Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Did ya miss me?

And suddenly it's 2020...

Not really sure what happened there and it's been a while since I've written so thought I'd drop in :)

So it's been about two months of 9 Round and I'm still really enjoying it, so I figure that's a good sign.  Also starting to feel better overall which is awesome :).    It was 13 deg out when I went to the gym this morning.  Had an amazing workout and after was super high so took Sasha out for a run in the rain.  Only about 1.5km but was fun and silly and good for the soul.  Except….  I’ve come to realize I’m not actually young or fit anymore and while I’m feeling super high and amazing right now, I have a feeling getting out of bed tomorrow will be a challenge.

I actually think this might be why I'm enjoying it so much...
I did a round of Core de Force the other day (for those new to the loop - amazing at home fitness plan that focuses on MMA style moves.  Very similar to 9 round except you're only punching shadows.  It is, 100%, what led me to believe I might enjoy this).   Anyways -- I didn't have quite enough time to make it to the gym and back but did have enough for a 30 min home workout.  I wore the Pulse monitor from the gym, so could see what 'zone' I was in on my phone the whole time.  Can absolutely say it's the same quality of workout from a strictly heart rate metric.   What I did find entertaining though was the subtle differences.   I feel way more badass fighting shadows.  I throw bigger, longer, punches.  Nothing is as cool as the superman punch!  lol.  I also hate wearing the gloves, so not having to is nice.  BUT, my hands felt super light without them.  That being said, punching shadows doesn't give *nearly* the same feeling of satisfaction and stress relief that hitting actual bags does.  I also suspect the resistance from said bags probably adds to the physical impact of the workout (at least for punching.  Tbh, I kick a lot more dramatically when I'm not connecting with anything.  I tend to check them when there's contact.   Whereas with the gloves I don't.).  Anyways - just amused me so thought I'd share.  I was pleased to discover the heart rate part though -- that's good to know...

I'm getting into my Spanish novel for the year -- the Never-ending Story.   Haven't seen the film since I was a kid and only have vague memories of it -- enough to know I should enjoy the book.  Not enough to really know what's going to happen.  So far I've only read the framing chapter (eg - the chapter before chapter 1 where he's running away from bullies, steals the book, and settles in to read...).  It is significantly harder than Harry Potter solely due to variety of vocabulary.  Action scenes I'm okay with -- apparently my verb vocabulary is reasonable.   The description scenes are a struggle...  It's a slow process, but I should learn something by the end of it :)   

My Spanish course finishes at the end of Jan.  Our instructor is willing to let us proceed to the next level, but I feel I'm so far behind in my conversation abilities (I passed the last exam amazingly, but we only did one of two conversation tests so the weighting was more strongly on writing which I actually do at the right level).  Most of the time I'm pulling 90s in writing and failing conversation so...  Want to focus on that for a little while and think I'll return to the world of iTalki.   Maybe pick up the B2 course in fall or spring of next year.

Off to Costa Rica in a couple weeks for our reunion trip.  5 years?!?!  Can you believe it?!?!  Yeah, me neither.   Sadly that portion of the country is so incredibly touristy I'm not convinced I'll get much Spanish practice.  But not sad for the 35deg and sunny weather lol 

After 9 Rounds of 9 Round

So I've had 9 workouts at the 9 Round adventure and overall am definitely enjoying it.  I've had two workouts that I would've classed as excellent, one (discounting the first) that was a complete waste of showing up, and the rest are somewhere in the middle.  I am definitely seeing physical changes already, although to be fair, I was so out of shape that *any* program would show difference at the start, so I'm not sure that's a great measure lol.

I love that the 30 mins really is exactly 30 mins.  Some of the trainers are definitely a better fit for me than others, but to be expected.  There's also one station that's always trainer-reliant because they hold the pads you kick/punch.  The quality of this varies greatly depending on the skill and strength of the trainer.   There's one that it's a waste of 3 minutes because she stands too far away to reach and needs a break after every round -- I'd rather just workout against the bag.   Conversely there's one who's excellent and pushes me way more than the bag ever would because he pushes the speed and strength just a little each time.  With him, I'm generally struggling by the end of the 3 minutes.

And yeah - 3 minute sets (with the last 30 seconds sometimes something different) are just about right.   There've been a couple that I've found too short, but as often as not, I'm wiped by 2:30 and good to go to something else ;).   The one that killed me today used the sideways bag and was 10 double punches (both hands together), four shin kicks, and three burpees.   Rinse and repeat.  I was dying by the time the bell rang.   It doesn't sound that bad at all, but somehow...

