Where My Shoes Have Taken Me – Grand Manan Island

Continuing my new blog series of telling my stories through photographs, I simply HAD to talk about a fantastic recent trip I made to Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick. Y’see, my wife had lived there briefly when she was younger and had some really great friends who grew up there, but she hadn’t seen them in years.

We decided to meet-up with them and spend the weekend. It would be my first time visiting Grand Manan, so I knew that I had to take a TON of photos of where my shoes were taking me this time…

These are my new Skechers: the Men’s Relaxed Fit: Blais-Telen. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned. On this day, they took me to a hillside in downtown Halifax to watch the 2016 Pride parade. We were VERY fortunate to find a near-empty hillside by the very beginning of the parade route. While thousands and thousands of people waited throughout the downtown core, there may have been maybe 100 people scattered along the hill. It was the PERFECT spot.
These are my new Skechers: the Men’s Relaxed Fit: Blais-Telen. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned. I knew that I’d be doing a ton of walking and/or standing over the course of the weekend, so I wanted something on my feet with some cushion. These sneakers have memory foam inside, making them an EXTREMELY comfy shoe to wear on an occasion such as this one.
It wasn’t easy, but we got up at the ass-crack of dawn on a Saturday morning so we could hit the road by 6am. Needless to say, we started the car on time.
We made quite a few stops along our 5+ hour trip. The first was a pit-stop in Amherst, Nova Scotia. For whatever reason, we saw this motorcycle sign and thought it was hilarious. I mean...it looks like it's straight out of the 1950's or something. Or maybe it was just us.
We made quite a few stops along our 5+ hour trip. The first was a pit-stop in Amherst, Nova Scotia. For whatever reason, we saw this motorcycle sign and thought it was hilarious. I mean…it looks like it’s straight out of the 1950’s or something. Or maybe it was just us.
The second pit-stop was in Moncton, New Brunswick. We had gone about as far as we could go before Sunshine had to get her hands on some Starbucks. Happy wife = happy life!!
The next stop is now kind of a "tradition" for us whenever we drive through the area. This is an Irving Big Stop located in Salisbury, New Brunswick. I don't know why, but this gas station is massive and is always REALLY busy. It's just a fun stop for us to take a silly selfie.
The next stop is now kind of a “tradition” for us whenever we drive through the area. This is an Irving Big Stop located in Salisbury, New Brunswick. I don’t know why, but this gas station is massive and is always REALLY busy. It’s just a fun stop for us to take a silly selfie.
Even though it was 10:45am, we felt as though it was time for lunch (we'd been up for almost six hours by this point). Thankfully, we found a Wendy's in Saint John, New Brunswick that opened a few minutes early.
Even though it was 10:45am, we felt as though it was time for lunch (we’d been up for almost six hours by this point). Thankfully, we found a Wendy’s in Saint John, New Brunswick that opened a few minutes early.
We finally made our way to Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick. This was where we would catch the ferry to the island.
The views from the ferry terminal were beautiful. It may be a very small blip on the map, but it's a very picturesque location.
The views from the ferry terminal were beautiful. It may be a very small blip on the map, but it’s a very picturesque location.
Okay…I was really stoked to see that there were “ARCADE GAMES” around the corner inside of the ferry terminal. I mean, I hadn’t seen arcade games in years, but remember just how much time I spent in arcades when I was a teenager. I couldn’t wait to go around the corner so I could…….
...see the one arcade game. Umm...okay. Not only was it just one arcade game in a tiny nook of the ferry terminal, but it was Ms. Pac-Man. No offense, but I'm just an original Pac-Man kind of guy. Oh well...
…see the one arcade game. Umm…okay. Not only was it just one arcade game in a tiny nook of the ferry terminal, but it was Ms. Pac-Man. No offense, but I’m just an original Pac-Man kind of guy. Oh well…
The ferry itself wasn't overly large, but I hadn't been on one in about 15 years. It's always a weird feeling to drive onto a boat and realize you've got zero control over your destiny for the next hour or two.
The ferry itself wasn’t overly large, but I hadn’t been on one in about 15 years. It’s always a weird feeling to drive onto a boat and realize you’ve got zero control over your destiny for the next hour or two.
Just a few views from the ferry, including the menu which had a "steak dinner" for $8.99 and a "donair" for $4.99. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't trust a ferry to provide me quality versions of either one.
Just a few views from the ferry, including the menu which had a “steak dinner” for $8.99 and a “donair” for $4.99. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust a ferry to provide me quality versions of either one.

