Posts Tagged ‘Zander’

On my first bicycle trip, I left Jasper with a too-heavy trailer and made only 35 kilometres the first day. When I reached camp, I was so tired that I set up tent, ate an energy bar, and fell unconscious on my thermarest. I awoke later to the brilliant Milky Way–traditionally a “navigation chart” for travelling through this world as well as the great cosmologies and spiritual traditions. The next morning I was consumed with doubt — could I really complete a 5000 kilometre solo trip through British Columbia? Four months later, I rolled into Lake Louise, Alberta completing the route. The trip and its conclusion paralled the roads taken: lots of ups and downs, detours, change in plans, fears and strangers that became friends, unexpected encounters, smiles and tears, joy, and moment-by-moment grit and gratitude.


At City Mill Hardware

For my sabbatical in Hawaiʻi, I chose my Brompton folding bicycle as the main mode of transportation. With few exceptions, I use the bicycle for getting to-and-from classes and meetings, shopping for food or apartment furnishings, running Zander, exploring the neighborhoods, or getting take-out meals. Walking, occasional use of a ZipCar, and bus are secondary choices–and often not as convenient as the bike.

Bicycling constantly exposes me (and Zander) to the natural environment–wet when it rains, struggling against the winds, careful in the dark (even with lights), and hot, sweating in the sun. We also become entangled with the “local scene”–the woman who does sudoko outside her apartment always looking for help; the couple on their lanai who wave as they enjoy their daily coffee; dipping my head under the ulu



(breadfruit) hanging low on the tree; recognizing flowers (plumeria, mock orange, white ginger, or night-blooming cereus) by their fragances–or lack of; or tracking the sun and moon rising and setting on the horizon. Reading street signs is like a “whoʻs who” of Hawaiian history and a constant opportunity to practice pronouncing Hawaiian words. Wednesday and Thursday evenings are shopping at two local farmerʻs markets: Zander surveying the vendors from his perch between the saddle and handlebars and delighting in the attention from other shoppers!

The Hawaiian word kuleana often comes to mind. English translations rarely do it justice, and English words struggle to capture the interconnected, spiritual, ethical, and relational qualities integral to this concept. Even as I think I am beginning to understand its breadth, I am not sure, as a haole (foreigner), I can truly understand the fullness of its meaning. Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) writers begin with broad contextual phrases: an understanding that begins with participating in  context-based responsibilities and positionalities located in interdependence of people and place (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua (2013). Specificaly, kuleana connects with responsibilities, obligations, reciprocal and respectful relationships. Kuleana is about the proper way to be amongst humans, ancestors, unseen forces, ka ʻāina (land and ocean), animals and plants, and the universe. Importantly, it includes the concept of privilege as in it is a privilege to be in a position to share one’s gift, to contribute, and hold a particular position. When kuleana appears in conversations, discussions and stories revolve around how individual lives nourish the community, how we honour our ancestors and and gifts, how we contribute to the well-being of the whole. As far as I understand, it is a concept that begins and ends with an embodied way of being enmeshed in each other.

As a haole and daughter of an officer of the occupying military, my reflections include a deep understanding of how my birth at Tripler Hospital in Honolulu, travels to Hawai’i as a visitor and tourist, and interest in Kanaka Maoli practices are all haunted by the harm experienced by Kanaka Maoli through illegal occupation, land reforms, and privileging wealth over relationships and environment. My contemplations around kuleana are infused with a desire to allow Indigenous worldviews (especially Kanaka ‘Ōiwi) to change what I think and who I am. I am still piecing together the embodied and enacted meaning of kuleana, but cycling creates a space-time for me to reflect and be entangled in everyday human lives and natural/built environments that call out for kuleana. Surprisingly, these are often momentary and mundane encounters.

I live near two private schools, a seniorʻs home, two medical centres, and two off-on ramps to the freeway. The traffic can be horrific with blocks of cars inching along and dole-street-trafficadjusting for parents dropping children off at school, ambulances, or older and slower pedestrians. Typically just before and after school, three traffic cops, a host of mothers helping children in and out of cars, parental chauffers, and alert drivers keep people safe and the cars moving at a steady pace. I, too, merge, measuring my cadence, become part of the alternating pattern, and use hand signals and waves to thank drivers who see me safely through. It is a dance of taking care of each other. It is a subtle pattern that makes a tedious routine more comfortable–often bringing smiles.

I have begun to see kuleana as an outward perspective that focuses attention on what is and what can be contributed to life at that moment–even traffic! The more I contemplate and look for it, the more opportunities appear. I realize how intertwined I am with the world and how every action has a ripple effect. Bicycling viscerally places me within this net of life forms and energies: a lost key found where I dropped it next to a bicycle rack; people who offer water to Zander; students in class who generously share notes and study time; the cashier who reminds of me of sales or loyalty cards to save money; the gardener who shares a papaya from her tree; fellow cyclists who are homeless stop to help or provide hints on thrift stores. Cycling provides space-time to understand on how little I need or how to choose activities that nourish the land, sustain others, and honors the genealogy of Kanaka ʻŌiwi. And a day filled with cycling leaves me relaxed, active, and content. As Zander and I are slowly knitted into local communities, I pay careful attention for opportunities to contribute to their lives and futures.

