Thursday Tidbits

Posted on August 22, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Happy Trails

 

And… they’re off and running!

No. That’s not quite right.  It should read, “I’m off and walking.” This Saturday, August 24th, I will start my walk around the Cabot Trail. I am looking forward to the physical and mental challenge and all the time I’m walking, I’ll be thinking about my friend, Simone MacDonald who suffered a severe stroke a month ago. I know that she would dearly love to be doing a trek like this as she was an avid walker.

Over the past few weeks, I have tried to nail down some accommodations along the way with not a whole lot of success. This has not deterred me in the least. I’ll figure it out as I go along.

On Saturday, I plan to leave the Red Barn in Nyanza and head west through the Margaree Valley and then north through Cheticamp, Pleasant Bay before reaching Cape North. I’ll cross over to Neil’s Harbour and then onwards to Ingonish, Wreck Cove, the North Shore, St.Ann’s, Baddeck and back to the Red Barn. The Cabot Trail is pretty well exactly 300K. I have been asked how long I expect the walk to take. I think it will be somewhere between 10-14 days. There are some very big mountain climbs which will undoubtedly slow me down but I am looking forward to the challenge.

So, if you happen to be driving around the Trail in the next few weeks, honk as you go by. For those of you more adventuresome, you might want to walk with me for a day.

I plan to continue accepting donations for Simone until the conclusion of the walk. So far, you have generously donated $3,100 of my $5,000 goal. Thanks to all of you who did e-transfers, mailed cheques or stopped me on the highway during one of my recent training walks. Keep up good work. If you want to support Simone with her recovery, you can send an e-transfer at lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com or mail me a cheque at 8-9B Court Street, Antigonish, N.S. B2G 1Z7. Of course, you can track me down on the Cabot Trail and give me a donation in person!

I have received a copy of my new book from the printers. It is a prototype. It needs a bit of tweaking but I expect it to be available by the end of September.

Have a great weekend.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on August 19, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Xanadu? No. Fairmont in the fog.

 

“But I would walk 500 miles,

And I would walk 500 more.”

I’m Going to Be (500 miles) The Proclaimers

When I have absolutely nothing else to talk about, I always come back to my old standby – walking. You’re excused if you want to go and check your twitter feed or pat the dog rather than waste five minutes listening to me harangue about fitness, the glories of nature and meditative walking.

But what if you actually moved on to paragraph two and realized that this post was actually about peeing in the woods?

There. I knew that would get your attention.

I didn’t walk 500 miles on Saturday but it sure as hell felt like it. As a final tune up for my Cabot Trail walk next weekend, I decided to tackle a fairly onerous piece of real estate. To my Camino friends who happen to be reading this post, the Cabot Trail is a famous stretch of road covering 300 kilometres in the province of Nova Scotia where I live. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It has mountains and valleys and the ocean is never far away. It is a tourist mecca. Most sensible people travel by vehicle, motorcycle or bicycle. Very few people have actually walked it. I have never been accused of being sensible.

My walk on the weekend is often referred to as the “mini Trail” as it has many of the characteristics of its more famous cousin. I decided that I needed a final test before heading into the highlands next week. There is one stretch of the Cabot Trail that has no amenities whatsoever for 43K. It is mountainous, spectacular and barren. The only lodging that I’m aware of is a bear’s den.

The weather forecast for last Saturday looked absolutely perfect. The day time highs were supposed to be around 23 with virtually no humidity. I headed out at 5:30 a.m. and it was downright chilly for the first few hours. Banks of fog shrouded the hills and vales of Antigonish as the sun rose majestically. So many people never get to witness this, not being early morning risers but if you want to get a glimpse of paradise, check it out some day – just in case you don’t make it there!

By late morning, it was noticeably warmer as I headed into the teeth of the walk, a long, slow 20K climb from Malignant Cove up to the Lighthouse Road just before my final destination at Ballantyne’s Cove. If you ever want to test your endurance, try this walk someday but make sure you have a support vehicle carrying beer and ice cream. I knew this already but the folks living along the 245 and 337 are kind, generous and warm people. Some of them opened their doors for me so that I could rest and hydrate. From my many years of running marathons, I know that drinking plenty of fluids is crucial. When it’s hot outside, you must pay attention and keep drinking water to avoid heat stroke.

One one of my stops was on Xanadu Road. “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan; a stately pleasure-dome decree”. (Samuel Taylor Coleridge). I was hosted by good friends where I rested and ate my lunch. I don’t quite know how we got on to the esoteric topic of peeing in the woods but my host suggested that this might be a good title for a future book. “Peeing in the Woods. Rediscovering Nova Scotia by foot, on the Cabot Trail.” (With apologies to Bill Bryson!) When you’re drinking a lot of fluids, frequent trips to the woods are required, especially when you’re 68. Actually, at my age, you don’t have to drink very many fluids before heading to the john!

