March 11, 2014

First of all, if you have helped me get to Brazil in any way, such as; letting me collect your recyclables, buying things from my fundraisers, or any thing else that you can think of… I can’t thank you enough! Brazil has been a blast already and today is only our second full day here! I can’t wait to see what will else will happen over the rest of this wonderful adventure.

The total travel time was somewhere around 17 hours. Which was kind of boring but at the same time, was also really fun! The first thought in my head while landing in Brazil was, “WOW!” Because the city that we landed in (São Paulo) is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere!!

After ten hours in the São Paulo airport we finally made our way to São Luíz with one quick stop in Brasilia. It was a great feeling to know that this would be the last plane that we would be on before starting our wondrous adventure!

So far we’ve gone to a barbecue, toured the school, and had an orientation at Viamundo which is the travel agency that is helping with our trip.

Once again thank you (Obrigado) to all that have helped me over the past few months to get me where I am now. I can’t wait to update you more as the trip goes.







On the Road Again!

July 2, 2012

I’m writing this post from Bangor, Maine. We are taking a “working vacation” this year.

I was approved to go back to Cornell University this summer to earn the next course in my Certification in Strategic Hospitality Management. This year’s course is called, “Strategic Marketing for Restaurants and Hotels.” I am fortunate to be participating in this Executive Development Program through the overwhelming support of TIANS/NSTHRC and ACOA. There are ten or eleven Nova Scotian Tourism Industry leaders who will be furthering their education at Cornell this month. Since my course is offered during the first week of July, D’Arcy and the kids have tagged along and will explore Upstate New York while I’m in class each day.

As luck would have it, D’Arcy was chosen as a Nova Scotian representative to mark a National Science Exam in Ottawa during the second week of June. After my course is over, we’ll drive back into Canada through Niagara Falls, visiting with friends along the way before arriving in Ottawa where Evan & Alex will have the opportunity to stay with their cousins and we’ll explore the Ottawa area while he works.

Yesterday morning, as soon as the guests left, we kicked into high gear: cleaning, packing and doing laundry. We had originally intended to leave early this morning and drive straight through from Truro to Boston, but two nights ago decided to leave on the 1st instead and make it as far as Bangor on Day 1.

My plan was to leave at noon, but that was ambitious! We actually pulled away from the house at about 2:00. We aren’t camping this trip, instead staying either with friends, or in suite hotels along the way. Without packing the tent or camp stove, and with no kids needing strollers, etc., we seemed to have more room than usual. It almost felt like we were forgetting something!

Ready to go – room to shop?

Our first stop before we left town was a visit with our friends,  Ruth & Gerry of Suncatcher B&B. Gerry had surgery last month, and because the girls & I had had colds, we hadn’t had a chance to see him since. Because Gerry makes all kinds of beautiful stained glass creations, the kids each designed “stained glass” looking get-well cards. Sarah was especially excited to write, “Bonne sante M. Mailloux. Je t’aime, Sarah” on the back of hers! We had a good (but short) visit getting caught up. By the time we ran a couple of errands on our way out of town, it was 3:30p.m. when we left Truro for Maine.

We are lucky that our kids are really good travelers. We were on the road for about 7 hours before arriving at our hotel at 10:30 p.m. our time. About three hours into our drive, Olivia asked, “When are we going to get to Canada Day?” She was sure that we were on our way to the International Gathering of the “Clams” in Pugwash, which we’ve done the past few years. There is a highland dance competition there that Sarah has participated in. When I told Olivia that we’re not going to get there this year (it’s actually being held today, on the 2nd, or we might have stopped along the way), she responded, “So I wore my Canada shirt for nothing?” We laughed and explained that it was still Canada Day, even if we didn’t get to Pugwash!

This is the Sarah & Olivia’s first time in the United States. We had a sweet Customs’ Agent when crossing from St. Stephen into Calais. She asked each of us the normal questions and asked the girls where they lived. They gave our address and said that we live in a Bed & Breakfast.They told her all about our trip – where we were going, what we’d be doing, and who we’d be seeing. She commented that it sounded like a lot of fun and Olivia responded, “You need to quit your job and come with us!” I think she realized that we couldn’t possibly be hiding anything with her along and we sailed through!

The girls oohed & aahed over the scenery, which isn’t really much different than that of rural Nova Scotia. We were surprised to see how many motels, gift shops, restaurants and campgrounds were closed and boarded up on this side of the Border. It was a sad and forlorn sight. We had bit of rain in the early evening, and spotted a beautiful rainbow- which reminded me that we didn’t pack raincoats! (That accounts for some of the extra room – hope we have better weather than we did in Newfoundland last year!) We were exhausted by the time we arrived at the Four Points Sheraton at the Bangor Airport, but snacked on crackers, cheese, bread,ham, fruit, carrots,etc. before bed.

