My Awesome Adventure Canada Mighty St. Lawrence trip

Île Bonaventure

Île Bonaventure in the Gulf of St. Lawrence seen from Adventure Canada zodiacs

Students who wrote deferred final exams in April, because they were sick for the regular final exams, are asking me where their grades are.. 😳  sorry!

The fact is, that with a much recovered back -- I do pilates exercises every day -- I'm able to have a normal field-work, and conference-attending, summer of 12-14 hour work days -- yes, I love them. As a result, I've not had time to send grades in. My May and June blogging has also suffered. A rare "working from home weekday" is allowing me to play catch-up. Since early July, I've been working backwards thru' my four missing June & May 2016 posts. Here's my belated June 15 2016 post:

Prince Edward Island National Park & Cape Breton Island NP

Two of the stops on June 2016's Mighty St. Lawrence expedition cruise

In late April, I got the message that I've been dreaming about for over 10 years. Adventure Canada, the family-owned and run Canadian back-country travel company, was looking for a botanist/plant ecologist to join their resource team on the Mighty St. Lawrence cruise. This expedition sailed from Quebec City, into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, stopping in Gaspé, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, St. Pierre et Miquelon, and ended in St. John's, Newfoundland (1-11 June 2016).

The message I got from Cedar Swan, the Adventure Canada CEO: "Was I available, and interested in joining the team as a naturalist?" My answer? "Yeah!!"

Bitmoji avatar "Who me?" 2016-07-20 11.36.08Joining the Adventure Canada Expedition Cruise staff, means being willing to work from 7am to 9:30pm daily. The work is a cross between being a day-camp counsellor (check, for the City of Mississauga), tour guide (check, for the Ontario Legislature), and an undergraduate field course instructor (check, many times since 1986).

I had 4 weeks to get back up to speed on salt-marshes and estuaries, and to dust-off my photos, science articles and plant ID manuals. I hadn't been to some of the Mighty St. Lawrence destinations for 35 years!

I was also required to update my First Aid skills, which were 20 years out of date. I took an intensive all-day Lifesaving Society CPR C course, where I took copious notes. I got the highest mark(49/50) out of the class of 12 staff and students in the test at day's end: yes, dear students, I do follow my own advice about note-taking with paper and pencil, because it pays off.

In addition to searching out my field gear -- coats, rain pants, boots, etc. which I haven't worn for 2 years, because I couldn't do field work, I had to plan four 45 minute talks, which put me back into lecture preparation mode. Here's one of the talks that I gave on the trip:

The trip was fabulous! I interpreted the plant ecology and guided Adventure Canada guests, along lots of great trails, and saw Great Lakes-St. Lawrence plant species that I hadn't seen for years. The passengers were an awesome group, and many of them were retired professors with a passion for life-long learning.

The #MightyStLawrence cruise is an excellent way to see many iconic Canadian destinations over a short period of time, by accessing them from the water. This method of travel also gave me a whole new perspective on this region of Canada.
During some of the onshore trips, I was able to collect Festuca rubra samples from public roadsides. We study these endophyte-infected grasses in my lab.
For me, the most interesting destination, was St. Pierre et Miquelon, France, which I had not visited before. The island's fascinating environmental history and politics were new to me. On the other hand, the vegetation was, naturally, very familiar, being similar to that of nearby Newfoundland!
Many thanks to Adventure Canada for inviting me along. I was thrilled to be able to help and support your excellent science outreach and engagement. As well, CEO, Cedar Swan is a fellow Nature Canada Woman for Nature, and I had a chance to see her in action, and get to know her and her environmental philosophy and values better.