We went to Prince Edward Island in November for “oh, a day or so.” Just off the bridge, in Gateway Village, an “olde towne” of new buildings with tourist services and shops, we get a map. We decide to turn left to Summerside and the North Cape Trail around the west coast. “Then we can do the centre Green Gables Trail then go to Charlottetown. That’s probably all we’ve got time for,” I said confidently.
Three days later, we emerge back at the bridge from the northwest. We never got to Charlottetown or anywhere remotely Anne of Green Gables-ish. We didn’t even fully circumnavigate the west coast. But, oh, what we did see!
At Union Corner, an old school turned antique store, closed and for sale. We can see the end of the side road, at the coast. There is a provincial park, closed for winter, and a lovely shoreline for dogs to run on. Leo got his first mouthful of salt water – didn’t like it, but loved the beach and the grassy meadows.
Sunset in Mont Carmel, a tiny Acadian village with a huge church. Jim experimented with a 360º camera setting and I perused the map for motel chances. Didn’t seem likely, but drive on, I thought. After dark, we stopped at a gas station. The guys inside got a good laugh when asked about places to stay. Not outside tourist season, they said, only in Summerside.
Retracing our path next day. More Notre Dame du Mont Carmel photography and a walk through the graveyard. Driving west, past a lighthouse made out of bottles. Later, in the tourist guide, I saw it was part of The Bottle House, chosen by AMEX as a “world destination.” It was closed for the season anyway.
West and north-west, photography and dog stops, feeling like long-distance travelers and a look at the map – we’ve gone barely any distance. Inland to the four-laner, heading north. We miss the coast furthest west doing this, but go back to it before Skinner’s Pond.
Skinner’s Pond, stomping grounds of Stompin’ Tom Connors. The school house has been restored as a museum with his help. Closed. In a field kitty-corner, two young horses play with a dog. Dog darts toward them, stops, horses jump back then dance forward toward the dog. Over and over.
On up to the North Cape. A lighthouse and wind farm on a spit of land, it is spectacular. Probably crawling with people in summer, but we were alone to explore, feel the wind, watch the sea.
South on the other side: a gentler beauty than the windblown glory only a few kilometers west. Malpeque Bay gives shelter. Overnight in Alberton, a beautiful town with a choice of four restaurants and several local shops. Another full day brings us back to Confederation Bridge.
“Closed for season” signs are a clue to how busy PEI is in summer. I liked it when we were there – places to stay and eat may be scarce but it’s not far back to Summerside, at least on the main highway. The places and scenery are breathtakingly beautiful, I think, any time of year.