east vs. west

Not one but several people warned me that if I go West, I will never come back. I am sure this comes from my love for all things California but I am here to say, I went West and I did come back.

Did I love it? Yes! Was it beautiful? Yes! Is it the best coast? Not sure.

Don’t get me wrong… every place we visited, we imagined ourselves living there (Oak Bay, Victoria… I’m talking about you). So active. So green. So many mountains! They have it all and the people were really friendly. We had a great time but as much as I loved the West Coast, I still think there are some amazing things about living over here, next to the Atlantic. All of Canada is beautiful and I am certain, as long as I am near a coast, I will be happy.

Here are some pictures of the trip: 6 Days. 5 Ferries. 4 great runs. 3 awesome hikes. 2 countries. 1 wedding and 0 whale sightings…

Day 1: We flew in and out of Seattle mostly because airfare was muuuch cheaper and partly because we really wanted to see Seattle. It’s lovely – like a mini San Francisco or a big Halifax (although Halifax has a better waterfront (just saying)). Our flight left Halifax at 5:20 am (that’s 1:20 am Seattle time) so when we arrived at 10:30 am Seattle time it was feeling like 2:30 pm Halifax time. We were sleepy, not sleepless, but made the most of the 24 hours and took full advantage of their caffeine supply. We didn’t crash until 10:00 pm Seattle time (which felt like 2:00 am Halifax time)! dsc_0295Seattle has a monorail which takes you from the Space Needle to downtown. Totally touristy, totally worth the $2.50.img_6305We had lunch downtown in Westlake Park at The People’s Burger food truck – my portobello mushroom burger was amazing. We then walked down the Pike Street to Pike Place Market and found the Pike Street Starbucks and the original Starbucks. There was fish throwing and salt water taffy but I was most impressed with the price of flowers.img_6308img_6310dsc_0297img_6313img_6314img_6315img_6316After an afternoon downtown, I dragged Mike to University Village… which is in a kind of attached to the University of Washington but actually just a big outdoor mall full of really nice stores. The drive around the campus was beautiful and I was so excited to go to Oiselle. When I arrived, I was surprised to see Kate Grace was in the store doing a talk about her Olympic experience (she’s sponsored by Oiselle and I had cheered for both her and our Melissa Bishop in the 800m final). I happily listened to her but I’m not going to lie… I was more interested in trying on the running clothes! As soon as the autographs started, I weaved in and out and all around the fans, trying to decided how many tanks and shorts I was allowed to smuggle across the border! (“kidding” D.T.)img_6320Day 2: The next morning, fully on Seattle time, I went for a run around the city and then we left via ferry #1 (Bainbridge Island) North to Port Angeles. I am really glad we chose this route because it was a chance to see more of Washington – it’s a beautiful state. We arrived in Victoria at 7:20 pm – just in time for Mike to hook up with his friend. dsc_0305img_6328img_6332dsc_0306dsc_0307dsc_0309Before hopping on ferry #2 which took us across the border to Victoria, we spent some time in the Port Angeles area including Olympic National Park. Sorry, I forgot to photograph my fish taco.dsc_0315dsc_0316dsc_0320Hey Mike, stop so I can take your picture next to the tall trees…dsc_0321Hey Mike, pretend you’re excited! dsc_0322dsc_0324G’bye America, hello beautiful British Columbia – I can’t believe it has taken me this long to see you!img_6334Day 3: While Mike was recovering from the night out with his friend, I went for a beautiful run all around Victoria. It’s the best way to see a city because I was up before all the tourists (how else to you get pictures without people in your way?)… Victoria is unbelievable – there is a waterfront trail that wraps around the city that I ran along which was so fantastic – along the way I found MILE 0 of the Trans Canada and the Terry Fox memorial, and then a castle!?!img_6341img_6352img_6353img_6354img_6358We then spent a few hours roaming around the city and had lunch at Rebar. (I bought the cookbook and made the carrot cake but would love to test out some more recipes on friends). On our way out of the city, I took Mike on a drive of my morning running route so he could see all the beautiful highlights.dsc_0341dsc_0342dsc_0344img_6362That afternoon we drove up to Bear Mountain and hiked to the top of Mount Finlayson before having a lovely 10-year anniversary dinner. img_6365img_6370img_6371Day 4: Although Bear Mountain is meant for golfing, there are great trails and I took Mike on his first trail run the next day. Holy hills!img_6374img_6375img_6376After our run, we packed up and set off for ferry #3 – Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay. On our way, we stopped for lunch at this lovely coffee shop in Cobble Hill and ate a Nanaimo bar (and Nanaimo bar ice cream) while waiting to board the ferry in Nanaimo (as they say, when in Rome…).dsc_0375img_6382img_6384From Horseshoe Bay, we u-turned and got on ferry #4 to Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast. We went straight to a cottage for a rehearsal dinner. It was dark and stormy (but wine for me) and you could hear the ocean.