Notably, kuleana circles back to things! On long distance bicycle trips, I learned to reduce what I carried; too much stuff makes it harder to pedal and slowed me down. This sabbatical is restructuring what I need materially and having little actually provides a sense of freedom and relaxation. And this opens up more space-time to be, to focus outward and contemplate my intersection with others, time to play with Zander and others. Although I am not convinced of the accuracy of my interpretation, simply struggling to understand another worldview and its spiritual and ethical implications has already shifted my sense of self–and how out-in-the-open-cycling contributes to a life of service, acceptance of the privilege and responsibility, and care for the ʻāina and others met along the way.

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A Bicycle, Dog, and Joy


Traveling by bicycle is an unassuming entrée into the world of other people. Add a small, shy but friendly dog, and I have the perfect combination for meeting people from all walk of life and getting to know Honolulu.

Zander Park BikeThis time, I am using a Brompton folding bicycle that, when folded, slips into a suitcase within typical airline baggage requirements. It also accommodates the “BuddyRider” or dog seat between the bicycle seat and handlebars where Zander rides. The short cranks make hills challenging, but if we are defeated Zander gets a short walk and break from riding! It is smaller than a “full-sized bicycle,” so there are challenges in transporting small appliances or furniture, Zander and groceries, or paddle and gear for canoeing. With ingenuity, it has all been managed, and I am reminded of Susan B. Anthony’s evaluation of bicycling giving “women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

Bicycling allows me to keep Zander fit as he runs alongside when it is safe or the Honolulu Bicycle Lanetemperatures are cool enough. When time is of the essence or traffic is crazy, I pop him in the seat and move at a faster pace. Ruffwearʻs Swamp Cooler vest extends the time Zander can enjoy the day. A number of stores allow dogs–so he accompanies me to Home Depot, Don Quixoteʻs, and other places if he sits quietly in the carts! He is learning his manners as he waits outside when I pick up food–and then off to a nearby park for a picnic. The King Street bicycle path reminds me of Copenhagen–and we cover substantial distance for all our errands: credit union, pet store, grocery store, bicycle store, and other necessary stops in safety.

And, of course, moving slowly and together allows us to meet people along the way. Zander’s “smile” while walking often elicits comments or questions about his linneage; the elderly Japanese man who walks his daughters dogs loves to talk to Zander and share a “high five”; the woman groundskeeper at the school bows deeply toPrescious say good morning; the elderly couple who have their breakfast on the lanai have just begun to ask how are we doing; and the grade three girl at the farmer’s market who loves dogs holds Zander while I order dinner. Precious is the “resident mama” of the apartment complex. She is pregnant and has recently become infatuated with Zander!!! The three cats, on the other hand, seem not so interested!

Bicycles are relatively plentiful in Honolulu–parents with trail-gator bikes or chariots, for children, families on a series of bicycles, people commuting to work or school, the classic cruiser bikes, fixies, bmx, and of course the serious cycle racers. As in many places, bicycling is a process of being “out in the open”–pedestrian and cyclists waiting at lights often say high, drivers giving way or accepting your offer to go ahead, or someone noticing Zander on the bike. Given how dense Honolulu is, I always find it easier and quicker to maneuver on a bike compared to the traffic, parking structures, or lack of parking spaces. And with courtesy and consideration for pedestrians, no one seems to mind if I ride on the sidewalks.

RainbowAs part of our daily routine, Zander and I walk or bicycle-run early in the morning or evening when the the temperatures are coolest and rain is likely to fall in short bursts or mists that cool. We seek new routes to discover old cemetaries, ranges of housing designs, and local haunts such as Yama’s Fish Market and their delicious Kalua pork, poke and haupia. Three guys provided an impromptu ukulele concert while we ate lunch in Honolulu Stadium State Park. People from all walks of life share their lives whether in fragments or life histories. Honolulu and the people within become mapped onto Zander and I and we become enmeshed into these currents. A passing park, stream, memory shared, helping hand, or glimpses of cattle egrets, red-crested cardinal, or shama grace our lives.


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In the verdant Hawaiian valleys, a balance must be struck betweeen removing invasive species and epiphytes and supporting native and food bearing species while providing space to wander amongst them. It takes time to understand the relationships since an “invasive” species might, in a particular instance, enable a native species to thrive. This was the world I entered in a small patch of tropical flora behind a friend’s house in Pauoa Valley. Lychee trees supporting avocado trees; bamboo forests obscuring ancient trails; vines swirling around trees and plants on their way to the sun. To enhance the health of this small patch required daily attention.

So, careful observation, listening to multiple stories, and taking time before action is a wise course of action. A great metaphor for moving to a new place, adjusting to a new climate, starting a new project, or learning to play at a dog park! August is a not month in Hawaiʻi–tropical storms bring rain and cool winds followed by “dead” air and heat. We are up early (5:30 a.m.) to enjoy a cool morning walk or run. Then Zander wilts and hides beneath my desk under the cooling breeze of fan until late afternoon. I find time to work or do errands–slowly adjusting to the heat or running in and out of air conditioned stores or offices.