My rhythm and coordination are improving on all the bags.  I really enjoy the speedball although tbh I think it's the least useful from a workout perspective -- and I suspect I'm not the only one who thinks so because it's last (before abs) and usually paired with burpees or something equally unpleasant.   I strongly dislike both knee and elbow work - I don't have any power, they don't seem to be working specific muscles that aren't otherwise addressed, and they hurt.   Conversely - all the others are all kinds of badass - especially the roundhouse kick.  lol. I'm glad there aren't more mirrors, because I'm quite certain my reality is nowhere near my imagination ;)

I'm starting to get a better feel for the "point" system and could see it being useful. I do find it frustrating at times though as it's entirely heart rate based and if there are too many non-cardio exercises in a row my heart rate drops quickly.   Some days they nail the balance, but some days are almost all strength and that doesn't really work as far as points go.  I do like my email summary, although the app is a waste of bytes.   It's a shame because they could make it something interesting fairly easily.

Anyways - we'll see how it goes, but for the moment, all good.

Be brave enough to suck at something new

Stumbled upon the title quote today and love it.  Especially as it totally fits with my day ;)

So there's a new gym around the corner from me that just opened today - 9 Round (it's a chain, you can google).  It follows a premise of circuit training with -- you guessed it -- 9 stations.  Each station is 3 minutes, with a 30 second miscellaneous exercise in-between.   And what's different is that it's a kickboxing focus.

Boxing.  Like with boxing gloves.  Which I now not only own, but know how to wrap my wrists to support ;).  Hint -- it's *significantly* easier than wrapping a horse's legs *g*.  What's not easier is doing up the second glove while wearing the first one ;).  Also, I learned quickly to remove rings before starting.  Ow.

So the equipment stays the same every workout, but the exercises change daily.

Round 1 is skipping.  How many of you have tried skipping any time past the age of 12?  Lol yeah - way harder, and more exhausting, than I remember.   I distinctly recall skipping for HOURS in Jump Rope for Heart.   Today...   I made it to the three minutes, but had to fight for it.  And that was with "breaks" that were caused by getting tangled in the rope.  The worst was getting it tied in my pony tail?!?!  I honestly don't think I could do that if I tried.   But... Magic ;-P.  I figure my cardio will improve faster than my coordination.

Round 2 is weights -- today's exercise was weighted squat kicks using a kettle ball.  Okay that's a pretty standard exercise, so nothing interesting.

Round 3 is when the gloves go on and a had a smaller ball held in place at about eye level.  It had enough swing to it that I stood back so it wouldn't punch me in the face, but not free swinging.  This one was fun in that today's exercise was just punch with one hand and then with the other.  They showed me how one is theoretically supposed to do this.  My form, I'm sure, was ummmm questionable.  It was fun though and moderately entertaining (read horribly embarrassing if anybody were watching).  While I don't think I actually missed the ball at any point, I definitely struck it well off centre sending the ball bouncing wildly in all directions and a good thing it's literally tied down, and also had challenges with rhythm and timing (eg - hitting the ball as it's going away).

The whole picture is worth 1000 words thing:  Round 3 on the left, Round 4 on the right.
All pictures stolen from Google
Round 4 includes a "normal" punching bag.  I say normal because it's what I, in my completely unknowledgeable state, think of when I think of a punching bag.  Big, solid, taller than me, bag.  It was used for a backward lunge into front kick -- mine kicks were about shin high *g*.  Lol now these I've done before too, just never with a bag.  Added an interesting twist in that if you got the timing with the rhythm of the bag swinging it flowed really well, but if you didn't it was arguably better exercise because you had a lot more push back.  And thankfully my balance is solid so the times when it spun out sideways (cause nobody is surprised I can't kick with any accuracy!) I could stay upright.

Round 5 was a GIANT ball.  lol this one was a series of uppercuts, then duck and shuffle under the ball and uppercuts on the other side.  Again - proper form was demonstrated.  What I did, I'm quite certain did not even slightly resemble it ;).  But moderately entertaining.  And the last 30 seconds was just punch as fast as you can, which was more fun than it should've been.

