Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Prince Edward Island’ category

Exploring Western Prince Edward Island

Friday, September 13, 2019

We drove the Lighthouse Trail on western Prince Edward Island. We found Belmont Provincial Park to be closed, but parked outside and walked around the pretty, little park. It looks like a nice beach or picnic area for summer. A house nearby was running a generator on the front porch five days after Dorian. The banks along the beach had been washed away, but not badly. 

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I love exploring, driving down gravel roads or paved. In many of the bays we found mussel farms. Green Park Provincial Park was also closed, with trees still blocking the road.

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We stopped at Tyne Valley Cafe for a tea. The owner, Carol, told us about this cute town, where an oyster farmer has an outlet across the street, and his wife runs a hamburger place on the corner. There is also a craft brewery nearby. Beautiful Trout River flows through town. Later I would learn the valley was named after the River Tyne in England. Martha got an Earl Gray Bravo tea and a bread pudding, while I got Black Dragon Pearls tea, which was very good. I couldn’t resist trying chili with a poached egg, asking for a half portion. 

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At 10:30 the restaurant was quiet, so Carol had time to tell us how she and her husband decided to move here four years ago from Montreal. They bought the house next door and this place, both requiring a lot of work, but she has enjoyed it and the community. With here British accent and easy smile, it was great hearing her stories. But soon the place got hopping. By the time we left, the place was pretty full. 

Driving around the northern coast, then switching to the southern coast, the farms were still the most impressive. I would like to have explored the northern part as well as the center along Rt 2, but time has run out.

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We had not had mussels on PEI, so we went into Summerside to find them. We went to the Breakwater Restaurant and had an appetizer of mussels, which were just OK. Then we went to 511 West, which is a nice, little restaurant in a hockey arena. It was Friday night and they were hopping, so we sat at the bar and had a small order of fish and chips and a cup of fish chowder. This is the place to go in Summerside. 

Next stop, Holman’s Ice Cream Parlor, which was also busy on a chilly evening. It is in a beautiful, old house with a lovely yard. I have never eaten ice cream by a campfire, a new experience. 

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I hate to leave, but tomorrow we start the trip home. 

Green Gables

Thursday, September 12, 2019

As we drove into Cavendish, it got more and more touristy with cabins, shops and some very nice golf courses. There is still a lot to be done cleaning up after Hurricane Dorian, so crews continue to work hard.

Our Parks Canada Discovery card got us into the visitor’s center at Green Gables Farm, where Lucy Maud Montgomery spent much of her childhood. She is one of the most notable authors of Canada, writing Anne of Green Gables, 20 other novels and 530 short stories. It is a beautiful spot, a beautiful farm on a beautiful island, very close to the ocean beaches. 

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It is all very nicely preserved and presented. She wrote all her life from early childhood, and always wanted to be an author. Anne of Green Gables was refused by 5 publishers. After two years, she got it back out and sent it to Page Company of Boston, who accepted it. Mark Twain described the character, Anne, as “the dearest, most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice.”

As we left, tour buses kept coming in. I can’t imagine what it’s like in summer. We drove over to PEI National Park along the beach fronting the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It has the classic red cliffs, which lose a meter of land a year, but Dorian may have sped that up a bit. It is surely a popular spot in summer. We walked up a trail and found a young man flying a tiny drone. It was so cool, fast and with no more noise than a big bee. He was having a big time. His wife, probably not. Not far ahead, the path was closed, so we went back to the car and drove along the beach road. 

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We went into Charlottetown and walked around. Cities don’t do much for me, and this one was no exception. What is exceptional are the farms. A couple of times on the way back, I stopped to take pictures, although it’s hazardous on busy Highway 2. Potatoes account for 20% of the crops, the red, iron-rich soil perfect for potatoes. There is a lot of corn, grains, beans sorghum and cattle. Some fields stretch far into the distance on rolling hills, while others are beautifully divided by trees, separating different crops. 

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Points East, Prince Edward Island

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

We went down to North Lake Harbor, declared the tuna fishing capital of the world, probably by Tony’s Tuna Fishing. He exports to Japan and China. We stopped at North Lake Fisheries store/restaurant, where Tony’s wife, a trained chef, features rice bowls. Martha bought 3/4 pound of tuna and ¾ pound of cod. Mussels are still the deal though. We stopped at a roadside cooler with farm eggs on the honor system.

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Going down the south shore, we went to Singing Sand Beach, which is gorgeous. At low tide with calm seas of Northumberland Straight, we walked for about two hours. Two walkers stopped to chat. They were from Vancouver, but have a cabin on an island in a big lake in northern Ontario, where they spend most summers. We traded stories of where we had been and done. They biked the Confederation Trail for three days with a tour. Their butts had enough. It is a rails-to-trails, and goes mostly through central PEI in the woods. The section between St. Peters Bay and Morell was the prettiest because it was along the coast.

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We went to the Lobster Shack for a lobster roll and chips, then went to St. Peters to bike the trail. The first part was totally washed out, so we rode around it. Others had said there were downed trees along the way. Early on, someone had cut a lot of trees away, but as we went on, we had to dismount, walk under and around a number of trees. 2k from Morell, I said that was enough. 

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Someone did a heck of a job cutting trees back in this section, especially considering all the damage done on the island

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Back at camp we cooked tuna on the Cobb grill and corn and green beans from the farm on Nova Scotia. It was all quite good.

Prince Edward Island

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. 

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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.

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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!

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