Truths on permission and who’s really important.

The last few months, I’ve been pushing, striving, holding myself to high standards and even higher expectations.

Lately, I’ve been trying to recognize that the best I can do is enough. I am enough. Regardless, of the outcome, the best I can do… is all I can do.

It’s a work in progress, accepting that and accepting myself, every single day. And sometimes I feel like when it comes to self-acceptance I take one step forward and two steps back. But all I can do is put one foot in front of the other, each and every day.

And one of those steps is giving myself permission to be… permission to be enough.

IMG_4842

For some people, that still won’t be good enough. We may not impress the crowds, or wow the world. And that’s okay. We all have a small list of people, maybe it’s even just one or two, whose opinion really matters. And those should be the only people. Us. And them. Those are the people who are worthy of hearing our story, of helping us carry our shame, our pain, our struggles.

It’s funny how often those people, who we really value, whose opinions actually matter… they’ve made the cut because they’re the people who already love us exactly for who we are, every second of every day. They are the people who we can be authentic and real with. That’s who matters. Not the audience, not the critics, just the ones who love you close. 

They are also the people we sometimes take for granted. They are the people we sometimes lash out at. They are the people we may treat the worst. Even though they are the people who love us the most, unconditionally. They are the people who are always able to offer us compassion and honesty. They are the people who are always there to give us permission when we can’t give it to ourselves. They are the people who we neglect to appreciate when we are so busy trying to win the approval of everyone else. 

So I will know my list. I will carry it with me. My list of people who are worthy of hearing my story, and standing with me in the center of the fire. My list is very small, but I will know those are the people I can always turn to, and always trust. And I will cherish those people, instead of constantly trying to impress everyone else. I will look a little closer, at the beautiful connections right in front of me.
IMG_4865
Advertisements

Get cozy with your fear.

design

Sometimes you just have to hit refresh on your life. Sometimes you get blocked, you get stuck, you hit a wall. That’s okay. It’s a part of being human. Right now, in my life, I’m doing a tap dance on that refresh button. I’m going through some big changes, and some subtle shifts, and step by step I’m finding my way back to who I really am.

Within all of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about the aspects of my life that hold me back from being the truest version of myself, from living my dreams, and from stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s fear. It’s fear that holds us back. It grasps us, clutching with its greedy talons, to prevent us from striving, and climbing, and really living. Fear is tricky; it sneaks up on us, and manifests itself in so many different ways.

I want to get a handle on my fear. I want to know when it’s present, and I want to know what it looks like. I want to know its triggers and symptoms. I want to know fear’s name, the colour of its eyes, the sound of its laugh. I want to get cozy with my fear. I want to be grateful for it, and even to forgive it. I want to know my fear intimately so I can choose to push through and see love instead. And I think the first step in that, is getting real with what my fears are. So hello world, meet my fears.

I am afraid of:

– being alone and not feeling loved or valued
– not being good enough; not doing well enough; not being as talented or as smart or as fit or as thin or as strong as others; not living up to all of my own and society’s expectations
– being out of control in a situation
– failure
– the unknown
– regretting the decisions I make
– financial insecurity
– being vulnerable and imperfect
– judgment of others

It’s a lot. There’s a lot. And I know so many of us carry this burden. It looks different for each and every one of us, but it’s a lot to carry and to hold regardless. I spent some time listening and watching my fears, and trying to understand what experiences and thoughts trigger them. I observed how I feel when I’m living in fear, and above all, how those fears affect my actions and in turn my happiness and my relationships. And it got scary. I started fearing fear itself.

But along this journey, I’m committed to looking at every single fear and learning to see love instead. And that takes a couple of steps.

First, gratitude. I’m learning to be grateful for all of my fears. It’s hard, but it’s helping me to reframe everything. As an example, here are a couple of reasons I’m grateful for my fears:

– I’m grateful for my fear of being alone. It has helped me to try to take special measures to really care for myself when I am alone and cherish that time. It has helped me to actively seek and build some truly amazing friendships.
– I’m grateful for my fear of not being good enough. It shines a light on the pieces of myself that I struggle with, and has allowed me to notice and cherish those pieces more and grow to love them and accept them. It has also allowed me to begin to recognize and hold up all the ways other people around me are enough as well.

