Truro to PEI to Fredericton :: Rices’ Radical Sabbatical

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Last Wednesday night we spent some time in Truro in a hotel, and then took a drive along the Bay of Fundy through Parrsboro, Advocate Harbour, Cape D’Or, and up to Amherst, Nova Scotia. Along the way, we saw a huge two-faced strawberry and just had to stop to take a photo of Tim (below). The area is very rural, as is most of the province, and we saw several humorous road names, one of which was Five Houses Road. We didn’t take time to investigate whether it was true or not. The Baya of Fundy was gorgeous, of course, and it was fun to drive along it and see glimpses of bluffs, trees, and interesting Canadian homes. You can see pictures from our phones of a great Bay of Fundy shoreline RV park, the Cape D’Or lighthouse, and more. And don’t forget to hop over to our Facebook page to see new video from the rest of our trip!

Our destination for the night (Thursday) was a KOA Kabin in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island (PEI). Other than a ferry, the only way to reach PEI is via the Confederation Bridge, a 12.9-kilometer bridge built in 1997 across the Northumberland Strait. This is the longest bridge in the world that spans ice-covered waters. What you want to know before crossing over to PEI is what it will cost you to leave the island via the bridge: currently $43.25 CAD. As one of our friends, Lenora, recently pointed out, it’s amusing that you only have to pay if you want the leave the island!

We drove some back roads to Cavendish, and despite our late arrival we enjoyed our stay in the Kabin. The KOA was extremely dark, which was awesome, and despite the drizzle we enjoyed our time there. The KOA was less than 1/2 mile away from the prime jewel of the tourism in Cavendish: the farm created to fit the description of Anne of Green Gables’ farm. We were also very close to the recreated village of Avonlea, which Anne Shirley fans will recognize as an important part of the Anne of Green Gables story. What we found most interesting about the area, which was very touristy, was the number of signs printed in English and French (of course) as well as in Japanese. The reason for this is that the story of Anne Shirley, written by Lucy Laud Montgomery, is a fixture in the Japanese education system. Apparently lots of Japanese couples travel to the recreated farm to have their weddings there, and lots of brides even show up with dyed red hair in pigtails!

On Friday we drove around PEI. It was gray and rainy, so we didn’t get out of the truck very much. We drove to North Rustico and saw the fishing village and harbour, where Tim snapped a photo of the lighthouse (below). We also stopped to take a quick photo of a replica of the space shuttle Columbia at an abandoned amusement park. Then, after a quick stop at one of the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s for lunch and a quick stop in Charlottetown, PEI’s capital, we paid the steep toll to leave the lush, beautiful island and made our way to Fredericton, New Brunswick.

We were fortunate to stay for free in the lovely Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Fredericton, and enjoyed being right on the river in what is a very pretty small Canadian city. We both were taken with the Maritime provinces, and really enjoyed our too-brief time there. Because the hotel room was so nice (and so much bigger than our RV!), we arranged for an extended checkout time, and then leisurely made our way back across the border into the United States at Saint Stephens, NB, and from there back to Trenton.

We hope you enjoy the mobile photos we both took, and don’t forget to visit our Facebook page to see the latest videos!

North to Nova Scotia :: Rices’ Radical Sabbatical

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Candy and I decided to head north of the border to visit the Atlantic Provinces of Canada this past week. We drove on Tuesday north through the “downeast coast” of Maine to enter the Canadian border from Calais, Maine, at Saint Stephen, New Brunswick.

We drove through towns with names like Saint John, Saint George, Quispamsis, Sussex, Petitcodiac, and Moncton on our way through New Brunswick. We headed south from Moncton toward Nova Scotia and arrived at a KOA Campground just outside of Halifax late on Tuesday evening.

It was interesting to drive into a new time zone (Atlantic Time Zone) when we entered Canada. We realized that we have been in every time zone in North America in our time together (in the past year, even!) except Newfoundland Time Zone. We will not be heading that far north, so that will have to wait, I guess.

We woke up on Wednesday and drove into Halifax, Nova Scotia. This city was a pleasant surprise for us. It is a really neat city that has a ton of British influence, history, and many colleges and universities. It was a pleasant day in town (sunny and low 70s) so there were a ton of people out walking, sitting in parks, or sunning on the Citadel grass hills. Apparently, we were here on the first sunny day in nearly a month.

We found out that this town was the closet North American port to the Titanic tragedy (only 700 nautical miles) and that three cemeteries in town are the final resting place of 150 of the victims. I am not a huge fan of Wikipedia but you can read more about this here.

We spent about an hour taking an educational and informative tour of Halifax aboard a Harbour Hopper boat. These boats are refitted Lark V vehicles capable of traveling on land and water. The Lark V was originally a military vehicle built for the U.S. during the Vietnam War era (1963-1970). They were used to transport cargo and soldiers from supply ships onto the beaches and jungles of Vietnam, a distance of up to 1.5 miles from ship to shore. In total the U.S government spent about $900 million to produce approximately 900 vehicles, and today about 100 of them are privately owned.