This needs a person for scale ;)

Round 6 was by far the most fun.  It involved one of the trainers with punching pads -- he would tell me what order to punch in and meet my punches with giant pads.  Fun both because it took my lack of coordination out of the picture -- he accommodated for it ;).  And also because it gave way more complex combinations (utilizing all the punches I'd learned in the previous rounds).  It also ended with a "as fast as possible" in the last 30 seconds.
This looks like fun, but it is not :(
Round 7 I really disliked.  It was a sideways bag and the idea was to bring your leg up underneath it and hit it with knee/thigh.  After about 30 seconds, my hips were killing me.   So random.  Very definitely not supposed to be what was sore from that, but of course I would involve random body parts.  So I didn't get much out of this, because I couldn't get past that enough to work the muscles that were supposed to be.  It was bad - trainer even asked me if I was recovering from an injury?!?!  So pathetic.  Nope.  Just work at an office job and am completely inflexible.

Round 8 I think will be my favourite once I get good at it.  Today was not that day.   It's a tiny ball that bounces really fast.   But today's challenge was to hit it on every third bounce...   I'd get the rhythm for five or six times in a row, but then I'd miss it horribly and take a while to reset.

Round 9 is abs.  Today was just weighted situps.  Nothing exciting and nothing horrible.  Followed by 30 seconds of plank which, I admit, I failed at.  lol ah well, going to say that means I did the rest of it well.

So yeah - this is my new challenge.  Going to give it a month and see if I like it.   Overall, I think there's potential for it to be a good workout -- mine wasn't particularly but that was mostly due to being slowed down due to lack of coordination and needing explanation at each station.  That should get significantly better quickly.  

They make decent use of technology -- I was given a heart rate monitor and stats are on the screen while you're exercising.  The goal is to say in the "yellow" or "green" areas -- which basically means you're working but not at top level.  They also give you a score based on your ability to stay in that area.  The trainers seemed very happy with my score of 80 (I guess target score is 60) but given the lack of cardio beyond the skipping this didn't really mean much to me.   I also got an email summary later that evening which I enjoyed more than I should.   Yeah dashboards :)

The only thing I really don't like is the cutesy culture.  They want everybody to pick a "fighter name" which is so not my thing and that they insist you ring a bell when you finish the round.  And worse, ring once for good workout, twice for a great workout, and 3 times for an amazing workout.   Well not only do I have zero interest in doing this, but I find it aggravating to hear the bell constantly ringing as others finish.  It's a little thing, but it might make the difference overall.

My timing was good as when I got there there were people at most of the stations, but nobody came in after me, so by the end I was the only one in the gym with two trainers.  Slightly awkward, but at least pretty sure they'd catch if I was doing something stupid.

So we'll see.  Go back tomorrow to see if anything is any better on day 2.  Cause you know, coordination improves greatly when one's tired ;)

Virtual Reality getting Real Results?

So I tried boxing in VR (Knockout League)...  And...  Interesting experience...

I loved the name creator -- you pick an adjective or title (Mr, Mrs, The, Wicked, Incredible, etc) and a noun (Princess, Beast, Weapon, Pancake, etc -- yes, pancake was an option.  Yes, I considered it.). Some of the combinations appealed to my sense of humour.   Then a brief tutorial and you're off.

So it's boxing -- like in a ring face to face with someone else trying to hit you.   It turns out that I'm not okay with even virtual people trying to hit me.  Lol.  I was so uncomfortable with it that I had to fight the instinct to physically step back to get more distance from him.

Then, to make matters worse, I'm also not okay with hitting somebody.  Okay - not quite true, once was okay.  But then when he's not quite there, to keep hitting him was not okay.  Especially once his mouth started bleeding.  Ugh.  But the whole "knockout" thing means you keep going.

But -- on the plus side, the game is clearly balanced to skill.  I imagine if I were any good, the characters would fight a lot harder and faster.   Mine took his sweet time telepathing with long windups which hand he was going to use and on what angle, so by the end I knew exactly where to go to dodge and then come up swinging.

Other plus -- it's by FAR the best VR workout I've found yet.  My cardio went way up (maybe partially due to fear of giant people hitting me but hey - result is the same ;). And my quads were sore after from all the dodging, so I'm deeming that a win.

I also discovered that not only can't I block (I either go too early and it doesn't work or too late and it also doesn't work) but in the midst of things, it doesn't occur to me to block.  Hit or dodge are the only two options my brain registers.

Not sure I'm going to keep this one.  Liked the workout but didn't actually enjoy the experience.   Will try it once more and see.   But was definitely interesting to try.