I would discover later, that the temperature nearly reached 30 degrees. I admit that this may have been the most difficult walk I’ve ever had. As I struggled over the last 5K, my thoughts were about two people struggling with serious health problems. I decided that my struggles were quite minor and stuffed self- pity into my knapsack.

After 20K of uphill walking, the last 2K is on a severe downslope. I thought about curling myself into a ball and rolling down the hill to the wharf at Ballantyne’s Cove. I was treated to a great feed at Fish ‘N’ Ships. They serve the best fish and chips in this part of the world. For the first time since I was a kid, I had a neapolitan ice cream. I am so grateful to Karen for supplying sustenance at the end of a long day.

I stared blissfully out at the ocean and realized that life was good.

“For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of paradise.”

Kubla Khan. Samuel Talyor Coleridge

Have a great week.

P.S. I will continue to collect donations for Simone MacDonald until I finish the Cabot Trail walk. We’re inching up to $3,000. My goal is $5,000. You can send me an e-transfer at lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com or send me a cheque by snail mail at 8-9B Court Street, Antigonish, N.S. B2G 1Z7

 

 

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on August 15, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Nice looking corn crop

 

Bye- bye, so long, farewell,

Bye-bye so long farewell,

See you, in September,

See you when the summer’s through”

See You in September. The Happenings

 

“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer,

Those days of soda and pretzels and beer,

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer,

Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer.

Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer. Nat King Cole.

 

“Slip slidin’ away, slip slidin’ away,

You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip slidin’ away”

Slip Slidin’ Away. Paul Simon

The mornings have a distinct chill in the air. You can almost feel and taste it but September is lurking like a thief in the night, ready to steal our warm, precious summer days.

Summer was slow arriving as is becoming the norm. But once it arrived, it has delivered a beauty. We have been blessed with an abundance of warm, sunny days and just enough rain to keep the wells filled and the crops growing. And the flowers. I can’t remember seeing so many beautiful flower gardens as I walk the roads of the town and county.

This has to be a banner tourist season in Nova Scotia. I haven’t seen this kind of highway traffic in decades.

The three songs listed above are among those that remind me most about summertime. They’re all oldies, just like me and each one brings back so many memories. I can already hear you groaning. “PLEASE don’t go on one of your nostalgic trips about the good old days” but I simply can’t help it because those WERE the good old days.

But wait, there’s more. (The old tagline from K-tel!). Do you remember these summer themed favourites?

Summertime; Summer in the City; In the Good Old Summertime; The Boys of Summer; Summer Nights; Hot Fun in the Summertime; School’s Out; Summer of ‘69; Summer Breeze; Summer Love.

I wonder which one of these gets stuck in your head for the next few days? Let me know.

This has been a summer of grandchildren, ice cream, strawberries, beaches and walking. I used to love all the seasons equally but I must confess that summer is still at the top of my list. Sitting on the deck at the cottage, embracing a warm summer breeze while looking at the ocean is just about unbeatable… unless you add a cold beverage to the list!

But now, in mid-August, I can feel it “slip slidin’ away”. The “back to school” flyers clog our mailboxes and the signs are up for the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition. September harkens.

My Cabot Trail walk harkens as well and by the looks of things, I may be sleeping under the stars. I’m reposting something from a few weeks back. I am trying to find accommodations in the following places, preferably in someone’s house where I can gather some stories. People tell me that Cape Bretoners have a few tales to tell!

Day 1 – North East Margaree

Day 2 – Grand Etang

Day 3- Pleasant Bay

Day 4 – Pleasant Bay *

Day 5 – Cape North

Day 6 – Cape North **

Day 7 – Ingonish (close to Dino’s former restaurant)

Day 8 – Wreck Cove (nearest to the base of Cape Smokey)

Day 9 – Tarbot

Day 10 – Big Harbour exit on the 105

Day 11- Pick up at Red Barn

*My most pressing need is on Day 3 and Day 4. There are no amenities or homes from Cheticamp to Pleasant Bay. I need to find someone from pleasant Bay to pick me up on French Mountain and take me to Pleasant Bay. If I can’t find a home there, I will stay at the hostel in the community. On Day 4, I need someone to take me from Pleasant Bay back to French Mountain where I stopped walking the previous day. I will then walk to pleasant bay and stay there once again at a home or the hostel.

Day 6. I’m thinking of taking a rest day in Cape North after walking for two days in the mountains. I know my quads will need a rest. I’ll either stay at the hostel or with a family if they’re brave enough to have me.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. I’m going to tackle a BIG walk on Saturday from home to Ballantynes Cove via North Grant and Malignant Cove – 43K with lots of hills. If you find me lying on the side of the road, resuscitate with cold beer!

 

 

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