Day 5: Ironically, the only time we had rain was while on the Sunshine Coast however it was so beautiful! At the rehearsal dinner the night before, the brother of the bride offered to take me on a 17 km run. Even in the pouring rain, it was such a great route and we ended right in front of Molly’s Reach just in time for breakfast! (As a CBC Canadian kid who didn’t have cable until the age of 12, The Beachcombers is a big deal). The sun came out just in time for a lovely wedding!img_6387img_6392img_6393img_6396Hello sunshine! Hello Sunshine Coast!img_6399Day 6: After a wild wedding night and brunch, we jumped on ferry #5 back to Horseshoe Bay. Despite the shenanigans of last night, we managed to haul our butts up The Grouse Grind which was a fun way to sweat all of the tequila out of the system. The view from the top was totally worth it. Once we descended, via the skyline, we headed back to Seattle. Since we are coming back to B.C. in February, we drove straight through Vancouver (got a little sneak peek) and waited for the longest time ever at the border. Our flight was at 6:00 am the next morning. img_6406img_6407img_6408img_6411I know, I wrote beautiful eight times!!! Sorry, not sorry. The West Coast is stunning and I took way more photos of the ocean and mountains than I am showing here. I can not wait to go back and see more but until then, I will enjoy the East! dsc_0386

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little hiker, big hills : good idea?

Oh man. It is coming… S U M M E R

Time to figure out David’s schedule-of-fun.

Top priority: GET OUTSIDE

We are looking at doing almost the same thing as last year… because why rock the boat when it was smooth sailing?

There are 9 weeks to cover. NINE WEEKS! Why am I not a teacher?!?  Why did I grow up? 

Weeks 1 / 2 / 5 / 6 / 8 : Micmac Aquatic Club Camp: I am from Waverley. Meaning, once a Cheema girl, always a Cheema girl but the club is a bit out of the way so last year, we discovered the day camp at Micmac Aquatic Club where you drop your child off in the morning and they get to swim, kayak, war canoe and play all day (supervised)! That’s how I spent every summer as a child (minus the supervised part) and I was convinced it was the best plan for my child. Obviously, he loved it. Bonus, it is an easy drop off location for Mike on his way to work and quite possibly one of my favourite places to run in the city.

Weeks 3 / 4 : Canada Games Centre Swim Program Camp: Winter, Spring and Fall we sign David up for 9-week swim lessons but in the Summer we can cram a session into a 2-week camp. The camp costs more than 2 weeks at Micmac but you get a full lesson out of the deal. Unfortunately it means I have to drive him there… and as a work-at-homer, I do not like driving during rush hour… even when it is against traffic.

Week 7 : Nana and David in Pugwash: My mom has graciously offered to take David for a week. Pugwash is paradise in the Summer and she has a few fun plans up her sleeve including the beach, the river, camping and a trip to the Fundy Geological Museum!

