Halifax 2019 Travel Journal

Flight – Thursday, November 14

It’s like I can’t really win when it comes to flights. For the longer flight from Vancouver to Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa, I wanted to be on an aircraft with a bassinet option. For some insane reason, I wanted to head out in the morning and it’s in part because getting into Halifax at 11 pm local time (7 pm Pacific) sounds bad enough, a midday flight out of Vancouver gets you into Halifax the next day with some of those connections. For a few days, I thought that I had goofed and could have found a long layover in Toronto instead of the Montreal one we had (in the order of 3.5 hours) and I was going to sacrifice bassinet-equiped aircraft and pay for flight changes for myself and my father if it meant he could see my sister for a couple of hours in Toronto. But there was no long layover in Toronto option. And when it came to the reality of NPY having to get ready for work, getting us all ready and out the door with luggage by 7:30 to get to the airport at 8 a.m., I felt royally selfish. Sigh.

Baby was not a champion sleeper on the flight like Kiddo was and we’re comparing babies of pretty much the same age given I traveled in November during Kiddo’s first year as well. Through the rush, it was feeding time as we were taking off (without delay) and I found that I could feed her with her straddled on my lap and she and I were a bit scrunched up so we lined up. I secured the bassinet row and got the middle seat where the passenger to my left was a tall fellow who also took up my armrest. The passenger to my right was non-descript to me. I pity both of them if they paid for their seats and got stuck next to me. Baby fell asleep feeding and the flight attendents automatically set up the bassinet for her and another baby on board. It wasn’t easy to put her in without her fussing at the change in her bedding and then she was woken up by an overly loud passenger announcement. The second time I got her to sleep, she woke up on her own within twenty minutes. I spent much of the rest of the flight holding her asleep. During that time, I watched Toy Story 4 and was successful as the new entertainment system available on that aircraft had English subtitles for their movies. When we were landing in Montreal, it was feeding time again and that staved off her fussing.

Three-and-a-half hours in Montreal sounds like far too long. We sat at a YUL Pizza location where I order a bottled smoothie and ate the “tea time” snacks I packed for myself and Daddy and he ate the half Montreal smoked meat sandwich I saved for him from my order. We found that we could not go into duty-free shopping as it was behind an additional security checkpoint and we did not have the international boarding passes to get into that area. So we walked around the domestic gates. I was in two minds about dragging us out to the check-in side where I saw a St. Hubert but the thought of getting through security again and particularly if anyone questioned that we did pop out. We went into David’s Tea and Baby was so stoked to be in that bright and colourful shop. We got some Tim’s and then rested at the gate where there was only less than an hour left.

Baby was that baby on our second and thankfully short flight from Montreal to Halifax. On that Airbus 320 aircraft, the entertainment system did not include subtitles with movies so I was watching the real-time flight status and that hour-long flight just dragged! While Daddy sat three rows behind me on the long flight because the seats in my row were already booked, I checked us in simultaneously the day before and we had seats together despite being on different flight reservations.

We were a little delayed arriving in Halifax possibly due to having to go through de-icing in Montreal. I need to remember next time (as I told myself last time) that went flying out of Montreal – particularly eastbound – to get a window seat  on the left side of the aircraft to have the best view of the hangars as we taxi to the runway to take off. Sometime after 12:30 am local time, we were home and it was sweet indeed.

Day 1 – Friday, November 15

It was raining plenty on my first day and I was planning on lying low anyhow. Important items of business included bathing Baby (in the bathroom sink lined with a towel) and cleaning our “toxic” clothes, dirtied from the flight. Oh, and taking photos of Baby on the mini armchair as I have done with Kiddo each time he’s back.

Traveling with Baby is so different from being with Kiddo who takes time to civilly move in out the door. I can drop my mum off at work and pick her up without much inconvenience to Baby. It would turn out that she wakes around noon local time and sleeps at midnight – she naps about three times and we’ve been accustomed that a couple of them might be short and one of them a good two-hour one.

