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

Random Check in

  1. The Boy just told his Grandpa that he has 3 more weeks of school and then he’s off for 2 weeks.  This gave me heart palpitations. Not because of Christmas, but because of work.  That means year-end is in 3 weeks.  I have so much to do.
  2. Gordon is growing up so fast.  We took her for her last booster shot last night and she weighed in at a whopping 2.8kg or 6lbs 2oz. What happened to our little 2.5lb baby?
  3. Yes, we are those pet owners.  She is our child – without a doubt or apology.
  4. We’re still a 1 car family. For the most part it’s fine, except when it’s not.  Both the Boy and I go back and forth between being fine with it and needing a second car TODAY.
  5. The Boy has finished his first Long-Term-Occassional position.  It was great having a consistent morning routine, it sucks walking to the gym at 6:30am. See #4.
  6. The gym is still going well – it must be I’m walking there for goodness sake!  I haven’t remeasured yet, but I did put on my skinny jeans this week with minimal dancing and no need to lie down to do them up.
  7. Everyone does that right?
  8. The Boy is currently watching the Chinese News on OMNI1.  He says he’s trying to learn the language.
  9. The Boy and I went curling with Sista and the Physicist. The Boy said I should wear my bike helmet.  For the record I did not fall on my head once.  I did return with some bruises though.  Mainly from when I fell… on my hip… on my first rock.  It all made me feel very Canadian
  10. We decided not to go away over Christmas. Instead we’re painting our house and have made the definitive plan to go somewhere far in the summer.  I say Europe – anywhere in Europe.  The Boy says he likes the idea of the East Coast – Cabot Trail area. It is a beautiful area. But does anyone have suggestions for a “first trip to Europe” tour?

What’s new and random in your life?

 

Quintessential Ontario Spring

I did it. I managed to take pictures to show how I spent my day. I got the idea from Heather over on Heather Drive. Of course then I fell off the planet and got side tracked by a baby that was waiting for me to finish a project before making an appearance – seriously it’s been so freakin’ hot I felt really badly for my little preggo mommy.

Alas, better late than never… I give you Saturday Spring in Ontario

Up at 8am to head off to the Farmers Market

Bought some rhubarb and a big ol’ basket of strawberries

And a little treat. Fresh bread.

Came home and started cooking up a storm

Well not a storm…. a PIE!

It smelled so yummy it got the Boy out of bed

We packed and made a few discoveries… the Boy requires no less than 6 pairs of shorts for an overnight trip.

I found an earring that has been missing since the day after we got married.  I thought it was gone forever. But when I picked up my bag to pack – I heard something fall on the floor. I looked down, and there it was. I don’t know how I didn’t lose it somewhere in the last 9 months since I use this bag all the time, but it seems someone was looking after it. The Boy was thrilled since he was sure it was him that lost it.

We made our way north – I know you didn’t think Ontario went further north than Newmarket, but it does. They call it Collingwood.

And one of my favourite mommies and I enjoyed a lovely beverage

After dinner and pie, we had a beverage and a chat before heading home.

Ontario Spring post complete – just in time for Ontario summer! I’m predicting BUSY and HOT!

Was it or Wasn’t it

Okay kids, I’m looking to you.  The Boy and I are in the middle of a VERY serious argument.

Did we just go on our honeymoon?

Last weekend was the Victoria Day long weekend in Canada (for my American friends Canadians celebrate the birthday of our reigning monarch on the Monday around the 24th of May each year – regardless of when their actual birthday is. It is rarely referred to as Victoria Day and more typically referred to as May 2-4. Every year, Ontarians think it’s going to be a beautiful weekend for outdoor activities and typically it is cold and rainy.  This year it was GORGEOUS. The more you know!) Sista and the Physicist went to Kingston and Prince Edward County and the Boy and I went to their apartment in Toronto.

It was our first weekend “away” together – without additional family members, since we’ve been married.

So I give you 5 reasons why it may have been our honeymoon and 5 reasons why it definitely was not.

  1. It was our first weekend away together since we’ve been married. (This is basically the Boy’s only point).
  2. We went out for fancy dinner.
  3. We split a bottle of wine at dinner for the first time ever.
  4. Some of us tried new foods – the Boy had Elk.
  5. We discovered new areas of a city we love.

