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Adventure Canada, an expedition cruise line that’s been bringing passengers to Newfoundland and Labrador for two decades, has perfected many aspects of the cruise experience. One is the wake-up call.

No, it’s not a monotone voice on the other end of the phone gently nudging you from your cabin. At least on the morning this Downhome editor was aboard the Sea Adventurer, it’s the booming voice of the captain over the PA, announcing to passengers that the ship is sailing past a pod of orcas. I’ve never witnessed so many people (myself included) so eager to rise from slumber at 6 a.m. Sure enough, reaching the top deck I could just make out the black dorsal fins in the distance.

Downhome, as well as other media and tourism industry staff, was invited aboard the Sea Adventurer in late June for a special one-night sailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland to St. Pierre, France, in celebration of the company’s 20th year bringing cruise tourists to the province.

Others along for the ride include Newfoundland author Kevin Major, local storyteller Dave Paddon and a host of other famous faces from home. But this isn’t their first (and won’t be their last) Adventure Canada cruise. They are members of the company’s stellar resource team – typically locals with some area of expertise – who sail with cruise passengers to add that extra ounce of local knowledge and charm.

“For our guests it makes it very real. It’s not just the tour guide spiel,” Adventure Canada vice president Cedar Swan, a B.C. native now living in Ontario, tells me as we sail. “They’re actually getting the perspective of somebody that lives there, the pros and cons and the real-life situations, and I think that’s what people have come to know us for is for providing that type of insight.”

Food & fun
Throughout the journey I keep thinking that as we all filed onto the ship we must have looked like hungry souls, for they keep feeding us – and feeding us and feeding us. From hors d’oeuvres aplenty and a gigantic barbecue buffet on deck to a gourmet meal in the dining room, it’s a wonder the ship didn’t sink like a stone with all of us on it. (Still, I would have made off with the entire dessert buffet if I thought I could have done so without creating a scene.)

Canada’s literary queen, Margaret Atwood (another fixture on Adventure Canada’s resource team), is also on this trip. Shortly after we’re out to sea, the three wordsmiths – Paddon, Major and Atwood – go head to head in a game of “Nautical Bluff” in the ship’s lounge, which leaves everyone in stitches.



Late into the evening we’re treated to musical performances from talented members of the ship’s crew (which includes a saxophone-playing horse – seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) as well as Juno-nominated Tom Barlow.

In the morning, as if on cue, humpbacks greet the ship upon our entrance into St. Pierre Harbour (perhaps the 6 a.m. orcas notified them of our impending arrival).

Canada, and especially our little corner of it, is indeed an adventure – one that’s best appreciated from the water. Next time I’m planning a cruise vacation, I might just consider sticking a little closer to home. – Ashley Colombe

Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the cruise.
Discovery
There’s an interesting symmetry to Gerry Farrell’s life. In his first career, as x-ray technician, he spent his days studying images and looking at the human body in a different way than most of us do. His work inspired a new hobby, photography, which allowed him to capture images of other areas of life, often with a new perspective. And not surprisingly, he preferred to shoot in black and white.

Gerry’s photography passion continued as he transitioned from black and white to colour, and, fairly recently, from film to digital equipment. He also changed careers, graduating from Memorial University with a degree in medicine in 1974. After placements in Grand Bank, N.L. (not far from his hometown of Marystown) and Pictou, N.S., he’s currently a palliative care physician in New Glasgow, N.S.

As a photographer, Gerry says, “I am early morning person and like to take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ of sunlight, either at sunrise or sunset.” The tools he relies on to capture the best images include his Canon 5D Mark 3. “I use a variety of lenses, but my most frequently used is a Canon 24-105 f4 series. I enjoy wide angle shots and use a 17-40 lens for same,” he says.

Something more significant than good equipment that Gerry credits for his quality of photography was a special experience he had a few years ago.

“About five years ago, I spent a week with world-renowned photographer Freeman Patterson, and his inspiration made me a much improved photographer,” he says.

Gerry most enjoys shooting landscapes and, particularly, water features.

“Waterfalls have been an enduring subject for me, and I have visited many of the ones in Nova Scotia, and just returned from a photography adventure in Iceland, where there are waterfalls around every bend,” he says.

He and his wife (also a Newfoundlander, from Brig Bay on the Northern Peninsula) return to the island on a regular basis, where Gerry finds inspiration along the seashore. One of his favourite images was taken during one of those trips home.

