|driving tour signage - very easy to follow!|
Thursday morning after we buttoned up the RV we still had time for a walk on the beach which we had entirely to ourselves...unless one counted the company of several Semipalmated Plovers working the shoreline. By 9:30 we were on the road for our short 69 mile tow to Brudenell River Provincial Park.
In spite of forewarning both the bank and credit card company that we would be traveling in Canada - where have been for the past three weeks using our debit cards - the bank suddenly decided to block our debit card when we went to pay for our two week stay at Brudenell. A phone call (thank you Onstar) cleared the matter up. “Traveling in Canada? We had no idea.” How very annoying.
Where we had an expansive grassy site at Cabot Beach (so nice on the bare feet) we now found ourselves tucked way into the woods on gravel at Brudenell. Tucked in so far that we now had no TV reception whatsoever, not even the meager three stations we’d had at Cabot Beach. So much for news and weather. However, the site was very, very quiet. The only disturbance so far has come from strings of horses ridden mainly by twittering teenage girls on a trail that passes near the RV. Still, a string of chatting horseback riders is far quieter than the relentless strings of rumbling freight trains in Dale.
Our first full day at Brudenell didn’t begin well. We drove into nearby Georgetown to use the free wifi at the the public library only to discover that the library was only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was Friday.
|Panmure Island Beach|
|Panmure Head Lighthouse|
By this time we bagged any and all “responsible” activities and spent the rest of the day exploring parts of the Points East Coastal Drive, the fourth and last PEI coastal driving tour left to see. Due to a late start we limited our drive to just south and east of Montague. We zigged and zagged along the coast through Lower Montague, Murray Harbor, Point Pleasant, and Murray River. A stop at Panmure Head Lighthouse (PEI’s oldest wooden lighthouse) and then a walk and a cold beer, for purely medicinal purposes, at Panmure Island Beach. On to Cape Bear Lighthouse where we found our first seabird of the trip, a Black Guillemot. Gray Seals and dolphins were also present although at some distance (that’s why we have a spotting scope). A bit further on at Murray Head we had a grand overlook (or as they say in Canada, a look off) of the Northumberland Strait and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in the distance. Several Northern Gannet were hunting far off shore. Ever see a Northern Gannet make one of their spectacular head first dives into the ocean?
|Cape Bear Lighthouse|
|road to Murray Head|
The area is part of the historic “three rivers” in which the Montague, Brudenell and Cardigan Rivers drain into Cardigan Bay. Near where the Brudenell and Montague Rivers meet at Georgetown was where one of the first French settlements was founded on PEI in the early 1700‘s. This same point of land was also the birthplace of PEI’s Father of the Confederation, Andrew A. MacDonald. Having been identified as environmentally significant, all three rivers are now protected under a Canadian Heritage River designation.
|Memorial Gardens, Holy Trinity Church and Georgetown Beach|
|Roma National Historic Site|
|Launching Pond Harbor|
|Sally's Beach P. P.|
|Souris Lighthouse at Knight Point|
|East Point Lighthouse|
Getting on in the day we limited our coastal drive to as far as North Lake before doubling back to check out the Basin Head Day Park near Red Point Provincial Park. If we had wondered where everyone was could stop wondering. They all seemed to be at Basin Head. In Colorado a spot named “Basin Head” might mean a ski resort. Here it was totally the beach that attracted everyone. The parking lot was overflowing. We suspected that perhaps a non-weekend visit would be better. However, we downed some ice cream while watching dozens of swimmers jumping off a short walking bridge into a canal (with posted signs specifically telling them not to).
|Singing Sands Beach|
Oh, and speaking of cold beer, alcohol sales in Canada? They are controlled through something akin to the “ABC” stores we’ve experienced in some states. Restaurants in Canada that can legally serve alcohol are advertised as being “licensed”. Takeout alcohol isn’t available in a supermarket or grocery store or a bar as in the U.S., only in the state operated outlets. Not a terrible inconvenience, however, the price of takeout alcohol? Well, we’ve quickly come to appreciate what our Canadian friends have often said about the expense of alcohol in Canada. It ain’t cheap. And pretty ridiculous. How ridiculous? Here’s an example. If you were so inclined to buy a six-pack of Bud Lite in the U.S., what would you pay? Well, in Canada, we found a six-pack of Bud Lite priced at $17.95. And that’s before adding a substantial tax. Mind you...we would never consider paying more than a dollar for a six pack of Bud Swill (if that)...but $17.95? We laughed ourselves out of the store.
