The landscape is just as beautiful on this side of the island. We see a lovely heritage house set in acreage, which turns out to be the residence of a former Lieutenant-Governor. We later discover that it is on the market for $169,000, a price that wouldn't even buy a rundown bungalow on Salt Spring.
PEI has an interesting spirit. Neat, prim farms with clean white buildings are set tidily on a barbarically bright landscape constantly swept by wild winds. No wonder Anne is such a satisfying character. Her sense of duty and her home-making skills are both challenged and enhanced by her passionate nature, and the truth of the portrait is recognized even by those who have never been to her island home.
At a lovely harbour on the north shore, St. Peter's, we sit in the sun at Rick's Fish & Chips for a long time writing postcards and enjoying the sun sparkling on the bay. I have a lobster roll and fries, which is very tasty but not worth the extra money over fish & chips in my opinion, although I'm glad to have finally eaten lobster in the Maritimes. We decide not to go all around the coast as Henry is very itchy to get to Nova Scotia. Instead, we cut down to Montague, a charming village. We explore an antique store and a jewellery store with the same gorgeous Thai jewellery we get on Salt Spring, but at much lower prices. I am sorely tempted to buy something, but can't make up my mind between so many lovely things, and so leave empty handed.
I console myself with the prospect of a swim in the Atlantic at the provincial park nearby
. It is inside a long, narrow bay, so I figure it will be as warm as anywhere, but it is still nippy. I dash in and out pretty fast, but bravely repeat the experience five times, getting progressively numbed as Henry tries to get a photo. The cheap batteries aren't working well, and the only picture he manages makes me look enormously fat, but I can't erase it as it is my only proof that I actually went in! Henry is smugly warm and dry and unphotographed. Further along the coast we stop for a snack at a corner store, and I get new batteries for an outrageous sum. An ominous back cloud is building as we continue to the ferry at Woods Hole on the south coast. Bad timing: we have missed one by an hour, and there won't be another for 2 hours, at 7:30 pm. There is nothing interesting nearby, so we meander east with no destination. It starts to rain and I insist on riding until the next little town. I think it is worth it to get gas, fresh sub sandwiches and shelter while we put on our rain gear, but Henry objects to the extra miles on dangerous wet roads. After a soggy ride back to the ferry, we retreat to the barren cafeteria, where we meet Carl, a biker from Quebec. The exchange of road stories shortens the 75 minutes ferry trip nicely. We dock at Caribou under a spectacular stormy sky lit in places by bursting sunrays, worthy of a Hollywood epic. A fast hard ride to Truro in the gathering darkness lands us at a late-night gas station. We have decided to hit up Henry's nephew Tom, a navy guy, for a dry place to stay. Although he is in Halifax, we can probably make it by midnight. We try calling cards, a collect call , the cell phone, directory assistance but nothing seems to connect to Tom's number. We just get a series of odd electronic messages. Finally we call Henry's sister back home: no wonder, Tom has just unexpectedly shipped out to Hawaii! This is definitely not Hawaii.
The kind gas station attendent helps us locate a campground, but the rain has stopped and we opt for a guerilla campsite instead. Following Henry's nose, we find a perfect spot off a cul de sac under a highway overpass. Long grass cushions us and we are unobtrusive and safe (unless someone has an accident and flies off the upper highway onto us!) We are in our second-to-last province, but still eager to explore.
It is sunny but still windy. However, not windy enough to break off the food-supporting branch above the table. It is shattered nonetheless, clearly the work of the raccoon. The nefarious beast has dug into the oatmeal, eaten ALL the raisins, and turned up its nose at the carrots. All this despite our having left out the uneaten stew for it! (Although it did eat that, too.) Henry says it was probably working a racket in cahoots with the squirrels. Most of the milk has escaped, so we have a desultory morning making plain porridge and writing postcards, and have to rush at the last minute to make the 11:00 checkout. We head off to do as much of the east side of the island as possible. Once again the route is hard to follow, and we end up on the outskirts of Charlottetown inadvertantly before veering off again. Henry is annoyed at me for navigating so badly, but it is impossible to see the little changes coming up unless I keep the map held up flapping in the wind and my body simultaneously tilted out at a very uncomfortable angle to see around Henry