Category Archives: tourism

My Favourite Place in the World…The Bay of Fundy

Since my posts this week have been in the “tourism” vein, I thought that rerunning this post from last April would be a fitting way to end the week…feel free to vote…we need all the help we can get:

For the last 26 years, I have lived within half an hour of my favourite place in the world: the amazing Bay of Fundy!  On the CBC news this morning, I learned that the Bay has made the finals of an international contest to designate the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  It’s the only Canadian nominee in a prestigious list of 28 tourist attractions which includes the Dead Sea, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest.  I’ll put “my Bay” up against those places any time…

Located on the east coast of Canada, the Bay of Fundy stretches some 170 miles between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (http://www.bayoffundytourism.com/).  It has the highest tides in the world: 50 feet (time between low and high tide is 6 hours and 13 minutes).  There’s even a blog about the Bay of Fundy: http://bayoffundy.blogspot.com .

My first experience with the Bay was when I lived in Moncton – we had relatives visiting from Ontario, and we took them to Hopewell Rocks to show them the huge flowerpot rocks carved by the powerful tides of the Bay.  I remember going down the many steps to the beach (and then huffing and puffing all the way back up!).

Hopewell Rocks at Low Tide...

After moving to Saint John in 1997, the Bay was literally five minutes away…this is where I discovered my beloved Bayshore Beach – the place I have already instructed my loved ones to scatter my ashes when I’m gone.  Bayshore was a “happinin’ place” in the early part of the 20th century, but fell out of favour when West Side residents started travelling more in cars.  The water at Bayshore is bone-chillingly cold a lot of the time…you wade in, and by the time you get to shin-depth, you’ve lost all feeling in your ankles – the kids still swim there though!  The beach is sandy, but also covered with interesting stones and seaweed, as well as driftwood.  The kids love looking for “beach glass,” small pieces of glass that have been worn smooth by the action of the sometimes violent waves of the Bay.  There are a few shells on Bayshore, mostly clamshells, and the occasional hermit crab.  A few years ago, I remember sitting on the beach for at least an hour, watching a small bright green beetle crawl around on my arm (people think I’m strange, but I happen to like insects that don’t bite me!).  Fog can roll in from the water at any time – the West Side is known for its natural air conditioning!

Bayshore Beach...

A few miles from Bayshore, the Irving Nature Park offers a picturesque mix of nature trails, beach, marsh area, and cliffs.  Each trail (varying lengths) is named for an animal found in the area: Squirrel, Seal, Deer, Heron, Frog, and Chickadee.  All trails are groomed with cedar chips.  We have spent many happy hours at the Nature Park…I remember seeing the biggest porcupine I’d ever seen there…he came lumbering out of the tall grass as we walked by, and then waddled off on his way.  Periwinkle shells, as well as pretty stones can be found on the beach at the Nature Park.  We also like to visit the park in the winter and toboggan down the big hill.  More athletic types bring their cross-country skis and use them on the trails.

Irving Nature Park Coastline...

If we want a change of pace, we hop in the van and travel 45 minutes to St. Martins.  There are caves there that we enjoy exploring at low tide.  Fishing boats equipped with lobster traps bob in the water nearby.  There are some beautiful nature trails on the Fundy Trail as well – in August, we take buckets along to harvest wild blackberries.  I’ll never forget my oldest daughter’s stricken expression when she found out after walking for an hour that the trails there weren’t circular like at the Nature Park – “You mean we still have to walk back to the van?!”  One of the most challenging trails is the Hearst Lodge Trail – I would recommend it only to people who enjoy fear!  After starting out on what we thought was a nice little walk, we arrived exhausted, muddy and traumatized at the Hearst Lodge some 2 hours later – not for the faint of heart!  I wondered why we saw people walking with ski poles on the way up, and I soon found out (note to self: flip the map over next time to see the level of difficulty before starting on the trail)!

St. Martins Caves at High Tide...

Another pleasant drive is in the other direction to St. Andrews (about an hour).  This charming little town was originally settled by the Loyalists – many of the original 18th century structures survive.  St. Andrews is known for the century-old Fairmont Algonquin Resort, the Kingsbrae Garden, the Huntsman-Aquarium Museum, and the Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre.  Its main street is lined with boutiques and cafés…I enjoyed a lovely cup of blueberry tea there once.  We have also visited railway magnate William Van Horne’s 50-room mansion on Ministers Island – the island is accessible only at low tide.   

It would be awesome if the Bay of Fundy became of the official Seven Natural Wonders of the World…please place your vote here: http://www.new7wonders.com/en/index/.  Winners will be announced next  year.

