50 Years…

Today is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Yes, this is the blog of a Canadian… but yes, this is still important.

There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said a million times in the last 50 years, but since I did quite a bit of research on this particular period of American history back when I was a History nerd, I thought I’d give you some fun facts.

1. “I Have a Dream” was not Dr. King’s written speech. It was based on a sermon he had given a few weeks before, but even then it was largely off-the-cuff. This is pretty impressive to me given the number and bredth of references that are in it.

2. Dr. King had not intended to give that speech on that watershed day in Washington, but was urged to do so by Ms. Mahalia Jackson.

And that right there was the basis of all of my research in university – Torchbearers versus Trailblazers. While torchbearers bring light to an issue and guides those that follow – like Dr. King – a trailblazer goes first, and carves a path for the torchbearer – and that was the role of women in the Civil Rights movement.

So that’s why I love these two fun facts – that speech is attributed to bringing light to the issue, making the march such a success and making it an issue that many more Americans (certainly not all) could relate to.

But it wouldn’t have happened it if it weren’t for Ms. Jackson.

 

Would you Call Me Brave?

The Boy went to his parents to drop the puppy off for puppy-sitting a few days before our trip. While he was there he heard some brand new information.  The Cabot Trail is awesome and a MUST see in any trip to the East coast.

Really?  How is he only hearing this a few days before we leave?  Why didn’t anyone tell him this earlier.

Oh wait, someone did.  But she’s totally unreliable… wives are like that.

Typical.

Regardless of who said it first we worked it into our trip and it made our Must See list. And now that we’re back, I can honestly say it doesn’t matter who said it first – I’m so glad we went.

Welcome to Cape Breton

Welcome to Cape Breton

We discussed the trail with my Peep in PEI – “You have to do the trail counterclockwise” he said with authority, although, he had never done the trail.

We made the plan to leave PEI on Thursday, drive to Baddeck and spend two nights there so we could spend one full day driving the trail.  While I was driving from beautiful downtown Pictou, NS to Baddeck the Boy started searching the internet for places to stop along the trail.  He came across a blog post.  You know how those bloggers are… always stirring up shit.

He read that counter-clockwise indeed had its benefits.  but… “it’s for the brave” and “expert mountain driving skills are a must”  to say this gave the Boy some anxiety would be an understatement.

World Famous - but no warnings of expert mountain driving skills required....

World Famous – but no warnings of expert mountain driving skills required….

We decided to survey some locals on the clockwise/counterclockwise debate and unanimously – counterclockwise won the day.  So we decided despite nightmare premonitions – counterclockwise it is, and the review –

That blogger is crazy and counterclockwise is totally the way to go.

This is the cliff you get to see if you take the Coast Road detour - recommended by gingers and giants

This is the cliff you get to see if you take the Coast Road detour – recommended by gingers and giants

Selfies with a giant take practice

This was the hightlight of the trip for the Boy.  The Highlands are absolutely beautiful, and when we go back – again, we’ll definitely stay longer.  It was stunning.  The beaches are beautiful, the water is crystal, the hiking is awesome.  A vacation on the trail could include an awesome golf course, beach, hiking, biking and secluded unplugging.

One of the many reasons we'll be back - Ingonish Beach... next time we won't miss the cut-off!

One of the many reasons we’ll be back – Ingonish Beach… next time we won’t miss the cut-off!

Impressive Inukshuks

Impressive Inukshuks

World Famous Whale Interpretive Centre

World Famous Whale Interpretive Centre

First time for crab legs

First time for crab legs

We took our time and it took the entire day to drive the 300ish km.  We hiked the Skyline Trail and it was breathtaking.  And we broke some rules and took some rocks… shh don’t tell Parks Canada.

Leaving the mark of a ginger and a giant... can you tell?

Leaving the mark of a ginger and a giant… can you tell?

The work of the brave.

The work of the brave.

Because we’re brave like that.

For those that might be Googling “Clockwise or Counterclockwise on the Cabot Trail” here are 5 reasons we totally recommend going counterclockwise:

  1. More people go clockwise, so going the opposite makes for less traffic.
  2. You’re cliffside.  This does not mean you are doomed to fall off the cliff as other bloggers might lead you to believe.  It does mean you have a better view of the ocean.
  3. You start on the ocean and end in the gulf – we stopped less on the way back, we were tired.  I’m glad we weren’t sleepy and done on the Ocean side.
  4. A lot of the best look outs are on the cliff side – so right turns, and since vision is a bit limited The Boy liked this part.
  5. After hiking the Skyline Trail (a must) you immediately drive down the mountain and you can look up to where you just were – WAY up there.
Setting out on the Skyline Trail

Setting out on the Skyline Trail

Amazing.

