July 2010

Road trip!!!

by DaniGirl on July 29, 2010 · 5 comments

in Away we go

What do you do when you and your husband and three kids successfully survive a 3500 km road trip through four provinces?

Give ’em two and a half weeks to recover, then throw them back in the car again and head in the opposite direction!

We just finished a week-long road trip loop through southern Ontario and up the shore of Lake Huron to north of Huntsville and back through Algonquin park. Thanks to the miracle of scheduled posts, I’ll bet that you didn’t even know that I was gone! We left Saturday afternoon, after the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk (which I will blog eventually) and just got back a while ago.

I have a few stories to share and a few million pictures to process, but here’s one that sums up the trip just about perfectly… my brother brought us to this wonderful Tow Mater on the Bluewater Highway on our way into Goderich for a day at the beach:

516:1000 Road trip!!!

Doesn’t it just scream “road trip” and “family vacation”? Mad props to the guys at the Goderich Power Centre and their awesome sense of humour.

More soon, after the laundry and a really thorough cleaning of my darling little Mazda…


When Lucas showed an early preference for the Muppet Show, I was delighted. I could have hours of the Muppet Show on in the background and not only is it not annoying, but I’d actually enjoy watching it with him.

Sadly, his tastes have taken a turn for the worse. He now loves, unfathomably, Max and Ruby. And Caillou. I don’t think there is a more annoying character in television landscape than Caillou. (Although, I used to hate Wonderpets, too, and that one has grown on me lately.)

Time for a parenting poll: what is the most annoying kids’ TV character? Pedantic Dora? Whinging Caillou? Psychedelic In the Night Garden?

What say ye, oh parents of the boob-tube addicted preschool set?


I don’t know about where you live, but in my end of town it has been a crazy summer for earwigs. I have never seen so many of them! And while I am pretty much okay with the usual infestations of ants and even spiders — earwigs? *shudder* I’ve taken to banging my morning paper rather fiercely against the porch wall before allowing it into the house, after more than once leaping up off the couch in a panic as one crawled across me.

We seem to be getting a lot of them in the house, which I’ve never seen before, and we’re getting them in the office at work, too. The jury is still out on whether they bite or not — I’ve heard it passionately argued both ways — but those pincher thingees on their arse ends are more than enough to put them on my “squish at any cost” list.

Do earwigs freak you out? You may want to stop reading now. This is my guaranteed-to-make-you-shudder earwig story. Don’t worry, I’ll understand. Come back tomorrow and we’ll be back to the rainbows and unicorns, no hard feelings.

The other day, I was putting water in the kiddie pool for the boys. They’d been in the pool the day before, and I’d hung their bathing suits on the deck rail to dry. Simon’s had fallen during the night, and was sitting in a heap under the porch swing.

I was wrestling with the hose, so in my defense, I was preoccupied. If I’d been paying attention, I could have easily seen it coming and averted the whole nasty affair. But I wasn’t.

I’ve told the boys I’d help them with their bathing suits in a minute, but Simon is excited about playing in the pool, and sees his bathing suit on the deck. He grabs it and brings it into the house.

(Can you see it coming? It gets worse.)

Beloved is sitting in one of those little Ikea plastic chairs, fiddling with the printer under the desktop shelf when Simon comes in, leaking a trail of earwigs from his infested bathing suit. He hasn’t yet noticed that his bathing suit is practically moving of its volition, and wants Beloved to help him put it on. In the ingratiating matter of children everywhere, does not simply ask for assistance (oh, the many points at which disaster could have been averted) but instead, to get his father’s attention, tosses his earwig-infested bathing suit onto Beloved’s head, where the earwigs rain down like a biblical plague and scurry every which way into my dining room.

(I told you it was gross. Imagine it from Beloved’s perspective, with them slipping into his shirt collar and down his back!)

I was, blissfully, outside, but I heard Beloved’s bellow of dismay and came running. I managed to scoop up a dozen or more, and Beloved caught as many, but he said that at least twice that many got away.

And now? We keep finding them *everywhere*. In the kitchen, crisped in the lint trap, and one memorable night floating in Beloved’s soda. We’ve moved every piece of heavy furniture on the main floor in our quest to eradicate them.

Just about anything else would be tolerable, but earwigs? Ick!


We’ve finally arrived at the last post in the Nova Scotia road trip series, a mere two weeks after the road trip itself concluded. (!)

