Monday, July 30, 2012

Fredericton Trip and Tea Leaves

The Waterfront, downtown Fredericton, NB
The past few days have been very fun! Chris and I headed to Fredericton on Friday morning to go and visit Brad, one of his best friends. Brad and his girlfriend Bonnie were fantastic hosts and drove us around the city, showing us the sites, bringing us to wonderful restaurants and even introducing us to many delicious and local beers. I was shocked that Fredericton is not at all what I had expected. I was expecting a "big-city" kind of place but it was basically just a larger version of Charlottetown. There aren't any massive sky scrapers or anything of the sort. It's definitely more spread out than Charlottetown with more people, but it has the same feel to it meaning that you still get the "small-town" effect when you're walking around.

Our first night there, a group of us headed down to The Garrison which has a beer menu of over 100 kinds of beer. In other words, this was my kind of place. I had the Portabello Chevre Burger (portabello mushroom with goat cheese...drooool) and the Dooryard Organic Ale tasted oh-so-good as an accompaniment. Fredericton really pushes their Picaroon's Traditional Ales which is a local brewery and I must admit that the beers are really good. I easily tried 10 varieties of their beer over the trip and even though the were darker than I normally drink, I enjoyed each one very much.

The Mezza Sampler Plate
The next morning we hit the Farmer's Market which was awesome! It is a good sized market with lots of vendors featuring over 250 local suppliers. I was impressed that the place opens at 6am (even though we didn't wander there til about 10:30ish) and that there was so much of everything to choose from. Afterwards we all wandered around downtown for a few hours then went to lunch a the Cedar Tree Cafe which reminded me so much of Nelson. The food was mostly organic and all made from scratch from mostly local and natural ingredients. I had the Mezza Sampler plate which was an assortment of Lebanese foods including hummus, tabouleh, baba ganoush, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, pickled turnip and warm pita. YUM! The remaining 24 hours was mostly just visiting with Brad and Bonnie, doing some shopping, barbecuing, board-game playing and we even busted out the Super Nintendo. Oh yeah! 

The Kitchen Witch Tea Room, Kensington, PEI
Today is Monday and is Rachelle's birthday (Happy Birthday Boss-lady!) For her birthday, she decided to make me close early at work and go on a PEI adventure with her. And since she's the boss and I have to do what she tells me to, I agreed willingly! After a few wrong turns and some reassurance from Google Maps on her iPhone, we found ourselves at The Kitchen Witch which is a great little PEI gem. It is an old house remodeled into a restaurant/craft store where the food is all made from scratch with no preservatives and even offers a full gluten-free menu. They have a full second kitchen to prepare all gluten-free items so that cross-contamination is not an issue. Did I also mention that after your meal you can get your tea leaves read? After my lovely pot of Mountain Huckleberry tea, I was blown away by my tea leaf reading. Like, blown away! Me, the realist and skeptic, even teared up at one point because what she was telling was so incredibly relevant to my life in every way and some of the things she said truly shocked me. I won't go into detail but it definitely gave me a lot of hope and relief for the upcoming year of my life and even though most people would think that this stuff is silly, phony and a huge waste of money, there's something comforting about a stranger telling you this kind of information. I'm not going to make any life altering decisions based on what she said, but I enjoyed the experience and will keep her words in my head for sure. 

Cavendish Beach, PEI

After lunch and a little glimpse into the future, Rachelle and I drove around for about an hour and a half and she showed me so much of the island that I have never seen, or at least haven't seen in a long time. This is such a beautiful area of the country and I wish that I could share it's beauty with everyone. I wish that more people could make it out this way to experience it, even if just once, to see what this side of Canada has to offer. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


The 26th of July is here which means that in 30 days, I will be flying back to BC for good. The August 25th deadline is fast approaching and I am slightly overwhelmed with everything that I need to get done before I ship off this island. So many things to scratch off the "PEI Bucket List" too! So many beaches to visit and restaurants to eat at! I just can't think of it all at once or else I may just give up and crawl into a corner somewhere and cower.

I always knew in my heart that PEI was never to be the place to call my Forever Home (sounds like something they say in SPCA or Humane Society commercials) but it will be heart wrenching to leave this place. I've been here for the better part of 5 years now and I've made some amazingly amazing friends and people who I can easily call family. I am trying my best to not think about the days leading up to my departure because I know they will be nothing but a disarray emotions and me, a big blubbery mess.

