Hello from Charlottetown! We apologize for the long wait for a journal entry; we’ve had a good bit of trouble trying to get enough computer time to do a blog post. As a result, be prepared for a looong post. This Journal entry will take you all the way through New Brunswick and most of PEI!
Friday, July 29 – Last day in Québec
Was having a great sleep when we were awakened at 4:45 by the dumbest sound we’d ever heard. We were quite unimpressed when we realized it was a pair of cormorants who, by the sound of it, may or may not have been in the throes of death. We packed up & ate breakfast after going back to sleep until 7:00, then got our water refilled (by the friendly people we had met across the street from the rest area where we were camped), & headed out.
Made it to the New Brunswick border at noon & here we sat, waiting out the hottest part of the day, eating our peanut butter wraps & some strawberry shortcake ice cream from the roadside shop.
After a triumphant walk into New Brunswick we stopped at a brightly adorned house to refill our water & ended up meeting who we affectionately call ‘Papi New Brunswick’. He invited us in & gave us some cold V-8 from the fridge (which, to our surprise & horror we loved… we must be officially old now!) before showing us around his workshop, which was super cool. Papi builds & paints wooden lawn decorations like cowboys, windmills, etc. He was very good at it.
After leaving Papi’s, we walked for a bit longer before being waved at very enthusiastically by some folks across the street & ended up meeting Louise, Phillip, & Leo. Louise & Leo were over visiting Phillip, who was visiting from Banff, Alberta (Phillip has a summer home in New Brunswick). Louise immediately invited us in for beers, showers & laundry (!!!!!) & a big bowl of seafood chowder (!!)… we’ve been in New Brunswick for less than 6 hours & we’re already eating chowder. We will get to spend tonight inside. What a great welcome to a new province!
Saturday, July 30
Had a nice morning in Edmunston at the farmer’s market & the library. We have started seeing fireweed & huge berms of sweet clover again (which we haven’t really seen since the Yukon!), so the roadsides are bright and cheery. After some thought, we have decided to try and get a ride up to Dalhousie so we can walk down the coast instead of through the interior. Walking from Dalhousie to Cape Jourimain (where we cross over to PEI) will be a longer route than our original route from Edmunston to Cape Jourimain, but we think getting to see the coast will be worth it.
Before leaving town, we printed out a few photos we took to conduct an experiment. We are curious to know if we can use regular 4×6 photos we took as postcards. Will report back once we get the results.
Managed to catch a lift all the way to Dalhousie with a Québec woman & her dog, who were headed all the way to Trecadie-Sheila. Had a bit of a disorienting walk, trying to get our bearings, and eventually landed at the home of Francis, a very grandmotherly woman who immediately asked us if we were lost & then invited us in for beers & a jigsaw puzzle. She offered us all the comforts of home all so rapidly we didn’t have time to accept one offer before she made the next. Francis is a very lively woman who just simply accepted us and the trip at face value. She asked us a record-low of 1 question about the trip, and it was for planning purposes only. It was actually really refreshing not to have to explain ourselves like we so often do.
Ate some bacon & eggs for dinner (!), worked on the jigsaw puzzle (!), & then passed out in the guest room (!) for the night.
Sunday, July 31
Woke up & did some jigsaw while waiting for Francis to wake up. She offered for us to stay another night so she could take us to the parade going on in Dalhousie today. We thought the parade would be fun (& the extra day means we can finish the puzzle!), so we accepted. Francis drove us in to town a bit before the parade & said to call her when we wanted to come home. The parade was fun & we enjoyed seeing the town. The streets were all hung with colourful pennant banners & the floats were very festive. It was the ‘Bon Ami’ parade & was made up of floats from lots of neighbouring towns. Today was fun but we’re looking forward to being back on the road tomorrow.
A lighthouse in Dalhousie
The right side of the photo is fresh water & the left side is salt water… how cool is that?!
Monday, August 1
Whoops, accidentally walked 38km today. We’re not sure how we didn’t notice! Left Francis’s house & headed out, shortly to be met by a detour sign. It said “local traffic only”, so we figured we could walk it. Once we were down the detour, a dog walker informed us that the bridge was out just up ahead & we wouldn’t be able to walk across. We sat down & pulled out the map to weight our options when the dog walker came back & offered us a ride back through the detour & to the other side of the bridge. We were very happy she did because the only way across was to retrace our steps & take the main highway for those 10km & the highway looked busy & hot.
