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Wolfville, Nova Scotia


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Geolocating Myself In The Landscape of Grand-Pré

Chris Campbell

In keeping with my less thinking and more making goal for Making Learning Connected this year, I woke up and saw it wasn't raining, so I hopped on my bike and off I rode to take some pictures of the Landscape of Grand-Pré for the sixth make cycle of #clmooc this year which is to GeoLocate Your Space. I'm also letting go of my need to do things sequentially and jumping in since I figured I'd be racing the rain and get some exercise too. The US National Park Service is facilitating this final cycle, and while I'm not in the US, in Canada we have Parks Canada and I'm lucky to also live in a province that has 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (and I've visited all three).

This morning I went for a bike ride around one of my favourite areas which happens to intersect with the UNESCO World Heritage Site Landscape of Grand-Pré. Rich in history, the first people of the area, the Mi' kmaq, settled here for over 4000 years, established trade routes and used the fish, fowl, and medicinal plants to survive and thrive. French settlers reclaimed farmland from the sea with a series of dykes built in the 17th century. The settlers called the region (which encompasses the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island) Acadia and they became known as Acadians and traded and lived with the Mi'kmaq people.

The building of the dykes and the draining of the land used an ingenious low-tech solution with the tides (which are the highest in the world) draining the land. A simple wooden valve would let water drain out at low tide and would close as the tide rose. Around Grand-Pré this resulted in over 1,300 hectares of farmland that is still used today. By 1755 the area was under control by England and most of the Acadians (over 14,000 people) were expelled and lost their homes and land. The British resettled the land with New England Planters began farming on the fertile land and maintained and expanded the system of dykes.

One of my favourite bike rides goes through the dykelands which are still active farmlands with cows, fields of corn, and other things grown there. This morning I took a shorter and more direct route, pausing first at one of the new signs for the Landscape of Grand-Pré UNESCO World Heritage site and then going to the view park (which has a webcam which I didn't realize until later and then saw myself when I rewound it!). One of the best parts of living in the Annapolis Valley is the way that the geography is clearly visible. When I start out on a bike ride from the Ridge Road I can see where I'll be going further down. In the distance I can see other places where I've been as well. When you're in the Valley you can look up and see landmarks on the mountains around too, so it's fairly easy to figure out where you are.

Most of the time while riding my bike the focus is on moving. I love it when I take a long ride and my feet never touch the ground, but that means I may not pause and just see things as I pass them by. So this morning as part of this challenge for #clmooc I slowed down a little bit (while keeping my eyes on the rain-filled clouds in the sky). After surveying the dykelands from the view park I went down to the Grand-Pré National Historic Site interpretation centre (which wasn't open yet as I was early) and took a few pictures there (and practiced a bit of my French with a tourist from New Brunswick who was also early). Then I biked along the side of the Historic Site on the road which leads to the dykes (which isn't technically a trail, but lots of people bike and walk dogs there).

I stopped and took some pictures of the cows in the field there and they looked at me. Then I continued down the road and saw a deer carefully watching me further down the road. As I approached the deer slipped into the bushes and I saw a squirrel scurry across the road as well. Then the road winds through a cornfield on one side and a field lying fallow on the other. Then you meet the dyke wall and while I usually just continue along the road, today I rode up onto the dyke to take some pictures there. It's beautiful seeing the ocean and Blomidon in the distance with the grass growing tall along the top of the dykes (and the root system is an important part of solidifying the dykes as well).

Continuing back on the road I paused again when I could see the town of Wolfville in the distance with the buildings of Acadia University above the trees that are all through the town. The final leg of the journey was along the trail beside the abandoned railway line, beside the town library which is in the old train station, and then onto the street and up the hill to my house. A lovely, leisurely ride exploring my town with some fresher eyes on a cloudy morning

Big Day Downtown 2014

Chris Campbell

For Big Day Downtown this year, Downtown Halifax chose the theme of "People's Choice" and we used our social networks to get ideas for where we could go to spend the $150 that they gave us. Having done earlier Big Days as well, it meant that I had visited much of the downtown area and getting some help with choosing things to do was a good idea. People are good at suggesting where you can spend your money and between some conversations and tweets, I was able to figure out some great downtown businesses to visit.