Sunshine and I made our way off the ferry and found her friend’s house. After hugging her best friend (who she hadn’t seen in over a decade), we all went inside to settle-in, hear some fun stories of Sunshine in her 20’s, and enjoy a feast.

This is just a glimpse of the feast we enjoyed on the first night in Grand Manan with Sunshine's friends. Lobster dip, seafood chowder, beer-soaked ribs, and so much more. I felt bad because I couldn't eat everything placed in front of me. At least I was able to enjoy a couple of Keith's Red, which is a Halifax-made beer that is my current beer of choice.
This is just a glimpse of the feast we enjoyed on the first night in Grand Manan with Sunshine’s friends. Lobster dip, seafood chowder, beer-soaked ribs, and so much more. I felt bad because I couldn’t eat everything placed in front of me. At least I was able to enjoy a couple of Keith’s Red, which is a Halifax-made beer that is my current beer of choice.
Nothing says “Maritime nights” like sitting around a bonfire.
Can you imagine waking up to this sunset out your bedroom window every single morning? I mean, it was just spectacular and I don't even think my photo can truly do it justice.
Can you imagine waking up to this sunset out your bedroom window every single morning? I mean, it was just spectacular and I don’t even think my photo can truly do it justice.
On the morning of Day 2, we were up early and got down to a friend's fishing boat by 9:30am so we could go out and go whale watching. This was the first time either one of us had ever gone, so we were quite excited for the day.
On the morning of Day 2, we were up early and got down to a friend’s fishing boat by 9:30am so we could go out and go whale watching. This was the first time either one of us had ever gone, so we were quite excited for the day.
The view from the back of the boat. It was a beautiful day for whale watching!
The view from the back of the boat. It was a beautiful day for whale watching!
I don't know if these photos truly tell the tale of how awesome this experience was. I mean, not only did we get to see some whales, but we got to "hang out" with three of them for well over an hour...at one point being literally feet away from one of them. A lot of people pay a LOT of money to go whale watching but never get to see any. We got to see this for free. Unbelievable!!
I don’t know if these photos truly tell the tale of how awesome this experience was. I mean, not only did we get to see some whales, but we got to “hang out” with three of them for well over an hour…at one point being literally feet away from one of them. A lot of people pay a LOT of money to go whale watching but never get to see any. We got to see this for free. Unbelievable!!
I hope this photo gives you an idea of just how close we were to the whales. I mean...it's really an experience we'll never forget.
I hope this photo gives you an idea of just how close we were to the whales. I mean…it’s really an experience we’ll never forget.
This incredible photograph (if I do say so myself) is of <a href="http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=4738" target="_blank">Gannet Rock</a>. This lighthouse was built back in 1831 and was deemed a national historic property in 1991.
This incredible photograph (if I do say so myself) is of Gannet Rock. This lighthouse was built back in 1831 and was deemed a national historic property in 1991. It’s unmanned now, but remains a powerful spectacle if you have the opportunity to cruise by this tiny island.

