Uisge Ban Falls

If you’re like me the first time I saw that name I had no idea how to pronounce it. It’s Gaelic as Cape Breton has very strong Irish and Scottish roots. It’s pronounced ISH-kuh Ban Falls. It’s Gaelic translation is “white water”. However, according to the Canadian Geological Database it is Easach Ban Falls. There are two trails leading to the falls. The short trail is about 1 mile in length and will get you to the falls in less than a half hour. The longer is closer to 3 miles will take about an hour. However, it follows the river to the falls. The boys are familiar with hikes as I take them on occasion. We took the short path, though, on account that we had more traveling to do. 

The trail is fairly rugged. Roots finger their way across the path. Roots claw their way over bolders in search of better soil, proving that paper does indeed beat rock. There are bridges to cross at which the boys would toss leaves and stick from to watch see them float away in the current of the river. There are more photo opportunities than you can shake a stick at. 

Once you are at the falls you will essentially be in a three sided bowl whose sides are 500 feet high. Your eyes and ears will feast upon two waterfalls. The lower is about 10 feet high. The upper falls allow water to cascade 50 feet and pool on a platau before flowing down the lower falls. 

It was an absolutely beautiful October Saturday. Clear skies. 20 degrees (C) (70F). The leaves have started changing, though they’re not quite in their full glory yet. A few leaves littered the path. Hikers galore seized the day. Even though we were an hour and 15 minutes from home we managed to meet three families from home. Every time a dog passed us the boys would ask its owner, “Can I pet your dog?” We (when I say “we” I mean DW) taught them to ask first. If given permission they then hold out their hand for the dog to sniff. If the dog gives permission then they can pet. 

Sorry, Pa. We still couldn’t find your sunglasses (he lost/forgot a pair there about 10 years ago). 

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Traveling (the final days)

Before our two weeks of travel began I had seen a picture of a waterfall that our friend’s girls were playing under. After seeing the picture I wanted to go there. I needed to go there. It helped that Pennsylvania is between Virginia –all the farther the farthest south we would be traveling – and home in Nova Scotia. I sent along a message asking if they would be around the weekend we were passing through and if they could take us to that waterfall. You can imagine my excitement when I found out that a) they would be around and b) they could take us!

What should have been a four hour drive from Virginia to Pennsylvania wasn’t. The traffic around D.C. and Baltimore was incredible. Poor DW was stressed to the max – though I was doing the driving and I was in pure city driver mode. 12 lanes of traffic-six in each direction, a couple toll booths, some accidents and bottlenecks and many idiots who swerve in and out of lanes like Mario Andretti make it difficult to relax. One bonus? We got to go through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel – a tunnel (duh) under the Baltimore Harbor (duh) that is 1.45 miles long. Of course, windows had to go down so we could listen to it. Anyway, we made ‘er though D.C. and B’more unscathed and made a quick stop for a late lunch.

Six hours later we were there. Their two girls were quite anxious for us to get there so we could all go swimming. We were just as anxious to get there and be done traveling. We did get to see the hydroelectric plant.

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After that we were in Amish country. Tons of farms, and just as many horse and buggies. Anyone even remotely familiar with Amish country will understand the humor of this song:

IMG_2658We finally arrived at their house, hung out for about 10 minutes then took off to the waterfall. The water was chilly – really no different than Nova Scotia water. Too cold for Bang’s liking. He splashed around, but he wouldn’t venture too close to the falls. Crash, on the other hand, loved it. Did we take home a Pennsylvania rock from this waterfall? You betcha!

Afterward it was back to their house for a BBQ, let the kids play for a bit, then bedtime for them. We were starting our trek home in the morning. This afternoon Bang asked me “What house were we at that I slept in my little bed?” I told him and he asks “Next time we go there can we play ‘McDonalds’ again?” All I did was sit inside a play house while Crash and Bang drove around it like a drive through while I took their orders in the most ridiculous, redneck, hillybilliest voice I could. Naturally, what I ordered for them would never be found a normal McD’s menu. Fresh roadkill with a side of salted slugs. And such.

To make a long story short not as long, we got the kids to bed, had quite a few laughs playing Cards Against Humanity then went to bed ourselves. By 9 the next morning they had left for church and we had left for our next stop, Bangor, Maine. We didn’t get there until 10 PM. The next morning there was a huge, delicious free breakfast. We got our fill, then hit up a liquor store for the cheap liquor the US is famous for and booked ‘er for home. We crossed back into Canada with no problems and were back home at 7:30. DW’s mom (Nanny Moe) had supper waiting for us, and there is where we ended our two vacation.