And now the truth (yes I realize there are 6 here – hey if he wants it to be equal he should write his own post):

  1. We went less than 60km away. That is not very far.
  2. We did not have any accommodation costs – we even brought our own sheets.
  3. We went to a baseball game.
  4. We did not buy anything to commemorate our trip – not even matching fedoras.
  5. We went home early.
  6. I took a total of 13 pictures. 7 of which were of the Boy sitting 3′ from me saying “Why are you taking my picture?”

Obviously to document our honeymoon that you keep insisting we are on darling. Why else?

Settle the score – what say you? Did our Toronto weekend count as our honeymoon?

Also – since it obviously does not count – any suggestions?

Hello Rock? Hard Place? How ya doin’?

Bah! That is all I would like to say on this topic, but apparently I need to get it out because if I have this cyclical argument with myself one more time I might just scream. No. I will cry. Yes, that’s much more accurate, I’m a total crier.
Do you know what I hate about being a grown-up? Decision making. Decision making and money. “Managing finances” is something that I am neither good at (that’s not true we actually do very well) nor interested in. BORING. Here’s a little fun fact about me, I like need to feel like I know what I’m doing before I make a decision. It requires a lot of processing on my end, but once I’ve made that decision I get INCREDIBLY frustrated when the universe does not listen and allow me to move forward with my decision. Hence – BAH!
So, here’s how it is. The Boy and I have been married for just over 7 months. (Can we take a moment and say – seriously the wedding was 7 months ago! OMG it seems like yesterday). I’ve been working at my new job for 6 months, the Boy has had a very steady year of daily supply teaching and has basically worked almost every day. Yay! We have banished ourselves of credit card debt, we have a savings system in place, we have a rough plan as far as when we would like to start thinking about thinking about expanding our little family (it’s not any time soon so calm down). And we actually have money in savings.  Great.
We also have two expensive brains and that means school debt. We live in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment. We live in an area where real estate prices are ridiculously through the roof.  Seriously, we saw a cute tiny little 2 bedroom house for sale on a walk the other day, we came home to look at it on MLS and it’s listed for $499,000. Sure it’s a monster lot, but come on. That’s absurd. Do you know what’s even more absurd – the bank would probably give us the money and probably take 5% down because it’s our first house.  Hey banks in Canada! Have you learned nothing from our neighbours to the south?  This can’t go on. It can’t.
So the Boy and I made a decision.  We would look for a rental that we could feasibly stay in for the next 3-4 years. We’ll wait out the market figuring it has to crash eventually, and if Macleans magazine is anything to go by (and it typically is) something like 30% of people cannot afford to stay in their homes if interest rates go up by 1-2 percent. Ideally, they will need to sell at a reasonable price and we will swoop in to pick up our very own home for what it’s worth instead of some ridonculous amount of money.
Sounds like a great plan right?
We thought so – so we made a list of our must haves (just like on TV)
  1. 2-3 bedrooms
  2. Laundry (preferably private)
  3. Pet friendly
  4. Outdoor space
  5. Utilities included – or a reasonable amount for rent if they are not included – or willingness to negotiate.
  6. In our neighbourhood or at least South of highway 9.
Do you know what we’ve found?  Nothing. No, sorry not nothing. Dog patch.
We find semidetached bungalows that are everything we want except they are north of highway 9 which is affectionately known to locals as “The Dog Patch.”  I don’t know much but I know when you mention “The Dog Patch” to locals, they make BIG EYES and say “Meaghan YOU CAN NOT LIVE THERE!” I know of people that have lived there who witnessed people involved in a fist fights on their front lawn on a regular basis.  And I know when I drive through and look at the houses and think “it’s not that bad”  something inside me says “Sure it doesn’t look that bad – but I’m pretty sure one of these sketchy people is going to steal your stroller one day”
This week we found a BEAUTIFUL apartment, 2 bedrooms, private laundry, pet friendly, outdoor space, rent + hydro (water and heat and cable included) and in our wonderful neighbourhood.  Sounds perfect right? Right! It is! For now.  The Boy and I would be blissfully happy there, but if we were to bring in a little, I think we would be falling over each other quite quickly.  The bedrooms are teeny tiny. And I’ve heard a rumour that kids come with a lot of stuff. BAH! It’s not somewhere that I think we can stay for 3-4 years. More like 1-2. And then, what’s the point?
So what do you do when you live in a shoe? Move to a boot? Or go back and forth a million times on whether you’re making the right decision or not, and whether what you want actually exists.  Right now we’re experiencing the latter.  If we could find somewhere to stay long term, we could put the contents of our savings account and pay off a  chunk of school loan. But if we can’t, we’re going into a mortgage that is inflated or with a weak down payment only to feel financially strapped for the rest of our lives. We just got off that train, we’ve taken that tour and I’d rather not get back on for a while – ever if I can help it.
So now what. Tell me universe what is your brilliant plan? Are you saving the perfect rental for us until the summer is over? Are you telling us to forget it all and go to New York for a splurgey vaycay? Maybe we should just go to Europe? Forget our cares, live in our little space for a little longer and then your master plan will unfold when we least expect it?