Week 9 : …TBD… Years ago (we’re talking 2000-2001), Mike and I hiked Cape Chignecto twice. The first time we went in and out of Refugee Cove… which is no joke (especially when you neglect to bring a stove and end up surviving off a few cinnamon buns and cold oatmeal)! The following year, we invested in a stove and hiked the loop in three days (two nights). At the time, the last section of the trail was not complete so we did about 40 out of the full 50 km loop – and even had a moose visit our tent! It has always been our plan to go back and complete it. Is 2016 the year? Can a 7-year-old handle it? We never take time off in the summer – mostly because I get extra hours covering other people’s holidays – but I’d like to try a family back country hike. As much as I love making memories with friends, Mike and I are not car campers – our gear is not for car camping and we’d like to give this a try. David may hate us. We may not make it. It may be the worst idea ever but at least we will be outside!CC.OverviewWhat about you – What are your Summer plans?
Have you hiked Cape Chignecto? How many nights? Where did you camp?
Can a 7-year-old handle it?

Here we were… way be then. Babies. IMG_5249IMG_5251IMG_5250IMG_5248

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holiday snaps

I hope everyone is enjoying a bit of holiday cheer. I am taking a bit of a break from my home-office and computer but wanted to share a few photos from December. Two of David’s cousins are in town from New York so it has been fun to see the kids together. I will be back with some Friday Finds and my 2016 bucket list … but until then, have a good one!

1The great tree hunt of 2015. Unlike Clark Griswold, we have no problem going to the local lot. David got his own tree this year.2We made a heck of a lot of shortbread cookies
3.1My favourite view in December
3.2An early Christmas at the Ackerman’s. Your eyes are not playing tricks, that is half-a-tree!
3.3David squeezed in a morning at soccer camp session. He loved it.
4I may only go once a year but when I do, I make sure to find the cutest church out there.
5What’s Christmas without matching PJs?
6David and Margaret are adding raisin buttons to the cookies for Santa.
7 8A little quality control.
9Christmas Eve. Erin, Jill (and Sam) played some beautiful holiday songs on the piano for us.
10If I can’t have a white Christmas, I’ll happily take +15 degrees and sunshine. Perfect weather for an 8km run with Alex and Allie.
11Jill’s friend made a plate of amazing sweets for our Christmas dessert.
12Boxing day hike in Wentworth.
13Rocks do not work as great tripods. You get the picture – a big family walk.
14Better late than never. David and I drove around looking at the Christmas lights in Halifax. Photos by David.
15Dinner with the Hulk and Darth Vader.
16Turns out suitcases with wheels were a big hit for all three kids this year. They all loved them.
17 18 19And finally, the three sisters had a pasta night at Jill’s house. Margaret and David helped.

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the “s” word

It is Easter Monday and there is still so much snow. Am I allowed to complain?

I am going to pitch remarketing the holidays – A Green Christmas and a White Easter, which actually makes sense, since Christmas trees are green and bunnies are white… just saying.

So, Saturday was the thrid-time-a-go Storm The Mountain Winter Eco-Challenge (I talked about it here and here). Because there’s been too much snow it was postponed twice and because of that, not all of our team could attend.* However, Mike and I convinced our friend Josh to join us making the defunct Magical Mystical Mountain Destroyers the Magical Mountain JokersIMG_2249

You’d think by April it’d become a Spring event but no, there was snow, lots of it, and we snowshoed our way to second place glory despite our lack of orienteering skills.** We figured out the compass and didn’t get lost! It was pouring rain and cold but still fun.

When we stumbled out of the woods, I was freezing, my boots were sloshing, my underwear was wet and I caught a bug – puking is recovery – but I’d do it again.

Sadly the annual Spring Eco-Challenge is not happening this year… wait for it … because there is too much snow!!!

Seriously, SNOW is the new “S” word.

* MacKenzie won U11 provincials in curling! Go girl!
** Second place in recreational… and there may of only been two recreational teams but who’s counting?!?

If you want to learn more about these crazy events, read this – learn how to use a compass and I’ll see you at the next starting line.

