Thursday, August 2:
Today was our day to “drive around the island”, but I’m afraid we didn’t make it too far. While PEI is a mere 40 miles wide by 140 miles long, there are many diversions that draw one off the beaten track. The island is divided into 4main driving routes, so we decided to take the North Cape Coastal Route first (and last). We soon discovered that PEIis a veritable “tourist haven”, with no end of theme parks, attractions, parks, restaurants and gift shops. While we found Charlottetown to be looking a little “down on its luck” in spots, cottage industries are certainly thriving in ruralPEI.
We enjoyed a beautiful leisurely drive as we worked our way up to the cape, seascapes and rolling farmland dotted with bluffs of trees making an idyllic combination. Some of the fields look like golf greens dotted with hay bales – seriously – they are that neat! The red soil is striking and the flat terrain is reminiscent of the prairies – lots of windbut little dust. Maybe it is the ocean winds that make the difference. Massey has decided that, next to BC, this wouldbe his choice of places to live. After all, the farmers have boats as well as tractors! The fact that winter temperaturessometimes dip to 30 below here will undoubtedly ensure that he doesn’t start looking for property.
As we drove along the countryside, there were potato fields everywhere, so it was natural that we should stop in thetown of O’Leary to tour the PEI Potato Museum. We really enjoyed the exhibits which detailed the history and thetechnology, past and present, that has made PEI a world leader in potato production and exports. “Bud The Spud” isalive and well in O’Leary, PEI as represented in the museum by Stompin’ Tom. Massey even found an old piece ofmachinery used to harvest potatoes that he worked on when he was a kid in Ontario. Lunch at the museum consistedof potato soup, potato dogs, and even – wait for it – potato fudge. One further note on O’Leary – it turns out theywere the runner -up to be Hockeyville, Canada, losing out to a town in Nova Scotia. So the sign entering the townreads “Hockeyville, PEI”. It seems every small town has a story to tell.
Passing through the town of Tignish, we made our way slowly to North Cape where the views proved to be worth thetrip. Situated at the very western tip of the island, the red cliffs of sand and rock are probably about as rugged as itgets on this “gentle island”. A “flowerpot” formation emerges from the water at the very end of the Cape, a shortdistance from shore, adding to the drama of the landscape. Huge wind turbines sit on the rocks around the Cape, and it is also home to the Atlantic Wind Test Site and the Wind Institute of Canada. We took the trail around the Cape,and Zorro had his first swim in the warm Gulf waters as he and I walked out along a shallow sandbar.
Leaving North Cape, we drove down to the popular tourist town of Summerside, the slogan on the sign entering townreading “the only thing we overlook is the sea” The radio station there is 1021 SPUD FM! We spent a bit of timewandering around Spinnaker’s Landing, a tourist area designed to highlight the boatbuilding and shipping heritage ofthe community, but mainly consisting of gift shops and restaurants (sort of like The Forks in Winnipeg).
Travelling through PEI is like navigating a a spiderweb of highways, byways and sideroads, and we’d probably still bewandering about if it weren’t for Gertie. For every wrong turn we took today (and there were many), she’d “recalculate” and get us back on track again. She has certainly been worth her weight in gold!
We decided to try one of the famous PEI church lobster suppers, so we stopped in at St. Ann’s in New Glasgow. Thisis quite an operation, running 6 days a week, 4 – 8:30 pm, with a constant flow of people. It was started in 1958by the pastor at the time, and has been running ever since. Maybe Saskatchewan could do the same with their turkeydinners. The meal was excellent – better than the one we had at the restaurant in Nova Scotia. There was chowder,salad, mussels, lobster, dessert and coffee. all at a very reasonable price. The lobster was prepared by a pro – cut sothat it could be eaten easily and without lobster all over ourselves and each other. The apple pie for dessert was good,but pronounced by Massey to be not as good as Judy Beer’s.
Tomorrow we head on to Nova Scotia, but westill have Green Gables and Avonlea to see, so we’d better get to bed so we can make an early start.
posted Thursday August 2007