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.
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.
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)!
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.
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?