Back on the road again, we continued under a hot, sunny sky until about noon when we asked to sit in someone’s yard to eat lunch & rest in the shade. The husband readily agreed to let us stay, & his wife came out shortly after with ice water & a bowl of strawberries. She asked us, “Well, are you staying then?” as if obviously we were invited & it was just up to us to decide if we’d stay or not. We’ve been so spoiled lately that we actually turned the invitation down, but not before accepting the strawberries!
Continued walking for much of the day, taking a rest around 15:00 to get out of the heat. We came to a second detour late in the day, caused entirely by ourselves & a poorly-placed power plant.Our ill-thought out plan to get around it failed to work & resulted in many extra kms of walking. Dan got a piece of grit in his eye that persisted for several hours, despite our efforts to evict it. Luckily, it eventually worked its way out & all was well again. We finally made it to Belledune at around 19:00 & ended up knocking on the door of Suzanne. She took us down to her & her husband’s private seaside vacation trailer & we will sleep here tonight!
The lovely view from the seaside trailer!
If you can’t taste the sea on the air, hear its gulls on the shoals, see its boats in the harbour, or feel its stiff breeze on your face, you can certainly smell it! I’d say it’s official; we’ve made it to the Atlantic!
Tuesday, August 2 – Day of kindness
Awoke after a very restful sleep. Got our affairs in order, left a thank you note for Suzanne & Daniel, & headed out for an arduous, long, entire 6 minutes before being implored by a one Jean-Guy to come to his house for a barbecue. It was still really early & we were looking forward to a full day of walking, but Jean-Guy was so earnest we didn’t have the heart (or the stomachs!) to turn him down. He said he & his wife Betty would have loved to have had us last night & it was too bad it was so early in the day & really really wished we could come by & that it would be so special… how could we say no?! Fortunately, his house was down the road in the direction we were headed, & so we told him we would walk there & see him around lunch time.
As promised, we made it to Jean-Guy’s house around noon, where we also met Betty. After a few entertaining stories from Jean-Guy’s exciting younger days, Betty offered us showers, which we jumped at the chance for. They fed us hot dogs (!) & Jean-Guy gifted us a pack of gum, which we regrettably (though not unpredictably) forgot. We had a photo op in the kitchen & then we were off, with a lovely offer from Jean-Guy & Betty to call them at the end of the day so they could pick us up & spend the night there tonight.
After leaving Jean-Guy’s, we walked for about 8 minutes, someone stopped on the side of the road in their car & yelled out the window, “Have you had lunch yet?”. It turned out to be Suzanne & Daniel! We replied to their question, “Only once so far!” & they proceeded to take us out for sushi. We got to chatting with them & —
Interruption here: As we write our journals under the shade of a tree, a woman in a truck pulled up & asked us if we’d like some cold water. We ended up in her backyard, bottles full, & eating as many freezies as a Rambler’s heart could desire. We can’t even finish our journal entries about how nice people are because people keep interrupting us to be nice to us!
— heard about Daniel’s hitch-hiking days when he traveled all around Canada. Daniel told us he was treated to a meal a few times while hitching & it made a big difference to him. We promised to pay it forward & look forward to the days when we are in a position to meet & help other travelers as much as we’ve been helped. After lunch, we set out again. Found a payphone & called Mom to inquire about our package & couldn’t even manage to do that without a young man pulling up in his car & asking if we wanted to use his phone. After hanging up, we headed along uninterrupted for about 45 minutes until the Mr. Freeze incident noted above. Around late afternoon, we knocked on a door looking for water & got invited in for showers, which we quickly accepted (it had been really hot that day!)… two showers in one day! Ended up getting into town & ending the day in Bathurst. After a considerable struggle to find a pay phone, we got Jean-Guy on the phone and he & Betty dispatched themselves at once to come collect us. They fed us steak, rice & salad & put us directly to bed shortly after!
Today we were in a camper trailer, two houses, a restaurant, a pool shed, & took two showers… we’re not sure what to call it, but we’re sure it’s some sort of record.
Wednesday, August 3
Had a leisurely morning with Jean-Guy & Betty. Betty normally cooks, but Jean-Guy was so excited to have us over that he wanted to make breakfast himself. Eggs, toast & coffee before they took us back to Bathurst for groceries (mostly trail mix, which has been unreasonably hard to come by in Atlantic Canada!) before dropping us off again. It’s funny: in Ramble Canada Pt. 1, a town even smaller than Bathurst was a 2-day affair, restocking & resting up for the next leg ahead. Now we just cruise on by because we’ll find another in just a few days.
