By Ken DeLaat
Photos by Lil and Ken DeLaat
Why Prince Edward Island?
Well, why not? After all we had never been there.
Of course we’ve never been to Tristan da Cunha nor even made a brief sojourn or two to places like Shreveport or Dubuque but to my knowledge Lucille Maud Montgomery never wrote about any of those places and Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil, an Anne of Green Gables fan, had always talked about seeing the land Ms. M. wrote so charmingly of.
Thus we decided a trip to PEI would be a welcome respite from the rigors of the monarch ministry Lil has embraced, so once the care of the winged wonders was temporarily placed in the capable hands of our daughter we embarked on this latest adventure.
I’ve never read the book nor any of her rather extensive anthology of novels but, being always up for travel, the notion of exploring a heretofore unvisited section of the continent was appealing.
True to form I did very little research, preferring to arrive without preconceived notions. Well, other than arranging for a place to stay via one of the scads of sites specializing in such things and ensuring we would be near the locale of the various Anne attractions.
The trip began with a rather rocky and twice delayed flight to Halifax that arrived far past midnight. Now, while I despise flying more because of the time sequestered in a floating tin can of germs and the seemingly amped up entitlement of so many fellow passengers the idea of air travel doesn’t bother me in the least. But you know, when you’re already tired, boarded late due to some mechanical issues, and have been called back from the runway hearing the following from the pilot does not inspire a great deal of peace of mind.
“The plane has been making a strange noise but the mechanics have checked it out and they couldn’t find anything so we’re going to go ahead and give it a go.”
Ok, I thought. Who are these mechanics? Are they as tired as I am right now or are they 3rd shifters who are always tired and often crabby?
But fatigue can do wonders when it comes to allaying fears because all you really want to do is not be awake anymore.
And, hey, we made it.
After an overnight stay at the usual ubiquitous and unquestionably consistent chain hotel and the morning pickup of a rental car (that turned out to be a BMW of all things) we headed north for the island crossing the 9 mile (yes 9 miles) Continental Bridge and setting foot...well, tires I guess...in Prince Edward Island.
Color me stunned.
PEI is perhaps one of the most enchanting and beguiling places my eyes have ever been privileged to take in. It hasn’t the majesty of Lake Louise, nor the breathtaking vistas we have witnessed in the west and there aren’t the tropical paradise scenes like one finds in Kauai or the intriguing atmosphere of the pre hyper-developed Florida Keys.
But it is a drop dead gorgeous assemblage of geography that stole our hearts and made for a memorable week in this absolute jewel in the crown of our northern neighbor.
After the obligatory visit to several AOGG places of interest the remainder of the time was spent exploring this idyllic corner of the Maritimes. The capital city of Charlottetown with its bustling harbor area is awash with art, music, history and theater to be sure but it is beyond the town where one captures the spirit of the island. Rolling hills reveal pastoral settings and a rugged coastline that allows for miles of walking without the looming presence of high rise condos.
Our headquarters for the exploration was just outside the little burg of New Glasgow and the rather random selection of a B & B turned out to be a fortuitous one indeed. The Farmhouse Inn promised elegant country comfort and a more accurate description could not be conceived. We were welcomed to this exquisite temporary residence by Brent and Lisa the couple who own and operate the Inn as well as by the exceedingly sociable Arlo a fine canine specimen who accompanied us on our walks around the 50 acre homestead...walks that provided wonderful areas for quiet contemplation and relaxation.
This most congenial couple advised on the best local eateries including a harbor hugging haven for great food known as The Blue Mussel. TBM takes no reservations and folks begin lining up by late afternoon to experience the wonderfulness of their epicurean offerings. Among these delights one finds a bread pudding that can only be described as culinary perfection.
Lisa and Brent were the ideal hosts, provided many helpful hints as well as inside info about the island and were perhaps the most personable proprietors of any B&B we have visited over the years.
Their breakfast meals were sublime, the rooms were sunlit and airy and (huge bonus) there were bite-sized chocolates (good ones) at nearly every turn in the house.
We visited a gallery called The Dunes per their recommendation and found the never ending collection of intriguing artwork well worth the stopover to be sure. Particularly because through the back of the building we were treated to the most magnificent gardens I can ever recall having walked through and despite possessing a memory that might be a stretch to be even labeled as marginal, it is hard to imagine any place more impressive. Awash with innovative statuary and wooden sculptures of pure wonder The Dunes gardens held us captive for many hours with its serene tranquility and lush beauty.
While the island was populated with a sprinkling of September tourists it quickly became obvious that the summer months are a time when tourists inundate the PEI paradise as evidenced by the sea of places near the Anne site that cater to travelers with kids. There are amusement centers and the usual tourist trappings throughout the area around Cavendish all closed with the arrival of fall.
A word about the Anne of Green Gables phenomena. As I mentioned I had never read the book(s) but it quickly became obvious the hold Ms. Montgomery’s little heroine has on those who have. When we visited the house and grounds that inspired her stories the magic produced in her novels came alive in the faces of the travelers who had made the trek to PEI . The trail leading to the ‘haunted woods’ and ‘shimmering pond’ as well as our visit to Sugarbush and the china cabinet where her imaginary friend Katie Maurice resided produced a reaction of rapt wonderment in the legion of Anne lovers.
And as a non reader I found myself fascinated by her life story and the arduous journey required by any female author of her day.
We may never return to PEI since there are so many places we wish to visit in our retirement years (albeit perhaps not the aforementioned Tristan da Cunha), but this little piece of paradise and the captivating charm of the Farmhouse Inn and its owners will remain ensconced in our remembrance with the utmost fondness.
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