Biking in Sussex

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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. 
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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!

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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.  

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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. 

 

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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.  
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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. 


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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!


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March Update from the MacDonalds

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

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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.  

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


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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!


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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).  


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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.  

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


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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.


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


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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.


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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.  

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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!


Holiday Break recap

I thought I'd give a bit of a recap of our holiday break for those that haven't been able to follow along with our twitter (https://twitter.com/DaveMacD0nald) https://twitter.com/SheenaSheena00) or Facebook posts.  We typically use all three mediums, although the blog seems to be third fiddle sometimes!  It is nice to sit down and type  though.  
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 First, the above photo.  The dog in the foreground is Willow's new neighbour, 'Jake' as the kids have named him. He visits the now middle aged Willow daily, or Willow makes the trek down to his house for a game of chase and usually ending up with Jake teasing with some food or a toy of Willow's.  They seem to be good buddies and Jake being a springer spaniel is fast.  


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At the beginning of school break, we took the kids to our new favorite spot to eat in Sussex, Sushi Jo's.  We enjoyed a nice urban meal in a small town.  Rebecca and I over did it with the Udon soup, a story told by her ever since.  Abby was a trooper with the sushi rolls and was able to use her chopsticks!

We planned a trip to Moncton for a visit with Sheena's parents and G-Nan, which was fun to catch up prior to Christmas.  While on the way, we decided to head down to Cape Breton for a surprise visit to my parent's house.  Laurena was also down for the days before Christmas.  We arrived for a 3 day visit with only a day and a bit of clothes, but nevertheless surprised everyone when we showed up on a Sunday afternoon.  The kids pretended to have taken the bus down to Cape Breton while their parents were nowhere in sight.  We were able to have another surprise when Laurena and Mom came home as well. Good fun.

Of course, no trip to Cape Breton can be complete without a trip to the beach.  This day was very cold and with high winds, there were spectacular waves.  It was difficult to seaglass hunt with the cold weather and Sheena actually abandoned her efforts! Willow seems to be oblivious to the cold.
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IMG_4462The girls were able to visit Grampa in the store a fair bit while we were down for the short time.  Rebecca took her turn at serving the customers.  One customer came in and was having a friendly chat with Rebecca behind the counter.  He asked if she was being paid by Grandpa and Rebecca repied, 'no, but paid in juice!'  We all laughed and the nice man gave Rebecca a tip for bagging the groceries.  

Upon our return home, we settled in for Christmas.  One of the latest fun we've been having with the girls is playing the 'Rockband' game on Nintendo.  The girls have taken to it well and seem to be learning a bit about timing and beats.  They can show their Dad how to keep time with the music for sure.  Abby loves the drums and Rebecca is keen with the guitar. 

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IMG_4462Even though the girls have been absolutely obsessed with Star Wars lately, you may wonder if the below picture is of a Stormtrooper boot or something of the sort.  Well, its not, but what it is is a bit of freedom for someone afflicted with a broken leg!  After a month in a hard cast, this was great to  use and be able to walk around without crutches and participate in a few more activities.  
IMG_4462We've had a few snow storms, but nothing like the ones we had in years past.  Generally though, Willow is content to stay outside most of the day and despite being covered with snow when she's out there.  
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We've also been watching a neat outdoor survival show which you've all heard about, but the kids are finally able to enjoy, namely, Survivorman.  The girls have been getting into the show and tried making their own shelters in the woods after watching Les Stroud do a few on TV.  Today, we headed out and made a nice shelter with left over tree bows from Christmas and outfitted their play fort with some warm floor bows and a roof.  Both were excited to make something of their own similar to what they had seen on the show.  
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IMG_4462We haven't yet elevated to the 'sleep outside' in the home made shelter, but I'm sure I'll be able to convince them to at least try it out one 'warmer' evening.  
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A newer development has been Sheena's seaglass artwork.  She has recently started selling the artwork to friends and on Facebook with definite interest.  Here are just two of her works, which she can recreate for orders or anything that she can dream up! Way to go Sheena. :)

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