Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cape Breton Vacation

October! I can't believe it's actually October already! Where did September go? Better yet, where did the summer go? One day it's beautiful and warm out and the next day it's 10 degrees and cool. Not that I'm complaining, I'm actually one of those people that loves when the temperatures start to fall a little and the leaves begin changing color. My mother hates whenever I say anything about it though because that means winter is coming and she hates winter. I think all Canadians hate it a little bit. I mean, most of us start off liking winter, you know November, December it's all good. Then as soon as January hits and we're smashed with our 10th snow storm of the season we all remember how much we actually hate Winter. Us Canadians seem to have short memories.

Things are starting to pick up at the farm. It's soon time to wean calves, catch cows, do herd health's and get everyone moved into the barn for the winter. But that's for anther post, today is all about my recent trip to Cape Breton! I had 5 days off a couple weeks ago (5 DAYS!!!) so I joined my mother for a little vacation in Cape Breton. Mom had to inspect some of the government wharves in CB so it wasn't really "vacation" for her. I grew up in Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia-which is a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Cape Breton-and although I had been on the island many times before, I had never done the Cabot trail! For those of you who don't know what that is, Google it. It is absolutely breathtaking and so different from the rest of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, we were too early to see the landscape with the fall leaves changed (I guess it is really something) but it was still beautiful either way. I thought I'd take you through our days and share some pictures - there are a lot!

I meant mom in Antigonish around noon on Saturday. We stopped for lunch just before going over the causeway and then kept on truckin'. We were staying in Ingonish this first night so we had a couple of hours of driving. We passed through Baddeck and part of the Bras d'Or lakes. They are freakin' huge! Ever since I moved to NB I always joke about how what New Brunswickers call a lake Nova Scotians call a pond and this just proves my point even more! Like honestly, I think all of NB's lakes could fit in just the Bras d'Or lakes (not really but you get my point). We stopped in Baddeck and walked along the waterfront then drove straight through to Ingonish. Along the way however, I found a nice little fixer-upper that would be a perfect summer home for Scott and I (see pictures below). What a strange little place Ingonish is. I mean, not strange as in bad, but strange in that it was very spread out and there didn't seem to be a village center. It had some very pretty views though! We stayed at Castle Rock Inn which was super cute and ate a HUGE supper at a little pub. It was so good but we both ate way too much!
On the road!

Our first stop - Baddeck

It was such a nice little community
We made it to the Cabot Trail!
I just couldn't get over the size of this lake!
Our first real sight of the ocean, can you tell I miss the water?
One of our MANY stops for pictures...
This is the lovely fixer upper I found for Scott and I...just beautiful!

I had to take a picture of these bikers, all I could think was "you poor souls" as
we had just come up one of the many mountains of the trail
We made it to Ingonish!
The view from our inn


We woke up early and had breakfast at the inn. While eating we chatted with the front desk lady and she gave us some suggestions on where to go and what to see. Our first stop was the Celtic Lodge where we hiked the Middle Head Trail. It was about 6.5km and took us roughly 2 hours. It takes you from the lodge all the way to the very tip of the point it sits on. I was nervous about bears and coyotes (because I'm illogical like that) so mom brought us aluminum walking sticks. That's right, ALUMINUM WALKING fight off a bear...I think the only good it would do would be to trip mom with mine and then run like hell! Just kidding mom, love you!!

Once we got back from our hike I was pretty much done for the day haha. I may be 30 years younger but I am not ashamed to say I was more tuckered out than she was. We then stopped at MaryAnn Falls, which luckily you could drive to. From there we kept driving to White Harbour where we did another small hike. I think this was actually my favorite part because it felt like we were in another part of the world. You can see in the pictures below it looked like something you would expect to see in Scotland.