While this reframing has begun to dramatically shift the way I think about my fears, I noticed there was still something missing. I still resented these fears, and in turn, pieces of myself. And so I realized that I also needed to forgive myself for having these fears. One at a time, every single one. Because after all, I am only human, and it’s okay to be scared. So I took the time to lay out all of my fears on a page once more, and slowly am working to honour them and forgive them.

Now, when a fear or a judgment comes up for me, I try to forgive myself immediately, thank that fear for whatever it brought up inside of me that I might not otherwise have been aware of, and choose a loving perspective instead.

Every day we make choices. We choose fear over love, or love over fear. But there is always a choice. You can act out of fear: fear that you’re not good enough, you’re small, you’ll fail. You can react out of fear: with judgment, comparisons, and expectations. Or you can act out of love, knowing that right now, as you are, you are enough, and believing in your own power.

I’m trying. I’m trying really hard to walk the path of the latter. And I’ll fall. Every single day. And the voice of fear in me will say, “Don’t even bother getting back up. You’re not good enough. You’ll only fail again. You’re out of control. You’re alone”. And I’ll do all that I can to choose love, to choose gratitude, to choose forgiveness and say:

I am good enough. I might fail, but it’ll be worth it. I might feel out of control, but I’ll be empowered to create and be whoever I want to be. And when I feel alone, I can ask for support, from others, and from within myself. Because love is on my side. And I’m okay. 

For more on transforming fear into love, check out Gabrielle Bernstein‘s May Cause Miracles, my best friend on this journey.

Dig. Push Through. Onward. Forward. Only.

There are moments when you know you need to move, to get out of the bed, get on the with the day, get up, get going. There are moments when you know you need to face what’s in front of you head on. There are moments when you know you need to find something that you want to do, that you love to do, and do that. But sometimes you don’t even know where to begin. You can’t identify what would make you happy or how to get from A to B. There a moments. Not all the time. But when enough of them are strung together it begins to weave a web, and then you get trapped. In moments, slowly binding you.

But there is only one way through those moments. Forward. Onward. There is only one way through the web, to cut the strands that bind. You must lash out, fight, rip and tear with all that you have. You must use you nails, your teeth, your wits, your humour, your love. You must fight the silk that entwines your authenticity, power, and inner beauty. This web you’ve woven with your thoughts, your doubts, your fears, it looks pretty on the outside, shimmering in the dewdrops, but it’s a trap. You can’t let it control you.

I’ve been here before, maybe you have too.  I’ve walked this road and now I’m retracing my steps, are you there with me? The soles of my feet don’t fit exactly into the eroded foot prints left behind years before, but they are familiar to me nonetheless. There are many differences, but an equal number of similarities. And that means, I can get through it, and that also means, even if you’re here for the first time, I know you can too. I keep looking around wondering how I am here again. You keep looking around wondering how you are here at all. It doesn’t matter. We must stop wondering how we got here. Instead, we must shake off the dew drops, rip and tear, until we are standing in a shredded web of our shattered ego minds together. 

I was lent a book recently, at the precise moment when I needed to read it. It’s called Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. She says, “How many [women] didn’t collapse in a heap of “I could have been better than this” and instead went right ahead and became better than anyone would have predicted or allowed them to be. The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior… It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve… Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig. You need to do the same, dear sweet arrogant beautiful crazy talented tortured rising star glowbug… I want to know what you have inside you. I want to see the contours of your second beating heart.”

Sometimes I wonder why I write here. Why tell the world what I think and feel? I know a part of it is because writing helps me process my thoughts, and see things in a new light. But beyond that, it’s because sometimes I am blessed enough to read exactly what I need to hear in a moment, and maybe just once, for one person, I’ll be blessed enough to share exactly what they need to hear.

