Thursday, 25 July 2013

Summer Vacation in PEI, Return Home and 3 Month Check Up

I tried to keep up with the blog while on holidays and on a regular basis.  As seems to be my habit now, I was too busy enjoying living and experiencing the numerous moments of joy to sit down at my laptop and update the blog.  I'm home now and will try to do justice to my wonderful holiday in Prince Edward Island.

On our second day in PEI, July 10, my friend and I went to see the matinee showing of "Anne, The Musical" in Charlottetown.  We wandered around the downtown before the matinee.  In downtown Charlottetown, there is a bench with a statue of Sir John A. MacDonald sitting on it with his top hat beside him.  There's room on the bench for people to sit beside him.  As many of the tourists seem to do, I sat down beside Sir John A.  As I turned towards the statue, it really seemed to be looking right through to my soul.  I decided to try to look romantically at him but couldn't pull it off and ended up throwing my head back and laughing instead.  My friend captured that moment on camera.  After wandering a bit more, we headed to Confederation Place to watch "Anne, The Musical".  This is a musical about Anne of Green Gables.  What a wonderful afternoon it was!  Since music is so much a part of my being, it is not surprising that I love musicals for the singing and orchestral performances.  However, I also love musicals for the live dance and the bold colours.  The acting in "Anne" drew me right into the story.  During the performance, my emotions ran the gamut.  I laughed at Anne's antics and joie de vivre.  I empathized with her bouts of being teased for her red hair.  Those moments brought back my own memories of starting kindergarten and being teased for having red hair.  I smiled as Anne earned a scholarship.  I had slow tears leak out as Matthew died.  My friend was comforted to know that she wasn't the only one affected by that scene in the play.  It was a grand afternoon.  On our way back to my friend's home, we saw that a cruise ship was anchored in the Charlottetown harbour.  We also visited my friend's favourite vegetable stand on the way "home".

On July 11, our friends took us on another tour of the area that they live in.  This time we saw a canning factory that their relatives own and operate.  As we drove by the factory, we saw the leftover shells from crab being dumped into blue bins by a conveyor belt.  Once the bins were full, they were moved to a manure spreader to be spread on local fields for fertilizer.  Nothing is wasted!  The factory cans crab, lobster and scallops but also packages them in vacuum-sealed plastic and flash frozen to keep the meat fresh.

On July 12, my husband and I struck out on our own to drive the East Coastal Drive.  In the tourism literature, Prince Edward Island is divided into 3 sections (East Coastal Drive, Central Coast Drive and West Coastal Drive) with circular routes for tourists to sightsee and experience the various areas of the island.  We left our friends' home and drove east towards Woods Island which is where the ferry arrives from Nova Scotia.  We followed the highway all along the coast.  I took lots of photographs as we saw cliffs that are eroding away.  We stopped at Cape Bear Head where we toured our first lighthouse of the holidays.  This particular lighthouse has been moved back from the crumbling cliff once already.  The original site is no longer there due to the erosion.  The current site is also right on the edge of the cliff and we were informed that the lighthouse will be moved back another 250 feet in the Fall of 2013.  As we returned to our van, we saw a small white car emblazoned with the bright green word "GOOGLE" across the sides.  On top of the car was a large video camera.  We saw this same car at the Holiday Inn Suites Hotel in Moncton, New Brunswick when we stayed there.  The car is obviously collecting images to update Google Earth and Google Maps.  My husband had passed this car on July 10 on the way back to our friends' home from his round of golf.  We continued our leisurely drive up the east coast of PEI.  The water was always within view even if it was in the distance on the right with potato fields in the foreground.  Our next stop was at Panmure Island.  This island is connected to PEI by a small causeway.  There is a public beach as well as another lighthouse.  We stopped, took pictures of the lighthouse and wandered along the beach.  The sand was still very red at this point.  When we climbed back into the van, my husband was concerned that we had better stop "dallying" and take a more direct route to our destinations which included the Singing Sands in Basin Head and then on to East Point.  We stopped for a late lunch at Souris, PEI which is a large town from where a huge ocean going ferry arrives and departs for Ile de Madeleine.  We ate at a place called the Sheltered Harbour Café.  I enjoyed a cup of clam chowder along with an oyster po' boy.  It was very enjoyable as we had a window seat where we could see the vehicles being loaded onto the ferry.  On we went with our tour.  Our next stop was at Basin Head where we walked along a white sand beach which is called Singing Sands.  As we walked on the dry sand, there was definitely a different sound with our footsteps.  We wondered "Is this the Singing Sands?"  As we walked, we saw the ferry from Souris out in the Northumberland Strait.  Then we heard the waves making a very different sound than I've ever heard waves make before.  The waves "chattered" as they travelled along the shore.  Was this the Singing Sands phenomena?  We still don't know but it was interesting none the less.  After enjoying a leisurely stroll in the heat, we returned to our van and continued on up the coast to East Point.  Here we saw our third lighthouse of the day.  East Point is the most eastern point of Prince Edward Island.   It is hear that the waves from the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait meet almost perpendicularly.  It was very windy and very interesting.  As it appears with all cliffs in PEI, there were signs warning of the danger of crumbling edges along with fences to keep people away from the edge.  After wandering around and taking even more pictures, we returned to the van for our trek back to Flat River.  That evening, we went to the Belfast Community Centre for a Kitchen Party.  Our friend plays guitar in the "house band".  It was an enjoyable evening with east coast music.  The house band played for a bit and then opened up the stage and mikes to anyone who wanted to perform.  One person was from our city in Ontario.  He was very good and we discovered later that we've heard his band play a number of years ago at one of our favourite haunts in our town.  A lady played her accordion which I really enjoyed.  There was another local lady that performed impromptu step dancing to the music.  These were the highlights for me.