“One image of sea urchin shells on the rocks along with seaweed at the Arches on the Northern Peninsula was made in the pouring rain two years ago. I wanted to make an image as a wedding gift for a friend. It included two shells and I titled it ‘Nestled,’” says Gerry.

“I always enjoy going to Newfoundland and Labrador, and walking along the seashore and photographing things I find there. Also, the fog in the early morning light creates a wonderful mood and makes one appreciate all the beauty around us.”

Click here to view a slideshow of photos taken by Gerry.
Discovery
When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.

Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:

• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.

• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.

• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.

• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”


Feel Good Messages

Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:

“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake

“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton

“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk

“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane

“I am home safe.” – Deanna Dwyer
Explore
There are two main reasons to visit the Little, Big Bear Safari, located about 90 minutes from Moncton in Acadieville, New Brunswick. One, of course, is to safely view black bears as they roam onto the wilderness site. Another is to meet Richard Goguen, a.k.a. “the bear whisperer.”

“My husband has a gift with animals,” says Vivianne Goguen, who co-owns the attraction with her partner. The couple built an observation tower in 1998 with the intention of inviting the public to safely view and photograph black bears in their natural environment. But one bear had a slightly different plan. During construction, an orphaned cub wandered into the area and, as Vivianne puts it, “adopted” Richard. They aptly named the cub, which Vivianne says followed Richard around like a dog, “Pooch.”

“After a few years she had babies and we said, ‘Oh great, she’s going to become wild and that’s ok – but after a few weeks she brought her babies out and literally introduced them to grand-daddy,” says Vivianne. “She pushed them towards Richard.” Now 16 years later, the Goguens believe Pooch has passed on, but three generations of her descendants still visit the site very frequently and maintain the unusual bond with Richard.


Check out this shocking footage taken at the Little, Big Bear Safari. Richard enters the scene at 1:20.

While they do not guarantee sightings, Vivianne says their tour groups have missed out on seeing black bears only twice since opening to the public in 1998. Once visitors are safely inside the 26-foot-high tower, Richard lures the animals to the site with food. “We have the same permit as hunters – we have the right to leave little treats,” says Vivianne, adding, “but we shoot with cameras only.”

Local biologists have openly criticized the business, saying Richard’s close relationship with the bears is extremely risky – not only putting himself in harm’s way, but also anyone who may encounter one of these bears in the wild, outside the safety of the Safari. Vivianne maintains they have never had any complaints of that nature and believes the bears prefer Richard only. However, she warns, “We don’t suggest that people do that in their backyard. Don’t try to do this.”

To find out about other wild encounters available right here in Atlantic Canada, see the July issue of Downhome.

Editor's Note: Richard's interaction with black bears is extremely risky. Never, ever approach a black bear if you encounter one in the wild. To find out what to do if you do encounter a black bear, click here.

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From the Archives
In the January 2011 issue of Downhome, staff writer Linda Browne explores what makes extreme adventurers tick. See the January issue for comments from a duo of extreme swimmers and a sports psychologist. And she recently spoke to Olympic gold-medal winning skeleton racer Jon Montgomery – star of the Discovery Channel feature Best. Trip. Ever. that premiered on November 27, which saw Jon and his friends having extreme adventures - to find out what drives him.

Downhome: Obviously, you're someone who knows a thing or two about having drive and determination and reaching your goals. Is testing your full potential and pushing your body to the limit something that always appealed to you? Were you an adventurous type and thrill seeker even when you were a little kid?

Jon: I've always wanted to push the limits both in sport and as far as my boundaries were concerned both in class and at home growing up. I didn't usually quit till I got it right, got hurt too badly to continue, or got in trouble. I don't think much has changed.

Downhome: When you're getting ready to compete, how do you prepare yourself physically and mentally? What, in your opinion, is the quality that separates armchair athletes from extreme thrill seekers and limit-pushers?

Jon: While preparing to compete I do everything I can to make sure that my game plan is as complete as possible. I wanted to take today off from sliding and training to rest and recover but I couldn't stay away from the track because I'm having some issues and don't want to ever have doubts about my preparations. If you can go into a race with a calm about yourself because you have done everything you could possibly do, you can race with confidence and not doubt yourself. It's this confidence that will let an athlete be in the moment while laying it all on the line when it matters most, while competing.

