Maritimes

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Sunday, July 1, 2007 - Sunday, August 19, 2007

Week 7 - August 13-19, 2007

Sunday morning at Cabot beach was like no other. Half our team were missing - there was no mad feeding frenzy around the breaky table, no 'wheel' chores, no 13 people asking Adele the same 3 questions: what time are we getting up? are we performing tonight? where are we going? All in all a very relaxed morning of yoga overlooking the ocean, oats graced with blueberries, coconut and honey and a smooth roll out of camp in our own sweet time.

The ride to Summerside was bliss. Tyler our awesomely generous host made us feel so welcome to his town. With the other half of our team arriving late in the afternoon from the all night party, the evening meeting was rather low-key before a few of us (who may choose to remain nameless) went to see the Anne and Gilbert musical. Half price tickets were arranged by Tyler (thanks!) and we rode home after the performance singing Anne songs at the tops of our voices!

The Shipyard on the beautiful waterfront of Summerside was where we led a bike maintenance and culture jamming workshop as well as entertaining some 50+ young people for the morning. The performance was well attended and the venue possibly our most comfortable wet-weather stage to date.

As if Tyler hadn't done enough for us already, he set us up with a DVD player and projector for the evening as well as THE biggest bag of popcorn we've ever seen. That night 'AKA' the supersquad extraordinare put the ovens to good use making pies for hours. (Thanks to the numerous generous donations from Compton).

Tuesday we biked some 80km to Mill River and ate sooo much pie for lunch (created the night before). Blueberries and raspberries along the Confederation Trail were an ace dessert.  Our campsite under the thick thick canopy of beech trees drove most of us to bed by 9pm (it was so dark under there) but not until we'd spent some time grilling Liz with questions such as: "what would you like to hear said to you first thing every morning for the rest of your life?". She was our first contestant in the 'hot seat' - the spot where you canbe asked as many obscure and personal questions the team likes...

Our day off saw Annie in the 'hot seat' with most of the morning spent getting to find out more about her life, hopes and dreams. Some keen dudes and dudettes pedaled to the North Cape of PEI where they discovered a wind farm and learned about Carrageen (a type of seaweed used to thicken toothpaste, cream, lunch meat and ice cream)... um and I think Jordan's highlight was seaweed pie.

The evening performance was prefaced with rain 15mins before it started, as usual, leaving us to perform in the tiny activity center. We hid behind trestle tables for backstage and 'level 3ed' as best we could! This was the night we met Judy and Jim from the Pioneer Learning farm who filled our hearts with excitement for our weekend visit there.

The next morning it was time to move on once more, leaving the campground at the early hour of 11 as we all waited for each other's wheel to be trued, panniers fastened and trailer hitches found. 

Performing that night in Jaques Cartier was a real treat seeing as two gentlemen we had met that morning travelled 30km just to come and see us that night.  Followed by the youth from the performance coming by our camp afterwards for what turned into a sharing of acrobatic tricks and stunts.

Off again to O'Leary to what we thought would be our Otesha heaven.  A row of computers with, yes that's right, the'Internet', a dvd player for movies (oh wow) and a full kitchen, a blender aaanndd, a barbecue.  Need we say more.  It was luxury.

A few of the local youth came by with their bikes for our 'Love your Bike' session followed by a performance.

That was most of the adventure for that day, of course until it was time to decide who exactly would go to sleep on the two futon couches also available.... (apparently a futon between 4 is actually rather comfy!?!?!?)

On the road again with tailwinds and trailers we had no idea that we were headed to a place we would never want toleave.  the home of Jim and Judy at the Pioneer Learning Farm. We were greeted by their wandering donkey, peacock and llama followed by the assortment of a few dozen more animals all living in harmony with each other and the land.  I can't really say enough about how lucky we were to stay here and learn about all the ways Jim and Judy are really walking the walk of being the change you wish to see. They live off the grid, harnessing the power of sun and wind to generate their own power. It was so great to watch not a rain drop go to waste as it was collected in barrels around the farm for future use.

