Big Family Pictures LOST : Cape Breton & PEI Travel and Hardly Anything to Show For It

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We’ve now been traveling more than 1,000 Days but come December this year its actually going to be 3,000 Days since the Epic Trip that changed our lives.  The one that got us over the fear-hump that had kept us from big family travel.

I’ve told the story before of how in 2006 Everette’s sister (& family) and mom lost virtually all they owned in a freak storm that tore their roof right off their house.  And about 9 months later my (Karen) own sister lost her house to a fire.  Well, that was 9 months of us observing what loss of all material things looks like, and what rebuilding and starting over again looks like up close.

Within about 20 minutes of talking to my sister the day after her house burned down Everette and I looked at each other and basically said, “Let’s go help them rebuild!”

Only three weeks later we were driving across the big nation of Canada in 2 vehicles packed with our youngest 7 (of 9) kids….and our life has never been the same since.

We’ve had some wonderful experiences in the past 8 years since then….unfortunately some of the photos documenting those adventures have been lost on USB’s and locked into external drives.  We have memories of much of it, but you know how those fade over time.  And many we just don’t recall without some prompting.

I was able to piece-meal some pictures of our time in Cape Breton to represent some of what we did.  Unfortunately our visits to Baddeck and the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, and the Fortress of Louisbourg are gone.  And the incredible first winter at our house in River Bourgeois: the seal that laid on the ice for 3 days (& Everette and Toveli touched!); the red fox running across our property; the catapults the kids built in the forest.  No images of ceilidhs; the girls tap-dancing; Rauchelle sailing in the boat she co-owned with 3 old men!

Even more so, the incredible trip south: explored Pier 21 and climbed the Citadel in Halifax; fell in love with the colorful shops at Mahone Bay; jumped amongst the rock base of the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove; enjoyed Joyce’s chowder at the very southern tip of the province at Clark’s Harbour; to the reaches of Digby Neck and Briar Island; the low-tide mud of the Bay of Fundy; the beauty of Annapolis Valley.

On another trip we crossed the Confederation Bridge and explored the red earth of Prince Edward Island, counting more red foxes than ever in our life.  And that incredible hawky-hawk that Everette spotted (private joke, sorry!)  We ate lunch at Summerside; saw more Anne’s than we could count, & the iconic Green Gables (though the season hadn’t started yet); played in the sand at Cavendish Beach; mulled around Charlottetown before taking much of the coastal road back to Cape Breton.

All of our excursions in Atlantic Canada were fabulous.

Unfortunately I can’t show you the beauty.  Almost all that I have left are our home-based photos of our time there.  But in the end, isn’t it the people that we share the adventure with truly what matters the most?

And so I share what little I have of those 2 separate years we spent on Cape Breton.  You’ll see how little the kids were when we started this nomadic lifestyle.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Six Years Traveling

We were actually amazed to realize that today marked six years to the day since we first left our home in Qualicum Beach, BC (Vancouver Island) to temporarily move to Cape Breton, NS.

And our lives have never been the same since.

Here’s a photo I found of our living room before we left BC, our house overlooking Georgia Strait on the Pacific.  A nice house Everette and I built in 2001, birthed our last 4 children in.  Lots of memories in it.

living room

We gave it up for the unknown, really.  First a temporary move to Cape Breton to help my sister rebuild her house after it burned down.  We rented a house with a perfect location on an isthmus on the Atlantic, with ocean in our front and back yards.

River Bourgeois, Nova Scotia

River Bourgeois, Nova Scotia

A winter in Arizona where we delightfully shared a 1400 sq ft house with new-found friends, up to 15 of us in it at once.  Truly, one of our favourite experiences in life.

Our family in Maricopa, AZ winter 2008/9

Our family in Maricopa, AZ winter 2008/9

We spent time looking after my sister’s new house (the one we helped rebuild) back in Cape Breton (can’t find a photo)

The map below (drawn by Maret), though somewhat blurry, shows our many travels from when we left Qualicum Sept 21, 2007 until 2010 when we returned to a new location on Vancouver Island, BC for Everette to start a new business.

