The next chapter in our life together

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Cape Breton Reflections

5 days is not enough to do justice to this magical isle at the northern and eastern most part of Nova Scotia but we gave it a good shot. Highlights for me were the 3 hikes, one on each coast observing the lobstering near the coast and the extreme cliff drop offs, bird life (seagulls, cormorants mostly) and similarities to both New Zealand (ocean culture) and rainforest like forests with ferns, heavy undergrowth, Japanese Bamboo without the humidity of Borneo.

Squeezing in 15 holes on Highland Golf Course designed by Stanley Thompson (my Dad’s name) at sunset and then watching the heart of Canadians broken with their Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Finals. Hockey at the end of June?  With Florida winning the title?  Maurice Richard is groaning in his grave.

We did not go kayaking or whale watching but hopefully planted lots of climate conversation seeds with our Simple Steps handouts and renewed awareness on how little the average person talks about climate change. We learned at the CCL conference that Climate is 12th on the list of reasons to vote in the 2024 election. Looking forward to passing out the “Talk About Climate Change” caps that I’m bringing back for our CCL and ECA warriors to encourage a deeper level of infusion into the current culture. This election season promises many surprises…..thanks Joe for your service, time to mentor the next leaders and step aside….my fervent prayer to the Democratic Party. Just heard that Angie Craig is the latest MoC (member of Congress) to politely request Joe to step aside. I’m asking YOU to step up and speak up on what matters to you outside of your comfort zone.

Back to the EVenture…The Whale museum in Pleasant Bay is worth a visit, they are doing a lot of good education of protecting our oceans and their largest residents. The sperm whale brain is 20 times larger than the human brain, can dive over 3,000 feet deep and hold their breath for over 2 hours. Try one minute.

Heading on I saw a sign “Gompa Monastary 9 km” another “next time” visit to see where Pema Chodron, a wonderful Buddhist teacher lives. Instead we had our ‘bog walk’ on the top of the Cape Breton plateau with amazing views of the coast line and the famous Cabot Trail that guided our journey around Cape Breton. Cheticamp was our last night’s stay on Cape Breton. A tourist haven with French Bakery, music venues, light house tour and Mindy’s fav; learning about the art of hooking, making rugs, portraits and scenes. See photos of the museum and Lola’s Hooker shop. Another sad story of a rich cultural tradition dying from loss of practitioners.

Early morning coffee with John Begin and his fair trade Sea Wolf coffee shop and crossed the Canso causeway to the mainland of Nova Scotia.

– Paul


We had one more day to explore the tides in the Bay of Fundy – the highest tides in the world – which we decided to do along the Minas Basin.  It was a rainy morning, but we decided we wouldn’t let that stop us.  No such thing as bad weather only bad equipment.  Unfortunately our equipment failed to meet our expectations with disastrous results for Paul’s phone and our good camera.  Though both were “protected” in our raincoat pockets, those pockets leaked leaving internal puddles of water that ruined both of these electronics.  Unfortunately that memory distracts from the great interpretive trail we found that follows some of the archeological evidence found of the early indigenous inhabitants of Nova Scotia.

We carried on and the weather did clear to cooperate somewhat – at least the pouring rain had stopped though visibility continued to be limited.  I did get my chance to walk on the ocean floor at low tide – such an amazing experience to watch how quickly the tide was rising with every wave.  One has to pay careful attention to the tide timetables and water levels so as to to get caught unaware in rapidly rising water, but when well informed it is magical and powerful.  Our exploration continued and included Five Islands Lighthouse lookout and Cape d’Or until we found a local campground for the night.  The next morning we squeezed in just a bit more experience of the tides of Fundy before saying goodbye to Nova Scotia and heading inland.  I found myself strangely emotional to leave.  Was it the pull of the tides?  Or the winding down of our vacation time?  Who knows, but we took one last chance to say thank you to the waters and people of Nova Scotia before moving on.

– Mindy

Post Halifax

Sleeping in after a late night watching the hockey game, we found some coffee, fully charged the car and were off toward Cape Breton Island.