Rainbow along Route 9

Maine sunset

We gained an hour when crossing the border from Atlantic time to Eastern time. It felt good to “sleep in” until seven! After breakfast and a swim, we will be on our way to Boston to visit our friends (and former B&B guests) Willem & Kate in their new home. Kate met me in New York last year when I was attending Cornell, but we’re excited to have our two families together to visit this year.We have about a four hour drive from here, and will stop in Freeport and New Hampshire along the way. We’re not big shoppers, so this is our only scheduled shopping day for the next two weeks.

The weather is beautiful so off we go on another day of adventure!! Thank you to my parents who are looking after the Bed & Breakfast for us while we’re away!! We’ll give you a vacation when we get home – we promise! 🙂

The long way home

August 25, 2011

The sun began to shine just in time for us to board the ferry to go back to Newfoundland from St. Pierre.  “Boss”, the guy who lost it with his sick family on the way over, was also on our ferry on the way back.  Alex was incredulous as he listened to him telling other passengers about the harrowing crossing the day before.  He told everyone that they had been “deathly ill” and all he could do was run back and forth between them, saving their lives…

We chose to sit outside because the weather was finally so nice.  The temperature hit a balmy 14*C.  The island of St. Pierre was just beautiful from the water.  We were able to see seals, and the captain drove the ferry close to the other islands so that we could see the puffins.  The sky and the water were full of them!

St. Pierre, France

The Cathedral is in the middle of the photo, and the apartment building on the right is where the Gendarmes live.

We bought a magnet that looks just like these two!

Filling out the Customs sheet - they had to give me two because we don't all fit on one form!

All those black specks in the air, water and on the cliffs are puffins!

As we left French waters and entered Canadian waters, the crew took down the French flag and raised the Canadian flag.  (Something we didn’t notice traveling inside on the way over!)

We stayed outside the whole time and saw some dolphins.  We enjoyed the sun and passed the time playing cards;  Olivia & I were partners.  It took about an hour-and-a-half to get back to Newfoundland, but then we had to go through customs.  We had only brought back $50 total in souvenirs although we were allowed $50/person.  We also hadn’t brought any alcohol because we hadn’t been gone long enough.  Once we got to the front of the line, we sailed through customs.  None of our bags were checked.

D’Arcy had to go and pick up our van and then come back to get the rest of us.  By the time we hit the road for Argentia, it was close to suppertime.  We put in a movie for the kids and set out on the two-hours-of-nothing road from Fortune to Goobies for the 4th time!  Not far down the road, we saw a woman hitchhiking and recogized that she had been sitting near us on the ferry, so we stopped to pick her up.  Her name was Geri and she was from Alberta.  She was traveling across the country on her own and we hope that she might stop in to the B&B when she’s in Nova Scotia!

Every child but Sarah fell asleep during the drive and about half-way into it I realized that there was no way we would make it to Argentia that evening.  Because of the potential of moose on the road, we didn’t want to be driving in the dark and we knew it would soon be dusk.  I suggested that we try to find a place in Clarenville, about 15 minutes from Goobies.  We dropped Geri off in Goobies, as she was headed to Come By Chance, in the other direction from where we were going.  We drove to Clarenville and called around to some motels.  They were either full, had only smoking rooms, or cost over $200 for the night.  We knew we could set the tent up, but didn’t really want to; we had to be at the ferry to Nova Scotia by 1:30 and had hoped to get to Cape St. Mary’s in the morning.

D’Arcy looked at the map to see what there was in the other direction.  We called a motel in Arnold’s Cove, just a 30 minute drive, and booked a room.  The price was right – only $70.  (You get what you pay for!)  We checked in and realized we had been given a room next to three girls who looked ready to party.  One of them was standing out on the deck having a cigarette.  D’Arcy questioned the woman at the front desk who told him that it was just three girls and there shouldn’t be any noise.  We hadn’t even taken anything out of the van when three guys pulled up and the noise level increased.  The walls were quite thin and I was tired.  D’Arcy & I went together to the front desk to ask if we could have a different room.  The girls from the room next door were ahead of us, asking if there was a shot glass they could have.  Needless to say, we were moved to an efficiency unit at the other end of the motel for no extra charge!

We spent some time checking for bed bugs, then brought our things in.  The room was adequate for our needs, and I actually slept quite well.  D’Arcy ended up on a futon with Sarah, so his sleep was not as good quality, and the boys each had an air mattress & sleeping bag on the floor.  We got up early in the morning and checked out as soon as possible.  We drove to a grocery store to buy some cereal and picnic supplies for lunch, then made our way to Argentia, but not before stopping to find a geocache in Arnold’s Cove!

Arnold's Cove, NL

Found the geocache - this makes 10 in Newfoundland!

Our original plan was to go to Cape St. Mary’s for the morning and then return to the ferry by our 1:30 check in time.  However, with the fog and because of all the rain, we were advised at a lovely cafe in Argentia that we shouldn’t try it.  I had wanted to go to Cataracts Provincial Park, but the road was bad and the weather wasn’t great.  We ended up souvenir shopping in Argentia and then going to Castle Rock National Historic Site in Placentia, where we toured the facility and did a quick walk of the fort’s remains.  I’m sure it was beautiful, but the fog was so thick, we didn’t get a feel for the view.  We had fun exploring, but I had what I assume was a drop in my blood sugar.  I got the shakes and had to go back to the van and eat a granola bar and have a drink of juice.  It wasn’t long before the others came to the van and we drove to the ferry.