A few days before we left for Nova Scotia, I mentioned Oak Island to Beloved. I remember learning about the Oak Island Money Pit in school when I was a kid — it’s a mysterious site just up the coast from Lunenburg where they have been trying more or less since the late 1700s to get to the bottom of a mysterious pit loaded with contraptions and booby traps that have thus far managed to foil any potential treasure-hunters. The treasure itself is unknown, but rumoured to be everything from spoils from Blackbeard and Captain Kidd to Marie Antoinette’s jewels to the Arc of the Covenant. (Not much hyperbole there, eh?)

We were intrigued. The site is currently closed to the public, and though we corresponded briefly with a lovely woman from the Oak Island Treasure site, what would have been a very cool private charter of a small boat that would take us around the island with someone who used to be a tour guide at Oak Island didn’t work out. Would have made a great blog post, eh?

But, on our first night in Lunenburg we discovered an entirely different kind of treasure from the sea, and we were instantly addicted to collecting it: sea glass.

Searching for sea glass

Sea glass, also known as beach glass, are small pieces of bottles and other glass items that have been buffed by the sea, sand and salt water until the edges are smooth and the surface is frosted. It takes a decade or more for the sea to wear the sharp edges down. The most common colours of sea glass are the green of wine bottles, the amber of beer bottles, and clear glass. Less common and more valuable are blues, yellows and reds.

When we went to Bar Harbor in 2007, I’d found a few tiny pieces of sea glass and was delighted with them. They’re each about half the size of a pea — just wee grains, really. When I saw in the description of the cottage we’d rented that “our” beach was renowned for sea glass, I figured we’d find something similar and come home with half a dozen or so shiny little bits.

Instead, we found the motherlode of sea glass. It was *everywhere*. The first night, we walked the beach in the briny fog just to explore and found mounds of the stuff. I was wearing cargo shorts and had to hold them up with one hand by the time we walked back to the house, so laden were my pockets with gorgeous chunks of sea glass. The next day, we filled a ziploc baggie. By the time we left, we were filling a small bucket AND baggies with each excursion. (Yes, we are the obsessive family.) And the wonder of it was that each high tide, one at 6 am and the other at 6 pm, replenished the supply.


Lucas showed his first differentiation of colour when he expressed a preference for the “green ones” and would walk up and down the beach with me picking up only green bits of sea glass and then dropping them ceremoniously into my bucket as he declared “another one green one” with pride.

In short order, we became sea glass experts. The amber and green ones are the most common (beer and wine bottles, mostly) with clear also common. Blues and pastels are more prized, and reds and oranges and blacks the most rare. We also found bits of pottery worn smooth and crackled.

Sea glass 1

I read online that it takes decades for the sand and surf to smooth and buff the sharp edges and to give the glass the characteristic frosted look. I’m fascinated by the idea that for some reason, the tides pull glass to this particular beach and not one just a few kilometers down the shore. So cool to inspect the pieces where you can still see some of the decoration and speculate from where it came.

Sea glass 2

We collected so much sea glass thatfrankly I’m not sure what to do with it all. I’ve put some in a glass vase in the living room to remind us of our trip, and given some to my mom. I put some in another glass container and put it in my window at work, and I have yet more still tucked away into a ziploc baggie upstairs. I could sell it — it fetches a pretty price on etsy for crafters. Or I could keep it and make sea glass jewellery myself. In, um, all my spare time.

Beloved and the boys and I were so enthralled with our daily beach combing in search of sea glass that we debated the merits of quitting our day jobs and simply living in the summer house, collecting and selling sea glass online. There’s that much of it!

Our trip to Nova Scotia was amazing in so many ways, but the sea glass was the most unexpected and the most delightful of all. And we’re already making plans to go back. I’m just not sure if we can wait until next year.

Edited to add: So many of you have e-mailed me asking about the location of our secret stash of sea glass that I thought I’d be nice and share the location here. Happy hunting!!


I still have a couple of last posts to write about our Nova Scotia road trip a few weeks ago. It must be a good vacation when I can’t quite leave it behind, eh?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my first impressions of New Brunswick in general and Fredericton in particular were not favourable. The day we spent driving through New Brunswick was miserable with rain pouring down so hard that the car hydroplaned regularly — an intimidating experience on the best of days, augmented considerably by the rolling hills and 110 km/h speed limit. And then, this happened:

Near Fredericton, we accidentally took an off ramp we weren’t supposed to take, and then took the same off ramp back into Fredericton again when trying to get back on the Trans Canada. Then we needed to turn off anyway when the low-fuel light came on and I was about to burst my own tank for need of a bathroom. We turned down a country road in search of a promised gas station that was no-where to be found. That’s when Simon gacked all over himself. It was the lowlight of an otherwise spectacular trip.

