Halifax Trip: Bluenose Run, Friendly Meetings and a Birthday!

 

IMG_1316

Happy 9th Birthday to Rebecca!  She was excited for this weekend for some time as she knew that she would get to visit with her cousins and run in the Bluenose Run along with her sister -- in Halifax!  Rebecca requested a homemade 'chicken fried rice' supper and was happy to have a 'somewhat' surprise cake with her cousins.  She was grateful for the gifts received over the past few days as well and wanted to send a thank you to all!   Our first evening was spent enjoying company and catching up with family.  

The following day, we started off to downtown Halifax to get ready for the kid's well-anticipated Bluenose Run.  Originally, they had learned about it from a beach friend they met last year, who said she runs in it each year.  Both girls had it in the minds they would do the same in the following year and had trained throughout the spring with Sheena.  They've been attending 'kid fitness' at the local gym and practicing runs, even pushing strollers around for their laps inside during the cold weather --  so, just getting there was a big thing for them.  Here's the crew of them lined up to take in some of the pre-event activities.  (Rebecca, Ocean, Summer, Abby)


IMG_1316

A large part of the experience of the Bluenose Run is enjoying it with thousands of others who also attended the race.  For the kids races, they have it set up as a closed course -- so the kids run with other kids sans parents (in some cases) and have a big finish at the Metro Centre.  There they meet back with parents among a large crowd of other kids also meeting their parents.  Needless to say, the organizers recommend finding your meeting spot in the Metro Centre prior to the race and going over the race plan with your kids at the same time.  We were told that this year a record number of people attended the kids races, with 4000+ running at the same time.  We laughed, because 4000+ could easily be 6000+ with parents in the mix.  Here's an example of the starting area prior to the kids run.  

Toward Brunswick St Toward the start line

Abby started first and ran around the Halifax Citadel for her 2K run.  Sheena met her at the finish line and had to try and get Abby's attention several times as she was running with such a determined and business like expression!  Abby was proud of her accomplishment and her coveted blue nose.


IMG_1316

Rebecca ran her 4K run around the Citadel and the Halifax Commons route. I tried to see her at the finish line, but there were so many people finishing that I obviously missed her at the line, seeing that she turned up at the meeting spot and Sheena found her first!  She was also very happy about completing the race.  It was one of their first races alone in such a large crowd.  


IMG_1316
After a celebratory dinner and a well needed rest at home, I enjoyed a 'quiet' evening with Kris and Jean-Paul for a couple of board games.  

The following day, we had plans to meet with friends for most of the day.  One of the visits was with Matthew,  Melissa and meet their 7 month old Millie.  We met them at the new Halifax Central library and had our introductions before heading off for a walk to get lunch and a stroll through the Public Gardens.  The girls really took to Millie and Millie was a delight to see laugh and smile at the attention.  


IMG_1316

Here's Rebecca following Matt down Spring Garden Road.


IMG_1316


Cape Breton Spring: Hiking, Fishing, Dancing

DSC_0127

Our last weekend in April was spent on a spring trip to home in Cape Breton for a long awaited visit.  We had wonderful weather for our trip, which allowed us to do some hiking, beach walking and fishing.  The above photo is Abby holding up her intro rock to our trip and her photo slide show.  She was very excited to compile a number of photographs for her class to see where she had been and what she had done while she was away.  This became a common discussion throughout our time away!

 Our hike took us to the MacKinnon's Brook trail in the Cape Mabou Highlands.  It was a crisp day, but great weather for hiking.  We took the kids the 1.5k uphill to the look-off of the Northumberland Strait.  PEI was visible from our perch above the ocean.  Here's Rebecca with her newly found hiking stick.  

IMG_1210

The path to the look-off leads to a nice clearing and a good spot for lunch.  


IMG_1210

Abby relished in her usual job of caring for Willow along the trail.  We love it too, because she keeps the pace going quite well.