Downtown Halifax is officially is the area from the Casino to the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market and Pier 21 and extending up to Brunswick Street from the Waterfront. Within that area there are many businesses and they are all fair game to be part of the big day. The bloggers assembled at the newly opened Onyx on Argyle to accept this mission and it was a nice start to the whole exercise with some good drinks and snacks in a comfortable environment with fellow bloggers.

There are a few stops that I had in mind right away, but in asking a few questions my big day got even better with the feedback that I received. Living in Wolfville and working in Dartmouth means I'm familiar with the city and already do a lot of shopping there, but with feedback it helps to discover new places that haven't shown up on your radar. Instead of having one Big Day all together I asked a few questions and incrementally enjoyed a Big Day.

The first question that I asked was about a vegetarian lunch downtown and I got some great responses right away. The Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design suggested Fruition in the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market. Lisa Preston suggested The Wooden Monkey. Abad Khan reminded me that Indochine has a location on Barrington and while a triple-lunch day sounds good, I knew I'd need to spread those meals out a bit.

The second question posed on Twitter was for where to get craft beer and Susan Thompson of Fredericton suggested Stillwell, which in posing my question I was secretly hoping for. She'd visited Halifax recently and thought it was great and I agreed and added that to the plan for my Big Day.

The final question that I asked (knowing I easily could use up all $150 at the locations already suggested) was for where to get bike stuff, clothing, or t-shirts. Steve Keeling suggested Lost Cod on the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk. Arthur Gaudreau (through his HalifaxReTales Twitter account) thought of Biscuit General Store (which I've been to often, and love, but didn't get to visit for this Big Day). Brad Alex Stephens suggested Ideal Bikes. Offline MEC was a suggestion for a spot for bike and clothing stuff as well.

With a to-do list of locations and a prepaid Visa card from the Downtown Halifax Business Commission it was time to make the plan for my day. It ended up being part of three days which allowed for good food and drink along with great shopping in the downtown with lovely late summer weather.

Day 1

Vegan Seitan Donair at The Wooden Monkey

I started off with an old favourite I hadn't visited as part of earlier Big Days – The Wooden Monkey. Having been there often, and usually getting the veggie burger, it was kind of surprising to me that I hadn't tried their Vegan Seitan Donair. Having been a vegetarian for over two decades means that it has been a long time since having a donair, so something new at a favourite restaurant was exciting.

To start I ordered a Big Spruce Brewing Cereal Killer Stout to have some craft beer with my afternoon lunch. Seitan) is not something that I've eaten often, but the way that the Wooden Monkey prepared it with tomatoes, onions, and a sweet coconut sauce all wrapped up in a porridge pita is amazing. With their potato roasties on the side it's one of the best lunches I've had.

Carrot Cake Smoothie from Fruition

Then it was out into downtown again and along the Waterfront Boardwalk to the other end of downtown. The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market has a great collection of vendors selling food and goods and it can be busy on Saturday morning. But there are many vendors who are there throughout the week, and Fruition is one of them. Their location is bright and right by the windows at the front of the market. Inside they have a range of delicious vegan food and I picked up some of their Power Porridge and got a Carrot Cake Smoothie. The smoothie was just right and a few days later I cooked up the Power Porridge in my rice cooker and that was a tasty breakfast and a nice change from the ordinary oatmeal I have every weekday.

Flat White from The Smiling Goat

With some clouds in the sky, but no rain, I walked along the boardwalk thinking of where to go next when I remembered that the Smiling Goat had a location downtown now. I stopped in there for a Flat White and used their wifi as I sipped espresso and microfoamed milk. The Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design then suggested I stop in to look at the show in their gallery, so it was back down the boardwalk past the Seaport Market and before Pier 21.