Each day, I have accomplished one or two tasks of arranging my life in Hawaiʻi: thereʻs the bank account, state identification, bus pass, locating farmerʻs markets, desk lamps, getting registered for language classes, and finding agility classes. It is amazing how the heat saps my strength and the time it takes to find a place even on a bicycle. On the other hand, it is amazing how many helpful people I meet, how fragrant the flowers are, how

Zander and Jackson

Zander and New Friend

many birds and animals are present in the middle of the city, and how cooling the rains are.

Then, the sun sinks and the temperatures drop. A group of women and their dogs show up at the dog park next to our apartment at 6:30 p.m. Zander is slowly learning to “play” with the other dogs rather than constantly jostle for dominance. Yet, each night as we return, the relationship slowly morphs into new forms of play and enjoyment. Other evenings we go for bike rides around town–he in his seat on the bike.

Iʻve met with the director of the Institute for Hawaiian Language Research and Translation. In addition, I attended a symposium on their translation project with the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives. They are translating a collection of letters from the aliʻi or members of the ruling class of Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiians) that are part of the Mission Housese archives. The panel was simply amazing; each had been translating specific letters that supported dissertations, books, or journal articles. The perspectives and insights are radically different from the classic American historical perspectives. As much as I was excited and intrigued, it was daunting as well.

The daily routines of walking Zander plus walking or bicycling as my primary mode of transportation has been a blessing. Not only do they all allow me to pay close attention to my surroundings–the various birds, slugs, cats, mongoose, flowers, plants, cacti as well

Hawaiian House

Hawaiian hipped-roof, wooden plank house, lava rock foundation

as meet interesting people, notice how many people (drivers and pedestrians alike) who are generous and courteous, variations of architecture, wondrous gardens, and much more. All of this brings home the transitory nature of life–the older buildings giving way to the environment, dying flower petals on the ground. Each of these have a beauty of their own and a reminder of the wisdom in allowing things to follow their own lifespan. And finally, negotiating traffic as well as life requires movement and balance.

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Every journey has a secret destination of which the traveller is unaware. Martin Buber

Doldrums come from historical maritime language that refers to parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans where the prevailing winds are calm. This calmness or lack of winds is often seen as a depression, listlessness, or stagnation. But I am left wondering if that is a Western bias favouring action, goal setting, decisiveness, and fear of “sitting with” uncertainty and not knowing. Even as I was hoping this trip would provide a “turning point” for my 65th birthday, a direction for the last years of my academic career, and a sketch of retirement opportunities, the route sailed into the doldrums. There were no neat beginnings and endings, and life slipped in and out of the trip with no clear narrative. Uhmmm!!

Although I feel no clarity or enlightenment at this moment, a Zen story captures my sense of comfort with being in the doldrums:

Dizang, an esteemed teacher, asked Fayan, “Where are you going?”
Fayan said, “I am wandering aimlessly.”
“Dizang inquired: What do you think of wandering?”
“I do not know,” responded Fayan.
“Not knowing is most intimate,” observed Dizang.
Fayan was suddenly awakened. (Case 20 paraphrased from The Book of Equanimity)

As a professor and scholar, I am “supposed” to know things, but what is it to deeply and profoundly admit that I do not know? And what is this great intimacy of not having to know? To simply wander and touch the texture of life without knowing or imposing a goal, model or theory—to be open, attentive and curious about what appears?

Even as a bicycle trip follows roads and highways, the freedom of a self-supported trip without fixed destinations and deadlines parallels sailing or kayaking. I was always drifting off course—a little to the starboard, shifting to port, always correcting, adjusting, refining. Stops were longer to adjust for Zander, the weather, or my health. And, as in life, there was no “true” endpoint—life, goals, and bicycle trips are always adapting and adjusting.

So, the final weeks in Nova Scotia included resting and dealing with the rebellion of my gastrointestinal track, renting a Jeep Cherokee to get the bicycle, trailer, gear, Zander and I to Halifax, and a changed to come home earlier.

Self-supported bicycle trips, for me, are magical because they combine the meditative pace of a repetitive movement that allows me to be attentive moment-by-moment, opportunities to step out of my comfort zone, preconceptions challenged, and different ecological, cultural and social systems to explore. And this trip I had Zander along to learn about his personality, quirks, and preferences while working with him to wait patiently and sleep properly in a sleeping bag (not likely!).

The patterns of cycle travel can positively shift daily life at home:

Focus on the joy of each moment. The journey was lighter and more enjoyable when I was focused pedalling one stroke at a time, enjoying the aromas of the world (Zander taught me this one—especially since he rolls in them and I get to revisit them at night when he wants to cuddle!), focusing on what was around me right in the moment rather than the end of the day.

Hills/Problems look bigger from a distance. And even when they are big or steep, they are travelled one pedal stroke at a time, in a lower gear, or by walking Zander (which he and I loved).

Minimal space and things makes a journey joyful. It is always difficult to gauge the gear necessary for a trip, especially when responsible for another living being. Several times, I had to re-evaluate and ask the right question: Can we survive without this piece of equipment? The lighter the load, the easier the movement, the less tired we were, and the more joyous the travel.