Dig. Push through. Rip and tear and fight with all that you have for the best version of yourself, the happiest version of yourself, the truest version of yourself, the most love filled version of yourself… because you are worth it. I promise you.  

We are not super human. And that is okay.

It’s been a while since I last wrote here, and it’s been a complete and utter whirlwind. I want to begin by apologizing for my mysterious disappearance and my unannounced multi-month hiatus from writing. Damn, do I miss it. 

Here’s a quick run down on all that has happened in my life. I wrapped up my cross-Canada trip. I officially completed my university degree. I moved into a new house. I traveled to the tar sands for the Healing Walk. I got the job. I’m now the National Director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, an organization that mobilizes youth across the country to take action for climate justice through major PowerShift conferences, the fossil fuel divestment campaign, and other youth organizing. It’s incredibly exciting. There is so much beauty in the work I get to do on a daily basis, and in particular in the amazing individuals all over this country that I get to do that work with. 

But for the sake of honesty, I have to admit, it’s also incredibly challenging. I work alone; I don’t really have a team of colleagues, or any colleagues for that matter. I make scary, big decisions often single-handedly. I ask for a lot more help than I would like to. I have to fundraise money for my own salary, along with all of the projects the organization runs. I have to say ‘no’ a lot. I have to let people down. And I’ve had a really challenging time making the adjustment to this work. And that is an on going process. 

What I’ve realized through this last two and a half month period is that I’ve lost a piece of me that was so vital to who I am. It’s the piece of me that does things like write this blog. It’s the piece of me that takes care of myself, that prioritizes my own needs, wants, and most importantly, desires.

People's Social Forum - Ottawa

People’s Social Forum – Ottawa

I traveled to Ottawa and Montreal recently for work and I really struggled there. It’s hard to organize from one city in another, to travel places only briefly with few connections, to sleep on couches, to not have things go as planned. And while all of this is also so amazing, having to juggle so many things, and to feel so alone in that, was dragging me down. I got really stressed out, and I got pretty sick, and instead of pushing though I decided to miss out on some relationship-building and connection-making, to throw two hundred dollars I don’t really have out the window, and hop on an earlier flight home. And that was really hard to do. It took a lot of courage, and it made me feel weak. And now telling this story feels difficult and vulnerable too. I feel ashamed to be sharing it. But I think this kind of story is one that needs to be told more often. 

The work we do in social change or environmental justice movements can be so tiring, and so draining. Any job can be. But this work in particular, while often being so inspiring, is also so frustrating. The challenges we face seem endless. We lose hope, we burn out. It’s incredibly hard work, and I’ve seen so many people struggle with it.

What I realized when I was in Montreal was that if anyone else had asked me what they should do in a similar moment, I would have said without hesitation “Fly home. Put yourself first. Take care of yourself.” But as soon as it was about me, I had such greater difficulty making that decision. I celebrate self-care in everyone else. If I ask a volunteer to do something, and they say they can’t because they are too stressed out, too tired, or have too much on their plate, I celebrate that. I say some variation of “Thank you for being honest about your capacity. That’s hard to do, and really amazing.” But I find it so much harder to mirror that attitude and that outlook with myself. 

And then I realized how ridiculous and hypocritical that was. Before I started this job if someone had asked me what I wanted to do I would have said I wanted organize for climate justice, but ensure I focus on sharing my knowledge, passion and skills for taking care of myself with others. Yet here I am, letting so many of the things I stood for slip through my fingers. 