Mary E. Black Gallery and Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design

The Mary E. Black Gallery is in the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design and they feature a variety of exhibitions throughout the year. The most recent exhibition (which ended August 31) was "Presence of Absence" which was a collaboration between Catherine Beck and Jeffrey Cowling exploring loss and remembrance. The exhibition was fascinating. There was jewelry from Catherine Beck using human hair as the starting point and funeral urns and reliquary boxes made from exotic woods by Jeffrey Cowling. It's an interesting reflection on loss and memory.

Blue SC Speed and Cadence Sensor from MEC

I had parked the car in the parking garage next to MEC and while I had explored the food and artistic parts of my Big Day Downtown, I wanted to start on the clothing and outdoor activity part. MEC is the most regular stop downtown for me and this time I looked through the clothes and got a Castelli Velocissimo Tour Cap that was on sale. In the back of my mind I was thinking of another device to track my bike riding activity and picked up a Wahoo Fitness BlueSC speed and cadence sensor for my bike (semi-subsidized with my Big Day Downtown money). The tour cap is great for keeping sweat and sun out of my eyes, and the sensor measures the speed of my bike as I ride as well as the rate that I am peddling, so you can see when you are coasting and when you are working as you look at the data from a ride.


Day 2

At the end of a day at work I was able to stop in to Ideal Bikes on Barrington to look through the range of bicycles, equipment, and clothing that they have there. I found some comfortable and durable Darn Tough socks that should last me a long time riding (and they have a lifetime guarantee). Ideal Bikes is also right beside Stillwell, and I met my pal Kendra (@halifaxfilmgal on Twitter) there for some socializing, a beer, and a snack.


Any bar has basic elements that are relatively simple, but are difficult to get right. There is the location, the layout, the staff, the drinks, and the food. At Stillwell they have everything just right. It's welcoming as soon as you arrive and I love the bar. With taps at the bottom of a chalkboard wall behind the bar, it's a simple setup built around great craft beer. The names of the beer are written over the taps. The lineup changes on a continuous basis, so if it is busy you may notice that there is something different on one of the dozen taps on the wall. It's set up in traditional pub style, so you order your food and drink at the bar which gets you moving around a bit.

Board and Taps at Stillwell

Tokyo Fries at Stillwell

With a knowledgeable staff and friendly atmosphere it feels just right and time slips away effortlessly. This time I tried something new and had the Bitter Get'er India Black IPA (from Big Spruce Brewing) which is nice. Kendra had Bulwark Blush Cider which she enjoyed. The food at Stillwell is simple, but amazing. My favourite menu choice is the Tokyo Fries which are usually served with Atari Mayo (which isn't vegetarian), but you can get a honey sauce for dipping, or the vegan option which is a Sriracha-based sauce (which I opted for this time). With a coating of Tokyo steak spice, they're perfect and with the hot sauce it's a nice little kick that goes well with craft beer. The menu adds new things often with all sorts of amazing creations, so you can try something different or stick with something that you like. Stillwell is a gem at the heart of a revitalized Barrington Street.


Day 3

Veggie Ball Banh Mi from Indochine

The last stop for food on my downtown adventures was at Indochine. They make the most amazing Banh Mi sandwiches and now have a location on Barrington. My favourite is their Veggie Ball Banh Mi which is a delicious sandwich that is built around veggie meatballs that are made right in the kitchen all within fresh bread. In the summer they have a refreshing iced organic lemonade with mint that is great on a warm summer afternoon.