When you’re on Grand Manan Island, you have the opportunity to see some spectacular sunsets. The next three photos were taken at three different locations on a gorgeous Saturday evening…

Grand Manan - Day 2 - 7

Grand Manan - Day 2 - 8

Grand Manan - Day 2 - 9

Our second day on Grand Manan concluded with fireworks over the water off of Stanley's Beach. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic weekend.
Our second day on Grand Manan concluded with fireworks over the water off of Stanley’s Beach. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic weekend.
This is the last memory I'll take from our time on Grand Manan...another spectacular sunrise. I mean, honestly...can you imagine this every single day??
This is the last memory I’ll take from our time on Grand Manan…another spectacular sunrise. I mean, honestly…can you imagine this every single day??
The final pic of our trip was of the ferry coming to pick us up and take us back to the mainland. It was a fantastic long weekend and Grand Manan is definitely a location I'd visit again. If you're ever traveling through New Brunswick, I highly recommend it as a place to stay for photo ops, if nothing else.
The final pic of our trip was of the ferry coming to pick us up and take us back to the mainland. It was a fantastic long weekend and Grand Manan is definitely a location I’d visit again. If you’re ever traveling through New Brunswick, I highly recommend it as a place to stay for photo ops, if nothing else.

Never Stop Trying

I’m trying…I really am.

The past couple of years haven’t been the easiest for my wife and me. I moved here and we got married and then things became a lot more difficult than I thought they would be. As we approach our third anniversary in August, I’m trying to stop constantly falling back after taking a couple of steps forward.

Y’see, it started out with me losing my job due to the economy back in late 2013. We were newly married and flying high, but the housing market crashed and I had to look for something as my job was directly related to housing and real estate. Then I began working WITH Sunshine at her office in a job that was supposed to be the best thing to ever happen to me.

More money…more responsibilities…more hours. Yes, Sunshine and I saw each other on a daily basis but never really got tired of one another because we didn’t working together in the office. So in that regard, it worked out great.

However, I was going through something that would end up hurting us both.

As I wrote about at the time, I was diagnosed with having Major Depressive Disorder…which began to explain a LOT of things wrong with me. I began taking medication and immediately noticed a difference. Unfortunately, the biggest side effect is how it affects one’s ability to perform intimately. This began to affect my psyche and, in turn, affect hers. Without going into a lot of detail, you can only imagine what it’s like for a newly married couple who cannot be intimate with one another nearly as much as they used to due to medical reasons.

It sucks and it’s tough on her because she can’t help but take it personally. It sucks for me because I’ve always been a very physical person in a relationship…but for the most part, certain parts of the machine aren’t working with the rest of them…so it’s really tough for each of us because then intimacy becomes something we need to plan out or even becomes WORK for us. That’s been tough to work through in our marriage.

Then Sunshine helped me get diagnosed with having Adult ADHD (primarily inattentive) about a year ago. At this point, I had been making so many mistakes at work that they were on the verge of letting me go. I wasn’t happy and was taking everything personally…not realizing that I wasn’t, in fact, a loser but simply someone who needed to have a slight chemical change in order to function “normally”.

Unfortunately, I was only three weeks into my medication for ADHD when they let me go. They were kind enough to say “it wasn’t a good fit” but I know that my mistakes and errors in judgment caused them to make the tough decision. I harbour no ill will against them, either. I realize that they had to let me go and, looking back, it WASN’T a good fit. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about, either. Sometimes the company you work for and the people you work with just aren’t a good fit for you or your skillset/personality.

Nine months I sat at home looking for the right fit. NINE MONTHS. During this time, I went through some extreme highs and lows with my motivation in life. For a few months I was running regularly and losing weight and feeling confident about my future. For a few months I sat on the couch, gained back all of the weight by eating and not exercising, and then feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t find a good job. This cycle happened more than once, too.

And during this entire time, I wasn’t “there” for my wife. I was distant. I wasn’t connecting with her. I mean, I wasn’t mad or upset or yelling at her or anything…but I wasn’t the husband that she married. I tried, but that normally failed after a couple of weeks. This went on for nine months and I can only imagine how tough it’s been on her.

Now I’ve been working at what can only be described as “a dream job” for almost a month now. I’m getting out there at least three times a week for exercise and I’m trying to do ‘little things’ for Sunshine to help her know how much I love her. But it seems that I’m still making mistakes that make our relationship regress a little bit. And the little things I do aren’t being recognized. It’s frustrating to say the least.

