Destination Prince Edward Island: Part Two

No one was in a hurry to get started on Day Two. I didn’t sleep very well, mostly because the room was too warm and I had opted, for no good reason, to stay in bed instead of turning down the heat.

But everyone was cheerful and seemed content to have a leisurely start. The kids were keen to watch cartoons (we don’t have cable, so watching things “live” is a novelty); John went for a run and I eventually rallied the kids for breakfast. Turns out it was grab-and-go: breakfast sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, water/juice. Simple, but the kids thought it was great fun to carry their brown paper bag back to the room. (We ended up with a few extra breakfast sandwiches and instead of making PB&J sandwiches on the road, the kids ate these for lunch).

Levi wanted to check out the games room, and I had no desire to get wet/smell like chlorine before a long day on the road, so we spent a fun hour playing foosball and Crokinole while John and Abby made good use of the waterslide. We checked out around 9:30 am.

Close friends have several grown children living near Charlottetown and we were able to coordinate a quick rendezvous at a local park. When John and I were newlyweds we used to babysit these “kids” and now they’re out on their own (and one is married!). It’s slightly disconcerting to see how quickly other people’s children grow up (these “kids” were younger than our kids’ current ages when we first met them).

We said goodbye around 10:15 and headed off to our first destination: Cavendish.

Day Two

1. Cavendish

In the summer Cavendish is a hub of activity. There’s a small amusement park, endless gift and tourist shops, beaches, boardwalks and, for Anne of Green Gables fans, the epicenter of all things devoted to Lucy Maud Montgomery.

He finds walking sticks everywhere we go. I love the purposeful stride in this photo…it captures his personality perfectly.

This house – the inspiration for Green Gables – was owned by Montgomery’s cousins David Macneill and his sister Margaret (inspiration for Matthew and Marilla, perhaps?).

There is a new, sprawling visitor centre, but it was closed for the season. One perk of visiting in the offseason was free access to Green Gables. There were a few people wandering the grounds when we first arrived but we essentially had the place to ourselves. In the summer you can tour the house but it is swarming with people; I was perfectly content to wander outside on an overcast April day…for free.

And I knew exactly where I wanted to record my daily walk – the Haunted Woods (they did shoot some scenes for the movie on this trail)!

Entrance to the Haunted Woods Trail.

This was a beautiful hike that wound through the woods to the Cavendish Cemetery.

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in 1874 and lived in Cavendish until 1911 (she wrote the first book in the Anne of Green Gables series in 1908; the rest were penned in Ontario). When she died (Toronto, 1942) she was brought back to PEI for burial in the Cavendish Cemetery.

So this evening I went over to the graveyard and kept tryst with my dead. The old spot was beautiful in the sunset life, with its plots snow-white with clover. And I did what sounds rather dismal but which did not seem dismal to me at all – I selected a plot for my own resting place. I want to be buried in Cavendish graveyard when my time comes. I want to lie among my kindred in the old spot I love so much better than any other spot on earth…I selected a plot on the crest of the hill, looking down on the beautiful scene I always loved – the pond, the shore, the sand-dunes, the harbour. On innumerable summer eves I have stood here and gazed on them, longing for some diviner speech to express what I felt. I want to feel that my last resting place is in sight of them…There, sometime I shall lie and the wind will creep up from the sea to sing over me and the old gulf will croon me a lullaby.

L.M. Montgomery’s Journal; July 21, 1923

There is a small park/playground across from the cemetery that marks the location of her grandparent’s home. After her mother died (and her father remarried and left PEI), she was raised by her maternal grandparents.

I had left Cavendish forever, save as a fitful visitor; and in leaving it felt that I was leaving the only place on earth my heart would ever truly love. The world might have a home for me somwhere, but the only home my inmost soul would every acknowledge would be that little country settlement by the gulf shore…

L.M. Montgomery’s Journal; January 28, 1912

It was a slow walk with many stops along the way, but it was a great experience. I enjoyed it more than I had anticipated; the babbling brook, a stretch of trail that provided inspiration for Lover’s Lane – it was quiet and peaceful and yet also felt steeped authentically in the spirit of Anne.

By now we were definitely running behind schedule, though; I grabbed some food from the picnic bag and we headed off to our next stop.

En route, we slowed down to watch two foxes cross the road (we also saw 10 deer on this trip).

2. dalvay by the sea

We made the shortest of pit stops to swing by Dalvay By the Sea. This location is used for exterior shots of the White Sands hotel in Anne of Green Gables (and the Road to Avonlea series).

Perhaps my biggest regret is not exploring the beach; it’s paid access in the summer, but looked stunning in the off-season.

We briefly debated stopping but when we voiced this option Levi piped up from the back seat: “This isn’t our destination.” That settled matters and we moved on.