If we want to build a movement, if we want to create change in the world, it is going to take time, immense energy, endless passion, and countless individuals. We cannot sustainably build that movement, and foster that change, if we don’t take care of ourselves and each other in the process. It’s hard. It’s hard to say no, to turn things down, to admit that we aren’t all super human all the time. But we aren’t. And that’s okay. And I am not. And that is also okay. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.22.02 PMSo this is my effort, my commitment, to do the best that I can at taking care of myself and to spend the time I need to find the necessary balance. Although the work that I do often makes me feel as though I am swimming as fast as I can to a shore that only continues to grow further away, I will try and spend more time doing the things I love (like writing about the tough stuff!), and spend more energy taking care of myself. I probably won’t be great at it right off the bat, but I’m okay with that. I will just do the best that I can. And I will invite you to do the same. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves, and for our movements, will be to take a step back and not do something. And I am trying so hard to be okay with that. I want to give everyone everything. I want everything to work out perfectly all the time. But that’s not realistic, because I’m only human. 

I am just me. I am just one person. I am just one person doing the best I possibly can. I will make mistakes. I will probably make big ones. I will fail. I will turn down opportunities. I will let people down. I might let you down. But it is not because I’m not giving this my all. It’s because my ‘all’ cannot be everything, my ‘all’ cannot do everything. And that is okay.

If we put all that we can possibly give together, if we nourish ourselves and each other, if we commit to this for the long haul, we can build the power and the longevity we will need to win these fights. But we must do so mindfully, consciously, and filled with care for ourselves and for one another.   

 

Roadtrip Episode 5: Steep hills, red sand, low tides.

Definitely going to have to make this version a bit more concise since I’ve left it for so long. Pieces of this I wrote as we went, and pieces I accidentally left for many many days, so here’s my best effort and getting ya’ll caught up.

Day Fifteen:

We peeled away from Memorial University first thing in the morning, after raiding all the fridges in all the lounges to steal their ice for our cooler. Then hit the road for the northeast peninsula of Newfoundland.

About three hours later we arrived in the historic village of Trinity, home to a population of about one hundred and twenty throughout the winter months. We landed at the Visitor Information Centre and from there headed out on a private guided tour of seven historic buildings throughout the town. Once again, moments when we love the off season.

The entire town of Trinity feels like a massive museum. We strolled between reconstructed merchant and blacksmith shops to original homes from the late 1800s, passing by current residences of the locals along the way. It was a picture perfect little town, even with the fog rolling in.

Trinity, Newfoundland

Trinity, Newfoundland

After our tour we found a tiny little diner, based out of a local B&B and were treated to a very Newfie homemade lunch by the owner, Darleen. We sat down in a gorgeous little wooden walled room, with low cozy ceilings and a view of the church and graveyard. We decided to satisfy our French Toast craving and then try a more traditional dish: fish and brewis (pronounced ‘brews’), which is essentially a plate of mashed up bread soaked in broth, mixed with cod and potatoes. It was definitely interesting. Darleen then brought out some cheesecake for us to try, topped with the rare, Newfoundland and Labrador berry, the bakeapple. Delicious.

From Trinity we headed up further north to Bonavista, a much larger sprawling town which still carriers a traditional Newfoundland fishing port feel but lacks a downtown core or much organization at all, making it less charming than Trinity or Brigus. But we are most definitely spoiled.

We checked into our B&B (you could see ice bergs in the bay from the window in our room) and then headed out into the fog to scope out the harbour. About fifteen or sixteen massive icebergs basked in the last of the afternoon sun on the harbour off the town. Pretty unreal.

The Bonavista lighthouse was our next stop, a charming building still in operation, clinging to the windy and cold cape. We explored the area by foot and by car and were stunned by the gorgeous rock formations jutting into the ocean and the ice bergs scattered through the various little coves. Pure magic.

 

Bonavista Lighthouse, Newfoundland

Bonavista Lighthouse, Newfoundland

Bonavista, Newfoundland

Bonavista, Newfoundland

We scoped out some dinner from the very limited options in town and headed back to the B&B for a lazy evening.