We drove around the city and saw historical points of interest, like Citadel Hill, the star-shaped fort built in 1856 overlooking the city (this was built for the War of 1812…I guess they were a tad bit late, huh?). One of the most enduring and recognized symbols of Citadel Hill’s role in shaping Halifax is the daily ceremonial firing of the noon gun. We were not there when this happened but it has been occurring since the fort was originally based here in the late 1700’s.

We also saw the Public Gardens, drove down the main business street of Halifax, Spring Garden Road, which is home to a number of pubs, coffee shops and boutiques, and learned more facts and stories about the town. Next, we went into the harbor in the boat and had a short harbor tour seeing Halifax’s naval fleet and spectacular waterfront. We had a great guide who was very entertaining and informative. We had a great conversation with Collin the driver before the tour began. Turns out he got tired of working 80 hours a week in his own business several years ago, so he and his wife sold everything they owned in Halifax and moved to New Zealand. They now spend half the year in New Zealand and half the year in Halifax. Sounds like our kind of couple! To see some of what we saw and heard during the Harbour Hopper tour, check out the newest videos on our Facebook page!

After the tour, we decided to drive 45 minutes southwest of Halifax to the famed village of Peggy’s Cove, one of the most iconic coastal areas on the Atlantic coastline of North America. It has a famous lighthouse that is still operated by the Canadian Coast Guard and, at one time, was home of the post office for the town. This lighthouse is one of the most-photographed structures in Canada and one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the world. This area was a long-time fishing community but now is mostly made of a few families who fish for lobster.

After some time photographing in Peggy’s Cove, we drove north to Truro, Nova Scotia, where we spent the night and enjoyed some hotel time. We had hoped to catch the tidal bore, one of the wonders of the Fundy Bay tides,  before departing Nova Scotia for Prince Edward Island, where we spent the night at the Cavendish KOA. However, we weren’t able to be in the right position at the right time to see it, though we did realize we saw a different tidal bore during our time in Alaska last year.

Enjoy the photos below and don’t forget to check out the videos on Facebook!

Heading Down the Coast :: Rices’ Radical Sabbatical

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On Friday afternoon, despite intermittent rain showers, we spent the afternoon driving down the coast in hopes of finding several more lighthouses and/or cute harbors to photograph.

We were only able to see one (Pumpkin Island lighthouse), off the tip of Deer Isle (connected to the Maineland–pun intended–by a tall, narrow bridge), and Tim snapped the photo of the lighthouse shown below, along with a great closeup of Chaser Dog Rice. We also saw several cool old summer homes lined up in a row, each massive in size and with generous lawns and porches. It was easy to imagine how much fun spending a summer in those homes would be!

We stopped briefly in Blue Hill, Maine, at the town landing and took the panorama and most of the other shots below before the rain started up and forced us back into the truck. While we were driving, we saw two red fox, plus four baby foxes, but they were too nimble and too far away for us to take a photo of them. Hope you enjoy the shots, and hopefully we’ll have better luck the next time out!

Memories of a year in the Purple Valley…

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We have had a lot of free time recently to think through some things. It occurred to me as we drove through Maine when we arrived here two weeks ago that we had not been in this part of the country for nearly 10 years. New England is a very historic and incredible place; the cradle of our country’s history and beginning. The communities came to mind as we passed through or near them: Portland, Waterville, and Brunswick. It brought back memories of when we lived in this part of the country for one academic year: 1999-2000.

During that year, I had the privilege of working on my mentorship for my graduate degree in sport management at the top liberal arts college in the country, Williams College. This school is nestled in the Berkshires just 45 minutes east of Albany, New York. I had visited this incredible school in the summer of 1991 while working as a camp counselor at Raquette Lake Camps in New York State. I remember touring the campus and saying to myself, “If I ever get the chance to work at this school, I will jump at that chance.” Little did I know that I would get that chance eight years later.

I had been a Bible College coach and teacher in the Kansas City area for two years when I decided to take a risk, step out on faith, and go after an opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest students in the country. I sent my resume to all of the top Division III schools in New England in search of an opportunity to learn and grow as a coach and a man.

One day before heading down to Alabama to finish my coursework for my master’s degree I got a call from one of those schools: Williams. The person on the other end of the line was a coach who I had heard so many great things about. His name was Harry Sheehy. Harry was one of the top coaches in Division III history, a former Athletes in Actions team member (here is an interesting story from his days with AIA), and a Christian. He offered me the opportunity to work with him and complete my 360-hour mentorship. That day in May 1999 still goes down as the most exciting days in my career.

Candy and I decided to go there for that year shortly after the call. I have always been thankful that Candy was so willing to leave Kansas City and her business at the time (independent software instruction) and follow my dreams of coaching at a higher level. She would end up working at Green Mountain College in Vermont as the volleyball coach and compliance coordinator during that year, while I worked on my mentorship as a volunteer assistant basketball coach under Harry. We drove our Hyundai Elantra (stuffed with whatever we could get in it and complete with leaking windshield, non-functioning stereo and bad right front wheel) to Massachusetts with just enough money to get there. We did not know where we would live, where money would come from, or how the whole thing would work out. We did not know anyone there. All we had was faith.

