Friday, July 1, 2016

Chapter 18 - Hopewell Rocks to Prince Edward Island

June 28th, Day 32: The almost three hour drive over to our campground near Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island was quite enjoyable until we saw the sign just before crossing the eight-mile long Confederation Bridge into Prince Edward Island warning us that the return fare would cost us $54.50 Canadian. Obviously this long bridge cost over a billion dollars to build, but give us a break. We are after all going to spend money and pay taxes to visit your island. But the die was cast so we drove across the bridge and into another one of Canada's Maritime Provinces which on first appearance was totally different than New Brunswick.

Our first impression of Prince Edward Island as we drove south after leaving the bridge was good.  The island was at this point composed of rolling hills covered with beautifully maintained farmlands and farm houses. Many of the fields had been recently tilled and where plants were growing they were obviously still young. It occurred to us that because of the surrounding Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream current this area experienced a warmer climate than might be expected this far north. The growing season however, was still quite short and most of the crops were in their early growth stage and yet it is almost July.

For the next three nights we are staying at the Cornwell KOA, a highly rated campground located in Cornwell but not far from Prince Edward Island's capital and largest city, Charlottetown, population around 35,000. The city is considered large because the population of the entire providence is only around 140,000 and much of the population is scattered among dozens of small towns. Tomorrow we plan to tour what is known as the Central Coastal area of Prince Edward Island. This is shown on the map as Region 2, the Green Gables Shore.  The area gets its name from the novel "Anne of Green Gables" which was set in the town of Cavendish and published in 1908. This afternoon however, we focused on shopping for supplies as well as getting our propane tank refilled.  Tomorrow we will be tourists.

June 29th, Day 33: We woke up this morning to overcast skies with temperatures in the high 60s, a little warmer than we have been experiencing. As we were not sure what the traffic conditions might be due to the rapidly approaching holiday, Canada Day which is this Friday, we left the campsite by 8 am (I know, nothing unusual.)  This area that we are visiting today is the most widely visited area by tourists in Prince Edward Island in part due to the miles of wide sandy beaches but also due to the beautiful coves, small villages, and of course the conglomeration of tourists attractions like amusement parks that surround the widely popular home made famous by the novel and later the movies and TV series, that of Anne of Green Gables. The photo above was taken of Kathy and Cabo looking east. In both directions however, the beach extends further than the eyes can see. At 9 am on this Wednesday morning the beach was totally empty.

While driving along the narrow two-lane highway, Gulf Shore Parkway, that runs along the beach and the usual sand dunes that block the view of the beach, we came across the Covehead Harbor Lighthouse. This lighthouse is relatively new having been built in 1967.  It sits by the entrance to the Covehead  Bay all of which including the road we are driving down, is in the Prince Edward Island National Park. Beautiful place to visit.

No drive through these quaint fishing villages would be complete without stopping by a gift store (a/k/a tourist trap) made up to look like part of the fishing dock sheds which incidentally almost completely surrounded the store. Nearby the store and fishing sheds sits another one of the many lighthouses along the coastline of the island.

These combination shops and fishing sheds along with the gift store mentioned above were all in the village of North Rustico Harbour located at the mouth of Rustico Bay.

After leaving North Rustico Harbour our next stop after driving through a very picturesque countryside was the village of Cavendish, home of the late Anne of Green Gables.  We stopped at this tourist attraction and were immediately astonished at the crowds.  There were at least eight parked large tourist buses and dozens of cars filling their parking lot. I would hate to see this place during the peak of the tourist season. Despite the crowd and the fact that we had Cabo with us which prevented us from visiting the home, Kathy was resolved to visit the Visitor's Center.  She returned to the parking area after 20 minutes, reporting that she was exhausted from fighting the crowds in their gift store. While she was visiting the gift store, Cabo and I drove around a bit and we were able to take only this photo of Anne's home which otherwise was completely blocked visually by the Visitor Center Building.

We were pleasantly surprised to see a very beautiful golf course right next door to Anne's House of Green Gables and we could not help but wonder if she had played golf during her lifetime living in Cavendish.  I had the opportunity to ask the attendant at the first hole if she knew whether Anne played the course, and she just laughed at my question. She did however, take this photo of me in front of the golf clubhouse. The name of the course incidentally, is the Green Gables Golf Course.