I listened to the Scotiabank ABM locator to find a drive-thru ATM on Portland Street that was not actually and I ended up missing the Forest Hills Parkway and so I drove along memory lane and took John Stewart to Forest Hills Parkway first passing the elementary school I’ve passed by a million times and admiring their playground set. Then I drove by the convenience store (“store-仔”) which looks entirely residential at this time and with a parking lot instead of a parking garage. Next I passed our old house which has an olive green coat of paint and looks nice – I’m glad for that and wouldn’t want to see it in a sad state of disrepair. On my way to Merrimac, I saw the “Deaf Child” sign that I asked MY to confirm that we saw that sign when we were younger, too. I didn’t realized we lived so close to another elementary school, George Bissett, and you can tell that is top-most on my mind these days. On Forest Hills Parkway, I passed by St. Vincent de Paul, a one-storey church with a giant parking lot that I recall being full on Christmas Eves. And finally I pulled into the Tim Hortons at Main Street and remembered that early New Year’s Day when I was there with GL or DL after a most disappointing New Year’s Eve, yet I did not want to go home.

As per usual, I went to the Braemar Superstore and after about 20 minutes Baby was asleep in the carrier. So I proceeded to walk around for an hour and a half, leisurely going through Joe Fresh – picked up six pieces all on clearance – and then wandering and re-wandering the aisles, deciding which freezer items to pick up when Baby woke up and I’d then be leaving. What fun! Superstore – as I find each time when I’ve got all the time in the world – has such a great selection that I miss when I only ever go to No Frills.

Mummy is in limbo land with respect to some dental work so she can only eat mushy stuff. Dinner is around 10 pm and it works for me on Pacific time and my parents after work. I consisted of wintermlon soup and Korean (kalbi?) ribs braised in chu hou sauce.

Current obsession: finishing Sarah Hayward’s The Cactus so I can get on to Severance and then Birdie.

Day 2 – Saturday, November 16

In my search for a place that serves poke so my mum can learn about this “cuisine” that’s taken Toronto and Vancouver by storm, I came across Katch. Mum was super disparaging of going to the one close to our restaurant on Main Street so we ended up at Halifax Shopping Centre where I haven’t been for years upon years. Recent trips where I went to nearby Mic Mac Mall have proven disappointing of late and Halifax Shopping Centre is where the shops are at. It took a ridiculously long time to get some food court lunch although I knew before going what I was getting. Katch is a funny concept that serves all manners of fish: fish & chips, fish tacos, poke bowls and sushi! I got a Beyond Meat burger for my dad and mum being ever so Chinese, got a steamed BBQ pork bun from Shanghai 360. When we go out, my dad is on Baby duty so I can eat because both Kiddo (as a baby) and Baby take to him being easy-going more than intense grandma (婆婆)!

After eating – my poke bowl was deceptively looking in size and I could give nearly half of it to my dad – I fed Baby in the most spacious nursing and family lounge I’ve ever seen. Props to Halifax Shopping Centre for that. My parents accompanied me to Fossil where I finally got a second strap for my Gen 4 smartwatch as a reprieve from the ultra bling strap that came with it. Since I think it’s also been years since MY has been to Halifax Shopping Centre, I shared some photos and particularly in the corridor with H&M and Zara, we got some Yorkdale vibes. It was brilliantly sunny (but cold) and the light through the massive windows was grand.

In the evening, I made it to a Scotiabank to make some deposits and then to Bulk Barn with a few reusable containers and a 1/2 cup and tablespoon to roughly get the right volume according to my list. Mum was angry at me for being out at 9 pm with a baby and my reasoning it was still 5 pm for me did not convince her.

Dinner was bok choy soup and steamed salmon on rice. Mummy steams her salmon with ginger and dried olives and I’ve got to try this simple recipe!

Current obsession: getting Christmas carols sheet music that Kiddo might learn from


Day 3 – Sunday, November 17

I put forth the suggestion to go to Sam’s Seafood & Grill up the street from our house which, surprisingly, my parents haven’t been to but my father suggested Mic Mac Tavern instead. We didn’t get out right away because mum’s car battery died! The evening before, I realized the interior light was on – Daddy turned it on to give Baby some light and I couldn’t reach it to turn it off when I was driving, promptly forgot about it and it was on overnight. After a quick recharge of the battery, we were off.

