Staycation – Crow’s Nest

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Janet and I are in a part of Nova Scotia we’ve never ventured into before. The Airbnb is called The Crow’s Nest and it is an absolutely lovely rustic cabin for a couple with a loft overlooking the main room, a spectacular view, and extremely well equipped.

As soon as we unloaded the car my first task was to start a fire in the air-tight wood stove. Unlike most, there is a protective metal screen so the doors can remain open. That is very much to my taste.

In addition to the main cabin, there is a second building they call the bunkhouse. It has two single beds and a sauna.

Although the property slopes to be the beach if you were nuts enough to jump the fence in front of the deck, good luck. It’s pretty much a cliff. Not the way to start a Staycation, eh?

The drive took about three hours. It was glorious though as the leaves are a wonderful kaleidoscope of fall colors. I found it interesting that as we got closer to the coast the forest was made of more coniferous trees which remain green all year. I can’t say I’ve noticed that before.

We arrived just in time to bear witness to an unobstructed view of an outstanding sunset. We don’t get to see that in the city and when we do it isn’t framed by nature as this one across the bay. Wow; inspirational!

I was glad to arrive. I was starting to get tired. There is a limit to how long I can stay behind the wheel and stay awake; which is somewhat required when you’re the driver.

As is our usual plan, we brought plenty of ready meals. Tonight we had Shepherd’s Pie. With the driving and a full belly, it was time for a nap and it is just so quiet and serene here that I was out within minutes for a couple of hours.

As I write, I’m sipping a couple of fingers of J.D.Shore, lovely music playing in the background, a fire warming the soul, and in the company of my wonderful wife Janet. I suspect we’ll head up to the loft shortly for a comfortable sleep.

What a wonderful sleep. I stoked the fire before heading up to the loft and again when nature called around 2:30 am. It kept the cottage nice and cozy. The place has electric heat so it’s not like we need the fire but that’s one of the endearing features of most of the places we pick for Staycations. I love a good fire.

As an afterthought and totally unrelated; a huge shout-out to Rob Strickland. He looked after getting Second Wind on the hard in its cradle for the off-season. Where did the summer go? There are a bunch of winterization tasks to take care of but she’s in good shape. For the first time, Irving had a crane that allowed up to leave the mast in place. That will make the launch and boat preparation a whole lot easier in the spring.

Friday, October 22, 2021

I got up around 4:30 am and started with my typical poached eggs; I had a little hiccup by using the wrong side of my pepper shaker and drenched the eggs in pepper. Now I really like pepper but that was way over the top for me. Once I wadded through the eggs I put on some classical music highlighting Chello. For me, this is a soothing way to start the day. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but if you’ve never started your day with a little culture, you might give it a try. I think it creates a calm you take into your day in all your dealings.

We headed out to the hospital in Canso so I could get my blood work done in advance of chemo on Monday afternoon. Shortly after getting on the road, I realized I didn’t have my Blood Requisition. I didn’t bring it from home in Halifax. On no! What to do?

I called the cancer clinic message line in Halifax. It was the only option I had. I left a detailed message about my blunder and requested they fax my script to the hospital in Canso. The driving time from our location to Canso is about an hour and my appointment was at around the time we’d arrive. So off we went on good faith that the message would be heard and action taken while we were driving.

The road to Canso snaked along the coast and is quite beautiful. But I was in a hurry and my anxiety about the script had my attention. I called the clinic a second time and left a follow-up message. In case you don’t know, I have to have the blood work done before I can get chemo. For example, last Monday my Neutrophils, which make 50% to 75% of my white blood cells, were low. Consequently, I was not cleared to have a chemo treatment and deferred by a week. Without enough neutrophils, my body can’t fight off bacteria and puts me at high risk of infection. There is no obvious reason my value was low but with luck, it will climb during the week.

We arrived on the outskirts right around the time of my appointment but it was easy to find the Hospital. I headed in and shared with the reception my dilemma. They had not received a fax from Halifax with my script so I called and left yet another message. I have no way to reach a real live person.

The wonderful person on reception spent close to 40 minutes attempting to reach a real live person at the QEII in Halifax and like me just kept getting sent to voice mail to leave a message. She sought out other people at the Canso hospital who might have some insight into how to reach a person but had no luck. I was close to giving her the number of the parking supervisor. I know he picks up his phone.

And to make it worse, I was the last person on their schedule for blood work. The nurse looking after blood collections pitched in and started looking for numbers. It was disappointing to learn that staff in one provincial health facility could not reach an actual person at what is supposed to be the largest and main hospital in the province. Although my care throughout my cancer treatment has been wonderful, this situation speaks to a pretty significant problem that clearly needs attention.

Finally, I thanked them for their effort, and Janet and I headed out. I heard from the clinic at 3:40 pm and there was an appointment arranged for Monday morning at 9:10 am. So I had a solution but it was still disappointing to see this problem in a system that overall had been remarkable.

