Friday, June 27, 2008


For those of you who follow Paul's blog, you will have read that I had my first encounter with the American medical system last week. In all the stress and sleepless nights, my body decided to succumb to another infection - nothing serious but enough for me to want to see a doctor.

The first question was how to find a doctor. I didn't want to start interviewing people for a permanent position, I just wanted this infection treated sooner than later. Paul called a coworker who told me about Doctors Care. I called one nearby and, yes, I could just arrive without an appointment so off Isabelle and I went. Once we cleared up that I understood that I had to pay and have Paul's medical plan reimburse us, I was seen within a few minutes. The doctor was a little concerned when he realized I didn't have a spleen and wanted to order blood work but I reassured him it wasn't necessary and that, yes, I would visit an emergency department if my symptoms worsened. So he sent me off with a prescription and a tip that Publix grocery stores fill prescriptions for some antibiotics for free

Total cost - $115 for the visit and one test - antibiotics free (OK, I bought 2L of ice cream while I waited...)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

At Home in Orchard Farms

After Taryn left, Maggie, Isabelle and I turned to figuring out life in the south while Paul went off to work. There were a few trips to the grocery store, a few walks around the neighbourhood and to the playground and pool, some yard work, some cleaning and a lot of unpacking.

We met some of the neighbours who all have children - most a few years older than Isabelle. Most of them are on the swim team and seem to be shuttled back and forth many times a day. One neighbour brought a care package of lasagna, lunch meats, cheese, salad, bread etc to help us get settled. After having so much car time, I tried to limit our time in the car the first week. I also started Maggie on her new regime of kennel training. She is very good about going in the kennel, I think she realizes that she is better off there than in the hot car, but when we get home I can hear her howling. At least I know she is safe in her kennel.

One day, Isabelle and I went to check out a new gym which is nearby. It is very nice but quite expensive for the amount of time I could actually use it. The bonus was that just down the street from the gym is a new doggie daycare, about a five minute drive from the house. The outdoor area is much bigger than the other one we looked at and they have indoor/outdoor kennels just like she had at Ella's.

Orchard Farms subdivision was started in 1996 and has over 400 homes. It is sort of divided into two sections: the north and the south.

View Larger Map

We live at the very end of Redglobe Court and can hear the chickens on the farms beside us. The community is not gated but the three entrances are quite formal, complete with signs. The cul-de-sacs don't have sidewalks but the main streets do so we can walk to the playground and pool (on the left/west side of the map). The pool is open most of the day and is very nice, Isabelle loves it. Unlike many subdivisions I have seen, ours is quite treed and our backyard has a lot of shade which is nice for all of us on these very hot days.

There is a homeowners association which enforces the restrictive covenants and organizes community activities including the subdivision swim team. The covenants (only 30+ pages long)control a lot of activities and ban clotheslines. (I'm waiting for state legislation to overrule that one!) Waste is picked up weekly, we have Waste Management (same as in West Hants) but others use other companies. The only curbside recycling is plastic beverage containers, aluminum cans(not steel), and newspaper. Other things can be taken to a recycling depot, the closest is about 10 minutes away, but even there many things cannot be recycled. Of course, food waste goes in the garbage (we are investigating worms). So, I am feeling very guilty about things right now!

Our lawn isn't in great shape - it needs work and my plan to use the reel mower may not work since it is so uneven, unlike the lawn below. I saw this fellow mow his lawn three times the first week we were here. It looks more like a putting green than a lawn. This weekend when we drove past he was washing his lawn mower with soap and water. We also will not be contenders for the yard of the month award which the lower house received. The sign does not stand out in the picture but there is a sign on the lawn.

I will try to get more pictures of the neighbourhood and some of the nearby subdivisions - some of which are pretty incredible. Until then you can see the area on Google Street View.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More Adventures

Thursday morning we were on the go early - we found the Bodum and kettle so we could make coffee for Taryn figuring if she was going to entertain the girl while we unpacked we better treat her well! Anyway, our mover arrived right on time and began to get us unpacked. We had him unpack most of the glassware and dishes and found a few key pieces then sent him on his way since he unpacked faster than we could put away!

