PEI – Day 5 & 6

Saturday, September 4
Blueberry pancakes a la wonderful greeted us in the dining room to get the day started, and for the first time all week, Mom and I weren’t in a rush to hit the road. Rumor had it that the Hurricane Earl would hit Charlottetown that afternoon, so rather than risk being out on the road when the rain hit, we decided to explore historic Charlottetown.

The buildings were lovely and the colorful row that made up a fun hotel was amazing.

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We visited a used bookstore that one of the other guests at CRI recommended, where Mom found the 2nd volume of Little Women that she’d been looking for to read to my niece Julia.

We spent probably an hour in the Anne of Green Gables store, where we decided that we’d come back to pick up all the souveneirs that we didn’t want to carry around. When we stepped out of the Anne store, it had started drizzling, and by the time we mad it down Queen Street toward the harbor, it was pouring.

So we headed back toward the shops that we wanted pick up a few things at. And they were all closed! They’d closed just before we got there because they lost power. So we walked toward Subway to grab a sandwich for lunch. Guess what else had closed?

We had no choice but to stop by the only open convenience store and pick up a can of soup on the way back to CRI, where we peeled out of our sopping wet jeans, put on our pajamas and settled into the living room to watch Little Dorrit, a 7-hour miniseries based on the Dickens book. Well, we didn’t set out to watch all 7 hours, but when the sky stayed gray, we stayed in for quite the relaxing afternoon, with a little packing thrown in there.

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Then it was early to bed because we had a long day of travel ahead of us.

Sunday, September 5
It was back to the airport, back to the States for us. But one of my all-time favorite moments of the entire trip happened at the airport when, instead of weighing my suitcase, the guy at the check-in counter just lifted it and pronouced it good to go. 🙂 That’s never happened to me in the States, not even in Yuma, AZ, the smallest airport in the world (well, not quite, but it’s still tiny).

When we made it to Newark, with just one leg of our flights left, we had a 3.5-hour layover in the smallest section of the airport possible. But there was one little restaraunt where we could sit down for a late lunch, so we did. And when we sat, I was really glad we weren’t back on a plane because my head was spinning. Plus it gave me lots of time to read one of my new L.M. Montgomery books, The Story Girl. Before you start thinking I was ignoring Mom, she was busy with my copy of The Blue Castle. And before we knew it we were on that last flight and then back in Nashville, TN.

 

Well, thanks for joining me on our trip to PEI. It certainly won’t be my last vacation there. Will you join me next time?

Teaser Tuesday – Anne of Green Gables

teaser_tuesdays1MizB of Should Be Reading hosts the Teaser Tuesdays weekly event

Here are the rules:
* Grab your current read
* Let the book fall open to a random page
* Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12
*You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
* Please avoid spoilers!

This week’s teaser is:
” ‘Oh, there’s so much scope for imagination in a wind. So I’ll not talk anymore just now, Marilla.’
‘Thanks be to goodness for that,’ breathed Marilla in devout relief.”

pg. 77  – Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

– In honor of my trip to PEI, I’ve been rereading some of Ms. Montgomery’s classics, including her most beloved heroine, Anne. This precocious orphan stole my heart a long time ago, and if you haven’t read her story, you absolutely must!

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PEI – Day 4

Friday, September 3 –
As always, the day started with an amazing breakfast! Maureen created this amazing egg salad on English muffins. And then we were off to Greenwich, a little peninsula along the coast of the on the northeastern tip of the island.

As we drove along that morning, Mom shouted at me that we should stop. We pulled mostly off the road (one of the great things about being on PEI after the height of the tourist season is the nearly deserted roads) and got out and took pictures of St. Peters Church, one of the most beautiful sites of ever seen. I wish my pictures could do it justice. It was incredible.

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As we headed up to check in at the national park office we drove right by the white steepled-church, picked up our parking pass, and headed down a gravel road toward the acclaimed floating boardwalk.

We’d heard about this from a woman at a gift shop back at Dalvay. She said it was incredible. She was right.

We walked for about a mile down a path that had once led past rows of farm houses, the gulf on our left. As we walked along, suddenly the air was filled with huge, black dragonflies. Diving and dancing. Floating and swarming. They were everywhere, and I  thought each step would bring me into contact with them. But somehow they kept their distance, and we made it past them.

Then through a little forest, over a migrating sand dune, and then we were there, on a wiggling, wavering, floating boardwalk over a marshy area. The boards creaked with each step, wiggled with every ripple in the water, and about half way out, I looked at Mom and asked what had ever convinced me this was a good idea.