Only one problem with that brilliant plan.  I suck at patience.  And I really suck at “the universe will take care of it when it’s time.”

We’re planning on revisiting the only possibility we’ve seen next week.  Cross your fingers we come up with brilliant storage visions.

It was close but we made it

That’s what my Dad likes to say any time we arrive anywhere, but last week it was true… it was close but we made it.

To Florida.  Last week was our annual week of retirement living. And we almost didn’t make it.

It started like all good stories do – with travel from a land far far away, by multiple modes of transport.

In order to get to our 4:00pm flight the Boy and I left our apartment at 12:00pm drove to my Nanny’s condo, parked the car, took a taxi to the bus station, took the 1:15pm  airport express bus to the airport, took the monorail from terminal 1 to terminal 3, took several moving sidewalks, elevators and escalators. Then we checked in, and waited in line for customs… and that’s where our story got interesting.

For those of you that know the Boy or have gotten to know him through the blog it will not surprise you that he’s not a great traveler. He likes to travel, in theory, he hates getting there and he won’t plan it.  There’s a reason I didn’t leave “planning the honeymoon” up to the Boy.  He hates the crowds, the waiting, the lines and because he won’t plan it he does not have the travel itinerary in his email or in his brain so he insists on asking me about a million times – When are we going? What airline? What time? Do you have everything? Do you have my passport? Did you put scissors in your carry-on? Are you sure you didn’t? Can you check again? And so on and so on.

So when we got to the customs line and it was winding it’s way around the crazy line maze the Boy started getting nervous.

Approximately 2:00pm

The Boy – “What if we don’t get through in time?”

Me – “Stop worrying, we have LOTS of time!”

We waited and slowly made our way to the front, eavesdropping on whiny children fighting over the window seat.

We made it to the front. We explained that we are married but since we still have different last names we weren’t sure whether to fill out one customs form or two (for future travelers – you fill out one per household). We gave our passports, we answered where we were headed. I was given the clear.  The Boy was told that there was some information they needed that was not available on the passport so he would need to come with them.

They took the Boy’s passport.

I was confused.  I wasn’t planning on going far, I wasn’t planning on going any further at all actually, but it is customs so I didn’t know if I was able to go with him or not so I asked, and our friendly agent said, “You’re married right?” Me – “Yes” Him – “Well then you can come with him.”  I mention this because we didn’t have anything that said we were married – apparently your word is all the U.S. customs needs… almost.

We went and sat in a room to the side of the customs line and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Until a new customs agent and his friend came and spoke with us.

They addressed the Boy and he stood up.

Agent 3 – “Daaaaamn man! You are TALL!”

Nice.

Agent 2 asked the Boy to confirm his birthday, his height, his weight, his hair colour, his eye colour, and whether or not he had travelled outside Canada or the United States in the last 10 years.

Then he told us that there is someone with an outstanding warrant, who has the same last name, and birthday as the Boy.  So we would need to wait until they could confirm that this Boy was not the Boy they were looking for.

Great.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited.

They came back. They assured us that the Boy’s height would likely help the situation, they couldn’t tell us what this mystery man is wanted for they just continued to tell us that they couldn’t let us go until they confirmed with Washington that he wasn’t who they were looking for.

They asked to go through his bag.

A quick look and it became increasingly apparent that the customs agents were going through the motions and while they weren’t able to let us go – they didn’t think that the Boy was the boy they were looking for.

It was 2:53.

We asked how long we would have to wait. We were told that they had to wait to receive a clearance call from Washington. They couldn’t let us go until they got the call but they expected it would only be about 20 minutes.  We asked if we would miss our flight.  They said they hoped not, we were only 10 minutes from the gate and they would do everything they could to get us there but they couldn’t let us go without the call.

At 3:25 we heard the phone ring.

Agent 3 came out again.

They took my passport.

At 3:30 we got a thumbs up and a new agent brought us our passports and boarding passes and thanked us for our patience. He took us through customs got our bags dropped on the conveyor and wished us a good flight.