It was around noon when we left Canso and I was starting to get hungry. We stopped at Big G’s in Guysborough. I had a ground beef sandwich that was just soaked in gravy and way more fries than I could consume. Janet had a veggie pizza. We were well fed by the time we got back on the road. Next stop; Irish Vale, Cape Breton.

The route was uneventful. It took us almost back to Antigonish and then to the Canso Causeway. There was a cross-country option which we attempted but when it turned to a dirt road and made a left turn onto an unnamed road, we turned around. We played that game a few months back and came close to tearing the bottom off the car. Yikes!

We arrived around 3:30 pm and were greeted with open arms by Barb and Ken Scott. Barb and I have been in online dialogue for as long as I can remember, have numerous friends in common, but have never met in person before. She was one of the first people to buy a Second Wind polo, in fact, she got one for herself and one for her husband Ken, and although we attempted to connect in Halifax on several occasions, it just didn’t work out so I brought them along with me.

Brad makes fun of how much I like to network and make new friends. In this case, he was spot on and we spent a bit of time getting to know each other. The drive had tired me out so I needed a nap which gave Janet a chance to keep the conversation going. Our wing of their home had both a comfortable bedroom and bathroom and was away from the main area so it gave me the quiet I needed to have a short sleep. Barb and Ken were at the other extreme end of the home so everyone had privacy and quiet when in bed.

The short nap perked me up. I got up about 8:00 pm. Janet, Barb, and Ken had supper while I was asleep. The Shepherd’s Pie I brought was a hit. One piece for me and I was locked and loaded to keep the conversation going. We had one surprise; Barb’s mother was Mae Nickerson who taught with Janet at G.K. Butler in the 1970s. It was surprising how many people we had in common even though I’m about a decade older. but then Barb grew up in Halifax, which is a pretty small world.

About 11:00 pm, Barb, Janet, and I were headed to bed. Ken stayed up to watch the end of a baseball game. I can’t speak for the others but I was asleep in minutes.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Janet and I wake up in Irish Vale, Nova Scotia. We spent the night with Barb and Ken Scott. I had a nap soon after I arrived which perked me up and we had a wonderful evening together sharing stories. We headed to bed around 11:00 pm and I was asleep within minutes. I woke up just before 5:00 am. I haven’t slept through the night like that for years. Barb says everyone sleeps well in the “Vale” and that proved to be the case with me. It’s funny but sleeping right through the night is an absolute reward. I woke up feeling like a winner.

As usual, I got up to get some poached eggs on the go. Barb joined me and I showed her how I make what I think are perfect poached eggs; bring the water to a boil with a tablespoon of vinegar and a little salt, break the eggs into a bowl, when the water is at a boil spin it in the pot with a spoon, carefully drop the eggs in the pot, put the lid on the pot, turn off the burner, and set the timer to three minutes. When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to lift the eggs into a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Janet was up and had her morning cereal and cup of tea. Barb and Ken were headed for a round of golf so we decided to depart at the same time. There was just some food and a few personal items to organize.

We took a few pictures with Barb and Ken and were on our way. From the “Vale” back to the camp outside Boyslton was about an hour and twenty minutes drive. We needed to make a gas stop at the Canso Causeway and decided to take the route through Mulgrave. I’m not sure I’ve ever been on that road before. It was striking due to the changing colors of the leaves. A part of the route went through hills and valleys; the other followed the coast. The cloud formation in the picture was quite striking. Saturday is a pretty gray day but we didn’t have any plans other than hanging out at the Airbnb. We arrived back at the camp right when the GPS predicted.

My first task was to relight the fire. It was still warm from Friday morning and fired up quickly. It still surprises me how much I enjoy a fire. We lived in our hours for almost 33 years and during that time I’d be surprised if we burned a cord of wood. I guess it is normal for the things we value to change as we age.

I ate, read, wrote, and generally had a good afternoon. Like most days I had a nap and given how busy we were on Friday I was pretty tired. The day was grey but the view across Chedabucto Bay remained unobstructed. This is truly a must-visit part of Nova Scotia.

We headed off to bed early. I can’t say I slept as well as in the Vale but it was alright.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

I was up around 5:00 am and started my day with my usual eggs. Then I laid down and by the time Janet got up decided it was time to head home. I was having a moment of cancer/chemo-related exhaustion. Janet packed and we were on the road by 7:15 am. It was a tough drive home as on top of being tired I was hungry but had no desire to eat. We got home around 10: 15 am and I headed right to bed. One upside is that Janet had enough time to walk up to Mass. I remained in bed until about 3:00 pm.

That rest worked well. I felt pretty good. So I guess alls well that ends well.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. I’m really having a full life and perhaps have motivated you to seek out some new adventures and/or reconnect with friends you haven’t seen for ages. It really is the people in our lives that make living worthwhile and the more loving you are the more others will reciprocate.

Let me know if you do go and have a new adventure.

Peace, Love, and Laughter

Phil

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