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Filed under memories, tourism, travel

‘Salt’y Tears…The Jolie Bids Adieu…

This is the final installment in a 3-part series chronicling The Jolie‘s visit to Saint John, New Brunswick.  I would like to thank my friend, Omawarisan, for his crazy idea ingenius plan that seems to have brought so much joy to my readers…this series was also incredibly fun to write!  Thanks again to Jim for driving all over town and putting up with rude stares as he photographically recorded The Jolie’s tour (he did all the touristy shots and labelled them too – he’s a lover, not a speller!).

If you haven’t read the first two parts, please take a few minutes and catch up…read quickly…The Jolie is anxious to be on her way!

Part 1

Part 2

Here’s the disclaimer (again):  This piece is purely for entertainment purposes and has no basis in fact (all Saint John tourist information is correct).  Any resemblance to living people (except my family) is coincidental. 

We left off Part 2 with The Jolie terrorizing exploring the Saint John City Market.  The Jolie did have an unpleasant encounter with the proprietor of one of the local fishmongers…for fun, I told her that “swimming with the lobsters” was a tradition in New Brunswick, kind of like swimming with the dolphins (a total lie!).  Well, The Jolie was bound and determined she was going to do it!  When she saw the lobster tank at the Market, she demanded to speak to the Manager.  The guy came out from behind the counter, and extended his hand to The Jolie…she ignored it. “I want to swim with the lobsters!  I came a long way to do that!”  The manager calmly explained that she might have some germs on her that could make the live lobsters ill.  “Do you think I don’t shower?” The Jolie asked indignantly.  While assuring her that everyone has germs, even movie stars, he offered to pack up a couple of big lobsters for her to take home.  The Jolie grudgingly agreed, “Well, I suppose…they probably taste better than Cambodian cockroaches.  Can you send the lobsters to Nunavut?  That’s where I’m headed after this.”  The manager wrote down the address, and promised to ship the crustaceans to the Far North right away.

Our next stop was King’s Square, which is across the street from the Market’s Charlotte St. entrance.  Until the mid-19th century, the Square was pretty primitive…people came to draw water from public wells, to view criminals in the pillory, or to celebrate special occasions with an ox roast.  The militia used it for training, and the butchers in town slaughtered their cattle there.  In 1844, city officials decided to make the Square more like an English country garden…a plan was made that included paths coming out from a central octagon, shrubbery, trees, and flowers.  Some work was started, but destroyed in the Great Fire of 1877.  The majority of the development at the Square was completed after that (in fact, most of the oldest buildings in the Uptown date to 1878).  The current bandstand was built in 1908 (restored in 1987), a memorial to King Edward VII.  The Jolie posed in front of it:

The Jolie and the King's Square Bandstand...the trees lining the paths were planted in the late 1880's...

The Jolie got a lot of stares from passersby as we walked through the Square…Saint Johners weren’t being their usual friendly selves:

The Jolie didn't get the attention she expected...

I overheard the following conversation between two old biddies:

“Imagine…goin’ out in the middle of winter in a tank top!  How come she’s not wearing a coat?” the first asked her companion.

The answer: “Maybe her money keeps her warm…she sure doesn’t have any body fat!”

Body fat must have been on The Jolie’s mind too, because the minute we arrived at our bookstore, Dave Shoots, Bookseller, she jumped on the scale to see if she’d gained any weight from the Timbits she’d eaten!

The Jolie tips the scales...

The Jolie proudly declared herself “weightless” (kind of like her performance in “Beyond Borders”).  At least her upcoming trip to Nunavut won’t cost much…maybe I should buy her a “fanny pack.”

While she was in the bookstore, The Jolie was photographed with a “local boy” who left Saint John and got famous (sadly, that’s usually how it happens!):

The Jolie and Stompin' Tom Connors...Prince Edward Island claims him, but he was born in Saint John...

Other famous people with Saint John roots include: film mogul Louis B. Mayer (born in Russia, but grew up here), actor Donald Sutherland (Kiefer’s dad, for you young whippersnappers!), actor Walter Pidgeon, and inventor Dr. Abraham Gesner (kerosene).  The infamous Benedict Arnold spent six years in Saint John after the American Revolution, but Saint Johners don’t like to talk about it!

The Jolie explored the bookshelves looking for reading material:

The Jolie checks out our fiction...

“Where’s your Danielle Steele section?” The Jolie demanded.

“Down the street, at the bookstore we don’t own,” I replied.

“What kind of bookstore is this?” she whined.