After our performance and dinner, shared with our hosts it was time to bunk down for the night.  Lets see, will it be in with the goats, the llamas or the emus.  Well as some chose to spend the night in a cabin in real live beds, another group of four decided the emu pen was the best place to crash.  With tears of laughter falling down their faces Adele, Garrett, Jordan and Gabi nestled down amongst the hay as the emus settled down near by, hidden in the darkness...

Barb and Adele

Week 6 - August 6-12, 2007

Sunday morning in Charlottetown, we awoke to our first day off in two weeks. We were staying at the Cody Banks Arena, site of many dance parties and our first formal dinner to date. We explored the town, bicycles were repaired, and copious amounts of ice cream were consumed.

We performed for a youth group in Stratford called Youth Can Do, and surprised passers by at the waterfront with some guerilla theatre. During the rest of our stay we leared about Reevaluation Counselling in a workshop offered by Barb and Russell, toured the PEI composting plant, and Annie facilitated some goal-setting which included a group goal of buying nothing for one week.

We added the transportation scene, with Barb playing Carbon Neutral. We played an elaborate game of hide and seek in the darkened arena, with Erin and Chaz tricking us all with their stellar hiding spots.

PEI hospitality was evident at the local farmers' market, where we received many generous donations.

Some of us watched the new Harry Potter film on the big screen, while others went to see The Flying Scotsman, a somewhat better film [and not just because it was about cycling . . .]

Our stay in Charlottetown was prolonged due to 90 kilometer winds, shortening our stay at PEI National Park in Cavendish, and unfortunately leading to some tragedy: We woke on the last day in C-Town to find that Gabi's bike had been stolen. While Adele, Russell, and Gabi stayed behind to sovle the missing bike problem, the rest of us cycled on to Cavendish, with a stop in Wheatley River.

There we were greeted by the Wheatley River Watershed Society, who told us about their stream restoration projects and took us on a hayride to hike along one of their streams [or, in the case of Jordan, Garrett, Kaela and Erin, in it.] Later, we rode to the home of Jiselle Baker, one of the Society's staff, for a delicious veggie-friendly barbeque. Then we canoed and kayaked up the Wheatley River itself, giving us a long-awaited upper-body workout.

On Saturday we cycled from Cavendish to Cabot Beach Provincial Park, where Chaz's bike bit the dust. [Stay tuned for its miraculous resurrection next week!] After our performance that evening, half of the group cycled a dark 40 km to a costume party while the others enjoyed a quiet evening of ice cream and good company amid the forests and ocean of Cabot Beach.

Tune in next week for our adventures in Prince County.

Amanda and Cat

Week 5 - July 30 - August 5, 2007

Looking back over the last week, it seems like such a long time ago that we were biking to Red Point for our Mid Tour Retreat.   We have now completed half of our tour, with all of us healthy and happy and not too crazy!

Camping above the singing sands and jellyfish-free waters at Red Point, we felt like all our Christmases had come at once.  We had all been assigned a target team member to secretly stalk and leave gifts and treats for, so our days were filled with many surprises.   (This was the secret stalker santa game mentioned in the previous entry).

On Monday evening Cat led a ceremony on the beach in honour of the full moon; we stood in a circle and symbolically cast our wishes out to sea.

The retreat began on Tuesday with time to ponder our place in the tour as individuals.  After an afternoon off in the sun, swimming and jumping off the bridge at basin head:

We surprised the campsite

By biking, yelling and ringing bells

To announce the evening's performance;

The audience was great,

They numbered almost 98;

For Annie's Birthday we ate cake

(And pie and berries too)

We sat by the fire with stories and wine

Until we,

Like the embers

Burnt out and slept.

The second day of our retreat included a group living workshop in which we reinvented the wheel (of tasks) and a performance workshop where we discovered our inner clowns.

After the secret stalkers were revealed, with some surprises and some confirmation of suspicions, we dazzled and entertained each other in a fire-lit talent show.

On the way to our next destination (St Peters) some of us were treated to a tour of a GMO fish farm where Jordan was devastated to discover that they haven't yet invented a "Samster" (a hypothetically lobster-clawed salmon).