Wonderful Whales

Woke up to a gorgeous morning - sun rising on the water outside our window, boats bobbing in the distance, all round stunning.

Then Mum and I were heading to breakfast and I hear “Lauren Cude” - uh what?!?!   Lol it was Debbie, my ‘barn mom’ from Pony Club days who used to invite me to join her family for holidays (Thanksgiving etc) and who had the most personable horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.   I missed connecting with her in Fredericton, but here she was!  She’s here moving her daughter (former student of mine) to school.  Amazingly small world and what a great start to the morning.

After a breakfast it was off to whale watching.  We were warned it would be significantly colder out on the water so I was wearing three layers and carrying a fourth.  It seemed excessive.  It was not lol.

There were multiple whale watching options but I really believe we got the best one.  Went out on a catamaran, so didn’t waste a ton of time getting there.  But then it was a big boat we could move around and only about 20 people on the tour (half of what they max at - so there was space for everybody to see no matter where the whale was).  The boat had two levels and there was a biologist on each floor helping spot and giving info between sightings.  The captain also had a speaker so would announce critters as they were seen.

We ended up in an area where we saw four or five different humpback whales - several times.  The only reason I know how many there were is because the biologist could tell them apart (and had named them ;).  Part of her job is tracking which whales are where so I guess telling them apart is critical.  Her version of the ten bay TBs in the paddock.  I learned the tail markings are all individual so that was cool.

Anyways - it was incredible!  Some were amazingly close, others obviously farther out.  Also saw puffins and seals.  Got some great photos that I’m looking forward to seeing in big :).  The experts were both knowledgeable and personable and despite the fact that it’s nearly the end of the season, still engaged and enthusiastic. So that was excellent.  

On the ride home we were treated to hot chocolate (did I mention it was *cold*) and chocolate chip cookies.  Win :).  One of the hosts also did a mini lecture about little ocean critters (star fish, crabs, etc) which was not a bad way to pass the time driving back.

Once back on land we ditched a few layers of clothing in the car and then wandered around the very pretty St Andrews for a while before leaving the whales behind for Saint Stephens where we’re spending our last night.

On the way there, we took a mini detour to visit the historical site of St Croix island - where the first European settlers tried to colonize and failed horribly.  And while interesting reading about what they did, I struggled to get past “why tf did you choose a tiny island to settle on right before winter when there’s a ton of land on either side?!?!”  Lol poor life choice clearly.   Was interesting though that it’s an International Heritage Centre - so dedicated by both Canada and the US.

In complete randomness, everything out here is blueberry - blueberry muffins, timbits, pie, tea, beer?!?!, wine,...  the list seems impressively endless.  And while I do enjoy blueberries, esp in pancake form, this does seem to be far more of a Thing here than I’ve ever seen.  Did not feel the need to try a blueberry bath bomb.

Anyways - a quiet evening and tomorrow we head home just ahead of the incoming hurricane.  Got insanely lucky with the weather this trip!  Was supposed to be meh all week but other than damp for our driving day and foggy for the trail it was pretty much perfect.  Today’s weather was amazing - blue skies and sunshine.

Sad it’s almost over but thrilled with what a great trip it’s been!

Foggy Fundy

So today’s adventure was the Fundy Trail.  We had the Park pretty much to ourselves, which was absolutely lovely.  

Unfortunately I’m sure that was at least partially due to the insane fog.  Lol we skipped all viewpoints but did go for a hike to the captain’s graveyard where the fog actually lent ambiance to the experience.

Continuing our drive, we managed to drop below the fog for a bit and went for a walk over a suspension bridge.  There were stairs to a lookout - but we already knew by that point all we’d see is cloud, so we skipped the trek.  The tidal river below was mostly out and the rock bed was a great mix of pale pink, blue, and yellow rocks.  Nature’s gender reveal party!

We continued our adventure climbing above the clouds to where we found sun.  This lead to some really amazing photos - it was a really stunning and unique vantage point.

Here it was sunny and 10 deg warmer so we went for a hike which was gorgeous.  And again - no people anywhere.

