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Posts from August 2013

Epic Roadtrip Day Ten: Peggy's Cove

I remember my first and only visit to Peggy's Cove in 1994. It was late spring and it was quiet and serene.

Emma said it looks like the swamp before Mordor. Yep.

Turns out that while it remains a beautiful place, it's a busy place in late August. And we came early.

It is amazing. All those rocks being pushed by glaciers into this craggy shore.

The fog giving it this gloomy cool feel. The waves crashing scarily on the rocks--a dangerous place.

It was fun to boulder along, inspect the rocks and sea. I even saw a seal in the water.

And it's so different from anywhere we saw this vacation.

We explored the village a bit.

Then we headed back to Halifax for a super-short visit. A proper tour of Nova Scotia is another vacation.

Our visit to the fourth provincial capital would not be complete without a tour of the Nova Scotia Legislature.

Emma tries being the angry politician.

I loved the little library.

The chamber is bigger than PEI's!

We had time for a quick walk on the tourist trap pier (which I'm sure has another name) where I sampled another lobster roll and Emma confirmed that poutine is a life sustaining food.

We had a hotel booked in Moncton so back in the car for us. It is a shorter drive so I got it in my head that we should do something along the way. We were right at the end of the Bay of Fundy and the timing was just about right so we drove to the end of Tidal Bore Road outside of Truro and waited.

And waited.

This is a time when knitting is a very good thing.

Turns out that this tidal bore thing isn't all that exciting. But watching the water current change direction as the river filled in was pretty interesting. At least for Craig and I.

What it looked like as we left:

The evening capped off nicely with dinner at a local brew-pub--Pump House Brewery. They made a good stone oven pizza and we sampled the local New Brunswick offerings. The car was too jammed to bring any home though.

Epic Roadtrip Day Nine: Nova Scotia

Time to leave PEI and see some more of the Maritimes. We were mean parents and made the kids get up really early so we could catch the ferry to Nova Scotia. We thought it would be fun to get to the Island by bridge but leave by boat even though the ferry takes a bit longer. I haven't been on a ferry to anywhere since I was ten years old (and it was the ferry to Manitoulin Island).

The Woods Island ferry area gave us a chance to see a few more things. It's the southern most tip of PEI.

The ferry ride itself was neat. Not much to see but I liked being out on the ocean. I think the kids were more impressed with the Ms Pacman and Galaga games on the boat. Must be original ones from the eighties--they still only cost a quarter.

Instead of driving straight to Halifax, we drove through the middle of the province on a windy highway to the ocean so we could see the little places along the coast. That was a great idea. The landscape is so different from PEI. Everything was rugged and forested. Craig scoped out a beach for us so we could put our feet in the ocean; it was the big find of the trip.

Clam Harbour Beach. It was super foggy and eerie and when we parked the car we could hear was the surf. It was noisy. We walked to the beach and it was made of epic awesomeness. Soft white sand (turns out the National Sandcastle Competition was held there two weeks before), clear cold water and huge crashing waves. The fog made everything seem ethereal--you couldn't see more than a few feet in any direction.

The waves were amazing. Even though no one had swimsuits on, we all ended up in the waves trying to keep dry. When that failed the kids (and Craig) stripped down to their underwear and went body surfing in the waves. The water was freezing. I decided to stay sort of dry and watched them swim and crash and have a great time. This is one of those remember it forever afternoons. Fantastic.

When Xander started to look like he was going to turn blue, we got everyone out of the water and got changed. The air was so heavy with fog that we were totally damp even when "dry". I tried to knit for a bit on the beach and yarn just stuck to my fingers.

It was still an hour to our hotel in Halifax and the fog cleared less than 15 minutes from the beach. I wonder if it's always foggy out there. It was amazing.

The night was spent together at the hotel. There was Much bragging about wave surfing and some pretty tired swimmers.


Epic Roadtrip Day Eight: An Extra Day

I'm a planner, an order muppet, a "I need a schedule" person. One of my goals (see that order required thing) for this trip was to let go a bit. Under plan, and let the mood take us.

I'm doing pretty well. I'm writing this from Halifax and I didn't imagine the trip taking us to Nova Scotia.

The downside of not planning is missing stuff. Turns out that Anne of Green Gables, The Musical doesn't play every night. Only Monday to Wednesday. We were supposed to leave Monday, but decided to stay the extra night to see the play. We snagged a hotel in Charlottetown, checked out of the one in Summerside (Clarke's Sunny Isle Motel, which was just right) and took a leisurely drive along the south shore.

