Fall Canoeing in Hampton 

In the warm weather, we had a little Thanksgiving paddle on the Kennebecasis.  The girls had fun in the mud during our stops.

Rubber boots anyone?

Always a serious bunch.

The maple trees that line the river are spectacular.  The girls also had fun peering in all the otter homes.

Backpacking Cape Chignecto Park

If you are looking for a short backpacking trip that is challenging and scenic, look no farther than Cape Chignecto Park in Nova Scotia.  Cape Chignecto Provincial Park is on the western tip of the northwestern Nova Scotia, jutting out into the Bay of Fundy and Minus Channel.  The park has a 52 kilometre loop, leading from West Advocate through to Eatonville, passing by the western tip of Cape Chignecto.  Cape Chignecto Park is almost across the Bay south of the Fundy Footpath — but can offer a much more scenic view of the Bay of Fundy shoreline.  The section between Cape Chignecto and Eatonville is one of the more scenic hiking routes in Nova Scotia, as the trail follows the zig zag cliffs on the Bay.

Typically, the trail is completed in a three day, two night trip.  There are backcountry campsites and cabins available for hikers.  This year, we revisited the area after our previous trips about 20 odd years ago – with one trip doing the trek in 18 hrs.  A fair bit older now, we split the difference and made it two days and one night, deciding to stay in a cabin near Bald Rock.


Big Bald Rock and Isle Haute

Making the trip in two days was not without an arduous first day of over 30 kilometres, this time traveling counter-clockwise to Eatonville before going south on the coast.  We landed at our cabin at dusk and settled into our pre-made shelter with thanks.   The cabin was well-built, tidy and had a comfy covered front porch and table for cooking.

On our second day, we finished the trip going from Big Bald cabin through Cape Chignecto, Refugee Cove and Mill Brook.  In remembering the previous trips in this area, my mind had conveniently forgotten about the significant hills in between!  After making our best effort of the hills, we chose to end off the trip with a short beach walk back to the Red Rocks headquarters. (There is only one area where you can travel between stops along the beach.)  By revisiting the park after such a long time, it reminded me of the hiking treasures that are just next door waiting for adventure.


Going straight up out of Refugee Cove


The iconic rock in Refugee Cove at low tide

Summer Baseball

Rebecca and Abby tried out our local softball this year with much fanfare.  They received gloves from their aunt and uncle and were eager to learn and try out practices and games this summer.

The league set up their age group with three teams and both girls were on separate teams.  As the summer went on, they had the chances to play against each other.  What made it even more fun was that often Abby or Rebecca would be pitching when the other was at bat.  A quiet but fun rivalry ensued between them, both maintaining serious faces while meeting on the field.  Abby showed her determination by pitching frequently and constistently putting the ball in the right spot.  IMG_1285


So, the season went on for two months and eventually were left with the final week of baseball games and an all day tournament.  Abby’s team was a bit short handed and ended the day early.  Rebecca’s team played on and had an incredible last game.  Rebecca was pitching and teammate Logan on first base were on fire getting outs each inning.  Rebecca was cheering on her team and the other team at the same time, just having fun.

To our great surprise, at the awards after the game both girls received recognition. Abby received most improved player and Rebecca received most deserving player.  The coach talked about how Rebecca was such a positive person for all.  We were proud of both girls!


Canoeing the St. Croix River

Canoe-tripping or traveling by canoe is a new thing for the MacDonalds.  We recently started canoeing with friends and have discovered it was a fun way to camp in the outdoors and which also allows us to bring most of our camping gear.  While certain canoe routes require portaging gear, sections of the St. Croix River give the opportunity to travel a distance with little of the gear lugging.  A car shuttle is however required as its a one way trip.IMGP4546

For this trip, we have been learning of the St. Croix from Rheal’s family, who have been tripping this river since they were kids.  The St. Croix River is known to be the International Waterway Paddling route, as the Canada-US border follows the river from Spednic Lake in mid-southwestern New Brunswick all the way to the Bay of Fundy at St. Andrews.  The St. Croix River is also Canadian Heritage River and along with Passamaquoddy Bay was the first place of French colonization in North America during the 1600s.  The river was used for fishing, logging and travel between countries for centuries.  The water levels are now controlled by release of water from the Spednic Dam, which will allow higher levels throughout the summer.