Day Sixteen:

The morning started off with Marie, the keeper of the house, preparing us a tasty breakfast accompanied by her huge spread of over forty homemade varieties of jam. We got to try everything from partridge berry to bakeapple to apricot to turnip to tomato prune to dandelion! Such a fun treat.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 8.47.37 PM

Then we headed through the most ridiculously obnoxious fog and rain back across Newfoundland to Rocky Harbour, near Gros Morne National Park. At one point I was driving with about 80 feet of visibility in front of us due to the encroaching fog. I had just sped up to over 100 km to merge onto the highway and the most intense rain was pounding the van. We hit a slick spot wrong and I ended up hydro planing without a lot of control for a fairly long distance. It was definitely sketchy, and the intense rain stayed with us most of the way across the island.

Along the way I received an email that required me to pull over the van and whoop for joy, running around the parking lot we had chosen screaming “Oh my god! I got the job!” in the middle of nowhere Newfoundland. Because yes, I just landed a job of my dreams as the National Director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. I am over the moon.

Once we pulled into Rocky Harbour and settled into our campsite we decided it was time to find a celebratory dinner. Down we went to the water front to scope out the local fish market. A pound of mussels was only $1.39! So we got that and a lobster (which Charissa had the lovely job of killing, because I wouldn’t let her boil it alive). She named it Larry…. Not sure how I feel about naming things we are going to eat. I thought we drew the line at icebergs but apparently not. We cooked up this seafood feast at our campsite and dipped it all in fried oil and garlic. It was heavenly.

Then we went for an after dinner stroll up Berry Hill for some gorgeous views over the landscape of Gros Morne National Park and the sunset. It was still light out by the time we got down the hill so we jetted out to Lobster Point for a little run around the coast and lighthouse there as the sun slipped behind the sea. Then back to the campsite where we shared a celebratory bottle of wine over a campfire and danced around like children playing duck duck goose.

Sunset from Berry Hill, Gros Morne

Sunset from Berry Hill, Gros Morne

Day Seventeen:

We woke up early to rain pounding on the tent, rolled over in our sleeping bags and went back to sleep, and then woke up properly an hour later once the rain had passed. Hit the road and headed to the south end of Gros Morne to the Green Gardens trail – 14 km that is supposed to be one of the most renowned trails in the park. When we had stopped at the Visitor Information Centre on our way into the park the previous day we had been told that one of the paths was closed because of a landslide so we wouldn’t be able to complete the whole loop. At the time I was pretty stoked because I had been looking for an excuse not to have to go the whole way. But a conversation I had had with my closest friend back home, who is also an avid hiker and adventurer, a couple of days previously was nagging in the back of my mind. He was convinced that we should tackle the full loop, and I suppose he had convinced me too (thanks a lot Cameron for installing a love of adventuring outdoors in me). So landslide or no landslide, I was committed.

The first couple hours of the hike led us through a fairly arid, dry and not incredibly exciting landscape down from the ridge we were on toward the water. And when I say down, I mean down. Hundreds of stairs down. The kind of down that you don’t want to go back up, down. Once we hit the ocean we were on the actual “Green Gardens” portion of the trail. Tall grass covers the plateau on which the trail meanders, cliffs jutting down to the ocean on one side and climbing up to the mountain from which we came on the other side. The world at right angles. We walked along the path, winding by the cliff side, enjoying the views of the cliffs ahead and behind.

A snail friend we met on the trail

A snail friend we met on the trail

At one point along this trail we came across a flock of sheep that had wandered away from a nearby farmer’s fields. Mama sheep with lambs in toe led the way on the path for a substantial distance, looking back over their shoulders every so often to snicker at us with their unimpressed bleats. At one point we stumbled across a whole crowd of them, with one small black lamb that made Charissa jump up and down with glee. His Royal Cuteness made quite a fuss with his rowdy “baa-ing” for his mum, who was clearing grazing too near the cliff’s edge for his liking. The sheep were definitely the highlight of our hike so far.