Alas, on our trip back down we again crossed through the clouds to find ourselves back in heavy fog.  Slightly disappointing, but was so gorgeous up above that it almost didn’t matter.  Spent some time playing with my camera at a waterfall - making the water freeze or blur and playing around with depth of focus.  We had some time since the vast majority of what we’d planned to see couldn’t be seen.  Even with that though we managed to spend a good five hours there.  Can imagine how long it’d take if the weather was good.  Or if you were waiting for other people.  Or if you chose to do any of the dozen other hikes we skipped ;)

We’re now in St Andrews for the night.  Super cute town and I can’t wait to poke around all the little stores after whale watching tomorrow.   No pics tonight as still very foggy and it’s supposed to be perfect tomorrow.   Also our inn is about a block from the downtown strip such as it is - so we walked in for dinner.  Very cool.  And on the water - we have amazing views from our balcony.  Win!

Lots of driving with a couple mini adventures

So this morning we finished off the Cabot Trail — even in the drizzly rain, it was stunning.  There was a great myst that added to the ambiance of it.

Then we drove through a heavily Gaelic area of Cape Breton - complete with bilingual signs and the Gaelic College.   Really enjoyed poking around some of the touristy places there cause I’ve always been a fan of all things Celtic :)

Throughout yesterday and today was having flashbacks to the days of discmen (dating myself here) as the satellite radio kept skipping, or at times giving up entirely.  Lol really off the grid with no cell and no satellite.  The only reason we got anywhere was car GPS.  Well, that and the fact that there’s really only one road ;).  It’s moderately challenging to get lost following a single trail.

On the way through Cape Breton we stopped for a short visit with my aunt who lives there - including yummy blueberry muffins.  Win!  Lol so that was a nice chat AND she had both her and her daughter’s dogs there so got in our pet fix.

Next up was Peggy’s Cove.  We got there at almost exactly 5:00 - when the entire town shuts down.  So there was no visiting of shops to be had.  I say the “entire” town, but for perspective sake, this is maybe 20-30 houses, of which probably 10 are tourist shops.  It is *tiny*.  Really tiny.

Plus side, the rain stopped and the sun came out just as we got there.  Also since after 5 on a mostly rainy day after tourist season, there weren’t a ton of people there.  Definitely a good number, but if you were patient you could easily get a tourist-free shot of the lighthouse (or anything else).  

I wished I’d had more of my lenses with me.  I had picked my most versatile (and my phone of course) and worked with that.  But with even one more, I could’ve spent hours taking pics around the town and enjoyed every minute of it.  The colours, lighting, and play off the water is just stunning.  Not to mention the giant boulders that are fascinating all on their own.   But we left before the sun set so that I could take a few pics from a lookout we’d past earlier so I was super pleased to get that in.  Esp as the light came on in said lighthouse at that time - I took *many* photos in an effort to capture it (light was rotating) - won’t know till I get home if I was successful.  Fingers crossed!

After that just the drive back to Moncton for the night.  It certainly seems in the maritimes all roads lead to Moncton *sigh*.  About 9h driving all in today - it’s amazing how tired you can get sitting still.   Had fun making a road trip playlist out of Mum’s phone songs lol - mostly from the 60s.  My main criteria were fast, upbeat, something that didn’t annoy me, and the sillier the better.  Got us through a couple hours anyways ;)

Anyways - definitely ready to sleep now.  Night!

The Cabot Trail

Today was good but very long.  An early start to catch the ferry (lol my autocorrect is determined to spell it fairy - I actually love that my world is more fantasy than reality).  On boarding process was quick and painless as was disembarking afterwards - they really have it down to a science.

The trip itself was uneventful.  It was quite chilly w a pretty intense wind that did an amazing job of tying my hair into a giant knot, so we spent most of it inside sitting by the window. Did go up on the top deck at the start and end though and got some great photos.   Also a random plane was flying around quite low and went right overhead, so got some good pics of that too.

Stopped at Tim Hortons to fuel up for the rest of the day - apparently it’s the first Tims after the ferry.  The washroom lineup was significantly longer than the food lineup lol.

Then was off to Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail.  Drove about the first half of the trail today, parts of which are absolutely stunning.  Also hiked the Skyline Trail which due to some faulty map reading we ended up hiking significantly farther than we’d intended lol.  Ah well - tomorrow’s a car day so good to get extra steps in today.  The first half was honestly kinda meh.  Good footing but just bush, no signage, no views, just meh...  but the second half was fairly stunning.  Which at the end we discovered we’d gone the wrong way around.  And it also looks like they’re adding signage etc cause after a certain point there was all the usual stuff you’d expect to be able to read about (and answered some of the questions I’d had earlier).  Sadly, but not unexpectedly, didn’t get to see any moose :(

We’re staying tonight at a super cute B&B - The Island Inn.  Exactly what you might think of if you imagined a maritime B&B, up to and including pretty bright yellow house, cat greeting us on the front porch (although he’s not allowed in guest rooms in case of allergies), and a second floor wrap around balcony.  We had dinner at a similarly epitomic restaurant- mostly seafood although the burger I had was also amazing.  Lots of people even though a tiny town on a random Monday.  And just cozy home style wonderful yumminess, complete w apple pie and ice cream for dessert.  Win.