I smiled.  “A discerning one.”

The Jolie then asked to borrow a dictionary…I think she needed to look something up…

The Jolie consults a dictionary...

After returning the dictionary to its place, the Jolie headed for the children’s section…she wanted to send some books home for the Nanny to read to the kids.  I found her absorbed a few minutes later:

"Now I know my ABC's...next time won't you sing with me!"

Soon, I declared it was time to get packed up for the next leg of The Jolie’s tour.  She allowed me to wrap her in bubble wrap, and only whimpered a little when I put the packing tape over her mouth…for the first time since she arrived, The Jolie was speechless!

“Good luck in Nunavut, Dear!  Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out!”

*No action figures were harmed in the writing of this piece (I left airholes in the box).  The Jolie will next appear in Iqaluit, Nunavut in I’ll Have Nunavut.  I hope she’s not allergic to cats!

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Filed under blogging, books, satire, tourism

The Jolie Tour, Part 2…Eat, Drink and Be Bitchy…

This is the second installment of a series begun yesterday…please read Part One here to get up to speed…[The Jolie says to "Make it snappy!"...she's hungry].

It’s against the law here not to “go to Tim Hortons for coffee” (you don’t actually have to drink coffee…”going for coffee” is an activity).  Tim Hortons is a Canadian institution started by a hockey player as a “summer job” back in the 1960’s before athletes were paid millions of dollars to play.  Unfortunately, Tim was killed in a car accident in 1974, and didn’t get to see the huge success his little coffee shop is today (at the time of his death, there were 40 franchises).  Today, many Canadian cities have multiple Tims locations …when I lived there a few years ago, Moncton, New Brunswick, had more Tims per capita than any other city!  Every spring, Tims has a popular contest called “Roll Up the Rim to Win” where you look for a prize under the rim of your paper cup…they give away cars, TV’s, and free coffee and donuts (the last two things are all I’ve ever won!).

Since The Jolie’s little tummy was growling, we took her to the Lansdowne Tims location…after telling us what they wanted, Anna and Brianna escaped to the safety of the Shoppers Drug Mart, preferring to shop for shampoo instead of being seen in public with The Jolie and their Action Figure Tourist Guide parents (we’d dropped Hope off on the West Side at her dad’s, and Devin stayed home because there wasn’t room in the car for everybody…what a generous gesture!).  Before going in, we asked The Jolie what she wanted.  “I’ll have an Espresso Macchiato with a quarter inch of milk foam and chocolate sprinkles on the top!” she ordered.

“Whoa, baby,” I said.  “Back up the truck!  This isn’t a fancy L.A. coffee place…the people who work here wear hairnets and sturdy shoes, and usually aren’t third-rate actresses!  They call everybody, ‘Dear’.  You can have coffee or tea or hot chocolate…if you’re good, I’ll get them to put a French Vanilla flavour shot in your coffee!  What do you want to eat?”

The Jolie thought for a minute before answering, “Get me a smoked salmon on rye, sliced very thin with the crusts cut off, and just a couple of capers on top.”  Her face fell when she saw the look on mine.  “Really…they don’t have that either?”

“When you’re in the Maritimes, Dear, ‘Capers’ are people who hail from a part of Nova Scotia called Cape Breton.  They get mad if you try to spread them on a sandwich, or criticize their funny accents.”  I took pity on The Jolie: “How about a nice Chicken Club on a whole wheat baguette?”  I hoped that throwing a French word in there made it sound fancier (I also hoped I wouldn’t have this trouble again).  It worked.

“I suppose that’s all right,” The Jolie pouted.  I dropped her in my purse, and we went in and ordered our food.  I paid with my Tims card (yay…I had more left on it than I thought!), and we carried the plastic tray to the table.  Jim glanced surreptitiously around before I pulled The Jolie out of her hiding place and set her on the table.

The Jolie engages in the great Canadian pastime...coffee at Tims...

In between bites of her sandwich, The Jolie found it amusing to yell “Barista!” repeatedly.  The girls behind the counter kept ducking to escape her wrath (I heard one of them ask another, “Is that Spanish for double-double?”)!  We explained to The Jolie that there is no “table service” at Tims…if she wanted something, she’d have to go up and ask for it!  She passed.

We’d gotten The Jolie a couple of Timbits for dessert.  Timbits are donut holes…Tims makes a fortune selling them for 15 cents each.  The Jolie demanded to know why we were feeding her “leftovers.”  She changed her tune once that Honey Dip hit her lips…

After lunch, we gathered up the girls and continued our tour.  The next stop was the Saint John City Market, which has been in operation in its current location since 1876.  When the Market was built in the late nineteenth century, Saint John was one of the world’s leading shipbuilding centers, and the roof of the Market is modelled after an upside-down ship’s keel.  The kids made themselves scarce again while we took our photos.