Exploring the fort in the fog

The view of Placentia Bay - I'm sure it's beautiful...

The kids on the cannon at Castle Rock

We left and went back to Argentia to catch the ferry.  Again, as we checked in, they commented, “We’ve been waiting to see who the peanut allergy is!”  We had our van washed to remove all soil from Newfoundland.  The kids thought it was fantastic to watch the women with the fire hoses washing our van!

We boarded the ferry and found out we had the same cabin that we’d had on our crossing to Newfoundland.  We dropped our few things off (the girls were dressed in track suits that they could sleep in) and we went out onto the deck – in the sunshine – to eat our picnic lunch.  We had eaten and cleaned up and there was still time before we sailed.  We positioned ourselves on the deck and watched as they prepared the ship for sailing.

Alex & D'Arcy

Alex & the girls, chatting during our last few moments in Newfoundland

Removing the line from the buoy so we could set sail

Evan & Sarah

Before long, the kids all wanted to go inside.  We sailed at 3:30 p.m. and grabbed a seat in the lounge where the entertainment was and started to play games.  Sarah, Evan, Alex & I played Monopoly while D’Arcy & Olivia played My Little Pony Memory.  We stationed ourselves in one spot and went back & forth to the cabin, the playroom, outside, etc.  We had some snacks, but had thought that since they were so accommodating about Olivia’s allergies that we might be able to have supper in the restaurant.

A big move in the My Little Pony Memory Game...

Getting the Monopoly game started.

Admittedly, I was tired by this point. We went into the restaurant at about 7:30 when the crowd had died down.  As we walked in, there was a woman working at the bar.  I asked if they were still serving and she replied, curtly, “For what?”  Now I know that she probably meant for the restaurant or for the buffet, but her tone implied that we were not welcome.  We stood at the doorway of the sit-down section of the restaurant without being acknowledged.  There were about five tables that had guests still eating, but the rest of the tables were dirty.  Servers walked by us without even making eye contact and we left to check out the buffet side.

Now anyone with food allergies knows that a buffet is dangerous territory – especially with the chance that people will use one spoon in more than one dish.  Before we were seated, we asked the hostess if we would be able to get something safe for Olivia to eat and she went to check with the kitchen.  We waited and she came back to say that they could feed her macaroni & cheese bites from the buffet.  I explained that she can’t eat from a buffet and that the macaroni & cheese bites were probably made with egg.  I suggested that perhaps she could have some steamed veggies & ham – if the ham had not made it to the buffet yet.  Long story short, the chef did not feel comfortable feeding her, so we all left the restaurant.

We bought the kids hot dogs at the take-out place and fed Olivia from our cooler.  She had turkey, cheese, mandarin oranges and cereal and we got her some chocolate milk.  We played some more games and bought a fun new game, “ImagineIff” from the gift shop.

We went to our cabin to put the girls to bed and had intended to keep playing the game, but I realized I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.  I knew that we’d dock by 6 a.m. and remembered what it was like when I worked on the Scotia Prince and we docked at 8 a.m.!  I knew it would be an early morning.  I don’t know how long the rest of them stayed up, but Olivia & I curled up on our top bunk together and let the swaying of the ship rock us to sleep.

It was morning before we knew it and we just got up in our clothes and went to the car.  It was a beautiful morning and none of us were quite ready to be home.  I sent my parents a message, asking if we had anyone booked for the night.  (When we had left, there hadn’t been anything booked.)  I left them a message that we were going to drive the Cabot Trail, so they should leave the mess and we’d look after it when we arrived home in the afternoon.

We took the Englishtown Ferry to the Trail (We had to borrow cash from the kids for the $5.25 crossing!) and started around.  The scenery & weather were beautiful.  D’Arcy, Alex & Sarah searched for a geocache right when we got off the ferry, but didn’t have any luck finding it. They finally gave up, figuring that it was no longer there.  We stopped for coffee  at a cafe in Ingonish and at that time it was still only eight-ish.  The weather was gorgeous and we stopped at some of the look-offs for photos.

Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton Island

View of the Skyline Trail. If you look on the top of the mountain, in the centre of the photo, you can see a couple of tiny people walking the trail. We hope to do that with the kids - maybe in the Fall? Probably next year... I can only imagine how beautiful the view is!!

Heading towards Cheticamp, Cape Breton

We stopped in Cheticamp for lunch, although it was not quite 11:00.  (When you’re on the road by six, you’re ready for everything early!)  We looked for a place that was open that we thought we could find something safe for Olivia since there is not much traditional breakfast food that would be safe.  Even things being cooked on the same grill as eggs are a problem.  We found a restaurant and she was happy to have another pizza – our go to “safe” food.  Sarah wanted to buy some candy, but I wasn’t sure if it was safe and I was getting anxious to be on the road, not knowing if my parents had left the rooms for us to finish when we arrived home.

