Newfoundland/Labrador Day 6: Extra Time on PEI Well Spent
Note: This post was written on the 23rd but not published until the 24th.
In the past, especially when I’ve been riding in a group or as half a twosome, I’ve booked rooms along a carefully plotted route. And that’s usually a good thing, because I don’t have to worry about finding a room at the end of a long day. But this trip I built in more flexibility. On the way to and from Newfoundland, I don’t have any reservations and I have only a vaguely plotted route. So far, I haven’t had any real problem locating a place to stay when I decide I’ve travelled for enough.
Today was another day this built in flexibility worked to my advantage. I initially thought I would just overnight on Prince Edward Island before heading to Sydney, Nova Scotia. But when I rode yesterday across the island to the north shore and when I talked to Steve and Eileen Hauser (see yesterday’s post), I decided to stick around for a half day’s sight seeing. Good idea. Had I left the island first thing this morning I would have missed PEI’s striking beaches, dunes and cliffs, as well as an important cultural landmark and the provincial capital, Charlottetown.
One striking thing about the beaches, dunes and cliffs is that they’re red, just like the recently plowed potato fields that dot the countryside. Apparently there’s a lot of iron content in the rocks and soil and it oxidizes (rusts), giving the island a Mars-like appearance (except of course for the green fields and the blue water and the cows and all the tourists which of course you won’t find on Mars unless you count NASA’s Mars rovers). By 8 a.m. I was walking along the beach watching small fishing boats bobbing offshore and exploring the cliffs that in some places rise 30-40 feet above the water. The tourists were either still in bed or enjoying a leisurely breakfast and I had my share of the beach to myself. Very peaceful and a great way to start the day. I stayed for about an hour until a horde of young beach goers getting a start on the summer holiday showed up, then I headed for a National Park site that preserves an important part of Canada’s literary past.
Anne of Green Gables was published in 1911 by island resident Lucy Maud Montgomery who later published a dozen more books, all but one of them set on the island. The book became a modern classic, at least among children, and she became one of the island’s most famous residents. Efforts to preserve historical elements of this fictional work in the 1930s included preserving the original house with the green gables that Montgomery wove into her story. The external structure of the house has been preserved as it was, according to the young National Park interpreters I spoke with, but the interior has been recreated as the interior of the house which Montgomery created for Anne. And, since it’s run by National Parks Canada, it’s all done very well. Before leaving, I picked up a copy of the book for my granddaughter’s 8th birthday present.
Leaving Green Gables, I headed along the coastal road again for one final look at the Gulf of St. Lawrence as it lapped the red shores of PEI then struck out across country through red and green farmland on my way to Charlottetown. I didn’t spend much time there but I got a feel for the old city that is trying to use its city-center historical resources to create a vibrant urban core. On the outskirts, though, Charlottetown is like all modern towns: strip malls, traffic lights and box-store architecture.
The extra half day allowed me to see a little of the middle third of the island, but the eastern and western ends of that big red rock remain to be explored on a future trip that will require at least a week on the island.
I re-crossed to the mainland on the Confederation Bridge after paying my $18 toll, which, since I didn’t pay a toll coming to the island, amounted to a reasonable $9 per trip across the bridge. There was a ferry that would have taken me to Nova Scotia, but I wanted to see more of the Canadian countryside.
At the Nova Scotia border I stopped at the visitor center and talked with Melinda who pointed out that the scenic route to the north might suit my interests more than the quicker but less scenic southern route. The northern road is designated as the “Sunrise Trail” and goes through small fishing towns and vacation spots.
Plus I wanted to ride through “Pugwash” and “Tatamagouche” just because I liked the sounds of their names, so, like Robert Frost, I opted for the road less travelled on.
I’m in New Glasgow and still a couple hundred miles short of where I thought I would be after six days, but I built in an extra day just to be safe, so I’ll still have time tomorrow to ride the Cabot Trail (again) or go to a coal mining museum in Glace Bay that I missed the last time I was in Nova Scotia.
I started to order pie tonight after dinner, but the desert case had some primo looking baklava so I ordered that to go and ate it while I wrote this blog. If there are typos, blame it on my sticky fingers. Some serious exercising is in my future when I get back to North Carolina.
One more note: I have a very good wifi connection tonight so I posted today’s and yesterday’s pictures on the Flickr Album. Click here.