As we headed for Cape Breton Island, we saw signs for the Fundy Discovery Site to watch the tidal bore.  We couldn’t resist and stopped in.  The bore tide would arrive in about an hour, so we decided to use their wifi to work on the blog while we waited.  We got so engrossed in what we were doing that we missed the very front of the wave, but it was still amazing to see how quickly the water was moving upriver on the Salmon River.

We then paused for a bite at the Farmer’s Daughter (thanks, Michael for the recommendation) and then found the Baddeck Cabot Trail Campground complete with car chargers for the night.

After breakfast at camp, we were off to explore the Alexander Graham Bell museum in Baddeck.  It was so fascinating we spent hours there looking at all the exhibits.  So much of the museum spoke to his character and his concern for helping others.  In addition to being an inventor, he taught the deaf to speak following a method created by his father.  One of his students, Mabel Hubbard, later became his wife.  I was struck by his feminist streak – starting with the wedding gift to his wife of 90% of his stock in the Bell Telephone Company.  Essentially he gave her financial independence at a time when women were still largely considered property or at least wards of their husbands.  They became equal partners in many activities and she financed some of the experimental organizations he was involved with as well as having many activities of her own.  His invention of the telephone had given them the wealth they lived on for the rest of their lives and allowed them to do many things for the betterment of humankind.

Back on the road, we were taken in by the lobster dinner sign at St. Ann’s.  We knew we would treat ourselves once on the trip.  We were taken back to the tanks to chose our own victim/dinner.  Even though it is lobster season here and they are caught right outside the restaurant, the market price is still hefty enough that we split this lobster.  And we found every possible morsel inside this shell.  It was delicious!

Hurrying on we made it to Cape Breton Highlands National Park shortly before closing time and had to hustle to get to the campground before they closed.  A heavy downpour overnight made us very happy to have stayed in the car that night.

Up early, we headed to the historic Keltic Lodge which is the home of the famous Highland Links golf course.  Another one designed by Stanley Thompson.  We decided to have the breakfast buffet in the restaurant there where we watched the lobster fishermen at work outside the window and then took our first hike in the park on Middle Head Trail.  The trail is in the process of renovation, so easier to hike than it may have been in the past.  A number of beautiful overlooks and then the culmination at the end jutting out into the Atlantic.  The large rock island at the end of the point (inaccessible to humans from land) was full of seagulls including babies that we had to look closely to see since they blend in with the color of the rock.  So fuzzy and cute!

Though rain was predicted, we decided to take our chances and headed to Meat Cove – the furthest point north in Nova Scotia accessible by road.  Even though there were some low clouds, it was still a stunning view of the rocks and sea.  We took a hike to the high point above the campground for an even better view – very worth taking the time. One curious plant growing everywhere with large leaves and a 

And we still got back to Highland Links in time for Paul to get in a round of golf at half price of the twilight rate – at that price no one could say no to the opportunity to play this course.

– Mindy

Old Business

Paul here, I pulled a surprise on Mindy as we left the DC conference on June 13. “Honey” I said, “look what I found in our garage?  I thought we could return this in person since we are headed through CT”  The ‘what’ was an old 16 mm reel to reel movie of the Dominican Republic that I used when I worked with Save the Children  from 1981-86 after my stint in the refugee camps in Somalia June – Dec 1981.  Mindy was up for it so we headed through Baltimore MD, skirted around NYC on a sunny afternoon with distant views of America’s megapolis and cruised into Fairfield, CT long after the closing time. Never mind, the door to the professional building was open, we met a gentleman and friend who worked in the building and who knew the Executive Director of Save the Children and said he would explain our visit. We dropped off the film canister with a four page note of explanation.

Just yesterday I received confirmation that our film drop-off was received and SCF (abbreviation for Save the Children) was happy to get the film and convert the film to digital….without the 30 + year fine for being overdue…..Phew!!

I responded by saying that our Frisbee family would start  another SCF Auction next year to honor our commitment to our sponsored kids  and keeping helping SCF’s important work of self determination and resilient development in the face of our rapidly changing climate.  Much like the work that Peace Corps is engaging in. And so my past continues to merge with my present and the linkages of my journey re-connect as our climate calls out for renewed action.