Downhome: I just saw a preview for Best. Trip. Ever., and it looks awesome. How did the idea for the show come about?

Jon: They approached me with the concept and suggested that me and my three best buddies go on this adventure. I thought that it would make for a better experience and better TV if I went with my fiancée, coach and teammate. We are all really close and have travelled with each other extensively. Being natural and able to feed off each other I think is key to coming across well on TV. It was an awesome trip and much more demanding than I ever expected. We were doing 12-17 hour days of shooting extremely demanding extreme sports and recording everything. We've never done any TV before so it was all new to us but an absolute blast too. The crew was great and made it easy to be ourselves.

Downhome: Out of all of the adventures you guys went on, what was the most challenging (or scary) for you? Any personal fears you had to face?

Jon: The most challenging was the downhill mountain bike heli drop. Because it was on the last day and I was both physically and mentally exhausted it was a real struggle to get off that mountain safely. The scariest adventure was the safest. Slack-lining was a real trip mentally but very safe. We were rigged up by the best pros out there and if we fell we just fell into an open expanse of 600 feet of air below us. There was nothing to hit but stepping out on an inch and a half tie-down strap that's stretched across a 100-foot gap with 600 feet of nothingness below you is tough to get your brain wrapped around. And it's not like it was over as soon as you jump like in skydiving or bungee jumping. You have to keep moving and get to the other side, which takes probably 5-7 minutes. That was cool.

As nasty as it can be, Mother Nature's wrath can make for a pretty awesome photo shoot. With heaving seas and ominous skies, a frightening forecast can turn into a dramatic photographer's backdrop. Take some time to marvel at the top 10 wild weather photos sent in by our readers - and the next time a storm's a brewin', don't just hide under the covers; grab your camera and start shooting...from a safe distance, of course.

Clinging to the Cliffs



Taken in Shoe Cove, Newfoundland. (Submitted by Elizabeth Welshman)

Waves on Christmas Eve



Taken in St. Carol's, Newfoundland December 24, 2010. (Submitted by Shawna Reardon)

Storm's a Brewin'



A storm about to break in Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland at sunset. (Submitted by Barry Lambert)

Great Big Sea



Hurricane Igor at its peak in Mobile, on Newfoundland's southern shore. (Submitted by Cynthia Power)

Cheers!



Hail in Bowmanville, Ontario in June 2011. (Submitted by Violet Wells)

Igor's Force



The government wharf in Winterton, Newfoundland took a hit during the hurricane. (Submitted by Steph Piercey)

Twisted and Torn



An old home in Boswarlos, Newfoundland was all but finished off by a winter blizzard. (Submitted by Tom Eagan)

Ripping Through Road



Hurricane Igor tore through this road in Princeton, Newfoundland as if it were a sheet of paper. (Submitted by R. Ivany)

Hangin' on...Barely



"Summer 2010, high winds drove the fresh waters crazy with three-four foot lops on Benton Pond, as Greg George drives his lightweight aluminum boat alone trying to get up the pond to go home. The wind catches under the boat at the same time he came off a lop and stuck the boat up straight and turned him around to face the direction he came from," writes submitter Barry Lambert.
Recently, reader Fred Skinner wrote to Downhome wondering about the purpose behind a uniquely constructed clothespin given to him by a relative. Since running his photo of the clothespin in an issue of Downhome, we’ve heard from several readers with theories regarding the usefulness of the “best clothespin ever.”

Hear what reader Angela Warford had to say:




Reader John Phillips had another idea:




And Anita & Paul Desroches wrote: My husband and I were going through our latest Downhome magazine when we saw the picture of the “two-headed” clothespin. My husband immediately said to me, “Do you know why it is like that?” I said no and he proceeded to tell me that back in the 1950s there was no galvanized clothesline or coated clothesline like we have today. The clotheslines were made of steel wire and, of course, when you would hang up wet clothes you would end up with a wonderful dirty, grey spot where the clothes were wrapped around the clothesline. So the two-headed clothespin took care of that by pinning one end to the clothesline and then pinning your clothes to the other end! My husband says he also remembers seeing his mother use pieces of paper to put against the line before she would attach her wet clothes, to stop them from being damaged by the steel clothesline.

Who do you think is correct? Do you have an alternate explanation? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
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