I’m not really worried about us, though. I’m concerned, but not worried. We’re soul-mates…of that, I’m certain. We’ve worked too hard and come too far with our relationship to simply call it quits after three years. No…that’s not what is going to happen here, kids.

But things aren’t perfect. And in recognition of that, I’m going to do whatever I can to get us back to the ‘fun couple’ that I know we can be. I know where I’ve failed and what I need to do in order to make my incredibly awesome wife happy in her marriage again. And I plan on working my ass off in order to make that happen. I can only hope that my wife feels the same way, though lately it’s been difficult to tell.

Thankfully, we’re not talking about infidelity or abuse or other things that can shake a relationship to its core. Instead, we’re talking about reconnecting and finding those sparks that are there but have been hidden for way too long. It won’t be easy, but that’s just life.

Marriage isn’t supposed to be easy. Relationships aren’t all rainbows and unicorns. But when you know you’re in the best relationship you’ve ever had in your entire life and you never want to let that go, then you will work as hard as you have to in order to make things work. I’m just hoping that we both feel the same way and can truly do what is needed to make this work.

#ThrowbackThursday – St. Patrick’s Day in Puerto Rico

It was five years ago today that I had my most memorable St. Patrick’s Day ever. 

After the unfortunate passing of my mother, my father took Sunshine and I (along with my little brother) on a Caribbean cruise to (a) get out of town and away from the sad memories and (b) remember her by doing something that she loved to do with my dad. 

It was the first time on a cruise for Sunshine and I, so we really didn’t know what to expect. Smack dab in the middle of it all was a stop on St. Patrick’s Day in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

I have read numerous stories about the beauty of the island, but when we sailed into the harbour as the sun rose over Old San Juan…it’s safe to say that my photos and words simply do not do it justice.

Old San Juan, Puerto RicoOld San Juan, Puerto Rico

We had just finished a morning workout on the ship’s gym when we were lucky enough to go up top and watch that incredible sunrise. As is usually the case with us when we’re on vacation, somebody noticed us taking selfies of ourselves (acting blissfully happy and silly, of course) and offered to take our picture.  And c’mon…how is THIS for a memory that we’ll never forget?? Sunshine & CBG in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Because it was St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to wear the loudest green shirt I could find (I picked one up two days earlier during a stop in the U.S. Virgin Islands port of St. Thomas). We went on an air-conditioned taxi tour of both New San Juan and Old San Juan that only cost us $10 per person. We were even able to stop a couple of times to get out and take a few pictures before moving on again. 

At one point, we stopped at a beach that was positioned between both “new” and “old” and I was able to take one of my favourite photos of my future wife ever. Sunshine in San Juan, Puerto Rico

After this we made our way around the city and go to see quite a few sights.  We got to see where Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony lived at the time and also where Ricky Martin lived. We were able see the two buildings that were the primary feature of the movie Assassins (I was a bit hyped about this one because it’s one of my favorite movies) before we arrived at Fort San Felipe del Morro, which is a major tourist attraction in the area. This place was absolutely beautiful and there was a very large crowd of tourists there. Castillo San Felipe del Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Then Sunshine had an idea.

I want to roll down the hill,” she said.

“You want to roll down the hill?”

“Yeah…”

“Want some company?”

“You want to roll down the hill with me?”

“To prove how much I love you, I’ll totally roll down the hill with you.”

We immediately handed our stuff off to dad and…You're only as old as you feelSunshine & CBG in San Juan, Puerto Rico

You’re only as old as you feel, I suppose. The above picture is me pointing at Sunshine because during our silly rolling, she accidentally kicked me in the head. This, of course, is me telling my dad what happened and Sunshine laughing her head off.

