Posts filed under ‘Prince Edward Island’

Farewell, Pretty Island

All good things must come to an end, and on June 2, Christina, Jules, and I had to get up early to check out of our hotel and drive to Wood Island, PEI, to catch the ferry to Nova Scotia. One of the ferries that travels the route between Wood Island and Caribou has Cow’s Ice Cream on board, but unfortunately, we caught a boat sans Cow’s. So instead, we kept busy taking photos. I sat inside for a while and wrote, but it was a short trip on a nice morning, so I didn’t want to completely waste it away.

PEI Lighthouse
When we left PEI, some nasty clouds were still hovering over the island, but it was blue skies ahead, across the Northumberland Strait.

Clouds
Really, the clouds ended so abruptly! It was strange.

Clouds over PEI
Behind us, I think the clouds over PEI was just PEI’s way of trying to convey its sadness that we were leaving. Don’t worry, PEI. We were sad to go, too.

NS flag
But we had a new province to see! Nova Scotia, straight ahead.

Nova Scotia
And Nova Scotia greeted us with a cheery blue sky, which was quite agreeable, especially since we had a full day of driving and scenic sightseeing planned. The B&B owner in Parry Sound, ON, had told me an awful story about driving the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton in a storm, which was terrifying as well as kind of a waste, since they couldn’t properly see one of Canada’s most beautiful landscapes. So I’d been praying for sunny weather and a lovely day, and it looked like we were going to get it. Good times!

Welcome to Nova Scotia
But first, an essential stop at the Nova Scotia Welcome Centre, which was crowded with other tourists who’d just driven off the ferry. But after a bit of a wait, a friendly tourism guru gave me a giant guidebook (Nova Scotia prints one of the best ones in Canada) and a map, where she marked our course toward the Cabot Trail and confirmed the good weather forecast. Another great day was in store as we got back in the car and headed for the Canso Causeway.

January 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm 3 comments

Canada Day: That’s a Wrap

Canada Day was such a day. Though Canada Day 2007 will always be legendary, when we threw ourselves a cookout on Christina’s roof, I think Canada Day 2010 takes the cake for the best one yet!

I ended last post as we were driving northwest from Cavendish, heading for North Cape. We quickly left the tourist part of PEI and entered a very rural part of the province. It was so quiet—most of the residents were probably enjoying their day off at celebrations, and we had a hard time finding somewhere that sold a) gas and b) caffeinated beverages! We found a liquor store that was open on our route, but they didn’t have any Coke, and it was at least another half hour before we found an open convenience store. I think the woman in the store was pretty confused at how three girls in a car with Washington plates had stumbled into her store on a national holiday.

North Cape
We finally made it to North Cape, which might have been the least picturesque spot we found in all of PEI, actually. It was okay, just not up to the standards of the rest of the island due to an excess of wind turbines. But hey, good on ya, PEI, for creating some clean energy!

North Cape Beach
Because of the currents at North Cape, I’m guessing, the beach had all kinds of “stuff” washed up on it, including…seaweed and whatever else this is, as well as thousands of slugs. Christina relived her childhood a bit and showed us how slugs go in and out of their shells, which was thrilling for me, since I was too scared to play with bugs as a kid.

Currents at North Cape
It’s hard to capture in a photograph, but here, you can kind of see the double-current action that happens at North Cape. The cape is the northwest point of the island, and it’s also where the Northumberland Strait (on the left) collides with the Gulf of St. Lawrence (towards the right/top of the photo, the bigger waves). That spit on the right side of the photo shrinks as the tide is coming in. I stood out on the end and watched the two currents converge over my bare feet. It’s really neat, and I’m sure it’s part of why the wind turbines are effective at this part of the island. We actually spent a bit of time here, wandering around, and I think we all needed the time to unwind after all the driving we’d done.

I’d originally started to plan a trip to PEI in several years ago. I wanted to go to PEI for my honeymoon, and my then-fiancé agreed that it would be a nice spot. It would have been in 2005, if we’d gotten married, but we (obviously) did not. It’s been a long time and I’m over the hurt now, but I was nervous about what kind of feelings being on PEI would bring back for me. To be honest, I had a broken heart for a long, long time. It wasn’t until we were here, at North Cape, that I had a minute to stop and think. To my relief, it wasn’t a real sadness that I felt, or even disappointment, but I did wonder. I wondered if we would have driven out this way if we’d come here together five years earlier, if he would have felt disappointed by it like I did, or if he would have like the rugged beach. Fortunately, I didn’t dwell on it too much. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and if I’d gotten married then, I wouldn’t have the life that I’m so fortunate to have now, and I wouldn’t have had this amazing opportunity to travel across Canada with these fantastic girls. So enough on that topic. Let’s move on to the next lighthouse.

