In quest of the ultimate tacky souvenir

Donald Trump bottle opener

This year for our family vacation, we spent a week in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina in April. As always, we had a great time exploring the area, hanging on the beach and enjoying some much needed sunshine after a long Canadian winter.

Just like most tourists, we scour the souvenir shops looking for the perfect souvenir to remember our trip.

This trip I SCORED BIG.

I found one of my favourite souvenirs of all time, and it didn’t cost me a dime. I ordered a Shark Bite, a refreshing mix of rum, blue curacao and grenadine, and it came in the most classic, Jaws-dropping, great white and blue shark mug.

And then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I found a souvenir that scored 11 (1 better) on the tacky souvenir scale.

It’s a fridge magnet bottle opener of Trump with bright orange hair in a blue suit. The hole where you crack open your beer is Trump’s pie-hole flashing a ghastly teethy grin, like he’s hailing-to-the-chief expletives at Omarosa, Spence or Comey or defending himself at his impeachment hearing in Congress.

I will treasure it for always.

This week’s #HappyAct is to seek the ultimate tacky souvenir. I’ve thrown down the gauntlet. See if you can trump mine.

souvenir shark mug

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Stand on a rocky outcrop

Girl on mountain topAt the Summit

Is there any better feeling on earth
Then touching the sky

Clear, cool mountain air
Fills my lungs

Majestic peaks, pristine lakes and blue skies
Envelop me in a blanket of beauty

Bald rock
Worn smooth from centuries of leather boots scraping its surface

The orange berries of a mountain ash
Gleam on a stunning canvas of lush green pines

A tiny flotilla of miniature canoes and kayaks
Steam up the crystal blue waters of the Fulton lakes below

Two eagles play hide and seek in the clouds
Kings and court jesters of the mountain

Like Horton Hears a Who
We are all just mere specks on this great earth.

It is ours to cherish and protect
At the summit.

This week’s #HappyAct is to stand on a rocky outcrop. My poem, The Summit was inspired by our trip last week to the Adirondacks. The pictures are of Grace on Bald Mountain, near Old Forge, New York.

Bald mountain, New York

Explore a National Park

acadia national park beach at sunset
Exploring the tide pools at sunset outside Seawall campground, Acadia National park

Yesterday we returned home from two weeks down east. We spent time in Quebec City, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Maine. By far, our favourite days were exploring our continent’s beautiful national parks.

In the United States, the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The first National Park in the United States was Yellowstone in Wyoming. In Canada, our national park system is even older—the first national park established in Canada was Banff National Park in 1885. Dave and I have been to both of these remarkable places and I encourage you to go.

On this trip, we explored three national parks—Kouchibougouac National Park in New Brunswick, Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia and Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine.

ocean inlet
Inlet at Kouchibougouac National Park in New Brunswick

On our last night camping in Acadia, we went to a talk given by the park ranger called “National Treasures: the story of our national parks”. The reasons why these unique places were preserved was because a select few people, visionaries, recognized the importance of preserving these important ecosystems while at the same time, making them accessible to people to enjoy for generations to come.

The park ranger asked an interesting question. What if one hundred years ago, these same people had designated Niagara Falls a national park? How different would that landscape and experience be? It was a theme Dave and I discussed several times this trip after visiting places like Peggy’s Cove, a quaint fishing village now overrun with tour buses and tourists.

This week’s #HappyAct is to explore a national park. Pitch a tent and gaze at the stars or just explore for a day. See why these incredible places have been designated national treasures and commune with nature.

Instead of trying to describe these magical places in words, I’ll share their beauty in pictures.

If you go with kids: both our national parks and the U.S. park service has a “junior rangers” program where kids are given a booklet and encouraged to answer questions about the park’s attractions. In Canada, Clare collected dog tags at each national park and historic site we visited—in the U.S. they give out badges for junior rangers who complete their booklets.

Ed. note: In the U.S., Niagara Falls was a state park but was designated by Congress in 2008 as a National Heritage Area. In Canada, the Niagara Parks Commission was formed to preserve Niagara’s beauty.

cabot trail view
Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
ocean bluffs
The bluffs at White Point, Cape Breton, one of the most beautiful spots on earth
ocean views
On the road to White Point
mountain view
Panoramic from the top of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park