29 July 2012

FASCC 6 and pride parade

had some sushi and then headed over to the pride parade.

youd think i purposely planned to put these two events together on the same day just so the title entry could seem a bit dirty, but you would be wrong. we hadnt had an official FASCC meeting (at a new-to-us place) since before X was born. as luck would have it, original member, matthias, was in town for "holidays" and to visit his girlfriend (louise, who is also french). they were available for a weekend lunch date along with another local french friend, pauline (who louise had recently introduced to sushi for the first time). these were our lunch companions. so it really was a franco-american sushi club of canada!

anyway, we ate at the wasabi house. the service was quite slow, but the offerings were tasty. nothing that blew me away (the spicy tuna was rather mild, which doesnt impress me), but it was a solid sushi locale in halifax. win! they also offered fresh wasabi, which was a first for me. prices were decent, especially the lunch specials (even offered on weekends! and 10% off if you paid in cash). sharing the meal with some friends was also very nice. these french people we have located in halifax are so wonderful, and X loves them all. :)

 
(matthias and louise; pauline)

after food, dave dropped us (me and X) along the pride parade route (and then parked at home and walked up and tried to locate us...he never did). where we were (near the end-ish of the parade route) it took nearly an hour after parade start time to get to us. and when it did, it was a little disappointing. the crowd and floats were very energetic and its clearly the citys biggest draw (one of the biggest pride parades in canada actually), but the pacing and distance between floats, and the shear number of ho-hum floats made it impossible to stay until the end of the parade (when all the most bad ass floats finally arrive).

 
(the two best floats. dave took these pics. the first was supposedly very cool in person, cloth panels with people pushing out on them in various poses; the other was an update of last years coolest float, this year they did madonnas "hung up")

24 July 2012

Tall ships festival

the tall ships festival was on for a few days here, we caught the last two days of festivities. 

im still not quite sure i understand the rules about what makes something a "tall ship" but it seems to be a big, impressive deal around here. actually, the last tall ships festival occurred july 16-20, 2009...ending a mere 2 days before we rolled in to town for the first time. people were still buzzing about the damned boats even then. and while i will say it was neat to see all the pirate ship-esque boats (the actual "pirates of the caribbean" boat was here, as well as, i guess, the "master and commander" boat), i wouldnt say it was the coolest thing ive seen in halifax. 

sunday (7/22):
after dinner we walked the harbourfront to see all the docked tall ships. i will say that that waterfront comes alive on summer evenings. its impressive, even more so compared to the amount of people that can be found on the waterfront in the evening in january. anyway, the tall ships were all of various lengths and styles and they were neat to see up close. there were even two from bay city, michigan (appledore IV and V).

the festival was such a draw they even had a "kidzone", aka an entire parking lot filled with inflatable funhouses. we bought a few tickets and X and i bounced in the "finding nemo" house and dave and X rode the train (the train conductor was easily the LEAST happy to be at work person ive ever seen). after the kid zone we walked further north along the water and saw a lot of child performers (dancers, drummers, violinists), and then the crowds got too thick for me. we turned around and debated waiting for the 9:20p fireworks. we ended up getting a good spot along the docks, in view of the firework barge so we attempted to wait it out...problem was, we waited 20 minutes beyond start time and still no fireworks. X was incapable of waiting any more, so we went home. enroute to our beds, we almost got rundown by a maniac in a truck. got my adrenaline pumping.

 

monday (7/23):
today was the day the tall ships were setting sail for good and leaving the harbour in the form of a boat parade. so, after lunch, we went down to check it out. most of the ships were heading to other nova scotia destinations before heading on to other ports or back home. we got there after the parade had started but the timing was great. there were tons of big boats still in the queue, and with all the sails up, i felt like i was seeing the end scene from "goonies". most of the tall ships fired off cannons every few minutes too, so it was an interesting version of a parade. smaller pleasure boats were also out, as well as some yachts. lots of the working boats were out and about too (police boats, pilot boats, tugboats, navy boats). every nautical sector seemed to be showing off. there were even helicopters getting fancy over the water.