Amazing.

That's not us... but it was a few minutes before.

That’s not us… but it was a few minutes before.

 

Anne’s Island

The Boy and I are home.  I’m writing this sitting on my beautiful deck on a rare Ontario August afternoon, warm, sunny and not humid = a rare treat in Northern Ontario. We’ve been home for a few days and this is actually my last day of vacation.  Tomorrow I go back to work, more than that I got a new job so tomorrow I go back to a week of transition, taking on my new job while wrapping up my old one. This is what happens when you get a promotion (albeit a temporary one) within your own branch and just down the hall from your home position – you don’t get to quit and run – they can still find you.  For today, I’m enjoying this beautiful day by doing nothing.  And since those days can be as rare as one in August without humidity – I’m taking full advantage and blogging our trip before I forget all about it.

So on with it already…

The Boy and I made a Must See list in the car while were driving out,

  1. Whale Watching
  2. Golf on the coast
  3. Peggy’s Cove
  4. Tides at Fundy
  5. Kayaking
  6. Eat a lot of seafood
  7. Giant wooden nickel
  8. Cabot Trail

We left Moncton late – the bed was just too comfortable, so while the Boy slept in King size bliss, I booked a campsite in PEI National Park, Stanhope Beach. Our original plan was to do Bay of Fundy first, then Halifax, then PEI – but we switched up the order once we got there for a couple reasons 1. The Boy really wanted to see PEI – it was high on his list, and knowing that the end of a vacation is always a little rushed I thought we should give it more time by stopping there first.  2.  The Boy had recently learned (even though I told him this months ago) that the Cabot trail is BEAUTIFUL – and it had suddenly ranked higher on his list.  If we were going to get that in we thought we should switch the order and do PEI, Cape Breton, Halifax, Fundy. 3.  I had recently learned that an old friend from High School was in PEI – and not that I was stocking him… but  the Boy and I both agreed that if we could get there while a local was there to give us the goods – all the better.

To Charlottetown we went, walked around, had some lunch including my first bowl of Chowder – things were already looking good – PEI didn’t seem to be out of food like Moncton was.

We also found another Brew Pub – and another sample tray and a big bowl of Muscles.  Both were delicious.

We connected with my former peep and who graciously took us on a personal boat tour of the Bay at Brackley Beach.  The last time I was on a boat with him, he threw me off an inner-tube, twisting my knee…. I’m happy to report no injuries this time.

Then it was time to face the music…. camping…  for 3 nights.

The Boy and I have never been camping together… the Boy has hardly been camping without me either, and although I haven’t been camping in a LONG time – having done it so much as a kid, I still like to consider myself a camper.  This was a true test.

The review? Camping in PEI is beautiful, we were in a Provincial park, we had an air mattress – a necessity, and thanks to BFF Kristyn we had all the necessary gear.  Some of the differences? When camping as a kid, we had a tent trailer – this is not the same as tenting.  Tenting is not so much cold, but damp.  While our full queen 12″ air mattress is awesome indoors, outdoors you’re sleeping on 12″ of cold damp air.  Once I figured out how to stay warm – things got much better.

We will camp again, and we did camp again in Fundy, but we need some practice.  So I have a place to reference it when that time comes, here are somethings we wish we had:

  1. A flashlight that is actually bright
  2. A paring knife
  3. An equally comfortable but slightly shallower air mattress
  4. A bigger tent
  5. A separate tent or covered area for food
  6. Bowls
  7. Less bugs/bug bites (okay – I know that’s asking a lot)
  8. Better fire making skills (The Boy says the wood was wet, I say, no one else seemed to be having such a problem – maybe we just need more practice)

I’ll probably write a few shorter posts with more details of the highlights from each part of the trip, but in an effort to provide useful information for anyone that happens to be Googling “Traveling in PEI” here’s what the Boy and I did and highly recommend in no particular order:

    1. Walked the Beach and swam in the oceanDSC_0611
    2. Went for an easy bike ride, that turned into a 30 km near death experience – PEI is internationally known for their bike trails, and for their rolling hills.  I can’t say polite language was always adhered to.
    3. New Glasgow Lobster Supper – pay for your lobster up front, and all you can eat bread, chowder, muscles, salad, your lobster (ranging from 1lb to 3 lbs depending on your anticipated level of gluttony) and dessert – a choice of 5 different kinds of pie. My peep told me this is where the locals go for lobster supper – we were not disappointed.  It was awesome!
    4. Camping
    5. Cottaging – if/when we come back we’ll probably stay for longer and rent a cottage instead of camping – camping was great, but at this point we’re still short-term campers.
    6. Relaxing – we both found we unwound pretty quickly once we got to PEI – it’s a relaxed and sleepy little island and I can definitely see why people keep going back.
    7. Golf – we golfed at Green Gables Golf Club – it’s one of the oldest courses and did not disappoint for both view and challenge…. unless you ask the Boy – who was not happy with his score card… but I’m not to speak of that. PEI has A LOT of Championship courses, but because we were golfing on a day that threatened rain – we didn’t want to risk getting rained out after paying $120 each. This course lets you play both on the ocean (the Boy’s request) and alongside Anne’s famous house – I think they call that two birds with one stone.DSC_0475
    8. The Dunes Gallery – a must see and a must eat.  It was so good we went twice. Lunch and dinner (two days – let’s not get ridiculous). So. So. So. Good.DSC_0618

 

  1. The wharfs – pick a hamlet any hamlet and get your camera ready for old fishing wharfs with piles of traps as far as you can see – if you pick one that’s off the beaten path all the better.
  2. Cows Ice Cream – it’s sickly sweet smell will grab you as soon as you open the door, but since it’s voted #1 Ice Cream in the world – you have to do it… plus there’s a giant cow, so…. enough said.DSC_0623The Boy said by the end of the trip PEI was the least memorable part of our trip, but don’t think that means for a second we won’t be back, or that it wasn’t absolutely awesome.  I don’t think we really had enough time there to fully do it justice – the late start out of Moncton really only gave us 2 days there.  It was awesome to have a couple of locals in town to tell us where to go and what to see not only in PEI but for the rest of our trip.  And the food was the absolute best we had on our trip – so fresh and SOOOO good.

Despite only 2 full days there – we did pretty well with our list:

  1. Whale Watching
  2. Golf on the coast
  3. Peggy’s Cove
  4. Tides at Fundy
  5. Kayaking
  6. Eat a lot of seafood
  7. Giant wooden nickel
  8. Cabot Trail

Our list for the next time we’re there?

  1. Golf one of the Championship courses
  2. Eat at lunch and dinner at Dunes Gallery
  3. Walk the gardens at Dunes Gallery
  4. See that year’s Anne show
  5. A little more time in Charlottetown – get in some Confederation history and a little shopping
  6. Beach walk and full beach day
  7. Bike the Confederation Trail
  8. Take the ferry
  9. Anne’s house and obligatory tour of Cavendish
  10. New Glasgow Lobster Supper – an absolute MUST!PEI 1

It might seem like a long list, but the benefit of touring around trying to do a little bit of everything – you get to learn the things you definitely want to do more of!

Tomorrow – we head to Cape Breton

You’ve got a Friend in Me

A little pre-post in anticipation of a lack of wifi and time to write…..
I’ve been thinking lately that it’s funny how friendship works.  Maybe it’s all the Dawson’s Creek I’ve been binge watching lately, maybe it’s the perspective that 12 years out of High School will give you (BTW – OMG 12 years that’s crazy and I’m old). It definitely has something to do with the current events of my little family. Friendship is a really funny thing.
I’m a total introvert.  My best friend in the world is my sister, and other than her I’ve got a few other people that I go to when I need someone, whether it’s for a tea date, a yoga buddy, a confidant, a laugh or a cry. There are very few people in my circle of trust. Most of those people I’ve known for a really long time, and a few newbies that though relatively new, feel like I’ve known them forever, – I’m nothing if not loyal. Anyway, all of these people have responded exactly as I knew they would – that’s why I keep them around.
But there are those that have fallen away.  Not by choice, but more by circumstance. We grew apart, our lives took us to different places, my life was spent in London Ontario for the better part of 8 years post High School graduation.  It’s not only where I went to school, but after I met the Boy there, I spent countless hours on the 401 highway going back and forth every weekend to visit through the summer, and even after I finished and moved back to Toronto, my heart lived in London.  To be honest, I’ve always carried a little guilt around friendships that were once so important to me that I didn’t maintain.
Then Cancer happens.
And it’s funny who steps up and who comes out of the woodwork, to let me know they’re thinking of me, cheering, hoping and sending all of their positive energy my way.  It’s been surprising in some ways – mostly because I tend to hold that guilt, it’s my fault that the friendship is different than I thought it would be, 10, 15 or 20 years ago.  But that’s just part of growing up right?
But then I thought about it, and it’s really not surprising at all.
Because I would do the same.  I would be heartbroken if I heard that something was happening in one of their families.  I would offer the same condolence, the same small messages of hope, of cheer and all of my positive energy.
So without naming names and without getting too sappy.  I just wanted to say thank you.  It really means a lot to me.
I’m pretty big on all things for a reason, in my opinion it’s really the only way to maintain sanity. So if all things are for a reason – I hope this reason is to bring you back into my life.
And maybe we can be friends again.
For reals this time.
Or maybe it’s enough to know that even though we grow up and grow apart, I’ll keep you in my heart and you can keep me in yours. And we’ll nix those guilty feelings for good.
XOXO