We walked for a while before stopping across from a house, to have lunch. We ended up being invited in by Luke & his wife to use the washroom and eat delicious tuna salad sandwiches prepared by his mother. It was awesome to be able to cool down… & we forgot how good a plain old tuna sandwich is!
After saying our good byes, we pressed on for several more kms before resting in the shade on someone’s lawn, where we were given some ice water. Near the end of the day, a man offered to put us up at a nearby campground. We politely turned down the uncooked meat pie he also offered us, but gratefully accepted his offer for the campground.
Thursday, August 4
Had a moderately good night – would have been a great night had it not been for the fact that we were camped between two men who snored like a pair of jackhammers. Ended up getting on the road later than we intended because of it, but didn’t worry because we intended to treat ourselves to a hotel when we arrived in Miramichi later that day.
Arrived with plenty of time to spare in the day & did a bit of research at the library (turns out that daddy long legs are more accurately called “harvestmen” & are classified as arachnids, but are not actually spiders!) & then headed out to do some chores (had to find a new book as we finished Dragonlance (Raistlin is actually Fistandandulus & wears the black robes!!) & ended up running into “Captain John”, an extremely friendly, giddy middle-aged man wearing a captain’s hat who runs a used book store & could not have been less interested in selling us a book; upon meeting us, he launched into a lesson about the “City of – Ville de – Miramichi” (“It’s the only town with a trilingual name in Canada!”), teaching taxidermy & photography development, military policies, glass versus plastic drinking vessels, women’s rights, & the difficulties of running a book store with a leaky roof. All this over water & cookies before getting us to sign his guest book & giving us an official City of – Ville de – Miramichi pin (!) (we have been collecting town & province pins from across the country) before sending us off. It was a rather whirlwind of an experience, but we thoroughly enjoyed his company all the same.
Made it to the hotel & got a room (with a king bed!! [that’s bigger than our tent!]) just before it started pouring & the wind nearly started snapping the trees in half. Dan treated me to a dinner of mussels & salmon before we settled in to watch the Blue Jays. What a great day!
Friday, August 5
Lazed about over complimentary breakfast & enjoyed our late check out at noon. Got fuel (I am sad about this [I carry the fuel!]) & new pencils. Did our hiking during the hottest part of the day. Crossed the river on the old bridge, now closed to cars but still used by pedestrians. It’s been a while since we’ve had the whole road to ourselves!
Stopped at a man’s house to see if we could rest in the shade. Ended up being invited in for showers & dinner, which was excellent. Dennis & his partner Linda are very kindly folks. I enjoyed listening to him talk about his carpentry work (he is apparently the person who introduced laminate flooring to Ontario from Europe). We also really enjoyed talking to Linda after dinner & showers. Soon after sundown, we were off to bed in the tent.
The book we picked up yesterday from the Salvation Army to replace Dragonlance is called The Dawn Riders. It is a terribly cheesy early 1800s wild west-style story written in the 1960s. Dan & I are, of course, loving it. In it, Sam Parker ploughs on ahead & really takes life’s trials & tribulations by the horns & unfalteringly comes out on top in a sort of Bear Grylls – meets – Sam Fisher mashup. There was an entire chapter dedicated to the play-by-play report of two hands of poker.
Satruday, August 6
A good, early start this morning after being treated to some peanut butter jam toast for breakfast. Got rained on pretty good for about an hour, but stayed dry (thanks in large part to our trusty shoe covers… & we actually managed to get a photo of them!) & had a mercifully cool walk for the morning.
Our super suave shoe covers!
From a distance they have the hilarious effect of simply looking like really sharp sneakers.
A hot afternoon, but we had shade to rest in. Ended up meeting a lovely woman, Joanne, during one of our breaks & she offered the use of her pool, which we actually didn’t accept because the weather was not so bad today. Finished our break & moved on only for Joanne to pull up about 5 minutes later with a “care package” of PB&J sandwiches, peaches, & peppermint candies! It was awesome.
At the end of our 30km walk, we met Kurt in his front yard. Kurt is kindly & soft spoken. He let us pitch the tent in the yard & invited us in for dinner & some tea (King Cole is the kind to have in New Brunswick)! He also gave us a fresh loaf of bread to take on the road! He also had a computer we could use, so we checked our shipment on Canada Post & it turns out it has arrived already! We will make a bee line for Kouchibouguack National Park tomorrow & spend a day there before moving on to St. Louis-de-Kent to get the package.
Sam Parker is traveling by foot tens of miles a day through the Texas panhandle, living off of sheer will alone, after being “kicked for sixty seconds straight” the night before.