Between North Cape and West Point, we decided that the eastern half of PEI just wasn’t meant to be. PEI is a smallish island, but not small enough to fully see in a single day. I was disappointed that we weren’t going to make it to the squeaky beach at Souris, but I had to roll with it, and we made a new plan. We still wanted to see a prettier lighthouse and beach, so we continued with the plan and headed for West Point, the southwest point of the island.

West Point Light
West Point Lighthouse did not disappoint us! Jules, in particular, really loves lighthouses, so when we arrived and realized that West Point Light has actually been converted into an inn, she wished we could have stayed there a night. It would have been a great experience…we’ll just have to go back!

West Point Beach
The beach at West Point was also lovely! The sand had a reddish tint, but it was less cluttered than the beach at North Cape. A couple of families were wrapping up an afternoon there—kids were swimming while the adults were packing up picnic baskets and umbrellas. It seemed like a nice place to spend a day, for the beach types. Personally, I like beaches in smaller doses, when I don’t have to worry about reapplying SPF 85 sunscreen every 20 minutes.

We couldn’t stay too long, though, because we actually saw a storm coming across the Northumberland Strait from New Brunswick, heading straight for us. And we still had one very important photo to take.

Me with a giant potato!

My friends and I share a fierce love for potatoes, so a stop at the PEI Potato Museum was essential. It was already closed by the time we got there, and we knew it would be, but we absolutely had to take photos with the giant potato outside the museum. Now…can someone go ahead and mash that for me for dinner? Thanks.

With the storm still raging toward us, we knew it was a race for time to get to Summerside for dinner before it hit. We ended up picking the Deckhouse at Spinnakers Landing, a touristy part of town with lots of shops and restaurants. The Deckhouse seemed casual, but had a good review in one of the guidebooks, so we thought it would be a good spot to spend Canada Day. Fortunately, the patio seats were taken by the time we got there, so we sat inside and listened to a super awkward cover band sing the most articulate version of “I Gotta Feeling” you can’t even imagine. Ask one of us for a demonstration sometime, if you’re curious. The storm blew in while we were feasting on fish and chips, and it was over by the time we paid our bill. Great timing!

Double Rainbow!
And when we went outside, we were treated to a DOUBLE RAINBOW! (What does it mean?!?!)

It was getting late by this time, but we had one more spot to visit. It was a race against time, but Jules got us to Cow’s Ice Cream about 10 minutes before it closed. Cow’s is ranked as one of the top ten ice creams in the world, and is known throughout the Maritimes for its delicious flavours. I’d already had ice cream from two of the other places in the top ten (Ben & Jerry’s and Berthillon in Paris), so this made #3, and I decided that I’m going to have to hit all ten before I die. New goal! Anyone who’s kept track of this blog surely knows how I feel about ice cream by now.

Girls at Cow's
Happy girls!

As luck would have it, our hotel was close to the Cow’s Factory, but we were too tired to raid their freezers by the time we got back. In conclusion: what a day!

January 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm 3 comments

More Evidence of the Most Beautiful Day

I think I would have still been quite charmed by PEI if the weather had been less friendly to us than it was, but perhaps my love notes to PEI wouldn’t be quite as ardent. We really did luck out and spend one of the most beautiful days of the whole trip ambling around the island. I like to think that every summer day on PEI is this wonderful, though. Please don’t correct me if I’m wrong—it’s like how I feel about Vancouver. I’ve been there four times in the past four years (with trip number 5 just days away!) and I’ve never seen much rain.

Anyway, one of PEI’s many charming attributes is how they make every aspect of Anne of Green Gables, and its author, Lucy Maud Montgomery (henceforth referred to as LMM), a tourist attraction. So as we drove away from Cavendish, headed for North Point, the northwest tip of the island, we found many more Anne/LMM-related sites, including:

LMM's Birthplace
LMM’s birthplace! Painted in the green gables style, naturally. We didn’t go in, just pulled into the parking lot for some photos.

PEI Scenic Spot!
The next spot on our trip was a designated scenic photography spot, described in the official PEI guidebook. They weren’t kidding. Quite a lot of cars were stopped around here, and we didn’t want to take too much time, but I’m glad we did stop for a few minutes.

Lupines
Lupines are practically the designated regional flower of Maritime Canada. They’re just wildflowers that grow along roads, but they’re so bright and cheery!

Anne Quote
This was one of our favourite Anne spots, truth be told. This pond was supposedly LMM’s inspiration for Anne’s “Lake of Shining Waters” and in the house nearby, LMM visited her aunt once or something! Let’s make it a museum and charge tour buses full of Anne pilgrims to see it! And once they’re here, let’s charge them more for someone to take them around the pond in a carriage – we’ll call it “Matthew’s carriage ride.”