IMG_1210

There was the usual excitement upon arriving at our destination.  


IMG_1210

The timing was slightly off between cameras, but makes it fun playing with angles.  


IMG_1210

We were invited on another day of our visit to see the animals at a neighbour's house.  There were quite a few sheep for them to see, chase around and in Rebecca's case, pick up like a cat.  

DSC_0127

There's also a kind horse called 'Flicka' at the farm.  The girls enjoyed giving apples as a treat.  They were laughing at the way she reached out with her teeth to pick the apple from their hands.  


DSC_0127

No trip to the Mabou and Inverness area would be complete without a beach walk.  We spent a couple of hours enjoying the sights and also keeping our heads down for sea glass.  

IMG_1287

DSC_0127

 Our Saturday afternoon was planned for a while, specifically to go fishing with Grampa in the Southwest Mabou river area.  Both girls picked up the casting and fishing very quickly this year.  They are certainly growing up fast.  Grampa took home two fish, which Abby really enjoyed cleaning!  She was so excited and retold the story of how she used scissors to 'cut the fish from the poop hole to the head'.  

DSC_0127
DSC_0127

DSC_0155

Last but certainly not least, we had a big moment while in Cape Breton.  The girls have been listening to East Coast music, noteably fiddle music since they were very young.  They've danced around our house, their grandparent's houses and elsewhere.  They've heard stories of us going to square dances and listening to fiddle music, but were never able to go because a) they were a bit young and b) they couldn't manage to stay up that late.  However, finally, this weekend, we had the chance to bring both of them to the year-round square dancing in West Mabou.  These dances have been going on for decades and although not in the busy season at this time of year, they still provide some fun on a Saturday night.  Its a bit hard to take photographs and video in the dimly lit hall, but hopefully you'll get to see the kids at their first dance.  I'll never forget the looks of surprise and enjoyment on their faces while they swung around with us and figured it out (ha!).  Abby was a trooper and danced three sets (9 figures) while we were there.  So much fun yet to be had with these two!

  

DSC_0169


Biking in Sussex

IMG_4597

It was almost twenty degrees on Sunday.  With all the warm weather, we decided to check out the biking trails in Sussex.  The girls had a blast biking along the gentle trail that leads from 'downtown' Sussex and ends 3.3km later at Sussex Corner.  We were also scoping out the river after seeing some kayakers fly by on the fast spring waters.  Maybe we'll have to try a water adventure next time. 
IMG_4597

We stopped for our halfway point at Sullivan Park in Sussex Corner.  Rebecca played on the playground and Abby couldn't stop biking and preferred to bike in circles on the pavement.  At over 6kms, it was the longest ride the girls have done yet!

IMG_4600


Coastal Trail: Fundy NP

It seems that it was only a few days after the last snow had left our yard and the weather improved above 5 degrees, we headed out to Fundy National Park for our first hike of the year.  In passing through the park, we were amazed at how the weather at 366m of elevation still keeps the snow in the woods.  This was surprising to us as we have no snow, despite that our house sits around at 300m of elevation.  (The snow melting factor must because we are an hour inland with apparently more heat!) Arriving at our first choice, we found the Laverty Road still gated and lots of snow on the road.  So, we continued on to our second destination, the Coastal Trail.  At the trailhead, we found the weather was cloudy, but eventually turned into a really nice day for hiking with cooler temps around 9C and sunny breaks.  We ran into a few others also out enjoying the spring-like weather.  

IMGP4072

Along the way, the girls took their time looking at the surviving plant growth and mosses that lined the rocks and trail.  Rebecca walked with a notebook in hand, making notes of what she saw.  I peaked over her shoulder at one point to see sketches of the different types of moss she picked up.  Meanwhile, Abby had Willow well in hand and held the 110lb dog's leash for most of the trip, guiding her through the proper spots and moving her along when she lingered a bit too long on the various scats we encountered along the way.  Abby correctly picked out coyote leftovers while passing by.  Despite the relatively uphill incline, the girls did really well. 

