Friday, July 06, 2007

Island Play

Kevin and I left Toronto for PEI last Friday, with both bikes in tow on Kevin's fancy new hitch-attached bike rack. It was a two day drive, with a night in Quebec City.

The first day of driving was complicated by the first nations' national day of protest. An 80 km detour from the 401 slowed us down by two and a half hours, which then put us in Montreal for rush hour. It seems Montreal drivers really are as bad as everyone says: we were caught in no less than five different back-ups, all but one caused by a minor accident. It took two hours to cross the city on Autoroute 40. After twelve and a half hours of driving, we were definitely ready for bed.

The second day's driving went much more smoothly, and we were treated to some very nice scenery. The rolling hills of the Gaspé Peninsula and New Brunswick had me photographing madly. Sadly, these vast landscape scenes, beautiful as they are, just didn't translate well into photos, especially when taken from a speeding car.

Finally, we crossed the Confederation Bridge on Saturday evening.

Impressions of PEI in four words: everything is ridiculously cute. This applies to the landscape, the buildings, the bottled pop, the accents...and especially to Kevin's family.

Oh, one exception to the cuteness rule: the mosquitoes. They're nasty buggers, and I'm covered in bites. There are three particularly awful ones on my neck.

On Sunday, we saw the Canada Day fireworks in Charlottetown, which were billed as the biggest such display in the country. There were probably a couple of thousand people at the waterfront for it, which created some entertaining people watching opportunities. There were many cute grain-fed (potato-fed?) boys, too, but Kevin said they're 16, and have girlfriends and drinking problems.

The fireworks didn't disappoint. Neither did the T-shirt selection at Cows.

On Monday, we went with Kevin's sister Paulette, her husband Charlie, and their son Emery to the beach at Greenwich, in the PEI National Park. We enjoyed a nice long walk along the beach, and even helped Emery climb up the dunes, for which he seemed most grateful. The beach was long and beautiful, with white sand, gracefully curving to a point in the distance.

In the evening, we went back to Charlottetown to see Anne of Green Gables, the musical. It was, unsurprisingly, very cute. And really well performed, though all but a few of the actors seem to be "from away".

Kevin went on a long bike ride on Tuesday morning, and Paulette and I went to collect him at Tea Hill. Along the way, we stopped off at Subway to pick up some lunch (the new lobster sandwich: PEI only, or available everywhere?). Then, we walked along the beach. This one, though not as pretty as the last (which must be why this one was only a provincial park) did feature the famous PEI red sand. In the evening, we met up with Luke and Kevin's friends Amy, Kim, and Louis for dinner in Summerside. Then, we tore up the town. As Luke put it, we climbed two relatively sketchy structures, visited an empty mall, had hair-filled ice cream and examined the local newspaper all in one night!

On Wednesday, we picked up Kevin's parents at their house in St. Hubert and went to Cavendish. We visited the National Park there and Kevin and I went for a short bike ride, while his parents walked down to the beach. Our ride took us along a spectacular shore line and, good news, resulted in no knee pain for me. Next, we got into serious tourist mode and visited Green Gables. Well actually, it's a restoration of what they think the original Green Gables, which inspired L.M. Montgomery's descriptions in Anne, might have looked like. The house was owned by cousins of Montgomery's grandfather at the time, but Parks Canada took a little creative license and labeled the rooms "Matthew's," "Marilla's" and "Anne's." We also walked down Lovers' Lane to the Balsam Hollow Trail, through a woods that apparently provided great inspiration to the author.

Fun facts: Anne of Green Gables and Green Gables are trademarks and official marks of the Anne of Green Gables Licencing authority. L.M. Montgomery is a trademark of the Heirs of L.M. Montgomery.

Kevin spent the night at his parents' place, and then did another bike ride on Thursday. I used the time to get connected to the Interweb, and catch up on e-mail and other online distractions. I had meant to post this blog entry, but didn't quite finish before Kevin called me to come pick him up.

It was a long drive, over 90 minutes, back to his parents place. Actually, considering that this is supposed to be a small province, there have been a surprising number of really long drives on this trip. It seems everything is at least 45 minutes away, and that's traveling at 80 km/h on just about every road. On the upside, the drives provide an opportunity to enjoy the absurdly cute scenery. There are seemingly endless pastures and potato fields everywhere, with pretty woods and rolling hills in the distance. Little barns and houses dot the landscape.

We're spending the day today at the new home of Kevin's other sister, Jeanne. They just moved yesterday into this very cute house. And they have Webbernet access. Yes!

Tomorrow, we'll head to Halifax, and spend the day with Chris. We actually saw him for 10 minutes after the fireworks on Sunday. But it'll be very nice to spend some more time with him, and to see Halifax! Then, it's two more days of driving back to Toronto.


Stuart said...

Wow - everything sounds like so much fun (except for some of those traffic headaches). Too bad about the potato-fed boys and all their problems ;-) I hope you boys have been taking plenty of photos of your adventures, I'm really keen to see some of them! Sounds like Kevin's been doing a bit more bike riding than I have too - I've only managed one training ride... See you back in Toronto soon :-)

Chris said...

ha! i guess reading this earlier would have saved me asking (and you answering quite a few questions). Sounds like a fun trip. I think we're going to spend most of our time on Cape Breton Island...