It would take some serious rehabilitation to redeem my (albeit brief) impression of Fredericton after that. Lucky for Fredericton, Sue was on the job. Sue, the blogger formerly known as MadHatterMommy, is one of my oldest and bestest bloggy friends. She’s witty, smart and kind; one of those people whose writing makes you a better writer and better thinker, too. I’ve admired her for years, and one of the first things I did when planning out our road trip to the east coast was to touch base with her and see if we could arrange a meet-up.

She hosted us for a delightful Sunday brunch on her picturesque back porch, where Lucas ate his body weight in the fresh berries she put out.

Brunch with Mad and Miss M

Doesn’t that look like an advertisement for a perfect Sunday morning? The boys were instantly charmed by Miss M, and as soon as we were done eating Miss M brought the big boys inside to show them around and share her toys. They held an impromptu costume party, where my boys came dressed as dufuses.

The kids had a little costume party.  My boys dressed up as dufuses.

Meanwhile, Lucas engaged himself watering Sue’s flowers. Isn’t the light gorgeous here? I swear, if I lived in that house I would never leave. It’s like a little island of serenity!

499:1000 Watering Mad's flowers

We popped over to the park across the street for a bit to shake out a few of the sillies before we piled back into the car for the long afternoon’s drive to Rivière-du-Loup. Simon and Miss M discussed the mysteries of the universe with deep contemplation.

Simon and Miss M

And, far too soon, we loaded ourselves rather resignedly back into the car. Not before one last photo op, though.

Mad and me

I have to admit, even though Sue and I long ago passed that threshold from Internet acquaintance to friend, I was shy about invading her place early on a tranquil Sunday morning. When you admire someone as much as I admire Sue, it’s nerve wracking to actually meet face to face. By the time we left, though, it felt like we’d been friends for years (well, I suppose in fact we have!) and we all agreed we wished Ottawa and Fredericton were a little closer together, to facilitate a few more playdates.

Mad and Miss M

Thanks again Sue, for a wonderful morning and for redeeming the entire province of New Brunswick for us. Any time you’re near Ottawa… 🙂

There’s one last post pending in the blog series that lasted three times as long as the vacation… our adventures in treasure hunting. I’ll put that one up soon!


Thanks to everyone who played along on the Canadian Family magazine subscription giveaways this week, and thanks for your positive feedback on the guest post series over on their Family Jewels blog. It’s been a lot of fun!

As promised, I drew the final winner from all entries received during the week. The last Canadian Family subscription winner is Zoom of Knitnut.net. Yay!

I’ve so enjoyed the Family Photographer series that I’m going to revive the category on my own blog. Stay tuned for more — and I’ve got another giveaway coming up this week, too!


Saving the best for last: Photography Q&A at Canadian Family

16 July 2010 My 15 minutes

I was a little stumped as to how to wrap up my week of guest posts over at the Family Jewels blog on Canadian Family’s site. I’d managed on each of the previous four posts to stay more or less on theme with a particular facet of photography, but had so much left to say […]

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Breaking news: *Another* guest post and *another* Canadian Family giveaway!

15 July 2010 My 15 minutes

I really like today’s guest post over at Canadian Family’s Family Jewels blog. It’s more relaxed and less technical than my “elements of composition” posts and has tips and tricks on practical things like how to get a good group picture at a family gathering and how to get your kids to smile without looking […]

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Wheeee! Another winner, another guest post and another Canadian Family subscription to give away!

14 July 2010 My 15 minutes

It’s day three of my week of guest posts at Canadian Family, and today I put up the most technical post of my Family Photographer series over on the Family Jewels blog: 10 key elements of composition. And yay, we have another winner of a subscription to Canadian Family magazine! Congratulations to AnnBac9! Would you […]

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Another guest post at Canadian Family, and another subscription to give away!

13 July 2010 My 15 minutes

Congratulations to Judy of Mother, Wife and More who won the first of five subscriptions to Canadian Family magazine that I have to give away this week. I really love what she wrote in her comment, too: The best tip anyone can get for photography is to remember not every photo will turn out, and […]

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