Note to my parents: Up to this point you have been very tolerant of my adventurous nature. When I called to tell you we had nearly died from falling off a cliff in a snow storm, you chuckled and said you were glad we were okay. When I told you we had almost hydroplaned into oncoming traffic you said “drive safe”. Now I think I’m just getting cocky and digging this adventure stuff. But I promise I will be safe. Yes, I do remember when I was a kid and you told me to follow the rules, to not go places you were advised not to go, and not to cross running rivers…. I remember it all. And I really respect all that advice, I do. But it’s just…. I really like adventure. So I’m sorry if this trip has terrified you. I am being careful even if it sounds like I’m not. And I love you dearly. But I probably should have advised you to read this blog while seated, because the amount of times Charissa and I have looked at each other on this trip and said “Our parents would have never let us go on this trip if only they knew we would be doing [insert stupid idea/crazy drive/mistaken turn/adrenaline rush here]”… Well, it’s a lot.

Onward we continued, over a couple of fairly sketch landslides (but not THE landslide we had been warned about) which required some clinging to the side of the cliff, although luckily at this point we were quite close to the shore so any falls would have been slightly less treacherous.

At one point, Charissa, who enjoys climbing over landslides and such things a little less than I do, suggested that it might make sense to go back since if we couldn’t get through the landslide it would only be worse the further we went. Of course, she was totally right. But my face at this point was painted with a giant grin. I think at one point I looked back at Charissa and said “This is so fun! It’s like an obstacle course.” I tend to recall that she was less than amused. But I was pretty gung-ho on continuing on the trail and gambling that we could get through the landslide, and Charissa conceded.

Green Gardens Trail, Gros Morne

Green Gardens Trail, Gros Morne

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 8.47.30 PM

So up up up we went away from the shore and hiking up a mountain that was definitely as high as the first one. Hundreds of stairs later we were at the top and rewarded with the sun peaking out from the clouds and a pretty spectacular view. And then down down down we went again and bam, hit a river. We didn’t know about the river part. Of course we had seen it on the map but figured if it was a big deal that the folks at the Visitor Info Centre would have let us know. Either that or perhaps (as Cam suggested when I was telling him this story on the phone later) we could just learn how to read a map… Because when it says “ford” by the river, we should really know that means there ain’t gonna be a bridge.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 8.47.19 PM

Anyway, it wasn’t so bad. Just a rushing river. This one was actually pretty easy. We took off our shoes and found the point with the most rocks jutting out and the shallowest water levels and clambered across. Success. Then up up up another mountain with hundreds of stairs (you get the idea) and this time with a quick glimpse of a moose. And the down down down to another river crossing, this one slightly more perilous.

Charissa suggested that we take the exit that wouldn’t require the river crossing and would just land us further up the road, from where we could hope to hitch a ride back to Sienna. But as I said, I was committed. This one was definitely a little bit more daunting. Charissa ended up higher than waist deep in water and as I watched her cross she was almost pushed over by the force of the water a few times. Naturally, we were totally ill equipped and were just carrying our cameras and phones in our backpacks without any added protection. So if Charissa or I went in, so did our valuables. Needless to say, we both made it across… Despite one of us bring totally soaked from the waist down. Luckily we had brought infinite changes of clothes (and let it be stated for the record that those had been selected over bringing a proper lunch, we only had a couple granola bars each and had eaten a pretty meager breakfast), so Charissa had dry pants and dry socks.

And then, surprise, we went up up up again. At the top of this hill we could see the van in the distance and I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Sieeeeeennnnnaaaaaaa!” Our legs were aching and we dragged our feet the last two clicks to the car where we promptly collapsed. For people who haven’t gone on a hike of that difficulty, well, ever, we were pretty proud of our 6 hour and 20 minute time including two river crossings. The suggested hiking time was 6-8 hours so we were pretty stoked that we were on the bottom end of that, despite feeling like death.

Oh and what about the landslide you ask? Pffffft, it was nothing. We literally climbed around it in about two minutes flat. And this folks is why you shouldn’t listen to authority: badass adventure time.

We fully intended to squeeze in another hike up to the Tablelands but we were totally tuckered out so just headed back to the campsite for a nap, a simple dinner, and an early bed time.