I'm not going to lie though. There are things that I will be relieved to get away from. For instance, PEI is famous for everyone being in everyone else's business. I am a very private person and it is a rare event for me to share something highly personal, even to some of my closest friends and family. I am not one to talk about myself, so when everyone I meet wants to know every single detail of my life, I become hugely overwhelmed each and every time I am bombarded with question after question. Working in a bar is basically the worst place for someone like me to work cause the clientele are known for a little overindulging of the booze, so they'll forget asking me all of these questions, only to do it all over again the next time they're in.  

As much as I may bitch and moan about certain aspects of "island life", there are many things about this place that I know I will miss tremendously.

- Feeling safe! I can walk home at 2:30 in the morning and not even flinch if something is rustling in the bushes. I truly feel safe in Charlottetown and I know that that is a rare feeling for a person to feel in the city they live in. It's very comforting and I will miss it very much.

- Saying "hi" to randoms on the street. Quite often I enjoy acknowledging a stranger walking towards me down the sidewalk and it's nice getting the salutation reciprocated back to me. I know that if I do this in Vancouver then I might end up gagged, bound and tied up in the trunk of someone's car.

- The corn and apples - PEI does the best corn! Maybe it's the clay content of the dirt, the weather or the controversial pesticide use, I think the corn grown here is delicious. Autumn in this province gets me stoked because the corn is ready and the apples are ready to be picked. There are tons of varieties of apples on the island and I have been fortunate enough to have gone apple picking on several occasions to stock up on tons of them. 

- People got your back and look out for you. In some instances this statement is taken to extremes in this city (like the neighbour who has her nose in everyone's business and somehow knows that you made pasta 3 night ago), but most people here are looking out for each other and there to lend a hand when needed. Like the men who came to my rescue when the car was broken, even when all I asked was where the nearest garage was to bring the car to. They were lovely enough to fix the car themselves and send me on my way.

- Familiarity. You can strike up a conversation with nearly anyone and find someone the two of you know in common and instantly become acquaintances. I know the guys at work enjoy it when I see them pull into the parking lot and have their beer open and ready on the bar when they stroll into the restaurant. Some may call it Alcoholism: but I prefer familiarity.

- Short walk to work. Really, its a short walk to anywhere!

- It's cute! - PEI is a very cute province. I especially love the people who dress up in historic costumes and guide you through historic downtown Charlottetown, teaching you along the way about PEI's rich history.

- Beautiful - Between the beaches, sunsets, red dirt, flowers/fields and heritage houses, no one can dispute that PEI is absolutely gorgeous (you know, when it's not raining and miserable).

- PEI sayings - I've tried with all my might to refrain from developing an islander accent and apart from slipping in the additional "awww" sound in the word "coffee", I think I've done alright. Some things about the language here really makes me shake my head, such as adding the letter R to random words, like "warsh", instead of "wash". What is the reasoning for that? Plus there's the creation is new words, such as "slippy" which came from the word "slippery". Completely eliminating the er from the word seemed like a completely logical thing for people here to do when talking about the icy sidewalks. Hmmm.

But there are some great things that are said here that I never get sick of. "God luv ya" is a great one. Adding the work "some" to the beginning of pretty much anything will create a sentence. For example,  "Hey Jim. It's some hot!" or "That's some spicy." "She's gettin' some heavy." Yep. That would pass as a perfectly logical thing to say around here. Then of course, the most famous thing that islander say is "from away." This is a common expression describing someone who was not born and raised on the island. Whether you came here when you were 50 or if you moved to PEI when you were 10 and lived here for 30 years, you'd be "from away".

The list of sayings and expressions is truly endless and I wish that I could write them all out someday, but I could never accomplish such a massive feat! Where to even begin!?!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Even If Just For 2 Weeks

I've been following the news fairly closely the past few days since I was/am saddened by the shooting in Aurora Colorado on Friday. With 12 people dead and 58 wounded, how can one not be troubled by such an event? These people were all psyched up for the weekend and to go see the newest Batman installment, only to have the night end in a tragedy that will haunt their memories for the rest of their lives. Any time a story like this hits the news, my heart and my brain are just overwhelmed with emotion and confusion about how a person can do something like this. What gives him the right to decide that these people will die that night and that he should wield that power? What could be going on in a person's brain to do something like this - not to mention also rigging his apartment full of explosives. I think that USA needs to take a long hard look at their gun laws. Yeah you may have the right to bear arms, but you don't have the right to murder. Arrgg. Just writing that last sentence gets me so frustrated because I know gun laws aren't the problem here. Even if guns were 100% banned, people would still easily be able to get their hands on them.