I remember it like it was yesterday meeting Coach Sheehy in the parking lot of a Cumberland Farms convenience store phone booth in a driving rain storm. We had been there for a couple of days and he and his wife, Connie, had been on vacation and had just arrived back home from it. We were about to go find a parking lot to sleep in the car and were out of money. We only had one hope: call him and hope he had arrived back home. Luckily for us, he was home.

They opened their home to us for a couple of nights as we looked for a place to live. We did find something in the area that allowed us to pay our deposit over some time and we were in two days later.

We met some great people during that year, including Harry’s dad, who, like Harry, had been a star athlete at Williams. “Pop” was a character (he always got all over me for not saying “Worcester” correctly) as were some of his friends we would run into on Spring Street on most days. We also saw a community that loved their student-athletes… it was great to be part of something so special.

During that year, Candy and I learned so much about ourselves and learned to lean into one another more than we ever had before. In January 2000, Candy was involved in a car accident where she was injured and destroyed our Elantra (without full insurance). This was before we had cell phones so I did not find out until I was coming back from a game at Amherst College that I had gone with the staff to scout. During this time, Connie, Frank Zoltek, one of the assistant coaches who had been Harry’s right hand man for many years, and Mike Frawley, the athletic trainer at Williams, had helped Candy get through the tough time until I got home. I will never forget the care that these folks showed us. Harry also allowed us to borrow his Mazda car to help us get around and get Candy to and from Vermont for her job.

I have never worked with a better motivator than Coach Sheehy. He had a masterful way of reaching every person, including his staff. We won 20 games in his final campaign and to this day that was the most impressive coaching job I have ever witnessed. We won the very first NESCAC Championship during that season and he was named NESCAC Coach of the Year. He got everything and then some out of his team. I was fortunate enough to be on his last coaching staff as he would become the athletic director at Williams in the summer of 2000. This staff also recruited the class that would end up winning the 2003 Division III National Title and losing in the 2004 title game at the buzzer. He left an incredible legacy that is still very successful.

He was a master story teller (I think I am this way because of that one year with him!) and a great communicator. He never had to use profanity to get his point across…he lived out his faith through his leadership in coaching. One of my favorite lessons from him was when he illustrated to the team the importance of being in or out with the team. He would have two feet in one place and say “you are either in”, and then he would step to the right with both feet and say “or out.” To him, there was no straddling the line when it came to hard work or being a team member. I have used that on numerous occasions in my career since then.

After that season, I interviewed for jobs as a head coach all over the country. The experience helped me get chances I never would have gotten without it. I ended up at Grove City College and had a great stay there and then was named head coach at Hiram College in 2003. One memorable story from that time revolved around my pursuit of a specific head coaching job. I once asked him in a phone call, “Do you think this job can get me back to the NESCAC?” He replied, “It will either get you back to NESCAC or you will be the best insurance salesman around!” The ironic thing is he was nearly right…I ended up working for Enterprise Rent-a-Car and selling insurance to renters on a daily basis after leaving Hiram College. Go figure…

He just finished his first year at Dartmouth as the athletic director. I had read that he is already making a difference there, which is no surprise to me. Last night, I had the chance to watch some video on YouTube that featured Harry speaking at Williams about some of his experiences during his long-tenured career there. It just brought back so many memories from that special year where I learned what it took to truly be a head college coach…and a genuine leader.

I have never really told our Williamstown story or truly thanked Harry for giving me the chance to further my career and life. So, if you are reading this, thanks, Coach, for your influence in our life. Driving through this part of the country brought that to mind…I hope you all enjoyed the story and I hope you, too, can thank someone who has made an impact on your life.

Mount Desert Island Round 2 :: Rices’ Radical Sabbatical

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Since we were awake until 4am this morning (Friday), we slept in until early afternoon, and after doing a bit of work decided that we would drive a bit more around the other half of Mount Desert Island. There was a little sunshine and we hoped to see a lot of little harbors filled with boats and other quintessential Maine sights.

However, about 10 minutes into our drive onto the island, the fog rolled in. Boy, does it come in fast around here! It seemed as though it was literally sunny one moment, then completely foggy the next! We didn’t see too much because of the thick fog, and despite my eager search for cool foggy photographs to make, we came away with very little but really enjoyed the drive. One place we intend to go back to explore is Nemo’s…shown in the last photo below. You cannot imagine the piles of stuff around the place!

Enjoy the views of Southwest Harbor, the Bass Harbor Head Light, and some of the other shots from today. After our drive, we continued driving into Bangor and enjoyed a nice buffet meal at the local casino before returning to our RV to finish a little grading (Tim) and catch a little TV (Candy).

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Hope you have a great time!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out our Facebook page to see Tim’s video from today!

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