I’ve been wanting to write about those adventures for almost a year. Instead, my attention has been consumed by surviving the dumpster fire that is 2020. But at the tail end of this hot and steamy Florida summer, in the epicenter of a pandemic, and in the throes of the most turbulent time in recent history (worldwide and personally), I could use a peaceful escape, even if it’s just into our memories and photos. I hope you’ll come along for the journey.
Picking Up Where We Left Off
In mid-August 2019, we waved goodbye to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Our destination: Prince Edward Island, the smallest province in Canada. We set up camp at Caribou Monroes Provincial Park, a perfect location for catching the nearby ferry to PEI.
Just a few miles from the campground is the village of Pictou, considered the birthplace of New Scotland (now known as Nova Scotia). The centerpiece of the colorful harbor is a replica of the Hector, the aging wooden ship that carried the first wave of Scottish immigrants to their new home in 1773. They spent eleven weeks crowded onto a decrepit, disease-ridden ship in stormy seas, and barely survived the first winter in their new homeland. It kind of puts 2020 into perspective. Kind of. Because as you know, 2020 is a special kind of crazy.
Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia
While at Caribou Monroes Provincial Park, we made a day trip to the village of Tatamagouche to bike a portion of the Trans-Canada Rail Trail. Tatamagouche (or ‘Tata,’ as the locals affectionately call it) is a charming down-to-earth village, with an emphasis on local small businesses, including an award-winning brewery that turns out mighty fine beer.
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Getting To Prince Edward Island
After a couple of nights at Caribou Monroes, we were ready for our journey to PEI. There are two ways to get to the island: By ferry from Nova Scotia (a 75-minute trip), or across the 8-mile long Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick. Either way, traveling to the island is free. But you have to pay to leave the island (about $70 for our truck and trailer to cross the bridge; it would have been twice that for the ferry).
Notice that social distancing on the ferry was no problem, even before social distancing was a ‘thing.’
The PEI tourism office has a helpful website that organizes the island into three distinct areas: Points East, Central, and North Cape.
As you can see from our rustic little map, we stayed in two provincial parks and the national park on PEI, which allowed us to experience all three areas of the island. Although you can drive from tip to tip of PEI in about three hours, we spent two weeks, which gave us the opportunity for plenty of biking, hiking, and indulging in epic seafood feasts.
Exploring Eastern PEI
PEI has 35 working lighthouses, and there’s a cute one not far from the ferry landing. We made a stop at the East Point lighthouse, not just because we like lighthouses, but because of the name. The little town in Florida where my folks lived and where we’ve been marooned since January is called Eastpoint.
There’s a sign on the lighthouse grounds that has something to do with the Flat Earth Society (tongue-in-cheek, obviously). Looking back from the rubble of 2020, it seems eerily prophetic.
Our site at Red Point Provincial Park was perched on a hill with a view of the Northumberland Strait.
Shortly after setting up camp, we discovered that Harry Manx, one of our favorite musicians, was playing at the Cloggeroo music festival in nearby Georgetown. We made the 45-minute trek to Georgetown for dinner by the sea and then strolled a couple of blocks to the park for the music festival.
PEI is known for seafood and potatoes, and they work magic with those simple ingredients. Personally, I could happily live on seafood and potatoes, along with plenty of green vegetables (and gin & tonic and dark chocolate). That sounds like a reasonable food pyramid, don’t you think?
The Central Coast: Cavendish Campground, PEI National Park
Our second campground on PEI put us right in the middle of the island in the national park. The biking and hiking trails here are beautiful and easy—unless you’re biking seven miles against the wind on a 15-mile bike ride on the Gulf Shore Trail. Good thing Eric was in front of me so he didn’t have to listen to me yelling, “I am not having fun!” He hates when I do that. But it makes me feel better, haha.
An easy ride is the Homestead Trail. Riding from the campground made for a pretty 6.6-mile loop through lush fields of wildflowers and beside the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The Greenwich Peninsula
The Greenwich Annex is a separate part of PEI national park that was rescued from a New York City developer who had plans to turn it into a golf course. It’s a unique landscape of marsh and bay and shifting sand dunes. It’s more than an hour’s drive from Cavendish, but it’s well worth the effort. (We stopped on our way from eastern PEI to Cavendish, and that worked out perfectly.)