With that history in mind, I was looking forward to our trip introducing our children to the area. Our  trip involved a section of the river that is made up two 4 to 5 hour days of paddling , from Vanceboro through to Scotts Brook, a campground at the end of ‘highway’ 745 closest to Beaconsfield and Canoose.  (‘Highway’ also means dirt road this far west in NB.) The river is managed like a park by the St Croix Int’l Waterway Commission with maintained backcountry campsites with pit toilets and groomed sites in some areas.  Throughout the area, there are strict rules with the border and its ‘one country camping’ policy.   It is useful to take in some of the trip planning information found online.  You can also check out the water levels prior to your trip.

Our sections of the river involved faster water with ‘rips’, some ‘dead’ water areas with slow current and the highlight of the trip, ‘Little Falls’ — a long steeper set of fast but passable rapids.  We traveled from Vanceboro to Halls Brook on our first day.  With the hour and a half car shuttle, we had a later start at 1130.  (There are shuttles available to make the most of your time, although with cost. )

The girls immediately went to fishing, trying out their suggested bass lure.  Not a minute after casting, Rebecca was chatting and realized she had a fish on the line.  With squeals from both girls, and everyone thinking we had tipped in the first minutes of paddling, I helped her lift the 11 inch fish into the canoe.  The goal of the rest of the trip was now set: how many and how big can we catch! We traveled the rest of the day enjoying the scenery, seeing the American camps from the water, fishing and swimming where we could.  IMGP4573

I’m learning a lot of paddling tips from Rheal and Justin.  Mostly on navigating the river, following a route and reading the water in front of you.  Kayaking rivers does take a lot less planning, but a loaded canoe is certainly a challenge in faster water.

Our second day is planned well, with knowing that Little Falls are up ahead, to start the day off with a challenge that may involve getting wet.  When starting from Halls Brook on the second day, on a two day trip, there’s less consequences for tipping when your gear can dry off at home.  Its also a bit prudent to tie in your equipment and portage the loose items just in case.  We all made it down the falls without tipping and even had a surprise when Justin’s 3 1/2 year old could be seen enjoying the view from the front.  After watching everyone go down one at a time, the adults and kids then had their fun swimming the last section of rapids.

After Little Falls, we continued our trek downstream — most notably in the calmer areas between rips, Rebecca wanted to ‘treasure hunt’ for items that the previously tipped canoers may have not strapped to their boats.  Last month, Justin found an expensive waterproof speaker in the waters south of the falls.  So, as we slowly made our way, Rebecca lowered herself in the water and ahead of the boat swimming the river and diving down for possible treasures.  After reaching the end of the slow pools, she climbed in for the rest of the trip.

Learning the techniques of moving the boat with a single paddle and paddling techniques such as quick thrust to turn the boat around a rock were great fun practicing.  The girls did have their own roles in helping us stay afloat by leaning into the rocks we went against, calling out ‘sleeper’ rocks among others in the river and helping out paddling.  It was those times we were working as a team in a family boat, how neat is that! We still were hung up on a few rocks due to my route finding skills.  (The photo does show the looks on the girls faces as we were just getting stuck! 🙂 )

The second day ended at Scott’s Brook, a beautiful camping area.  We made plans to revisit and do a farther trip to Loon Bay, another day of canoeing further south.  Thinking of extending the adventure, I had been thinking it would be neat to have the time to make a week long trip of the whole river.  For now, the girls have settled in on their new ‘tradition’ of doing a yearly trip to the ‘StCroixes’ as they say.  I can’t say I’ll mind.


Canoeing the Nashwaak River

In our preparation for the ‘kids trip’, an overnighter on the St. Croix River, Rheal and I took our kids down the Nashwaak River for a half day paddle.  

The Nashwaak runs southward from Stanley to Fredericton.  The section we did was between Nashwaak bridge and Taymouth , making about 3.5 hrs paddle with a lunch and swim.  It’s a one way trip, so we needed to shuttle our boats between the ‘put in’ at the Nashwaak bridge and the ‘take out’ at the church in Taymouth by the Tay river junction.  The Nashwaak Bridge put-in is on the west side of the bridge, south of the road.  

It was our girls first faster water paddle and they took it with gusto.  Our pivotal moment was when Rebecca saw Rheal standing up in the canoe and wanted to do the same down river, trying to stand on every flat section.  She loves paddle boarding , so it was a natural transition.  Abby was our rock spotter, pointing them out most of the time! 

There was a few mandatory races, all lost by the MacDonalds.  We will need to practice our heaves.  At lunchtime, there was a hot meal courtesy of Rheal.