Map of our Journeys

We lived in Sooke on the very south end of Vancouver Island for just more than 2 years in this house….

Sooke house

Sooke house

Most of the time since then we’ve been living in this…..

roof top tents

roof top tents

Although currently we are living in these….

tent trailer at Smith's

tent trailer at Smith’s

tenting at Smith's

tenting at Smith’s

Looks like we’ve scaled back, and may look undesirable by many.  But the life that we live now, to us, is far superior.  The accomodations may not be so pretty or comfortable, tis true.  But the experiences, the time together as a family….those are far worth it.

We haven’t’ regretted, one moment our decision to travel, to experience more of the country, to explore and educate our children through adventure and hands-on.  We believe they are getting an education like none other that brick-and-mortar could provide.

I never would have imagined that we would be traveling like this, building memories such as we have.  To think that these little ones when we started….

Anders

Anders

Gaelyn

Gaelyn

Toveli

Toveli

have grown up so much in the past 6 years, not only in body but in mind and spirit.  We are happy to have been able to provide this for them.  Not always easy, but worth the effort.

And to family and friends who have helped in big and small ways to make this happen, we say Thank You.

Entrance to the Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque, NM

Entrance to the Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque, NM

Silly siblings at the breakwater in VIctoria

Silly siblings at the breakwater in VIctoria

Anders

Anders

 

 

>Released

>

So, it seemed an appropriate place for the family to release Samuel’s ashes, before we leave Cape Breton.  This is the place where he was conceived.  The place he lived within my womb.  The only place I ever felt him kick (just one precious kick I have to treasure in my heart and memory), the place where he died, and was born.  His entire little life was lived here, and so that is where we released him.
It was a few months ago that I brought up the idea to Everette about us releasing his ashes here.  It was a day I realized that I would be ‘upset’ if the urn was knocked over and the ashes spilled, having to be swept or vacuumed up, and I thought how disrespectful that seemed (to me).  I knew I didn’t want to be worrying about this little urn, what the children might do to it.  After all, I know that my son is not in that urn.  His spirit lives on, without restrictions.  But what remains of his earthly body, ashes to ashes, I wanted to respect, but never to idolize them.  And so, as a family, on the day I’ve chosen to celebrate the beginning of his life (conception), we chose to each release him.

Of course, most of us cried.  He was our son, our brother, our dream, our flesh.  He will be forever remembered.

Samuel Xavier Douglas Johnson 2009

>A Walled City…..and More

>All because my sister’s transmission went (near Montreal) while she was driving home from Ontario to Cape Breton, Everette and I are on a Retrieval Mission with our big trusty van.  We left this morning just after 4 am, and this is a bit of where we’ve been and what we’ve seen…..

and this is taken in the opposite direction, from standing on a foot bridge….

It was a beautiful day and a great place to stretch our legs and get circulation in our numb-bums.  This is the beautiful province of Quebec.

And this…….

is the entrance to the walled city of Quebec.  Oh, my, what a beautiful and exciting city.  I’m in love….

said to be the world’s most photographed hotel, was built in 1893.

That’s the Frontenac roofline, as seen when we were walking along the top of the city walled (that was ‘closed’, but…….others were walking up there, too!  Really!)

Above the main street entering the city.

Do I look like I like this city????  I’m a very happy girl!

Some beautiful murals.

The city reminds Everette and I a bit of Victoria, and some of Banff, but….. we like Quebec City better.  Imagine that, coming from true Westerners (hehehe!)  We’ll be back.  Sometime.  And would recommend it for a great honeymoon destination, or anniversary, or any weekend away.

I know Layne and Danaka would love the history here.  Daddy had to take a picture of this statue…..

because he says its what Henty has in his books 😉

And then there are the Plains of Abraham.  Pretty boring to look at

but they play ball out there over them dead bodies, and the history buffs would appreciate it more than I did today. But I can say I went there now!

Ok, this was a great day.  We covered alot of ground driving all day, and taking little side shows.  But the day was A+ as I got to spend it with my wonderful husband, and got to walk holding his hands thru a gorgeous city.  What a treat…..for a Retrieval Mission.

Tomorrow, off to Montreal.