Sunday, November 09, 2008

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Prince Edward Island was our second port of call. PEI is often referred to as Canada's birthplace. It's also the home of Lucy Maude Montgomery who brought to life Anne of Green Gables. We came into the harbor in a very thick fog. Later as we were leaving the captain said that the fog was so thick as we were coming in that the dock hands on the pier didn't see us until we were right in front of them. It's hard to imagine that anyone could miss a ship our size in any type of weather.

We arrived in the morning and this was the welcome sign. Not quite as interesting as the ginormous fiddle, but this building was full of market booths of all sorts of ticky tack souvenirs and you had to walk through it to get out. Come to think of it the building behind the fiddle in Sydney probably had craft and souvenir stands also we just didn't have to go through it and didn't have time to even go in.

Jerry and I had been on PEI in 1990 with our kids on a camping trip. We spent most of our time o that trip in the Cavendish area of the island where the Anne of Green Gables tourist attractions are. This is were most of the people from the ship were heading and PEI is a rather small island so rather than join the masses her and risk not seeing much do to long lines and crowds we rented a car here and drove ourselves around another part of the island. A part that had virtually no tourist traffic at all this time of year so was quite peaceful and beautiful. Our car was very nice and we wandered along the TransCanada Highway for a good part of our trip. Unfortunately we only had about 4 1/2 hours which was not near long enough. The beginning of our drive was spent going in and out of fog that was still hugging the coast.

Eventually the fog totally lifted. We saw several different lighthouses, the Atlantic coastline, small fishing villages, country roads, and beautiful scenery along our travels. What we never did find was a place open for lunch! After tourist season which ended in September the part of the island seemed to close up tight. Evidently the locals don't eat out like Americans do. Or they drive into Charlottetown (where the ship was docked) to do so.

Our first stop was the Point Prim Lighthouse. This is the oldest lighthouse on PEI and is well maintained as are the grounds. Most if not all of PEI's lighthouses are still operational. If we had been here in July or August we could have taken a tour of it. Being it was October we had to be happy to just wander around outside. It was a cool windy day but at least while here the sky was blue and the sun bright. When we arrived at the lighthouse there was another vehicle there. It was a highly decorated RV. There were 2 young men traveling in it. They had begun in British Columbia and had been traveling all across Canada talking to anyone who would listen about their dream for Canada which they called Mandate 2010; One Nation With a Vision. They were visiting around themselves and had plan to be in Charlottetown later that afternoon.

After leaving the lighthouse we truly wandered along the Trans Canada Highway popping down little side roads now and again which took us out onto the coast. We went into a small Provincial park which had a campground that was closed and a golf course which was open. Not a whole lot to see but we did park by the shore to take a few pictures. The clouds were starting to come in and it was cold at this stop....or at least Nancy seems to be feeling it was from this picture. I guess this is why tourist season is over by October!

PEI has quite a few roads which they call Heritage Drives. These are ones that are not only particularly scenic, but also pretty small and rustic. We took one that went a bit more into the interior of the island. The trees were lovely and the colors though mainly green were vibrant. The road....well it was rustic and lets just say I am very happy that we did not meet any vehicles coming the other direction. They were two lane roads with the operative word for this one being "lane"! Unfortunately there really wasn't any place to stop along this leg of our journey and it actually had begun to rain a bit.

This road was just a short side trip and we found our way back to the Trans Canada Highway and headed to Wood Island which is where the ferry leaves from to travel to Nova Scotia. We took this ferry in 1990 when we headed to Cape Breton. Here we found another lighthouse and saw the ferry loading up to head across the Northumberland Strait. We also found a visitor center that was actually open nearby and did a little shopping for a few souvenirs and goodies to munch on. Also a cup of coffee helped warm me up. It was still just late morning so this was a snack. The tour book we had said there was a restaurant in Murray Harbour which was open till mid October. So the plan was for lunch there.

Just before we got to Murray Harbour we saw a sign to another lighthouse. This was the Cape Bear Lighthouse, built in 1881. So off the main road we headed again. It turns out that this lighthouse had a Marconi wireless station and it was the one that first received the SOS calls from the Titanic as it was sinking off the coast of Newfoundland. One thing you realize quickly when you visit lots of lighthouses is that they come in all types of shapes and sizes. There was a museum here, but of course it too was closed for the season, but it was pretty to wader around the grounds.

Back in the car we headed on to Murray Harbour and lunch. By now we were beginning to get hungry. Murray Harbour is a fishing village. The restaurant was to have local fare meaning seafood. Unfortunately it's definition of mid October closing was the weekend before! So no food was to be found in Murray Harbour. Next village to try for food was Murray River; another fishing village. This village at least had a gas station open, but still no food. It seems that unlike around here where there is a McDonald's or Wendy's on every street corner on this corner of PEI fast food had not yet arrived!

We did have success of another kind however. We finally were beginning to see some wonderful fall color and a beautiful river, I assume the Murray River. From here we headed back to Charlottetown. We did not want to run the risk of getting back to the ship late. If you are on a ship sponsored excursion and are late they will delay the ships leaving port. If you are out on your own and get back late it's "Oh well, see you at the next port of call" if you can get there! On our drive back we did not follow the coastline but when across country. Here is where we saw lots of beautiful color.

Back in Charlottetown we stopped at Province House this is where a small group of elected officials gathered in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. They were meeting to discuss the possibility of uniting three Maritime jurisdictions, but representatives also appeared at the conference to raise a broader issue, and sow the seed of a concept to establish a larger union and create a country. This historic event of 1864 led to the founding of Canada. Finally we found a place that was open. While here Jerry and the Ide's went upstairs to a museum. I stayed downstairs and watched a movie reenacting the meeting held here in 1864. When we look out the door on the other side of the building we discovered that our friends from the morning stop at Point Prim Lighthouse had arrived and set up shop to talk to the people about their dream for Canada's future.

Our final stop before returning to the ship was going to be some souvenir shopping. Jerry dropped the three of us off at the stores and then went on to return the car. I was very surprised to find that there were Del Sol shops in Canada. This is a souvenir chain found throughout the Caribbean and they sell color changing items like t-shirts and tote bags. We went in and collected out free color changing lanyards but then moved on. Bob found a sweatshirt, but I didn't find anything that I just couldn't live without so we headed back to the ship. It was a bit of a walk so Nancy headed out ahead of us.

All in all it was a very nice and a very peaceful day. Once the fog lifted in the morning it was a beautiful day. The showers we had were few and over quickly. Much different from two weeks earlier when the ship couldn't even get into the port due to hurricane Kyle! We were so lucky. We never did find food until we got back to Charlottetown and by then we decided we might as well just wait till we were on board ship and could eat for free. Fortunately, we had purchased homemade fudge when at the visitor center near Wood Island in the morning. That is what sustained us. I do have to say this was the last time we would be hungry on the cruise. From this point on finding food was NOT a problem! More on that in another post. This one has gotten quite long enough.

2 comments:

Lee (LuvLee on SCS) said...

Ohhhh........I'm just totally transported to PEI looking at these photos!! Ever since I was a teenager and read Anne of Green Gables I absolutely know I MUST visit it someday!!!! It's just gorgeous!! And my DD would so love the lighthouses!!!

Anonymous said...

Suzanne,

Chau and I very much enjoy experiencing the trip through your eyes! Good job.

DB