The Jolie looks down over the City Market...

The Market is open year-round every day but Sundays.  The day starts at 7:30 a.m. with the ringing of a large bell at one end, and finishes the same way at 6 p.m., except on Saturdays when the Market closes at five.  In addition to fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses and baked goods, the Market is a cornucopia of items ranging from local crafts, giftware and souvenirs to ethnic food from various locales.  There is also entertainment on the weekends, although we got there too late in the afternoon to see it.  The Jolie offered to do “a reading” but they didn’t have a mike stand short enough for her (which is a good thing, because not a lot of people would be interested in hearing an excerpt from her upcoming book, Pezed Off…The Jolie World Tour!).

Dulse from Grand Manan is something a lot of tourists take home with them when they visit New Brunswick:

The Jolie in the dulse bin...

Apparently, The Jolie was confused about what you’re supposed to do with dulse (and also has trouble reading upside down), because before I could stop her, she was doing this:

The Jolie exploring the benefits of dulse...

“What do you mean, you eat it?  I thought it was a beauty treatment!” she sputtered, as I hauled The Jolie out of the bag.  “We pay big bucks for seaweed at my spa in L.A.!”  She spent the next hour removing bits of purple vegetation from her hair…

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of The Jolie’s visit to Saint John, New Brunswick!

*Disclaimer: This post is entertainment and any resemblance to living people (except Jim and I and our kids) is purely coincidental.  I also didn’t eat the blue pill!

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Sunday, Seals, Siamese Twins and Sci-Fi…

On Friday night, Hope had a friend come over for a sleepover…as kids do, Hope stood gazing into the freezer, looking for “something to eat” as every child does.  “Are those waffles?” she asked.  Vaguely remembering buying waffles a couple of months ago, I answered, “Umm-hmm…” without looking up from my computer screen (as every blogging mom does).  “You and Gabrielle could have those for breakfast tomorrow morning.”

Fast forward to Sunday morning (Gabrielle was long-gone):  I came down from having my shower to hear a fabulous story about Hope putting a chicken burger into the toaster!  She was fooled by the woven pattern stamped into the meat.  Note to self – don’t put stuff in the freezer in unmarked plastic bags!

To make the morning even better, Hope and Anna spent the next hour bickering (whipping the dog’s tennis ball at each other until one cried).  It ended after I ordered them each to make a list of ten nice things they could do for their sister, and then do one each day.  The first day, Hope came up with telling Anna, “You dress cool.”  To which Anna replied, “You sing well.”  We’ll see what today brings…

After brunch of (burned) toad-in-the-hole flax bagels (accompanied by more bitching), we went to Superstore to pick up last-minute school lunch makings (stores here are closed on Labour Day).  I vetoed the 24-pack of lunch-sized potato chips…I refuse to pay $3.49 for 120 chips!  Hope was happy to get pear-flavoured applesauce, and yogurt tubes.  Anna got Bear Paws and Vachon snack cakes.  I grabbed some bread, and a pack of bologna and ham for “real food.”

We brought the groceries home, and unloaded them.  We got right back in the van after that…Jim had suggested we visit the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews.  Anna and I had never been, and Jim hadn’t been for at least 10 years.  Hope had been there on a couple of school trips.

On our way, we stopped at McKay’s Blueberries in Pennfield.  The lineup was long, but it was worth the wait.  We watched as people walked by laden with pies, muffins and jams.  Finally, it was our turn:  Hope had a strawberry sundae, Anna had a blueberry sundae, and Jim and I had blueberry shortcake with homemade biscuits.  Everything was covered with real whipped cream!   Awesome deliciousness!  I have to say my mood improved remarkably after that…

We arrived at the Huntsman Centre  about 3:00.  What we didn’t know is that they were in the middle of an $8 million dollar renovation, which meant that the entire aquarium population was housed in temporary facilities while a new building  was being constructed.  We paid our admission in a large tent…the attendant informed us that they would be feeding the seals at 4:00 (we knew that already).  We proceeded to the seal tank, where two harbour seals swam around.  After that, we watched sturgeon and stingrays in another tank.  We made our way to the “main building” where several other marine animals were displayed.  Hope had fun with the “touch tank” where a number of sea animals could be picked up – her favourite was the starfish.  I tried to stay out of the way of the hundreds of strollers (okay, I’m exaggerating – it was probably five).  It was a pretty small space!  We were finished our tour by 3:30.  We went back to the main tent and sat down to wait for seal-feeding time.