ALSO! Our test photo-post cards worked! We can print photos we take, put an address & stamp on the back, & then send them in the mail!
Sunday, August 7
Woke up bright & early & were on the road by 7. Ate breakfast on the road & then got ourselves to the park with great success. Had a spectacularly Canadian conversation with a nice couple traveling by car: “Oh, hey dere, boys, dere’s a moose up dere on de road wit some little ones, eh?” “Oh yeah? Tanks for lettin us know, eh.” “Oh sure. Have a good one dere, boys!” (We never ended up seeing the moose, but genuinely appreciated the warning).
Arrived around 10 or 10:30 & went about reserving a site at Côte-à-Fabien & spent the afternoon on a pleasant 12km hike to the campsite on the shores of Kouchibouguac Bay. Aired our gear out in camp, ate a very tasty pasta dinner, & wrote out the post cards we bought at the park office.
We are aiming to be at the St. Louis-de-Kent post office tomorrow to pick up our package & so we are racing through the 150-page saga of Sam Parker & the Dawn Riders before we get Anne of Green Gables in the mail (Dan hasn’t read it & we will be in PEI in about a week!). Wes Cogner has been shot dead, & so it’s probably time for Sam Parker to have a wicked shootout to set things right.
Picked up a hot tip today that a place called “Fred’s” in Cap-Pelé is the place to get fried clams & that Shediac has the best lobster. We’ve put them on the route! Lobster season opens on Tuesday, so we’re pretty excited.
We saw tons of lobster traps being trucked down the roads to the harbours, getting ready for opening day!
Monday, August 8
A good day, though I didn’t feel great & was very tired. Early in the morning, we reached St. Louis-de-Kent & reached the very friendly Canada Post office & received our parcel! It contained new insoles (we often have a hard time finding the ones we want when we want them), lots of dehydrated sauce (thanks Ron & Darcy!), & lots of snacks, including some sweet blueberry cookies (thanks, Mom!). We also received Anne of Green Gables, so we had to finish the Dawn Riders. Several people, mostly folks on the bad team, got shot & Sam Parker is now in a relationship he may or may not be interested in. Never really any mention of any “Dawn Riders”, so we’re not really sure what that was supposed to be about, but we loved the book at any rate.
Did some grocery shopping, met some very friendly folks in town, including one man who said he was happy to see “people out living their lives & not just absorbed in their phones”, which is always encouraging. Also met a father-son team in a car. The dad looked like Doc from back-to-the-future, & the son looked like John Cena from WWE. They were super stoked to hear about the trip, and we really enjoyed chatting with them.
Set out for a short 12km walk. We sent the Katadyn & one fuel bottle home since we haven’t used them since Ontario, but my pack still felt really heavy. Ended up at a lawless municipal campground for the night, where site numbers are mere suggestions. We pitched the tent between 5 large, sturdy trees so that whoever drives onto our site next can’t possibly hit us. We will try & get a very early start on tomorrow because we have to do about 5km on big highway 11 to start, including a narrow bridge crossing.
Tuesday, August 9
A good day today. Woke up at 5, out of camp by 6. Found a shortcut onto the highway, which helped us save 2km on our highway stretch. Ate breakfast after getting off of 11. Had a good 25km walk, although our packs felt heavy.
Ended up ending earlier than we expected in Buctouche. Got told a few times to go eat at Pirate de la Mer, & on our way over, a man pulled up in a mini van & wanted to ask us about our walking poles for a presentation he is giving next month at his physiotherapy clinic.
At Pirate de la Mer, we had a lobster roll dinner (which is, as we learned, flaked lobster meat on a hot dog bun) & they gave us a free order of fried clams. It was great! Checked out the hotel in town & ended up getting the honeymoon suite for the lowest legal price provincially. Drank New Brunswick beer out of the champagne flutes (we’re a fan of the blueberry stuff) while we soaked our sore bones in the jacuzzi tub & watched the Jays game. Probably a first for the use of a honeymoon suite in such a manner, but it suited us just fine. Felt great to have showers & we are excited to sleep in a bed tonight & eat continental breakfast tomorrow!
Wednesday, August 10
A bad start today, but all’s well that ends well. Woke up tired & got a late start. Ended up derping around & got cornered onto highway 11 because of some very poor timing with a construction crew. We had to laugh despite the situation. Walked a not terrible 15km down the highway & ended up finding a nice side road off of the highway where we met a very Newfie Newfoundlander. Asked him for water & he was really excited to hear about our “wackin'” trip. Gave us lots of information on the road ahead & we took his side road back over to the secondary road we intended to be on today. Ended the day at the home of Simmone the painter & her husband, who never gave us his name. Put the tent in their backyard & then came in for showers, a bucketful of blueberries, & a couple of innings of baseball before settling in for a comfy night.