As we’ve stopped at various public venues (mainly museums but several commercial outlets as well) we’ve noticed colorful graphic designs affixed to building exteriors. Some of them have QR codes attached (we currently cannot scan them due to our phone being turned off while in Canada). Curious about what these icons represent we asked. No one was able to give us an answer. Then, a “duh” moment. While perusing the PEI “Arts and Heritage Trail” brochure (an indispensable guide on several occasions), the answer was found by reading one of the brochure’s sidebars. The icons are artistically created “quilt squares.” Each reflects the personality of an associated business or organization where one is to be found. Quite clever. And visually very appealing. We wondered if someone would be making a quilt of all the designs.
When we first arrived at Brudenell River PP we were greeted by chickadees and juncos so we hung out a seed feeder. To our amazement the birds disappeared. Until five days later when a lone Blue Jay found the feeder. Since then a second Blue Jay has arrived and now the juncos have found the feeder. Still waiting for chickadees and hoping the Red Squirrel doesn’t figure out what the Blue Jays are up to. Otherwise, birds in general have been sparse save for American Crows, Ring-billed Gulls, an occasional Bald Eagle and some Canada Goose flyovers. A bit further into the park’s woods we’ve found an assortment of warblers (Black-throated Green, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Yellow-rump, Nashville, Am. Redstart), as well as Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, and Cedar Waxwing. Odd that we’ve seen no other thrush species. Great Black-backed Gulls are common on the shores.
|at Harvey Moore|
Harvey, the youngest of seven siblings, had a lifelong obsession with wildlife and nature. In 1944 Harvey purchased some land with a vision to establish a sanctuary for migrating waterfowl. In order to fund his dream Harvey worked hard as a lobsterman and lumberjack which took a physical toll on Harvey who, in 1960 at the young age of 44, died of a massive heart attack. But not before establishing his dream, a wildlife sanctuary which his surviving wife Dorothy, his son Charlie, and the Friends of Harvey Moore Foundation now care for.
|at Harvey Moore|
The rest of the day was spent back at the Montague Library sorting out online how we might best take care of renewing our RV and truck registrations as well as updating our SD drivers license renewals. And, we finally made a reservation for our ferry passage to Nova Scotia.
Thursday morning we were back on the road again, this time heading to the south coast to cover another section of the Points East Driving Tour. Our target was the section of tour beginning at Cherry Valley and driving eastward as far as High Bank.
One of our first stops was the Orwell Corner Historic Village, an agricultural museum. As interesting as an agricultural museum might be (and this one was very nicely designed and inviting), having lived in an agricultural state for most of our lives (America’s Dairyland state), we decided our time might be best spent elsewhere. Off to the nearby Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead.
|Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead|
|Selkirk Cemetery and church interior|
|Belfast Mini-Mills yarn and fowl|
|Point Prim Lighthouse|
|Wood Islands Lighthouse|
At some point while driving the gravel road to Point Prim we picked up a stone that had become lodged in the left rear wheel’s brake caliper shield (or thereabouts). It was making an awful racket. Unable to see where the stone was and unable to dislodge it we drove on. The sound greatly diminished but was still present. Then the screeching came back with a vengeance after departing Wood Islands. Now late in the afternoon, we had no idea where or if there was a repair shop nearby (let alone one that would be open). Just as Tom was hoping he wasn’t going to have to stop and pull the wheel we came ‘round a bend in the highway to find a one-stall auto repair shop. Not a gas station mind you, but an honest to goodness repair shop. As we pulled in the owner couldn’t help but hear the racket and knew exactly what it was. He motioned us to pull into the garage stall over one of those step-down floor pits. He ducked under the truck and with a quick “bang, bang” popped the culprit out; a small piece of flint stone. “How much do we owe you?” He wouldn’t take a dime. These are the kinds of folks that we continually run into on PEI.
Screech-free, we had one last stop to make on our way back to the RV park. The Old General Store in Murray Head. Inside was the original counter, side bins, and shelving. Instead of bolts of cloth, bags of grain and penny candy, it was filled with exceptionally fine arts and crafts of local artists.
Friday the 23rd came with overcast skies, the day we had selected to find a section of road situated to our north in search of a large boreal bog area. We found the bog but not so much the birds. The area wasn’t so far away that given some extra time on a sunnier day, we might try again.