  

23 July 2012

Camping & cottage fun in malagash

combined cottage life in nova scotia and camping this weekend. so lovely.

daves boss and wife have owned their cottage for 20 years. its on the malagash peninsula (2.5 hours north of halifax) right on the coastline of the northumberland strait. they invited their research group(s) up for the weekend and most everyone said yes. really, youd have to be silly to say no. it was also a nice way to ease ourselves into camping with X. with a fully equipped house just steps away, it took the guess work out of that "first time" experience.
  

saturday:
-packed. ate breakfast in the car. made a lengthy odds-n-ends stop at the gas station (note: do that the day before next time!). finally got on the highway. X watched videos until we got to earltown for a sugar moon farms (maple syrup farm) visit.
-the sugar moon farms restaurant (serving pancakes, syrup, bacon) was hoppin but the retail area was weak (we thought it would have had more). so, we walked the lovely trail on their property instead.

 

-once enough X energy was burnt off, we got back in the car to drive the short distance to the lovely town of tatamagouche. we tried the charming train station inn but they didnt have dairy/soy-free stuff. :( so we drove down to the foodland grocery store and parked. we saw next door was a place called the "dino wagon" and thought we'd give it a shot. good, cheap food that was basically a food cart with outdoor dining. they even had raspberry sorbet for dessert. while "dining", we heard a lady saying she was from st clair shores, michigan. hilarious. tatamagouche was definitely an upper michigan kind of town, buzzing with life in the summer, yet still friendly, quaint and relaxed. no one would drive this far off the main highways if they werent looking for a little r&r. i loved the town!

 
(trains at the train station inn)
(lunch at the dino wagon)

-after picking up some items at the grocery store, we did the last bit of drive up the malagash peninsula to the cottage. they had some nice property: decent-sized cottage, open green space off the porch, screened-in gazebo, wooded privacy all around, and a private beach (aka mud flats). the tide was up when we arrived, so people swam. a bit later the tide was down so the kids squished, splashed, ran, and jumped in the mud. we watched hermit crabs racing around and found other critters. the mud flats were messy to be sure, but so much fun. X was the last to come up to get ready for dinner, she loved the muddy beach so much. for dinner, she chowed down a chicken breast and two slices of salmon, leaving me hardly any bites. thankfully the men cooked all manner of animals (salmon, shrimp, chicken, pork sausages...cow was the only one missing), so i could get a bit more food once she was satisfied. later X seemed to get a bit of a grumpy tummy, though it was hard to tell if it was the salmon or just from gorging. we milled around outside until the bugs (mosquitos and no-see-ums) had devoured half of my butt (no joke more than 12 bites on my left cheek alone). the province is under a fire ban because we havent had rain in forever, so we didnt get to do smores on the fire. :( and thus, it was time for X to go to bed. it was slow going in the tent but she didnt protest, and finally closed her eyes. she slept better than expected overnight, though i definitely found her in some random positions when i would wake up periodically. i had a headache and went to bed shortly after X and missed seeing a fully darkened night sky, free of city lights. :( dave stayed up chatting and boozing until im not sure when (among other things, he imbibed a local apple schnapps, similar to the french calvados, from new brunswick).

 
(dave and his boss, chris)
 
(mud flat fun)

sunday:
-had breakfast with everyone on the porch
-made another exploration of the beach (during mid-tide)
-then X started whining about wanting to go home. we packed up the tent and headed back.
-stopped in truro (thankfully, X slept on the way there). we played in the towns victoria park until we needed to look for lunch. we went to a nice health food store and found some X-friendly snacks but the girl choked back a laugh when we asked if any other restaurants were open in the downtown on sunday (we had the same problem in the town 2.5 years ago). so we got back on the road and headed home.
*summary notes: X and car driving went well this time. "camping", in general, went well. however, the bugs ate.me.up. ive never felt so abused. thankfully dave and X fared well, what the hell was i exuding that made me the target? normally im the one who stays relatively bug-free. ugh.