Like me, it seems that most North Americans are glued to the TV or news websites to see what is going to happen to this young man. His life became officially over the moment he opened fire at that theatre. A lifetime in prison starting at the age of 24, in my opinion, is the end of a life. They're considering to pursue the death penalty and I agree that the death penalty will be a rightful decision cause really, who wants to pay taxes to keep this man alive for the next 70 years sitting in prison.

When events like this happen, it's always amazing how communities come together to support each other and express their sorrow for the grievers. When we all feel like we're so disconnected from society, society comes forward and lends a shoulder during sad times. I think it's because we are able to stand back and come to the frightening realization that this can happen to any person at any time in any town, city or country. We appreciate that it did not happen to us and most of us probably hugged a loved one that day.

This may seem a bit strange, but I think that the opening of the 2012 Olympics on July 27th is perfect timing considering what Colorado is going through right now. There are 2 things that I love love love about the Olympics.

1) You get to watch amazing athletes compete in sports that are not usually bombarding the airways (such as gymnastics, high-jump and wrestling) and they're not doing this for money or fortune. They're competing to be recognized as the best in their sport IN THE WORLD. That's frickin' awesome.

2) Even though we're all competing against one another, the world comes together to watch and celebrate the Olympics. We're all watching to cheer on our country's best athletes and we become closer as a nation because of it - even if just for 2 weeks.

The 2012 Olympics will get the USA cheering for their athletes and maybe help them forget for a little while that a crazy psychopath murderer exists in Colorado. Hopefully the news will focus less on pain and despair and more on stories of greatness and success for a change. Even if just for 2 weeks.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Post Traumatic Travel Disorder

My trip to BC came to an end on Friday and I arrived back to PEI on Saturday morning (after several hiccups, which will be explained in a minute). My last couple days there were the only ones that had any sunshine so I enjoyed that part immensely. Unfortunately a large part of my last day there was spent doing an emergency visit to the vet after Splash sliced open her foot when we were playing down by the river. Poor Splish Splash. Even though she's all bandaged up and stuck not being able to play or go for any long walks, she's doing just fine.

Since I am moving back to BC at the mid/end of August, people are asking if my last time traveling to PEI was a bittersweet experience. And my answer is simple: NOPE! Apart from one disastrous trip trying to get home for Christmas a few years back, this was one of the bumpiest trips I have taken. The flight from Castlegar to Calgary would have been alright apart from the moderate turbulence and for some reason, my minor panic attack. Panic attack is an overstatement for how I felt, but for some reason I was really nervous on that flight and I had the fast beating heart, sweaty palms and just couldn't concentrate on anything except the notion that we were going to crash into the mountains below. Obviously we made it safely and I still have no idea why I felt like that throughout the flight.

I had an hour to kill in sunny Calgary while waiting for flight #2 to Toronto. Oh wait, did I say sunny? There's a famous saying in Calgary - "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes." We landed in clear skies and sunshine. In the hour I was to wait for the next plane, the skies became black and we had a fairly major storm. Unfortunately this storm meant that no planes could go anywhere until at least the lightning stopped. Arrg. Three hours later the skies cleared up and we were finally able to board the plane. The first thing I noticed on the flight was the heat. Holy God it was hot in that plane! Then the heat started to mingle in an unfortunate way with the heavy cologne of the man beside me. Gross. His family was sitting behind us so he was constantly spinning around to check up on them and his neck would swing in my direction leaving me in a cloud of gag-worthy scent. I tried to blow "fresh" air in my face with the personal overhead fan thingy above our seats but all it did was blow hot air in my face. After a good 30 minutes of sitting in that smelly hot-box, the pilot decided to fill us in on what was going on. We weren't moving yet because an engine was broken and the part that cools the interior of the cabin wasn't working, so it was going to take longer to take off while the engine got started up by another machine. My visual of this was something similar to jumping a dead battery in a car.

Then finally semi-cool air came out of the overhead fan thingy and the engines started up. Apart from the overly warm cabin of the plane (the AC never came back so it remained really really warm), the smelly dude sitting beside me, the screaming 2 year old in front of me and the 2nd screaming baby 2 rows behind me, the 3-hour flight was alright! I watched "Rain Man" which I have actually never seen before and enjoyed very much.