I drove from Cheticamp and D’Arcy had a nap.  We went through the Margaree Valley and stopped for gas after we crossed the Canso Causeway.  We high-tailed it for home, arriving around 3:00.  My dad was sitting on the front step reading a book and my mom was just pulling into the driveway.  We were tired and dirty and grungy so turned down their offer of hodge-podge for supper.  No one was really hungry at that point.  We chatted for a bit in the driveway while D’Arcy unloaded the van.

It was hard to imagine that the two weeks had flown by so quickly!  We realize how fortunate we were to have that time together – despite the hiccups along the way!  My Facebook status updates were few while in Newfoundland, but the day we arrived home, I posted the following:  “After 13 days, 3400 km of driving, 562 km of water travel on three different ferries, 39 different bathrooms, and 11 successful geocashes, we are home safe, sound and still speaking!”

It was a family vacation that I’m sure none of us will ever forget!


D’Arcy & I both slept through our 5:30 alarms.  I awoke with a start at 6:50 a.m. and realized we were LATE!  We flew around getting everyone up and the van packed, and were out the door and on the road by 7:10.  We knew that our 6:00 starting time had allowed us time for delays, but our stress level was high that we wouldn’t get to the ferry terminal on time.

We made it to Goobies before we stopped to drain the kids and fill the van.  We had put Sarah, still sleeping, in the van in her pyjamas, so got her dressed at the gas station.  We got the kids each some juice and they ate cereal while we drove.  This was one time we hoped we would not see a moose!  All went well and the little traffic there was flowed steadily until we got just outside Marystown.  A woman pulled out in front of us and drove between 30 and 50 km/hr.  We couldn’t pass her, and I eventually started to giggle because what else could we do? Marystown is one place we will never forget!  I called the Tour Company and told them that we were coming and would be there shortly.

It turned out that we arrived at the ferry terminal in lots of time.  The ferry wasn’t scheduled to leave until 11:30 and we were there at 10:45.  We got our tickets and boarding passes and went to the dock.  There, the kids & I sat with our luggage while D’Arcy took our van to a secure parking lot for the night.  The ferry was late coming in from St. Pierre and everyone was already lined up to get on board when it docked.  I gave each of the kids Gravol – just in case, knowing that this crossing would be much rougher than the ferry to Newfoundland was.

We chatted with a father & son from the Miramichi while we waited.  They had driven from Bonavista that morning. The captain came over to the gate and announced that they were considering cancelling the crossing due to high winds and rough water.  He said that they would make an announcement at 12:30.  I could see look of panic on Alex’s face as he asked, “You mean we might not get to go?”  We went in to the information centre and had some lunch while we waited.  It was out of our hands.

Before long the word spread that the winds had died down and the boat would cross.  We gathered up our things together and off we went.  It was windy with light rain, so we went downstairs into the cabin.  The captain announced that it would be a rough crossing and would take longer than normal.  We settled in and played cards, watching for whales.  The girls drew pictures on the barf bags.  The crossing was definitely rough and the kids described it like being on a roller coaster.  There was a family on board that three out of four were sick.  Also, there was a kids’ soccer team from Miquelon and a number of them were sick as well.  The family was made up of a man in his late 20’s or early 30’s, his mother, his pregnant girlfriend and his pre-teen son.  He totally flipped out when they were getting sick and every other word out of his mouth was the f-word.  He did absolutely nothing to help them , and it was the coach of the soccer team who took over and aided them.

Our family fared well, but by the time we docked, Evan told me that he was starting to get a bit queasy and was sweating.  Olivia slept through most of it!  We docked and went through French customs and got French stamps in our passports.  The kids were so excited to have finally arrived!  We headed towards our B&B which turned out to be right at the top of the hill.  We had a map which wasn’t very good (no street names!), so we did stop at a hardware store to ask directions.  The kids are good walkers – I have to give them credit – they didn’t complain, even when carrying things.

We made it to St. Pierre - Finally!!

We got to our B&B, Auberge Quatre Temps, to discover that they had us in two rooms which were not connected, but were side by side.  The rooms were small and each had a double bed and a set of bunk beds.  They weren’t fancy, but we decided that they were adequate as we would only be sleeping there for the night.  We showered and got ready to go exploring.

We walked back downtown and went to the Visitor Information Centre.  As we opened the door, I noticed that they were TIANS members!  We got some information, along with a better map of the town and set out to find a place to eat.  I already had a restaurant in mind, La Feu de Braise.  We stopped at a bank machine and got out some Euros so we would have cash, and realized that the restaurant was right there – but didn’t open until 7:00.  We made the decision to go on the bus tour of the Island to pass the time, and then come back for dinner.

The TIANS membership sticker, although hard to see in this photo, is located between the two "Hours of Operation" signs!

