Home is still home…

I’m just now getting around to posting about our holiday back in Harbour Breton this summer and it was everything that we had anticipated, it was a great trip all around.  We took each day as it came and as on the fly as it was we actually got a chance to do everything that we had set out in our minds to do.  Our goal was to make sure to see everybody and do a few things that we used to do when we lived there ourselves, simple as that.  It’s been about three years since we travelled home so we wanted to make sure to make to the most out of it.

One of the first things that I did was take a quick drive by the home that I grew up in.  It feels weird now returning home without my old house to visit, the house although virtually the same had this unknown feeling about it, like my chapter and the chapter of my family there had been finished.

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I took a long look across the harbour, so many memories came rushing back, for a moment it felt like I never left, everywhere I looked evoked emotion.  The rolling hills with the calm shoreline created the perfect backdrop to my moment of reflection, it was nice and a great way to kick off the visit.

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The trip home was a drive and then some so for the first night we mostly just talked, got caught up and enjoyed each others company.  Family gatherings are a cliche without trying to be, you all pile into a common room of the house, energy all around you, everybody talking over each other, we were home.  Kids tugging at your shirt tales, dogs barking at every thud, food coming from every angle, there was a controlled chaos.  We talked until the early morning hours but it was getting late and there was a whole new day before us.  We all began to turn in when it came time to delegate rooms, we snagged the room with the superhero sheets, my inner nerd rejoiced.

A highlight of the trip for me was the fact that I did manage to get to borrow a bike and get two bike rides in, I was so happy that worked out, something else that was on my trip home bucket list.  The first one was an impromptu ride with my nephews, they loved every second of it and I was glad to have the opportunity.  A flood of memories came back as I cruised the streets like I did as a kid, it was surreal, I could almost feel myself back there.

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We were’t sure how long we had for this spur of the moment adventure but you know what? I was too busy reliving my childhood to care, with the kids leading the way we were now heading to the beach.  I must of went down that dirt road a million times as a kid, it was a great ride down memory lane, the trail was not letting me down, what a ride.

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About a quarter of a ways we ran into my uncle in law who is a very talented photographer, we did the stop and talk and he asked for a photo op so we got our picture taken, it’s the one you see below, by the way here’s a link to some of his other work.  With a short walk across the beach we were on our way again, there was just one last leg of the ride to go.

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Bike ride, check, now we were about to take a boat ride for a boil up.  We were feeling quite spoiled as guests and it was only getting better, we all climbed into my brother in laws’s boat and he proceeded to pull away from the dock.

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As we sped down the harbour, with smiles all around, I couldn’t help think of the time I would do the same with my grandfather as we ventured out fishing or beach combing the shoreline.  The two dogs, Max and Major were loving it, you could tell they really enjoyed getting out in the boat and we were glad to be tagging along.

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It was decided due to the wind that day that we would opt for an alternative spot to pull ashore, this gem of a location was second to none, we landed on the north side of Jersey Harbour and right next to the M.V. Home.

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I took a walk with my littlest nephew Brandon and we went berry picking, the berries were everywhere.  It was like our own personal berry drive thru, blueberries to the right and raspberries to the left.  Because of the views all around us, I couldn’t help but to take a moment and reflect upon the fact that people had once lived here some time ago, I was once told that horses once roamed wild and galloped free on the banks of the shoreline, it was indeed a different time, a time I’m sure somebody misses everyday.

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We had scallops by the shore, roasted wieners by the fire and marshmallows because come on, you got to have marshmallows.  We spent the time combing the beach, exploring the wreckage, and skipping rocks as far as we could.

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It was so peaceful there, the ocean  was swaying in and out teasing it’s tides and drawing concern the odd moment from the skipper.  Time seemed to have stood still, the air was warm and the smell of smoke was therapeutic in a way, it was like the rest of the world was put on pause.  Sometimes it’s the small things that give you the most satisfaction in life and it’s unfortunate we don’t take the time to do those things more often.

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It was time to pack up and head home, with Brandon assuring that the gas was topped up we began to load up the boat and begin our venture back.  The return boat ride was just as beautiful as it was when we left, getting to see the harbour again from that perspective as we steamed along was a moment we surely will not forget, day two proved to be quite rewarding.

