Monday, September 9, 2019
Sitting in Peaceful River Campground in Nova Scotia, we tried to evaluate our options to visit Prince Edward Island. Hurricane Dorian has knocked out power for 80% of Nova Scotia and probably PEI. We knew the provincial and national parks were closed until further notice, but we are here and didn’t know when we might be back this way.
We called the ferry for an 11:15 ferry, but the only ones that take trailers are the 8:00 and 5:00. After some debate about whether to go or not, we decided to drive. It was a calm, beautiful day, so hopefully the 12 km bridge would be open.
We packed up and walked over to say goodbye to Ralph and Mary, but they weren’t there. No one was at the office either. Someone said they went to pick up Don’s wife at the hospital. We left a note thanking them for their great hospitality in the middle of a hurricane.
It was about a 2-hr drive to the bridge, but longer because the GMC GPS took us down some crazy roads ……AGAIN! Trees were still down and crews were working hard to clear them. We stopped at a gas station to refill and eat lunch, but it was without power. We had a half tank, so we were OK, but a couple with a European license tag came up to ask if the pumps were working. They had an eighth of a tank left. Lots of cars, RV’s and tractor-trailers came in and left. Back on the road, I searched diesel gas stations on the truck GPS, one thing it does well. There were 3 stations in 15 km in Amherst. Fortunately they had both power and fuel.
Finally at the bridge, all the traffic was coming off the island and not much going on. We guessed they had been unable to leave until today, since the bridge had been closed due to high winds. I’m not crazy about driving across bridges, especially high ones, but this one is OK. It is nicely paved and the lanes are generous with paved shoulders. With no one behind me, I could take my time, going the speed limit of 80 km/hr. The water of Northumberland Straight was a beautiful blue with Prince Edward Island in the distance.
On the other side, we stopped at the visitor’s center. People were lined up at the desk with very patient attendants rebooking or trying to find places for people to stay. Once we got to the young attendant, she showed us a website by the power company. Little green triangles covered the island, indicating power outages. I think the visitor’s center might have been working off a generator as only some of the lights weren’t on.
The National Park campground was closed for the season, and all the provincial parks were closed until further notice. Stores and restaurants all around the visitor’s center were closed. She suggested a couple of private campgrounds that were open. When we thought we were taking the ferry across, I had contacted a campground on the east end, Points East Campground. Tanya said they had power, water and vacancies. I messaged her we were on our way, maybe arriving about 5:00, and she said “Great”. We might as well start east and work our way off the island, but that meant another two hours of driving.
We set the Garmin GPS for the campground and headed out. Traveling the TCH at 90 km/hr was easy going until it told us to turn left. As we turned, the road was blocked by a downed tree and crews cleaning it up. A big SUV pulled up next to me with his window down, so I rolled mine down. He was a policeman. “Welcome to PEI”, he said with a big smile on his face. “Following your GPS was ya?” I nodded with a grin. “Well turn around and get back on the TCH.” That brought me laughs several times during the rest of the drive – “Following your GPS was ya?” Damned things drive me crazy, yet couldn’t manage without them.
It’s a beautiful drive across the middle of PEI. Albemarle County, where we live, was once pretty with beautiful farms, but PEI is much prettier. Beautiful farms with green grass, grain fields, corn, gorgeous hay and straw fields border the road as far as you can see on rolling hillsides. You could spend your day just taking pictures.
When we came to the turn to the campground, the road was blocked with a sign saying “Bridge Out”. We were sitting there in the middle of the road pondering the options when a lady in a pickup said we could get to the campground. “It’s just a short bridge.” Now what that meant, I have no idea, but we turned, and sure enough came to the campground. Tanya met us and checked us in, giving us lots of options for campsites and local information. She told us about the docks down the road, where a tuna fisherman has a small, very good restaurant. There is a man up the road who sells farm eggs. There is a view of North Lake at the bottom of the hill. The trans-Canada trail runs the length of the island, which is a rails-to-trails here.
We settled in, built a fire to grill scallops and corn. I said hi to our neighbor, a young man in his late 20’s I guessed. Chris came over to chat. He is a plumber from Ontario on holiday, telling us his adventures of finding this place. He, his father and brothers are going tuna fishing tomorrow. A bit later we went over to say hi to his wife, Debbie. She was cooking mussels on a Coleman gas stove, while Chris was boiling water on another gas stove. Music was playing from a boom box in an entertainment center on the side of the trailer. They bought three cooked lobsters at the docks. They were in holding tanks, but when the docks lost power, they had to cook them. What a feast!