T-Shirt from Lost Cod Clothing

For the final part of my Big Day I returned to the Waterfront to look at the shops and stop in to Lost Cod Clothing. In a small building packed with t-shirts, hoodies, and hats, they put various logos on the clothing. The logos have a story and they save the history of Nova Scotia by remembering companies that are no longer around. In the shop Chris knows the stories of the businesses that are no longer with us and is more than willing to share them. Looking through the logos and hearing the stories was fascinating. I finally decided on a green t-shirt with the Halifax & Southwestern Railway logo. I like the logo and the story as this was the railway that ran along the South Shore which has a trail I love to bike on.

Black Bear Ice Cream

With my t-shirt and a little bit more time on my hands I walked over to the Black Bear Ice Cream shop to see if there was something there that interested me and there was. Jalapeño ice cream. I like spicy things and after having a sample, I decided to go for it. The locally-owned shop makes their own flavours and the spicy jalapeño peppers are counterbalanced with the coolness of the ice cream which has a fiery aftertaste. It was a good way to wrap up my big day as I sat on the waterfront and looked out at the water at the end of a beautiful late-summer day.

A Trip to Mount Carleton

Chris Campbell

We didn't make it to the top.

A few weeks ago my friend Diane suggested a weekend trip to Mount Carleton in northern New Brunswick to hike up the tallest mountain in the Maritime provinces. I'd never been to the provincial park there and was keen to go to a place of New Brunswick where I had never been. So the plans were made and a cabin booked (since I like the idea of camping, but not necessarily setting up the tent and sleeping in it).

In the days leading up to the trip the weather was checked often. It looked good for a long time but then Hurricane Arthur) showed up. The track looked as though it would keep most of the effects away from the mountain, so the trip stayed on. The path changed a bit the day before, but the forecast still was for some rain and a bit of wind.

Mount Carleton Provincial Park is located in an isolated part of New Brunswick. So isolated and preserved that there is no cell service or power lines in the park, so it is a really great way to disconnect. It's been a long time since I disconnected for even a day or so, and this was really nice as it forces you to be in the moment and look and listen to the world around you.

The park is beautiful and we arrived on a Friday afternoon just before dark. The heritage cabins are log cabins that feature a kitchenette with running water, a propane stove and oven, a full-size refrigerator, as well as a full bathroom with shower. So it wasn't roughing it all. The cabin was close to Lake Nictau which is a lovely, long lake at the bottom of Mount Sagamook. The trail for that mountain is a short walk from the cabin, but we came for Mount Carleton and on Saturday we went to the front gate (where they have Wi-Fi) to check the weather and see what the conditions were going to be for the day.

The forecast from 11am called for rain with a bit of wind, but nothing too strong, so we set out for Mount Carleton which is located at the end of a narrow dirt road. Part way down the road there was a birch tree across the road. I was able to use a broken branch as a lever to move the tree out of the way so we could pass. There weren't any other trees down and the rest of the drive was uneventful. A light rain was falling and with good socks and sturdy hiking boots and waterproof gear in place we set out up the easier way to the top which is a 4.4 km hike.

The enchanting and terrifying part of hiking on the trails in Mount Carleton is that it is peaceful and quiet and isolated. While we saw a car in the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain, we didn't see anyone else on the hike. At the top there is a shelter, but nobody is stationed there. The park has regular patrols on the roads and it's good practice to sign in at the bottom of each trail and to also let someone know where you are going and what your expected timeline is. But being in an area without cell phone service can be disconcerting as the usual quick checking of the weather forecast (or tweeting) can't happen. If that was possible we would have seen that the path of the tropical storm had changed and that it was going right up through New Brunswick.

It's a beautiful, tree-covered hike up the mountain. The branches provided some shelter from the rain as we ascended. As we went there was more and more water running onto the trail. About halfway up there was a steady stream of water covering the trail which intensified the further up we went. Close to the top there is a shelter and at that point the trail was completely covered with a heavy flow of water. It looked like a river and at that point the decision was made to turn back as it didn't feel safe.

