After driving 6000 km, we were thankful to keep our feet in one spot and chill out for a bit in New Brunswick with Brendon’s family out on the East Coast.
‘Going home to see the folks’ has quite a different connotation when it comes to visiting Brendon’s parents.
Ken & Fay, Brendon’s parents, live out on the Bay of Fundy in West Quaco, New Brunswick. It was a long-time dream of theirs to own a retreat centre out on the coast, so when the opportunity came to purchase some land 10 years ago, they went for it, and “In the Stillness” retreat centre was born.
Ken just recently retired from his hourly practice as a marriage and family counsellor (congrats on this step, Ken), focusing instead on his retreat counselling. He still teaches counselling in a post-secondary setting and is also working on his Doctorate, but mostly he likes to spent his time in the woods. Together, Fay & Ken run the retreat centre, and have guests staying pretty much every weekend. They also grow and harvest their own chaga mushrooms and chocolate mint tea, and hopefully soon, haskap berries.
Because of their geographical location, the whole experience of going to visit Brendon’s parents is not your typical visit to the parents/in-laws; it is more like staying in isolation in the woods.
The retreat centre is comprised of a few separate dwellings: Ken & Fay’s house (which includes their living quarters as well as an office and blossoming cafe), a beautiful guest cottage which sleeps four, as well as a guest cabin which sleeps two.
This visit, we stayed part of the time in the cottage, and part of the time in this adorable little cabin.
I quite enjoy the short walk through the trees to reach the little cabin in the woods.
Brendon’s oldest sister Karly is a chicken farmer and looks after the free-range chickens of The Stillness.
She lovingly cares for her little flock, collecting their eggs and singing to them at night. Karly has her own little house tucked up in the woods.
Brendon’s younger sister Kendra also lives in New Brunswick with her husband Steve. They live in the town of Sussex, which is about a 45 minute drive away. We enjoyed connecting with these two over some ice cream and bocce ball one evening.
The nearest village, St. Martin’s, is a 5 minute drive away. St. Martins is famous for its sea caves as well as being the only place in the world where you can photograph two covered bridges in a single shot.
The harbour, with its colourful fishing boats, is pretty cute. St. Martin’s is quaint, but it does have a grocery store where you can buy basic food items. The nearest city, Saint John, is about a 45 minute drive away.
From the Neilson’s home, you can look down to the Bay of Fundy below and see a large red rock formation known as Sugar Loaf.
During low tide, you are able to walk on the beach below and climb up to the top of the rock, should you wish. But you wouldn’t want to get caught up on the rock after the tide has started to rush in, as did one of the visitors to The Stillness. (The visitor phoned for help from the top of Sugar Loaf and was rescued by a search and rescue helicopter. It was an exciting day in West Quaco.) Highest tides in the world out there in the Bay of Fundy!
One of my favourite spots out East is the lighthouse. I love starting my day with a run to this little gem, and if I’m up early enough, a nice view of the sunrise. It’s hard to deny the beauty of the East Coast from here.
A big focus of our time out East this trip was planting some walnut trees.
Brendon worked hard for several days beforehand clearing out the area where we would be planting and prepping the land.
Together, with the help of Brendon’s parents and sisters, we planted about 40 black walnut trees and 10 butternuts. To deter the deer from nibbling on the tender seedlings, we sprayed the trees with a mixture of egg and water… it seems to have done the job thus far. A spray of some strongly brewed chocolate mint tea also seems like a great natural solution for the deer issue- thanks to Ken for discovering this.
Attending the wedding of Brendon’s cousin Alex and his now-wife Emma was another New Brunswick highlight for us. We also enjoyed spending time with Brendon’s grandmother, known to us as Nanny. She is one incredible lady who continues to inspire us in her zest for life and learning.
We’ll leave you with a few final thoughts on what we love about New Brunswick:
For one, the flag. Whoever decided to put a pirate ship on the province’s flag was definitely an adventurous soul.
The red rocks. Brown’s Bay, the beach right below The Stillness, is comprised of stunning red rocks and sand. The rugged red coastline is unique and stunning.
The trees. Seas and seas of trees. Because New Brunswick is so hilly, you get these epic views whenever you come to the top of a hill. It makes for some spectacular drives.
The mistyness. New Brunswick gets some crazy fog that adds to the allure of this place.
The East Coast has its on unique flavour to it. There is a rich history here worth taking the time to get to know.
Every time I return to New Brunswick, I develop an increasing affection for the magic found within this often-overlooked province.
Spending time with our family in the East was very special. Thanks, Ken & Fay for your wonderful hospitality “In the Stillness,” and for your continued support of us and our dreams. It is inspiring to see you living yours.
Well, as they say in New Brunswick, “Watch out for Moose!” (We thought it was funny how the people of New Brunswick tend to use this phrase like it was a blessing on one’s goings/travels.) “Well, it was great to see you guys… Watch out for moose!”