Adventure Time with Cyn & Dave: Wolfville, Nova Scotia

As mentioned in a previous post, I want to spend most of my weekends outside this summer, biking around the trails of my province (and others, if possible). I think it’s kind of ridiculous that I’ve traveled all over the world and yet never truly discovered the areas around my own home. So, with my newly-formulated plan in mind, Dave and I made a trip down to historic Wolfville yesterday.

If you’re unfamilar with the area, Wolfville is nestled in a part of Nova Scotia colloquially referred to as “the Valley”, inside the interior of the province. It’s a beautiful little town, home of Grande Pré and the epic tale of Evangeline and the Acadian Expulsion. Most of its homes, shops, and services are centered around a small-yet-bustling Main Street, flanked with buildings of both modern and old-world charm. As a university town, it’s filled with students and burgeoning culture.

Dave and I love Wolfville. After we got married two years ago we spent a couple of days at the absolutely gorgeous Blomidon Inn and explored the area, reveling in our newly-married status. The town holds a certain allure to us, so yesterday we gladly made the hour’s drive from Halifax to explore it a little more in depth via bicycle. Originally I’d planned to bike Blomidon Provincial Park, but a friend of mine advised me that there was a great trail in downtown Wolfville, so we changed our plans to cycle it instead.

That was mistake number one.

When we finally reached the trail, Dave & I were a little unsure of whether we were in the right place. We’d found a trail, which was already filled with people at 11:30 in the morning, but something just didn’t seem right. I called Katie and she advised we were exactly where we were supposed to be. As I spoke to her on the phone Dave explored the area, only to return to the car to report that biking was prohibited on the trail. We were pretty disappointed, having driven an hour only to be unable to do what we’d set out to.

I quickly decided we’d head up to Blomidon instead. It was my original plan anyway and I’d already emailed the park office to ensure biking was allowed there, so I knew we wouldn’t have any issues. It was a little farther out but we made the drive up in no time, pulling over to take in the breathtaking views along the way.

IMG_4275

I mean, really. Look at this.

We were feeling good, back on track, ready to ride. When we arrived, we parked the car in the bottom lot, close to the beach. The tide was out and I really wanted to explore a bit before unhooking our bikes, so Dave obliged me and we trekked down to the shore. It was totally worth it.

IMG_4281

The last time I’d visited Blomidon I was six years old. I have a photo of my brother, dad and I standing on these very same steps.

IMG_4283

We took a stroll along the ocean floor…

IMG_4284

…and found a waterfall, which brought out Dave’s inner Backstreet Boy…

IMG_4285

IMG_4286

…seriously, Quit Playing Games (With His Heart).

IMG_4288

#waterfallselfie

IMG_4294

IMG_4296

I want to live here.

Once we’d finished exploring the beach we made our way back up the stairs, ready to get our proverbial show on the proverbial road. Back at the car we suited up, donning our helmets and backpacks filled with sunscreen, water, and snacks. Our plan was to go 20K and then head back into town for lunch.

Mistake number two.

I got my bike off the rack and climbed on. As soon as I started peddling I noticed something didn’t sound or feel quite right. I got off immediately, looked down, and saw that my back tire was completely blown out. It was so flat it was coming off the rim. The problem we now faced was we were completely without access to an air pump. We were miles away from a gas station and had made our first rookie cyclist mistake: we hadn’t brought a manual pump with us.

I was so, so frustrated. Having no other options we racked the bikes once more, deciding to head back to Wolfville in search of lunch. By this point it was one ‘o’ clock and I was getting pretty hangry, but we took one more detour, heading to The Lookoff to recreate one of our honeymoon photos (which had sadly been eaten by a faulty SD card at the time we’d taken them).

IMG_4297

I mean really. How amazing is this view? IMG_4300

I can’t believe I’ve spent (almost) the past two years married to this dude! Lucky girl.

Once back in Wolfville we stopped in at The Naked Crepe. Just as the name suggests it’s a quaint little creperie, a new-ish addition to the town. It was recommended to me by a colleague who’d spent the last four years living in Wolfville as he’d attended Acadia University, and, as a lover of all things crepe, I convinced Dave (who’s definitely more of a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy), to check it out with me.

IMG_4302

Dave’s donair crepe.

IMG_4303

My Nicolette, filled with spinach, strawberries, slivered almonds, and melted Brie, drizzled with maple syrup.