Our Travels (continued…) (Days 10,11, and 12)

Thursday, July 30th

We had just spent a week with my parents and my brother and his family. Ten of us in the house. Twelve if you count my aunt and uncle (though they were sleeping at a friend’s house, not with us). It was an awesome week and it was great seeing people we hadn’t seen for 5 years. But today, it was time journey on. It was a bitter sweet departure. We’re going to greatly miss seeing and playing with everyone. Games of UNO, Sorry, and Shut the Box. The delicious food. Come to think of it, I completely forgot to mention their dog Brody. He’s a good dog. Almost never barks. Loves to snuggle. Fun to play with and take for walks (which, I think, my sister-in-law used to up her Fitbit step count so that I could never get more steps). Anyway, leaving was sad. However, we were headed to Virginia to see more friends so it was exciting at the same time.

We did get to cross the Bay Bridge – a 4.2 mile long bridge across the Chesapeake Bay.

bay bridgeWhile that was fun for them, one of the highlights of our trip was about to happen. Crash had been waiting for this moment  since his birthday three weeks ago. The money he received was burning a hole in his pocket, but he knew good things were coming if he didn’t spend it. The LEGO store.

There was a bin full of Lego people pieces so you could customize your own characters. Crash built three. Bang fell in love with a train set. He sat and stared at it for a solid five minutes. He held the box and checked it all out. He loved it. His disappointment was heartbreaking when we told it cost $200 and he couldn’t get it. He did settle on a construction site with a wrecking crane, front loader and dump truck which made him nearly as happy. Crash also got a Lego Minecraft creativity set. It only took an hour to get out of there.

Four hours later were in the town DW and I lived it when a) we met and b) where Crash lived when he was born. We got checked into our hotel room (which had a leaky air conditioner so they moved us to another room) we contacted a friend to let her know we were in town. She’s the mother of Crash’s first BFF. He was only about 3 months old when they met at the YMCA’s child watch program where DW worked at the time. After a year they had developed a good friendship and loved seeing each other. They would dance and squeal when the other would finally show up in the Child Watch room. Crash was two when moved away from that town. We had gone back for a visit when he was three. Now five years later they were reunited.

They picked up right where they left off like not a day had passed. It was amazing to watch them together again. After a quick meet up in our hotel room we out for supper at a wicked awesome burger joint. As we were sitting there catching up, the heaven opened up and it poured buckets. Here in Canada, we get hard rains like that, but they only last 20 minutes. Here in Virginia, it wasn’t letting up. Come time to leave and we hightailed it across the street and through the parking lot to our truck. Shin deep water running down the road. A lost flip flop. Kids laughing hysterically. It was AWESOME!

IMG_2630We went back to their house and met their chickens (who all have names, but I couldn’t begin to tell you what they are). There’s one over on the left. They also have two dogs, a koi fish pond, a tree house, and an owl house. Sitting outside chatting after sunset, I realized I had forgotten all the night sounds. Cicadas. Crickets. Frogs. Birds. We ended up staying until about 10pm and the kids crashed hard that night. They fell asleep in seconds.

Friday, July 31

The hotel had free continental breakfast. It was a good spread, too. Bang fell in love with the pancake maker (he still talks about it). Just push the OK button, wait a minute and it “poops out two pancakes”. Afterward, we toured around town. We saw our old house. We saw the boat wharf, the school I taught at for six years. We stopped by the YMCA where DW used to work and got to see some former colleagues. From there it was off to lunch at a sandwich shop that makes the most delicious subs and sandwiches. We were sad to learn that the lady who began the shop has Alzheimer’s and her son had moved to Baltimore while her daughter kept the shop running.

From there it was back to hotel to go swimming. It was an outdoor pool. The thing about outdoor pools in the South is that they tend to get warm. This one was like bath water. But getting out felt nice when the breeze caught you when you were wet. A former colleague of mine, and great friend of ours, stopped by. It was great to play catch up with her. Though, thanks to Facebook, it was pretty easy. By then, Liz was off work and DW met her at a nail salon for mani/pedis. Then to a Mexican restaurant for supper. By now, I’m thinking if my kids never see another nugget and fry, I’ll be okay with that. Then we hit up the carnival hoping to see some former students. While I did see a couple, the highlight was the Ferris Wheel. Crash wanted to ride with his BFF and of course Bang wanted to join them. At first, DW was a bit worried about sending the 4 year old with his brother. However, it was Crash who ended up a bit scared by the rocking motion of the car. Bang had his hands in the air screaming with excitement. Then we spent the rest of the evening at Crash’s BFF’s house. We only stayed until 11pm.

Saturday, August 1st

I’ll keep this day short. It was mostly spent driving. We left at around 10 and headed for Pennsylvania to visit one more friend. My other best friend from high school and his family. Anyway, we were expecting to get there at about 2. Because of ridiculous traffic going around D.C. and Baltimore and stopping for a late lunch we didn’t get in until 4.  This would be the last place we’d visit before heading home. *Side note* Before leaving Canada, I had seen a picture they had posted of a small river and waterfall where they had taken their two girls to play and swim. I had asked how far from them it was and when she told me 20 minutes I knew I had to take Crash and Bang. I’ll write about this secluded, hidden little spot next time. But for now, I suppose I can show you what it looks like:

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