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here for a good time. not a long time

Guys, I have been dreading this post. So much so that I even extended Summer by one month… Unfortunately, Mother Nature will not cooperate much longer and now I must submit my final report on the 500 100 Days of Summer Must-Do List.

Here is when it all started. Here is the halftime recap.

Without further ado:

  1. host a back yard social (Happy Birthday to me)
  2. bike to the Seaport Market (David did too!)
  3. swim in a lake
  4. swim in the ocean (The Gulf Shore)
  5. swim in the river (Wallace River)
  6. mow the lawn (once)
  7. paddle a canoe (on the Wallace River)
  8. drive a motor boat (on the Wallace River)
  9. go in a sail boat
  10. go for a run then jump in the water right after  (Wallace River)
  11. stroll through the Public Gardens (lugging heavy camera gear)
  12. sit around a camp fire (at an engagement party)
  13. go on a road trip (Cabot Trail Relay)
  14. hike Cape Split
  15. hike the small loop of the bluff with the boys (although 10km is no small feat for a 5 & 6 year old)
  16. go for ice cream (Wallace at the docks)
  17. go strawberry picking
  18. make strawberry jam (and gave it all away!)
  19. make strawberry shortcake (with homemade tea biscuits of course)
  20. eat from a food truck (and caught up with an old friend)
  21. get a pedicure (with a group of girls, the best)
  22. have dinner and drinks on an outdoor patio (with the whole family, lucky girl)
  23. watch an outdoor movie
  24. dance (weddings)
  25. plant a vegetable garden (saddest vegetable garden north of Young Street)
  26. run in a race… or two … or three (BluenoseCabot Trail Relay, The Butter Trail Run, Maritime Race Weekend Sunset 5 km and Sunrise Half)
  27. go to a wedding (two as a guest, 3 as an assistant)
  28. buy a sundress (and got one for my birthday too)
  29. go tubing on the wallace river (pretty much the most enjoyable summer activity ever)
  30. make potato salad (without peas)
  31. accidentally get a sun burn
  32. get a bug bite  (and was a landlord to a billion fruit flies)
  33. play corn hole
  34. play croquette (and won! twice!!)
  35. play washer toss (and sucked, even against a 5 year old)
  36. eat peas from the pod (the only way I will eat them)
  37. have a picnic (along the bluff trail and at the beach)
  38. see Cape Breton (Cabot Trail Relay)
  39. lay in the grass (countless times)
  40. roll down a hill (um, adults have you done this recently? It crazy hurts your head)
  41. buy patio furniture (and an umbrella too)
  42. eat a popsicle (Rootbeer is the best)
  43. leave the province
  44. build a sand castle (more mid-century than castle but it still counts)
  45. watch David play soccer (Go Team Russia!)
  46. eat lobster (post Cabot Trail Relay reception, fresh from the docks of Wallace Bay, and in a roll at the market)
  47. swim with Henry across the river  (Henry’s happy place)
  48. walk on a sand bar (Pugwash has the best sandbars)
  49. plant a hydrangea tree (end of season clearance, lets hope she grows)
  50. work outside (freelance perk)
  51. drink my morning coffee outside (even while hanging laundry)
  52. sleep with the window open and the fan on (AC is for whimps)
  53. have friends stop by unannounced  (and brought Starbucks!)
  54. try a new local restaurant… or two … or three (and very local – North End is booming: EnVie, The Nook On Gottingen, Agricola Street Brasserie)
  55. watch a parade  (Oxford had better handouts, Pugwash had Gene)
  56. hear bagpipes (hard to avoid in Nova Scotia)
  57. walk on a beach  (happy to write: lots of times!)
  58. night swim
  59. make smores and eat them
  60. make rhubarb crisp with the rhubarb from the yard  (the happy weed)
  61. make tomato sauce with the tomatoes from my garden (smallest batch of tomato sauce ever)
  62. catch up to Sons of Anarchy (we caught up to Netflix, I count this as a YES but please, no spoilers)
  63. read a magazine outside (thinking about subscribing to Domino)
  64. wear heels (once!)
  65. wear jean shorts  (but not with heels)
  66. run on the Trans Canada Trail   (a few times, a few places)
  67. sleep in a tent
  68. stay in a hotel  (Cabot Trail Relay)
  69. have a yard sale (cha-ching)
  70. go to a yard sale (I bought a chair, people think it’s ugly but I see potential)
  71. paint the foundation of the house
  72. get blonde highlights  (what… it’s not natural?)
  73. register for a fall race (PEI Marathon! Gulp)
  74. walk along the Halifax waterfront (more than once)
  75. morning run along the Halifax water front (earlier the better)
  76. ride the ferry (date night with David)
  77. bike with David further than 3 blocks (from push bike to big bike without needing training wheels)
  78. get muddy (Evangeline Beach with some landlubbers!) 
  79. get sandy (hard to avoid with a #nssummer)
  80. play hooky from work (another perk to freelancing) 
  81. make devilled eggs (easier than I thought)
  82. lay in a hammock  (chez Ackerman’s)
  83. have cut flowers on the coffee table all summer (most of the time from the clearance bins at the Superstore)
  84. hill train one day every week  (I am not a believer, hill training works!)
  85. go to Cyclone 5 times in one week
  86. eat corn on the cob (the only way I will eat it)
  87. buy a new bathing suit (trusty Speedo)
  88. run through a sprinkler  (5:10/km pace)
  89. buy some art (and it is already hung)
  90. see Shakespeare by the Sea
  91. go on a trail run (discovered the Salt Marsh Trail system – all 32 km of it)
  92. finish a good book (A House in the Sky)
  93. ride a horse
  94. mini golf
  95. pick a summer song (Summer started with ‘Shot Me Down‘ by David Guetta and ended with ‘Shake it Off‘ by Taylor Swift)
  96. visit Kejimkujik National Park  (We spent a day at the Seaside park)
  97. take David to Citadel Hill
  98. fly a kite
  99. bike over the MacDonald bridge with David
  100. have David plan a prefect pre-first-day-of-big-school / end-of-summer-day (we rode the ferry and had a dinner date on the waterfront)