We then continued north to the very tip of Cape Breton, Meat Cove. Now this was probably the most memorable part of our adventure. I thought Sherbrooke was small! Holy, we have nothing on Meat Cove. As we started our treacherous drive out the ONE ROAD that leads to and from Meat Cove, I actually thought that if we made it there, we were never coming back out. All I could picture was a scene from the movie Wrong Turn; people coming out of the woods looking for fresh meat! Aside from that fear there was also the road itself. It was dirt, paved only where it needed to be, and it was VERY VERY VERY steep and twisty. Every sharp turn was accompanied either by an uphill or a downhill and not only that but the road was literally falling away, down the side of the cliff! Needless to say, we made it, and it was probably one of the best views we had all week! It was beautiful!

When we finally made it out of there we were ready to get to the hotel and off the damn mountains! We stayed in Pleasant Bay at Mountain View Inn and we treated ourselves to whiskey and carrot cake!

We started our day at Ingonish Beach
Photographer Mom
So nice there, even if it was a little chilly
Now on to Middle Head Trail!
Great...coyotes...Not to worry though, we had our aluminum walking sticks...

It was so pretty there!
Next stop, Mary Ann Falls
White Point - my favorite place

The road to Meat Cove

The road to Pleasant Bay
To Mom's dismay, this was the only Moose we saw

Mom had to work so I stayed at the hotel for the morning and did some work of my own. She picked me up at noon and we headed to Cheticamp. We had lunch together at Le Gabriel Restaurant and Lounge then she dropped me off at a coffee shop while she visited more wharves. It actually worked out great because I had no interuptions and got a lot of work done! That night we stayed in Margaree at The Normaway Inn. If you ever decide to visit Cape Breton and do the trail you HAVE to stay there. It was so beautiful. We had our own cabin with a wood stove and they have horses and donkeys there that were pastured right in front of our cabin! We ate our supper here as well and oh my goodness, it was delicious! We had a 3 course meal (we wanted 4 but after the third we just couldn't do it) - appetizer, potatoe leek soup and then steak and scallop potatoes for an entrée. I meant to take pictures but was in too big of a hurry to eat it! It really was a wonderful spot.

If I have to study, I may as well indulge a little!
The beach at one of the wharves mom stopped at
There was only a little swell on...
Normaway Inn
Our cabin for the night! So cute!

Mom left me again in the morning for a few hours and then picked me up. I hung out in the car while she visited the wharves, doing more work. We went to Port Hood and then stayed the night in Mabou which was only a 15 minute drive away. We ate lunch at the Red Shoe and supper at The Mull. Mabou is where The Rankin's are from and The Red Shoe is owned by one of them I believe. It was a really nice little community, very quaint. That night we visited a very good friend whom neither of us had seen in quite some time. Nadine Bollig, my riding coach from when I was a kid! I say kid but I rode at her barn from the time I was 11 until I moved to NB at 22. It was so nice to visit with her and some of the horses that were still around from "back in my day"! It was a great way to end the week!

Started the day studying again
Found another nice view


We left Mabou first thing in the morning, stopped in Judich at a few wharves and, of course, ate MORE delicious food. We were back in Antigonish by noon and then I was on my way back to Moncton for class at 5:30.

Needless to say it was a wonderful 5 days. It was great to visit such a beautiful part of my home province that I had never seen and even better was spending the time with mom (corny, I know). We met great people, ate amazing food and saw some breathtaking views! I hope to do it again next year, maybe when the leaves are changed though and I hope you all enjoy the pictures, even though they don't do the real thing justice. Next week I plan to have a farm update posted so stay tuned for that and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Back to that School Grind

If any of you have been paying attention to my blog posts, you might have noticed that the frequency of my posts has gone down recently. Well, there's a reason for that....I'm back to school! Yup, I made the decision last spring that I wanted to go back to school to get my masters. Of course, I had to apply and then hope to get accepted so in the beginning it was just a pipe dream, but luckily for me I was accepted.