Thursday, August 11
Had a decently early start the day. Got into Shediac just before it started pouring & holed ourselves up at the visitor information center (they did not have a lot of information; the town library across the road is news to the guy working there) until the rain let off. Made our way over to the library for some visitor information & learned that the place to eat lobster was next door. Headed on over there & proceeded to dismantle a lobster with about as much tact & grace as we had with the rotisserie chicken at Craig & Rob’s in Kenora. It was a blast, the lobster was delicious, & we got souvenir bibs that we plan to send home!
Continued walking past Parlee Beach (regrettably) because of the weather & ended up knocking on the door of Danie & Emery, an active couple who have over the years had cyclists, illegal car campers, a family of 5 traveling the world in a horse & carriage (which sounded like a whole heap of trouble), & now us walkers all show up at their place, looking for a place to spend the night. We pitched the tent in the backyard & then they took us to Parlee Beach to go swimming (!!) as the weather had cleared up!
After swimming, we had showers (!), did laundry (!!), & got invited for dinner! The tale of Baxter was a hit. Off to bed nice & squeaky clean. Made a foolish mistake this afternoon. Set up the tent & as it had stopped raining, we set out our packs & all our stuff to dry out. We forgot about them until after dinner, by which time a heavy dew had settled on them. Emery was kind enough to let us re-dry them in the garage.
We are really happy we got to swim at Parlee Beach. The water is so warm there & it was great seeing all the hermit crabs scuttling around under the water. We certainly fit the part of a couple of non-seafaring folk.
We borrowed clothes & bathing suits to go to the beach… did you notice?
Friday, August 12
After a good night, ate some delicious croissants thanks to Dani & then said our goodbyes. Set out walking, finally going East again, instead of South. Around 10 it started to rain & so we got out our gear to keep dry. The shoe covers have once again performed phenomenally; an entire day of drizzle with a few downpours & our feet are still dry at the end of the day. It makes all the difference.
Stopped under the shelter of a post office awning to plan out a route & keep dry when an old man in a truck pulled up & said he saw us a few kms down the road. He was really impressed with the walk & gave us $50! It was a great morale boost. Finally made it to Cap-Pelé & found Fred’s. Stopped in for some fried clams (delicious) & a woman there who was also impressed by the walk gave us $10! Walked on only a few kms more before deciding to stop. We have another long stretch of highway 15 to do, & once we get out on it there will be no stopping so we decided to save it for tomorrow. It will be much more pleasant if the road dries out.
Ended up in the backyard of Neri & his wife, both very friendly. They are both retired teachers. Neri is very excited about us & has an intense need to be involved, and is actually quite helpful. He’s got us set up in his shed drying our stuff out & seated at a patio set we moved in here. once we were set up, he was off to Tim Horton’s to get us hot chocolates & timbits while his wife made us grilled cheese sandwiches. It is clearing up now & we are in a good position for tomorrow.
Saturday, August 13 – Last day in New Brunswick
Surprise! We are in Prince Edward Island!!
This was the first chilly night on this side of summer. After Neri made another Timmies run & after eating egg salad sandwiches (a lifetime first, let alone a Ramble Canada first) for breakfast thanks to his wife, we were on our way with many well wishes. We made it through the highway stretch with minimal issues & were en route to Murray Beach Provincial Park. The mosquitoes have returned in full force, possibly due in part to the recent rain & cooler (~25º) temperatures, so breaks were short & infrequent but luckily our packs are pretty light these days.
We took a break where a dad & his 12-year-old son were working in the yard; as we approached, the son aged 30 years into a grown man & was actually a husband. We had a very pleasant chat with this man of eternal youth & enjoyed swapping tales about time spent in Northern Canada.
After break, we soon arrived at Murray Beach Provincial Park, where we had thought to possibly camp, but discovered that it was really a trailer campground, so we merely read a few chapters of Green Gables before moving on.
On another break, we were hailed by a friendly passer-by named Carly, and energetic & outgoing recent university grad. She & her boyfriend are preparing for the “Big Swim” tomorrow (a swimming event from Cape Jourimain, NB to Borden-Carleton, PE beneath the Confederation Bridge) where her boyfriend is going to be a support kayak.