Directions to our accommodation in St Peters that night were:  "It's the big church, and if you can't find it, you shouldn't be biking".   Luckily we all passed that test, found the big church on the hill and lived to bike again.

At the Blueberry festival in St Peters, we had loads of fun with the children, playing sack, three-legged and wheelbarrow races.  In the three-legged race, the Otesha big kids finished inches ahead of the local Police who hadn't actually trained for the event.

The next morning began with us on two wheels amongst the tractors, horses and other floats in the festival parade, chanting "What's the solution to air pollution? It's a bicycle revolution." 

We packed up our panniers one more time and set our for C-town...But then...sometime in the afternoon the sky filled with dark clouds and before long there was lightening all around, thunder rattling our bones. We biked through pelting rain and hail and gales on the trail and roads that turned to rivers! The locals are still talking about that storm.

Fortunately, and eventually, we all made it safe and sound, if waterlogged and late, to the shelter of the Cody Banks Area in Charlottetown.   But the story doesn't end there...tune in next week for other great adventures!

Till next time!

Gabi and Annie

Week 4 - July 23-29, 2007

Our day off kicked in with a double choco cake deco'd with mad rox, hip stix, and berries red.  All was tight.  We were celebrating 2 birthdays, 1 for our host, Hillary, and the other for Barb (one of our Aussies on tour and future Carbon Neutral - superhero of the transport scene) who turned 20, again.  Then we jazzed it up a notch with a rockin' dance party in the kitchen that lasted way past lights out. 

Then next morning we biked 70k to Caribou Monroe Island Provincial Park for a night of fun & games on the beach, including log rolling and group wrestling where Gabi (resident clown and our play's radio announcer) prevailed.  Our performance the next day got 2 mid-show ovations to a sell out crowd and after dark Garrett (pull-up champ and our play's loving polar bear cup) went for fried ice cream; but, to his chagrin, there was none.  Instead, with Adele (one of our tour leaders and Capt. Strut - superhero of the clothing scene) along with Jordan (trick juggler and our play's newly created eloquent narrator) together with Isabelle (our Francophone and hot model in the fashion scene) slaked their thirst with a night ride full of local brews and french fries.

Portentiously, the day we all anticipated had arrived as we crossed the Northumberland Strait into the Isle of Prince Edward on the Woods Island ferry.  During our cruise, Erin (singer/songwriter and our play's juicy, ripe tomato) rocked out to the ferry band's lovely soothing cover tunes, such as Free to Decide by the Cranberries, when Annie (the other from the land down under and one half of play's Mother Earths) requested 'Farewell to Nova Scotia'.  After debarking, we arrived @ what we thought was the worst campground ever before realizing it was only the parking lot to our oceanfront property, a.k.a. the dopest diamond campsite of all time, where we promptly lined our tents to the actively eroding shoreline. 

Although spirits were high, especially for Kaela (our most aquatic member and play's cheap, exploited worker picked, Chilean apple) the dark night cloud decended upon us when we were confronted with the reality of the departure of our keystone member, Natalie.  Under a starry night we all lit candles around the campfire add celebrated our loving experiences with our dearest companion over a bowl of fresh berries and dark chocolate coupled with popcorn, Crown & goldfish, those last 2 being commiseration essentials for Chaz (our token American and the other half of Mother Earth).  The night continued with piercing shrieks and convulsing sobs as we gnashed our teeth and pulled our hair over the impending doom and unbearable grief over such a loss.  Fortunately, Liz (The Whiz and also Mellow Yellow - superhero of the water scene) and Amanda (oatmeal cake baker extraordinaire and Snack Attack - superhero of the Food Scene) were on dinner detail and concocted the most fabulous pesto pasta with their split second decision to add fresh campy herbs to the dish by toppling the pot of undercooked spaghetti off the picnic bench and back to the earth from whence it came.