We stopped in Victoria By the Sea. It was a bit touristy, but very pretty. And it had this:

I bought a braid of locally produced BFL, dyed by a local artisan and had a nice chat with the son of the potter and fibre artist who made the lovely things in the shop.

We sampled some chocolate made right in front of us.

And we had lunch right beside a lighthouse.

There was a little exhibit inside and it had interesting photos of the local history. I really liked the spinning bee:

We also got to climb up to the top. It's not big for three.

Then there was more driving along windy coastal roads. I really loved driving on PEI and I'm not a huge fan of being the driver.

We found a lighthouse right near Charlottetown. A very pretty spot.

With an impressive coast

After a quick swim at our hotel and dinner we went to see Anne, the Musical.

It was charming. Not perfect, but as a lover of Anne of Green Gables, it was a great way to end our time on PEI. Now I want to read the books again.

Then it was time to sleep. We had to break the holiday sleep schedule and get up early; we had a ferry to catch in the morning.


Epic Roadtrip Day Six: All About Anne

I love Anne of Green Gables. I read all the Anne books as a kid and used to read all six every summer well into my 20s. Craig has read almost everything Lucy Maude Montgomery wrote and kids are starting into the books too (slowly).

One of the reasons I wanted to come to PEI was to see the places from the novels and learn more about Montgomery's inspiration.

There is quite an Anne-based tourist trap around Cavendish which we avoided for the most part. Instead we went to the historical sites. We saw the house where the author was born (didn't go in because she only lived there for a few months and there didn't appear to be much to see). Then we toured her cousin's home where LMM was married which has the Lake of Shining Waters. That place was very well done with lots of pictures, autographed first editions which were given to her cousins as gifts, her wedding dress and lots of family history.

I love those red roads (this one to the Lake of Shining Waters)

And a quilt made by LMM

Then we drove on to Cavendish to the National Site of Green Gables. This house was lived in by Montgomery's family and was the inspiration for the novels. It has been restored to resemble the settings from the books and was really neat.

I rather liked the sewing/knitting room.


There were even Sock blockers by the stove

The park site is set up to wander some paths that inspired places in the books like the haunted wood. Sadly some of it borders on a golf course which kills a bit of the feeling inspired by the park, but only for a few minutes. That trail also led us to the foundation of the home where Montgomery lived as a child (she was raised by her grandparents after her mother died) which is still owned by a relative who lives next door. It was all good for this fan and I really got to appreciate how Montgomery was inspired by her home. When she married (at 36) she left the Island and moved to Ontario, but always called PEI home.

With places like this I can see why

I had a desire to just go see the ocean on this side of the Island after the tours. To see where Montgomery would have hung out as it were.

We went to North Rustico and it was magnificent.

The waves were huge and the sand dunes were spectacular. We worked up an appetite by jumping in the surf. So we headed off to New Glasgow for a traditional lobster supper.

I'm amazed that I ate today. Chowder, home made rolls, salads, all you could eat mussels, a 1lb lobster and pie. I confess this is the first time I've eaten a lobster in the shell. I actually don't like the experience of busting into a thing to eat it. And I still don't (though the lobster is tasty--I blame the two years I worked at Red Lobster as an undergrad). The kids had their first lobster dinners and I'm not sure they're hooked.

Craig was in heaven though; he ate everything the kids didn't finish.


Epic Roadtrip Day Five: Charlottetown

The weather forecast called for rain and cooler temperatures, so we decided to do some indoor touristy stuff. Charlottetown seemed to be the place to go.

First stop was Cow's Creamery for some silly t-shirts and to see how they make their ice cream. Turns out they make their tees on site (they're the largest t-shirt press east of Montreal) and also make cheese and butter as well as ice cream.

There were some good shirts including Fifty Shades of Hay and this one:

The kids picked Moocraft and Dr. Moo. I should have got the Milking Dead (Grains, Grains!).

After an amazing ice cream in a waffle cone (I had Messie Bessie), we were off for some adult confections at the Prince Edward Island Brewing Company.

We did a tour of the brewery and then it was time for some sampling.

They make some fine beers. The Gahan Blueberry was really good.

Then we explored the old part of Charlottetown and did a quick tour of the provincial legislature (3rd one in 4 days).

The room where they meet is tiny!