The program I am taking is a Master of Organizational Management at Crandall University in Moncton. It's a really neat program because it is designed for the working individual. It is meant for those people who wish to work towards their graduate degree while maintaining a full time job. It's perfect really. Classes are one night a week for 4 and a half hours. We do 2 classes per semester and I think we graduate in May 2018 (I should know this but I have a long road ahead of me before I have to worry about that).
You're probably wondering what that jumble of words actually means, Master of Organizational Management? It's essentially an alternative to an MBA (Master of Business Administration) so while its focus is on business and management, it's more directed to working in government or non-profit organizations. To quote their website - because they say it so much better than I could - , it is "an alternative to the MBA in that it will focus more on working with, and through, people than on the technical aspects of business administration". I figured that it would be more suited to me than an MBA because with my background being in health sciences, odds are if I am going to use this masters degree at some point it will most likely be within the healthcare field. I had also considered doing a Master in Health Administration but in the end I decided not to as it was too focused on healthcare. That probably seems contradictory, because duh, I work in healthcare and just said if I was going to use the masters it would be in that field, but in the end I wanted to broaden my resume a little bit so that it could apply to other aspects of my life (aka agriculture).

So what made me decide to go back to school when I've only been out in the working world a little over two years? Well, a couple of reasons...First of all, I guess you could call it a "life goal". It is just something I have always wanted to do for no other reason than to say I did it. Secondly, I really do love to learn. I genuinely miss being in school, having a routine of studying and learning and working towards a goal. Although it is an adjustment, I am going to love the process! Lastly, and probably most importantly, career opportunities. Quite honestly, I do not have high hopes that I will ever get a job in x-ray. That might be a bit dramatic, I am sure I will get one at some point, either a part time or a full time 10 years down the road (if you knew the current state of medical imaging in New Brunswick, you would know that this is not an over-exaggeration). However, how secure that position would be is questionable - more jobs are being cut than created these days, gotta love that New Brunswick government *insert eye roll here*. Also, I am not bilingual which makes getting a job here even more difficult than it already is. So for all of those reasons I decided that I needed to do something that would give me a competitive edge and potentially make me suitable for a job somewhere else.

I am sure that some of you can understand how frustrating it is to go to school for four years taking something that you think will get you a job right away to find out, pretty quickly after graduating, that that is not the case. I was definitely naïve but it's still disappointing. I love my job and I love all of the people I meet while doing it, both coworkers and patients. However, I do want to be able to retire someday, before the age of 80 preferably. As frustrating as it is, I don't want to be one of those people that complains about something in their life but doesn't do anything to change it. So consider doing my masters as me doing something about it, taking the bull by the horns so to speak!

Alright, moving on! I am now 2 weeks into the program. The first 2 courses that we're doing are Organizational Behavior and Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics (that's a mouthful, isn't it?). My thoughts thus far; the professors are amazing. They are really great teachers and facilitators and you can tell they genuinely care about all of us students. They are also super understanding of the fact that we are all new to this whole, going to school while working full time thing, which is so great. I have to be honest though, it's tough. I'm sure that as I get into a groove it will get better but starting out I feel overwhelmed. It's so different from an undergrad. The professors are more facilitators of knowledge than actual teachers as it was in undergrad. We are expected to do the assigned readings and come to class prepared to discuss them, which is fine, but it's not just reading for the sake of reading, it's reading for understanding. If you've done an undergrad then you can appreciate why this took me off guard. Also, there are a lot of readings! Like I'm talking A LOT! And then we also have assignments to pass in each week and group presentations throughout the course, as well as term papers to finish off with. Now, after the initial shock I can say I do love it. I love being back to school and having higher expectations of me. I'm still not sure that my thought processes are at that of a Masters level but I'm sure I will get there. It's a process right?! I just have to keep reminding myself that if this was easy it wouldn't be worth doing and that it will all pay off in the end.

Due to the fact that I am back in school, working full time, and trying to help Scott out at the farm some, my posting frequency on here will be down some. I am going to try to post once per week though and I will definitely keep you updated on how I am making out with school. See you next time and have a great week!