Round 2

2 down, 4 to go.

A quick update on Mom’s second round of chemo.  She had it Thursday and they changed her cocktail this time.  In round 1 she only got one drug, this round she got two.  And it was rough.

I’ll spare the details, but Mom was quite ill, basically from about 10 minutes after finishing, through to the next day.  Boo.  That’s the bad news.

The good news is, there’s only 1 more to go until she gets a break, and since knowing is half the battle – she can plan to stay at our house just up the street from the hospital instead of making the 40 minute trek to A-town.

Otherwise, she’s been feeling pretty good, but since this round is more the real deal – she’s taking things one day at a time.

In other news the Boy and I are having a wonderful trip – but one with limited internet access, and limited time to blog!  So in an effort of two birds and one blog – here’s a quick photo recap of some of the highlights so far – with more details to come.

Dipping our feet into the Atlantic Ocean

Dipping our feet into the Atlantic Ocean

Green Gables Golf Course - yes that is the ocean peeking out there.

Green Gables Golf Course – yes that is the ocean peeking out there.

Happy hikers

Happy hikers

Left our mark on the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Left our mark on the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Message from Mom – “Spare the details on the blog Meaghan – and keep having fun, I’m just fine.”

– always a mother first. XOXO

Honeymooning

(Posted a little later – no power or wifi when camping?! How do people live!! – anyway this is coming to you live from the Charlottetown Public Library – while the Boy waits patiently for us to go golfing.)

Is it still considered a honeymoon if you’ve been married for nearly 2 years?

Or is it more significant that it’s your first vacation together (that’s longer than 3 days) since you met nearly 11 years ago?

Either way, the Boy and I are officially on vacation, and after 2 days of heavy driving, we’ve made it to Moncton New Brunswick and we’re still speaking to each other – a good sign.

IMG_1157

You may remember the big debate, Europe or East Coast.  I wanted to go FAR, the Boy wanted to go far enough, as in somewhere he had never been before.  He won, and given our summer – I’m glad he did. We may be 2 days away, but we’re not across an ocean.  I consider this a good thing.

Mom is under strict instructions to be good while I’m away – so there should be minimal updates on that end of things since a promise is a promise.  Of course, if she decides to act up – I am very accessible, and will pass along any news, including how her next round of chemo goes on the 15th.

So what have we been up to? A lot actually.  We’ve listened to our first audiobook – The Dinner, one of those books that makes you wonder about the sanity of the author. We trusted the GPS a little too much and ended up in dreaded Montreal after strict instructions to bypass it.  That may be the fault of the navigator who may have been busy knitting and not double checking with the map.  I won’t name names, but a little driving stress is a good test for a marriage right?!

photo-6

We haven’t booked any places to stay for the next two weeks, we’re making a plan today and we’ll get on that relatively soon.  It almost resulted in us sleeping in our car on the first night since every hotel in Quebec City and Lévis was booked solid.  We happened to find a little B&B through AirB&B La California B&B – when Mary answered the phone she told me I was a very lucky girl because yes, she had one room available and she had actually told another caller that she was booked.  It must have been meant for me.

We arrived at her place 10 minutes later, unloaded our bags and she told us there were 3 festivals going on in the city this weekend – so we were lucky to get a place since everyone has been booked for weeks.  She told us she had a few people call her, and she turned them away – she goes by voice and apparently she liked mine.  Once she heard we were only staying the night, she told us to get out there quickly and take in everything the city had to offer, where to go for dinner, where to see the free Cirque du Soliel show (we missed it) and the free iMax (which is huge and pretty spectacular) and where to get a drink and people watch at the end of the night (we did).  After a delicious french breakfast Mary sent us on our way with a loaf of fresh bread, and a roughly drawn sketch to get us to New Brunswick by the North shore (which we appreciated, but didn’t follow).

