Island Hopping: P.E.I.

This past summer we took an Island adventure.  After kayaking and whale watching in Grand Manan, New Brunswick we crossed the nearly 13 kilometre (!!) Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island. 

The middle of the Island’s busy summer can be a tricky time to find nightly cottage accommodations as opposed to weekly.  After perusing the old Google box, I came across Green Gables Cottages.  They booked nightly, were right in Cavendish and the rate was very reasonable.  They were not beachfront but they did have a salt water pool.  I called them ASAP and booked.

The cottages are only a 45 minute drive from the bridge.  My GPS, however, took us on a wild goose chase straight to someone’s driveway so instead it took us 90.  We booked a “Type A- Efficiency Cottage”.  It was crazy adorable.  The cottage opened to a living room/bedroom with a bed, pullout couch, chair and television.  Off of the main room was a small, well-appointed full kitchen. Another door led to the bathroom.  The floors were a little crooked but that seemed to be a theme throughout this getaway.

After inhaling our breakfast, the next morning went just like this:

Them: POOL!!  MOM! MOM! CAN WE GO SWIMMING RIGHT NOW??!!
Me: As soon as I get a coffee.
Them: LOOK AT THAT CLIMBER!!!  CAN WE GO?!!
Me:  We can, just as soon as I get a cup of coffee.
Them: OOOOH!  THERE’S WASHERS HERE!  CAN WE GO GET OUR CLOTHES?! (seriously.)
Me: Definitely.  I’d like a quick cup of coffee first.
Them: THERE’S EVEN MONKEY BARS, MOM!  MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM!
Me: We can do all of this as soon as we find coffee.
Them: MOM…
Me:  COFFEE! COFFEE! COFFEE! COFFEE! COFFEE!

My point is that just a couple hundred metres up the road is Avonlea Village. Along with a bunch of other restaurants, there is a breakfast joint called “Samuel’s”.  They make coffee.  Divine coffee and lattes.  And some yummy breakfast to get everyone fed, jolly and ready to take on the day. They will be your friends.

Shining Waters Family Fun Park was our first adventure.  Isaac had been saving his nickels and dimes for months to this waterpark.  He handed over his hard earned cash and strolled on in.  It turned out to be a local company’s Family Day so it was a zoo.  I adore that so many companies still do this so won’t grumble about it. If you are planning to go, maybe shoot them a message first to see if there is an event going on that day.  We still had a great time.  The kids ran through the Mirror Maze on repeat.  Storybook Land had a bunch of puzzles to be solved which was a lot of fun.  There was also a very “swingy” swing bridge that hilariously freaked out a lot of people.  It was certainly a wobbly challenge to cross.  The rides were all fun and the line-ups weren’t too long at all.  The sideways house was pretty bananas and we all loved spinning around in the pumpkins.  The waterpark was super packed but we were able to enjoy the kiddie slide area for a long time as well as the pool.  The big slides had long lineups but my kids were too small for them anyway.  The food was fine and there was nice green space to eat it.  Adding more shade areas would be nice as it was hot, hot, hot in the sun.

The next day we made use of the laundry facilities at the cottages.  They were inexpensive and clean.  The kids played on the climber and, as kids manage to do, made new friends immediately.  The warm pool was calling our name, so we played there for a couple of hours.  We had planned on hitting “Sandspit Amusement Park” but after the busy day at the waterpark, this relaxation was just was we needed.

My mom surprised us with tickets to see “Anne of Green Gables: The Musical” in Charlottetown that evening.  I love all things Anne but taking us all to see the show was out of the budget for this trip so this was a fantastic surprise.

We got to Charlottetown about 90 minutes before show time. The street beside the theatre suddenly sprang to life with patios and live music and dancing.  We ate and danced until the very last second and then raced into the theatre to find our seats.  The show is long and I wasn’t sure how well the kids would handle that.  While the oldest became squirmy towards the end, my youngest was wide-eyed and laser-focused throughout.  She’s been hooked on musicals ever since.

The next day was our last and we were excited to get some seafood and beaching in.

Isaac had promised to eat a new food everywhere we went this summer.  In PEI we’d agreed on oysters.  After some research we landed on The Blue Mussel Café in North Rustico.  It’s a busy spot so we were sure to be there when they opened.  The restaurant was bright and airy and surprisingly had some of my favourite song lyrics framed and hung by the bar.  We ordered up 3 oysters.  Isaac gathered all of his nerve, squirted some lemon on the gelatinous shellfish and down the hatch it went.  According to him it tasted bad like the ocean, and he’s never eating one again. Ha!  I was super impressed that he tried it to start with.

Our last PEI adventure was the Greenwich Beach area which is part of the PEI National Park System. It was a bit of a drive, but well worth it.  We grabbed our water bottles and hit the trails. There is no access to running water so be sure to bring enough.  We could’ve used another bottle.  The well maintained trails lead to a boardwalk that crisscrossed through different ponds then to the ladder-style stairs at the dunes.  The dunes on every coast are eroding so stick to the designated trails and stairs to get over them.  Greenwich Beach is actually home to rare, Parabolic Dunes which was interesting to learn about.  The view from the top was breathtaking.  Even on this beautiful day, there weren’t crowds of people.  The water is shallow for a long ways out and there weren’t any big waves so it was super kid friendly.  We spent hours walking the beach, writing notes in the sand, finding treasure, breathing in that sweet salt air and just taking in the beauty around us.  If we get back to PEI this will certainly be a spot to while away a day.