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The water below us was brown and filled with moss and I wasn’t sure I could possibly survive if we fell in. But  that was okay, because we didn’t. And suddenly we were climing up make-shift stairs, over a dune, and then there was a beach.

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There were only 4 other people on the beach as far as the eye could see, and it was incredible. Both isolating and peaceful. We ran and played in the water, getting our feet wet and leaving a piece of my love for Anne.

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As dark gray clouds rolled in, we decided to make a run for it, not wanting to get caught on the beach or the bridge if it started pouring. And of course we both had to use the restroom, something fierce, so our return trip was something of a speedwalking competition. We were making memories! 🙂

Then it was back on the road, headed toward the lighthouse on the very northeastern tip of the island. But on our way there, Mom saw another lighthouse, so we pulled off the main road onto Shipwreck Point, where we took some more lighthouse/beach pictures.

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And then had one of our most fun meals at the Shipwreck Cafe in the little tiny fishing village. Of all of the places that we ate on our trip, the view from the big bay windows at this cafe made these burgers the best of the trip.

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One of my favorite moments along that drive was coming up to Hermanville, which as we passed it, turned out to be one house. I decided it was named Hermanville for it’s only resident. 🙂 I loved that about driving around the island, how the towns on our map were often two houses and a cow pasture. How the 5th largest city on PEI is Montague, population 1800.

We finally made it to the East Point Lighthouse on the northeastern tip. As we drove over a little hill it looked like the ocean would just come up and meet you right there. Except for the yellow sign where the road stops, as if to say: DON’T END UP IN THE OCEAN.

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We ended our day with a drive through the middle of the island, heading back to Charlottetown. While the beaches and red cliffs never failed to steal my breath, the forests, farmlands, and rolling hills of the middle of the island are almost as beautiful. It was incredible!

That night as I was falling asleep, I couldn’t help but wonder what the next day would bring as Hurricane Earl barreled toward the coast of Nova Scotia, just miles away from us.

PEI – Day 3

Thursday, September 2 –
The morning started where all good mornings do at CRI. In the dining room. Cornflake encrusted French Toast with fresh strawberries is a great start to the day, and then we were off.

Off to Rocky Point along the southern coast of PEI. We stopped at another lighthouse, one that we could see from across the harbor the night before. I was terribly amazed at how small this lighthouse was. I guess, in my mind they are like towers. But these must sit high enough that they don’t have to be so tall.

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We walked around a small park, along more red cliffs, and saw a sign about how the cliffs erode 1 meter a year, which is a terrible thought but then  turned into a bit of a running joke the rest of the week. “Oh, don’t get too close!” or “Don’t fall in, Mom!”

We stopped at a Provincial Park and wanted to go down to the beach, but it was incredibly muddy, and our final stop of the day would be Anne and Gilbert: The Musical, so we just took a few pictures instead of braving the mud. Shockingly, more red cliffs. Can you tell that I was enamored with them? I just couldn’t get enough.  

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As we drove along, we saw the Confederation Bridge, a 13km engineering miracle that connects PEI to New Brunswick, I believe. We wanted to go out on it, but there’s a $42.50 toll per car, and we would have had to go all the way into across and back. We settled for stopping at a little church and taking pictures from their parking lot.

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Then we continued along toward Summerside, the second largest city on PEI. When we arrived, we walked along the harbor there, and went into a row of quite colorful shops.

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We wound up having dinner in the Deck House Pub (the yellow building in the corner in the picture), but we had to try three different dining areas before we found one cool enough to eat in. It was so warm, and the sun was just beating down. But when we found a table in a corner that blocked the sun a bit but still allowed the breeze and afforded a view of the water, we plopped down to a lovely dinner of Fish and Chips for Mom and chicken fingers and fries for me. (Yup, I’m six.) One thing that really stuck out to me was the clean smell of the air. It wasn’t fishy or filled with sea gulls, although we had seen several gulls around.

Then we changed from our jeans to kahkis (more appropriate for the theater) and headed off to the Harbourfront Theatre for the show.

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We plopped down in our assigned seats in row E, practically even with the stage. Mom said, these seats would be perfect if no one sat down in front of us. Guess what? No one sat down in the two rows in front of us! So we settled in for the story of Anne and Gilbert as they’re about to take their first teaching positions and then head off to Redmond College.