We thought to camp in a yard before the big highway junction before the Bridge but we suppose we blinked & ended up only ~5 kms away & so decided to just go it & get ourselves to the Island! Although we only travel 6km/hr, we still manage to surprise ourselves sometimes! We’d been looking across the water at PEI’s shoreline & the Confederation Bridge all afternoon so it was an exciting prospect that we would now reach it tonight.
Approaching the Confederation Bridge!
Look! A road sign that actually addresses Ramblers!
The Bridge as seen from Cape Jourimain’s lookout tower.
A lovely marsh along the approach to the Bridge.
We walked the 2kms to “Cape Jourimain”, a sort of tourist information center, & scheduled our bridge shuttle pickup because they would not allow pedestrians on the bridge. The shuttle is a pretty neat thing; it is on-call 24/7/365 & it was dispatched just for us. After the 10-minute shuttle, we were left in the “Gateway Village” of Borden-Carleton, where we did some info mining, ate some Subway, & got some photos at the PEI sign before heading off on the Confederation Trail.
Sunday, August 14
We quickly made our way out of the Potato Quality Inspection sector (for those not familiar with Prince Edward Island, it is famous for its delicious, delicious potatoes!) & into a residential area. Darkness was fast approaching so we started looking for a place to sleep. Got our first straight-up rejection for putting the tent in the yard at the first house we asked. It was a lovely-looking house with nice flowers around it, a welcome sign, & a friendly cat in the window. We guess our judgement was off because instead of the nice people we were expecting, we got a gruff-looking man who gave us a curt “nope”, though he did thank us all the same (you’re welcome?). We’re happy he turned us down because it meant we ended up knocking on the door of Shelley & Ted. We didn’t know it at the time, but Shelley & Ted were exactly who we needed!
Shelley & Ted were very amused by us (“Honey, you’d better come look at this…!”) & generously let us put the tent in the yard. They are both very laid-back & giving. Shelley is so kind & giving & procured a number of useful things for us (you’re welcome, Ramble Parents: Shelley’s the reason we’ve got SPOT batteries!). Ted is friendly & thoughtful and chuckles away at the idea of our ridiculous adventure. We got to have showers (!) & Shelley fed us snacks (including cheese!) before bed. We expect rain tonight & have set the tent accordingly.
Lots of rain today & we realized we haven’t taken a rest day since Québec, so Shelley & Ted have let us stay another day & rest our feet. Shelley fed us a great
spread for breakfast: fruit, yogurt, English muffins, & about 30 blueberry muffins each. It was awesome! Dan & I settled in the tent for a morning of map gazing & route planning. PEI is hilariously small & we think we are going to have a great time here. The Confederation Trail (PEI’s contribution to the Trans Canada Trail)
runs along all the old railway beds & spans most of the province. We will take it whenever we can & enjoy it immensely.
Scenes seen along the Trail.
This is the strangest-looking cow we’ve ever seen.
The very picturesque central Island.
Spent the afternoon nursing our poor feet (Dan popped a blister that’s been starting to bother him) & watching the Blue Jays game, which was a lot of fun & a great way to spend our rest day.
Shelley & Ted treated us to dinner from “Scopes”, a gourmet fast food take-out restaurant & it was delicious. Chatted a bunch over dinner & told some stories (Baxter was again a hit), which was really nice.
Before bed, Ted told us he was really happy we had stopped by. He said they went from slightly apprehensive to us making their weekend. Unlike our hosts, we don’t have anything material to give & we always feel good when the people we find along the way feel like they have gotten something from us too.
Off to bed shortly after dinner. We are looking forward to the Confederation Trail tomorrow!
Monday, August 15
Walked ~30 km along the Trail today after a massive breakfast thanks once again to Shelley. Fairly uneventful day. Trail was nice & soft underfoot with regular benches to take breaks on.
Ended the the day in Fredericton, near the highest point on the Island (153m) Stopped at a kindly-looking house & met Mike, a retired truck driver, who immediately invited us in & offered his lawn for us to pitch our tent on. We also met awesome neighbour John & furry pal Baxter- we mean Rocket (we have a tendency to call every golden retriever “Baxter” by accident now). John is a very nice man who insisted on bringing over some of his potatoes & cooking them for us, & Rocket is your typical slap-happy golden retriever who insisted on bringing over his teddy. We had showers, watched some baseball, & generally chatted before John took our photo in Mike’s kitchen, gave us some “PEI sea glass” (glass shards that have been worn smooth by the wave action of the ocean), & we went to bed. We will reach Cavendish tomorrow!
