Tomorrow we’ll leave Prince Edward Island with one stop before Cape Breton, but we gave this place a pretty good once over. Although it’s not a big island we put some 800 kilometers on the rental car. (In theory we could figure what that is in miles but it’s just easier to use the odometer.)
By our estimation, 80% of PEI’s economy likely is driven by agriculture. Maybe that’s why its nickname is the Emerald Isle, or at least its nickname could be the Emerald Isle if Ireland hadn’t already claimed it. We saw wheat and corn and potatoes, some of it under the drone.
Especially potatoes. Lots of potato fields. We can attest to the deliciousness of PEI potatoes, at least when cubed for breakfast or sliced for chips. We picked some up at the Farmer’s Market.
Later on Dana even bought some potato-oil hand lotion. Who knew such a thing even existed? They’re so into potatoes that the radio station is SPUD 102.1 FM. No joke.
The other 20% of the PEI economy is Anne of Green Gables. The folks here aren’t quite as overwhelming as the “Southernmost” everything under the sun people in Key West, but close. There’re Green Gables Bungalows, the Green Gables deli, and the Green Gables Golf Club, among other Green Gable places. We saw the Anne of Green Gables Boutique, and Anne of Green Gables chocolate shop. There’s an Anne Shirley Motel, and an Avonlea Village that mostly is a huge parking lot with some restaurants.
But hey, we’re tourists and we’ve read the books, so gotta do the touristy stuff. The actual house is small and hidden.
The ticket office/gift shop guarding the house, not surprisingly, is neither small nor hidden. Like most such places they funnel you in and out through the gift shop. Anybody need Anne of Green Gables boxer shorts or colored pencils?
Okay we’re glad we stopped by, but no reason to dawdle. Particularly since it was too windy to drone illegally overhead.
PEI apparently is home to virtually all of Canada’s popular beaches, mostly because the Northumberland Strait has the warmest water north of North Carolina. True fact. In addition to being ground zero for Anne hoopla, Cavendish also has one of those beaches. Not too shabby. A nice crowd was enjoying a day at the beach.
The red sand beaches, though, were not so much to our liking. The sand actually isn’t gross, but it looks way too much like that red Georgia clay that gums up everything and is impossible to wash off. Plus when the wicked Egyptians refused to let the Israelites leave, the first thing God did was turn the Nile into blood. This water kind of looks like that. We stayed out just in case.
Basin Head Beach, however, is the real deal. At least one travel publication named it Canada’s Best Beach. Basin Head is quite proud of its “singing sand.” We didn’t find the sounds from the sand particularly musical—closer to squeaks from leaking abdominal gas than to the Tabernacle Choir—but we enjoyed walking around in it for a while anyway.
Unfortunately we left without photo-documenting one of the more bizarre things we’ve seen in our travels. In the middle of the beach, a canal funnels the tidal current into and out of an inner basin. Big signs warn of the life-threatening rip. A bridge crosses the canal some twenty feet or so above the water, with big signs prohibiting jumping. But there’s a lifeguard. And dozens of kids jumped off the bridge right in front of her and rode the rip tide out. Crazy stuff. By the time Doug droned over the beach, however, most of the crowd either had gone home or were swept out to sea.
Just down the lane from our spot in Summerside is the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada. We love a good bagpipe tune, so Dana got tickets to the “Highland Storm,” a musical produced by the joint’s faculty and students.
The show mostly was about how plucky Scottish pioneers in the 1700s traveled across mighty oceans amidst many hardships and made friends with everybody and were happy and awesome. It’s all about perspective. We enjoyed the production but could’ve done with maybe less singing by the writer/director’s wife.
Yesterday No Drama arrived, doubling the number of boats from The Valley of the Sun docked in Summerside, PEI. We don’t know for sure but likely that’s a record.
Hopefully Jeff and Ann will catch up with us again somewhere, because this morning we plowed through the matted seagrass and headed to Charlottetown, the provincial Capitol and only real “city” on the island.
PEI is connected to the mainland by Canada’s longest bridge, the 12-kilometer Confederation Bridge. It’s called the Confederation Bridge to commemorate PEI’s role as “Birthplace of the Confederation.” We looked it up. Our simplistic understanding is that in 1864 several independent provinces met up and decided to join forces and become Canada. That would seem to be more a more legit basis than Cartier’s cross, but we loved Gaspé and wouldn’t say anything bad about it.
Here’s another interesting fact. The Confederation Bridge crosses the Abegweit Passage. “Abegweit” is the native name for PEI, but it’s also the name of that cool icebreaker that Paul and Suzanne invited us to tour in Chicago. Add that to the list of bizarre coincidences that litter these posts.
Anyway, we wanted to drive across the bridge just to say we’ve done it, but the toll is $50. No way we pay that just to cross and turn around, and we didn’t have time for more of Bouctouche. So we settled for the artsy photo of the bridge disappearing into the horizon. It’s all about perspective.
We spent so much time driving around the island that we probably could’ve skipped Charlottetown entirely, but Dana also found tickets to the stage production of Anne of Green Gables, The Musical. Of course there’s a stage production of Anne of Green Gables, The Musical, and since we’re tourists and read the books, of course we went.
But the show has been running since 1965 and the theatre filled up, because it’s a dang good show.
The marina hosed us out of the slip they originally assigned us, and instead gave us a spot alongside a dock that looked and felt like something made for toddlers by Little Tykes. It’s literally “secured” to a piling with a single strand of 3/8 inch double-strand nylon rope. Which is frayed. As long as the wind doesn’t exceed about 1 knot, however, our 56,000 pound boat probably won’t drag everything across the narrow fairway into the next set of docks. As an added insult, the Mounties stopped by to make sure we weren’t smuggling drugs.
Assuming we awake in the same spot, we’ll take off for Nova Scotia in the morning. We’re looking forward to it, but PEI is pretty cool as well.