Even before Save the Children, came Paul’s passion for Frisbee and the magic of the flying disc.  Where did that start?  Good question but many believe it was with the Frisbie Pie Company from Bridgeport, CT had a hand in its beginning, just down the road from Fairfield, CT and the SCF office. A quick email and voice message to long time friend and Frisbee Elder Dan “Stork” Roddick, and he set Mindy and I up with the co-ordinates to the original Frisbee Pie Co factory address in Bridgeport CT, now an empty construction site near a proposed dog racing park. Where are the priorities in our world going? NTL Stork collected a few bricks long ago and I got this lousy, night time photo of a fence and “what used to be here long ago”  Oh my, things do change, but the memories remain.

That night we tested out our “perfect fit  for the Tesla Model Y mattress” at the I 95 rest stop and spent our first night on the road sleeping soundly as the East Coast traffic hummed by.

The next day we continued our journey to Portland, ME and a brief hello with Peter Dugas, Mindy’s counterpart Regional Director for New England and had lunch with his wife Annie and daughter Thea at the yellow umbrella Middle Eastern falafel restaurant. We learned about Henry Longfellow, before he came to Minneapolis and wrote the Song of Hiawatha poem. There we were again.

Next part was “pure Maine” driving along the ocean with tourist traffic and finally having “enuf” and heading to hwy 9 and a completely isolated road to down east and our friends Paul and Sarah Strictland in Robbinston, ME on the St Croix River across from New Brunswick, CA.

12 years since we had connected in MN and we had a short but sweet two nights and a day mostly with Sarah.  Eastport, ME visit and their “Dam” camp that the family has held since 1917, quite a legacy.

Now back to our current day program…

– Paul

Halifax and Peggy’s Cove

We left Chester early in the morning (for us) and headed into Halifax on what turned out to be a very hot day with heat index warnings.  We started with an electric boat tour of the harbor with Joyce and Glenn as our tour guides with Halifax Harbour Tours.  The delightfully quiet ride made it easy to hear our guides and talk with our fellow passengers.  We learned some history (the Halifax explosion) and saw the sights.  And as a special treat they performed a song on our way back into port “Farewell Nova Scotia.”  Kara at the ticketing booth gave us some great advice after our tour of what else to see and where in Halifax.  We took in some of the board walk then headed to the Citadel for some more history of the area.  Along the way we also discovered St. Paul’s church and stopped in for a chat with the warden.  We’d finally had enough of the heat, but made one last stop on our way out of town to Fairview Cemetery where some of the Titanic victims were buried as well as a memorial to the unknown dead from the Halifax explosion.


We backtracked a bit to our campground for the night near Peggy’s Cove so we could get to the well known lighthouse for the sunset and after the tour buses were gone (a tip we’d gotten the day before).  Many different languages could be heard as we enjoyed the site with other visitors.  Though not overcrowded, it was impossible to get a picture without someone else in it.


We hadn’t gotten our fill of Halifax, so we headed back the next morning after a stop for coffee and sweets at the Labour Day Cafe where we met Michael who gave us more good tourist advice.  Fortunately this day was not as hot and made for perfect wandering weather.  We started at the Public Gardens where we enjoyed our picnic lunch and a wander through the garden.  Then we wandered the board walk and made our way to the Canadian Museum of Immigration on Pier 21.  This is the Ellis Island of Canada.  The museum is filled with the stories of immigrants and the joy and challenges of moving to a new country.  We could have spent twice the time we were here, but they were closing 1.5 hours after we arrived, so that kept us moving along.  Back to wandering the boardwalk along the harbour.  Enjoying the sights and the gelato and also finding the Peace by Chocolate store.  And making new friends along the way.

The day ended at Shooter’s pub in Enfield (by one of the two Tesla Superchargers in Nova Scotia).  There we watched the 6th game of the Stanley Cup finals and cheered for the Edmonton Oilers against the Florida Panthers.  They won the game securing a game 7 for the chance to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time in 32 years.   We’ve gotta cheer for Canada while we are here!

We fell asleep in the back of the car (boy am I glad we invested in that new mattress) in the parking lot dreaming of our next destination – Cape Breton Island.

