working out all the details about travelling.

Part of me knows it would be best for me to take as many shifts as possible at the schools before I leave. But part of me is going to be really stressed out about packing and planning if I don’t take some time off to organize everything. Most likely, I won’t be working the rest of the week, but I’m still on call until Friday. I have lots of stuff planned out for how I’m going to pack and bring everything, but I think I need to take the time to actually do something concrete with these plans.

I don’t own that much stuff here, but I still need to pack efficiently and see how much of Max’s stuff I can bring with me too. So far, I’ve written up a list of everything we own, and then divided all those belongings into four categories: Packed, To be Packed, Sell, and Donate/Give Away. The good thing is that we have a good amount of stuff that we can pack beforehand and it won’t be too stressful to live without them. For example, Max packed up almost all his paintball gear, and I packed up all my arts and crafts products. That plus anything we’ve bought in bulk.

Sometimes I feel like we own so much stuff, but making the list made me realize that we really don’t, and that made me proud. All I have here are clothes, a few kitchen items, my electronics, my toiletries, and some arts and crafts. As for Max, he owns his guns, ammunition/reloading materials, paintball gear, his electronics, his truck, his motorcycle, his trike, and his tools – a LOT of tools. He also owns a computer, a desk, a table, a dresser and a bed, but we’ve already started selling all of that so I’m not too worried about furniture.

So now we just have to determine what is going into which vehicle/who’s bringing it back home. I figure I’ll just bring everything that’s ready and packed, whereas Max will bring everything else on May 5th since he’ll be the last one moving out of the house. (Side note: our roomies are gone!)

AHHH! I’m just so excited! I feel like I’m typing lots of stuff but I’m not aware of what I’m really typing. Maybe this whole blog post is just word-diarrhea. Let’s hope not…

Long story short, we’re moving back to the East Coast very soon! So if you’d like to see one of us along the way, leave a comment or send us a message to get in touch! And if you have any words of wisdom to share with a girl who’s never done any road tripping alone, please feel free to leave me some tips in the comment section below!

xo