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Charlottetown, Capital Of PEI
We drove one day into Charlottetown, the capital of PEI and a bustling little city (it’s a 25-mile drive from the campground). The excellent Saturday farmers’ market, the Confederation Centre of the Arts (with a free and inspiring outdoor performance celebrating diversity), a stroll along the waterfront, and a late lunch on Victoria Row made for a full and fun day.
Other Random Adventures On The Central Coast
A tiny fishing village on the French River is one of the most photographed and painted landscapes on PEI. Our friends MonaLiza and Steve told us we needed to search out Hostetter’s Viewscape for the best view. They were right.
North Rustico, just a few miles from the campground, is another picturesque harbor (apparently, all harbors on PEI are picturesque). We had a fantastic meal outdoors on the small deck overlooking the harbor at the Blue Mussel Cafe. More magic with PEI potatoes, and this time, seared scallops.
Many people make the pilgrimage to PEI to visit Green Gables Heritage Place, a 19th-century farm that served as the setting for the Anne of Green Gables novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Although I’ve been an avid reader all of my life, somehow I never got around to these children’s classics. We stopped by for a quick tour and were once again impressed with the attention to detail that Parcs Canada takes with their interpretive sites and programs.
A Farm-To-Table Evening
Of all of our culinary experiences on Prince Edward Island, this was the most memorable. We indulged in a leisurely multi-course dinner at The Table, a culinary studio that focuses on the local foods of the island. It was educational, fun, and an outstanding meal.
The restaurant is housed in a beautifully restored church, and dinners are limited to 20 people. We started off outdoors with oysters shucked by the local oyster farmer (wearing a “Shuck Me” cap) and lobster and oysters grilled by the chef, along with assorted local cheeses and local wines. It’s a good thing dinner was a three-hour long affair.
We then moved indoors, where we were served a multi-course meal of fish chowder, followed by platters of PEI seafood (lobster, mussels, and clams), grilled local vegetables (including potatoes, of course), and more wine with each course. Dessert was shortbread with local berries and cream.
The North Cape
Our final stop on PEI was Cedar Dunes Provincial Park. We tucked into our corner site in the trees (much better than the wind-blasted sites on the beachfront) and enjoyed a relaxing couple of days.
A half-mile walk along the red sand beach led us to the beautiful black-and-white striped West Point Lighthouse.
Walking the other direction leads to a tiny harbor and The Catch Kitchen, a surprise find that served up delicious lobster rolls (with gluten-free buns!), homemade potato salad, and local beer from Moth Lane Brewery. We liked it so much we ate there twice in two days, enjoying our lunches on the deck overlooking the harbor and watching the lobstermen unloading their catches.
We couldn’t leave PEI without visiting the farthest northernmost point at the North Cape. Here, the Gulf of St. Lawrence converges with the Northumberland Strait over the longest natural rock reef in North America. A lighthouse, a wind energy interpretive center, and a unique hiking trail that includes cliffs along the waterfront, boardwalks through blueberry bogs, and a forest of giant wind turbines—that was different.
Leaving Prince Edward Island
And with that, our two weeks of adventures on PEI came to an end. It was fun and relaxing, filled with all kinds of adventures served up in the unique style of the Maritimes.
We crossed the eight-mile-long Confederation Bridge—the longest bridge over ice-covered water in the world—and stopped to look back at Prince Edward Island from the Cape Jourimain Lighthouse (which has an excellent free interpretive center). Looking back always makes me a bit nostalgic. Grateful, but nostalgic. I hope we’ll be able to return someday.
JUST YESTERDAY Philip and I were talking about starting to organize our 2022 summer trip and he said “I’d really like to go to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island!” And then here comes your blog, serving me up everything we need to know! Here’s air hugs to you for your wonderful blog!!!!