On July 13, all of us (our friends included) hopped into our van and we drove to South Granville to go to Island Winds where the owner creates wind chimes.  Along the way, we ended up driving down another Heritage Road.  It was beautiful as the sun shone through the canopy of trees and created dappled sunlight on the red clay road.  The artist at Island Winds has transformed an old barn into his studio.  Our friends bought a wind chime from this gentleman many years ago.  During our visit, we saw his son assembling a wind chime.  I bought one that is in the key of C.  The pendulum is a blue stained glass circle that is encircled by metal to protect it.  The glass looks like waves on the sea.  Visually, the wind chime is very peaceful but the sound of the chimes is also very serene.  The chimes have found a home on my patio.  They gently and softly chime away while I work in the garden or while I sit in my glider on the patio watching the various birds and wildlife in  my backyard.  After visiting Island Winds, we drove through Cavendish on our way to Rustico Beach where we climbed out of the van and strolled along the boardwalk from the harbour all the way along the inlet to the beach.  Again, I took lots of pictures which included old wharfs, a blue heron, plovers, lupins, sea grass and beautiful views.  On our way to Cavendish, we stopped in Stanley Bridge where we had lunch at Carr's Oyster Bar.  I had the clam chowder which was very good.  Again, we had a wonderful view of the marina across the river.  As we ate, we watched children jumping off the bridge and swimming to shore.  We also saw fishing charters going out of the marina along with tour boats.  I found it really interesting to see the neat rows of mussel lines in the water.  After visiting Rustico Beach, we continued on our way to New Glasgow where we were going to have dinner at the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers.  We arrived in New Glasgow very early so we went to the PEI Preserves Company.  What an interesting array of various preserves!!  If you ever get the opportunity, this is a nice place to visit and do some shopping.  It was very, very warm this day and we cut short our walk through their Garden of Hope.  Regardless of the heat, in my opinion, New Glasgow is a gem nestled in the valley of the surrounding hills.  It is a quaint village with beautiful green space.  Finally we went in to the New Glasgow Lobster Supper!  This is another event that was on my "must do" list on our trip to PEI.  So, of course, I had lobster.  The dinner started off with the most wonderfully fresh baked rolls.  Then we had PEI mussels.  Did I mention the rolls and mussels were all you can eat?!  Then we had our seafood chowder.  Again this was all you can eat.  Next was our salad plate which included coleslaw, garden salad and potato salad.  Now it was time for the LOBSTER!!  It was so good and fresh!  My husband had scallops instead because he doesn't like the effort needed to get to the lobster meat.  We finished our meals off with dessert and coffee.  My husband had the lemon meringue pie which was "to die for".  I had a walnut cake which was also very good.  I think I have forgotten to mention that throughout our holiday we have shared wonderful bouts of laughter with our friends!  This particular day was more of the same.

July 14, we crossed off another  one of my "living list" items.  I have always wanted to go clam digging ever since my family took me to PEI when I was 12.  It was something I wanted to do way back then but we never did.  Our friends took us to the backshore in the morning while the tide was out.  What fun I had digging in the red mud when I saw the air holes from the clams.  It was great fun and we collected just enough clams in order to make a meal for the next night.  I truly felt like a joyful child as I embraced this experience while dressed in my rubber boots, shorts and t-shirt.  Life truly is for embracing and living to the fullest.  I'm trying to imprint every memory and experience into my mind so that I can relive it during the dark valleys that sometimes happen in our lives.  After clam digging in the morning, we relaxed at our friends' home.  My husband and his friend were relaxing in the sun on the deck at the back, while I sat in the shade on the front porch overlooking the beautiful view of Flat River with the Northumberland Strait way off in the distance.  I was also enjoying the breeze and their wind chimes gently making music.  While sitting there, I had a tune going through my mind that I couldn't think of the name.  My husband's guitar was in the back of the van so I went and got it out and tried to "sneak" it around to the front of the house without anyone seeing me.  I haven't played guitar in many years but I figured out the chords to the tune that I was able to quietly sing.  Unknown to me, my husband and friend had seen me go by with the guitar and they were standing inside an open window listening.  My husband was able to identify the tune as "Mull of Kintyre" by Paul McCartney.  Suddenly, we had our own little kitchen party happen on the front porch.  Two guitars were strumming away as we all tried to sing.  What impromptu fun this was!!  Another gem of a moment in time!  That night we went into Charlottetown to The Ol' Dublin Pub to listen to a group called Guiness.  We knew about this group through another friend who grew up in PEI and had mentioned that her sister, brother-in-law and nephew were going to be playing in the pub.  What an enjoyable meal and subsequent night of music!