We LOVED it! What a fantastic show! The songs are so catchy that I ended up buying the soundtrack, and we listened to it the entire next day. And the singing, acting, and dancing were top-notch. I loved how they stage had a ramp on it, that many of the actors used to exit. And Gilbert used it at one point to go “swimming” on a Saturday morning as he sang about the “lobsters declaring war”. It was just absolutely delightful. Easily in my top 2 musicals I’ve ever seen.

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The stars and director of Anne and Gilbert in the Summer 2010 season

Maybe I’m biased because of the topic (who doesn’t love Anne and Gil?) and the location (how fun to see an Anne story on PEI), but this was sublime. I’ll certainly see it again on my next trip to the Island!

We were a bit concerned about driving all the way back to CRI in the dark, but it turned out to be quite easy. We were getting pretty adept at finding our location on the map and following the signs by that point. Then it was time to turn in before we took off for Greenwich and the Eastern Coastal Drive the next day.

PEI – Day 2

Wednesday, September 1 –
Breakfast at 8:45 in the main dining room was made by our hostess Maureen and served by John. We quickly got spoiled by the three-course morning meals, our first featuring an amazing salmon quiche. We also met Gordon, an older man from Toronto, who was on vacation with his wife Dorothy. Gordon had lots of hints for us, like where to go to exchange our money. And he highly recommended a used bookstore on Queen Street.

But the best thing about Gordon was that he and his wife had just been to see Anne and Gilbertin Summerside, and they highly recommended it. I looked at Mom, and she said, “Let’s do it!” So after buying tickets to the show the next night, exchanging some money at the bank, and finding the used bookstore, we piled into the car and headed for Cavendish and the Green Gables House.

Now, I should mention that we packed sweaters and jeans just in case it got cool, because it was at least in the low 80s by mid-morning. But when we got to Green Gables, about a 45 minute drive away, it was warmer than it had been that morning. So tank tops and capris became our norm.

The Green Gables House was the home of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s grandfather’s cousin. She visited there as a child, and it really did inspire the Green Gables of her most famouos writing, the Anne series. We walked through the barn and the house, both filled with period pieces.

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And then we walked along the path called Lover’s Lane. It was a short walk, but filled with the sounds of running water in the creek bed and the gentle hum of birds and bugs. All along the path were placards with information on Maud and her childhood and her love for nature.

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Just as we finished the easy loop, we saw an enormous bird and didn’t realize until later that it was a Blue Heron, one of the most famous birds on the Island. It was so peaceful and the green grass, dotted with colorful flowers, was absolutely stunning.

And then it was time to visit the gift shop. We shopped for nearly an hour, trying to decide on souveneirs for ourselves and the family back home. I finally landed on a blue t-shirt that announces “I Heart Gilbert” and several of Maud’s lesser known books including The Story Girl.

We stopped for lunch at Rachel’s Restaurant, a yellow building that promised a deck view of the ocean, but it was closed. So we ate pizza and headed off to the location of the home where Maud grew up (the home was torn down years ago), just a minute down the street. I can easily understand how she was inspired to write in this location.

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The openness of the rolling fields and the bursts of color make it ideal. And as I walked up the lane that I knew she’d walked up as well, I thought about how amazing it would be to see the home still standing, to see it the way that she would have. I can see how easy it would be to be inspired to write here. I wanted desperately to pick up my pen and paper and write down a story or two.

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After making another stop at the gift shop and buying even more books (including The Blue Castle, which I’m determined to read this year), we drove off toward the National Park along the North Shore. The road was bordered on one side by the red cliffs along the ocean and pine forests on our right. And then there was a clearing and a row of parked cars, so we joined them and walked down to the beach.

It was absolutely stunning. The waves don’t crash there like they do in California. They clap gently onto the shore. And the red cliffs jutting out into the ocean are breath-taking.

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I stuck my feet in the water, and it was warm and clean, not overwhelmingly salty as ocean water often feels to me.

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I could have stayed for hours, but the sun was hot, and my skin was turning pink. And Mom had to the use the bathroom. 🙂 So we got back into the car and drove off toward North Rustico, catching a quick glimpse of one of the most beautiful beaches on the Island. After a quick pit stop, we headed toward Dalvay, which we were told was Maud’s inspiration for the White Sands Hotel. It was a lovely old home (turned into a modern hotel) that we didn’t realize until we got home is actually the location of the shoot at the beginning of the Anne of Green Gables The Sequel film. You know … when Anne first meets Morgan when her papers are blowing all over the sand dunes.