We had so much fun on PEI and could’ve stayed a lot longer, but the time had come to ship out and we needed to board the exciting ferry back to Nova Scotia.

A couple things that weren’t able to sneak in were Sea Kayaking and Tuna fishing.  Luckily, this gives us even more to look forward to next time around.  Hopefully we can catch up again in 2019!

Springtime in PEI: Province of Endless Imagination

“It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?”
– L.M.  Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

We were able to make a last minute escape to Nova Scotia this past April and since the opportunity was there I wanted to make a couple of stops on the way back home to Ontario.  I was on the fence about making the detour to Prince Edward Island but I am so grateful that we did.

I took a leap and booked a room at Dalvay-by-the Sea.  It’s long been a dream of mine to be a guest at the “White Sands”.  As a child our family watched Road to Avonlea regularly and I know Anne of Green Gables word for word.  We checked it out many years ago but in the middle of August it was fully booked.  My husband and I drove to Dalvay a few years ago as well but it was in April, before their season starts.

I’d shown Isaac a picture of the hotel online and he was most excited about…the chairs.  We crossed the Confederation Bridge and the first thing that stood out for me was how tidy the island is and the pride that people take in their homes and properties.  The yards were neatly manicured and the houses were colourful and well maintained.  After an hour or so of driving, we pulled into Dalvay.  I still couldn’t believe that we were staying here and completely geeked out.

We checked in and were given our key – yes folks, and actual key- to room number 9.  I’d recommend requesting this room if you can. We found a plate of cookies waiting and milk was delivered shortly after.  There were 2 super comfy queen beds, two wing back chairs, coat closet, bathroom, little balcony and stunning views.  They had a pack-n-play set up in the room for Maddie which was helpful.  There were also two bottles of raspberry cordial on the table.  Isaac was a little heavy handed with the bottle, got a little wild and broke a glass. Whoops!  That cordial will get you every time.

We headed to the dining room for dinner.  They had a kids menu and maybe more importantly, ketchup.  The kids enjoyed their grilled cheese and chicken fingers.  They came with a side of fried potato slices.  These had a taste and crunch similar to Miss Vickie’s chips but better somehow.  I had the scallops.  My goodness, these scallops.  We very rarely enjoy fine dining so I treated myself.  I have no words for how delectable it was.  I’ll attach a picture, which won’t do justice.  Admittedly, I was nervous dining with my kids at such an upscale place but they were pretty well behaved and it was so sweet to watch them practice their “fancy manners”.

After dinner we went to the lawn to burn off some energy.  The kids ran and ran.  They pretended to fish, to be on a safari and had jumping races.  They were getting tired and I’d already seen bedtime tick by.  This is where things get equally frustrating and sweet.

Along our journey I had managed to misplace my credit card.  I had assumed it was under my car seat because well, that’s just the kind of person I am.  When we were checking in I still couldn’t put my hands on it but we were able to get checked in and up to our room.  Small panic.  After checking out the room I tore through my car trying to spot it.  Slightly more panic.  Maybe, just maybe it was in our suitcase.  I emptied out our bags.  No luck.  By now I had enlisted my son as our detective and made it a game.  Still nothing.  We were done playing on the lawn, it was now dark and I was dragging the kids out to the car one last time to look.  Leah, who was working the front desk mentioned that she would watch them for a few minutes while I ran out.  Normally I would have said “No, that’s fine” but I was only a few minutes and I was just outside the door.  There were no more nooks or crannies that the card could be hiding in so I had decided to call and cancel the card after the kids were asleep.  Bummer.  As I come back through the doors, I found Leah along with both kids, sitting on the sofa in front of the fire reading an Anne of Green Gables storybook.  My heart almost burst.  My kids, on PEI being introduced to Anne of Green Gables at The White Sands Dalvay-by-the-Sea.  All the moment needed was Gus Pike playing the fiddle outside the door and Simon Tremain stomping through.  We went back up to our room and as I tucked the kids in to bed Isaac spotted it.   There lay the card under the bed, camouflaged as it was the exact same colour as the carpet.  All in all a great end to the day.

For breakfast Maddie wore her fanciest dress and hat, along with her rubber boots of course. The kids were made special pancakes which they devoured.  The coffee was just right.  It’d been quite a while since I’d had a really good cup of coffee so I doubled down, had another and grabbed one for the road.

We checked out and on the advice of the Manager, Joel, we headed to Brackley Beach which, along with Dalvay is located inside PEI National Park.  Despite the wind which didn’t even faze the kids, we played for an hour and then struck out for Green Gables.

We toured the house.  Since the kids don’t totally get the Anne thing we made it into an education on how people lived at the turn of the century.  We discussed things like cooking on a wood stove and life without a refrigerator.  We hiked the trail behind the house.  This was the “Haunted Woods”.  The trail was well maintained and an easy walk for the kids.  Isaac was a little freaked out by the “Haunted” bit but after explaining that it was “enchanted” he decided to grab a stick and become a magician.

Then, just like that our Island escape was over.  On the drive to the bridge we spotted a water park, go carts, toy factory, COWS ice cream shops and so many other places to check out once the summer season starts up.  Traveling during shoulder season means many attractions are still closed but the crowds are non-existent and there wasn’t a tour bus in sight, which is highly prized for us.  I can’t wait to go back to the Island for a longer stay in the summer time.  In the meantime I’ll keep watching the new Anne series and keep an eye out for the White Sands.