Tuesday, August 16
Awoke to heavy dew on the tent so we had breakfast in Mike’s kitchen before packing up. Headed over to John’s to say goodbye to him & Rocket, but they weren’t up yet.
Had an uneventful but pleasant 20km walk to the national park along some highways & “heritage roads”- nicely treed, old, red dirt roads that wound their way through the hilly central Island. My pinky toe blister made a formidable comeback, much to our chagrin.
Got to the park only to discover it was full, & was also $30 for a tent site (very expensive for a park, but they seem to get more and more expensive as we go South and East). Tired and annoyed at how full & overpriced the park was, we phoned around a bit & found a “tourist room”, which we learned is basically just a bedroom & shared bathroom in the home of a nearby independent campground owner for only $10 more than the National Park. For an extra $10, we upgraded from a piece of dirt to a roof, plumbing, use of a kitchen, a bed, & the ability to catch the Jays game! Great value & a great ending to a stressful evening.
Wednesday, August 17
Torrential rain this morning, so we took our time making breakfast & packing up (I somehow managed to lose my hiking pants for several hours, which didn’t help) before donning our shoe covers – which performed spectacularly once again – & making our way down a nice path to the Green Gables house (we finished the book yesterday!). The rain meant that the house was much less busy; a staff member said today there had been less than 1000 people whereas usually there are 2000-3000 visitors a day! It was a great way to spend a poor-weather day & the rain even let up while we walked Lover’s Lane & the Haunted Woods.
Had a tough time deciding what to do with the rest of the day because we really wanted to hike a coastal trail through the National Park, but the weather was really poor & it would end us in a disadvantageous position for the night. Decided to head back head back to the tourist room. We are now cozy & warm, drying our stuff in the room, watching the afternoon Jays game. This will get us a good start tomorrow on the trail & are happy we will be able to take photos along it in the good weather tomorrow.
Thursday, August 18
A day of emotional ups & downs today. Woke up in the tourist home & put the room key in our pocket; this was not discovered until much later in the day. Got off on the wrong foot because Dan snored in my ear for much of the night. I was up from 4:00 because of it, & in unrelated news, Dan was also up from 4:00 because his ribs kept getting jabbed. Luckily, we are good at being tired without being upset with each other.
Walked along the North shore through the park & out to North Rustico. My pinky blister is not good, so something will have to be done about that. At the Green Gables site yesterday we saw a quote from L.M. Montgomery that Northern PEI is a land of “ruby, sapphire and emerald”, & it’s a very accurate description; the landscape is bursting with vivid reds, greens, & blues.
Throughout the day, we made our way through the various scenic Rusticos, including Rustico, North Rustico, Rusticoville & South Rustico, but not including Anglorustico through no fault of its own; we’re sure it’s still very rustic.
Attempted to eat mussles & oysters in North Rustico, but somehow didn’t manage to find any despite being told this was the place to eat them. Ended up eating fried hake, which we’d never had before, so at least we got to try something new. It was nice & flaky; very similar to cod.
Decided to push on past New Glasgow & over the Wheatley River, despite my blister being extremely painful. Donned my camp shoes to alleviate the pressure on it & was was considerably better off so away we went. It threatened to rain, but as we are Weather Wizard Adepts now, we could see that it was merely a bluff.
Soon happened across a used bookstore on the side of the highway & ducked inside to exchange our classic Frank Gruber & his Night Riders for Agatha Christie’s Hickory Dickory Dock. We’ve never read this one before & are looking forward to it because it started out very plainly (quite unlike many of her stories), so we’re curious to know what the catch is.
A few kms down the road, we saw two cyclists unlike any cyclists we’d ever seen before. They were on all-terrain bikes (as opposed to they typical road bikes of the other long-distance cyclists we’ve seen) & wore backpacking packs just like ours, except a good foot and a half wider. They were loaded down & top heavy & looked very uncomfortable. We wondered why they didn’t have pannier packs on their bikes, which, we think, would have made their journey much easier on them. We regretted not making them stop to talk to us (we really wanted to know what the heck they were doing), but they were on an uphill & we just couldn’t bear the thought of making them stop their momentum. Usually we’re the ones who get the strange looks, so it was funny for us to be on the looking end of that for once!