– Mindy

Chester, Lunenburg and Blue Rocks

We arrived in the village of Chester to meet our new friend Cindy who had been introduced to us by Paul’s friend and classmate John.  We soon discovered that she and Paul had also been classmates in junior high before Cindy moved away from Minnesota.  Lucky for us she eventually chose Chester, Nova Scotia as her home and we could quickly see why she fell in love with this place.  She has a lovely cottage right on the water with a stunning view.  Her friends across the street offer their home to friends to stay while they are away, so we were in for a treat with our accommodations.  We had a delightful dinner at Cindy’s with her friend Jim and his son-in-law Andy – with wonderful conversation all around.

The next day, Paul arranged to go golfing at the Chester golf club – a lovely course right on the water.  I happily took the day to rest at our guest house including a hot epsom salt bath and time sitting on the deck in the sun looking over our guidebooks for Nova Scotia that I had not had a chance to look at before leaving home.  The day of rest seemed to have been good for me and bad for my cold – meaning it helped get me on the healing side of the cold and back in sight seeing mode by the next morning.  We enjoyed dinner out at the Foc’sle Tavern in Chester with the biggest piece of breaded fried fish (fish and chips style) that I’ve ever seen!  That and the seafood chowder were delicious.  After dinner we were treated to a harbor tour with Jim as skipper and tour guide.  It was a beautiful night to be out on the water and we arrived back just as it started to get chilly.

The following morning we were off to Lunenburg with Cindy as our tour guide.  We first took in the view from the golf course across the water then found a parking spot in the shade and headed off on foot.  We visited the old cemetery and then spent a couple hours working our way through the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.  Next came lunch on the patio and wandering through some shops in town to view local artisan’s wares.  We ended the day with a drive through the surrounding community and the village of Blue Rocks including a stop at the Art Barn where I fell in love with Linda’s art work and had to take home a piece made with bees wax and handmade paper.  After a lovely day together, we said our farewells to Cindy and packed up the car to leave in the morning.

– Mindy

Nova Scotia Arrival

I’ll let Paul go back and talk about the days in between if he wants to. I’m going to keep jumping ahead.

We arrived on the ferry in Digby, Nova Scotia, and first had to find a charging station. Once the car was filled, we looked to fill our bellies with the famous scallops for which Digby is known. We were not disappointed by the small establishment we found along the wharf. We managed to get the last of their scallops lightly pan fried and delicious accompanied by chips (fries) and coleslaw.

As it was now heading towards the evening, we decided to look for camping along Digby Neck and explore the unique topography of this small spit of land that is an extension of the Appalachian mountains. The views were beautiful both over St. Mary’s Bay and the Bay of Fundy. I was hoping for a camping spot to watch the sunset over the bay of Fundy.

We turned off at Whale Cove to look for the one campground noted on the tourist map. Not finding it, we stopped to ask a local who peered us through his fence. To our good fortune Stanley became a fast friend, though he told us the campground had closed he owned the land up to the bayfront water and said we were welcome to park there and stay for the night. He gave us a tour of some of his personal projects, including a beautiful overlook of the bay. He introduced us to his pets and told us stories of having lived in the village since he was born.

We parked our car down near the water with a full beautiful view of the sunset. And to my delight, this was no ordinary sunset, but hours of a pink and blue tinged sky as the sun sank over the horizon and continued to illuminate the clouds until nearly 11 PM. The self inflating foam mattress we purchased for the back of the Tesla has proven to be a great idea. We shift our belongings to the front seat – nicely packed in bins for easy stacking – spread out the mattress with our sleeping bags and pillows from home, set the camping mode and enjoy mosquito free, perfect temperature and very comfortable night’s sleep with views of the sky, the bay and our other surroundings.

The next morning we took a short walk along the waterfront then headed out to find coffee and to see Balancing Rock on Long Island south of Digby Neck. We arrived at the ferry stop then did a few calculations to realize we couldn’t do that and make it to Chester by early evening. So we turned around knowing we would find many other natural wonders along our way. We took the scenic route along the shore and enjoyed the view.