I’m glad we visited such an established and well-known restaurant over Sam’s which I consider to be in our neighbourhood. Right next door is Nine Locks where I wanted to replace the tasting glass that NPY smashed and pick up some beer for him. I got the fish & chips that I wanted to have at Sam’s or John’s Lunch and mummy nixed the latter because it feels cramped in there. Daddy got a Mic Mac Brunch with a purported bacon-wrapped flat-ironed steak but it turned out to be tenderloin cut. Mummy got her usual fish chowder. It’s a sign of the demographics of the city and my parents being of their generation where Mummy seemed truly fascinated by the Asian on staff at the restaurant. She also remarked about how hefty a lot of the customers were, people who liked to eat a lot of food. Huh.

My evening stroll was around Dollarama – looking for a nut milk bag or cheesecloth – and then to the Sobeys nearby, around Tacoma Drive. Baby was asleep and I fielded a long Google Hangouts chat with Kiddo. I was that person taking on the phone and with the speaker on. Once again, I loitered in the grocery store for ever so long even after the long Hangout and I noted the local brands and tried Cove’s Strawberry Sunrise kombucha – yum – something that I could share with my parents.

Dinner consisted of night-blooming cereus (霸王花) soup and ribs that were braised in shrimp paste, an experiment. President’s Choice’s plant-based cheesecake was quite horrid when we had it a couple of times and it was still frozen but defrosted properly and topped with a blueberry compote and it’s really decent. I started in on the recipes I was share with my mum by making vegan ricotta with tofu – oh how I miss my own kitchen appliances and my garlic seasoning!

Mum expressed her reticence regarding living in Vancouver which launched into the tirade/discussion/argument that goes on all night that must occur at least once every trip home. I even recorded an hour of it because I’ve always wanted a recording, so that when my memory goes soft and it seems like I’m making some of this stuff up – oh, I really am not.

Current obsession: practicing a simple arrangement of Pachabel’s Canon in D


Day 4 – Monday, November 18

After capturing some photos of Baby in her strawberry outfit before packing it up for MY, I took some house videos because I’m seeking closure and cognizant that in a few years – hopefully! – my parents have left Halifax and we are no longer visiting on the regular, will no longer be in this beautiful house. After dabbling here and there, practicing Canon in D a couple of times, I barely had time to heat up a sample of the frozen/processed vegan nibbles: chickenless cutlets, cauliflower tots, and Yves kale & quinoa bites.

Then I was off to see my uni friend who lives in Middle Sackville and invited me to come over after she’s picked up her three kids from school. Her kids, now aged 4, 9 and 11 were abuzz around Baby and it was so heartwarming. In the past few years, I’ve been to her home a couple of times but most recently, we went to restaurants (she can recite going to Cora’s and a Thai restaurant in Dartmouth Crossing) and Hop! Skip! Jump! twice. In her domain, she’s comfortable and in a private setting, I’m more comfortable when Paige fusses too. And not being at Hop! Skip! Jump! and her older kids being a year older, it was lovely to have a conversation with them even if I’m also terribly interested because of Kiddo’s impending introduction to elementary school. I’m also remiss that in a few years’ time, I’m not sure when I will see her again.

The drive from Middle Sackville to Halifax Shopping Centre in the dark was plain horrible and it was a challenge for me to drive confidently in my lane so I merely drove slowly. Thankfully Baby was fast asleep and not a distraction other than worry that she’s okay. I was back at Halifax Shopping Centre for a place to work wil Baby napped, to get essential oils to make a skin cream for Mummy, and to check out Eclipse which I glimpsed from afar. Omgosh, Eclipse is out ot lunch with such poor quality and styles for inflated prices. When in Scotia … I enjoyed a Laura Secord ice cream and headed home when Baby woke up.

Dinner consisted of Rehmannia root/Chinese foxglove root (生地) soup and a mapo tofu that was a fun and tasty hodge podge of pork belly, firm and soft tofu, and Shanghai bok choy!

I drafted the beginning of this post while Mummy got to work making the handmade reusable wipes that I requested. I use up some of the fabric in my fabric drawer and get to be environmentally friendly and use fewer wipes. Mummy gets to make something special for her grandkid(s). But it also felt like I was running a senior’s sweatshop with my requirements and requests lol.