I did not have the nerve to ask how much it cost to play the course. Thought it might make me look cheap. Reveal the truth as it were.  I read later that there are dozens of golf course on Prince Edward Island and I would bet that many of them are just gorgeous to look at and fun to play.

On the way back to our campground we came across this little manmade peninsula sticking out into one of the small bays.  It was a lobster farm where the owner breed lobsters by dropped them into cages into the water so that they can breed while in captivity.  This photo does not show it well, but we could see hundreds of little buoys in the water obviously floating over each of the individual cages. The little peninsula was gated or we might have driven in to get a better look at the operation.

We returned back to our campground by around 2 pm content to just relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. And then suddenly it occurred to me that I had planned on getting the oil changed in our car.  We have driven over 4,000 miles plus some miles before we left without an oil change.  So off to Walmart I went to waste away the remainder of the afternoon.  But that done, we have tomorrow to look forward to.

June 30th, Day 34: We woke up this morning to a dark sky and a drizzle. Considering that we have been gone over a month almost without rain, we shrugged off the weather determined to spend another wonderful day touring Prince Edward Island. Today we are going to first visit a site known as the Fort Amherst National Historic Site and then turn around and drive around the busy city of Charlottetown and drive east on the southern coast until we reach Wood Islands. We figured that this little trip would take us at least four to five hours, which is enough for the day. Unfortunately the historic site consisted almost entirely of plaques describing the history of the area with nothing real surviving other than some old stone foundations. There was a lighthouse on the site which we could see in the distance but we had no interest in walking closer to it in the rain which at this point was more than just a drizzle.

Fortunately as we continued to travel east along the TransCanada Highway 1 the rain started to let up and our interest in taking photos of the scenery increased. One of the problems we seem to have here on Prince Edward Island is that if we drive less than the speed limit or even at the speed limit, cars behind us start to tailgate (more so than we have seen elsewhere) and it is almost impossible to pull over since the shoulders are often to narrow. In several instances including the one where we took the photo above, we actually turned down a side road and pulled over. It was here where Kathy spotted the wildflowers and suggested we take a photo.
Most of our drive today was about seeing the Prince Edward Island countryside, the rolling farmlands and the occasional views of the water and as the skies began to clear, off across the water we could see Nova Scotia on the horizon.

Unlike the long straight sandy coastline that we encountered yesterday on the island's northern coast, the coastline here was an ever-changing collection of bays and coves with little to no sandy beaches.  Here and there in some of the bays were fishing wharfs like the one in this photograph. Obviously most of the boats were gone for the day.

Other little inlets were just scenic. Acres of endless green.

The goal of our drive today was to reach the small community of Wood Islands where we knew we would find another one of Prince Edward Island's many lighthouses. Wood Islands is also only 14 miles from the coastline of Nova Scotia so it is not surprising that a ferry terminal was located here. For the fun of it we checked at the terminal to see how much it would cost to take the ferry over to Nova Scotia with our car and trailer and the $100 plus cost quickly caused us to dismiss this idea. The Wood Islands Lighthouse has been in operation since 1876 although my guess is that most of their operation today is the managing of their "Nautical Craft Shop" and their guided tours of the lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper's small home. Kathy of course, helped their cause by donating money in their gift shop.

During our return drive to our campground the skies began to clear and by the time that mid-afternoon arrived there was hardly a cloud in the sky, This photo of Cabo and I was taken in our campground which happens to sit along the shoreline of the West River that flows into the Charlottetown Harbour. This would have been a lovely spot to have parked our travel trailer but we would have had to book the spot one year in advance or maybe more considering that it is Canada Day weekend.

As the afternoon rolled along so did the number of motorhomes and travel trailers entering our campground. It was of course, the beginning of the Canadian holiday and a long holiday weekend. It occurred to us that we had better make our reservations for our next campground. Damn, every place I called I was told they were all booked up. I checked the campground where we are currently staying and yes, they too were all booked up. Finally I found a campground down in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where we are scheduled to stay later in our trip that would take us, but the space we were offered had no hookups: no water, no sewer, and no electrical hookup. We accepted. Serves us right I guess for being so naïve and ignoring the fact that Canadians also enjoy their holidays.  This photo of the children being pulled in a wagon shows just how popular these campgrounds are for families. They are not just for old folks like us.  Anyway, tomorrow morning we head to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.        


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