3. greenwich dunes trail

Greenwich was a last-minute addition to our itinerary. We had spotted it in some search strings on Friday, but remained noncommital until our rendezvous with friends on Saturday morning when they asked if we were planning to stop by Greenwich (and encouraged us to do so).

This was another “wait for the good part” experiences. I knew this trail system had famous boardwalks, but somehow had assumed they would be readily accessible from the parking lot. It ended up being several kilometers of relatively unassuming trails before we reached the floating boardwalk that crossed a lake leading out to the dunes.

Because of the weather conditions, a heavy blanket of fog hung over the water and it looked like something otherworldly. It was beautiful.

The floating boardwalk was long and well constructed. The whole experience was a lot of fun and the kids especially enjoyed this part of the adventure.

You can barely make out the dunes through the fog and the scale is hard to describe – these mounds of sand are enormous.

We took a quick peek at the beach; it was windy and cold, so we didn’t opt to explore further but, yet again, it was beautiful.

We found a nautical treasure by the beach – several buoys that had washed in on the tide.

There was another 4 km trail that offered a whole other set of boardwalks, but we were running behind schedule and figured leaving one trail unexplored gives us a perfect excuse to return another time, perhaps in warmer weather with all the vibrant colours of summer and sunshine.

4.shipwreck Point lighthouse

This was a bit of a “cheat” – the kids were warm and settled in the car and quite content to keep listening to their audiobook, so John was the only one who hopped out at this location.

5. east point lighthouse

I suspect the views from this lighthouse (the eastern tip of the island) were spectacular, but we literally couldn’t see a thing. The fog was so dense.

These final two lighthouses added more than an hour to our trip, and we probably would have been better served to skip them…but we are completists and there was something satisfying about visiting the west (West Point), north (North Cape), and east (East Point) lighthouses.

The kids stretched their legs and had a great time pretending to be foghorns. In reality, we are a very loud family, so this wasn’t a stretch. Though for the purposes of these pictures I was impressed they showed restraint and only pretended to yell.

6. Anne of green gables chocolates (AKA the failed pit stop)

I mostly aim to eliminate clutter, so buying souvenirs is not my thing. But years ago I had stopped at an Anne of Green Gables Chocolate outlet and thought it would be a fun (edible) memento from the trip. The Charlottetown store didn’t open until 11 am, so we opted to skip it and were poised to emerge from PEI without a single treat/souvenir.

Enter the bathroom stop.

Both kids suddenly were desperate to find a bathroom and their urgency happened, coincidentally, when we were close to a little shopping complex that housed an Anne of Green Gables Chocolate store.

Now, of course, things are pricey in a place like this, but I reasoned it would be worth it for a convenient bathroom. Whomp, whomp. There were no public bathrooms. And every other store on the strip is only open seasonally.

We bought our obligatory chocolate treats – which were delicious, especially the chocolate-covered chips which I haven’t had in years and were every bit as yummy as I remembered – and made a hasty retreat to a local gas station.

Ironically, between what Abby bought with allowance money and our little family package, we paid more for these treats than for our one purchased meal on the island. Everything was very delicious, though!

7. cape jourimain + the confederation bridge

And then we were off the island. The weather cleared by the time we reached Charlottetown, so we had nothing but blue sky for our final goodbyes.

Levi was awake this time so we opted to stop to get pictures of the bridge. This morphed into throwing rocks, hiding a painted rock…and then begging to walk to the lighthouse.

It was already supper time and I wasn’t keen to get home late. But it was such a beautiful evening. And the kids laid out some very convincing arguments. After cloud and drizzle all day, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and there was the dangling carrot of another lighthouse.

I caved and said yes and we really did have a lovely walk through the woods to reach our final lighthouse of the trip, which offers a great view of the bridge.

Another spectacular view of the bridge; the kids chased each other around the boardwalk circle for…a long time!

I actually came to this very spot years prior with my undergraduate Ornithology class, so it felt like a weird sense of deja vu, though at the time I never dreamed the next time I returned I would have two kids in tow!

8. the home stretch

I’m not going to lie. The last two hours of this trip were brutal. The kids fell asleep, but we had to drive through the tricky onset of dusk with the confusing peripheral shadows and then total darkness, all on high alert because of deer and moose. After almost 20 hours in the car over two days, I have rarely been so happy to see home, mostly because of those final few hours. It started to rain just as we pulled in the driveway, so I’m so grateful we didn’t have slick roads thrown into the mix.

The kids woke up, got in jammies and I heated up Magic Bags (of course) so they could snuggle in and get right back to sleep.

John and I ended up unpacking just about everything. We travel light and were only away for one night but, still, it was wonderful to wake up Sunday morning relatively refreshed, with not much to do aside from laundry.