Red Dirt Path
“Matthew” will gladly drive you around this red dirt path if you pay him well.

Lake of Shining Waters
Okay, okay…I give in. The Lake of Shining Waters is actually kind of awesome, and it really does shine.

St. John the Baptist
And because you know I love a good church to photograph, here’s St. John the Baptist in Miscouche. It’s an old Acadian wooden church, one of the oldest on PEI.

Next post, I’ll finally get to some lighthouses.

January 10, 2011 at 2:16 am 1 comment

To the Moon and Back

PEI NP

This, folks, is why you need to go to Prince Edward Island. This is why everyone must go to Prince Edward Island. But really, don’t everyone go at once, because I loved that Christina, Jules, and I were the only people at this beach on the world’s most beautiful day.

PEI NP

I did so much research for this trip. Jules I planned the route for years. I combed guidebooks, search tourism websites, spent hours tweaking the itinerary. Yet in all my planning, I managed to miss photos of this amazing spot. Yes, I knew PEI had gorgeous red sand beaches. But this was beyond anything I could have imagined.

PEI NP

We ended up here by mistake. After our trip to Green Gables, the second stop on our agenda was the Cavendish Boardwalk, in search of Beaver Tails. If you have a keen memory, you might remember that just a few days earlier, Jules and I had been on a disappointing quest for Beaver Tails in Québec City that ended in a monsoon. So when we saw the ad for Beaver Tails in the PEI guidebook, we knew we had to track them down.

Lee (my GPS) didn’t know where the Cavendish Boardwalk was, though, and we couldn’t find an address, so we followed signs to the Cavendish beaches. In our mind, the boardwalk should have been on the waterfront. We ended up at a ticketing booth at the entrance to PEI National Park, and we asked the person inside if we were on the right path. We weren’t. She told us which way to go, and we drove into the park to turn around. But the road was narrow and curvy, and we didn’t want to try a U-ey, so we drove until we found a small turnaround area. But when we turned into the cleared area atop one of the beachfront cliffs and we saw this, Beaver Tails were forgotten and we leapt out of the car, cameras in hand, and raced down to the beach.

PEI NP

It was unbelievable. The red sand had been baked into all kinds of terraces and cliff formations. Waves crashed against the rocks and the water was crystal clear at our feet, and blue, blue, blue all the way to the horizon. We dubbed it “The Moon Beach,” joked about driving all the way to the moon, grinned until our cheeks hurt.

My Feet

We wandered around for quite a while, flip-flops kicked off and forgotten, toes in the water. All three of us enjoy photography, so we were all happy to spend time trying to get the best shots. We took photos together, photos of each other. And while we spent less than an hour here, this may have been my favourite experience of the whole trip.

The Girls

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect hour. Especially since we eventually made it to Beaver Tails.

Beaver Tail

January 7, 2011 at 7:59 pm 1 comment

Mel of Green Gables

Day 2 on Prince Edward Island was a busy one. Jules, Christina, and I carved out a game plan while we got ready in the hotel: Cavendish first for Green Gables and Beavertails at the Boardwalk, then we’d drive to the northwest point, the southwest point, and then all the way across the island to the northeast point and we’d end the day on the squeaky sand beach in Souris. We were going to see the whole island in a day. Here’s a spoiler: we didn’t quite make it. But we still had a great day that began at Green Gables.

For those who didn’t grow up with Anne like I did, Anne of Green Gables was what little girls read before Harry Potter. I think I was 9 when I saw the movies for the first time and started devouring the series shortly after. The end of the series didn’t hold my attention as well as the first book—I’m actually not positive I ever made it all the way through to the end of the 8th book—but I must have read the first book fifty times before I turned 15 or so. Anne and I had so much in common that it was easy to relate to her. She was a Canadian orphan who lived on a farm and wrote on slates at school and had long red hair that she wore in braids and the attention of a dashing boy named Gilbert Blythe. Okay…maybe we didn’t have any of that in common, but still, she was so relatable. And Jules and Christina grew up with Anne just like I did, so we were anxious to see Green Gables, the farm that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write the book, now turned into a Parks Canada site.

It’s kind of hokey. I mean, the house is restored to resemble the “real” Green Gables as closely as possible. It’s like the entire island of Prince Edward has forgotten that Anne was a fictional character. But once you suspend that disbelief and buy into Anne’s world, Green Gables is a magical place.

O Canada
We visited on Canada Day, so admission was free! They also had cake (which we missed when we were in the house) and little flags and temporary maple leaf tattoos. Fun times! I’d take a visit to Green Gables over a summer festival on the water in Charlottetown any day, including Canada Day.