The bus tour was run by a man named Hubert and his granddaughter Emilie.  They were 4th & 6th generation of their family to live on the Island. We were glad we took the tour and learned some interesting information.  There are just over 6,000 people who live in St. Pierre and over 4,000 vehicles! Over 90% of the population is Catholic. Over 65% of the population works for the government and the rest work mainly in construction or tourism.  There are over 400 horses on the Island, used purely for the pleasure of horseback riding.  Most of their food is delivered to the island via Halifax, Nova Scotia, once a week.  They start school at the age of two and if they wish to go to university in Canada or in France, their education is paid for.  The government gives them an allowance of 450 Euros per month and pays for a flight to return to St. Pierre once per year.  The French Gendarme are responsible for policing and come from France with their families for three year terms.  (We didn’t see any while we were there!)  The jail on St. Pierre has only five cells and only one prisoner!  (We were wondering what he did…)  The crime rate is extremely low. I think one of our favourite facts was that they paint their houses such bright colors because they have so much fog and bad weather that they need something to cheer them up!

Zazpiak-Bat, a wall in the centre of town where three different handball-type games are played. This comes from the Basque culture.

The cemetery. There is no cremation, nor embalming. Family members' are buried four deep, the caskets one on top of another.

Just one example of a brightly coloured building!

One of the 4000+ cars on the Island! (They also drive very quickly!)

Normally, the bus stops at four different places along the route for photo opportunities, but it was so foggy that we only stopped at one.  Sarah fell asleep early on in the tour, and Alex napped through the second half.  After the photo opportunity, Olivia was pretty pleased to go sit in the very back row of seats.

Beautiful St. Pierre - This was taken on the west side of the Island

Sarah, so excited to go on the bus tour, fell sound asleep for the entire ride!

Olivia at the back of the bus

After the bus tour, we woke Sarah and walked up to the restaurant.  The girls each had pizzas (after we were assured that the dough was safe for Olivia), Evan had a calazone, I had scallops in puff pastry and D’Arcy & Alex shared prime rib for two.  It was delicious and the setting was wonderful.  After so many barbeques and ready-made meals, we were happy to have a decent dinner made for us!  D’Arcy & I even shared a bottle of French Beaujolais.  We talked about the adventures we’ve had on the trip so far.

At dinner

After supper, we explored more of St. Pierre as we walked back up to our B&B.  At the B&B, there was no one to be found.  D’Arcy rang the bell to get some ice and we went to our rooms and got ready for bed.  Earlier in the day, we had thought that the boys could share a room and we would share the other with the girls, but then Olivia decided that she wanted to sleep with me.  Alex went back & forth between rooms and ended up pulling out his tooth in our bathroom!  It had been loose the whole trip, but he was determined to lose it in France. D’Arcy went in to one room with the boys and I slept in the other room with the girls.  It was really warm and because there was no screen, I couldn’t open the window.  We watched a couple of the girls’ favourite television shows in French, and Olivia and I were asleep very quickly.

In the morning, Alex was quick to come in to tell me that the Tooth Fairy had come and had brought him Euros!  How exciting!  We got dressed and went to the B&B’s restaurant for breakfast.  We had coffee, juice and chocolate milk along with bread, jam and pastries.  I was pleased that they had made up one basket with bread that was safe for Olivia’s allergies and another basket (with croissants!) that was not safe for her.  We used our french and chatted with the girl who was serving us.  There was a huge rack of postcards, so the kids were excited to choose and buy some with their Euros!

Check out time was 10:30, but we were packed up and ready before that.  We walked back down to the Visitor Information Centre (And Olivia lost some of her money in someone’s long grass along the way!) to store our bags until we caught the ferry in the afternoon.  We spent time there writing postcards and looking up postal codes on the Internet.  D’Arcy also looked up a couple of geo-caches on the Island.  The girls – of course – had to go to the bathroom, but they were not located in the Visitor Information Centre.  We went on a wild goose chase to find the public bathrooms, located across the street! When we met up with the boys again, who were starting to worry about us, we realized that unless we rented bikes or took a taxi, we would not have time to get to the geocache.  We took our postcards to the Post Office, bought stamps and mailed them.

The wall of the soccer field.

Writing Postcards at the Visitor Information Centre

Looking up information at the VIC

Mailing her postcards!

We explored the town, stopping in at many shops along the way.  The streets and sidewalks were very narrow and it was difficult to hold the girls’ hands.  We ran into the ladies from our B&B, dropping the laundry at the laundromat before lunch, but they weren’t very friendly!  (We wouldn’t go back there again!)  Everyone was starting to get hungry and we realized that it was almost Siesta time (12 – 1:30) where all shops, museums, etc. close and only restaurants & pubs are open!  We happened to run into the baker from the bakery who was very friendly and gave us options & directions for lunch.  We ended up going to the Hotel Robert for lunch, which was near the VIC.  As soon as Alex & Sarah heard “Creperie”, the restaurant was decided!!  Olivia was able to have a plate of french fries that were safe while the other kids had hamburgers, D’Arcy had a sandwich and I had Coquilles Sainte Jacques and a salad.  They made sure to save room to have crepes for dessert!

With Alex at lunch

Crepes! Alex & Evan shared one filled with bananas, whipped cream & chocolate sauce; Sarah's had maple syrup and whipped cream!