And…that’s a wrap on our whirlwind (offseason) trip to PEI!

Your turn. Any fun travel lately or are you looking forward to any particular adventures over the summer?

19 thoughts on “Destination Prince Edward Island: Part Two”

  1. I can’t believe you were only away for one night- you really packed os much into that short trip. It all sounds amazing. I love the foggy boardwalk adventure and all the Anne experiences. And I especially love how your kids were so excited about everything.
    We’re probably not going on a big trip this summer, partly because my son is doing a summer music festival in Tennessee and partly because my daughter announced “I hope we’re not going on a FAMILY VACATION this summer. That would be the worst thing ever.” Yes… we have some issues. Thanks for posting about your trip so I can live vicariously!

    1. Ha! We’re likely only a few years away from the eye-rolling and major complaints about vacations. One thing I do think about is the limited time we have this “golden age” with the kids. Once summer jobs start to enter the picture, it really impacts how vacations can work for the whole family. So we’re “striking while the iron is hot.”
      It was a BUSY two days, but when you’re not staying in one location – say, a beach for hours and hours on a sunny day – for very long, it does make it easier to move between spots relatively quickly. And I have to give the kids another huge gold star for being so good about car travel. They don’t really fuss about it, eat in the car, seem to have bladders of steel, and are good adventurers (they like to make unplanned stops to explore, they’re willing to hike a long way to see something interesting).
      It was a great trip; because it was so busy I was happy/relieved to get home, but we crammed a lot of great adventures into the two days.

  2. Ooooh, I love this! Green Gables and the Haunted Woods – how lovely! That is a LOT of driving though – but it looks like the drive was worth it. Can’t wait to go there one day!

    Side note, I always always always immediately unpack. I can’t not unpack when we get home, I feel too discombobulated.

    1. The Haunted Woods walk actually gave me goosebumps. Not because it was overly spooky…but it just felt very immersive having just finished all the Anne books/watching the movies for the first time in a decade.

      I HATE, HATE, HATE seeing unpacked items, so we tend to unpack immediately, too. I was so tired when we got home I thought for sure it would have to wait until Sunday morning, so it was such a boost to go to bed knowing the mess was all dealt with!

  3. I meant to say in my comment on your first PEI post how I love seeing familiar place names on maps from other countries. One of my brothers lives near Halifax and my grandparents lived a few miles from Salisbury when I was growing up 😉

    Thank you for sharing your trip it looks amazing, so much wonderfulness packed into two days. I am sure those memories will stay with you all for years. I do love to see photos from places that I am unlikely to ever visit, thank you for taking us all on holiday with you.

    I hear you on unpacking whatever time you get home. I have been so busy this past week that I have really struggled to keep on top of that one and I was only going out for the day each time. Yesterday was spent clearing the accumulated detritus, it feels good to have a tidyish house once more 😉

    1. Wow – small world! Of course I’m very familiar with Halifax, and Salisbury is less than an hour from my parents home in New Brunswick. Thanks for mentioning this – it is so fun to find these commonalities in location.
      I find the same thing with a busy week – even if we haven’t necessarily been away overnight things just seem to pile up (and I can get behind on dishes, laundry etc). It feels so good to “clear the decks” as I call it.

  4. The pictures are stunning! My favorites are the foggy bridge photos! You guys packed a lot of fun into an overnight trip. It’s nice that PEI is not too far from you guys. We have to drive so far to get to anything where we live! But that’s life in the middle of the country.

    We do not have any travel plans for the rest of the year besides going up to my parents lake home this summer. I would like to go somewhere tropical with Phil in December but we haven’t booked anything. Fingers crossed that works out as a kid-free warm-weather trip would be really good for us.

    1. We did pack in a lot. Yes, PEI is so close, and it’s a bit sad we haven’t been going more frequently, but it also was closed to outsiders (or you had to quarantine for 2 weeks) for most of the pandemic + it just isn’t my thing to travel with small kids. I’d rather stay home and be close to their cribs etc when they’re little. The adventuring has really just started in earnest over the last two years and even then it has been all local.

      We are so fortunate to live in Eastern Canada. If you’re willing to drive a few hours, there are so many beautiful places to visit! The coastline is the biggest asset for adventure with islands and beaches and lots of lots of lighthouses.

