Sunday, September 14, 2008

Prince Edward Island

Sunday, Aug. 31. Windmills, Seaweed Pie & a Traffic Light. We planned on checking out the Agricultural Exposition in Wellington, a french area, in western PEI. But when we got there the exhibits had been taken down and there was nothing to see until the afternoon. So we left and headed up to the northern most end of the island, North Cape.The landscape is much more flat on this side but we saw plenty of potato fields like we had in the center of the island.
We knew we had arrived when we saw the tall windmills. The North Cape Interpretive Centre featured an aquarium and displays about the wind research facility. We were impressed to learn that it supplies 5% of the island's electricity. A real plus to this visit was seeing Irish Moss being raked along the shore. It was then taken by truck to roads on the cape and spread out to dry. We talked to a woman spreading (on a Sunday). She said it took a day to dry but she wasn't sure it would dry since the sun had just come out in the afternoon. After it was dry it was packed into a bale and sent to many locations to be processed into carrageenan, a thickening agent used in ice cream, cosmetics, etc. Years ago horses pulled rakes on the shore to pick it up. It was pretty amazing to think that they were still doing this all by hand and drying it on the dirt. (We found out later that it's not all dried this way.) We went on a long walk on the Black Marsh Nature Trail which leads through an open bog. We even saw cranberries growing there. Our next stop was Miminegash where we planned on having Seaweed Pie at the Seaweed Pie Cafe. We had no idea what we were going to have. It turned out it was a sponge cake bottom and a creamy, but not too sweet, and slightly green topping. It came with a choice of strawberry, raspberry or blueberry sauce. It really was very tasty. Of course, the fun part was just thinking we were eating seaweed. The waitress actually showed us how they cook the seaweed down and remove the slightly thick, clear carrageenan. It was very cool to think that they actually did this all from scratch! At one intersection we saw a traffic signal different from any others we've seen, red square, diamond yellow and circle green.

Monday, Sept. 1. Rain Storm and Our Fill of "Anne". The wind and rain started during the night and kept up all day. It was so windy that David and Betsy in the second floor bed could feel the house move! We decided to stay home. We ended up watching TV, reading, and watching the movie version of "Anne of Green Gables". It was a nice way to spend an ugly day. Oh, in the morning David noticed that the track to the sliding glass door was filled with water. The carpet in front of the door was soaked. We mopped it up but it kept coming in. I called "Sandy" at the management office and he came to check it out. David ended up readjusting the door and that seemed to do the trick. We had tickets for the musical, "Anne of Green Gables" in Charlottetown, about 40 minutes away and had planned on having dinner there. Fortunately the rain had let up and when we arrived the sun actually came out. We had an excellent dinner at Mavor's Bistro right in the Confederation Centre where the play was performed. Mavor Moore, the father of Canadian Musical Theatre, was instrumental in getting the center built. The play was excellent! Of course, we were all reminded of the Amherst Community Theater production and who played which part. This was a very professional performance. In the lobby there was a glass case showing a miniature Green Gables and all the characters on the lawn - all done in sugar! It was created by a Japanese man and was pretty amazing.

Here's a mussel farm in one of the harbors and some beautiful scenery.


Tuesday, Sept. 2. Green Gables and
Cavendish. It was a beautiful sunny day so we headed to Green Gables Heritage Site where Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne books, grew up. It was the inspiration for many parts of the series. There was a museum about her, a barn, the Green Gables house and also trails in the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow. I loved the quotes from her books scattered here and there along the trails. For instance, by the brook there was a quote. "Brooks are always in good spirits. They never do anything but laugh." Doesn't that just sound like something Anne would say?

Two more Annes!

Next stop was not far away. It was the Cavendish Beach National Park, on the north central shore of PEI. What a fabulous park! We had a picnic lunch with our Raspberry Cordial from the Green Gables store.

What beautiful red cliffs!! They're so striking next to the green grass at the edge and the blue of the water (at least when the sun's shining). We did a couple of hikes, one across a marshy area on a movable boardwalk. For dinner we got lobsters and mussels and cooked them ourselves. M-m-m-m! The house we're renting was someone's summer home so it's incredibly well equipped. They had everything we needed to cook our delicious meal.

They have amazing facilities here. A picnic shelter with a stove and sink?? Here's a modern gabled house that was near the house we rented.

We saw very few pleasure boats here since so many people earn their living on boats. (Where we saw a lot was in the Charlottetown where a number of people (not fisherman!) have summer homes.) We stopped at a scenic viewpoint and heard this bagpipe player announcing that the bus was leaving.

Wednesday, Sept. 3. North Rustico, Dalvay, and Chalottetown. Sun again!! We walked on the boardwalk down to the picturesque North Rustico harbor and lighthouse. There were many idle lobster traps waiting for fall season to begin.

The road to Dalvay Park runs next to the Confederation Trail, the old railroad now bike/hike trail. The Dalvay Resort was gorgeous!

We hiked on the Bubbling Brook trail and were supposed to see birds but didn't so it wasn't that interesting. At the very least we had a good half hour power walk. We were lucky that the rain didn't start until 2 minutes after we got back to our car. We drove in the rain all the way to Charlottetown where it cleared up. Lucky us! We parked by the Visitor's Center and saw the cruise ship, Maasdam, in port. (I had previously found out that there were ships there on Sunday and Wednesday so to avoid the most popular "Anne" tourist areas on those days.) In front of Founders' Hall there was a sand sculpture of a potato, that important PEI crop.