Oh yay!! I’m so glad if this is helpful for you, Tessa. And I appreciate your hugs and kind comment. :-) You guys are going to love the Maritimes.
Hi Laurel, I’ve always wanted to go to PEI, I guess from reading Anne of Green Gables as a child, and now I have. So good to see people gathered around a communal table. And the idea of going to a music festival… thanks for the trip. Ann
Ann, I’m happy we could share PEI with you—I just wish it could have been in person! I look back on those adventures now and the memories of gathering with others for a meal or going to a music festival are especially poignant. Here’s hoping for better times ahead. Love to you, my friend.
What a beautiful, beautiful place and what gorgeous photos of your journey. It is lovely to return to our travels and photos and memories at this time as we navigate what you called the dumpster fire of 2020. Can we hope that November might be a good bit of news in the midst of it all? In the meantime, I will go back over the photos and think of the day when just maybe we can actually visit in person. For the time being, we are escaping to Medicine Lake this week for some quiet time on the water, with freezing mornings and hopefully no smoke. Take care, Laurel.
Sue, I’m enjoying sorting through our photos and memories from our travels…and it’s also surreal to look back and to realize how dramatically the world and our lives have changed. Like you, we’re hoping for a significant shift in November.
Enjoy your time at beautiful Medicine Lake. I hope the fires will soon subside in Southern Oregon. What a rough year this has been. Hugs to you three!
Lovely blog Laurel—While although Michael and I have visited Nova Scotia, we didn’t visit PEI—it was a work trip. Your post and photos filled me with longing to go back! And I see nothing wrong with your food pyramid, even the gin and tonic!
Thank you, Janna. And I’m glad you approve of my food pyramid! Those really are my favorite foods, LOL. If you and Michael decide to return to the Maritimes, I’ll bet you would enjoy PEI.
Oh my, we did almost the same trip this summer (even down to this is not fun!!!) but your photos look much more enchanting. I was convinced I was going to see the Secret Garden author’s home. Somehow, I missed Anne of Green Gables also. It’s interesting how the Sunday afternoon musicians playing in an Irish pub look just like the South Louisiana musicians. Even mostly the same instruments but sound so different.
Wow, that’s a beautiful area and the people we met were So lovely.
BTW, I can’t believe y’all spent the summer where you did in a trailer. We have a class c. Our air conditioner is so loud and you get too cold and then too hot, so uncomfortable. I would *almost* rather sweat. Almost.
Nancy, I really wish we had figured out that we were all in the Maritimes at the same time—it would have been great to meet up with you! I agree that it’s a gorgeous area, and the people were friendly and welcoming. Sigh. And now we can’t even travel there. :-((
As far as spending the summer in Florida, it was AWFUL. And it was my fault for deciding to do the remodel on my folks’ house, which put us back in the trailer for more than two months. It was pure hell. But it’s cooling off and getting really nice now!
Ummm, your food pictures make me really hungry, and I just ate breakfast. Maybe, it’s just the idea of being able to go sit safely at a restaurant and eat out. It’s lovely to see your smiling faces in photos.
The comment “I’m not having fun”, certainly describes how I feel with all of today’s issues. Hopefully, you will be able to continue your travels safely sometime next year.
Sheila, I agree that “I’m not having fun” is a generally appropriate statement right now. These are hard times, indeed. I’m doing my best to look for moments of joy, and to be grateful…and still, I’m grieving for all of us, and all that we’ve lost.
Meanwhile, we look forward to when we’ll see you and Bruce and our other Lopezian friends again. Save us a spot in the music circle. OXOX
Isn’t it lovely? We camped at Cabot Beach Prov. Park and explored the island from there. Unfortunately, it was late in the year and many of the music venues were shutting down but we still got the opportunity to go to several ceilidhs. We also found a small fish market where we bought paper bags full of lobster and cooked them at our campsite. Such a fun and wonderful place that we want to visit again.
Oh, what wonderful memories! I know you have beautiful photos to remind you of your adventures on PEI. We also brought home fresh lobster but had them steamed for us. I remember chasing a live lobster around the kitchen years ago in Boston and I don’t want to ever repeat that experience. :-( Maybe we should plan a return trip together?