      A tropical destination sounds great. I’ve only been away once and it was wonderful but I feel like I’d appreciate it even more now (and it would be easier to leave the kiddos with family now that they’re older). Maybe next winter?! I hope you and Phil can get away. And hope the lakehouse is a fun destination this summer, albeit busy with the kids in tow…

  5. More beautiful pictures! It all looked wonderful. I also can’t believe this was only one night away! You sure did pack a lot in. It seems like there are a lot of lighthouses in close proximity, which is awesome. Referring back to our Maine trip, the whole coast along there when we were driving up from Portland to Acadia is like “fingers” sticking out into the ocean…so while in “nautical miles” I think the lighthouses are quite close together, you have to drive down one “finger”, then back out, then down the next, etc. to get from one to the next. This tripped me up a little bit when planning our route, because it just added a lot of time! We still got in plenty, though. 😉

    1. Yes, we’re noticing the same thing when we’re looking at doing some travel in the Eastern US. So many “fingers” as you call it which makes for a lot of driving. “As the crow flies” things are very close together, but in terms of miles logged in the car, it will add a lot of time.
      There were lots more lighthouses we didn’t visit this time, largely because it would just add so much time!
      Even with the starts and stops, PEI is just soooo tiny. There is no real “highway” either. And so much of it is small backroads. Very rural. But beautiful and we did pack in a lot of adventures. Hopefully we get back this summer and turn it into a short beach vacation (we’d likely avoid Cavendish – it gets so, so crowded in the summer). We could, literally, get there and back in a day and still have a big chunk of time on the island!

  6. Wow, what a busy trip! I can’t believe you were away for one night only! What a lesson in packing things in 🙂
    Your photos are absolutely beautiful. I love the sand dune photos, how atmospheric!
    I have to confess, I have never read or seen any Anne of Green Gables… I wonder if it hasn’t made its way to the UK that well.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. We did pack a lot in, though things are very close together on PEI. It’s a small island!
      Anne of Green Gables are classics in Canada and a huge, huge hit in Japan (in fact a lot of the signs around Cavendish are in English with Japanese translation!), but likely much lesser known outside of those two locations. The first three books are my favourite; heartwarming stories and loveable characters. I’d highly recommend. And then the 1980’s movies with Meghan Follows are another part of Canadian culture. Also recommend those (especially after reading the early books).

  7. This looks like it would be such a dreamy spot for a solo vacation. I need to figure out how to make that happen! (I was literally googling how to get there from Florida, haha.)

    You guys really did pack so much into a few days, and I loved that you made this trip right after finishing the Anne books. What perfect timing!

    Those pictures of your kids at the foghorn are so cute! I think they need to be printed and hung up. 🙂

    1. It’s a lovely spot. Coming from Florida I’d definitely recommend summer travel because…PEI in April is chilly.
      The timing was great; I don’t know if I would have appreciated all the Anne stuff in Cavendish nearly as much if I hadn’t just finished the books/movies.
      And yes, the foghorn pictures are pretty sweet. We actually have another one of Abby from years ago standing under a sign that said something like: “Warning. Foghorn may start at any moment and cause ear damage.” which still makes me chuckle.
      I am LOUD, too (and so is my mom). I’m always the one yelling across the playground for other people’s kids because my voice carries so far. *sheepish grin*

  8. Elisabeth, what a wonderful, wonderful trip and recap. I came back here today and reread it because I needed a bit of an escape. 🙂 I cannot wait to visit PEI to see the beauty and the Anne-related locations for myself! You really fit in an amazing amount for a two-day trip (that included a couple of very long drives!). I may have to base my itinerary off of yours. 🙂

    Also? It’s funny how we form perceptions or ideas about people we do not know in person. I would honestly NEVER have pegged you as a loud person! I am now recalibrating my (MIS)perceptions and trying to associate “Elisabeth” with “loud”. Huh. 🙂

  9. Oh my, you really make me want to visit PEI! What an amazing place… and you packed a lot into this weekend trip!

    As you know by now, I recently traveled back home to Germany and I can’t wait to share more about my visit. It was such a precious time with my family.

  10. How I’ve loved reading your recaps!
    We went to PEI five years ago – we were visiting Nova Scotia. I was born in Sydney and my family hadn’t been back since we left when I was almost a year old, so my parents decided they wanted to revisit Cape Breton. My dad really wanted to drive the Confederation bridge to PEI – it had been built long after we had left, but he had been so excited when he heard that it had been built. I will say, we weren’t prepared for how long a drive it was to get there from Sydney! I think on the map the Atlantic provinces look so close together, but it was definitely a good chunk of time in the car. We went in August, so peak tourist season, I’m sure – but it seems just as wonderful to visit in the off season. And how lovely to be somewhere and have those L.M. Montgomery quotes – I love visiting a place and reading someone else’s words about it too – somehow really makes me feel connected , like “Yes! this other person has been here too, and had thoughts and feelings.”

    1. Small world; I had no idea you were born in the Maritimes. We went to Sydney in 2020 when we did the Cabot Trail.
      And I loved seeing all the LM Montgomery quotes, too. It really did bring the place alive…

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