We went back out into the town.  I really wanted to go to the supermarket to see how it differed from ours, but we had to wait for it to open.  I peeked in and then we started back towards the ferry terminal.  The kids really wanted to do some souvenir shopping.  We walked back downtown and picked up our belongings which we had stored at the VIC.  We went into a couple of stores and then ended up at one close to the ferry terminal where we bought a flag, some stickers and badges for the boys’ campfire blankets.  We had to go to catch the ferry, but the girls had really wanted to ride the carousel and it was finally open.  D’Arcy took them for a ride while the boys and I kept our place in line.  Sarah tells us that the carousel was one of the best parts of the entire trip!!

A view one part of town from the running track.

We think this sign means "no parking" but we didn't ever find out for sure!

Amusing themselves with the telephone, waiting for the supermarket to open after siesta.

The "best part of the trip"!

After the carousel ride, D’Arcy & the girls came back to meet us in line and we waited to board the ferry back to Newfoundland.

We wished we’d had more than just the one day in St. Pierre.  It was definitely a highlight for all the kids and we would have liked to have explored and learned more.  D’Arcy would have liked to find at least one of the geocaches hidden on the island as well.  Another reason I think we’d have liked to stay longer is because we knew that as soon as we got back to Newfoundland, we were essentially on our way home, and none of us was ready for the trip to be finished!

One of the things I really wanted to do while in Newfoundland was to have a picnic at Ferryland Lighthouse Picnics. Back in October, during Atlantic Canada Showcase, I had eaten lunch with Jill, who owns the Lighthouse.  I fell in love with the concept and put it on my must-do list.

Brianna was scheduled for heart tests, so we had already made plans to take Nate with us, meeting up with him after he finished gymnastics in the morning.  It turned out that Shelley has known Jill for years and when I told her we were going to the lighthouse for lunch, she decided to join us.  The weatherman was calling for the fog to lift during the morning to reveal sunny skies with a high of 12*C.

It did brighten for a short bit during the drive and Nate told me he could see the sun out his window!  However, as we got closer to ferryland, the fog got thicker and the wind picked up.  When we got to the lighthouse, we realized that the girls’ skirts had been optimistic and they changed into jogging pants in the van.  We hiked up the 20 minute walk through the trees to the lighthouse and placed our order.  It was windy and cold, so we decided to eat inside.  We got ourselves set up at a picnic type table downstairs in the old coal room.  It was dark and smelled damp.  We saw some other families go past the window with their picnic blankets, and I made the decision that we would find some sheltering rocks and give outside a try!

In the shelter of the trees, hiking to the lighthouse

A beautiful day to picnic by the ocean!

Ahhh.... peace!

We all trooped out, and Sarah immediately started complaining about being cold.  We got her another blanket and wrapped her up in it.  The food was delivered to us in a giant wicker basket and our lemonade in mason jars.  Sarah was starting to come around when her tooth came out in her first bit of sandwich!  Disaster!  There was a fair bit of blood and she started to wail!  She refused to eat the rest of her sandwich. I had to break it into the tiniest bites and she still only consumed half of it.  But my piece of gingerbread cake?  That went down just fine and finally stopped the whining!  Evan declared his the best grilled cheese sandwich he’d ever had had – even better than his friend Alexander’s mom makes!  That’s quite a compliment!

Comforting a cold & starving Sarah

Here comes lunch!

The food was amazing!

Another lost tooth!

Traumatized again!

Nothing that gingerbread with vanilla sauce can't cure...

We went back into the lighthouse to warm up and visited with Jill while D’Arcy & the boys went geocaching.  They had to give up when the battery on D’Arcy’s phone died.  We bundled back up and hiked back to the van.

Time to go

Looking at the sheep on the nearby Island while walking back to the van

D’Arcy had just plugged his phone in to charge (Mine had no service once we were outside St. John’s) when it rang and Dave asked to speak to me.  Sandy had mentioned at Brianna’s appointment how miserable she was and when they checked her, they discovered she had a 6.5 cm abcess which had to be surgically removed – immediately.  We told Dave we would keep Nate with us until we heard from him again.  We kept quiet to Nate about what was happening and headed back toward Torbay to visit with another friend, Krista, whom I met on the ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia in 1981.  We have kept in touch and visited over the years.  It was her wedding last summer that prompted us to plan this trip originally.

We had plugged her address into the GPS, but chose the wrong street type and ended up at the wrong address.  When we realized what we had done, we had another 22 minute drive to get to their place.  We finally arrived and started to visit.  She had dug out photos from some of our visits over the years and even a copy of my Grade 6 yearbook that I’d sent her!  What fun to go through that!!  The kids all had fun playing with her son Dylan in their backyard.

An oblivious - and very tired - Nate

With Krista - friends since 1981 when we met on the Ferry!

