As promised, here is a post detailing some of our activities during our vacation in New Brunswick. I’d like to premise this post by pointing out that some of it may come off sounding somewhat… shall we say, negative? This trip brought out a significant amount of enlightenment and opened my eyes to a significant fact. Bon Jovi once wrote a song called “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” Well, Jon, the answer to that is me. I can’t go home. Or should I say, I’m home in Regina. And as I recount my time in Dalhousie, I’m going to explain that statement. Here we go…
We arrived in Dalhousie at a little after 4 o’clock local time after several days of hard travel, which you’ve all read about. I made a courtesy call to my mother to let her know that we had arrived, which prompted her quick arrival at our hotel. That was actually kind of nice and she got to meet Alexander in person for the first time. Once we checked in and unloaded the vehicle, she joined us in our rooms for a brief visit until the boys got to be insufferable. We decided to hit up a local restaurant called Pizza Delight for supper. We would come to dine here often during our stay and would soon realize it was one of our only options. But more on that later.
Supper was exactly what one might expect when dining with two small children; noisy, chaotic and neither kid wanted to eat the food in front of them. Luckily, no dishes were broken and no children were harmed in the having of this meal. All jokes aside, we briefly discussed our plans for the week, which was meant to include an overnight in Moncton to see various sights. Little did we know that any and all of those plans would soon go out the window. That being said, we planned a visit to my father immediately the following morning as I didn’t see any reason to wait.
Since it was still a bit early when we returned to the hotel from supper, I opted to take a short trip to the cemetery to visit my brother. I think I may have posted in one of my travel updates that my folks got a headstone that has my name on it. Besides being intensely creepy, this was a somber reminder of my own mortality and where i currently exist in life. Not bad for my first day back to New Brunswick, eh? Nathan opted to spend the night at my mother’s, which made for a smoother night since the boys can never seem to be in the same room without destroying everything.
I woke up earlier than my alarm the following morning, which was odd since New Brunswick is three hours ahead from Saskatchewan. We started our day with caffeine and made our way to the nursing home were my father lives. Since Alexander is under five years old, he wasn’t permitted in the home so the only option for my father to meet his new-to-him grandson was to come outside. The photo above shows all of us posing right before both boys started whining they wanted to leave. Part of me understood that they’re kids and they had nothing to entertain them. Another part of me was pissed that they couldn’t accommodate my parents for more than half an hour.
We decided to go hang out, down at the beach. This particular stretch is called Inch Arran and I spent a significant amount of my childhood there. It’s changed quite a bit since that time, though. One change is the ice cream shop that I was standing in when I took the photo above. Alexander had some ice cream and Nathan had a small slushy. We continued on by watching the boys play on the park structures you see in the background. Nathan evidently got curious and wanted to go dip his feet in the ocean. I laughed and tried to explain that the water would be too cold for him.
He pestered me ad nauseam until I finally relented and told him to go ahead and change into his swim gear and to go ahead. I predicted that his sensitive, never-swam-in-anything-but-a-heated-pool flesh would last all of about thirty seconds… Long enough to submerge his feet and realize the error of his ways. You see, it was incredibly hot and muggy, especially with the humidity. But the ocean don’t care. it stays cold, especially to someone born and raised elsewhere.
My prediction proved accurate. He stepped into the water JUST long enough for his feet to become submerged and he commented on how the water was too cold. Then he jumped and freaked because he saw a crab. Classic Nathan… he played in the splash pad a bit but dried off and was done with water within a half hour. We made our way down to a truck stop restaurant called the Osprey for dinner that night. Unfortunately, the location has a play structure outside the main doors so there was no dining for the boys that night either. You’d think they’d get hungry at some point. Go figure…
My wife had cross stitched a beautiful design for my mother, which she presented to her when we visited my father. We agreed to have it framed in Campbellton, which is the town up the coast from Dalhousie. On the Thursday morning I brought it up to a specialized framing place that was only open to the public from 10 am to noon. They agreed to have the design stretched, framed and ready for pickup the following morning. The issue is that we were planning on driving up to Moncton the following morning and spending the night. I paid for the frame in full and made my way back to Dalhousie.
While we were spending yet another meal at Pizza Delight, I commented to my mother that her frame would be ready for pick-up the following morning. Since we would be leaving for Moncton in the morning and the location would be closed on Sunday and Monday and we would be leaving on the Tuesday morning, I asked my mother to drive up to Campbellton and pick it up. She refused… She explained that she no longer goes up to Campbellton and she wasn’t comfortable driving up there and told me I would have to get it myself. This rather pissed me off, because it would throw a wrench into our plans.
My alternative was to have us go to Moncton on the Saturday/Sunday instead of Friday/Saturday. No one wanted to do that, so I drove up to Campbellton on Friday morning with the intention of getting back and we’d drive down. By the time I made my way back to Dalhousie, we determined that we’d get to Moncton too late for one of the key attractions we planned on seeing; Hopewell Rocks. Therefore, we now had the afternoon freed up. I should point out that not only had I messaged a certain number of individuals that we would be in Dalhousie during the first two weeks of August, i also posted and blogged about it.
Despite that fact, I found myself with a significant lack of people to see and visit with. My mother was being stand-offish, declining to join us for our activities, even when it was only a few minutes from her apartment. This was disheartening, because the entire point of the trip was so that she could visit with her grandsons. I explained to her that we had no way of knowing when the next time would be that we’d return and Alexander would no longer be a baby, so she should be soaking that shit up while she could. It didn’t really seem to faze her.