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What’s one thing that you got to do when  you get home?  Give up? You got to visit the local “best fries south of everywhere” restaurant.  You know, that place with the secret recipe for gravy, no trip home is complete without that.  My fiance and I took a seat at a table that was in a place that look exactly like it did when we were teenagers, it was pretty nostalgic. We had the place to ourselves and just talked about our trip up to that point, it was like we were in a time capsule.  After taking a look around and while waiting for our food we started to share old stories of the place, so many memories triggered by the smell of chicken fingers dancing around your nose and it smells exactly the same.  The food didn’t disappoint and it was just as good as we remembered and now we had the visit to the restaurant checked off our list, so far, so good.

Like I mentioned, I managed to get in two bike rides and the second was by myself, the town was my map and I had no idea where to start.  So off I went, I zoomed by the post office, zipped past the bridge that connected both sides of the harbour and decided to head down toward the area where I grew up.  I got off the bike for a second and took a picture of my street where I grew up.  It looked so small, how could twenty or so kids jam a hockey game in place as tiny as that?  The amount of hockey games that took place in the spot pictured below I couldn’t count, but I can certainly recall the Stanley Cup moments we used to relive, good times.

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I biked virtually the whole community and if it wasn’t for dark I would have kept going, I knew I wouldn’t get the chance anytime soon so I was getting my fill.  It was a beautiful ride and it also proved to be quite the workout as well, there was so much to see and I still didn’t get a chance to see it all.

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The bike ride was fun and I got to retrace some of my childhood steps, it was nice to incorporate my current lifestyle into a visit to the small town where I grew up.  It has been maybe twenty plus years or more since I was biking the old neighbourhood, I’m happy that I made a point to do it.

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On the last night of our trip we went to my brother in law’s cabin, it was about an hour away from the Harbour Breton and for us, it was a hour that we shaved off our trip back to Mount Pearl the following day.  The cabin road was modestly marked by two poles that signalled the beginning of the dirt road leading the way to the cabin which was nestled deep in woods overlooking a huge pond, it was a beautiful piece of land.  As soon as we pulled up you could notice the abundance of berries that were ready to pick, I took a bunch with my first swipe, how convenient.

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As the evening drew near and the sun began to set we started to make a fire, the evening breeze was calm, the flies were staying away and there were s’mores in our future.  As mentioned the cabin overlooks a pond that stretches for miles, a loon call in the near distance reminds you that you’re on mother nature’s door step. That night we sang songs and played music with everyone lending their voice to tunes we knew half the words to. The best times are the times that just happen, much like that night, an impromptu song and dance was all we needed to cap off a wonderful retreat.

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There was a certain calm about being off the grid, no notifications prompting your attention, no status updates, no city traffic, nothing at all to create stress, just a quiet that was very welcomed…thanks Travis and Juanette.

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The morning of the last day of our visit the birds were chirping and the smell of the trees filled my lungs, this was god’s country for sure.  I started to imagined throwing it all down and staying in the country forever and living off the land and turning to a life of the bush people, but quickly realised this was me I was referring to.  Though, I can’t stress enough the need for experiences like these, we need them, it does wonders for the soul.

We left that cabin that morning feeling happy, a little hungover, but happy.  We spent a great night in the woods with our family which had put an great big explanation point our trip home, so with all the goodbyes said, we took to the road and headed back to the city.

When we decided to go home for our vacation this year we had no idea what it would be like, but the one thing is for sure we are so glad we did.  The time was spent with family around us, chats of a time gone by and conversations of what’s to come.  I used to say  that home is relative to where you are, now I stand corrected.  Going home to where you were born and raised, you know, there’s a whole familiar feeling that starts to fall over you.  Of course you can make happiness anywhere you live in the world but spending a subtle moment to return to where it all began has proven for us that no matter what, home is still home.

A ride through the neighborhood

Went for a ride today, after work and as soon as I got home.  I was looking forward to it and couldn’t wait to get on the bike, but I needed a change, I had to take a new route to keep me motivated.  First I started off relatively the same and was treating the ride as more leisure than trying to get a workout too. The weather was great, it was super warm, so everything was in place for a nice ride.

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Once I was well on my way I decided that I would maybe bike a little within the neighborhood, maybe the streets would provide a change that I needed and provide some new perspectives.  So off I went no route in mind, just wherever the road took me and if I saw something that I liked I would take it as it came.

Right away I was enjoying the ride, I’m not really a fan of the traffic so I opted to take the sidewalks which provided lots of room and allowed me to focus on my pace rather than the traffic that was screaming pass me as people were commuting about.  To be honest I am getting more accustomed to riding the bike than driving my car, it’s a lot less stressful and you get to see more than you would in a vehicle.