The kids with Nate & Dylan

While we were visiting, Dave called to say that Sandy was out of surgery and was being discharged.  He needed us to meet him right away to help look after Brianna.  We said hasty goodbyes and went back to the Pearces’ house.  I went into the house with Sandy & the baby to get them settled while D’Arcy and the kids took Dave back to the hospital to pick up their other car.  Because she’d had Demerol, Brianna had to have a few feedings of formula.  I started to sterilize the bottles and give Dave a lesson in bottle feeding while Sandy went to bed.  The kids all stayed in the van watching a movie, and I’m begrudgingly admitting that the built in DVD player has come in handy a couple of times this trip!

We got Brianna fed (By the way, all her appointments had perfect results and she’d gained a whole pound in two weeks and is now 8lbs, 2oz.) and took Nate back to our place to feed him supper.  D’Arcy hung the tent out on the line to air it out and got the sleeping bags rolled back up.  He played catch with the kids in the backyard while I barbequed the end of our sausages, carrots & potatoes.

Having our last dinner in St. John's - with Nate!

We took Nate back to his house after we all had supper and the girls & I got to feed Brianna a bottle and put her to sleep while Dave got Nate settled.  We said our goodbyes, and I left feeling guilty that we were leaving in the morning.  I’m glad that we were at least able to help out for two days.

Olivia fell asleep in her car seat on the way back to Dave’s mom’s and we just transferred her straight into her bed.  Sarah had a bath and made sure her tooth was ready for the tooth fairy before going to bed and the boys went shortly after.  D’Arcy & I scurried around getting everything packed up and organized for St. Pierre, and set our alarms for 5:30 so that we could be on the road to Fortune, a four hour drive, at 6 a.m.

We were lazy our first morning at Dave’s mom’s home.  The kids played and watched television while we continued to clean and organize.  We can’t thank Peggy enough for the use of her home.  It felt SO good to be clean and do laundry!  D’Arcy took the van to a garage to vacuum all the sand, cereal, crumbs, dirt, etc. out of it.  We ate and headed out to Signal Hill after lunch.

As we were driving through downtown, D’Arcy had the radio on 97.5FM and I heard a familiar voice.  Is that Chris Batstone, I wondered?  It turned out that he was the radio personality!  (Are they still called DJ’s on the radio?)  Chris & I go back to the early 1980’s when we met and became close at various functions put on by the Nova Scotia Choral Federation.  I haven’t seen Chris since 1990, but he is on my Facebook.  It’s too bad we didn’t get a chance to visit in person, but the timing didn’t work out.

Signal Hill gave us a beautiful view of St. John’s and we climbed to the top of the tower.  There were two geocaches that we were searching for.  One had specific instructions that we were to take our photo on the Duke of York Observation Platform with St. John’s harbour in the background and our GPS had to be visable.  We had much discussion about which platform was the Duke of York Observation platform.  We hiked one of the trails down to the cannons and buildings and then back around.  We found a second cache on our way back up the hill.  Sandy called at that point and I asked her if she was up to joining us at the barbeque which Shelley, one of my university friends had planned for us.  She wasn’t feeling well at all, so I offered to take Nate along with us so that she could possibly sleep.

St. John's Harbour

The failed geocache photo - the harbour had to be showing in the background, but we were too polite to ask the stranger to re-take the photo. (You had to stand on a bench to get the harbour in!) A whole family photo nonetheless!

Fun among siblings - I think Olivia was the instigator of this fit of laughter!

Trying to recreate the "Louisbourg photo" of 2007 - we didn't quite manage it!

The scenery was amazing!

We picked Nate up and went to Shelley’s.  She has two little boys, Patrick who is 5, and Gabriel who will turn one at the end of the month.  The kids had a wonderful time playing together while Shelley & I got caught up.  We figured that it had probably been 16 years since we’d seen one another.  We had a feast of hamburgers, hotdogs and salads. Shelley had done a fantastic job of accommodating Olivia’s allergies and even sent us home with some safe gingersnaps.

With Gabriel

The girls with Gabriel. Nate, Patrick, and our boys were all busy playing in the playroom or outside, so I don't have any photos of them!

We went back to our home-away-from-home and Sandy & Dave came over to visit for the evening.  It felt good to get lots of newborn baby snuggles in and by the end of the evening we all had held her. Brianna was very good for being passed around so much!  Olivia and Nate were both exhausted and had one of their first real squabbles over a toy chair set.  When the Pearces left, the girls went up to bed and the boys and I played crib while we decided what to do during our last few days of vacation.

Nate, checking out Olivia's headphones on the way home. Does he look tired?

Sandy, opening the outfit that Ginna knit for Brianna

D'Arcy holds Brianna under Olivia's watchful eye.

Dave, Evan & Alex playing crib while a very tired Nate looks on.

Terra Nova to St. John’s

August 15, 2011

Part way from Terra Nova to St. John’s, we ran into rain.  We saw five bald eagles between Terra Nova Park and Goobies, but no moose.  We stopped for gas and noted that we were at the 1800km mark.

Carl, at Frenchman’s Cove Provincial Park had told us about Salmonier Nature Park so we made sure to stop there.  The park has a beautiful two kilometre circular boardwalk where animals are kept in as close to their natural habitat as possible.  We had a great walk, seeing owls, geese, caribou, lynx, Arctic fox and other animals. The two moose put on quite a show for us, grazing nearby.