Taryn and I then went off to Bi-Lo for groceries leaving Isabelle and Maggie with Paul while he got ready to go to work for 1pm. An hour in a huge new grocery store is not enough. We got the basics and some extras - Goober Grape!

The next four days were a blur. I know having Taryn here was a huge help since we could pop out and leave Maggie and Isabelle here. Taryn and I also had a trip to Target, well two actually! Thursday night we walked around downtown Greenville. It is amazing how much it has changed since I was last here. Reedy River Park is beautiful, there are tons of people, and dogs, around just enjoying the atmosphere.
Friday, we checked out a doggie day care which seemed OK - not a lot of outdoor space but then again it is too hot here now to be outside for long. Paul got home from work early and we jumped in the car headed for Georgia to check another state off Taryn's list. Saturday we headed to the state farmers market and the downtown market - I will admit I was a little disappointed but realize we are spoiled by the Wolfville Market. Also, a lot of produce in the grocery store is marketed as being local so maybe that demand is being met by the stores?? The downtown market was fun and we looked at some of the stores as well including Paul's favorite - Mast General Store and Michelin on Main. We had lunch on the patio of the Overlook Grill - dogs were permitted - they even got big dishes of water! After lunch, Taryn and I went to look at the Michelin stuff at Michelin on Main and Paul took Isabelle to the water part of the park to cool her down. The rest of us cooled down with an ice cream from the Marble Slab Creamery. It had to be the best butter pecan ice cream I have ever had! Later, Paul and I went to get Maggie a kennel as part of the new regime. She has never been keen to be in a kennel but bringing her in the car here is not an option.
Sunday, we went north to the mountains we stopped at Caesars Head State Park and drove a small section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was determined that Taryn see some of it and since we missed it on the trip south. It was a beautiful as the last time and I can't wait to see more. We didn't make it to Asheville but we had to leave something for Taryn's next visit - if we didn't completely turn her off three year olds! We did go to the North Carolina Arboretum for a picnic . It has expanded since Paul and I visited a few years ago and is just as nice. This time the quilt garden was in bloom so we got the full effect.

Sunday night brought dark ominous skies once again and Taryn and I sat outside watching the lightning in the distance. The strange thing was we couldn't hear any thunder even though it seemed quite close. We also didn't get any rain.

Monday morning we had to say goodbye to Taryn. I couldn't have done the trip without her - she was an amazing driving companion and has several new skills to add to her resume, including navigator, recreation director, entertainment manager, nutritional coordinator and psychologist. I would do the trip with Taryn anytime, I think we worked really well together.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 5 - Carlisle, PA to our New Home 887 km

Yes, you read that correctly, 887 km.

As we were driving south, Paul was more and more anxious for us to arrive, add to that a tired mummy, a hot dog, a bored, tired 3 year old and a friend who should be sainted and you get one long day in the car, a few tears and a happy arrival through torrential rain.

The day started well, we had an awesome breakfast buffet in Carlisle - french toast, scrambled eggs, hash browns, hash brown casserole, egg and bacon casserole, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, cinnamon buns, cereal, fruit, juice, coffee.... definitely our best find of the trip!

Again, we were on the road early. The 81 south was busy - lots of transport trucks, and none of that 'keep right except to pass' like in Nova Scotia. We were hardly on the road when a car passed us honking - of course, I thought the roof carrier had come adrift but as the car passed us we saw it was from Nova Scotia. Not too much later we happened on another car from home. I followed them until we got to the Virginia Welcome Centre - another great one, it even had a toddler sized toilet and sink! Turns out our fellow Nova Scotians, they actually were from Windsor, were on their way to Tennessee to the Bonnaroo Music Festival which sounds pretty cool - maybe another year?!?!

We kept on trucking all morning - decided a late lunch was good since breakfast was huge. All of a sudden the cars were stopped in front of us and we saw a cow running down the median chased by a state trooper - expecting the worst Taryn turned around to distract Isabelle but things kept moving and there were no apparent casualties.

