from cape breton, nova scotia

Help the needy.  I just went to my blog to consider writing something and there was still a header picture of snow on crab apples.  Since it’s almost the end of June, I’d better get with the program and update things a little-in more ways than one.

Our family is taking our dreamed of trip across Canada and down into the eastern states.  We’re one week into four weeks on the road. It has been fun and exhausting.  I feel a mixture of excitement, fatigue, extravagance, irritation, thanksgiving, and quite a few other emotions every single day.

At the moment, our three small children are sacked out after running along trails on this mountain we’re staying on in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  That name has a romantic sound to it.  Cape Breton.  I think this may have been the sweetest day of vacation so far, I wrote in my diary.  Maybe it was one of the sweetest days of my life.

Dan, Alec, Victoria, and Bryant took the 6 hour ferry to Newfoundland today, just to say they were there.  They will walk the streets of Port aux Basques, take pictures with their fancy-for-Martin-family cameras, eat some fish, and get back on the night ferry to arrive in North Sydney, Nova Scotia again at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.  Dan & I did the same ferry 18 years ago on our honeymoon and I didn’t relish the thought of doing it again.  Not that Newfoundland isn’t beautiful or that the ferry is terrible or anything.  But we have traveled So Hard in the last week.  A great alternative was for me to stay here in Nova Scotia with the three youngest. This morning I took a long bath while they watched cartoons and then we went walking these cool trails the resort we’re staying in has through the pastures and woods of this old farm on a place called Hunter’s Mountain.  They ran so hard and picked so much flora and fauna of Nova Scotia, the fauna being the bugs we brought back with us.  We came back with leaves and lupines and birch bark.  Natalia wrote letters to her friends at home on bark and we colored over our leaves to make pretty patterns.  We ate lunch and Natalia organized a little church service, with Andre leading I Said the Donkey for an opening number.  I took a short nap and now they’re all 3 sleeping themselves, which is quite, quite blessed and unusual.  I know I should wake them so they sleep tonight.  But I can’t resist the bewitching quiet.


I should fill up this post with pictures, but the good ones are on the fancy-for-the-Martins cameras and they are in Newfoundland.  Besides, I am feeling lazy. 

So far The Big Trip East is breezing along as planned.  We are putting in hours and hours of driving and just taking in a few highlights of a few major cities or places of interest. 

Day 1 was spent on the road to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where my sister Alta and her husband Dennis live with their two children. The cameras that are not here have some great photos of Day 2–building huge block towers with the cousins and good times at a museum.  Alta made us fabulous food too.  Dennis and Alta’s place is always a wonderful, welcoming  spot. I can’t think of anywhere else where I’d feel as free to stay in my pjs till noon.

Day 3 was a very long one through Manitoba and into Ontario.

Day 4 was a very long one through Ontario.  Dan’s goal is that we dip our feet in each of the Great Lakes on this trip. Day 4 gave us some wonderful views of Superior.  The children get into conversations like replacing heart with stomach:

“He died of a broken stomach.”

“He’s such a kind boy, bless his stomach.”

“Songs from the stomach…..”

And so on. And on.

We drive all day, try to get excited kids settled down to sleep in a motel after doing things like eating pizza at midnight, get up the next morning, and drive again. 

Day 5 involved driving across the border from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario into Michigan and touring the Soo Locks.  Dan did that as a child and wanted to relive it. It was quite grand. That was the day the barbecue sauce from Arby’s spilled in the car.  A flip flop would not be found and was finally discovered in a pile of dirty clothes stashed away in a suitcase.  We met a nice couple and their little girl from Traverse City, Michigan.  We found truth in the saying that Canada has 9 months of winter and 3 months of construction.  Lots of delays made everyone cranky.  That night we slept near Ottawa and I stayed up till after midnight doing laundry because the nice hotel we had had a handy guest laundry room.  Yikes.  We wear a lot of clothes.

Day 6 was Ottawa day.  We toured the fair city of Ottawa, trundling eight of us through very busy streets, where a rib fest was happening.  And protests too, someone said.  We didn’t see any protesters and I was kind of disappointed.  Tori and I hung onto our veils for dear life in the top of the double decker bus we were riding in.  I loved the majesty of the grand old stone Parliament buildings and  felt patriotic about a country so open to diversity.  Driving in downtown Ottawa was a nightmare for Dan.  The driving wasn’t as bad as trying to find parking.  The farmer was very happy to leave the city, while the ladies in the tan suburban with the white luggage carrier would have been happy for a few more hours to eat at a fancy eatery or visit a few fine shops.  We were stared at in a polite Canadian sort of way.

We saw Montreal and Quebec City only in passing.  I would have loved to see more of old Quebec, but one cannot do it all.   There was lovely strip farming along the St. Lawrence River.

Here in the Maritimes, we’ve found warm and friendly people. Dan’s foreman at the sawmill in Alberta comes from Nova Scotia.  His mom lives here and we looked her up yesterday.  The dear lady had food galore made for us when we arrived.  Pies and cakes and bread, baked beans and scalloped potatoes, biscuits and tea and pop for the children. We also visited our friends, Joe and Nicole and  Hope and Taylor.  They gave us a kind welcome, a tour of their ranch, and fresh chocolate chip cookies and pizza. 

We spent one rainy night in Prince Edward Island and hope to return tomorrow.  The weather forecast is good and there is a nice little cottage by the sea waiting for us.

Is this boring you badly?

Liesl picks every wildflower she can get her hands on.  All three of the youngest think the carpet sweeper here at our cabin is beyond awesome.  They’ve been fighting off and on all day over who gets to run it.  Clearly they’ve never seen one before. 

My pessimistic side feels like things have been going amazingly well, so something bad will soon happen.  I dream of minor things like car trouble or luggage being stolen from the top carrier (where a disappointed thief would just get Mennonite Sunday clothes).  I dream of major things like Bryant falling off of a grand Newfoundland cliff or a car crash that kills Dan & me and leaves our children parent-less.

Mostly what I feel is grateful. 

I also want to say that if you see that we have stopped to see or meet up with someone that we don’t know as well as we know you, OR if we drive close to where you live and don’t stop, there is nothing premeditated in the negligence.  I would love to stop and see all of my friend within 4 hours of where we travel, but it’s  So our choice of who we actually see is very random and unpredictable this time.

That last paragraph sounds presumptuous.  SO not the intent. 

That’s all for now. Sorry if I sound like some kind of renowned world traveler.  A lot of this could bore you to tears. Good night.






4 thoughts on “from cape breton, nova scotia

  1. Totally loved your post and I’ll be watching for more! Our family dreams of a vacation like you are on only we want to hit the western part of the U.S.
    Sleep well!

  2. I’m so glad your trip is going so well! your children will always remember this. I love how happy they look in the header picture.
    Also, “We were stared at in a polite Canadian sort of way.” made me laugh. I can relate.

  3. Love love this. It sounds like a marvelous trip, the day of squabbles included. 🙂 I hope everything continues in a wonderful fashion and there are many more things for you all to stare at politely.

  4. Love reading of your travels. My DH dreams of a trip such as that and it gives me the willies thinking of that many hours of travel with littles. Maybe once they’re teenagers. 🙂 so glad your trip is going so well!!

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