Our next day's blood shot eyed awakening was uplifted by the sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore which carried us through our 30k ride to McPhail's Homestead where we were greated by CBC who interviewed Cat (our other tour leader and Chillin' Out - superhero of the media scene) and filmed our performance for the 6 o'clock news. Then we were treated to a hike throughout the forest grounds by Gary, the property's  loving caretaker.  On our bike back, Russell (magnet for flat tires and our play's most voracious zombie) suffered heatstroke after never recovering from his 20k detour that morning which didn't even help a little, especially not a lot.  But he was nursed back to health by one of the many giving locals we have encountered along our journey. 

The following day required us to leave our paradise and venture forward into a performance to our best audience to date @ a fitness center for a daycamp full of participatory 8-12 year olds where we played in the pool by tossing eager children into the deep end.  That night @ Brudenell Provincial Park, we began our secret stalker missions. 

Next, we biked 40k to Panmure for our 5th performance in 3 days where we found dollar pie and hung out @ the local health food store who handed us free hemp seed samples.  That night we ran out of campstove fuel, got eaten by mozzies, and must leave you now 'til our next week's misadventures.

~ The Boyz (Chaz, Russell, Jordan, & Garrett)

Week 3 - July 16-22, 2007

It's a bright, sunny afternoon at  the Waldegrave Farm, and we just toured the barned full of straw bales and turn-of-the-century, horse-powered farm equipment.  We walked through fields of hay, barley and oats, past the chicken coops and the pig pen.  This farm, 4km outside of Tatamagouche, is collectively run by seven people who cycled across Canada with the 2001 Climate Change Caravan and is an experiment in organic subsistence farming.  We're really spoiled here: feasting on fresh milk, eggs, herbs and veggies from the farm, dancing and making music, and watching the Maritimes sunsets.  While the fearless amongst us are camping outside, others have pitched their tents in the barn and are sleeping in the hayloft.  We're all woken up bright and early by our good friends the roosters and the ducks.

Even though we only performed once this past week, life has been anything but dull.  It started off with an evening performance in Pomquet, one of the most scenic Acadian communities one could ever hope to encounter.  Unfortunately, we didn't have as much time to explore the beaches and scout for whales because the ride was much longer than expected. 

It's funny how sometime people's perception of space are shaped by their mode of transportation.  Two weeks on the road have shown that car drivers seem to grossly underestimate distances between destinations.

Tuesday we spent at the Antigonish Lions' Club developing our play and discussing our group living.

Wednesday was then a culture jamming day - a day to celebrate public spaces and recognize local efforts to create ecologically and socially sustainable communities.  We thanked a local coffee shop for serving fair trade, organic, shade-grown coffee and tucked notes into library books thanking readers for borrowing books instead of buying new ones.  We also chalked messages of love on the sidewalks throughout the city and performed an impromptu play in the park for the kids and their parents.

Thursday was our first - and hopefully our last - day of cycling along the  Trans Canada Highway.  Frequent honking, narrow shoulders, and speeding lumber trucks left us all somewhat shaken and exhausted upon arrival in Westville, just outside of New Glasgow, at the end of the day.

We set out the next morning for Tatamagouche and the peaceful oasis that this farm has become.  The gorgeous ride along the coastline and generous donation of cherries, fruit salad and cheese lifted our spirits and fueled us with energy to spend the next day fine-tuning our play and reworking the food and water scenes. 

All in all, the week was excellent, and we're already planning to rehearse the song "Farewell to Nova Scotia" as we only have a few days left before boarding the ferry to Prince Edward Island.

~ Isabelle and Natalie

Week 2 - July 9-15, 2007

We're already at the end of week two and have made it all the way to Sherbrooke!

We started the week off with a bang with two back to back performances on Monday.  The first one was for Shad Valley (a summer learning experience to help high school students earn scholarships).  They were an enthusiastic audience and had a lot to contribute in the small group discussions we facilitated after the performance.  After that, we biked off to an engineering firm in Dartmouth and performed for them during their lunch hour.  Not only did they provide us lunch, one lovely woman even made us tofu for the veggie sandwiches! 