The Boy went to drop off his golf clubs and that helpful person, while staring at our boarding pass asked “What time is your flight?”

Boy – “4:00”

Helpful baggage guy – “You’ve got to go! You’re really late!”

Boy – “Yeah, I know!”

Golf clubs dropped off we practically ran to security.

Shoes off and running through without a scissors incident.

We ran to the very last gate – 3:37pm we arrived just in time to hear the announcement “We are now starting pre boarding for the flight to Fort Myers Florida.”

We made it.

I’m pretty sure the whole ordeal took at least 6 weeks off the Boy’s life for the stress of it all.

It was close. But we made it.

*The best part is we’re still not clear on what will happen the next time we try to go state-side.  The customs guys only advice… “leave lots of time”

Helpful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here in the North country we don’t let consumerism dictate when we gather with our family.  We like to give thanks for the bountiful harvest at actual harvest time instead of 30 shopping days left before Christmas. I know my American readers will think it odd – but this weekend was Thanksgiving north of the border.  And it was… delicious.

Thanksgiving tops the list as far as favourite holidays for me.  It’s a stressless long weekend that’s all about the food and family. Not too much to get ready beforehand, no stressing out that you haven’t yet found the perfect something for everyone on your list. Just food.  Delicious food.

The Boy and I headed to my parents for the weekend.  It was the first holiday in a LONG time that we didn’t split between two families and stuff ourselves silly eating TWO turkey dinners.  While we love that our families live close enough that we can see everyone – I can’t deny it, it was nice not to travel.

Instead we spent the weekend catching up with BFF Kate, in for the weekend from Edmonton, and hanging out with the fam.  The Boy spent his weekend doing boy things, building shelves, putting together a work bench, golfing and sorting out my brother’s goofy handed golf swing (he grips left, but shoots right – freak).  I spent the weekend doing girl things, namely knitting, helping with dinner, going on Starbucks runs, drinking tea, and tearing out said knitting only to start again.

It was a full weekend, but relaxing.  The only thing the Boy and I didn’t really do… hang out with eachother! Tonight, date night.

 

The Boy's favourite part of dinner... well everyone's really.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

PS. Debbie just asked in my comments if we share the same food as our neighbours to the South.  And I just don’t know.  So – what’s your favourite food at Thanksgiving?

Summit Anyone?

Today’s the first day of the G8/G20 summits in Huntsville and Toronto.  I mentioned earlier this week that I’ve been a bit on the fence about the whole thing.  It’s not really the meetings that have me on the fence, I think it’s probably a good idea for world leaders to get together and have a conversation on a regular basis.  But it’s the price tag that I and many Canadians can’t get over.  The current estimate $1.1 BILLION.  Yes, that’s Billion… with a B. 

Now I’m no political wizard.  And if you were to check my debt to savings ratio you would likely assume I’m not a finance guru either.  But Billion?  With a B? That seems a bit excessive to me.

I’ve been staying at my parents the last couple weeks and with that comes the treat of a daily newspaper.  It’s so refreshing to stay in touch with the world.  This week, obviously, there has been a LOT of talk about the summits.  The Toronto Star from my daily skims has seems to be sitting on the same 10 foot fence that I am. 

On the one hand, there is this article talking about the price tag.  Highlights include that this is the most expensive summit EVER.  Not only that, but $930 million of that budget is totally on security.  All that fuss over the fake lake, and it turns out that’s just a drop in the bucket.  Take it out and it wouldn’t even make a difference. 

On the other hand, these things need to happen.  They need to happen in a public place.  And as a Toronto Star editorial discussed this week – Canadians could stop whining about the traffic nightmares for a couple of minutes and be proud that Canada is playing with the big boys this weekend.  We’ve not only been asked to join the grown-up table – but to host the party.  I can’t find the article online, but basically the argument was you can do it for cheaper on a private island where security is a more manageable issue.  Or, it could be at the UN every time – which is actually something I was thinking of in all of the debate.  But this is the problem with both of these solutions – the point is for it to be in a public space.  The point is for protestors to be able to protest.  For differences in opinion to be heard.  Finally, the point is that the United States, and New York specifically is not the centre of the world. 

So in the end, where leaders meet shouldn’t matter.  But it does.  Protestors need to protest.  Pictures need to be taken.  But I still think it could have been done for less than $1.1 Billion, with a B.  And the fake lake is just silly.

Here it is - fake lake Toronto. It's not even outside!

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