Peddling for a bit I came upon this spot where it looked like a path was leading into the inner park that weaves itself throughout my neighborhood so I was curious as to where that would take me so in a heartbeat I veered left and had no idea what I was in store for.  The trail was much like the one that shoulders my street, lots of playgrounds, foot paths and small bridges that interconnected everything and at the same time gave me more ideas of routes for another time that I am in the area.

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I’m maybe fifty minutes in by now so I start to ask myself if I wanted to keep going or shall I call it and make my way back home, but of course I kept going.  After taking the urban trail way for another short ways I then found myself on the street again but now I had a direction in mind so I took the roadway a short stint until I made it to another park entrance and I was bound for Bowring Park , a very beautiful park that is nestled in the St. John’s, Newfoundland downtown area, it’s rich in history and provides for some of the most tranquil and scenic walks.

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I had made it to the park and it was teaming with activity, kids were using the skate park, there were people playing catch and I was surprised of how many people were playing this new mobile phone app game called Pokemon Go, they were everywhere but eh, at least they were outside.  The park was so beautiful and there was so much that I wanted to photograph but I new my time was getting short and had to start to think about returning home, it was a long way back.

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I had a look around and took some more photos but soon started my journey back to home base, the gas tank was getting empty and by now I was pushing a couple hours.  The way back was and is a bit more of a challenge as there is a slight incline the whole way, I had to really focus to get back to a rhythm after my leisurely passage through the park.

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On the way back I happened to pass this little Syrian child that was walking with his mother, he was so intrigued by me and my bike, almost cheering me on, I gave him a quick thumbs up as I passed him and he smiled back at me surprised by my acknowledgement.  I have to say that he was one of the highlights of my trip, his little face was so interested in what I was doing, my own personal little fan club, awesome.

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I was gone for over two hours and it was a route that was pretty much on the fly but those are the best sometimes, never knowing where you will wind up, I enjoyed it.  It was a great workout, got to see some new stuff and stored a bunch of the trails in the whole memory bank for another bike adventure to who knows where.

Until then

I want to ride my bicycle…

Wow it’s been a long time since my last post, just needed the inspiration I guess and I have just the reason to start writing again.  Soooooo, I got a bike, yup for my birthday and since then I have been biking every chance I get since April, it’s become my new passion. As soon as I got on that bike I was instantly hooked, I was even mad at myself for not getting a bike sooner.  So far, having a bike is a plus for me on so many levels, keeps me fit, helps me de-stress and the big one is that I get to take advantage of being outside.  If you are looking to expand your horizons and your fitness portfolio I suggest taking up biking.

I’ve been using Map My Ride as my primary tracking app and it helps me keep a finger on the pulse of exactly how far I’ve gone and certainly a good gauge as to how long I expect my journey to last. The app keeps track of your workouts and I can say that it’s very satisfying knowing exactly what you accomplished.  Actually for me, the journey is the best part, you can go anywhere, no boundaries and all you need is a direction. There’s this trail way network that runs right along my neighbourhood in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and I have been using that mostly so far as I am getting more and more experienced as a rider.  The  trail way can take you east and it can take to west and then some, there are quite a few attractions along the way and plenty to photograph.

I have been usually hitting about 30K each time I go slowly aiming to get further every time.  You would be surprised how far you are capable of going when you put your mind to it.  Most of the time I find myself not wanting to stop, there is so much to see and so many paths not taken that has continued to keep me curious as to where I will end up next.  

I see a lot of people using the trail way, there’s kids playing in playgrounds, people feeding the ducks, some the swans, there was even a group of people heading out for a canoe ride.  The pond was perfect for it and it looked like a lot of fun, they seemed to be enjoying it, it was beautiful on the water.

It was warm and I really had to focus to get going, the heat zapped my motivation pretty quick but I struggled through and it was ok once I concentrated on my pace. Hydration was key, I made sure to drink more to accommodate for the high temperatures and because I was sweating a lot more than usual I made sure to stay on top of my water intake.

One of the best parts of biking is the way it makes me feel, it’s like the kid in me that enjoys exploring the unknown just takes over and there’s no telling where I will end up.  I always wonder how far I would be capable of going if I really tried one day, the one thing I do know is that I intend to find out.  Anybody can ride a bike and I bet if you took a chance and gave it a shot you would agree, for those who already have biking in there arsenal I hope to see you out on the trails sometime, it’s fun ain’t it?

To close I intend to blog about my trips and I aim to challenge a few trail ways in my area.  I am going to make that a goal of mine for the summer and well into the fall.  I plan to document my excursions and post some pictures to diarize my accomplishments, you’re very welcome to virtually come along.

Happy trails

Ash