You can’t control anything. When things go wrong or not as expected or new opportunities arise, as they inevitably do, responses such as frustration, anger, depression, or rushing in to “fix it” are usually unhelpful at best. The theme for the trip was patience or “wait and see”—a marvellous strategy because in most cases I was not in control of anything. More valuable strategies were grabbing a drink or snack, walking Zander, relaxing a few minutes, or sleeping on it. This stepping backwards provided a larger horizon to evaluate whether we needed to change or stay the course, allowed multiple solutions to emerge, and a comfort that everything has a way of working itself out. What was once considered a loss in the end simply felt like a change or a transition.

In the final analysis, kilometres don’t really matter. The original route was very ambitious and included many more kilometres. However, there is no right path or route, only the one we choose. The journey was filled with many grand adventures, great people, and wonderful experiences. I have dreamed of doing a bicycle trip with Zander for some years, and it came true. Our pace was the right pace.

Laughter makes everything better. No amount of complaining or critique changes things. Laughter lightens the atmosphere and makes the riding easier. This was especially true around Zander. When I got angry or frustrated at anything, Zander felt it as directed toward him—ears back and body closer to the ground. He was a great teacher for me to change my attitude!! And sure enough, the events were funny and it was just another event in our day.

Two very specific lessons for cycling were:
The joy of bicycle touring is in the riding—the sites, the tourist destinations are less important than the journey and the riding. The journey is in the moments—they are what counts, where joy lies. Cyclist-in-motion allows the land to shape the cyclist’s body and soul. Although I was delighted to see Cape Breton by car, I missed the visceral connection with the land itself. That’s where the learning and heart lies.

Always be suspicious of someone in a motorized vehicle who tells you the destination is not far. There is a radical difference in how cyclists and people who drive motorized vehicles perceive space, time, and distance. At least in Nova Scotia, few people could actually provide accurate estimates of objective measures of distance or time. So, typically, no matter what there estimates were, we were usually in for several more hours of cycling.

I am still puzzling over the “secret destination” of this trip. I found no answers, no certainty around how to plan the last years of my time at the university or what retirement might hold within this trip. On the other hand, I found a comfort in drifting and simply following the road where it led me—and an ease in living more simply with less.

So, I am home waiting for my bicycle to catch up with us. Fortunately, I have a little folding bicycle in the meantime to keep me commuting. The one thing about bicycle touring is that it makes driving a car seem strange and “a hassle.” I appreciate the comfort and ease of settling into bicycling in the city.

I have a sense that I have been reshaped by loss, chronic health conditions, and life’s transitions, placed at crucial junctions between uncertainty and endurance—which may be a pragmatist’s version of hope. And hope, for me, is not an emotion or feeling but a movement—like pedalling one stroke after another up a long hill—and the simple movement eventually brings me to the top of the hill, to the next campsite, to the next idea, to the next day, to a type of resolution that allows the next adventure to come into existence. And, like bicycling, once I gain some momentum it begins to carry me further than I had expected.

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The trip to Blomidon Provincial Park made clear that cycling with Zander’s seat was hard on the knees and the hills of Cape Breton were simply not possible. In addition, the set up of the trailer was not appropriate for the Surly Troll design. Sooo—I rented a car, and Zander and I took off for a driving tour. The comparison of bicycle and car touring provided many insights.

Even as I drove up from Truro, the landscape began to change, and the hills became more longer and steeper. I was consistently evaluating each section “as if” I would ride it as a cyclist. Even though the hills on the Cabot Trail are much more challenging, simply getting to Cape Breton from Truro would test a cyclist resolve. When we passed several bicycle tourers, I was flooded with a longing to be on the bicycle, pedaling slowly up each of those hills. I am not sure how to explain how the process of cycling through the landscape changes the way a cyclist views the world, shapes the cyclist’s body and understanding of the world, and becomes addictive as a way of movement. Furthermore, as I would discover, it also shapes how people interact with Zander and I. However, the hills would have been murder on my knees, so it was a wise choice to drive. The landscape is gorgeous, and the rains had turned it very green. But driving allowed for few opportunities to stop and take pictures until we got over the causeway and on the Ceilidh Trail.

Christy's Look-Off Ceilidh Coastal Trail

Zander Collects Aromas

Collecting Scents

We stopped at the first turn-out and viewpoint which paralleled a bicycle-walking-ATV trail. Zander and I walked a fair distance along the path. While I took photos, Zander collected scents from each place we stopped! I am hoping to have him bathed and groomed before we fly home!! We will only see a small portion of Cape Breton that highlights the magnificent scenery.

However, the island is dotted with reminders of its resource extractive industries: the Troy Quarry we passed just west of the causeway that has left a huge scar on the land, clear-cutting patches, signs indicating old gold mines, the coal mines that once existed near Sydney, and sites of old settlements that were established for logging or mining purposes now wilderness sites along the Cabot Trail.

Our first campsite was at Cheticamp Campground within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We went in to town to get a lobster dinner “to go,” because it was too hot to leave Zander in the car. I ordered the smallest lobster (2.5 pounds) and thought the woman said they would crack it, but couldn’t provide any other utensils for getting the meat out. Well, she had actually said they wouldn’t crack it—and 2.5 pounds of lobster is a lobster bigger than I have ever seen!! Seriously—that is a lot of lobster!! But my faithful Swiss Army knife came to the rescue! It was neither elegant nor pretty, but I got every bit of that lobster meat out! And it was delicious. Of course, Zander got some (minus the butter) and thought it was good too!