Me at Green Gables
The Green Gables house really is chock-full of green gables and here I am, super happy to be there!

Green Gables
Green Gables, detail

Christina milking a cow
One of the educational aspects of the site is the barn, which has demonstrations of what farming is like when Anne lived there. You know, if Anne had been real. So Christina stopped on the way out to milk a cow, rather patriotically.

Car Timer Photo
And post-Green Gables visit, we took our first timer photo in the car of the trip, a longstanding tradition with us. I like this timer photo particularly well because of the voluminous thing that my hair is doing.

Next up (spoiler alert): the Cavendish Boardwalk isn’t a real boardwalk, nor is it located on the water.

January 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm Leave a comment

Canada’s Birthplace

Halfway through our tour of the Acadian Coastal Route in NB, Jules and I realized that we needed to get moving if we wanted to get to the airport in Charlottetown, PEI, in time to pick up Christina. Unfortunately, a gigantic bridge stood between us and PEI. Jules and I both have a bridge phobia, the only thing that makes us not the best road trip buddies, but since she’d driven through moose fog the night before, I was scheduled to drive across the Confederation Bridge. It was terrifying, but I kept my eyes on the gorgeous green island ahead of me and only yelped in fear once, when I drove over the crest of the bridge and felt like I was about to plummet into the Northumberland Strait.

And then we were on Prince Edward Island, Canada’s very own utopia.

It’s hard to describe what it’s like, driving on rolling country highways in PEI for the first time. Pristine farms dotted the scenic landscapes outside the car windows, and the dirt was actually red. I mean, I had this technical knowledge that PEI had red dirt, but when I actually saw it, it still surprised me, somehow.

Since it had been, like, three whole days since we had seen Christina, we had a joyous reunion at the airport, which wasn’t much bigger than Fargo, North Dakota’s, airport, and then went to our hotel, where we viewed people using the pay phone and realized that being on PEI was like going back in time. Fun! I’d never time traveled before. So after a quick freshening up at the hotel, it was off to downtown Charlottetown to explore the provincial’s capital and largest city, which also happens to the be the birthplace of Canada.

It was the night before Canada Day, so preparations were already starting for the next day’s festivities. Some streets were blocked off and they were having a festival at the waterfront, but overall, the historic, picturesque streets were fairly quiet. Everyone was down at the water, we guessed. We had more important things to sightsee, though, like Great George Street and Province House. And once we were there, of course I found a church to photograph!

Victoria Row
Gate marking Victoria Row, the entrance to the most historic part of the city

St. Dunstan's
St. Dunstan’s Basilica, one of the most beautiful churches in Canada!

Great George Street
Great George Street, often called Canada’s most important street. It was the site of the Charlottetown Conference of 1864, which led to the establishment of the Confederation of Canada in 1867.

Great George
More of Great George, which really is a handsome street

St. Dunstan's
Another shot of St. Dunstan’s, which is also on Great George

Province House
Province House, where PEI’s legislature has met since 1847. It’s Canada’s second-oldest house of government and it was one of the original buildings that hosted the Charlottetown Conference. We got there too late to go in, but we had a nice time walking around the outside. On the opposite side is a fountain, a war memorial, and one rock from each Canadian province.

After all of this sightseeing and picture-taking, we had definitely worked up an appetite. And when in PEI, you just have to eat lobster! So we chose a waterfront establishment called Lobster on the Wharf, where they serve lobsters that you can eat outside, on a wharf.

Wharf View
It wasn’t crowded at all, so we got to sit all the way at the end of the wharf. Normally this would skeeve me out, but it was worth it for this view!

Lobbie!
Lobster dinner! Christina had eaten a whole lobster before, but Jules hadn’t, so we got a little lesson in how to properly take the lobster meat out of the super red, super hot shell. Unfortunately, this was over halfway through the trip for me, and I was feeling exceptionally poor, so I couldn’t spring for a $30 dinner and I just got the lobster bisque, which was still pretty amazing.

Me in a Bib
At least our hilarious waiter let me wear a lobster bib, even though I didn’t have to rip apart my dinner.

After dinner, the sun was just about gone, so we headed back to the hotel by way of the only Starbucks on the island. We had to—it was a novelty! But after Starbucks, we had to head back to the hotel and rest up. The next day was a big one, with an entire island to see!

December 30, 2010 at 11:23 pm Leave a comment

The Suggestion Box: Prince Edward Island

I am a bit late with this because I drove across the Confederation Bridge at about 5 this evening, but if you have suggestions for what we should do in PEI tomorrow, leave ’em here! We are willing/planning to drive around the whole island, though we did do downtown Charlottetown today, so we may not head downtown again tomorrow in the Canada Day madness.

June 30, 2010 at 9:52 pm Leave a comment


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