Yesterday we made it to New Brunswick and after sorting out a few more GPS snafus we made it to Moncton only to find out the markets are closed on Sundays so apparently by 8:30 everyone is out of food. Seriously.

photo-5

 

Luckily, they weren’t out of beer and we got an awesome sample tray at a local microbrewery – Pump House.  And the staff was so apologetic for getting our trip off to a rough start, we got our first 2 pints for free.

photo-4

 

Oh East Coasters, could you be more relaxed?

So now that we’re here we’re consulting guide books and looking for camp sites. I’ll update as much as possible – or you can follow me on Instagram – gingerandgiant and see the highlights as they unfold.

If you’ve got any must see spots for us – we have no firm plans so I’d love to hear them!

Brought to you by the Letter P and the Number 3

Time to learn some numbers and letters.  This post is brought to you by the number 3 – as in the third complication.  In true Mom styles she likes to keep things exciting and never does the same thing twice.

The first – you will recall, was getting the bleeding under control which they did and you can refresh yourself here.

The second – was some slight complications with her check in on Thursday, apparently when she’s out and about town she’s not drinking enough water.  You can’t blame her really, it’s hard to remember to explicitly drink water when you are drinking everything else – or at least you’re supposed to be… that’s another post.  This was only a slight complication since they fixed her right up by giving her a bag of saline to hydrate her before doing their regular check-ups, including changing Paula and flushing her PICC line.  No biggie. Although her Oncologist did say, “Out and about? You need to be at home – resting.”  Perhaps.

But number three, well it deserves it’s own post. It’s number three, and bad things come in threes – and since this is number three, I’m blogging to remind the universe, we’re done.  Okay? Three down.  No more to go.  Got it?  Good.

Moving on.  The post is brought to you by both the number three for the reasons above and the Letter P

P is for Pulmonary Emboli

Okay, so it doesn’t sound good. But don’t worry – we’re under control. Why? Because as you will recall we’re not having it any other way.

The deets:

Mom did not sleep well Saturday night.  She had “vague” pain in her chest, right around her sternum, no matter which way she was lying, and when she was on her back the pain was in the middle of her chest and she could feel it straight through to her back.  Obviously this is not good.  But she’s a quick learner that Mother of mine and this time instead of arguing with people that she was fine, she let Dad take her to the Emergency Room at Southlake… at the reasonable hour of 9:30.  Let’s not get ridiculous and inconvenience anyone too much.

They hooked her up to an ECG to check her heart and ran some blood work, then repeated the blood work 4 hours later to see that it was the same.  There was some blips on the ECG, but it turns out the hook up was slightly off so once they sorted that out it was fine.  And her hemoglobin is at 108 – steadily improving. They debated sending her home.

Her temperature did a little spike, and they decided against the home plan, and instead sent her for another CT scan.  They waited and she sent Dad home to start preparing a birthday dinner for Sista and the Physicist. Always a mother first.

They did the CT Scan and confirmed what she was already thinking by that point, Bilateral Pulmonary Emboli.  For the non-medical among us, that’s tiny blood clots in both of her lungs.  As the Doctor explained, these are quite common when you have cancer they can show up well before the Cancer is found, or during treatment.  Mom said “I know, I’ve been through this with my daughter” I’m telling you – we are really good at Cancer.

The good news is, they found them. And they will treat it.  And they sent her home.  She is now on Lovenox, which is an injection she has to take daily in her stomach.  Lovenox holds the clots together and stops them from traveling to bad places and thins the blood so that it doesn’t clot.  Don’t let the name deceive you – there’s really nothing lovely about it – other than the job it does. For those keeping score, this drug is doing the opposite of what they were giving her last week, which was to stop her from bleeding. Cancer is all about the contradictions.

So that’s where we are.  Injections in her stomach, but no hair loss yet. Yin and Yang. The Lovenox will continue for the duration of the chemo.  And that’s the last of it – because we’re not having it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How you can help – Everyone has done so much already.  Thank you really doesn’t quite do it justice.  This week, the neighbours got together and sent a gorgeous flower arrangement – seriously so beautiful.  Thank you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Message from Mom – Once she had a diagnosis, one of the nurses said “Well that’s it for bikini season this year.” Mom – What’s a bikini?

 

Flash-back Friday

Sista sent me this video last week.  I said I would post it last Friday.

Then I forgot.

But when Sista sent me this link the walk down memory lane was a welcome distraction.

Oh the ’80s – you’re awesome.

Thanks Sista and Thanks Jimmy Fallon… you guys made my day.