The next morning, we were up early. One of the wardens stopped us, because she had found a beautiful white dog with a red T-shirt wondering loose in the campground. We had not seen it before. We walked through the campground hoping to meet someone looking for a dog, but no such luck. As we left, we stopped at the warden station to leave some food. Fortunately, the owner had arrived. They had come in late, and the person who had attached the leash had attached it incorrectly. The T-shirt was covering a scar healing from surgery. It had been the longest 15 minutes of the woman’s life. What a great way to start the morning!

Cheticamp Rocks




Lobster Boat Retrieving Traps

We saw the fishing boats out, so I pulled over and we walked along a small beach. The boats were coming back in to retrieve lobster traps. We stayed awhile to watch them move along their lines and allow Zander to dip his paws into the water. Then, up and around the northern tip; we stopped at most of the viewpoints.

Fishing Cove

Fishing Cove

My favorite was Fishing Cove, which lies 335 metres below MacKenzie Mountain. This lonely spot was a thriving Scottish settlement that fished for cod and lobster and farmed with a lobster cannery. By 1915, the descendants of these pioneer families had all moved to neighboring communities. Today, this site is now a wilderness campsite accessible by an 8 km hiking trail. I only wished we had the gear and time to enjoy the site!

Before we knew it, we were at Baddeck. I was amazed at the difference in how much distance and how little time it took with the car. But I was saddened that it was bereft of conversations, smells, a sense of being shaped by the landscape. Baddeck is a small town and clearly focused on tourism–lots of B&Bs, resorts, a few restaurants, the classic restaurants and cafes, and the typical Home Hardware and Co-op Grocery Store. The weather had turned hot (+28 C), leaving Zander in the car was not an option, and few places had shade for parking. Because my gut wasn’t feeling so good, I opted for the cheapest room in Baddeck that would take a dog–the Inverary Resort and Spa. It was okay, but this traveling is so different and doesn’t allow for meeting people. Without pulling up on a bicycle with gear, people simply serve you. As I walked to our room, I passed an older gentleman sitting in a car, door open, head almost between his knees. I asked if he was okay. He seemed annoyed, almost angry, when I expressed concern.The etiquette and connection between people is just different in these other zones of travel.

All of these experiences led me to contemplate what I truly enjoyed about traveling–especially bicycle travel. Would joining a Freewheeling tour be enjoyable? Would a custom tour work? What is so appealing about traveling alone with all my gear? Could it be modified? If so, how? Do I enjoy seeing all the historical sites, museums, etc? But I am sure that I do enjoy the act of cycling the landscape and the exposure to the land with all of its smells, ups and downs, weather, etc. There is something about that process that changes how I relate to the world, know that part of the land, and come to understand myself and the people there.

Zander Waterfall Maritime ChairThe next morning, we left Baddeck headed for Wolfville. First, we stopped at Black Brook beach before it got too hot. It was a great place to take a walk up along the Black Brook, more like a river, along the beach, and up and through the coastal trail. We could see the river running into the sea, the fresh water mingling with the sea water, and the tides pushing back on the river currents. We walked along the coastal trail and some side trails to get better views of Black Brook Beach and the waterfall–including Zander sitting on an Adirondack chair to enjoy the view. Zander also had great fun collecting all the different scents, chasing squirrels and chipmunks, and generally sniffing.

A little further down the road, we also checked out Whycocomagh Provincial Park. Although I was glad I had opted for the motel, this would have been a great campground. And oh the squirrels and chipmunks!! Even though it was hot, we spent a fair amount of time scaring up squirrels and chipmunks as we explored the campground and trails, saw the yurts, and talked with people who were staying there. Zander even scared up a whole bunch of grouse. The mother grouse froze, standing tall like a stick. Zander went slowly a little closer, but when he realized it wasn’t a squirrel, he turned back. She flew up into the low branches of a tree to join her brood.

We stopped in Windsor, just shy of Wolfville, for the night. The next day, we drove into Wolfville just before Sue and John took off for Prince Edward Island. It was a quick trip, and I’m glad we went. Even as I felt the tug of the pedals with each bicycle tourer, the lack of pain in my knees tells me it was a wise decision.



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Blomidon Provincial Park

Backroad to BlomidonOne of the areas I wanted to visit while in Nova Scotia was Blomidon Provincial Park. It lies approximately 20 kilometres north of Wolfville, 600 feet above the water, and provides magnificent views across the bay. Although not a long distance, it can be challenging especially the last climb and switchbacks up to the park. Fortunately, I was able to leave some gear with friends in Wolfville. Zander and I cycled through fields of corn, strawberries, and vegetable gardens, pastures with cows and pigs, and views of the bay—or should I say the mud flats since the tide was out. Since I am now at the “head” of the Bay of Fundy, the difference in the tides can be 15 metres or 50 feet; it has the highest tides in the world. The height is impressive, but I find the changes in the “width of beach” the most impressive. At times, I looked out and could no longer see where the water created a shoreline!

The cycle up to the park was done on a bright, warm, sunny day. The park is at the top of an incredibly steep hill. However, the last six kilometres also have some hefty rolling hills. A father-son team in those last six kilometres passed me. Their steady pace seemed quite fast and strong, so I thought they might have made it up the hill. They were able to go further up than I, but even they were reduced to walking with a loaded bike. The father thought his son might be able to do it without a load, but he and I felt confident neither one of us could do it even without a load!!