We lunched at Lexington - looked for a picnic area, to no avail. This is where things went south. Isabelle was exhausted, as was I. She was being very demanding in the car and just needed to konk out for a bit. I looked at Taryn and said "I just want to get there tonight". We had planned to overnight in Wytheville but Taryn was game to go for it. I was worried that another night on the road and away from Paul would make another day on the road unbearable for everyone.

During the whole trip, despite the heat, Maggie was great, we even started teaching an old dog a new trick by teaching her to go on command "Hurry up, Maggie".

Following our new plan of let's just get there, we decided to stick to the big roads taking the 77 to Charlotte and then onto the 85 directly to our new home. Taryn took over the driving and drove through some amazing views and the worst rain I have ever seen. We had some false starts - Isabelle declared a bathroom stop just north of Roanoke. The first option was a dive and I played the mother card - I am not taking her in there! We ended up off the track at a Girl Scout headquarters/store (yes, Dawn - there will be a package in the mail for you) and the bathroom passed muster.

Just north of Charlotte, the 77 goes through Lake Norman which had some amazing lakefront properties on the manmade lake. However, our eyes were on the ever darking skies and increasing wind ahead. Knowing the roof carrier with all the shopping was only water resistant, we pulled off the highway at a shopping complex in Huntersville (I think) which was made to look like a small town - can't find any info about it now but may be worth a stop another time. We pulled everything off the roof and into the car and headed back to the highway.

In the end, it was a smart move, despite my quip that it wouldn't rain since we took the stuff off the roof - IT RAINED. Not a gentle rain but torrents, sheets and as quickly as it started, it stopped - on and off all the way to Greenville, usually corresponding to us needing to take an exit! It stopped raining just long enough at the state border for us to call Paul and say we were on our way and to snap a picture of the sign. Oh, and we did see a rainbow near Kings Mountain.

We pulled in the driveway of our new house around 9pm with a collective sigh of relief, I'm not sure who was happiest to see Paul sitting on the front steps. Some dinner, calls to the grandparents, a tour of the house (complete with furniture which had arrived that day) and then off to bed. Paul had bedding and towels pulled out for everyone, including Maggie! The next morning the mover was coming back to unpack boxes.

Day 4 - Vernon, CT to Carlisle, PA 535 km

Obviously, I should have written this sooner since the details are fading away and Taryn may have to add some details and corrections. Tuesday started early, Maggie woke me before 6 am and I realized that we would have to get going to try to miss the worst of morning traffic into Hartford, CT. I said if we could get started early we could finish the day mid-afternoon, hopefully at a hotel with a pool.

I bought a Thule soft rooftop carrier before leaving NS but we hadn't used it. Now that we had all of our shopping from Kittery, I loaded it on the car - it was fairly simple considering I had never tried it before, I found out later Paul had so at least one of us knew it fit!

The drive through Hartford was pretty easy since we were continuing west on the 84.
Taryn's trip planning from CAA sent us down the 95 and 85 through all the big cities - on the advice of other people we elected to take the 84 west to Scranton, PA and then get on the 81 south. From the 81, we had several options to get to Greenville. We knew the final section would be dependant on our timing, Isabelle and Maggie's tolerance levels and our patience.

One of the first stops of the days was at a rest area in New York state - not top on my list of rest areas but it was shady and gave us a chance to stretch our legs and walk Maggie. By 10 am, with the heat wave, it was already to hot to leave Maggie in the car for any length of time. We stopped again at the Pennsylvania border at a beautiful tourist information centre. Maybe after the next trip I will blog about the best rest stops between Greenville and NS. Obviously, with a dog and a three year old, rest stops are important!

About 20 years ago, I travelled from NS to State College, PA, the only thing I remember from the driving was Scranton, PA and an auto scrapyard. No sign of it this time, the 84 was generally a good drive. We stopped for lunch in Wilkes-Barre, again a quick lunch since we couldn't leave Maggie in the car. Notes for the next trip - I would pick up more food for lunches, snacks, etc. so we could avoid fast food, most of the hotels had fridges so keeping things cold wouldn't be an issue.