Day Eighteen:

We started our day for a walk to Western Brook Pond which is actually the entrance to a gorgeous river running through a canyon. However the majority of it is only accessible by boat and tours haven’t started quite yet so unfortunately we were only able to see it from afar.

We headed back to Tablelands, about a forty five minute drive out of our way, fully intending to check it out. However, once we got there it was raining, I had a splitting headache and we were both exhausted. We figured a better decision would be to nap. And so nap we did, fully intending to hike after. But when we woke up it was still miserable out and we were still exhausted so we decided the Tablelands wasn’t for us. Yes, we had ended up driving 45 minutes out of our way just to nap.

Instead, we decided to just head down toward the ferry back to a Nova Scotia. Five hours of driving, one terrible dinner later and we were at the ferry about five hours early. We turned the back of the van into a bed and had a nice long nap, again, before making our way onto the ferry and heading back to Nova Scotia overnight!

Woot! Do I get points for keeping that day so short? Three paragraphts. That’s got to be a record.

Day Nineteen:

Our first day back on the mainland! Woke up super early to get back off the ferry after having had a surprisingly decent sleep given the conditions and headed out to the Fortress of Louisbourg. Of course we got there about forty five minutes before it actually opened so bummed around the trails by the Louisbourg lighthouse for a little while.

Once into Louisbourg we spent some time exploring the parts of the reconstructed town that were open, strolling through the streets, and trying the authentic hot chocolate which was used medicinally back during the 1800s when the settlement was in operation. Then we got to partake in a “Time Traveller” tour of the fortress, following costumed soldiers, servants and ladies around from house to house, learning what it was like to live at Louisbourg in the 19th century.

Louisbourg Fortress, Nova Scotia

Louisbourg Fortress, Nova Scotia

 

Musket firing, Louisbourg

Musket firing, Louisbourg

From there we headed to Cape Breton where we set up tend at Broad Cove then went for a hike before tucking back in for the night.

Day Twenty:

Okay. Short and sweet. Here goes.

We drove all the way around Cape Breton. It was so foggy every where and rainy in places. Hiking was out of the question. At least not hiking with views. We went on a couple short hikes, but decided anything longer wasn’t worth it given the weather. We drove all the way back around Cape Breton. Nothing had changed. Still miserable. We figured we’d have to just save Cape Breton for another time and headed to PEI a day early.

Drove over the Confederation Bridge, which we were both all too excited about, and landed in Charlottetown for our first night. We stayed at a sweet little B&B, the Spillett House, near the heart of downtown. Our first evening we ate at the Gahan House: fish cakes, lobster, PEI potato fries and calamari. And of course a sampling of their beers, as per usual. The amount of beer I have consumed on this trip is bordering on obscene.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 8.46.45 PM

Day Twenty-One:

The next day, our first full day on the island, we drove around the eastern shore of the island along the coastal drive. Unfortunately the weather still wasn’t in our favour and it was pretty overcast and occasionally spitting. But despite the cloudy skies we still found PEI to be so beautiful. It’s quaint homes and gently rolling hills felt so peaceful and welcoming even in the gloomy weather. We both found our dream house, multiple times as little blue farm houses, with white trim, red doors, and wraparound verandas dot the landscape every few miles. Point Prim, just outside of Charlottetown, was particularly lovely.

Point Prim, PEI

Point Prim, PEI

We drove through a few smaller towns along the way, and stopped off at a couple of beaches and dared down onto the dunes only briefly before being scared back into the van by the wind. All along the way the red colour of the beach rocks and farm fields stole our hearts. On the north east part of the island we attempted to run down to another beach, but the wind and the cold made our hopeful flip flop covered feet shiver painfully so we bee-lined it back to shelter. There were also no open bathrooms since it’s still the off season and everything is pretty much closed down until at least June. Now normally I wouldn’t mention this because it’s not something I think you really need to know, but in this case, it’s vital. Obviously, without bathrooms being available, and a long drive in the boonies ahead of us, we had to make use of a good ol’ bush. Again, not something normally worth sharing. But it was Charissa’s first time squatting!! I have never high-fived someone before after they have relievde their bladder, except maybe my dog, but Charissa definitely deserved it.

