Meet Oakley

Meet Oakley

We added a new family member recently, meet Oakley!

Oakley is 9 weeks old and is a Golden Retriever / Yellow Lab mix. He is a very good boy.

I’ve been hesitant on getting a dog for many years. Caile has been steadfast for all these years wanting one. She never asks for anything but has been just this one thing.

The pandemic seemed like a logical time for us to finally get one. Caile sealed the deal though because of how she stepped up when the pandemic first happened. She was a huge help keeping our home and family running smooth. It proved to me that she could handle and help with a dog.

We set out to find a puppy to bring home but it seemed a lot of other people had the same idea we did during the pandemic. Caile really wants a chocolate lab, but all the breeders we could find didn’t have any litters coming available, and if they did there was a waiting list. We expanded to any Lab or Golden Retriever and that helped. Jen, through a friend, found a kennel who had just had a litter and we were able to get Oakley.

He’s been home for a week with us now and is fitting in well. He’s been coming with us in lots of adventures. We have a pretty good system with lots of taking turns to take him out at night. There have been a few accidents during the day but nothing at night.

As the main hold out from us getting a dog I started getting really excited about the idea. Oakley and I have become good buddies already now. We have a good routine going in the mornings. We’ve been going for pre sunrise walks then coming home and playing / snuggling on the floor.

Things are going really well, but having a puppy is still exhausting. It feels like you have to be constantly on. What’s he chewing on? Does that mean he needs to pee? Is he eating enough food? Ouch, those teeth are sharp! I think we’re all a little tired but I know things will keep getting better as he learns and settles in.

Now what you really want, lots of cute puppy pictures.

Staycation Scavenger Crawl

Staycation Scavenger Crawl

Like many people our original plans for this summer have drastically changed. We were going to use my Sabbatical from work to spend time in Alberta visiting family. As that couldn’t happen we decided we would see some of our local area that we don’t spend enough time in.

We had started going to places early on and exploring new spots, but recently a great initiative was started called the Nova Scotia Staycation Scavenger Crawl. It is a contest where teams can enter supporting the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, and then possibly win prizes by visiting a list of places across our beautiful province.

There are 20 places on the list, some close and that we’ve visited before, but others quite far that we’ve never been to. This was a good list and excuse to explore so we signed up and are off to a good start. We have 13 our of 20 and plans to get the rest.

There were a few items on Cape Breton Island which is about the furthest a way from us as you can get, so we planned a few day trip to visit. The kids have never been there, and I haven’t been since I was a kid. It is beautiful and we’re already planning our next visit.

The Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands was about my favourite place we’ve been yet. I could have sat at a point in the trail looking out over the water from the edge for hours admiring the beauty.

We also visited Fortress Louisbourg which is a National Historic site that takes you back in time and explore what life may have been like in the 1700s.

One of the other items on the list is the Big Fiddle.

We had family and friends with us for the trip which made it even more enjoyable. This was also our first time staying in a hotel for a long time. Things were different but seemed good. Things weren’t super busy, everything seemed cleaner than normal, and we could even book time at the pool where our group had it to ourselves.

Looking forward to visiting the rest of the spots on the crawl and visiting Cape Breton again.

Different type of book tour

Back in November I read a great book written by a local friend Laura Churchill Duke called Two Crows Sorrow. It’s a creative nonfiction about a murder which took place in a local community in 1904.

Before reading the book I had not heard of the story, but am glad I do now. The story hits home for me for a number of reasons and I recommend it even if you aren’t local and have some of the connections I do.

Though it took place long ago the stories of domestic abuse and unequal rights are still very relevant today.

Some scenes in the book take place in a home that is still standing today, though expanded and upgraded in many ways. This is the home I lived in when I first moved to the Annapolis Valley.

This morning Laura, the Author, took a group of us to hike to the main setting of the book, to the old farm stead and place of the murder. The path is through a now abandoned road, and the farm land is overgrown, but you can still see the rock foundation of the home and other remnants from the time.

The research Laura put in to write this book is impressive and getting to hear more about things along the way and in the place it took place was a really neat aspect and addition to the book.

It was also a beautiful day and a nice hike through the woods. The group of people we were with were really nice as well. I met a neighbour who lives just around the corner who I hadn’t met yet, even though they’ve lived here longer than us and we’ve been here for over 8 years now. Was able to make a new puppy friend, Little Anne, who is a very good dog.

Biking the Harvest Moon Trail

Biking the Harvest Moon Trail

Since I started trying to get back into biking a few years back I had thought it would be cool to bike the whole Harvest Moon trail. Its an old railbed that’s been converted to a trail going between Grand Pre and Annapolis Royal here in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. It’s 110 km long and you can see the whole trail on this Google Map.

I’ve biked, ran, and walked much of the trail between Grand Pre and gone as far as Waterville, never all at once, and wanted to see it all.

This year so far I’ve been pushing myself on my bike and feeling like I was in pretty good shape. I’ve only ever gone as far as about 30 km on a ride though but during those went over some pretty good hills which made them difficult rides for me. The Harvest Moon Trails is pretty level and easy riding so I was hoping those shorter rides with lots of climbs would have me ready.