I missed 18 out of 100 (not bad, right?) … Sure, there are things I wish I did but summer was still awesome! I spent time with family and friends and discovered new places. I wore flip flops daily and enjoyed being outside as much as possible. I did not:

  1. swim in a lake (biggest regret of the summer)
  2. go in a sail boat (however mike showed me 5,877 sailboats on Kijiji we should of purchased)
  3. hike Cape Split (in my defence, it was closed half of the summer)
  4. go strawberry picking (I like the idea of it, more than actually doing it)
  5. watch an outdoor movie (regretting this one)
  6. accidentally get a sun burn (patting my back for failing this one)
  7. play corn hole (sorry Ava, we still owe you a cornhole table… bad friends)
  8. leave the province (why leave when you live in Canada’s Ocean Playground?)
  9. night swim (I sang the song, does that count?)
  10. make smores and eat them (smore what? … You’re killing me, Smalls!)
  11. paint the foundation of the house (opps…)
  12. go to Cyclone 5 times in one week (I blame Marathon training for this fail)
  13. see Shakespeare by the Sea (regretting this one)
  14. ride a horse (whomp whomp)
  15. mini golf (I suck, therefore I don’t)
  16. take David to Citadel Hill (Mike did, but I went as a wedding assistant… no one was named David)
  17. fly a kite (I watched other families fly kites and thought, gee, we should do that)
  18. Bike over the MacDonald bridge with David (I decided he may not be ready for this yet… the hill to and from the bridge is nasty)

So, #nssummer is done y’all! Thanks to those of you who tagged pics on Instagram. I have created a new one for autumn: #fall4novascotia

Lets do this! nssummer

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