PEI Beach

PEI Beach

On our second day in PEI we spent the morning moseying through the streets of Charlottetown, poking our heads into a few gift shops. It’s a really cute city, albeit quite small, but most definitely charming. Stone buildings make up the core of the town, with a couple gorgeous large churches towering over the tulip studded boulevards. Colourful rows of wooden houses, reminiscent of St. John’s, peacefully line the streets.

Charlottetown, PEI

Charlottetown, PEI

We then drove up toward the north end of the island where we would be staying our third night. First stop: the Anne of Green Gables House which served as the inspiration for much of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s writing. As a kid I had always been a big fan so it was really neat to see the farm and home where all the tales originated from.

By this time though it had started to pour and we realized our plans to stroll through the beaches of the provincial park in Cavendish were a bit of a wash out. But we figured we would make the best of it and visit every possible indoor attraction we could get our hands on. So we made stops at the toy store, the preserve company, a weird soap shop that made us watch a terrible thirteen minute video about their store, an art gallery that was way too fancy for us to be able to afford anything, and the most delicious cheese place, all scattered around the countryside. The cheese place is actually worth telling you about in more detail. We walked into the little shop attached to the farm and finally after waiting for a few minutes in the rustic little room, admiring the 1600 wheels of cheese in the back, a jolly man sauntered in, pulled out a massive platter of cheese from behind the counter, and no questions asked just started carving us large samples of the many varieties of Gouda. We were each treated to about eight different tastes of cheese. The man was just so excited to share this work he clearly loves so much. We ended up taking some onion and pepper cheese as well as some smoked peppercorn for the road. So delicious; this Gouda basically melted in our mouths.

Once we had run out of things to do in the rain in PEI we headed to the Northside B&B and curled up in bed and watched a movie (there really isn’t that much to do in PEI in the rain). We ended up driving back down to Charlottetown, which is only about 25 minutes away across the island from Northern PEI, to grab some supremely tasty curry for dinner.

Day Twenty-Two:

The next morning, after breakfast, we headed to check out the Provincial Park, but the weather kept us from seeing much more than a couple quick glimpses of the beach. Decided it was time to head for the sun. To New Brunswick!

Naturally, we stopped on the way to the Bay of Fundy in Moncton to grab some lunch, and beers, at the PumpHouse brewery there. They sell a couple of their brews around the country, but the majority are only sold in house. Seriously, best stout I have ever had. So solid. Charissa and I, what with all of our tasting of #beersonbeersonbeers, have started to verge onto beer snobbiness. It’s treacherous terrain. But I honestly think our hashtag for this trip shouldn’t have been #xcanada2014 but something more like: #thegreatcanadianbeertour, #allthebeers2014 or #xcanadabrews. By the end of this trip we will have tried over a hundred beers, easily. Oh good lord.

Once we arrived in the Bay of Fundy National Park we got our campsite all set up and then went for a short hike at Point Wolfe. We ended up down on the beach, our shoes sinking into the mud left behind from the outgoing tide. I decided I didn’t want to walk back via the beach and suggested that we instead climb the cliff that was between us and the trail. So Charissa and I clambered up the somewhat slippery bank, relying on the branches and roots we were grabbing on to to keep us from falling. Once we reached the top, about forty feet up, it was a fairly sheer drop on either side of us with only a small area to walk on, so we very daintily scampered back to the trail. I thought Charissa wouldn’t be too stoked with my off the beaten track tendencies yet again, but she said “Climbing was so much fun!” Phew.

 

Low Tide, Bay of Fundy

Low Tide, Bay of Fundy

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 8.45.49 PM

Then we set off for the tiny town of Alma just outside our campsite where we wandered out onto the never ending beach at low tide until evening encroached.

————–

Since then we’ve explored the rest of the Bay of Fundy, Quebec City and Montreal. More to come on that pronto!