Walked on for quite a while after that & ended up feeling good & making great time to a neighbourhood just on the outskirts of Charlottetown. Attempted to get a room at the Motel 8 we’d been planning to stay at since New Brunswick, as we’d had a good deal offered on a room. We thought it would be nice because we could check in, leave our gear there tomorrow, & then get all our chores done in Charlottetown tomorrow unencumbered. As our luck would have it, we’ve apparently arrived on the eve of one of the biggest event days in the city, & as a result, literally every accommodation was full up. It is the “Gold Cup & Saucer parade” as part of Charlottetown’s “Old Home Week” celebration. Ended up in quite a tight spot without a place to sleep & so headed off down a nearby residential street in search of aid.
After being turned down by a house we asked to put the tent in the yard of & being told “I don’t think anyone here will let you do that”, we were immediately taken in by Paula & Gary of 5 houses down. It seems a bit more difficult to find friendly people in large cities, but we still find more than enough wonderful folks without too much trouble.
Gary is a retired firefighter & Paula works at the hospital. They were very quick to welcome us & invite us in for showers. They also insisted we phone our mothers, which was nice, & we’re sure our mothers appreciated! Afterwards, we set up the tent & watched a BIG thunderstorm roll in. We jumped into the tent before the rain hit & settled in with our mysterious mystery novel. All set to have a comfy cozy night, listening to the storm hammering on the tent. Finally going to get a real blog post done at the library tomorrow!!
Friday, August 19
A very frustrating day today. Woke up bright-eyed & bushy-tailed all ready for a big day at the library. Charlottetown’s library, however, must have heard we were in town because despite their posted hours stating they were indeed open all day, they were, of course, closed. So that took just about all the wind out of our sails right off the bat. We ended up meeting a journalist who was also trying to use the library today. She was interested in our story & interviewed us. We also saw a passer-by during the interview who also wanted to use the library. He became very upset when we told him it was closed & he told us that parades “make him hostile.” So at least all that made our big trip to the library worthwhile & interesting.
Figured we’d head over to the Charlottetown visitor center so they could help us with all the town-related things we had wanted to research at the library. After locating their building, we found a sign informing us they had moved. Once we found it, we also found that they were, of course, also closed.
Very frustrated at this point, we had a good success with Canada Post, where we managed to send a package home & mail the room key we wandered off with back to its rightful owner. The worker there also looked up some information we had wanted to ask the library and then the visitor center. Another solid performance by Canada Post! We have always found the folks that work there to be cheerful & helpful, which is especially nice on days like today.
Decided to head off to lunch after that & walked over to East Side Mario’s, where they informed us that the points we wanted to use for a free meal were, of course, invalid at that particular location. Trail mix for lunch, then. Managed to buy groceries from a place that both sells food & was open. Tried to fill up our water bottle at a store to no avail. We cannot express how frustrated we were by this point! We had had all these various tasks on our list since leaving Miramichi, and Charlottetown was letting us down big time.
Made our way to Sporting Intentions, where we found some people who were willing and able to take our business! Got some water tablets (for just in case since we sent the Katadyn home), Campsuds, & some pack rain cover re-proofer since mine has started leaking slightly (it has performed admirably since Inuvik). We also spotted some insoles, but since we didn’t have my shoes (I wore my camp shoes to let my blister calm down a bit), we decided to come back tomorrow. Gary & Paula are letting us stay for another day & have a do-over tomorrow, thank goodness! Despite how difficult Charlottetown turned out to be, everything was only frustrating, instead of stressful, because we knew we had a safe place to sleep tonight. It makes a huge difference!
Spent a relaxing evening winding down eating lots of veggies (we were craving them!) & watching the Blue Jays. They also had a frustrating day, but there’s always tomorrow!
Saturday, August 20
Gary gave us a lift downtown today & we had a nice, relaxing walk around town before everyone else was up. The library was open, but guest use was limited to an hour each, to our extreme disappointment. Managed to do the research we wanted to do & got about half the blog post done. Ran into some difficulty trying to buy lunch from a store downtown, but finally managed to find a store that both sold food and had it in stock. We are sure Charlottetown is nice, but we are also sure we’ve caught it on a few very poor days. We’re ready to be on our way now.
Went to Sporting Intentions again & got new insoles with great arch support. Our feet feel great again! Spent some time working on the blog back at Gary & Paula’s house while we hung around in the backyard wearing our shoes. Now we are eating soup for dinner & finishing up this blog post. Laundry is on downstairs, we’ve got full bellies, our tent is safely tucked away in the backyard, & we’ve got a pair of dogs sleeping at our feet. Life is good!
Whew! It’s good to finally have all of this up. Sorry again for the length & the long wait. Hopefully we can give another good update while we’re in Nova Scotia before (dare we say it?!) reaching Newfoundland!