Jim took this picture of Hope and a starfish...

This is Hope's photo of a rare blue lobster...

This is Anna's shot of an anemone...

 

We staked out a space beside the fence just before 4.  Finally, two female attendants came out with plastic dishpans filled with herring.  Each had a bright blue rubber glove.  One of the women proceeded to give us background information about the two seals:  They were father and son: Loki was 17 years old, and Snorkel was 5 years old.  The son did tricks (Dad was learning by watching the son).  The attendant explained that the tricks were to help prevent boredom (for the seals).  “We don’t want bored seals!”  The crowd (which was filled with bored toddlers) was getting restless…the woman asked if anyone had any questions.  I listened in amusement as I overheard the young mother next to me tell her 5-year-old to put her hand down: “Just let them feed them!” she hissed, holding her restless 2-year-old.

The attendants started throwing individual fish either into the tank, or up on the sidewalk next to the pool.  Anna, Jim and Hope snapped hundreds of photos as Snorkel performed some cute tricks, including “kissing” the attendant on command (she made a comment about her husband wondering why she smelled like fish when she came home…ewww!).  It was fun to watch – harbour seals are very dog-like in their facial features – they’re called “seadogs.”  In fact, our Saint John hockey team is called the Saint John Seadogs.  Hope was annoyed because she was standing beside a kid who kept yelling, “I want to see their whole body!” over and over again.  After the show was over, the little girl beside me finally got to ask her question…I forget what it was now.  Everybody headed for their cars (except Hope, who headed for the port-a-potties – she loves those – NOT!).

Anna took this picture of Snorkel...

The senior attendant with Snorkel...photo taken by Jim...

A full-body shot of one of the seals...these guys are about 300 lbs...photo by Anna...

This seagull was hanging around hoping for a handout...apparently seagulls are one of seal's menu choices too...

Back in the van, Anna mentioned that she wanted to go into St. Andrews to see if the candy store was open…it had been closed in the spring when we were down in St. Stephen for Brianna’s cheerleading competition (http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/adventures-of-a-reluctant-cheer-mom-part-2/).  Kandy Land was open this time…I was happy to find Milk Duds (I’ve never paid $2.29 for a box, though!).  Jim and Anna got surprise bags, and Hope filled a tube with banana-flavoured powdered sugar (it had a name we can’t remember, came from a big machine, and cost $1.99 – it must have been good!).

We hit the highway, bound for Pennfield again.  Jim and his friend, Scott, had discovered a good Chinese restaurant there right next to McKay’s:  It was called (are you ready for this?) Highway’s Good Wok.  I don’t make this stuff up!  We all ate until we were about to burst.  Jim ordered Curried Chicken and Vegetables, and Hope kept edging away…she doesn’t like the smell of curry.  I traded her eggroll for my garlic spareribs – the eggrolls were amazing!  I had chicken chow mein and sweet and sour chicken balls too.  Anna had beef and broccoli, chicken balls, and garlic chicken wings.  Everybody had fried rice, which was also very good – not too greasy.  While Hope and I made a pit stop, Jim and Anna paid the bill and got doggy bags for the rest of their food (Hope and I finished ours!).

We arrived home about 7:30, and I rushed out to the garden to pick tomatoes.  I needed two mixing bowls to hold them all!  The yellow light bulb tomatoes were really starting to come now (http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/blackberry-cobbler-and-light-bulb-tomatoes/) …I even found “regular” tomotoes (I think they were Early Latahs) which had grown as Siamese twins…The beans will have to be picked tonight…there was no light left last night!

Tomato Siamese Twins...photo by Anna...

While a load of laundry went through, Jim and I watched another episode of “Eureka”…despite it being sci-fi, I’m really starting to like that show (not to mention that the star, Colin Ferguson, is Canadian, and very hot!).  It’s been on since 2006, but I’d never seen it until Jim found out about it from Scott.  It is filmed mostly on location in British Columbia.  The writing is pretty sharp, and it’s funny too!

Colin Ferguson in his "Sheriff Jack Carter" uniform...what's not to like?

So that was my last Sunday of the summer…sigh…

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Things I Learned on My Summer Staycation…

I’m back at the bookstore today after our first 11 days of vacation…here’s what I learned:

1. Laundry and dirty dishes never take a vacation…in fact, when everybody stays home, their volume increases!  Wishing clothes would fold themselves doesn’t work.