After recovering from our escapade, the tour ended downtown in the shopping district of Old San Juan.  We ended up on a one-way cobblestone street where there were more souvenir shops than I could shake a stick at. After about 30 minutes, my father and brother made their way back to the ship so that left Sunshine and I with the opportunity to enjoy the shopping. We didn’t spend a ton of money, but instantly fell in love with the beautiful of this historic neighbourhood. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

After walking around the city for a couple of hours, we started to head back to the ship. I found a beautiful fountain that I absolutely needed to take a picture of with Sunshine. Sunshine in San Juan, Puerto Rico

I can’t tell you how much I fell in love with her all over again on this day. And while it’s a little sad to look back and realize that we won’t be going on a vacation like this again any time soon due to circumstances beyond our control, I can’t help but look back on my favourite St. Patrick’s Day ever and smile.

It’s not every day you get to spend this day in such a spectacular locale.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

Netflix and WHAT?? – Staying In Is The New Date Night

Netflix & ChillWithout going into gory details, the catchphrase Netflix & Chill is one that you have probably heard over the past year. Basically, it means a couple plans to stay in, watch some Netflix, and then hit the bedroom to continue the evening. 

As Valentine’s Day rolls around this weekend, I am absolutely planning on some Netflix & Chill taking place (TMI?). But I did some reading lately that suggested Netflix is becoming more important to relationships than just for “chilling”. Because the economy is so strained and, let’s face it, the outside world can be a scary place…more and more couples are doing “inside date nights”. Not only that, but I read that DATING PROFILES are beginning to include more and more information on Netflix preferences because a “movie match” can sometimes be a great conversation starter.

A recent survey with “Millenial Netflix users” showed that 53% of singles with online profiles have added movies and television shows to their profile in order to attract a potential suitor. I mean, I only did the online dating thing briefly after my marriage ended and that was a nightmare. I suppose trying to be as specific as possible might be a good way to go about it. I also read that 21% of respondents to this survey admitted to adding documentaries to their online dating profile in order to seem smarter. Seriously!! I may not be the smartest cookie in the jar, but I can’t imagine lying like that on a profile. What if you’re found out later to be a liar? Nope…I’d rather be as honest as possible if I were actually searching for love. But I can definitely see how this could help. 

Courting & Beyond

I won’t lie…when Sunshine and I can agree on a series or movie to watch, I do find her a little more attractive. There’s just something about connecting with your significant other that brings the two of you closer together, and when you feel that way you feel more attracted to them. 

Making It Official

Get this…according to Millenial Netflix subscribers, the most attractive genre of show and/or movie in a potential partner is the ACTION THRILLER! Whaaa

I know, right?

This surprises me because you would think the Romantic Comedy would top the list. But again, from personal experience, if I’m ever in a position to watch an Action Thriller with my wife (who isn’t normally drawn to that type of movie), it’s certainly a turn on for me. There’s just something about watching one of those movies and having your spouse watching it next to you. I can’t really put my finger why, though. 

And passwords? Yeah…I can totally understand how that’s a sign of “we’re officially together”. As a parent, I’ve got four different account names set up for different family members…but if my wife and I were both just dating and one of us had just signed up for Netflix, I could totally see how sharing a password would mean a “serious relationship”. I mean, it’s a sign of trust…right? It’s probably a bigger deal than changing your Facebook relationship status.

Blissfully happy

I’ll be honest…my wife and I don’t always agree on what to watch on Netflix. Hell…we’ve gotten into arguments about what to watch because I’ll watch just about anything and she’s more “selective” about what she spends her time on. So I can totally understand how 71% of couples engage in negotiations over picking shows. That’s actually kind of funny.

And yes, I can also see how over half of all couples bond over Netflix…whether it’s a classic series like Friends or a documentary series like How To Make A Murderer, when my wife and I really get into a show we find ourselves pausing the program to laugh, discuss what we’re watching, or share stories that we’re reminded of. Because it’s not live television, we can take our time and not just stare at the screen without saying a word to each other.

How do you use Netflix in your relationship? Have you used it for a #showmance with your significant other?