Blomidon View

But all the effort was worth it!! The park is 600 feet above the water and provides magnificent views across the bay. There are about 14 kilometres of hiking trails through woodlands, “bog-like” areas with lots of ferns, and access to the beach. When the tide is out, you can walk quite the distance into the bay. In addition, we were early in the season, so the squirrels were quite brave, and Zander enjoyed chasing them back up into the trees. And the small, black rabbits were so cute and allowed us to get quite close. Zander is relatively quiet and calm around rabbits, because our favourite pet store in Edmonton has rabbits for pets. Zander goes in quite gently to great his pal each time we buy food!

The wind came up in the late afternoon—and boy does it blow at the top of the cliffs!! It was a good thing that I had staked the tent well, because the sides of the tent were blown in and the fly fluttered madly! And the night sky was clear so the stars once again shone in the sky!! It is such a delight to be able to see them so clearly.

The day we left Blomidon, it rained—and rained quite hard. The rain cape came out, and Zander was quite soaked for some time!! Since the temperatures were warm, the rain did not make us feel cold, although Zander is never fond of getting wet. And even though there were some tough hills on the way home, it took us less time to make the trip back to Wolfville.

That evening, Sue and John took us to the Wolfville farmer’s market for dinner. You pay $10.00 and get 5-$2.00 coupons, a plate with salad and bread. The coupons go for buying food from local vendors. The choices were a pork slider, Moroccan food, Indian samosas and pakoras, Italian pasta, German schnitzel, vegetarian fare, and gelato. It is every Wednesday during the summer, I believe—and quite the social affair. It was a great ending to two days of solid, challenging bicycling and hiking.

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We spent five nights at Annapolis Royale hoping to avoid cycling in the rain. Zander barely walks in the rain let alone cycle all day! We sat out horrendous rain storms, a thunderstorm, and long, slow drizzles! Finally, I could take the inactivity no more–and we cycled regardless. Turns out that day was overcast and cool, but rain began shortly after we got a room in Bridgetown.

Annapolis Royale is this small village at the mouth of the Annapolis River, and I stayed at the Dunromin Campground.Our first day in the area was filled with sun and warmth. I decided to stay one more day to do laundry and shop for food–and then the rains descended and Zander seemed “down”. He suddenly became very subdued, not interested in leaving the tent, ignored people, and uninterested in walks. Checked with the local vet, but all the vital signs–temperature, eating, drinking, and pooping were normal. So, staying a day or two to seemed like a wise choice. I was able to do lots of reading, writing in the journal, and meditating. Zander slept or snuggled close. Each day we went into town (about 2 kilometres away) for food, to check out another part of the town, or just see what was going on. It’s early in the season, so the town is almost empty during the week.

A couple of times we ate lunch in town. One of the things I have appreciated in many of these small tourist destinations are the number of restaurants that have gluten-free options and Zander can sit with me on the patios or decks. The German Bakery and Restaurant made the best macaroons I have ever had–they were a daily treat!

Annapolis Royale encompasses land that was highly fought over by the French and English and the history of mistreatment and expulsion of the Acadians. Fort St. Anne is the major historical park, which Zander enjoyed walking and rolling in the grass. It now has a number of beautiful old, Victorian bed and breakfast places, some interesting restaurants, and typical arts and antique tourist stores.

Annapolis Royale lies close to the Bay of Fundy and is highly affected by the tides. When they built one of the first wharfs, it was a long ramp out to the middle of the river to accommodate the various levels of the 29 foot tidal changes. The Bay of Fundy is shaped like a deep funnel with wave patterns that are highly resonant with both sun and moon tidal effects. So, within 24 hours, the tides rise and fall about a foot an hour. Near the village, a tidal power generating station takes advantage of this.

We also discovered the French Basin Wetlands–about 15 hectares of pond, bog, and wetlands that help purify the local water. It has a 1.2 kilometre trail which we explored, chased chipmunks, and watched the various waterfowl including Blue Herons and mallards. We saw cormorants (either the Great or Double-Crested) near the tidal power station–they were huge.

Zander seemed to perk up and Highway 201 through Annapolis Valley is known for little traffic==so Sunday we left. It had rained the night before, but was overcast but no rain during the morning. We headed up the valley toward Wolfville looking for a motel with a warm bed, hot shower, and dry surroundings. The first section had some pretty steep rolling hills. I am not sure whether it is the myasthenia or what, but my legs seemed strong with my lungs struggling. We walked a number of the steep hills, which Zander loves because he gets to sniff so many new smells. However, some of the downhills were great and we reached 41 kilometres per hour on one! We had lunch at a small, old barn where they gather apples during the harvest. Passed a small store with apple jam–self-serve, leave the money in the till! The road passes mostly small, moderate homes. A number of people stopped me to ask about Zander’s seat, talk out of curiosity, or just waved. Eventually, I had panoramas of the Annapolis River, fields of crops, huge family gardens, vineyards, and apple orchards.

