pei or anne’s land

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Prince Edward Island was a treat. There is simply no better way to describe it. It was our final port of call before we were to return to Quebec City. For about as long as I can remember — well, at least since I fell in love with Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” — I’ve wanted to visit PEI. I’ve mapped it multiple times but the trip was so daunting, given the driving distance and vacation time available, it just didn’t happen. I didn’t realize until the day we dropped anchor it was the first time this ship had made port there. It seemed too good to be true that we were on it!

DSC_0744We’d followed the excellent advice in Tom’s Port Guides and rented a car from Enterprise. Just like clockwork, they picked us up near the pier in a white van and delivered us to the rental agency office downtown. I was amazed to hear the young man behind the wheel say he’d no idea who Anne of Green Gables was! She is present across the island; it seems nearly everyone is trying to sell something-Anne. (Clearly, the driver hadn’t the curiosity to find out.) Although we were stuck with a big ol’ van (reminiscent of our ’90 Astro) instead of the sporty SUV the Hubs ordered, no matter. We were in PEI!

It was a beautiful, calm, clear day. We’d enjoyed a slow glide into the scenic harbor, signature orangey-red sandstone cliffs standing stark against evergreen forest, fields already hemmed in by fall. PEI is a simple island to navigate and I had a basic route plotted, cutting northwestward toward the shore, stopping first at Green Gables before meandering through small towns and countryside. In no time flat, we were off to explore.

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When we arrived at Green Gables, all was quiet. There were a very few cars in the parking lot and zero tour buses. Score! We had the place almost to ourselves. A small group of Tourists were far enough ahead of us that our paths barely crossed. I’d no idea until this trip how popular Anne is in Japan — no doubt due to her role in the grade school curriculum. Even so, we hardly noticed on this day. We wandered the property in leisurely fashion, thoroughly enjoying stepping back in time.

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Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Woods were quiet, nearly empty as we walked through. Birch trees decked out in regal gold leaves, bright red sugar maples, and a crystal clear brook bubbling alongside the path all made for a delightful diversion. It was a brisk fall day so we dropped by the café for fresh scones and tea before making few gift shop purchases.

From there, we drove on toward the shore. I’d read in Tom’s PEI guide about the beautiful teacup rock formation so it was on our route. We found the access road, finally — not much more than a red dirt track. We parked the van but didn’t get far before we ran up against a “private property” sign on entrance to the walking trail. (Hmmm. Tom’s guide failed to note this part!) Most, perhaps all, of the homes, in this area were vacation homes and uninhabited this late in the season. The Hubs was game to plow ahead. “We came for the teacup. I don’t give up until I reach my goal.” But I was not so sure it was worth the risk. “I’d rather not be arrested for trespassing today.”

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There was another way to access the rock, a longer route directly on the shoreline at the waters edge. I hadn’t checked the timing of the tides and we didn’t know how far the trek. I was dubious. The shoreline was beautiful, though, and that was enough for me — until next time, when we rent one of those houses. This is one of those few must-come-back-to places. I only hope we have grandboys and grandgirls along for the adventure when we do!

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We enjoyed a scenic and ’round-about return to Charlottetown, marveling at the massive potato harvest and beautiful bucolic countryside, before we landed at a quaint pub, Gahan House. I fulfilled my fresh lobster craving and we fulfilled our craft brew quest there. This was followed by a bit more retail therapy. We stumbled upon a wonderfully unique Canadian store, aptly named Cow, whereby we purchased the sweetest PJs for the grand boys: “I’m moo-dy in the morning.” The grandgirls, I should note, were beneficiaries of soft and cuddly Anne dolls with bright red yarn hair and green dresses because their GiGi just couldn’t resist!

IMG_0525We might have quit there, but I knew that I couldn’t leave PEI without also tasting the famed Malpeques oysters. (I think we happened upon an oyster farm, shown in a photo above?) Fortunately, a restaurant on the pier was perfectly accommodating. I may never pronounce Malpeques right, but I can tell you this: they are a delicious, tender, and not-to-be-missed delicacy of the island. So that’s how we closed out a fantabulously satisfying day in Anne’s land.  If PEI is not on your short list, it should be!

~ René Morley

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