After a chat with Sir John A, it was time to go back to Summerside.




Epic Roadtrip Day Four: The Ocean!

We decided not to hang around in Fredericton and instead just get ourselves to PEI today. The drive from there to Moncton was uneventful. There is really nothing along that highway--which is clear when the only road signs said Moncton and not a bunch of charming sounding little villages like we saw on the route so far.

After grabbing a much needed coffee in Moncton (this may sound unCanadian, but I don't really like Tim Hortons, I miss good coffee) we went up or rather down, or I don't Magnetic Hill.

It was a head scratcher. We spent a few minutes watching the other cars trying to understand the illusion/science/magic.

Then it was more driving, with tempting signs telling us we were close to the Confederation bridge.

We made it to the ocean!

Feet in the Atlantic!

We took some time to explore the beach, skip some stones and take a bunch of pictures before the drive over the bridge (no photos of that because I was driving).

We drove to Summerside, checked in to the motel and went out to grab dinner. That lobster roll was yummy.

Then we explored a bit in town and at the shore; our motel is a short walk to a beach. It feels good to know we'll be at one place for a few days.


Epic Roadtrip Day Three: More Driving

Canada is big. Really big. I knew this because I took geography and our status as the world's second largest country in terms of land mass was always mentioned. But one doesn't really appreciate it until you drive and drive and drive and you're not in PEI yet.

We sadly said farewell to Quebec City Wednesday morning after a yummy breakfast of bowls of cafe au lait (the kids had chocolat chaud) and delicious pastries.

Then it was back in the car and back on highway 20 heading east. We had a room waiting for us in Fredericton. The drive was quite nice. The landscape along the St. Lawrence is interesting. Then it got really pretty as we headed south toward the Quebec/New Brunswick border.

This is the last stop before the border. We took a last look at Quebec.

It was pretty. Also reminded me a bit of Northern Ontario.


Then more driving. I did like that posted 110km speed limit. We made to Fredericton just after dinner. We had a swim in the pool and headed out for an evening snack and to get a look at the place.

It's tiny. And there wasn't much happening at 9:30pm on a Wednesday.

So we had a pint and some munches at the Snooty Fox, took a look at the legislature building (two capitals in two days!) and turned in early.

The plan: haul ass to PEI on Thursday.


EPIC Roadtrip Day Two: Quebec City

Tuesday we walked through all of Old Quebec. The boardwalk near the Chateau Frontenac, the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham, National Assembly, some nifty towers and walls and more of the old city.

Travelling with young teens is going okay. They don't outwardly love each other like they used to, but are getting along well enough that I don't feel the need to leave them on the side of the road.

At least they still pose together with some nagging.


EPIC Roadtrip Day Two: Quebec City

We're beat. The yummy crepes and post-meal nap fortified us enough for a swim in the pool and a late evening snack at Le Couchon Dingue (the Crazy Pig). Emma had her first poutine (topped with duck confit no less) some souvenirs were purchased and it's an early bedtime.

Wednesday we drive to Fredericton.

Epic Roadtrip Day One

(Updated with extra photos Wednesday August 21)

Yesterday we embarked on our EPIC family roadtrip to PEI. We managed to get on the road by a little after 8am (which is an achievement when travelling with teenagers) and had an uneventful drive along the 401 and into the province of Quebec.

Then we hit Montreal. Or rather Montreal traffic hit us.

I will never complain about Toronto traffic again.

We had a few crossed signals and ended up going the wrong way. Getting turned right took us an extra 2 hours due to freakishly heavy traffic and road closures. Once we were over the St. Lawrence it was smooth sailing.

There was even some retro gas stations and hotels (this one even sold furs).

We arrived at our lovely hotel at about 7pm. I was super tired but ready to look around Old Quebec. The Hotel Manoir Victoria is lovely and right in the old city.

We were just about to wander out when we ran into my uncle Ken who is staying at the same hotel guiding a package tour (I thought he was traveling last week, so this was a surprise). He had the night off and played tour guide for us, taking us to his favourite patio dinner spot looking at the Chateau Frontenac.

It was yummy (I had the pork chip encrusted with goat cheese and maple syrup).

We then wandered through the lower city until we were dead tired. I don't really remember falling asleep. It was great.

Emma took a ton of photos with her DSLR (a few are now integrated into this post). I just haven't had time to choose a few to upload. They will come in another post soon. Really, I'm too tired to even think about it.