A leisurely walk in the rain - the boardwalk was beautiful and ran the whole circuit of the park.

Bald Eagle

Watching the Moose

Arctic Fox

It was close to suppertime when we finished the loop, so we went back to the van and left a message for Sandy & Dave now that we had cell service.  As we drove into town, we check availability at various hotels.  It turned out that there were three festivals taking place and very few rooms to be had.  Because we knew that we could get Olivia something safe to eat, we went to Boston Pizza for supper.  By this time, Dave had been in touch and called around for us as well.  The only places we could find would cost $200, so we decided that we would tent one more night.

As we started to eat, Sarah exclaimed, “My tooth!”  and held out her hand with her tooth in it.  When I looked into her mouth, I realized that it wasn’t the tooth we were expecting to fall out!  It was her second lower front tooth!  The upper one was still hanging!  She was traumatized and didn’t want to eat anything else.

A happy Sarah at supper - before losing her tooth

Fun at Boston Pizza

When we left the restaurant, we went straight to Pippy Park to get our tent set up while it was still light out.  We knew we were going to Dave’s mother’s house the next night, so only got the bare essentials out – sleeping bags, etc.  We were in a hurry to get to Sandy & Dave’s to meet baby Brianna.

Dave was out when we arrived, but we had visited for about an hour with Sandy, Nate and Brianna.  Not quite four weeks old, she was so tiny!  Sandy had been to the walk-in clinic earlier in the day and had been given a prescription for antibiotics to clear up mastitis.  She wasn’t looking very perky.

We had an early bedtime in the tent.  Sarah put her tooth in “Twinkle the Tooth Fairy” and set her beside her head.  It was raining, but we were cozy in the tent under the trees.  The kids were all asleep within moments.  Olivia had kicked off her covers and at one point through the night, and woke up cold crying that she wanted to go home.  I bundled her up and cuddled her in to me and she went back to sleep with a smile on her face.

Sleeping in the tent with Twinkle the Tooth Fairy

It was around 8:30 when we woke up, but D’Arcy had already been out for a run and had been geocaching.  We had breakfast and got packed up before we all went geocaching.  One of the caches was hidden near the playground, so Sarah & Olivia were more interested in playing.  Evan had a wipe-out off the slide and scraped up his knee.  We never did find the cache and eventually gave up and moved on to the next one which was hidden nearby.  We found that one really quickly, under a bridge along a walking path.

The girls amused themselves with the binoculars and their hot chocolate while we packed up...

This photo needs a creative caption!

I love this one!

Playground fun!

Another found geocache!


We left the campground and went to the Fluvarium, a nature centre which explains the importance of streams & rivers.  The bottom floor has windows which allow you to look into the stream outside and observe the ecosystem.  It took us about an hour to go through, and when we went to leave, we found the Pearces waiting for us at the exit!  I asked Sandy how she was feeling, and she put on a brave front.  We took all the kids mini-golfing and I ended up taking the little ones to the playground when they got tired of the game while Sandy nursed Brianna in the car.  After they got tired of the playground, we went to feed the ducks & pigeons while D’Arcy, Dave & the boys played the full 18 holes.  None of us had had lunch, so we went to McDonald’s, knowing it was safe for Olivia.  There, we tried to make some plans and we decided that we would go to Cape Spear next.

A trout in the river at the Fluvarium

D'Arcy giving Sandy a hand

Sarah, Olivia & Nate explore the golf course

Brianna, oblivious to the activity around her

The boys were having fun together.

Bird-man Nate!

It was a beautiful day to be at Cape Spear, the most easternly point in North America.  Sandy stayed in the car with Brianna, to feed her and hopefully get a bit of a nap.  The weather was overcast and cool, but there was no fog, so there was good visibility.  We found a geocache right away and climbed up to the lighthouse.   Dave and Nate went back to check on their girls while we searched for one more cache, located near a whale watching rock, off one of the lower walking paths.  I kept Sarah & Olivia with me on the path while D’Arcy and the boys searched.  The boys climbed up on a rock on the cliff while D’Arcy searched at the whale watching rock.  The boys were talking & laughing, and I tried to get some photos of them.  I only found out later that Alex was actually trying to use the bathroom without anyone noticing!   We were getting nervous watching D’Arcy, so pleaded to him to give up and we went back to meet the Pearces.

The family at Cape Spear, the most Easterly point in North America.

We found another geocache!

The waves were spectacular!

Searching for another cache.

Dave & Brianna

From there, we took the scenic route back to St. John’s through Bay Bulls and went to Dave’s mom’s house where we would be staying.  D’Arcy kept busy unloading the van while Dave & the boys played crib, the younger kids played and Sandy & I visited.   When they left at 8:30, we started baths and laundry.  It felt so good to be clean!  Sleeping in a comfortable bed with fleece sheets felt like heaven!

Olivia & Brianna

Olivia & Brianna