I’m no food critic, but I have to say they were really tasty. Both were considered to be savoury crepes, which was a little different to me because I’m used to partaking in sweeter, more dessert-like varieties, but the maple syrup added that sweetness to mine and made it pretty phenomenal. The only complaint I have is that the service was a little spotty – we saw tables that had ordered after us be served first and Dave received his crepe about five minutes before I was served mine. Either way, I’d definitely recommend checking out The Naked Crepe if you have some time on your hands or are just in town for a day trip.

After lunch we headed down the block to Rainbow’s End, an awesome used goods shop, specializing in books, music, and movies. We’d discovered it during our honeymoon trip and, if you know anything about Dave and I, you’ll know we love used books, music, and movies. The prices at Rainbow’s End are excellent and the selection is astounding. We never leave empty handed.

IMG_4312

My Rainbow’s End haul.

After spending roughly a half-hour perusing the store, I’d worked up an appetite for ice cream. Another thing about Wolfville: there are signs advertising ice cream all over town. Clearly the subliminal messaging worked because there was no way we were leaving without it. We stopped at a little convenience store right on the outskirts of town where a young kid with a heavy hand served us up two amazingly-huge waffle cones of Grizzly Tracks and Moon Mist.

IMG_4304

IMG_4305

All-in-all it was a great little trip, even though we didn’t get to bike the area as we’d originally planned. Once we arrived back in Halifax we filled my tire at a service station and hit one of our local trails, hoping to at least get in a shorter ride before the close of the day, but I quickly found out my tire wasn’t only flat – it’s broken. I made it 3.5K before we had to turn back. It was the most difficult ride of my life, not only because of the flat tire, but also because my bike is a little too small for me. I’ve decided to purchase a new one, and I’ll be heading out momentarily to do just that.

If you’re in my area and looking for something to do this summer, I highly recommend checking out Wolfville. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Summertime Sadness

Roughly two weeks ago I rode my bike through the beautiful campus of the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). It was a brilliant morning, almost summer-like, although it was early spring and a chill still clung to the breeze.

I hadn’t visited the campus in years. I’d lived there once, while my stepmother was completing her Bachelor of Education, between 1995 and 1996. For two years, my family had taken up residence in Blanchard Hall, occupying a small, two-bedroom apartment in the family wing.

Seven people living in a two-bedroom apartment. Think about that. Let it sink in a little, good and deep. Think about the repercussions of packing so many people into that tiny space.

Some history for you: As a child, I lived with my mother for the most of the year at home in Halifax. Normally I only saw my father and stepfamily when they made rare trips to the city, but once the school year wrapped at the end of June my dad would pick me up and together we’d make the three-and-a-half hour trip to PEI. Every summer, from the ages of seven to fifteen, I’d spend six weeks with him, my stepmother, and my step-siblings before being shuttled back to my mother and another impending school year.

I do not resent the custody schedule that had been arranged for me, for it could have been worse. I know kids who drifted back and forth between divorced parents on a weekly basis. My arrangement was much better than that. In fact, I look back on those hot summer days with a fondness that almost borders ecstasy. I loved spending endless days at the beach, a packed lunch in tow. I loved taking trips to play in the woods in Victoria Park; to the parade during Old Home Week; to Cows for a dripping, sticky ice cream cone. Not only that, I loved having four other children, close to my age, to spend time with. I was one of those kids lacked companionship, but craved it so desperately.

The memories of living on the UPEI campus that summer are foggy at best, but I can feel the tension that somehow still resides in them. It was a stressful time for my family and even more so for me, who always felt a little like an interloper.

Let me paint you a picture of me at the age of twelve: I was awkwardly built. Tall, but not gangly; a little chubby. Teenage hormones took up residence early in my body and it didn’t know what to do with them. I wore glasses from the age of nine, near-sighted and blind as a bat. I was terrified of the changes happening to me. There was hair growing in places it had never been and my skin had begun to shine – albeit not healthily – from sebaceous glands that had kicked into high-gear from my burgeoning puberty. I’d woken up on a hot, sticky summer morning in July of 1996 with something equally sticky between my thighs for the first time. It was the final nail in the coffin of my body’s betrayal, telling me my childhood was over.

I should have known right then what kind of summer I was in for, but, still clinging to a child’s innocence, I remained blissfully ignorant of the changes yet to come.

I had been blended into my stepfamily years before, when I was four years old, and yet I’d never felt like I belonged to them or with them. It wasn’t their fault. My stepbrothers and stepsister, natural siblings from the time of their births, had spent nearly every one of their waking moments together. When our parents had another child together, she was (expectedly) quickly assimilated into their folds. I was The Interloper. I was The One Who Visits On Weekends, and then, when my family moved away, The One Who Visits During The Summer. They tried to integrate me, but it was understandably difficult. I just wasn’t around enough. Being away from them for ten months of the year, I missed too much.