We returned to Montague in rain, the first we’ve experienced on this end of the island. A good time to use the library’s wifi and catch up on some banking. We also needed to purchase a postal money order to pay for registration renewals for the truck and RV. Then a spot of lunch at the Montague Greco, a local pizzeria, before heading over to Cardigan to collect a photo of another quilt block icon. Clever how these icons motivated us to visit some places we might not otherwise have gone to see.
A quick stop at the Cardigan Farmer's Market for great coffee and a good source for fresh baked breads, then into Georgetown for a few more pictures of quilt boards and to find the Maroon Pig, a small local art store. Beautiful black-and-white woodcut prints plus another chance for fresh bakery. Good thing we don’t have much space in the RV. But we always have room for consumables. Like bakery.
|Carol and Erdeen|
|Confederation Seaport, Charlottetown|
|Victoria Row and Doug Riley All-Stars|
|Tom debated politics with A.A. McDonald but A.A. remain unmoved|
|Province House and Confederation Players|
Back at the music stage, Carol reappeared with scrumptious bits of chocolate covered carmel coated with bits of sea salt. Happy with our chocolate fix, we headed back to Confederation Landing Park where, while Tom took off for one more quilt board located at the PEI Regiment Museum (displays of military artifacts dating back to 1807), Carol hung out at the gift shops near the landing. As much as we would have liked to have stayed for the evening’s music and the once a year outdoor visual and performance artisan festival, it had already been a long day. One more quilt board on the way out of town at McAaskill’s Studio, a woodworking shop which was unfortunately closed when we arrived.
We like to break up longer travel days with “plop” days, a day when we just plop down, do very little, and relax from the rigors of retirement. For our plop day we packed up the chairs and headed back to Panmure Island Beach for three hours of guarding the sand and making sure the waves were in sync. On the way back, a stop at Tim Horton’s for free wifi before settling in back at the RV, totally exhausted.
|PEI National Park|
|PEI National Park|
One of the park’s main draws was an extensive boardwalk system that lead out to the Greenwich Dunes. Not nearly as impressive as Sleeping Bear Dunes but the walk through coastal woodlands and freshwater Bowley Pond was particularly fun because we were virtually the only people on the trail. Families of Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, and Bald Eagles were all the company we needed.
|PEI National Park and immature Bald Eagle|
Seated outside at Ricks we watched the sun disappear and felt the winds pick up. Just the kind of weather for improved birding at the East Point Lighthouse where we had wanted to return to anyway try our luck at more seabirds. We also had a tip from Gary Schneider about how to locate a nearby Great Cormorant rookery.
Along the way a few more quilt boards to collect. First up was Fire and Water Creations, a studio/gallery owned by Teri Hall, a silversmith who incorporates sea glass into her handcrafted jewelry. Prized sea glass is the older and heavier discarded glass smoothed by the sea and sand into soft hues of blues, reds, and greens and washed up on beaches. She had a huge bin of assorted sea glass she had collected over the years where people are welcome to rummage for sea glass in exchange for a small donation which Teri turns over to a local food bank. She helped Carol pick through the bin for a few choice pieces.
A quick turnout to the Elmira Railway Museum where one may learn about railroading on the island and which has one of Atlantic Canada’s largest model train collection. Then on to East Point where by now the winds had gained in strength.
There were more birds than during our last visit. The increased winds pushed Northern Gannets closer to shore along with larger rafts of ducks. Pitching and bobbing in the waves, Common Eider were the most prevalent followed by Black Scoter. But now added to the mix were a few White-winged Scoter. Then one quick look at a Surf Scoter before it flew. Walking out to one end of the property we could now see a large gathering of cormorants with a good number of Great Cormorant mixed in. From time to time a Gray Seal would stick it’s head out of the water, yawn, and disappear beneath the waves.
One more stop in Souris at the lighthouse to learn a bit more about sea glass, then some ice cream at a local vender. Before we knew it we had managed to while away another day and it was time to head back to the RV with a few more digital chapters of Dan Brown’s “Inferno” to keep us amused..
It hardly seems that our month on PEI has nearly passed but the calendar says our time on the island was coming to a close. We have a few more things in mind before we leave but all will be very close to the park. And while we know we’ve seen and done quite a bit, we could have easily spent another month here. Wonderful climate, friendly and talented folks, and beautiful scenery.
|match our quilt squares to see where we've been|
...and finally, a few more sights from the east side of PEI. Up next - Nova Scotia