July 15 we went back into Charlottetown for some errands but also to be tourists.  At noon, we went to the amphitheatre behind Confederation Place where we saw the Confederation Young Company perform "Les Feux Follets".  What a great performance by young adults this was!!  It was about an hour long performance of various musical vignettes acting out the settlement of Canada.  It was during record-breaking heat that we sat, watched and totally enjoyed the performance.  We then had a small lunch at our friends' favourite Chinese restaurant before travelling to COWS Creamery.  We saw the production of the COWS t-shirts line as well as had a sample of their chocolate covered chips and a sample of ice cream.  This was the best ice cream I've ever tasted.  It was creamy and delicious.  Needless to say after the tour, we bought ice cream cones and I must admit to enjoying every single lick.  Mmmmm!  We then picked up a few things and returned to our friends' home for a clam dinner which included the clams, garlic bread and Caesar salad.  It was great!!

July 16 was more of a day of rest.  During our time up to this point, I had been collecting rocks and shells with the thought of having some jewelry created.  My husband went off for a round of golf.  It was not long after he left that I realized I had left all the shells and rocks in the van.  This was my morning that I was going to walk to my friends' neighbour who creates jewelry.  Then I remembered that I had 2 pieces of blue mussel shell that might work.  My friend and I laced up our runners and went for a walk to her neighbour with my shells in hand.  What a wonderful artist and creative jewel this neighbour is!!  We came up with a concept and she was going to be able to produce 2 necklaces in 2 days.  Check out  That night, my husband treated our friends to a dinner of maple spareribs.  Man....we've been eating really well while on holidays!

July 17 was another relaxing day.  That evening we went to our friends' church in Eldon to listen to a Scottish folk group from Scotland.  They were a group of 5 men.  One played guitar, another played fiddle.  The third man played the bagpipes and a group of metal flutes that looked like recorders.  The fourth man played guitar, banjo and mandolin.  The fifth man sang unaccompanied in gaelic.  When the bagpipes and fiddle played a duet together it made chills go up my spine it was so beautiful.

July 18, we enjoyed a walk on the backshore again with the tide fully out.  I truly love nature of all sorts.  The world we live in is miraculous in its beauty.

July 19 and 20 we travelled back to Ontario and home.  We managed to find more red clay roads before we reached the Confederation Bridge into New Brunswick.  We stopped for the night in Edmunston, New Brunswick and then continue on our way through Quebec.  We crossed the St. Lawrence River at Quebec City and avoided Montreal by staying north on some secondary highways which wound through the foothills of the Laurentians.  We crossed back into Ontario at Hawkesbury.

Since being home from holidays, I've enjoyed puttering in my yard and garden while listening to my wind chimes.  Yesterday, I had a check up with my oncologist, Dr. Meyer.  This was an appointment that was earlier than it was supposed to be because he is moving to Hamilton into a new job.  He checked me over and declared that I am "over the hump".  I am feeling great and healthy.  After examining me, he declared that there is only a very slight remote chance that cancer will visit my doorstep again.  This made my day!!!  I still have this overwhelming urge to live life to the absolute fullest.  I still have some items on my "living list" that I want to do or accomplish.  I will now be seen at the Cancer Clinic every 4 months for the next couple of visits.  This was wonderful news to receive especially after such a special holiday with friends.

I will continue to blog when I can.  I will not be choosing to work on the blog if opportunities come up to continue enjoying life to the fullest.  I guess I'm living in the moment more than I ever did before.  This is easier to do in the summer in our climate.  So please feel to drop by and check the blog.  You never know when some gem of an entry will greet you.  Here's to a fantastic life full of opportunities to create memories.  Always choose to leave a positive footprint on someone else's journey through life.

1 comment:

  1. That was an amazing trip, Cathy. But best of all is the news about your health. I am so very happy for you. Live each day with a smile on your face. Every one of them is precious.