The rain kept falling and the wind picked up and we heard trees and branches breaking and falling as we hiked down. A couple of branches and trees fell across the trail, so we had to climb over them. It was very wet and I'm so glad that I had good socks and boots as they kept me comfortable the whole way. My iPhone was nicely ensconced in a waterproof case that allowed me to take some pictures along the way to document the experience.

Arriving at the parking lot after the hike down was a relief. The trail near the bottom now was also covered with water, so it was definitely getting worse. We took off our gear and got in the car to head back to the cabin along the dirt road as the rain fell and the wind blew. A few minutes down the road there were a couple of newly-fallen trees completely blocking the way out. These were too big to push out of the way, so we turned the car around and went back to the parking lot to wait for the patrol. After a half hour or so a pickup truck with flashing lights on came up the road followed by another pickup truck. They said that it took them an hour to get down the road and they cleared about 13 trees along the way.

We headed out following them down the road and seeing broken and fallen trees all along the way. We needed to stop four or five more times on the way out as they took out the chainsaw and cleared trees from the road that had blocked it again. These were trees that had fallen in the past 15 minutes, so the weather was definitely getting worse. Luckily none of the roads back to the cabin were washed out, so arriving back was very nice and the cabin had power and firewood, so the day was ended with a warm fire in the wood stove and good meal.

The next morning was sunny and beautiful. Probably a good day for a hike, so we drove out to the base of Mount Carleton again to see if we could make it up. On the way there we saw another patrol and they let us know that all the trails were closed due to the number of trees down and the flooding. We turned around and headed to the main gate to check out. We found out that the park had been closed the day before a couple of hours after we arrived back at the cabin. But there were a couple of smaller trails open and that Williams Falls was quite close and quite beautiful. So we went there and along the way had a beautiful view of Mount Sagamook and had a peaceful short walk through the woods to see the raging waterfall that was probably much more intense due to the day of rain.

A gentle way to end a weekend in a park that was filled with wind and rain, but still very beautiful. It's a place where I will return and attempt to climb to the top of at least one of the mountains at some point in the future.

The Pleasures of Bike Riding

Chris Campbell

Riding a bike is a lot of fun. You move faster than walking or running, but it is still all under your control. You connect with the world around you and it provides a real sense of freedom and adventure. It's a better way to explore and learn about the world around you. For the past few years my goal has been to bike over 1000 km during the summer and I've been able to meet it. In the first few years it was thanks to a number of small rides at the end of a work day and other, bigger rides. But this year the pattern has shifted with fewer smaller rides and many bigger ones. The other change this year is that there is more exploring and less repetition with routes.

It's all recorded and measured so there are a bunch of stats tracking the routes and speed. Now thanks to a gift from Lift, I have a heart rate monitor (a Polar FT4) so I can track my physical activity more accurately as I ride. That helps a lot especially in staying within a good range of exertion. While I love having the stats, it's not something that is constantly on my mind while riding so the phone is on the back of the bike and there isn't a screen to look at while riding. Some of my favourite rides are ones where it is a round trip without my feet touching the ground at all.

The process for planning a ride this year is simple and usually involves a general destination usually in a different direction or style from the week before. The pattern was established earlier in the year by wanting to find out how far the rails to trails running through Kentville extended. That resulted in biking all the way to Berwick for a 76 km round trip. It also revealed that the trail extended at least 33 km further to Middleton which will be another ride on another day. Starting out somewhere familiar and then adding in unfamiliar branches is a lot of fun and reveals new perspectives on where I live.

My bike is a Brodie Voltage which is simple, solid, and beautiful. A hybrid style bike with thinner tires and no shocks like my previous bike, so it's lighter which makes for faster riding on the road. It's a bit more of a pain on loose gravel and sand, but it's a much better experience. The only modifications are the addition of a bell, and a rear rack for a pannier to hold snacks, a spare tube, a pump, a lock, and other stuff. It's just right. With a bike rack for the car it makes it possible for other excursions for rides like the Aspotogan Loop, a 50 km ride out of Hubbards that features rolling hills and a view of the ocean, or the trails of Fredericton, or Sackville, NB.