Bridgetown came in two hours–so I am averaging about 12 kilometres an hour, which is about the same average of my B.C. trip. And that includes breaks and walking time for Zander. It is part of the average on regular roads–the downhills provide a higher speed that increases the average over time. We got here before the rains started again. We were able to buy some food at the grocery store–all the restaurants were closed–and settle in for the night. Zander slept snuggled close to me; I think constantly being stimulated by new smells exhausts him. Supposedly, the weather will clear tomorrow–even if it is just overcast.

I felt good and energized when we reached Bridgetown and thought I could go on for a couple of more hours. Clearly, Zander’s seat makes these types of hills much more difficult–if not impossible even at the lower gears. And he gets very antsy after a couple of hours–so it is not clear to me how we negotiate longer distances. He seems to enjoy many of the aspects of camping, is comfortable being left in the tent alone, and explores when he is put down to walk alongside the bike. But some down days seem necessary for him. The next couple of days will be short, but we will move from place to place each day.

These “little towns” or villages along the Annapolis Valley include one grocery, one Home Hardware, post office, community centre and/ore recreation facility, a handful of restaurants, and some tourist shops surrounded by homes. Bridgetown has its own varieties of older, Victorian-like homes with more moderate or one-story apartment complexes. It does have a golf course which created a fair amount of business before I arrived Sunday afternoon. But by late-afternoon Sunday, all food places but Tim Horton’s were closed.

We will push on toward Middleton and Greenwood on Monday looking for a pet store and some kibble for Zander. Hopefully, the sun will actually appear, although I see thunderstorms are predicted for Wednesday.


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This is the true wine of astonishment. We are not over when we think we are. Alice Walker

This trip might have gone as planned if my legs were stronger, the dog carrier didn’t prevent recruiting the main glutes, Zander enjoyed long hours on the bicycle, and the iron infusion provided more strength and energy. These are not, what Zen Buddhist call, the “thusness” of this trip. Since it was about putting bicycle, Zander, and his human together, the plan had to change–and it did! Along the way, great gifts have appeared as we explore what can be or the thusness of a purple Surly bicycle, Zander, and his human.

We picked up the Rails to Trails segment in Timberlea thanks to Howie who lives in the house with the wishing well. As we were getting trailer and bike back together, it became apparent that the quick release for the trailer had lost a nut. Had it come off during a downhill, Zander and I could have been badly hurt!! But it did not, and I had a spare. So, off we went! This section is well-maintained by volunteers and meandered through residential areas, lakes, and small wilderness parks. Fiddleheads, perfect Christmas tree pines, and various types of spruces, fir, tamaracks, and a multitude of flowers in white, yellow, purple, and blues lined the trail. Since it is an old railroad, the grade was easy and a good way to become comfortable with bike, trailer, and Zander in his seat. Even with stopping every hour for treats, walks, and tricks, Zander grew tired of the cycling. The downside of the trail is none of the downhill runs that add speed and increase the overall average daily speed. It was a long day, and we stopped short of our intended destination.

Hubbard’s Beach Campground was the first and only campground in Hubbard. I thought the road would be DOWN to the beach–it was but not before it went up over a hill! I would learn that this may be the norm in Nova Scotia. It is a cross between a campground (mostly RVs) and residential RV and trailer park near a beach. The owner was very nice and allowed me to camp near the washrooms, which was helpful as I began to train Zander to wait in the campsite while I was away. The community itself is a mixture of retired couples and working families who just come from Halifax for weekends and summer holidays. I never did learn what “Duck Drop” event during summer was, however! We stayed an extra night, because Zander was more tired than I the next day.

Morning walks included seeing a Great Blue Heron, sea gulls, and learning that the Haven TV series was filming an episode in a house along the road. I would see notices for a “Haven Contest” in all the Hubbard stores! At night, we would hear loons, and a local woman told us we could see a huge loon in the bay–but we never caught sight of it. I wasn’t sure how I was going to shop for food–and then realised I could use it as training.

The cheese came out
Zander tied by the bike in the shade
Basket by the cashier–placed one or two items
Out to Zander. “Good Boy!” Several pieces of cheese as treats.
Repeat the process until done. Pay the Cashier.

Out to Zander. “Good Boy!” More pieces of cheese.
“Let’s go!”

We got a roast pork taco (corn masa soft taco) from St. Lawrence Restaurant. You would miss the place if you were driving too fast (and the speed limit is only 50 km at this point), because the sign is small and it’s on a side street. The place looks like a small house or store recently renovated for a small house-like kitchen. The owner-chef uses local meat, and the roasted pork taco (with rice and beans) was amazing.

Hubbard's Barn and "The Dube"--The little Fox horn is our mojo for the trip

Hubbard’s Barn and “The Dube”–The little Fox horn is our mojo for the trip

He sent us to “The Barn” where the Hubbard Farmer’s Market is held. They are also trying to expand it to a gathering place–horseshoe pitches, old-fashioned dump-truck toys and sandbox, and plenty of picnic tables and benches. We had a delightful lunch in the warm sun with the cool ocean breeze.