Current obsession: creating the house video


Day 5 – Tuesday, November 19

We originally planned on going to Costco. Mum reproached me that I forgot to prepare her a heavy moisturizing cream, a bit of which she sampled last time I was in Halifax. I didn’t forget. I just found it logistically challenging not having a jar, not knowing the proportions, etc. So I wanted to pick up a set of essential oils (that includes lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint, all called for by my potion recipe). I also wanted to go to Dalhousie, our alma mater, one of the days but the forecast said Tuesday would be dry and not so on Wednesday and Thursday. It was a last minute decision to head to the university and we were fairly late arriving, like 2:30. Mum did a drive around campus as she did not too long ago when her Vancouver sister visited but I wanted to walk around as well.

First, we checked out the new Dalplex and I reminisced to myself my attachment based on the fitness classes in the fieldhouse and where I started running on that 1/6-mile track. My mother remembers the years of swimming lessons we did in the subterranean pool. It turns out the fieldhouse still exists and the new structure is huge and gorgeous … from the outside. It will be on a different visit that I visit the facilities, if I ever do. We parked closed to the academic buildings and proceeded to walk around. I had grand illusions of checking out everywhere that I used to haunt and we started with the place we both haunted: the library. It’s got great bones so the updates were pleasant and not intrusive. Mummy kept mentioning the desks amongst the stacks that she studied at and I snapped a photo of the second floor room where I spent so many hours studying – the heavy wood tables and chairs replaced by new institutional tables and lime green chairs with wheels. Then we were over at the SUB (Student Union Building) whose renos are complete. I smirked at the mini farmer’s market and CSA box pick-up right at the entrance – that did not exist when I was a student – and we walked around to the back which used to be cafeteria style but now updated with enormous windows and for students on their computers. We peeked into the “new” management building but I really don’t have any attachment to that or the former building and I found that the computer science building seemed largely unchanged, it not being so very old.

We left campus late and got stuck in some horrible rush-hour traffic so I didn’t go anywhere in what was left of the evening. I baked the President’s Choice seafood lasagna (a sustainable product) and when my parents got home, my dad and I worked together to make two meal prep meals in about 50 minutes. I ordered the box with a coupon code I was given to introduce friends to the service and I ordered as many Asian meals as possible for “research purposes”. It was a bit eye-opening to be “cooking” with my father!

Dinner consisted of Korean beef tacos (Chef’s Plate), honey sesame chicken tenders (Chef’s Plate) and some vegatables and soup because Mummy was so anxious that the meal prep meals didn’t have vegetables.


Day 6 – Wednesday, November 20

So this was the Costco day and we got there eventually. I marveled at the things that I believe are an “East Coast thing” and so I have not seen in the Vancouver Costco I frequent, like oat cakes, a sausage medley, and cans of smoked kippers. The chickpea “rice” I saw is probably a new product and I’m eager to try it.

Back at home, I heated up the Mr. Donair pizza and I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t get to it right away but it was a bit chewy while delivering decent donair flavour.

My evening foray was to nearby Mic Mac Mall. I think Newfoundland Chocolate Company has a great location at what I keep thinking of as the main entrance to the mall. It was pleasing to see the East Coast apparel brands – East Coast Lifestyle, My Home Apparel, and New Scotland Clothing – have stores albeit pop-up versions for at least one of them. I got my tartan fix at Old Navy though because the holiday season is upon us and that means everything patterned has a black watch plaid version. Baby was fast asleep nearly all of the time I was in Mic Mac Mall so I got quite a bit done including exercising a gift receipt at H&M, got a personalized ornament from Santa & Me, and shopped for gifts at Newfoundland Chocolate Co.

Dinner consisted of mummy’s steamed tofu topped with shrimp and scallop paste the latter of which she prepares ahead and freezes. I made cashew chia milk and used a nut bag for the first time, increasing my yield three-fold over using a wire mesh strain! But I was squawking a lot as I realized what a large volume I was dealing with!