On Saturday morning we got up at the absolute ass-crack of dawn because it’s a vacation and that’s what people do, right? No? Just us? In all seriousness, the goal was to reach Moncton for the noon hour when the tide would be low at Hopewell Rocks so we could “walk on the ocean floor.” Everyone was tired and cranky and it was blisteringly hot out. We travelled for four hours to reach the site and were slapped in the face by a $50 entrance fee. I was pissed. The last time I was there, I hadn’t paid anything to go in.
The curly haired, pimple-faced teeny bopper working the kiosk claimed there had always been a charge to visit the site but what did he know? I had leftovers in my fridge that were older than this fucker and he was arguing with me. We paid all of this money to walk for fifteen minutes and make our way down to the ocean floor. I was soaked in sweat by this point and you could almost see through my shirt. Nathan managed to get himself all muddy and insisted on leaving because he was bored. Never mind the fact we paid the cost of half a tank of gas and travelled all morning just to have him ignore the sights and want to leave.
Since he was filthy and obviously uncomfortable, I took Nathan back up the stairwell to the walking path where there were foot-washing stations. My wife, mother-in-law and Alexander stayed behind to view more of the site. I walked Nathan back to the trail entrance where he played on a play structure until everyone else joined us. I was fast realizing that I had shelled out thousands to travel to New Brunswick just to have my kids play at parks. Total fucking bullshit.
We left Hopewell Rocks and made our way to Champlain Place with the expectation of doing some shopping. No one did any shopping and everyone but me got some food at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. There goes my idea of bringing everyone for a nice seafood dinner in a few hours! It was unlikely the boys would eat any of it, anyway. We looked up a few of the attractions that we planned on visiting, saw all the inflated, ridiculous prices for entry and decided finally that there was no point in staying in Moncton for the night as we wouldn’t be doing anything we had planned on and were already paying for the rooms we had in Dalhousie. We piled in the car and drove back to Dalhousie. Almost 8 hours of driving for an hour of blistering heat and sweat that the kids ignored and we paid for.
On Sunday morning we basically hung around Dalhousie and there was very little else to do. I took Nathan to the indoor swimming pool on a couple of occasions throughout our stay but we really didn’t do anything besides that. Nathan spent a final night at my mother’s house, since we would be departing on Tuesday morning. On the Monday morning, we went back to the nursing home to say goodbye to my father and spend some time with him before going to lunch, doing fuck all for the day besides pack, clean and try to figure out supper, since Pizza Delight was closed on Monday. To be honest, I’ve never heard of a restaurant closed on a Monday.
It was a serious problem as we searched Dalhousie AND Campbellton and came to realize that almost every restaurant was closed. McDonald’s was obviously open but we had eaten enough of that on the way there to last us a lifetime. We ended up ordering from an out-of-town pizzeria called Greco and having a bite to eat at my mothers until about 7 o’clock. We said our goodbyes and hugged and piled into the car, intent on getting back on the road the following morning, which y’all have read the posts about. Right? if you haven’t, get on that shit…
All in all, it was a disappointing trip. Normally when I go home, I barely have a free minute from the people I meet up with and the things I do. This time, I came to realize that no one was reaching out, no one contacted me and everything was either closed or out of business. And it’s supposed to be the “busy” time of year… As I mentioned in a previous post, I got the chance to see a few dear friends and I’m totally grateful that I had the chance to do that. But this visit just wasn’t the same. Despite having not seen them in two years, my parents’ hearts just weren’t in it despite meeting their second grandchild.
I left Dalhousie feeling empty and as though for the first time, it was non longer my home. Dalhousie, and the Maritimes in general, will always hold a special place in my heart. So many firsts that I’ve experienced there… It’s where I’m from and that will never change. But I’ve come to realize that it isn’t my home anymore. The sharpest knife was the fact that this was the first visit to New Brunswick where I didn’t get to see Sensei. Not only did he know I was there and when I was leaving, he told me he’d get back to me and let me know when he was free. But he never did. I’m sure he has a reason but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s never happened before.
Ultimately, I’m not sorry we went. It gave my mother-in-law the chance to visit New Brunswick and meet my parents. My parents got to see Alexander and Nathan and spend some time with them (albeit very little) and I got to see a few people I hadn’t in years. I’ve been considering that the irony is that my wife and I are finally in a position of life where we can afford to take a vacation but we still used up my vacation time to go home to my mother and father. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate and make some different decisions. Some food for thought for myself… ☯️
4 thoughts on “The Vacation Chronicles, The Interlude Between The Travel… (A Long Read)”
Ahh Shawn 💔
I could of warned you that a lot has changed home in the last few years. Also a lot got worse with covid were such a small town and we were affected bad compared to bigger places.
But I see you hit the best ice cream place in town there banana ice cream is to die for.
I could of sent you to some of the cool places in these towns if I would of finally gotta off my butt and gotten my license. Mind you would of been places that may of sky rocketed your sugar and made your kids hyper and you wanting to kill me afterwards lol.
But I do hear that a lot with people that move away when they come home it’s not home anymore, bigger cities change you and the inconvenience of a smaller city doesn’t do justice like it once had.
Honestly, I can still deal with a small-town environment. I love the quiet and the beauty of Dalhousie, sitting on the wharf or on the rocks at Inch Arran. Sweets aren’t a problem, considering the ice cream shop and such. It’s the inconvenience of having NOTHING available, especially when you have two small children to feed. Having restaurants closed during normal business days is inappropriate, even post-pandemic and in a small town. Even Campbellton’s restaurants were mostly closed, which doesn’t make sense.
Shawn, I know the feeling. I’ve been home to Dalhousie for a year now. All I think about is going back out West! It’s not the same here anymore. I’m bored, people changed or are gone! It’s not home anymore.
Yes, we discussed this very thing at coffee. People who I consider myself close with, never reached out or responded.