One neat addition to my routine came from the book Pedal, Stretch, Breathe: The Yoga of Bicycling by Kelli Refer from Elly Blue Publishing. It's a great little book filled with yoga that makes my rides a lot better. A good way to stay present and feel better while on longer rides and to keep the focus on balance and being in a good place wherever the road takes me.

At this point I've gone 311 km this year which is a pretty good rate and if this keeps up I'll easily surpass the goal of 1000km for the summer, so the real goal is to explore more and pay attention to the world around me as I ride. It's good for the body and soul.

Big Day Downtown 2013

Chris Campbell

Walking in to The Middle Spoon I looked around and said a cryptic password to a server there and she led me down the stairs and past tables to an ordinary looking door. Going through a series of winding hallways we arrived behind an unmarked door and in the secret bar called Noble underneath the streets of downtown Halifax. This was the place for the launch of Big Day Downtown by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission where a group of bloggers were gather to meet each other and find out what the theme was for this year. Each blogger drew three cards from a bowl and with $150 we had to go and explore and write about our experiences.

Going to downtown Halifax is always a choice for me. Living in Wolfville and working in Dartmouth means that most days I am close to the downtown, but not actually there. So the step of visiting downtown pretty much always has a purpose. One of the things that is most fun is being able to be part of Big Day Downtown which I've been lucky to do for the last few years. A group of bloggers are given a prepaid credit card and the task is to spend the money at downtown businesses. Every year there is a theme and this year with the three theme cards that we chose, we had to seek out experiences that fit within those themes.

The cards that I drew were Fun, Happy, and Authentic which seemed perfect to me. Should I try to go to all-new places, or maybe go to old favourites. Would it be better to spread out the money to many shops with small purchases, or maybe splurge a bit at a few restaurants. So with a rough idea of where I wanted to go and a few hours to spend on a Thursday afternoon I ventured in to the city to get started.

Meaty Meatless Burger

Meaty Meatless Burger

There are lots of great restaurants in downtown Halifax and it is always good to try something new, so the first stop on my Big Day was 2 Doors Down, which would be a fun way to start things off. It's a great location on the corner of Barrington and Salter Street with a warm and inviting environment. With my youngest daughter joining me for lunch, we were seated by the window and started to look through the beautifully designed menu. Being a vegetarian means that finding things to eat can sometimes be a challenge, but at 2 Doors Down there were some really amazing choices for me to make. With an emphasis on local ingredients and a fun approach to the dishes, the menu combines comfortable and recognizable ingredients in different ways. I choose to have the veggie burger and it was delicious. It's called the Meaty Meatless Burger and it was a breaded veggie burger with a caramelized onion balsamic jam, grilled portabello mushrooms, and blue cheese whiz. It was served with some delicious french fries and some of their own home-made ketchup. My daughter had the "Kale, Caesar" Salad which she devoured and enjoyed. For desert the gingerbread beckoned and it was a tasty and not too sweet with everything balanced just right.

Inkwell Sign

Inkwell Sign

At this point I was joined by my friend Kendra (known on Twitter as @halifaxfilmgal) and while there weren't any films to see, I figured it would be good to have some help as I went around the downtown on a sunny summer afternoon. We went in to Inkwell to look at some of the lovingly printed letterpress cards, posters, and notebooks on their shelves. Lots of local stuff, stamps, and cards for all occasions are around the shop as well. After looking through lots of cards and notebooks I settled on a clever notebook with "My Analog Blog" on the cover. When I want to use my fountain pen to write a blog entry, this is the notebook for it.

Macarons at Le French Fix

Macarons at Le French Fix

Leaving Inkwell and going around the corner Kendra asked if I had been to Le French Fix, and I hadn't but had always wanted too and this would fit into the authentic category. One of the best times to visit a patisserie is in the morning so you can get your day started with some well-crafted pastry, but this being late afternoon meant that there wasn't as much in the store. Luckily there were colourful macarons in the case and I bought a couple of them (I had pistachio) and noticed the Pig Iron Coffee on the counter. Always on the lookout for good coffee, I tried a sample and bought a bag of the beans which were a good medium roast.