Why can't clothes do this themselves?

2. Cleaning under furniture once in a while is a good thing…on a hunt for the satellite remote (it has to go back to the company in a couple of weeks because we’re changing over to fibre-op TV), we moved our couch.  Lurking underneath were bowls, spoons, forks, plates, assorted food wrappers, pencils, pens, dozens of ponytail holders, and a mystery object, which we later identified as a petrified clementine which resembled an oddly-shaped peach pit.  All together now: EWWW!  Oh, and we didn’t find the remote there either…

3. Our dog hates the vacuum cleaner…I think he thinks it’s some sort of loud animal.  He barks and whines and tries to bite it…we have to put him out on the deck to use it.

Jake's worst enemy...probably because he hasn't seen it enough to get to know it...

4. Sleeping in never makes me feel more rested…it just makes me feel guilty that I’m not accomplishing more (I think I’m the only one in my family who feels this way).

5. Wallpaper is now pretty much obsolete…Jim had to go all over town to find some…it was on sale for $5/roll because the store was selling out of it.  It’s just as frustrating to put up now as it was 25 years ago (which is why I let him do it himself!).

This isn't Jim...

6. I’m grateful for what we have after finishing the book “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls.  This was our Book Club choice…it was a tough read because I was so outraged that no one did anything to help Jeannette and her siblings!  It’s amazing to me that they all survived with their sanity intact.

This book made me furious!

7. Small things excite me – finding out we had a cherry tree and blueberry bushes in our yard after living there a year-and-a-half was the highlight of my week (see http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/surprise-surprise-surprise/)!

8. The number of times Hope has to pee on a road-trip is roughly the number of miles divided by 25.  There’s Gravol for carsickness…I wish they’d come up with something for “travelbladder.”

We always give Hope this when we travel...

9. I’m loving the headphones Jim got me for my birthday…I can plug them into the computer, and listen to CBC “Concerts on Demand” while I work on my blog…Jim and Anna got a kick out of watching me “get down” to Garrett Mason and Colin Linden’s rendition of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” yesterday (I think they were both giggling hysterically) http://bit.ly/c0dJcL .

10. Our hummingbirds are fearless…one buzzed my head while I was picking beans in the garden the other day…they like the nectar from the scarlet runner bean blossoms!

Hummingbirds love these blossoms...

11. Kids “can’t hear” you when you ask them to do chores, but announce that food is ready, and they’ll knock you over getting to the table!

12. I like my regular routine…as much as I love the kids, I really don’t want to be home with them every day!  I was happy to get up at 5:30 this morning and come to the bookstore, even though I have a ton of work to do.

A corner of our store...

Next vacation is in mid-August…

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Day-Trippin’ and Hope…well, She Got Muddy…

Yesterday, Jim and I took the girls on a day trip to Moncton (Devin opted out).  Jim’s week of holidays was winding down, and we wanted to take the kids somewhere.   We had picked up a free family pass to Hopewell Rocks in Alma when we were in St. Martins last month – this was the perfect opportunity to use it.  Hope and Anna had never been there, and it had been years since Jim and I had visited it.  The girls also wanted to go to Magic Mountain, a water theme park in Moncton…

Magic Mountain...

We left our house about 9:30 (not bad since we’d planned to be gone by 9)…our cooler was packed with bottled water (partially frozen), egg salad and cold cut sandwiches.  We also took cookies, granola bars, and the rest of the cherry muffins (Jim even had one in the car).  After making several stops for Hope to pee, we finally arrived at Magic Mountain about 11:15 a.m.  Hope had just gotten a new cellphone for her birthday, but had to be convinced to leave it in the car (on a pee break in Sussex, she texted Brianna “I’m on the toilet!”).  We dropped off the girls, reminded them to apply sunscreen, told them we’d come back for lunch at 1, and headed for the furniture stores.

Hope's new phone is like this one, except it's purple...

We definitely noticed a difference in the stores in Moncton…most of the sales people left us alone (although there were a couple of exceptions to that).   The sales people in Saint John were much more attentive (and friendlier)…to the point of annoyance sometimes!  I saw a beautiful old-style secretary desk at one place (which would have been perfect for my “Room of My Own” http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/janes-homework-assignment-a-room-of-my-own/, but not so perfect for our living room).  Ditto for the Victorian-style sofa…

The secretary desk was something like this one...

We found a couple of nice used wing chairs for only $100 each, but the arms were quite worn.  We saw the same sectional set we’ve been contemplating, for $400 more (same chain store, different city – they must know that people have more money in Moncton).  One liquidation store’s stock was almost completely leather…I hate leather furniture!  Before we knew it, it was time to meet the girls for lunch.