Driving an electric vehicle still takes more planning than a gas powered one. Though there are multiple charging stations throughout Nova Scotia. They are not as fast as the Tesla superchargers we are accustomed to and to our surprise we were not the only ones looking for a high-speed charge. At one stop, we actually had to wait when we arrived at our planned charging spot. Charging takes an hour even at a DC fast charger which is enough time to go for a walk, but they’re usually located in a city area not very friendly to walking so instead we keep planning the trip and seeking advice from locals.

I seem to have caught a cold that has left me with less energy than usual. Yes, I have tested multiple times now for Covid each time showing negative even though there have been reported cases from the conference so I’m being extra cautious by wearing my mask and staying away from people I don’t know and can’t give full warning to, so I didn’t mind having one day of driving where I could easily doze in the car as we headed to meet a new friend in Chester.

– Mindy

First view of Nova Scotia from the ferry
Sunset over the Bay of Fundy
Paul’s catch, Stan’s lookout above, Redd-y in our camping spot
Breakfast from a roadside stand

Oh Canada – here we come

I’m finally settling into vacation. Lots of hours getting ready for the conference and lobby day. The lobby day is ultimately my responsibility though I have lots of help from 400 plus volunteers and my 11 fellow Regional Directors.

It was strange to be at the conference and miss all of it. I was sitting in the hallway at the lobby help desk during every session but the time I spoke. I watched snippets on the livestream between questions. But it is totally worth it! There comes a time during the conference when I realize it’s now in the hands of the volunteers on the lobby teams. They’ve asked all their questions, gotten advice, planned with their teams and are ready to go.

Lobby Day on the Hill is magical. I participated in 3 lobby meetings with minor roles. The rest of the day I was chatting with CCLers in the cafeteria or getting high fives and waves as we pass in the hallways – these same hallways that so many before us have walked to shape our country the best way we all know how. Then comes the final celebration at the reception that evening. And with that everyone heads home.

It’s a little strange to walk through the hotel the next day and have all these strangers sitting at the tables and in seats where CCL volunteers were for many days before. Time for us to go.

I tied up loose ends on Thursday and Friday and set my email vacation notices. All while we headed northeast along the coast heading for friends and vacation.  A charge stop in Portland where we were greeted by Peter then had lunch with Annie and Thea. Two nights with Sarah and Paul in Robbinston which was the perfect setting to pause and get into vacation mode.

And now we are on the ferry heading for Nova Scotia and the adventure that awaits- after minor inspection at the border. Apparently it was a little suspicious that we would go through Canada two years in a row with a carload of camping equipment, but as they verified, that’s all we have.

– Mindy

Conference Wrap Up and tour prep

Welcome back, 4 days later. The conference is complete, Mindy is at her staff retreat and I’m waiting for Kate Schacter, our RPCV forEnvironmental Action president and main driver of bringing the Peace Corps Community closer to what CCL is doing.

So much of our lives are about doing stuff and getting stuff done. I (pt) on this trip am  attempting to break some patterns, read more, blog less, feel more deeply and take the time to do that. At 75 I’m clearly aware of the 3rd Act of life and how it requires a different  understanding,…. acceptance.

Last night a Muslim girl spoke about her experience lobbying and then spoke to all of us in how we make sense of our good actions here in DC while thousands of kids and innocent people are being raped, killed forced to escape.  For me it was a stark reminder  how different our realities are when instability, war and poverty dictate  people’s lives. I thanked her mentor Karina this morning. The youth at this conference were beyond my expectations. Inspiring  leadership, poise, courage, and open hearted and wonderfully naive.

Mindy- Now a certified Rock Star in the CCL World.

She and her team organized individual schedules for the 1,000 lobbyists, and confirmed 441 congressional meeting (97 of 100 in the senate) and now she has to (as an introvert) walk thru the quiet hallways so people don’t recognize her…true story!

Her multiple  weeks long commitment for pulling this off I have witnessed since April and I’m doing my best to give/ find for her what she needs….”we miss our body pump”  The number of people from the conference that just rushed up to her to thank her and hug her….ya had to be there, and again,  and again.  Lobbying for the first time can be a life changing experience. The comments by the first timers are powerful listen to them here.

The amount of thought, practice and preparation for these lobby meetings make all the difference. By the time we arrive at the offices all we do is listen, ask open ended questions and show undivided attention and appreciation ….it works. Not as fast as we’d like but we are moving a huge piece of machinery here.