We finally left Halifax on Tuesday and it felt SO GOOD to be out on the road!  We biked 40km to Porter's Lake Provincial Park and every one of us was so thrilled to reach the open ocean.  We were so giddy after biking, we ended up completely re-working and spicing up a scene from our play and deciding the best representation of fossil fuels was a three person, shrieking pteradactyl.  By the end of it we were all crying from laughing so hard.

We performed that night for a few friendly people we rounded up and some kids that followed us up to the performance on their bikes- very encouraging!

Wednesday we headed off to Ship's Harbour- about a 50km ride and were greeted by Kim, Kaegen and Angela at their Straw Bale house.  They made us so much delicious food- enough to feed 15 hungry biker bellies!  That night we performed at the community center we stayed at to a wonderful and enthusiastic group of community members.  In return we got a presentation about the Forest Watch program and the amazing work they are doing to protect Nova Scotia's boreal forest (www.forestwatch.ca)

They fed us AGAIN and even cooked up 15 pounds of mussels- we are so spoiled!

The next day we hung out at the straw bale house (so cool!) with our hosts and a youth group from Halifax.   We ate pizza baked in a cobb oven and performed our play for the kids- the best part was during the question period when one of the kids asked if we could do the whole play again.

We spent an awesome and relaxing afternoon at the straw bale house and explored the forest and lake around it.  We were fascinated by the compost toilet in the house and the "truth window" that showed that the house really is entirely filled with straw!  If you can believe it, they fed all of us yet again and even served up a strawberry rhubarb crisp.  We love the straw bale house!

On a much sadder note- Michelle (Otesha's program coordinator) left us today and we were all so sad to see her go.  Her wisdom, contagious good spirit and beautiful laughter will be greatly missed.

On Friday the 13th (doom doom doom) we laughed in the face of danger and biked 80km (that's FAR on a bike) all the way to Moser River.  The sun came out during the ride and we enjoyed such a beautiful day including a couple off off-road swimming detours.  We stayed at the Bay of Islands Sustainability Centre and our surprise hosts- giant swarms of black flies- were so happy to see us they nearly ate us all alive.  We all enjoyed ice cream (some of us more than one) down at the trail stop and proceeded to sleep really well after such a long biking day.

Saturday we were up early to bike 50km to Sherbrooke and Nimrod's campground.  Unfortunately our new arch enemies the black flies managed to track us down there as well!  We performed to a small crowd outside the court house in the Historic Village and then had a whole night and day off!

We were joined by our friends Janey and Mike from the library for a campfire and lots of stories- a surprising number of which ending in: "And then I ate seven of them!"

We got to sleep in on Sunday and many of us are now clean again and caught up on our journals (including this one!) and relaxing time.  We're off to Antigonish tomorrow...

Stay tuned for more Otesha adventures next week!

~ Liz and Erin

Week 1 - July 1-8 2007

Hey so we're the Maritimes Tour - rockin' out! We've just spent a week hanging out with 14 other energetic, fun-filled and hopeful young people from the East Coast Tour. The intense week of training lead by the awesome team of OTESHA legends - Michelle, Jess, Barbara and Genvieve - helped us form an OTESHA family so close, that saying goodbye to the East Coast Team brought tears to our eyes!

We sang, we danced, we practiced consensus, weathing rain, wind and hail none of which dettered the eager swimmers amoungst us, who visited the nearby lake for a swim everyday.

The Urban Farm Museum Society were our generous hosts who not only provided us with a place to pitch our tents, but also dried our water-logged clothes, made up our debut audience and brought us delicious cookies.

Our belllies were filled daily with wholesome vegan food generously prepared on a campstove by Mike, an OTESHA alumni, with the occasional supplement of donuts rescued from a nearby Robins the night before.

At our closing ceremony we had a talent show in a fish-bowl room overlooking Sobey's shoppers obliviously going about their mundane shopping experience. Above their heads we shocked and awed each other with our diverse skill and wit with a finale by Max and her fire poi back at the campsite.

While we're sad to see the other group cycle away, we're excited to be strapping on our heavily laden paniers, clipping in our shoes and heading on our 2 month journey of a lifetime and be the change we want to see in the world!

:-) Barb and Kaela