Looking forward to a sounder sleep tonight!  Tomorrow is mostly transit but hoping to at least poke around in some touristy areas.  

Island Adventures

Amazing, and incredibly long, day today.   Combine that with the fact that I haven’t really slept in days so am somewhat incoherent and definitely incapable of writing concise prose, and imagine how long this blog post might be as a result.  Consider yourself forewarned.

So we started off in the historic part of Charlottetown, which I absolutely loved.  Couldn’t get past the colours of the houses (most of which have plaques with who lived there way back when...) - just stunning, esp with the sun hitting it just right.  Got some amazing photos that someday will get shared.  Today is not that day.  

So we started the day with a scavenger hunt. This was SO much fun.  It gave us a picture of what we were looking for, some info, and the general direction.  Then when we found it, would ask some questions about it that could be answered by looking at the object in question (eg no trivia knowledge required), give us some more info, then send us on the way to the next one.  Occasionally with random challenges like “take a photo of X”. 

So one of my favourite examples - find hotel X, with pic of building.  Okay great.  Once there it asked about the two troublemakers sitting - and sure enough a fun statue.  First was what was interesting about their names; well the informational plaque said they had the same name.  Okay.   So then it said, there’s a party - what time is it and who’s not invited.   Lol so the plaque said who wasn’t invited, but no sign of what time the party started. Mum found that part carved on a slip of paper one of the characters was holding (as part of the statue).   Very creative.

A friend from uni lives not far from Charlottetown so he, his wife, and their very smiley little person were going to meet us for coffee.  Well our scavenger hunt took us right past the coffee shop we were going to meet at about 10 mins before we were going to meet.  Fairly ideal really.   Had a really nice coffee break and catch up chat at Receiver Coffee and then continued on the quest.  There was one building closed for renos but somehow we managed to get the right answer with a “best guess”.  And at least once I asked a random stranger to point us in the right direction.   But all in, tons of fun and just about the right length (it tells you what percentage complete after each one).  Lol in the end we finished with about 15000 points and a new high score!   Now to be fair, I’m not sure how many people have done this one but hey - still good :)

Afterwards we wandered around the touristy area for a while (I got my trip picture frame - those who know will be pleased to hear ;) and then was off to the land of the green gables.

This was a gorgeous drive!  Some really stunning homes and farms.  At one point I commented “Wow that’s gorgeous.  It kinda reminds me of what the views were like in Scotland.” Then not 10 seconds later we drove by a sign for New Glasgow.  Lol guess I wasn’t the only one who thought that!

Anne of Green Gables House itself was as you’d expect - little early 1900s farm house with ALL the floral prints (walls, ceiling, everything) lol. But what they’ve also done is created some really nice walking trails through the areas described in the books so those were great to hike along.   There was of course also the obligatory gift shop, which we browsed but didn’t feel the need to bring anything home with us.   Also lots of photos/historical details/etc to help tell the story - along the trails, in the barn, and in an information centre they’ve built between the parking area and the house.  So all kinds of info if you wanted it :).  We skipped the info centre as it was busy but read most of the rest...

We followed this with a trip to the nearby Cavendish Beach.  This was...  disappointing.   A nice enough beach for sure, but not really the famed “red sand”.  The dunes were stunning and I was overly fascinated w them lol.  There was a moderately interesting looking hike, but it didn’t seem to overlook the beach and we didn’t have time (or tbh inclination) to do the whole thing so we skipped it.  Also everything surrounding the beach was unbelievably touristy and *packed*!  I honestly didn’t think there were that many people on the whole island, not to mention all in one place.

However, since we shorted that, we had some extra daylight left, so we took one of the suggestions from coffee friends and took the scenic route home (which again was stunning) and through Victoria.  This was the most random experience.  A tiny little town with very little in it - pretty but really nothing there, that had a ton of people for no apparent reason.  Lol we poked around some shops, went for a bit of a walk, and had some ice cream.  I also had fun playing with my camera for a bit.  All good.