The trip to Graves Island Provincial Park was 22 kilometers. This section of trail is not nearly as well maintained and has a higher ATV usage. There are sections that are washboarded or simply loosely-laid gravel. I never thought I would be grateful for ATV use, but it was their tracks that had sometimes packed a trail through the gravel. For the parts of packed white sand-gravel, the dark pine, spruce and tamarack turned to lighter evergreen trees with some areas that looked cleared or blown down. Beautiful lakes along the way with a picnic table nicely placed at one. For the last several kilometres, I was simply focused on keeping the bike on the narrow trail in the rocks. We arrived at East River without mishap, and then cycled the highway for the first time. In parts, there was a narrow but adequate shoulder. However, here is where the small but steep hills kicked in. The placement of his seat between handlebar and my seat post prevents me from recruiting the main glute muscles or standing. So, even at my lowest gear, these hills can be a challenge to pedal. Some, I simply had to walk–especially when I got “chain suck” (the chain gets pulled into the gears the wrong way). Again, the mishap could have been disastrous, but I had slowed down, easily stopped, and figured out how to unstick it.

The paradox of Nova Scotia–one I both love and am frustrated with–is the lack of signage or local knowledge for these smaller parks. I had a general idea of how many kilometres, but many locals actually can’t give any definitive distances for local sites (hence the mis-directions in Bayers Lake). So, not yet a kilometre on the highway and a sign appears “Park.” Is this the park I want? Down the road to find out, “No, it isn’t.” But no one can tell me how far it is down the road. So, I return to Highway 3 and keep going. No signs. I wonder if I am on the right road. A gentleman taking out the trash appears, and I asked him. “Down the road about a kilometre. Up the hill.” At least I am on the right road. As I pedal way, he adds: “Oh, it’s two more hills.” Got it! At the top of the first hill, which is the biggest, a sign for the provincial park. The next hill is smaller and than a sign “Graves Island Road.” Is this the road to the park? So, I turn down this one. I stop a woman out for a vigorous walk to double check. “Of course it is!” she replied. I will later understand given the park is really used by mostly local people with few visitors beyond the Maritimes.

Entrance Sign to Park--1 km in from Highway 3

Entrance Sign to Park–1 km in from Highway 3

Graves Island Provincial Park is a true gem of a park. It is a drumlin formed by glaciers some 15,000 years ago connected by a causeway. It was developed by early German settlers for both homes and a camp for under-privileged children in the 1920s. The area became a park in 1971, and the daughter of the last owner (Noah Graves) watched the old house and camp dormitory burned down for park development in 1967. She wrote in a letter: “While watching the old house burning it seemed to me the fire itself was very much like life itself, burned for awhile, then a puff and its all over.” The top of the island is for RVs, and tent sites ring that area lower down. Added features are benches for watching the ocean under trees, picnic sites, a small beach, and areas to launch sea kayaks. On weekdays, it is almost like having the island to itself. Loons serenade us at evening, during the night, and early morning. The stars are amazing–the Milky Way is clearly seen late at night. I had forgotten how much light pollution we live with. Chester is an easy 4 kilometres away with grocery store and laundromat.

View of Graves Island Provincial Park Looking East

View of Graves Island Provincial Park Looking East

However, 22 kilometres was still long for Zander. The trip across the island to the West Shore has lots more challenges, longer distances, more and consistent hills, fewer campgrounds and services, and hotter temperatures. The less services, the less gluten-free food and the more issues for me! Met a woman from Chester on our early morning walk who suggested getting shuttled across the island–maybe by the Freewheeling guide group.

So, we are in the process of re-thinking the trip plan. I’m going to miss seeing some of that country by bicycle. On the other hand, the priority was nurturing a travel partner and that takes compromise and adjustment. And this jewel of a park is the perfect place to re-orient and enjoy a transition. Although Nikki Giovanni was talking about ageing, it applies here as well:

“Embrace the change no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new worlds your in and take advantage of it.”

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Walk upon waking–slow, smelling the happenings of last night
Breakfast, intensely watching the squirrel
Napping while owner eats, washes dishes
Walk to recycle centre and check out the garbage
Snooze while owner changes clothes, brushes teeth
Slow walk along trail, rolling in fishy stuff, rolling for glee, startling a squirrel
Checking for squirrel when returning to campsite
Owner and Zander nap
LUNCHTIME–Cheese for tricks and some peanut butter
Owner reads or writes in journal (BORING!); Watch people, dogs, and maybe a squirrel
“I LUV this tent cuz I can see out of it!”

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Watching for people, dogs, and SQUIRRELS.

ANOTHER WALK!!! YEAH!!! Roll in more fishy stuff! I smell real good now!!
Snooze on park office concrete floor while owner does email
Another nap and a massage from owner
Dinner time! Tip over food bowl just in case the squirrel likes kibble!
Watch for squirrel while owner eats, does dishes
Another walk!
Bed time. Owner checks all my black fly bites and another massage. I get to the sleeping bag first for prime position. Owner has to wiggle around for whatever is left over!!!

Zander Sleeping Bag

Tuckered Out

Karen: I am busy trying to to go with the flow–and finding some room in the sleeping bag!  Zander enjoys meeting people, settling into one place. He is now comfortable staying in the tent as I wash dishes, take a shower, etc. He is getting more at ease waiting whileI shop, but he still sits “at attention” eyes focused until I return. Long cycling days are a strain, but long downhill rides are fun for him! The trip is shaping up very differently than planned with unexpected gifts and surprises. More to come from Zander and me!

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