Day 7 – Thursday, November 21

I didn’t endeavour to do much in the “morning” before I head out in the evening except to make lactation energy bites for my sister who is due in less than two weeks. I made a fragrant substition to use almond butter instead of peanut butter and found brewer’s yeast at Bulk Barn – previously I purchased brewer’s yeast from a beer supplies store and now I know how little yeast I used before compared to that listed in the recipe.

My mum expressed interest in visiting Scotia Square because it’s one of the OG malls and it’s been a million years or or never since I last went there. It’s in their parkade I parked to walk the three blocks to the art gallery which has a free admission evening on Thursday. I arrived around 5:45 and was practically the only other patron there which is a wild feeling and no interference with my picture taking! As a born Bluenoser (Nova Scotian), i enjoyed the Buoys & Gulls permanent exhibit and now know the name Joe Norris in addition to Maud Lewis. The Indigenous art collection was also eye opening. I saved for last the Maud Lewis Gallery and the gift shop where I restrained myself to three Maud Lewis items and only one Indigenous art ornament!

Driving home at 7:30, the streets were practically empty and certainly felt empty for what I’m used to and it makes driving feel more pleasurable, infrastructure seems to be sensible, and the lower amount of light polution means the moon seems brighter.

Dinner consisted of Korean ginseng soup and Mum and I made the dinner-then-lunch puttanesca dish and it finally felt like a meal after tacos and chicken tenders served on rice. Mum was frustratingly resistent to follow instructions and part of it is due to not having to struggle with her eyesight to read it and translate the language into sense for herself. Also, why should she need instructions on how to make rice! Because of additing a soup reduction, for starters!

Travel day – Friday, November 22

There wasn’t much time to dawdle on travel day as my flight was no delayed and at 2 pm and I had to arrive around 12:30, especially since Air Canada was improving its system and I (and so many other people) could not check in online the previous day. Mum had me drink more Korean ginseng soup and gave me a plate of beef tenderloin and broccoli. I baked a dish of the frozen food I had back on Day 4 and packed into Tupperware for the plane – it was a brilliant idea as I was separated from my wallet and credit cards and the credit machines did not take tap from my phone because it was in Airplane Mode.

My suitcase was not flagged as overweight and I was able to stash my laptop in there. We picked up my order of five live lobsters from the airport Clearwater location. They are for my cousin Alan who was picking me up and I knew he would be able to “dispose of” the lobsters in grand fashion. So I was maxed out for carry-on allowance with two pieces for myself (a duffel bag with baby clothes for MY and a box of lobsters) and one piece for Baby (her diaper bag). I bid Mum farewell for now. I don’t know if I’ll be back in the late spring or summer but definitely over a year later for Christmas.

Baby was good on the first flight where she slept 90 minutes of the 2-hour flight to Toronto. According to the captain, we arrived in Toronto so early our gate wasn’t ready and when we were provided with a gate, it was on the border or over on the US side so some adjustments had to be made before we could deplane onto Canadian soil. It was just one flight but I felt like I could be done for the day, a mere thousand or so miles away from Halifax.

Baby was asleep again when I first met up with MY and we sat on Arrivals level for a bit and chat. We moved up to Departures level which is brighter and nicer overall but the seating area was next to a wall sectioning off renovations. It was super special to see my sister once again and so close before her big day – whichever one it turns out to be!

At the gate, the agents were offering to check items for free and i took the opportunity to check the box of lobsters so that I had only one piece of carry-on luggage. Further, it’s colder below and I felt better about the status of the food then. Baby was not the least bit cooperative on the long flight. My seat neighbour, Keith Roy, asked me as he sat down if I was alone and offered me any assistance I needed. Nice guy – but also learned from sitting next to him for five hours and I was holding Baby and glancing at his computer, that he is a businessman and so needs to keep up his brand – he is the brand. Baby slept maybe twice and for about half an hour each at most because I would get tired of holding her in one position and shift and wake her up.

We got in on time and Alan was there to pick me up and load up the car. He did have splendid plans for the lobsters – which he initially offered to cook up for us, um, that was not the desire behind the gift of lobsters! Instead, his girlfriend’s brothers were off work late because they have a food stand at the Christmas market and dinner was delayed. The girlfriend’s father was making a feast to mark a busy workday done consisting of crab, braised duck and Alan brought clams and lobsters! Brilliant!

On this day..