Eventually drove ourselves back to the city part of Charlottetown (historic part is cool old buildings, waterfront, no chain stores, etc - we even saw a market there today; the rest is a very typical modern city with everything you’d expect) - had a nice dinner and now just sorting out tomorrow’s adventure.

I really loved it here.  Also - extremely jealous of real estate prices.  But pretty sure they don’t get amazon prime ;).  Lol and if the do don’t disabuse me of that notion as it’s keeping me balanced right now.

Seriously though - was an absolutely amazing day.  Still smiling :)

Tell me what you see...

New therapy analysis tool - instead of look at this ink blot and tell me what you see (side note - the one time I tried that, my answers were so far off expected it was as though I wasn’t looking at the same card.  Who’s surprised by this? Lol).  Anyways - instead of the ink blot test, the Hopewell Rocks test...   Today we saw two elephants, an angry mother-in-law, a giant, a flowerpot, women dancing, penguins, Jay Leno, and...  I can’t even remember the others...   And I didn’t come up with any of it!  Lol for just this once I just went along w what everybody else saw.

So yes - today we left Moncton to drive to Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy.  The whole way down we drove along a river.  It took me longer than I want to admit to figure out that the reason the giant but water-free banks were wet was because it was a tidal river.  I know, I can hear teenage me’s eyes roll with a condescending “duh”.  But yeah - I was thinking it hasn’t rained, but that mud is very shiny...  Weird mud?  Right, Occam’s Razor anybody?   To be fair to me, I’ve never lived where tides are a thing, and my little mind only associates them with oceans, not rivers.  But still - gold star to me ;-P

So we get to the Rocks for low tide and wander the ocean floor.  In some ways the experience was similar to the wildebeest migration in Tanzania.  No, I haven’t had anything interesting to eat ;). Remember- my brain doesn’t always see the same pictures as everybody else, but stick with me here and I’ll talk you through it.   Before going to Africa, I’d seen multiple Nat Geo specials that included various clips of the migration.  And yeah, moderately interesting but not necessarily my number one priority.  Sort of a “happy to see it, but not devastated if I don’t” kind of thing.  And then the reality was so mind blowingly beyond anything I’d ever imagined that I struggle to even reconcile how wrong my original thoughts and expectations were.  In this case I actively wanted to see it, it was right at the top of my list of things for this trip, but it was so amazingly above and beyond what I’d expected.  Even though it very much matched the photos, the reality is so much more powerful.  And a ton of fun running around taking photos, finding interesting lines and angles to tell the story, and trying to time it so there weren’t extra people in the shorts (well, except when I wanted them there for scale of course).  It was, in its simplest form, really really cool.

There is, of course, a time limit.  So we were shooed off the beach as the water started creeping its way back up.  We hiked to a couple lookouts, got some food, and then headed down for our high tide kayak adventure.  We got warned that it would be a workout - today’s currents and weather were not conductive to a leisurely paddle, but we were still in.  We got a quick lesson on paddling and steering the two-person sea kayak and away we went.   Took a bit to get the hang of steering, and at least once we were paddling and going nowhere which was less fun.  But other than that it was very cool.  We were at the end of high tide so not quite as dramatic as it might’ve been, but still fascinating to paddle around where we’d been walking only a short while earlier.   We also got to paddle through the rocks  and some areas we couldn’t walk earlier, so yeah - generally amazing.  The guides were great, both knowledgeable and personable, as well as moderately amusing story tellers, so all in it was a really positive experience.

Once we finished up and changed into dry clothes, it was back into the car for the drive to Charlottetown.  I think this was about 2h?  A little fuzzy on time - but involved driving back to Moncton and going from there...  The bridge to PEI is an engineering marvel - it must’ve been a nightmare to build!   And I’m reasonably amused by the fact that it’s free to go to the island but you have to pay to leave - very Caribbean of them ;).  Scenery was dramatically different as soon as we crossed, and the drive to Charlottetown was fairly stunning.  We had absolutely perfect photography light, but it had been a v long day and Mum’s not quite as addicted to her camera as I am, so we just enjoyed the sunset on the drive and went to the hotel - which I think is the nicest one yet.

So yeah - amazing day.  My Fitbit is proud of me.  And maybe that means I’ll sleep tonight :)