Thank you for the beauty. Glad to hear you are safe & sound.
Thank you, Kathryn. Your photography is so beautiful—you would have a wonderful time photographing the Maritimes!
Your “I am not having fun!” refrain reminds me of the time I complained about us doing too much socializing right before the pandemic hit. I think it’s fair to assume those are phrases we will NEVER utter again. Ah, if only we knew then what we know now. LOL.
This post took me back to the delightful PEI. The beaches, the bike paths, the little towns, the lighthouses, the marinas, the food. Oh, the food. So, so good. I had read elsewhere about the Table and really wanted to check it out, but we didn’t make it. I think it was booked, I can’t remember. Either way though, your experience certainly shows we missed out.
I hope writing this was as therapeutic for you as it was enjoyable for the rest of us. It’s nice to think back on, and look forward to, carefree living once more.
I’m glad you enjoyed our journey back in time to PEI, Laura. I love looking at our photos and reminiscing, and it also feels so strange to see the contrast between our lives then and now.
I didn’t even realize I was taking some things for granted. I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity we have for travel, but it never crossed my mind that the day would come when we couldn’t cross the border into Canada, or go to a restaurant, or a music festival, or be in close proximity to other people. As you said, I will never again take any of those things for granted. Thanks again for the recommendation for the Blue Mussel Cafe in Rustico…I’d sure like to have lunch there this afternoon, and it would even better if you guys were there, too!
Thanks for all the great info. We are hoping to get up to Nova Scotia and PEI summer 2022. I love the comment on the biking against the wind “I’m not having fun!” Sounds like us. . .usually I plan a trail or hike and it’s tough and then I say: “Who’s idea was this? Is this supposed to be fun?” Of course afterwords there’s always a good feeling of accomplishment for what we did since we aren’t 21 anymore!
Denise, how inspiring that you’re planning for the summer of 2022! Surely, by then life will be back to normal. And Nova Scotia and PEI will be the perfect destination. It’s an idyllic place to spend the summer.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets into situations that I’m sure are going to be fun and turn out to be a lot of effort. But as you said, there’s a great feeling of accomplishment when it’s all said and done. Plus it helps work off the restaurant adventures, LOL.
Dearest Chickadee and Sir Raven,
On a blue sky autumn day I just want to have the gang over and sit out back with the crickets and frog songs laughing and eating together after what seems an eternity! You are missed dearly and tho it’s nice to see the last summer photos sans masks and fear in the eyes it will be even better to see you in person and with the million mile journeys behind us… will there come a time? Peace like a river that lost its channel. Ah well we all carry on as best we can … dreaming of better times!
Oh, dear Diana, we’re dreaming of better times to come, too! Those memories of afternoons and evenings in your beautiful gardens make me happy. And the wildly loud frog chorus. And the wonderful meals. And most of all, extraordinary friends hugging and laughing and not worrying about stupid viruses and other craziness. Much love and hugs to you and John. (Come to Florida!! We have loud frogs, too!)
Although, as you know, I wanted to read this first thing when the notification popped up, I am so glad I waited for this evening when I could savor it on the big screen. You also know I’ve been eagerly awaiting your blog’s return to your travels (understanding the delay, of course!) It was worth the wait. I particularly like all the long bike trails. Why is it that the guys can’t/don’t hear 99% of what we say, but let out a whine? That they hear just fine! How lucky your trip coincided with a favorite musician, too. Those unexpected bonuses are the spice of life. The food looks absolutely scrumptious, and dining outdoors, pandemic or not, always makes food better, especially with those views.
I have no doubt whatsoever that more adventures await you, and you ain’t done travelin’ yet. Until then, Sister Wife, we’ll stay on course to bring adventure to you!
Hahaha, that is the TRUTH about the guys having selective hearing! What’s up with that? Oh, this gives us something else to talk about when we all get together in January, LOL!! The guys do not stand a chance against us, Sister Wife!