We took a headset tour of Founders' Hall which gave us a good history of the Confederation of Canada with its 10 provinces and 3 territories. Then we took a little walk on the boardwalk by the harbor and watched the cruise ship move away from the dock and then turn 180 degrees to head out to sea. Our evening entertainment was a Ceilidh, this time a family of 2 brothers and 2 sisters who entertained us with step dancing, fiddle playing and singing. It was great! It was at the Stanley Bridge Community Hall and it was packed, probably about 130 people. The Woman's Institute, who sponsors the ceilidhs, sold strawberries on ice cream for $3. The Ross family entertains here every Monday and Wednesday night from about July through mid September. It's a little fuzzy but it will give you a good idea as to the fiddle playing and step dancing.

Thursday, Sept. 4. Shipbuilding and Summerside. (It's been between 62 and 72 every day in Canada. We had not expected to wear our long pants so much!) We love the countryside, sometimes rolling, sometimes flat. Pine trees separate the patchwork fields.

The woman from the Stanley Bridge Women's Institute, who talked to us last night before the intermission, said that every little village has a Women's Institute and that in the early 70's the prime minister asked all of them all over PEI to take charge of the movement to clean up the island at the grassroots level. Boy, did it work! Most everything is very neat here. On the whole, people mow their lawns, keep their yards neat, and keep their houses in good repair. And there's no litter. There are groups of 3 recycle bins everywhere!

We started out with a cloudy morning but hoped for sun. We stopped at a craft store on our way to Port Hill and learned about making white ash baskets. The woman was kind enough to show us how she takes a long bit of ash, shaves it, pounds it and then splits it. Then she splits the strips again and smooths them. In Port Hill we visited the Green Park Shipbuilding Museum. It was small and we learned a bit about shipbuilding. There were hundreds of ships built in PEI. (Also, many ship wrecks on the coast!!) The museum was old and could be updated with the information presented better. What was really interesting was a visit to the beautiful Yeo House, built in 1868 by the son of the person who started the shipyard. We were the only ones there so got a personal tour. The guide knew her stuff as she'd worked there for 31 years! We saw lacemaking, spinning wheel, etc. We never heard of dusting with a goose feather. By the time we got done with the tour the sun came out.

We then drove to Summerside. First stop was the Wyatt Heritage Properties. We could have taken a tour but there wasn't a cloud in the sky and we really wanted to be outside. So we opted for buying the $3 book and doing a self-guided tour. There are some really beautiful and interesting houses in Summerside. We saw this cool sailor carving on the trunk of a tree. There are also a number of murals depicting the town's history which were done in 2001. We lasted about 1/2 hour and then headed down to the water and the boardwalk. There were some shops where we saw the original "PEI (red) Dirt Shirt." We had a nice walk along the cove on this beautiful afternoon.

On the way home we tried to find the house that Bill Read's sister, Ginger, recently had moved to a spot near the Tryon Lighthouse. But we really couldn't find it. We went to the New London Lobster Restaurant for dinner. It was recommended by the owners and also by a woman we met in Summerside. We parked and noticed a car from Massachusetts with a Cape Cod Hospital parking sticker. We ended up sitting next to them and asked if he knew someone that Betsy and David knew. Sure enough, they did! We all had really good dinners at reasonable prices. Tomorrow's our last day in PEI and we hope the forecast is correct for sun all day.

Friday, Sept. 5. Sunny - all day!! We spent the day at the newest National Park at Greenwich, about 1 3/4 hours east of us on the north coast. The scenery was great.

As we came upon the town of St. Peters we had a glorious sight of the St. Peters Bay. We saw many rows of mussels in the bay. The people in the boat are pulling in mussel socks where the mussels have grown. I'm not sure if the dark scattered buoys are for mussels or crabs.

The Interpretation Center opened in 2001 was excellent! There were many displays with short videos and even a map of the park that you could walk on. I really liked the exhibit of Micmac baskets. They're really unique.

One special thing about this park was its parabolic sand dunes, formed because of a combination of their location on a peninsula and the winds. The hike to the dunes were through fields, woods and finally a floating boardwalk. The boardwalk was above what should have been a dried up swamp was filled with water because of all the rain they had had. (It wouldn't have been as pretty if it had been dry.) The beach had waves rolling in one after the other.

There were red pebbles and rocks worn smooth from the water but the wave action leaches out the iron from the rocks so the sand dunes are mostly whitish although the sand has some red and black grains in it.

I also loved all the spider webs all along the boardwalk. I figured out that I could get a good picture if I just used the flash.

We just couldn't get enough of the sun. It was so nice to have it all day. We heard that this was PEI's rainiest summer. I guess that was the case in Amherst too although all the time we were in Canada getting rained on Amherst was dry! We ended the day with some PEI ice cream and then mussels and cod for dinner. Delicious! A great last day here.

We all loved PEI. It was so beautiful! We really didn't walk on the Confederation Trail as there was too much else to explore.

Saturday, Sept. 6. Back to Ogunquit, ME. We had planned to be in Fundy National Park, see the big tide and go kayaking and hiking but the prediction of heavy wind and rain made us change our plans. We drove to Ogunquit. It worked out great since it starting raining when we were almost in Ogunquit. We stopped at the DeLorme Map Company near Freeport (exit 17) and enjoyed the huge physical globe they have. It was also fun exploring the book store. We found some really funny books that some people will get as Christmas gifts!

Sunday, Sept. 7. Beautiful Ogunquit! We were really glad we made the decision to come home early since it poured all night and today the rain was over New Brunswick. It wouldn't have been much fun hiking. Instead we took a lovely walk on the beach at low tide and thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine and warm temperature.

Next trip: California to see the kids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I stumbled across your blog while looking for pictures of PEI. I am an Islander who is away at school at the moment. I was curious about what pictures came up if I googled home.

I am glad that you had such a great experince on the Island. It made me a little homesick reading about it.There is no place like it, even during the rainest summer on record haha.

Oddly enough, I even worked at Wyatt Heritage Properties that you mentioned for a number of years.

Safe travels