Jen dropped me off in Grand Pre a little after 9:00 am yesterday morning and I headed out. I was hoping to be able to keep a pace of about 20 km an hour which including stops so I arranged for her to meet me in Annapolis Royal in 6 hours. They planned a family trip to the Historic Gardens there.

I made it as far as Kingston without stopping for a break which is about 50 km in. There is a convenience store and Tim Hortons right off the trail so I was able to go grab some more water and then sat under a tree on the trail to eat my lunch I had brought. My legs were already feeling it at this point, but I figured I could make it.

We really live in a beautiful area and this trail is a great way to see it. Even if you don’t do it all in one trip, you could do segments and that would make it nice because then you could take the time to venture into the towns and villages along the way and get to see them. I didn’t have any time for that so I had to push almost straight through. There are lots of gorgeous views along the way.

In the end it took me about 6 and a half hours not including breaks and my pace was about 17 km per hour in the end, so a little slower than I wanted. Not sure I was really ready for this ride either because I was heavily exhausted at the end and my legs were extremely sore. I was worried about today, but so far they are back to a reasonable level of soreness.

While I’m really glad I was able to do this, I’m not sure I will do it again all at once. I was pretty fatigued during the last 30 km or so and didn’t really get to enjoy things. I will have to go and start down near Annapolis Royal sometime so I can better enjoy that end of the trail more as well.

I tried to take lots of photos and little video clips along the way which you can see below.

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley

This is a trail we’ve done before, but it’s been a few years, so we went out again today with my Sister and her family. It’s right by their house as well.

The walk starts by going under the highway which is neat and then some easy trail for most of the walk. It isn’t until you get closer to the little falls that it gets a little trickier, but if you stay on the path it isn’t bad.

My sister decided to take us a different way to avoid some wet areas and it didn’t work out so great haha. We made our own path through the woods and up and then back down a pretty steep embankment without any easy way up and down. We all made it though.

There is a bit of a waterfall but it depends on the time of year and weather as to how much water there is. Today it was pretty tame with just a bit coming through.

Crystal Falls

Crystal Falls

One of the things I’m really enjoying from my Sabbatical is getting to visit places close to home that I have never been to, or haven’t really explore.

Last week we went on a hike to Crystal Falls which is only about 30 minutes from us but we’ve never been. The hike was pretty easy right up until you go down a ravine to the bottom of the falls, but not too bad and worth it.

We’ll certainly be going back again

Baxters Harbour

Baxters Harbour

We went to check out Baxters Harbour today. It has been a long time since I’d been there and most of the family hadn’t been there before.

It’s beautiful and really cool with the waterfall and the rock formations. Things can change quite a bit depending on the tide but being here at low tide where we could go climb and explore the rocks was a lot of fun.

Boxwood Project

Boxwood Project

One of the projects that I had on my todo list for my sabbatical was to fix up the line of boxwoods we added at the back of our property line. We started some aspects of it earlier this spring, but I was able to complete it today.

Shortly after we moved in my Mother gave us 14 boxwoods that she no longer wanted. We planted 12 of them along the back of our property to have a bit of a divider and something that would stay green year round. The thought was that maybe they’d grow big enough that we could form them into a hedge. The other two we put one on each side of our front doorstep.

After a couple years, during a bad winter, two boxwoods didn’t fair out to well. A large tree that has now fallen down dropped a big load of snow directly on top of them and some branches as well. They were still alive, but very small, and a lot of dead parts on them which had to be cut away.

I’ve been meaning to move the two from by the front step and replace the two which were in rough shape in the back. This early spring I finally did that. I combined the two nearly dead ones together and planted them at the far left of the properly line where they are much smaller than the others, but still living and hopefully will grow up again. Jen and Ella also gave them a good pruning and did some weeding.

My main project was to make this all look nicer and to be easier to manage. I started yesterday and dug out the grass and weeks from all around boxwoods along the whole property making a large bed. Thanks to fine friends I was able to put down some fabric to keep weeds from coming up, and got a trailer full of mulch to put down on top.

Although I’m pretty sore, things look much better back there now and will be much easier to keep looking nice with less weeds and much easier to mow.

Before the tree fell. You can see the two directly below the tree not looking so great.

Cape Split

Cape Split

Today was the first day of my Sabbatical from work. Three months were a all my typical excuses are no longer valid. I have the time and ability to do a bunch of things I’ve been putting off.

I started today with one thing I’ve been putting off for a long time. Not really intentionally, just never prioritized it and fit it in. We live near Cape Split which is a great Provincial Park on the Bay of Fundy. When I was about 12, long before I moved to the Annapolis Valley I went on a hike there. It was a cold rainy day and I didn’t have fun at all. We never made it to the top either. Even though I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and we’ve gone on lots of hikes and trails, I’ve never been back to do Cape Split. This morning I biked to the top.

It is a little more than 6km each way and meant more for hiking then biking, but most of the trail is pretty good. There are a number of spots I needed to walk over some big roots that I didn’t think I’d make it over though. It was worth the trip and I’ll be going back and hiking it for sure.

This is just the start. I have a list of things around the house I’ve been putting off, but will now get done, and I’m going to continue building the good habits to get myself into shape. I’ve been doing well for a few months now in the last 80 days I’ve had 56 I’ve considered a success by getting enough exercise and eating healthy. There have only been 6 days that I consider a failure in that time. I still have work to do though and and will be putting in the effort.