Zane's Macchiato Special at Two if by Sea

Zane's Macchiato Special at Two if by Sea

Now with coffee on the brain and with gravity helping it was down towards the harbour and the Historic Properties where Two if by Sea are in downtown Halifax. One of my regular stops for a croissant and coffee, the late afternoon and good weather meant that there was no food left, but as always there is the best coffee in the city. My regular coffee at home now is usually extracted from Two if by Sea's Anchored Coffee beans, so I replenished my stock with a bag of La Azacualpa from Honduras.

Since there was time I ordered my favourite, which is Zane's Macchiato Special – espresso in one cup, a single macchiato in the other cup. The combination is always good and is a great little jolt of caffeine in the afternoon which is just what is needed to restore your energy. If it was warmer I would have had their cold brew coffee which is gently extracted over 18 hours. If you haven't had a chance to try it, you're missing out on some delicious iced coffee. This isn't the sugary simulation of other places, but a robust drink that lets you taste the subtleties of good beans.

Wired and ready for the final push we took a walk along the Halifax Waterfront filled with smiling tourists. Kendra hadn't been to the new location of Strange Adventures, so we went up to the comic shop on Prince Street to look around. It's compact and bright with big windows looking out on Lower Water Street with shelves of all sorts of amazing stuff to read. Not having much time, I didn't get anything as it would have been way too easy to spend the remaining money there and there were still a couple of other stops to make before the day was done.

Saigon 2 Laptop Bag from MEC

Saigon 2 Laptop Bag from MEC

One of the most fun places for me downtown is MEC and exploring the outdoors on my bike makes me very happy, so a stop into the store was next on the agenda. The gear and clothing all through the store is organized by activity. I went to the bikes and looked at the accessories and attachments trying to think of what would be good to get. Maybe some clothes, or biking shorts? A light?

I have a lot of different bags. While it's good to have the right one for taking stuff with you, it can also be a bit of a problem if you have too many bags. So I'll admit right up front that I have a bit of a problem with searching for a better bag but here right in front of me (in bright red) was a bag that on sale. It looked as though it would be great to have for my laptop. My regular laptop bag is good, but a bit small. This was a chance to have something a bit better and it was a messenger bag, so that would work for biking too. After pacing around and looking at it and being told by Kendra that I should publicly admit that I have a problem, I decided to take the plunge and get it.

The Saigon 2 Laptop Bag is from Vancouver's Onsight Equipment and it's big and roomy enough for my 15-inch MacBook Pro along with all sorts of accessories and lunch. The straps are comfortable and it can be more secure with a reflective belt to keep it from moving around and to make you more visible at night. There are also a couple of reflective strip spinners that attach to the bag for even more safety. While I don't think that I'll have the bag on a lot while I'm riding my bike, it's good to have that option and even though I didn't really need it, having a good bag makes me very happy.

Chili oil from Morris East

Chili oil from Morris East

The final stop for my Big Day was something that I'd been thinking about for a while. Morris East is one of my all-time favourite restaurants. For authentic food, they are the best and with their wood-fired oven powered by Annapolis Valley wood, the pizza is delicious. Not having enough money for a meal, but still having a bit I figured that it would be great to get a bottle of their chill oil along with some of their whole wheat dough and sauce to make pizza at home. It's a great way to have fresh pizza when you want to make it at home and don't want to spend the time making the dough and sauce.

With a bit of mozzarella and parmesan cheese I assembled the ingredients at home and then cooked a nice pizza for supper as I reflected on my Big Day Downtown. The day was authentic, fun, and made me very happy. A perfect way to spend a day in downtown Halifax doing things that I love.