This couch wouldn't look right in our old farmhouse...

We made our way back to the park, but the girls weren’t at the appointed meeting place…parking was a nightmare…we ended up straddling the curb near the entrance until we saw them.  We drove down to the Boardwalk at the park, and ate our lunch at one of the picnic tables there.  I had my mouth all set for a “beaver tail” until I heard the price…$6.25…yikes!  They were $3 when I left Moncton 13 years ago…the girls got ice cream, which was much more reasonably-priced!  After lunch, we took them back to Magic Mountain, and headed towards town.  Still no luck with furniture…everything was either really expensive, or incredibly boring!

Unfortunately, this delicious-looking Beaver Tail didn't find its way into my mouth...

We’d arranged to pick the girls up at 3…we retrieved them, wet and sunburned, and started for Hopewell Cape.  Low tide was at 5:15, which is the only time you can walk down on the beach by the Rocks.  We got there just after 4, and started down the trail from the Interpretation Centre.  After walking several hundred yards, and going down a few hundred steps, we made it to our destination.

Brianna and Hope posing next to the rocks...

The "Flower Pot Rocks" Hopewell Rocks is famous for...

One of the park rangers showed us some sculptures which had been made by carefully balancing small rocks on top of each other.

Ranger rearranging some rocks...

Hope was wearing flip-flops, and had great fun getting as muddy as she possibly could.

They say that mud is good for your skin...Hope's going to have the softest toes around...

Hope's muddy calves...

Jim and Anna took several photos while we were there (these are Anna’s).  After about an hour, everybody was tired and hot…Jim said he’d spring for the shuttle to take us back to the Interpretation Centre (we still had to climb the stairs, though).  We had to wait what seemed like forever for Hope to get her feet washed off at the “washing station.”  Finally, we were on the “shuttle,” which was really just a big golf cart, and headed back to the parking lot.

Anna took this one of her and Brianna on the back of the shuttle...that's Jim's head between them...

Everybody was hungry…we drove back to Moncton and stopped at Mike’s Restaurant, a chain we like, but no longer have in Saint John.  We ate until we were stuffed (no room for dessert)!  Hope’s cellphone vibrated, she jumped at the very same time the waitress came: “I’m sorry, did I scare you?” she asked.

“No,” said Hope.  “My cellphone just went off.”

We gave the waitress a big tip…

Mike's Logo...ours in Saint John has been closed for a few years...

We stopped in Sussex for ice cream on the way home, and popped into Walmart to look at shelving.  Since we have a Walmart in Saint John, we decided to wait and pick it up here.

We finally arrived home about 9:30…I went right to bed, and was snoring within minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

Vacations can be exhausting…

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Filed under family, food, nature, photos, tourism, travel

It’s My Birthday, and I’ll Pie If I Want To…

Today is my 49th birthday…yes, I know…it’s very hard to believe!  I am fortunate and grateful for good genes and good health!

We woke up early this morning, as we had planned to go to St. Martins for the Town-Wide Community Yard Sale they were having as part of Old Home Week…I love yard sales (see http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/yard-sales-the-thrill-of-victory-and-the-agony-of-the-feet/).  We had planned to leave the house at 8 a.m.  We did well to get out the door by 8:20…after stops at the Credit Union and the gas station, we were on our way.

Passing through Fairfield, we saw our first “Garage Sale” sign.  It was in front of a shabby country house with even shabbier outbuildings.  Anna decided to stay in the van – she said it looked “too sketchy” for her to get out.  The rest of us (minus Devin, who hates shopping) headed up the driveway towards a large garage.  It was a complete surprise: inside, an older man in overalls greeted us warmly and made small talk about the weather.  Everything was laid out neatly on tables, or displayed on pegboards along the walls. I found a pretty Ironstone cream and sugar set made by Ridgway in the Jacobean Brown pattern.  I paid $3.

This is the matching cup and saucer for my cream and sugar...

Jim found another bird feeder (just what he needs)…one with small holes for finches.  Hope bought some jewellery.  I found a book I might have purchased had it not been musty-smelling.  We headed back to the van.

Our first stop in St. Martins was the Village Market Building.  This was where the Book Fair was advertised to be.  Unfortunately, there were very few books, and a lot of yard sale stuff.  Jim took Hope in search of a washroom while I bought three books for $7.  Once Jim got back, we headed down the very busy Main St.  We decided the best course of action would be to get out and walk. 

