Sunday, May 17, 2009
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Greetings from Prince Edward Island in Canada~
This morning we glided into Charlottetown harbor past the northern tip of Cape Breton Island into the Gulf of the St. Lawrence with Prince Edward Island on one side and Cape Breton on the other. You could not help but notice the ragged, red clay cliffs that dropped to the ocean below, waves crashing against them and gorgeous homes on top of the bluffs. The homes here are not as colorful as we have seen in the past two cities we visited, but they are majestic with their sprawling green lawns and sitting amongst the middle all alone on several acres of land. It was a brisk 57 degrees with cloudy skies with winds blowing about 25 to 30 knots, Jim says.
As we came into the Charlottetown Harbor early this morning, we passed four lighthouses - one was even a “sister” set - and I immediately realized that they must get a tremendous amount of fog here to justify having that many lighthouses in such a short stretch of land. One was tall, two were shorter and appeared to
be octagonal and one was more like the Old Point Loma Lighthouse looking more like a home. All of the beacons were lit as we went past them, though there did not appear to be any fog at that time. We were told later in the day that there are over 35 lighthouses around Prince Edward Island.
Our tour today was “The Islands Finest, Lobster and Green Gables”. As has been the case in all of our other tours on this trip, we boarded the motor coach and headed out of town. Today, it was hard to believe you were actually on an island. We drove over miles and miles and miles of rolling hills. Somewhere in the middle, about an hour away from port, we pulled into what used to be an old butter factory - dating back to the early 1900’s. The current owners refurbished it and re-opened it as The Prince Edward Island Preserve Company. It is now an island landmark known for its delicious lobster and mouth watering preserves - many of which are made with either champagne or Gran Marnier.
Our lobster lunch was simply delicious. The whole lobster was served
with a scoop of potato salad and also a scoop of coleslaw after the warm curry lentil soup and fresh biscuit we were given as an appetizer. The meal was topped off with a delectable delight of raspberry cream cheese pie. I don’t know which part of the meal was better - it was all so good. To make it even better, we had a table along the window overlooking the river and the rolling hills beyond. The hills either are green with yellow dandelions blooming for acres and acres or tilled rich red dirt, ready and primed for planting next week. Each parcel of land is divided by rows of beautiful cedar and birch trees. This landscape is distinctive because of all of the colors and rolling hills. I cannot get over the feeling that this is a “simpler” lifestyle than the hustle and bustle of city life back home.
Our next stop after lunch was The House Anne of Green Gables. Of course, the story was fiction, but the author wrote of actual places here on Prince Edward Island - one of which was her Grandparents home in a small town called Cavendish. The setting is
serene atop a hill overlooking the rolling hills of the island and in the distance, the north shore of the Atlantic Ocean. The home is completely refurbished as it was described in the book. There is a buggy out front that would have been used to travel in. Every room in the house was wallpapered with rather large floral prints and quite bright colors (greens and burgundy red) with a large patterned forest green and white carpeting on the floor in the living room. The rooms were all small (maybe 10 X 10) from the living room to the bedrooms which could only have a bed and a small dresser and maybe a wooden chair in the corner.
Once we finished there, the bus toured on around the island up to the north shore. Our tour guide, Ted, explained to us that in the winter, Charlottetown will have up to ten feet of snow on the ground; the temperature is well below zero; and the waters surrounding the island freeze over completely out 100 miles into the ocean. Ted explained that their main source of income is from the seafood (lobster, crab, shrimp, mussels, halibut, etc) and then
tourism - there are countless cottages one can rent for a week or month in the summer that overlooks the ocean. Thousands of people come here in the summer because the high temperature is 80 degrees and the temperature of the ocean is 70 degrees - the next warmest water to Florida in the summer. Many of the beaches are sweeping sand swept sand dune type looking beaches; and then the other side of the island, there are red clay cliffs. There is quite a drastic difference from one side of the island to the other.
The trees and flowers are not quite blooming here yet, but they are budding - I can only imagine how spectacular everything will be here once it is in full bloom. I am looking out from our balcony on board the ship and it has just started to lightly rain. The hill in front of me rises only about 30 or 40 feet. There is one street that goes straight up the hill; it is damp with rain and grey and cloudy above. At the top of the hill, the trees look like something we might have all painted when we were
young with an “umbrella” type shape on top and all rounded. Some of them are still barren from the winter, and others are different shades of green. The trees line the street going up the hill and then across the horizon, all I see are these umbrella tree tops with an occasional church steeple rising through the trees. In front of the trees, along the waterfront, are a few streets lined with two-story homes. What is unique about this is that it is the back of the homes I am seeing, not the front. There are small windows like a tall rectangle bedroom window and a single solid door on the rear of the house with a small overhang of a porch and a narrow set of steps going up to the back door. So, even though these homes have a view of the dock and the waterfront, they are not taking advantage of that - instead, they are facing the hill and the beautiful trees.
We will be leaving port soon and heading out into the Gulf of the St. Lawrence to a little town called Gaspé. Tonight it is another formal night with a Black &
White Officers Ball.
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