I also stuck out like a sore thumb. My auburn-coloured hair and green eyes didn’t fit in to their dirty-blond(e), blue-eyed world. None of them wore glasses or had even an ounce of fat on their bodies – they were all resplendently golden-skinned and ramrod straight, nary a curve between them. Anyone could look at the five of us and just know that I didn’t belong there. I belonged somewhere else entirely and I knew it; keenly, irrefutably.

Our differences were never more evident than during the summer we lived on the UPEI campus. I felt my other-ness so distinctly every day. In the close, confined quarters of the apartment, there was no escaping what I considered to be the almost-otherworldly beauty of my step-siblings; no way to avoid people so different than I.

Andrew, sixteen and already six-foot-four and so strong, a god amongst all other teenaged boys. That year I’d noticed he looked harsher, with pointed planes taking over his face. Later I learned they were caused by an inexplicable anger that had grown inside him over the year before. He was always irritable that summer, completely unapproachable and closed off, but that rage didn’t detract from his good looks. Somehow, it only served to enhance them.

James, fourteen and as stoic as he’d ever been. I saw secrets in his dark blue eyes, fringed with equally dark lashes. Over our year apart he’d let his blond hair grow longer than it had ever been, as if he hoped it could hide him, but from what I wasn’t sure. His quiet fortitude was – has always been – my beacon in the storm.

Sarah, eleven, tall and thin and tanned, astonishingly beautiful. Her hair was the colour of honey, golden, hanging in long ringlets down her back. That year she kept her face frozen in a perpetual glare, unapologetic of her brashness and anger, mirroring that of her eldest brother. To me, her aggression only made her more beguiling.

And Saundra, six years old, already a beauty despite her young age. Blonde and blue-eyed, the same as the rest of them, but with freckles across her nose and skin so pale it looked like milk. Already a force to be reckoned with.

How could I, the queen of all the awkward twelve year olds, ever hope to fit in with these fine works of human art? How could I measure up against these masterpieces?

That summer was strange. I, The Interloper, picked up on its oddness immediately. There was a peculiar sense of apprehension floating amongst my step-siblings. At first I didn’t know what caused it, but I quickly found out. Our parents were stressed out, almost pushed to their breaking point from worrying about money, the wellbeing of their children, and other things that cause adults concern. They were trying not to let it show, but they were cracking under the pressure of it all. The air was thick with tension and it was hard to breathe, but it wound itself tightly through the ranks of us children, pulling us together.

Because our parents worked during the day we spent most without supervision, with Andrew, as the eldest, in charge. We played catch on the sprawling green campus lawns. We rode our bicycles through its hot grey parking lots. We collected pennies and bought cookies to share between us at the campus sandwich shop. We watched movie after movie, Jaws and Angels in the Outfield and Robocop, lying on old couches and chairs, sweating through our clothes in the damp humidity. We waited for relief, but it never came, not that summer.

Our parents fought. Voices were raised, doors were slammed. We children sequestered ourselves in our bedrooms, played board games while listening to the radio to drown out the racket. Andrew, his brow furrowed together in frustration. James’ long fingers setting up the board. Sarah, openly hostile over having to stay out of the way. Saundra, just wanting to touch everything.

And me, barely breathing, wondering whether my being there had caused it all.

Even though it was a stressful summer, it was the most memorable I’d spent with them. I joke now about how it was hell, living in such cramped quarters, listening to our parents fight in sharp, hissing tones, but I’ve never felt closer to my siblings than I did that summer. In the moment it was almost unbearable, but hindsight is 20/20, as the saying goes.

During my bike ride through the campus two weeks ago, I pointed out to Dave the places I used to go when I lived there as a child. The roof of the veterinary college James and I used to sit on. The hill I used to fly down on my bike, as quickly as I could go. The bridge that used to be over a pond, now long dried up, where we released a frog we’d caught and brought home, realizing it couldn’t live in our bathtub all summer long. The windows of our old apartment, how they’re easily visible from the road, and how I can never, ever pass by them now without singing this song.

Sensing my creeping nostalgia and hearing a certain sadness in my tone, Dave asked me if I was feeling okay. He mentioned he’d noticed recently that I’d been talking more about my step-siblings, when I normally take precautions not to mention them. I told him I was fine, but it was – it is always – hard to explain. Having a blended family is not easy, especially when you’re The Interloper.

