It is quite luxurious to sleep in a bed with the windows open, and with a whirlpool tub all to ourselves.
Over breakfast we chatted with Mike and Paula, the other guests who were also from Virginia, from south of Chincoteague. Mike has an interesting job. He collects blood from horseshoe crabs. The blood has the ability to coagulate when in the presence of toxins, and is used in products related to surgery, especially implants of artificial joints, etc.
After breakfast we drove along the east coast and stopped at a lighthouse at East Point, where I did a bit of writing. It was too foggy to even climb up the stairs. Then we drove a few miles inland and stopped to hike along the Confederation Trail, which is an old railroad grade, for 45 minutes. There were a lot of snails along the trail, out of their shells. Why?
Then we drove south and spent some time at Basin Head, at Singing Sands beach. There was a sign that said you couldn’t jump into the water from a certain bridge, and two guys in wet suits were doing just that. Turns out they were the lifeguards. There were enormous jellyfish floating under the bridge, easily 2 feet in length, and very black. We went into a little museum there at Basin Head, about different kinds of fishing. The history of lobstering is interesting, in that it used to be a poor man’s occupational choice, and now takes a good deal of money. The licenses are exorbitant and hard to get.
We drove a bit further and stopped at another beach. The wind had picked up so Doug attempted to fly his kite, but was unsuccessful. We met three young girls, sisters, playing on the beach. They live on the island. The middle one lamented to us about being the middle child and having to wear hand-me-downs. Poor child. She had brown hair while the youngest was blonde and the oldest a redhead. What a lucky mother. They were all so beautiful and fresh-faced.
We had a light lunch, but a gourmet supper at a place called Georgetown Inn. We both ordered halibut and local vegetables. I had an appetizer of lobster/risotto balls that had been rolled in panko and deep fried. In the restaurant there were only two occupied tables: besides us was a party of two couples from Edmunton who were on a golf holiday. We chatted a bit. After the meal the owner/chef and her daughter/waitress played the baby grand piano and sang Broken Hallelujah? for us. The song was the perfect ending to a memorable meal.
The other guests left this morning and Jane, our hostess, made me gluten free blueberry pancakes which were very good. We plan to head to the north coast, to the National Park which stretches along that coast in three separate sections. We hope Doug can fly his kite and I can do a bit of writing. The weather forecast does not give tremendous hope.
Over breakfast, Jane told us a little about the history of PEI. It was originally settled by French Quebecois called Acadians. But when the British won the Seven Year War, PEI was part of the spoils of war awarded to Britain. The Brits feared the Acadians and deported them. A few moved to Nova Scotia, where they filled in farmland to raise crops, but most of whom moved to Louisiana, which is how Cajun culture was born.
We also heard a bit about the churches on the island, they are mainly Catholic because of the Scottish settlers. There are scads of MacDonalds here. Most of the Catholic churches are not doing well. There is a shortage of priests, yet the priests are unwilling to let laywomen lead. Many of the traditional older women are enraged by this. It was fun to hear Jane’s opinion about church life. We agreed that, as usual, the buildings are a noose around the churches.
We began to drive. Let me record what PEI has in abundance: cloudy days, pine trees, bodies of water, foxes, lupine, lighthouses, ferns, potato fields, cemeteries, derelict church buildings.
At the easternmost section of the National Park we took an hour-long walk that meandered through a couple of ecosystems. We began in pine woods where we saw a beautiful specimen of ladyslipper, which I have rarely seen in bloom in the wild. A placard labeled the wood anemone as bunchberry. Then as we crossed into marsh and saw a huge amount of lichen in twin colors of green: sage and spring. Thriving, bushy specimens were arrayed in great pilllowing clouds. Lichen is a mixture of fungi and algae in symbiotic relationship. Fungi grow off of dead matter, while algae convert sunlight into food, therefore the perfect marriage. I wonder if institutions could manage this, to let the dead nourish the living, while continuing to let the light generate new growth. We tend to have the two at war with each other.
Next, a boardwalk traversed a marsh, a combination of salt water and fresh water. We saw a flock of small dramatically-marked birds that kept flying ahead of us and around us, alighting on the railings. I believe they are indigo buntings, absolutely stunning with their dark bright blue heads and wings, and white sides. They seemed to be vying with each other over turf. Also some redwinged blackbirds, a pair of loons, and small white water birds, perhaps terns. Presently we came out on dunes alongside the water. There was a placard explaining the formation of parabolic dunes. We stood with said parabolic dune spread before us and understood. These dunes take a long time to create and are very rare. As with so many things, I wouldn’t have known what I was seeing until someone gave me the knowledge that opened my eyes to see what was in front of me all along. I really appreciate that. In learning, timing is everything.
The morning was heavily overcast and it began to rain the last 10 minutes or so of our hike. Now we are driving through drizzle but there is blue sky ahead. Perhaps a little Zydeco on the iPod will bring out the sunshine.
Ah, it did! In fact, we arrived at Stanhope Beach to a blue sky and gusty wind. Doug got out his kite and wetsuit and hit the waves, while I did some writing. The kiting is really tiring for his whole body, and requires intense concentration. I got a few good pictures of him, too. When he was good and tired, he cleaned up and we drove to Cavendish, to the Green Gables house. We got in about a half-hour before close, but that was enough. The Canadians have done a really good job with Lucy Montgomery and her Anne of Green Gables character. It was fun to see something historic? that is fictional. You get all the flavor of history with no actual facts. A soup tureen is just a soup tureen, for example. There’s no elaborate story like you’d get at Mt. Vernon or Monticello. We walked along the Lover’s Lane that inspired Lucy Montgomery, and the evening light was perfect for picture-taking. On the drive home, we found a great roadside joint with mussels and clams for supper.
What a perfect day.