You two would love the gorgeous biking on PEI (minus the seven-miles-against-the-wind part). And you are absolutely right, that dining outdoors always makes a meal better. We’ll do plenty of that while you’re here, right in the backyard overlooking the bay.
Thanks for this lovely post. It was a few minutes of complete immersion in beauty. And what a selection of meals!
It’s good to hear from you, Nancy. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I hope all is well in Ashland and that you’re enjoying a beautiful fall there!
I sure hope all those charming little restaurants and shops are able to survive the pandemic-induced decrease in tourism, because I am going to be super sad if they are all gone when we eventually make it to PEI. Sadder than a person biking 7 miles into the wind. Your itinerary sounds like a perfect blend of outdoor activity, arts & culture, and excellent food, and we intend to follow it closely when we visit the island some day. The tidy farms and colorful seaside towns are so quaint, and it’s great to see that a thriving tourism industry can exist yet not overrun the place. So many places we have visited could learn from this example!
I’ve had the same thought, Shannon. I hope all of the wonderful little restaurants, breweries, museums, and shops on PEI (and everywhere!) are able to survive the pandemic—if they don’t, the experience will be vastly different.
Like you and Ken, we enjoy a variety of experiences in our travels. And PEI really offered us an ideal mix of outdoor activities, culture, and great food. It’s a beautiful island, and even in mid-August and not in a pandemic, it was peaceful and uncrowded. You guys will love it when you make it there.
We loved PEI. We took the bridge for both visits. The cameras on the bridge are real time so we called the kids so they could watch and I waved at each camera ALL the way across on our motorcycle trip. Jessica saw us. Your dinner at The Table looked amazing. Wow! Thanks for taking us back.
Pam, that must have been a blast riding across the bridge on your motorcycle! I didn’t realize that there are cameras on the bridge—that was a lot of waving for eight miles. :-)
We really enjoyed our time on PEI, and dinner at The Table was extraordinary. It’s surreal looking back now at all of our culinary adventures on the island, and realizing that we haven’t been out to dinner since March. I miss going out, at least once in awhile!
Thank you so much for the memories of PEI, perhaps my very favorite place ever. So sorry you were deprived of Anne of Green Gables as a girl. We took Carrie right after she’d read the entire series and it was so much fun. Did you guys go to a celilidh and dance? Fabulous music and so much fun. If not, that’s reason alone to return. David and I were so sad when we could not go back together because his treatments were weekly and he couldn’t leave the country. We went originally many years ago before the ferry and were so sad when they put it in because tourism (which I suppose they needed) increased exponentially. Great idea to ride the ferry over and do the bridge back. Very interesting the cost to come back off the island. Maybe I’ll just stay. I doubt residents have to pay to go to the mainland. ;-)
Sherry, it sounds like you have wonderful memories experiencing PEI with Carrie and David. I’ve heard so many good things about Anne of Green Gables that I think I need to read the books! Plus reading the books will give me a chance to revisit the island in my mind.
We did attend a ceilidh at Stanley Bridge while we were on PEI (and we went to several in Nova Scotia). As you said, fabulous music and so much fun! I hope you’ll be able to return to PEI. We didn’t find it to be crowded in mid-August at all.
Thanks for this wonderfully peaceful deep breath. 35 lighthouses! Wow :-) Those red cliffs look like large beef filets (must be craving beef I seldom eat now). My late grandmother who I never met wrote from her small farm, and had stationary items made with Grace of Gray Gables, a nod to her love of Anne’s stories. I’ve always wanted to see the site at PEI and it looks like I need to move it up on the list! Although it is miles away in both geography and culture, somehow the Stanley Bridge pic reminds me of the porch at the Starlight Thearter in Terlingua! The Table looks like an amazing experience. How I miss having those….. Please keep writing these great posts of your past travels!
Jodee, now that you mention it, the Stanley Bridge pic does remind me of the porch of the Starlight in Terlingua! We’ve all had so many wonderful adventures, haven’t we? I really look forward to the day when we can resume our travels. I’m grateful that we have this beautiful place to stay in Florida, but we weren’t done traveling yet. :-(
I hope you and Bill will make the journey to the Maritimes when the dust settles. Thanks for the encouragement to keep writing about our travels.