The girls took the rapids in stride, and were whooping at each little drop. Wait till the St. Croix we said!

Happy Canada Day

Great news this Canada Day and fitting for Lawrence and M.C. , as we celebrate the change of ownership of the Brook Village Grocery.  After 20 years, Dad turns over the keys to the new owners, Tim and Karen.  Dad and Mom and will have many great memories to reflect on as they begin a new stage in their life!  Happy Retirement to Lawrence (Grandpa & Dad) !

In New Brunswick, rain did not slow down the Canada Day celebrations in Belleisle. Rebecca and Abby got the chance to be on a float for the softball teams in  Belleisle. 

It wouldn’t be Canada Day without a piper !  Excellent tunes which the kids loved.

Happy Canada Day to everyone from our lil jr Firefighters.  

Goings on…

Lots of things going on lately.  Rebecca had her first double digit birthday on May 20th.  She was excited to spent it with family who made a surprise visit to spend the day with us.  They spent the days playing outside whether exploring for geocaches, going for walks, enjoying a camp fire, and just fun with their cousins.  She also had her favorite dessert, chocolate cake!




The same weekend, we also took a nice paddle on the fully flooded Belleisle Creek. Rebecca took her own kayak (thanks Mike!) and was mildly tired at the end of the 2 hr paddle.  Both girls wanted to explore the bird viewing platforms, which were now ‘islands’ in the flooded trail area.



The girls and I recently discovered a new play spot at the high school in Belleisle.  We’ve found a neat track around the rugby fields for them to ride their bikes on and basketball and/or road hockey courts to play on.  The variety is fun on a sunny day.  IMG_0384.jpg


We were lucky to find out about softball in the Belleisle area as well.  Both girls play on the same night and are incredibly excited about it.  Rebecca has a few good hits and Abby has skills for pitching, with the concentration needed for it as well.


Abby is progressing really well with her horseback riding.  She is excited to go every second Saturday — and usually meets friends of hers who take lessons at the same time.  She really shows how confident she is with animals and the drives back and forth from the stables are always filled with excited stories about what she did or how the animals were acting for her.  It was especially exciting that she had been riding ‘Bo’, who had only been broken a few weeks earlier.  It was a big thing, knowing he had only been ridden by two others before.  This past week, she was taken on her first outdoor ride.  The scenery is beautiful on Dickie Mountain.


Rebecca and Abby had been preparing all spring for a play production of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.  Rebecca had a small role in the play portion and Abby’s class had musical contributions.  As always, they were so cute preparing and proud of their accomplishment of doing the play.  Both were naturals at it, given all their practice at home!


Also as of early May, Sheena has been madly busy with her return to school and working toward a social work degree from the University of Victoria via distance education. She had applied in the new year for the degree and was accepted to the program. Because its an online degree, she spends her time ingesting knowledge through her laptop in the form of all things internet, podcasts, readings, lectures, and more.  It seems like deja-vu for both of us at times.

Lastly, Willow has been showing her age lately.  She has been quite excited to swim though, which seem to be easier on her hips and legs.  Here she is swimming at the Cuts.  Not quite sure how she doesn’t mind the cool water!


Paddling the Millstream River

The Millstream River flows through the southern New Brunswick communities of Berwick, Lower Millstream and Apohaqui, and is a tributary of the Kennebecasis River. The Millstream River is classic rural New Brunswick, passing through farm fields and cow pastures and old maple trees that line its banks.

Try putting in at the Jones Memorial Park in Apohaqui. The river can flow steadily during spring, but it is possible to paddle upstream and enjoy the return trip.  Watch for a few sweepers along the way, you need to keep your eyes forward in the turns.


Weekend Travelling

The girls and I travelled to Cape Breton on the weekend.  Although it was a short visit, we felt like we did so much.  Other than depicted below, the highlights included visiting the neighbours kids for trampoline and zip line fun; walking to the community park ‘on their own’; seeing their first black bear while on the highway to Margaree; making seaglass art for Mothers Day; and visiting Grandpa at the store.

On the last point, both girls were cute to immediately assume their working roles behind the counter.  This was especially neat for them as Grandpa is in the final stages the sale of the Brook Village Grocery.  The new owners are to start at the end of June and we may be seeing more of Grandpa starting in July!

The photo of the concert was taken at the Inverary Manor in Inverness.  Mom and an aunt and uncle were among those who sang Beatles tunes on Sunday afternoon.   It was an excellent renewal of the old songs!