At lunch, we looked at our options for overnight. Dad lent us his GPS (now known as Bob) which made things a little easier. We looked at the map, picked a potential destination, plugged it into Bob and decided if it was too far. Then, we looked at Taryn's CAA books to see if there was a dog friendly hotel with a pool. We decided on a Holiday Inn in Carlisle, PA.

With the help of some care packages from Grandmere and Sammy, a DVD player from Peter and the amazing patience of Taryn, Isabelle was entertained for the rest of the drive. Arriving at the hotel, we knew dogs were welcome as 6 K-9 units from one the railroad companies were there. Isabelle and I had a swim in the pool before supper and then we were able to eat at the hotel restaurant, in shifts, giving Taryn some down time. Isabelle fell asleep quickly but woke around 11pm for 2 hours - we were in for a rough day ahead!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 3 - Portland, ME to Vernon, CT 302 km

Monday morning I had to fax some paperwork to the mover so I headed to Office Max while Taryn stayed at the motel with Isabelle. Luckily, Office Max is conveniently located next to Tim Horton's so I stopped to get a medium coffee and hot chocolate. What they handed me was more like a large, my jaw dropped and the Tim's guy asked where in Canada I was from - turns out he was from outside Saint John and he knew by the look on my face that I was used to smaller mediums.

Then we loaded the car and headed down the road to Kittery - we had each picked 5 stores we wanted to see which, in the end, was good since we hit a heat wave and we couldn't leave Maggie in the car for very long. I picked up a few things and discovered that Taryn has a shoe addiction, well, I would too if I didn't have a 3 year old to buy for! After Kittery we made a quick stop in NH for groceries and beverages and headed down the road to Vernon, CT. There was no logic to the stop, we just reached it at the right time and found a hotel which took dogs. Even in the evening it was too hot to go out for dinner and leave Maggie in the car so we just ordered pizza in and rested for a big day ahead.

Monday, June 16, 2008

We're Here

We arrived last Wednesday night having driven through the biggest thunderstorm I have seen in awhile for the last leg of the trip. Since then we have been unpacking, cleaning, and sightseeing with Taryn who was an amazing driving companion.

I'll try to post about our trip over the next few days - driving 2,000+ km with a 3 year old and a dog during a heat wave in June in New England was certainly an experience!

Days 1/2 - Annapolis Valley to Portland, ME via the CAT (586 km according to Google maps)
We left the Valley on Saturday afternoon to spend a night in Saulnierville with Bernard and Diane before catching the Cat on Sunday. Diane and Bernard made seafood chowder and rapure. I think Diane outdid herself this time on the chowder - I wish I could have brought some with us! We even had time to hit Frenchy's on Sunday before heading to Yarmouth.
I haven't taken the ferry to Maine since I was very little and after lots of discussion we decided it was the best option for this trip and we were right! The ferry was pretty empty since it is early in the season and I had a bag of activities for Isabelle for the 5.5 hour trip which I never opened!! There were three other young children on board and an activity director who coloured and glued with them the whole way. Eight movies showed during the crossing including Ratatouille and Flushed Away for the kids. The only downside was the food - which for the most part didn't look all that appetizing. We ended up having hot dogs but next time I would take a picnic lunch.

We arrived in Portland on time around 8:30 est but were the last in the line up for customs. This took a while since I had to apply for I-94 cards, get Maggie in and import the car. The officers were great - very patient and understanding. It helped that I had all the documents in one place. Since they were already processing someone else when we arrived they just took my paperwork and started mine while they finished the other and we waited outside the office. One big plus was that Paul had made multiple colour copies of all our passports and birth certificates (long form for Isabelle with both our names on it). So, rather than making black and white copies of our documents, they took the extra colour copies which were more legible. Essentially the border was easy since I was well prepared - vaccination certificate for Maggie, passports and birth certificates for Isabelle and me, marriage certificate, notarized letter from Paul saying I could cross the border with Isabelle and letter of compliance for the Subaru.

We spent the first night in Portland and I had some faxing to do since our stuff was in a truck at the border waiting for my paperwork to come through. I didn't sleep much but we had an easy day of shopping ahead in Kittery.