I told him I envied him and the relationship he has with his siblings. I envy him for having people he grew up with, who know the ins and outs of him, people who are still around. I envy that he has people who share the same experiences he has, people who are still in his life and want to be there. I have shared experiences too, but it’s different. I have all these things that happened that I share with three people, but barely any contact with them. I feel a sense of loyalty to people I’m not sure share that same sense of loyalty to me.

I haven’t seen Andrew in five years. With James, it’s been two. Sarah, four. Because I’m a sentimental fool I miss them, sometimes a lot, sometimes every day. We’ve had our differences at times, but that aforementioned sense of loyalty keeps dragging me back to them. Andrew and I have never been close – never truly gotten along – but if for some unfathomable reason he ever needed me, I’d rush to his side immediately. Cancel all my plans, book a flight, fly across the country to be with him. Satan himself wouldn’t be able to hold me back. I would fight to the death for him, even though I don’t know if he’d do the same for me. I’d do that for James and Sarah, too, but I use Andrew as an example because of our tenuous relationship. That kind of feeling is almost impossible to explain to someone who didn’t grow up the way I did, to someone who wasn’t there, to someone who doesn’t have the same experiences I have.

Believe me, I’ve tried.

Over the years, I’ve started to keep quiet when it comes to my strange, blended family. I’ve buried my memories of us deep down inside, accessible only to myself, because they’re nonsensical to everyone else. The love I have for these people is nearly inexplicable and trying to do so sometimes tires me out, so I’ve just stopped altogether. I mention them in passing but no longer give long explanations, as I often used to. I try not to dwell on the past because it’s gone. Thinking about them and how we used to be – and aren’t anymore – usually just makes me sad, and lately I’ve been thinking about them a lot.

I almost wrote that I don’t know why, but then I realized: it’s almost summertime.

Life Lately (According to my iPhone)

It hasn’t slipped my mind that I’ve neglected this space. Sometimes I really, really wish I could go back to the days of my youth, times when I would sometimes post three or more times a day over at my old Livejournal, but alas, those days (I think) are over. Nearly ten years has passed since then and, for some reason I can’t explain, I now have quite the difficult time when it comes to documenting my daily life.

Perhaps it’s because my days tend to repeat more often than not, almost in a Groundhog Day-esque fashion. Most days I wake up; get ready for work; commute to work; perform at my job from 8:00 – 4:00; go home; go for a run (most days); cook dinner; and then hang out with my husband before retiring to bed. Monday to Friday I’m on a rinse/repeat cycle and then the weekends pass too quickly. When I was an undergrad I had much more variety in my life and therefore much more to write about (even though I was probably boring everyone to tears without ever knowing it).

I think that’s what I worry about now: being boring. In truth, I am a little boring. My life is not grandiose, nor is it spectacular. What I need to realize is, as boring as it may seem to be at times, my little existence is nothing to shake a stick at. I believe everyone’s life is meaningful, and that should include my own.

I’ve always been much better at documenting my life in photographs, so here are some from the last little while:

1

We might have been a little ambitious and clinging to the notion of summer, but a few weeks back we took Dief to the beach because he loves it more than anything. We bundled up to keep warm against the cold ocean air.

2

Found this beautiful piece of street art while out and about in Halifax on Free Comic Book Day.

3

We took our bikes with us on our trip home to Prince Edward Island two weeks ago. I’m planning on making this snapshot a reality all summer long – all I wanna do is biiiiiicycle!

4

My handsome Viking husband on the ferry trip home.

5

You can take the girl out of the country…

6

…but she’ll always find her way back.

7

All. Summer. Long.

8

Sometimes I take selfies in the Target dressing rooms, particularly if I love my outfit (and shoes!).

9

This past weekend we went tidal bore rafting in 7-degree (Celsius) weather. The water was only 15 degrees. It. Was. Cold. Dave suited up like a champ.

10

Here we are hoping we don’t freeze to death/fall out of the boat/subsequently drown.

11

Obviously I have no photos of the rafting experience (not wanting to ruin my phone with gallons of muddy tidal water and all), but here I am all snug as a bug in a rug afterwards, completely sans makeup.

12

And one more selfie for good measure…I’m really loving my new green top today. I spent almost the entire winter cocooned in dark colours, so I’m tremendously excited to be wearing spring shades again.

I know I keep saying this, but I need to actually do it: I need to dedicate more time to this space. I have been writing, elsewhere (obviously), but that’s another post for another time. Maybe I need to lower my expectations. Maybe I can just free my mind and just let it out. Maybe I can’t.

I guess we’ll see.