Prince Edward Island

Well the calendar may indicate that it’s Summer, but you would never know by the temperature. It was in the mid 50’s this morning as I left the campground. Always being the eternal optimist, I’m in shorts, and every time I got out of the RV, I both looked and felt the fool. Everyone in the part of Canada I was passing through was dressed in long pants, parkas over fleeces, hats, hoods, substantial footwear, and I’m in a golf shirt, shorts and my crocks. Hell, It’s July. It’s Canada Day. It’s supposed to be warm. What the heck?

I fueled the RV for the first time in Canada. The money you pay isn’t in US dollars, so the final purchase price at the pump is a shocker. The fuel isn’t in gallons, it’s in liters, and the liter dial spins like a one armed bandit in Vegas. I keep all my records in US nomenclature, so there was the conversion from liters to gallons, Canadian dollars to US dollars, price per gallon, and then miles per gallon. That’s the stuff they should teach in school if they want kids to understand math. Worked out to be in the mid three dollar range for fuel.

New Brunswick is much emptier than I anticipated. I went through one town, and then miles and miles of trees. Usually in the empty spaces in the US, there are ghost towns, some businesses, and an occasional small town. Not so in New Brunswick. I was looking for a place to get a coffee and a donut. The GPS indicated that the nearest one was 47 miles away.  That’s as the crow flies. It was a Tim Horton’s. This is Canada. It’s the national coffee and donut chain. Forty seven miles! That’s like 7,000 square miles for one donut store. I was surprised at the emptiness of the parts of Canada that I passed through. Nothing like the sprawl in the US. No farms, houses, businesses, or even intersections or bridges. Miles and miles of road surrounded by trees. It’s very pretty scenery, but repetitive.

The Confederation Bridge is impressive. The sign at the foot of the bridge on the New Brunswick side indicates that the water between PEI and New Brunswick freezes over during the winter and that the First Nation Peoples canoed across the straight. The bridge reminded me of the bridges between the keys in Florida, just without the special colored water, no palm trees, no pelicans, no boats, well, you get the picture. Similar architecture, evocative, but that’s it. I was pretty excited to look over and see Prince Edward Island. It’s the first place I’ve visited where someone immigrated to the United States from.  Looking across the water I wondered what compelled them to leave this place and head for New York City. It’s a long journey today, what must have it been like back in the 1800’s. I still haven’t figured out how my great-grandfather got from there to NYC. He left his family behind. Why? Then in 1915, thereabouts, he disappears. Dead? Ran out on family again? Visited family for the final time before he died? I hope to find out.

Prince Edward Island was nothing like I imagined. It is almost completely agrarian, more developed than New Brunswick, which appears to be completely forest covered. PEI was rolling green hills covered either in red and green plowed fields, velvet like grass covered fields, or fields where haying has taken place. There are scattered herds of dairy and beef cattle, and the occasional horse. It seems all the fence rows and roadsides are covered in beautiful Lupines that vary in color from deep blues and purples to white. I’m not sure if the like the peculiar hued pink ones or the ones that are cranberry colored but not. It appears as if a florist decorated the whole island.

In some ways PEI resembles Michigan, where my cousin Pat lives. Nice houses, well kept, an occasional house being built in what was a potato or hay field. The route to the National Park was one that I never would have taken or found. There were no signs indicating that the National Park was ‘That Away!’ It was actually down a narrow nondescript road. The park check in building was new, but didn’t appear to be associated with a center that helped you understand the cultural aspects of the area. Of course, I might just be at the campground check in. I’ll find out tomorrow.

The first surprise is that the Park doesn’t let you burn wood that comes from outside the park. I purchased firewood at a gas station the first thing after I exited the bridge. Nope, no good. They let me exchange it for some really nasty wet wood, for free, instead of paying for a load. Apparently, the Canadian approved pest free wood is no good too. I have a load of that, purchased at the last park. I’ll save that for the provincial park I’ll be at later in the week.  I registered, the staff was past superb. They answered all my five thousand questions. At one point I had all the staff in the room answering questions. I’m sure that they were glad to see me leave. I was given my site ticket and off I went.

I’m in the D section of the park. I arrived at my site to find that I’m right at the stinkin’ beach. Granted it’s blowing at 45 kilometers per hour, the temperature is 55 degrees US and there is a pretty heavy mist. Hell, it’s a steady rain, but you can’t tell because the wind is blowing that hard. I get backed in, miraculously don’t hit anything, put boards down for the levelers, because the ground is saturated and level the RV. Put some water on board, hook up the electricity, and turn on the electric heater. The RV is 65 degrees. Great temperature when it’s 110 out, but not tonight.

My plan of making a fire, sipping some whiskey and having a cigar was drowned. It was fun looking out at the window; all dry and warm, and feeling bad for all the poor souls out in the horizontal rainstorm in danger of having their tents blow away. Ah! Those were the days, but I’m glad that they’re gone. So I settled in with a good book, made an excellent dinner, had some coffee and the last of the donut for desert, and did a little writing.

Tomorrow should set the stage for the next several days. I’ll see if I can find a map, the genealogy center, a grocery store and information on the Bluegrass concert. Step one in seeing if I can locate lost family. Stay tuned.

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