* link to the full album of pics from the weekend *

14 July 2012

Wi, oh wi, didnt we know about this lake before?

found a new-to-us, gorgeous, swimming lake within 20 minutes of home. gah! 

ever since we first drove over that way three years ago, we have noticed cars parked on the shoulder on a particular stretch of coastal road. the area is unmarked and near private homes so we didnt know what to make of it. finally, this summer, curiosity got the better of us and we looked the spot up on a map and saw that a good sized lake (williams lake) was nearby and presumably the draw of all the motorists. and today we finally decided to park there ourselves and explore. armed with snacks and bathing suits, we made our way down the steep rocky trail that took us straight to the lake edge. the lake is shallow and deepens gradually but is quite rocky. there is no sandy beach area by any means, but it was definitely a well used lake. it appears that people just strip down to their suits, put their stuff in a pile among the rocks, walk right in to the perfect temperature water, have a swim around the lake and walk back out and up to their car.

the lake surroundings are really neat. there are no houses on the lake, its all forested. the water sits in a low, shallow bowl with the forest rising up all around it. it feels like a secret protected spot, except that you share it with other people. everyone seemed to co-exist and yet find peaceful solitude at the same time. i loved the ruggedly serene atmosphere. people were swimming for exercise, floating in tubes, making their way out to one of a couple craggy islands, sunning themselves on boulders. as a teenager i would have loved to have had a spot like this. it was safe, it was easy to get to, and i definitely wish we would have found it sooner. X loved it. she waded out with dave, climbed boulders, jumped from rocks into the water and had a blast. dave floated out and relaxed a bit and i just soaked the whole place up. as we were leaving, a lady climbed out of the water and mentioned she had been coming to the spot for 20 years. unfortunately a developer has bought the roadside land and will be building houses soon. its likely that the trail/lake access will be cut off to the general passerby. total, total shame.

*there are no pics because our camera took a swim in the ocean recently, courtesy of my clumsiness. :(

08 July 2012

Say "i do" to the royal tattoo

after watching the canada day/tattoo parade 3 years in a row, we finally got tickets to the actual nova scotia royal tattoo show. Xs first mass entertainment experience.

"the tattoo" is basically a military/musical pageant interspersed with historical scenes (the queens diamond jubilee, titanic sinking, and the war of 1812 this year) broken up by dancing/comedic bits. the historical scenes were a bit cheesy but the rest of the show was quite entertaining. X was riveted for the 1.5 hours we were there. though the gun/cannon shots were a bit loud, she didnt cry.

the opening military musical pieces made me teary-eyed. something about uniformed people donating extra time and energy to bringing a part of their profession and its history to the civilians. its very moving (thus the thrust of the whole purpose of tattoo...military pomp and pride). aaaaaand the highland dancers with bagpipers made me cry. bagpipes always make me cry, i think its due to the major respect i feel for the players dedication. plus, its just a very emotional instrument. the pipers and dancers together also imparted an overwhelming energy. again, i appreciated that they were keeping this form of celebration alive, and i could almost imagine what the pipers and dancers would have exuded at true scottish festivals from centuries ago. their harsh landscape becomes lovely for a precious few months a year and to join clans and make time to put away work and hardship and celebrate life together must have really been a hell of a party. then, later in the show, there was a choir made up of widowed wives, fiances, and girlfriends of fallen soldiers. can you say waterworks? oy. thank goodness X was on my lap and couldnt see me being an emotional mess.

we left at intermission (there was still another hour to go!), but we had seen tons of stuff. im glad we got to go before leaving halifax. military pride was certainly oozing out of every pore by the time we left. the ticket prices are a bit high, but i would still recommend the show to anyone with the chance to see it.

*found a youtube video of the finale from this year, in case you are interested.
 **sidenote: apparently the friday night performance of tattoo included a real life wedding. two tattoo performers, one german and one local, met a few years ago at tattoo and wanted to get married during the show. cute! thus, the title of this entry...