Wednesday felt like a break…Mindy had staff meeting and bonding with her team of Regional Directors. Paul went to the Peace Corps office with 2 CCL staff Joe Robertson director of CCI (International) and Karina Ramirez the CCL DEI Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) coordinator. 5 staff where attending from PC including Andrew Wilson the director of the Third Goal (what PCVs do when they return home) and Nik Karr the Climate Change expert tasked with creating Climate Adaptation and Resilience programs for countries of service.  Also Dan Baker the director of NPCA (National PC Assoc) and Jonathan Pearson, long time friend and advocacy director of NPCA and his assistant Kathryn from Kansas.

We had a robust conversation about raising the awareness of Climate Action and how best to tell the unique story that PCVs and RPCVs have to tell about our international experiences and linking with CCL.  The word “Lobby” is a stumbling block for PC, a government organization with strong limits on what they can do as a government entity. More to come on this. We followed the meeting with a meet and greet at the near by Wundergarten Beer Garden and met a bunch of new RPCVs from the DC area and kept building connection. After all, it’s ALL about relationship right?

Caught the end of the Farewell Celebration for Mark Reynolds the first and longest serving CEO of CCL as the organization brings on their new leader at the end of this month. Thanks Mark, no words can convey what you have created for CCL and all of us!!

Time to head north and start phase 2 of this EVenture.

– Paul




Cabot Trail or Bust- The Next EVenture

OK, welcome back to our yearly EVenture journey to  another amazing part of North America while moving our country and planet toward a better decarbonized future.

With our planned trip to Nova Scotia we opted to drive Redd-Y (our model Y Tesla) instead of our usual Amtrak trip to DC for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) International Conference. Much prefer the train but this year flexible travel wins out. Quite a flurry of action and pressure getting out of town. With Mindy in charge of the organizing all the lobby meeting2 (now at 422+ confirmed of the 535 offices), finding Pickles care (thanks Twila, Jag , Zorro and Tigger), final planting and watering plan for our mini urban farm…it was a lot!!

We hit Chicago after rush hour which was quite painless  and arrived at Faith and David Van Gilder’s home outside of Fort Wayne IN at 12:30 am. RPCV  (Peace Corps Vol) Faith (Botswana) like Paul  (Malaysian Borneo) is an active advocate for Peace Corps funding and legislation and offered her home for our first night on the road. What a beautiful location in the woods…frog sounds, giant trees, no traffic…just what we all need. Breakfast with Faith, sorry to miss Dave….next time.

More travel on Friday through Indiana, Ohio (best rest stops) and into the gorgeous hills and mountains of Pennsylvania and Maryland with the ever present memories of Mindy and Ryan’s  2016 Low Carbon Crossing bike journey. The final leg along the GAP and C & O trails into DC during the election of Donald Trump.

Now in  Washington DC and the annual CCL International Conference.  Here’s the link to follow the proceedings Over 1,000 volunteers from every state and many countries building non  partisan political will for climate solutions.  We will be having 3 days of learning and planning for our Tuesday lobby meetings with Congressional members and their staff on permitting reform essential to reach our climate goals and seek co-sponsors for the “Prove -It Act” which does the following:

  • Measures the carbon intensity of certain goods
  • Helps America negotiate effectively with trading partners
  • Builds on bipartisan momentum to act on global carbon pollution

Both of these asks are friendly to both sides of the political spectrum, CCL’s specialty.

Time to get ready for the National conference call and an afternoon of Climate Conversations of the DC Mall, the swag for the conference?….baseball caps with “Talk About Climate Change”  just what everybody needs.

and the blog is launched…thanks for reading.



Stats from the Alaska trip

We’re about to strike out on our next EVenture and realized we might want to close off the last one first….

In case we left you wondering, we did make it home on our final day with stops to visit friends along the way – Jeanne in Alexandria for breakfast  and Lee and Vicki in Annandale for lunch.  We arrived home in the early evening well fed and happy to see Pickles again – I think he missed us too or maybe he just wondered who was going to feed him.

Here’s a map with all of our charging stops along the way

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