Tip of the Day: The "Contemporary" movie option on Air Canada flights for passengers always has really good movies to choose from.

The hotel I stayed at in Toronto. The Moxie's restaurant here
had the coldest draft beer I have ever had!
After a good amount more turbulence, we landed in Toronto airport and nearly everyone making a connecting flight missed their connection. I headed to customer service to sort out my game plan and the agent told me that I was re-scheduled for a plane heading to Halifax (boarding at that moment actually) where it would land at 1:30am, Air Canada would put me in a hotel for the night in Halifax then I'd get on a flight to Charlottetown at 7am. Huh? By the time I got my luggage, go to the hotel, slept, and got back in time to reach my flight, I'd have about a grand total of what...2 hours in the hotel? Not happening. So I asked if I could be put up in Toronto for the night instead and take a flight out to Charlottetown in the morning. She said I could and took me out of the Halifax flight and onto one at 9am out of Toronto.

And then it happened. My luggage was officially lost at this point. Switching the Halifax and Toronto flights messed everything up. Air Canada of course doesn't want to come out and say, "Ma'am, we have no idea where your suitcase is," when I know that is what they thought every time they looked utterly confused while trying to track it down in their system. I stood in line at customer service for an hour, tapping my toes while the lady there tried to find where my luggage was sent to. Her manager finally told me to just go to the hotel and we'll deal with in the morning. So I went to the hotel where I got actually a super nice room and delicious meal. No clean underwear though. Nothing but the clothes on my back and the few odds and ends in my backpack. Horray! I did get to drink in the hotel's car with a large group of travelers who were also stuck in Toronto for the night due to their own issues with their flights. Misery loves company right!

I got about 4 hours sleep which wasn't bad considering. I got to the airport around 7am and went to the baggage area (where I was instructed to go by the lady the night before) in hopes of tracking down my suitcase. I told the guy my story, gave him my luggage tag and he took at look in the system. He got that same highly confused look on his face and after about 10 minutes told me to take my luggage tag and have the people at Check-ins to forward my luggage to Charlottetown. He said that the suitcase is likely somewhere between Toronto and Charlottetown and at one point they'll have to scan it and see where it's meant to be. This gave me about zero confidence about their system.

My flight back to Charlottetown was the most pleasant out of all three and I arrived just after noon on Saturday. I got a call on Sunday morning saying that they located my luggage but had to wait for confirmation before having it shipped. What does that even mean? Either way, my luggage arrived Sunday night. From where?? They never told me. But it made it and that's all that matters.

I started to calculate what it would cost to replace everything in that one suitcase. I had actually very little coming back to PEI with me and even so, it still would have added up quickly. I mean think about it! Bras alone (plus sports bras) would have set me back a good $250 at least. Crazy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Weddings and Water Excess

I've now been in Trail for 14 days and today is the first real day of nice weather. It's always crappy to go on vacation and get stuck in bad weather, especially when the trip is centered around my sister getting married. We were super lucky to have a break in the weather on the day of the ceremony and even got to have the post-nuptial meal outside in the sunshine!

Unfortunately, the next day was the larger reception which was a casual BBQ meal out in the back yard of Pam and Graham's house, and the weather did not cooperate as nicely. It poured rain and stormed loudly for a good hour and half. Then the rain stopped long enough to fire up the grills and get everyone fed. Luckily we had plenty of large party tents set up for everyone to eat under and the kids got a couple hours to play in the yard before storm #2 came roaring in. Sigh. Everyone keeps telling me that rain on the wedding day is meant to be good luck to the new couple, so this must mean that Pam and Graham will be happily married for about 300 years based on the rain pummeling down that day.

The West Kootenay Region (where my family all live) had the heaviest rainfall ever recorded for the month of June. There was a recorded 227 millimetres of rain recorded which nearly doubled the old record of 114 millimetres. BC was flooding everywhere and the Columbia River which flows behind my parent's house is the highest its been since they started controlling the water levels with dams! Drinking waters have been contaminated creating states of emergency in many areas of the province. Crazy! I am happy that the sun is out now and that the province is beginning to dry up a bit. The remaining 36 hours of my trip here are to be mostly me laying out in the yard basking up as much sunshine as I can soak in. Oh, it's gonna feel good!