After a couple of hours walking and shopping (along with an ice cream break and another pee break), we had accumulated some more treasures: two more books ($2), a Beanie baby bear, a ceiling fixture with a fan, a large clamp, a Five-Star binder, and a pair of soundproofing headphones.  We were tired and hot, and close to one of Jim’s and my favourite places in St. Martins: Fiori’s Restaurant (see http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/eating-around-new-brunswick/).

This is Hope's Beanie Baby bear for July...her birthday is the 31st...

We went in…Brianna added a tongue and eyebrows to the happy face drawn on the whiteboard beside the door…I quickly herded the family in and we sat down at a table.

The restaurant was busier than usual…one waitress was running her buns off!  She took our beverage orders: Brianna ordered “Chocolate From The Cow.” Then we studied the menu, some of us longer than others:  Hope took forever to decide what she wanted…after another bathroom break, she finally landed on the children’s breakfast with a pancake (Jim told her he’d pay extra to get sausage and bacon). 

Jim had the Mexican Fiesta Platter (which is what he usually orders).  Brianna ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad in a tortilla bowl.  Anna settled for the BLT Wrap, and I had the Veggie Panini.

Everybody’s food was excellent: the Ciabatta bread in my Panini was amazing!  The filling was tomatoes, cucumber and baby spinach.  A side salad with lettuce, cucumber, dried blueberries, and raspberry vinaigrette completed the plate.  I ate every bite (including Anna’s dried blueberries!).

The waitress was still having difficulty keeping up, so one of the owners, Mike Fiori, came out of the kitchen to clear our table.  He told us a story about an artist who lived across the street.  When the waitress came over, I asked what the desserts were today:  She advised that there were three kinds of cheesecake, Death by Chocolate cake, a brownie with brownie frozen yogurt and caramel syrup, or pecan pie (all desserts are homemade by Barb Fiori).  I informed her that since it was my birthday, I would have the pecan pie.  The staff brought out my piece of pie with a birthday candle stuck in the top, and they were singing, “Happy Birthday!”  I wasn’t a bit embarrassed!  Mike said I must be “29”!  I agreed that I was “29 again.”  That pie was absolutely heavenly (of course, I’ve rarely met a pie I didn’t like, except cream pies!).  Jim, Anna and Hope had the blueberry cheesecake, and Brianna polished off every bite of her “Death by Chocolate” cake.

Heavenly Pecan Pie...

The best part of the meal (besides the fact that I didn’t have to pay for it) was that five of us ate for $76 and change…great healthy food including dessert and taxes!

We were all stuffed as we walked back to the van…

When we got home, I headed for my computer…wow…lots of my friends had sent me birthday messages!  I thanked them all, and then caught up with some of my friends’ blogs (check out the links on the right – not a bad writer among them!).  The kids gave me their presents (Dad gave me some money earlier in the week to get my hair done): Hope gave me a gift card for Shoppers Drug Mart, Devin gave me small earphones for the computer at the store (so I can listen to music, but still hear the customers come in), and Anna and Brianna gave me big headphones for my computer at home (so I can drown out the sound of the TV or the kids’ music while I listen to mine!).  Jim and I are going tomorrow to pick out my big gift from him: a new bike!  Kaylee, Scott and Elise are coming over for supper tomorrow night too.  I finally bought a playpen for when Elise comes over…she finds every bit of lint on my living room rug when she’s here, and tries to eat it!

Kaylee, Elise and Scott in June of this year...

After the presents, Jim, Anna and Brianna took off for Hampton – Jim had arranged to photograph a friend’s wedding, and took the girls along as helpers.  Devin helped me hook up my new headphones, and then I looked up my St. Martins book purchases: not bad – spent $9, and got about $105 U.S. worth of books.  I was pleased…

I paid $3 for this book...it will be listed online for $20 U.S.

Hope was happy too…her friend who just moved to Miramichi was in town visiting her dad, and invited her over to go swimming…Hope had been feeling left out about not getting to go to the wedding, but she was okay now!  Off she went with her friend.

Dad and I watched one of the Ron James DVDs that I got him for his birthday…I love that guy…he’s hilarious!  It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it – it’s still funny!

This is the DVD we watched tonight...there are three more...

So…it’s been a good day (and the only work I’ve done is make supper)…I’m still looking forward to the birthday party at Jim’s mom’s on Wednesday (that’s his 48th birthday – she’s having a party for both of us).  I’ll post pictures of that too!

Thanks to everyone who made this last birthday of my forties a happy one!

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Filed under books, family, food, friends, memories, self-discovery, shopping, tourism