I am so glad you took the time to share with us. The food had us drooling and the ocean left us longing. We hope it is cooling down for you and that you will be back on the road in the spring.
Deb, the weather has finally started cooling down here (and the humidity is dropping!) so it’s lovely. I think this is going to be a good place to be for the next few months, and hopefully, by next summer we can resume our travels.
Another wonderful travel post! Thank you so much. I will keep all the campgrounds in mind for future reference. And, of course, all the restaurants. Your meals look amazing and you have given us great recs in the past (Ohana’s at June Lake!), so we look forward to visiting PEI sometime soon. Fingers crossed Canada lets us in someday!!
As far as biking into the wind, I know that struggle all too well. Living in Nebraska for over 20 years, I felt like I was ALWAYS riding into the wind. The minute I turned directions, the wind would, too. Very frustrating.
Hope all is going well with the remodeling. Has it cooled off at all down there? We were camping (nothing fancy, just at Guaranty RV in Junction City) for a couple of days and it got pretty cool at night. We’re hoping to get away to Nehalem SP in a few days for a week or so. I’m looking forward to long walks on the beach to Manzanita!
Take good care!
Les, we’ve just about finished with the remodeling project and are enjoying being back in the house. And recovering from the craziness, LOL. The weather has turned cooler and less humid, and it’s a huge relief! I think we’re going to enjoy being here this winter.
So glad to hear you guys are getting away for some little trips. We love Nehalem SP and as you know, fall is a gorgeous time to be there. A couple of years ago we encountered a bumper crop of bolete mushrooms on the trails and they were delicious!
Ahh memories, and your adventures coupled with the picturesque PEI makes me want to revisit. Of the three provinces PEI is my favorite. Looks like the Red Fox was not greeting you at the National Park.
Im glad you agreed with me that Hostetter’s Viewscape was a sight to see. I think the Maritimes as a whole is so colorful.
I missed the seafood, the views and the ambiance, thank you again Laurel for the memories.
I hope writing and reminiscing your 2019 travels, helps you forget 2020!
MonaLiza, I remember how much you loved PEI. It was just as picturesque as you told us it would be! Although there were no foxes to greet us, we did a pretty good job of seeing just about everything else. :-)
Looking back through our photos and reminiscing about our travels in 2019 really does feel good. And I finally have the time to catch up before we start traveling again. Maybe this time I can stay caught up, LOL. (Probably not.) I hope you guys are doing well. Wish you were here in Apalachicola to enjoy some seafood feasts with us! OXOX
What a lovely post! I had to keep reminding myself that it was from 2019 when I would look at photos of people mingling. It is amazing how much has changed. We were in PEI about 10 years ago on a similar path to yours. We were thee in September when the roads were busy with trucks filled with potatoes. The potatoes that fell off the trucks littered the roadsides! Then, on September 15, almost the whole island shut down – gas stations, stores and most parks. We had to stay at a KOA for the last few nights because it was one of the few still open. thanks for your posts!
Susie, I also find it surreal to look back at our photos and see how much has changed in the past year. I’m hoping we’ll somehow get back to what we’ve all thought of as ‘normal’ but I don’t think it’s going to be for a good long time yet. I wonder if things have changed much since you were there 10 years ago? We found the island to be so peaceful. Your story of the potatoes falling off of the trucks made me laugh!
So nice to see a travel post from you, even if it’s a year late! Sadly we didn’t make it to the Maritimes during our RV travel years but it’s still on my list. Your lovely photos made me want to go even more.
I laughed about your bike ride. Seems like every time we rode out on Pensacola Beach it would be so pleasant and easy, then we would turn around and feel like we hit a wall all the way back. Jim was the one always moaning so I would just ride faster until I couldn’t hear him!
I’m happy to hear from you, Gayle—and glad to know you enjoyed the post, even though it is a year later! I have many months of travels to catch up on. If Canada ever opens up to us again, you guys would enjoy the Maritimes.
Maybe Jim and I should bike together, LOL. Hope all is well in Arizona!