 

IMGP4073

We started at the eastern end of the trail by the stone bridge, and in this direction, the trail gradually gets closer to rocky ledges, steep drop offs on the side of the trail and lots of sink holes.  We decided to break for lunch and turn around near a great view of the Bay of Fundy and cliffs of the Alma area.  
IMGP4073

On our return, we checked out under the stone bridge (no trolls) and gave Willow a little swim and drink before moving on.  The crystal clear water from Dickson Falls was enticing for maybe a warmer day. 


IMGP4073

Our post hike snack was enjoyed down at the water on the benches near the Bay.  We were all surprised to see the gravel and rocks strewn over the parking lot, likely from the storm surge of previous days.  The high tide was some of the highest of the year due to the recent storm.  Normally there are several feet of clearance between the water and the upper rocks.  Despite the wind, we had our obligatory visit to the new and improved playground park at Fundy, as requested by the kids.  My fun followed by their fun!


IMGP4073


March Update from the MacDonalds

 Working backward from today, here's a little update on what's been going on in the MacDonald household.  

IMG_1178

Today was 'parent teacher day', but specifically what's called a 'student-lead-conference' at the girl's school.  They took turns taking us through all their activities for the semester, and had chosen their favorites to show us.  It was quite impressive to see how old the girls are getting and the concepts they are learning in school, some a quite challenging and even new for their parents!  In the above photo, Rebecca's showing off her art projects.  This one appears to be a self-portrait.  

Below, Abby is showing us her Robot creation.  Notice the hair which stores memory.  

IMG_1174

Here's Rebecca going through her checklist and showing us her favorites in each subject.  


IMG_1174

Abby had some fun activities for us by estimating and measuring objects with her little blue monster.  She stumped me on the size of the garbage can!


IMG_1174

Rebecca was very proud of her bridge project.  All of the students had a set activity and 'investigation' where they had to research bridges and then construct one according to a set of requirements.  Rebecca's bridge is the tall one in the back.  She worked on it herself! (With some help with right angles from her carpenter Mom).  


IMG_1174

Speaking of carpentry and art work, Sheena has been working hard on a few projects over the past month.  These two she donated to a fundraiser for a local family.  An auction was held on the items and raised some good amounts!  The one on the right is a holder for flowers and the left, a decorative box.  

IMG_1174

Sheena also had some neat orders for seaglass.  These ones were made for a boy who loves airplanes.  


IMG_1174
IMG_1174

As the photos may look familiar year to year, the girls went to the sugar woods in Moncton and tried their hand at rolling some taffy.  Notice the snow in the woods as well!  We had a storm earlier that week.


IMG_1174

Is there any sap in there? Abby takes a deep look.


IMG_1174

We were lucky to have some special visitors last week prior to the ice storm.  Twenty-six Snow Buntings visited our bird feeder and took turns in a flock at the feeder, on the power lines and flying around.  It was neat to see them stick together in their group the whole time.  They were here for a couple of days and moved on before the storm.


IMG_1174

Here's a panoramic photo taken during a hike that Sheena and I went on to a place south east of Sussex, called 'Friar's Nose'.  Its a relatively shorter hike, but has a steep climb near the end to a look off toward Poley Mountain and the foothills.  Its rare to find such a wide look-off.  Sheena visited this area three times this month, once with her friends, another time with the kids and Peggy, and this one with me.  There are many hikes in the same area, including one to the popular ice ampitheatre.  

IMG_1060
We've had a milder winter of sorts, which has allowed for earlier activities than most years.  The girls have been busy going to school, then after school fitness at the Civic Centre in Sussex.  Its a group of kids let by a trainer through fun gym type activities (circuits, obstacles, soccer) and then finishing it off with pool time.  The girls love it.  Swimming lessons have started up again and both girls seem to be the youngest in each of their classes.  That's a good sign for sure!