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Back in Charlottetown that night, we strolled around the harbor for a bit, seeing our first lighthouse of the trip. It was beautiful as the sun set against the water and families walked and jogged along the boardwalk.

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We wrapped up a stunning evening back at CRI and were ready for a drive along the southern shore and the musical the next day.

More from our trip tomorrow!

Prince Edward Island – Day 1

If you’ve been curious where I’ve been the last 2 weeks, well … you’re not alone. I’ve been running around, feeling like a chicken with my head cut off. Really it all started on Friday, August 27 when I flew back from a work trip to San Antonio and picked my mom up at the airport less than 2 hours after my own plane landed. We filled that weekend with exploring the history of the Battle of Franklin (pictures and such to come), hitting a few hotspots in Nashville (can you say Pancake Pantry?), and packing for our trip to Prince Edward Island.

So I thought I’d offer a day-by-day survey of our trip to PEI along with enough pictures to make you put it on your “must visit” list.

Tuesday, August 31 –
3:25am comes awfully early for this night owl. But our flight left Nashville at 6:05am, so there was no way to get around it. I think I was still half asleep as I drove us to the airport, but by the time we were unloading our bags and climbing onto the shuttle bus from the parking lot to the terminal, my blood was really pumping. Boy was I getting excited!

We boarded our plane and slept–using our very handy, brand new neck pillows–nearly all the way to Newark, NJ, where we had a short layover and were quickly back in the air. As we took off and looped over the New York harbor, Mom and I both had our first view of the Statue of Liberty. And while I’d been to New York City once before, neither of us had ever seen the New York skyline like that. It was an incredible view.

When we landed in Montreal, we were both tired and perhaps a little grumpy, as we followed the signs that read “Connections” for what felt like hours. And then we arrived at customs–a long line with a grand total of one window open at the end. It took forever, and just as we got closer they opened a second window, but it just moved slowly. When I finally got up to the little window, the lady in the blue uniform looked at my passport, asked what I was doing in Canada and sent me on my way. Without stamping my passport. All that waiting, and I didn’t even get a stamp. 🙁

As we waited in the terminal for our little tiny plane that would take us to Charlottetown, PEI, the airline personnel commented about how it was so hot outside that the tarmack would melt the wheelchair wheels. When it was our turn, we walked outside and sighed. It was gorgeous.

My leg wouldn’t stop bouncing the entire hour and 10 minute flight from Montreal. I was almost there. Almost to Anne’s land. I’d been waiting for this for years, probably since I was first introduced to Gilbert Blythe when I was 9.

And then we were there. A large sign on the itty bitty airport welcomed us to Prince Edward Island. But I barely noticed it. I was consumed with the field of cows just a few hundred yards from the tarmack. What a greeting they were!

When we stepped into the airport building, we were welcomed by yet another cow. This one, a life-size replica advertising Cows Ice Cream–apparently the best on the Island.

After picking up our rental car–a gray Toyota Matrix–we zipped along toward the bed and breakfast that would be our home base for the next 5 nights, Charlotte’s Rose Inn.

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Charlotte's Rose Inn - Charlottetown, PEI

Our host John met us at the door and took us all the way to third floor, where he showed us around our own loft, a 2-bedroom apartment complete with a kitchen and living room. Then he gave us a map and suggested some places for dinner. While it was almost 6pm there in PEI (on Atlantic Time), it was still 4pm in Nashville. But we really hadn’t eaten anything substantial all day, so after unpacking a bit, we took off for Victoria Row and Queen Street, just a few block from CRI.

Mom outside the Cafe Diem on Victoria Row
Mom outside the Cafe Diem on Victoria Row
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When we walked past Cafe Diem, Mom stopped because it smelled so good, and I agreed because of the live piano player right across the street. We shared some pasta, and talked about what we should do the next day. We were also right next to the Anne of Green Gables Store, which had an advertisement for Anne and Gilbert: The Musical. I knew we’d missed the summer run of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, but I’d never heard of Anne and Gilbert. We decided to check it out online.

We walked up and down a few of streets of historical Charlottetown, passing shops and pubs and deciding that we’d need to spend more time walking around the area. We couldn’t really see the Charlottetown Harbor and we couldn’t smell the seawater (which I assumed we would be able to, given my experience with California shores), but the breeze was nice.

By the time 8pm rolled around we were wiped out after such an early morning and travelling all day. So we headed back to CRI and watched a movie before going to bed early. The next day we were off to Anne’s Land. I wanted to be rested for that!

 

Check back tomorrow for PEI – Day 2!!!