Tuesday, September 18, 2018

We Went to Canada and Saw Prince Edward Island!

Here's what we've done on our trip so far:

Here's our first stop at Steamtown National Historic Site.

And then it was on to the destination that I, personally, had been anticipating the most--Prince Edward Island!

I really wanted to take the ferry to the island, but was so nervous that I wouldn't be able to figure out what to do that I couldn't make up my mind. Fortunately, even though Matt wasn't with us in person, he was readily available with advice and emotional support via Facebook Messenger, and he convinced me that I could do it.

Yes, I bumbled quite a bit, including having to get our hotel's check-in clerk print me door-to-door directions because my car's GPS apparently didn't want to go to the ferry dock, but ultimately it was easy enough: drive to the gatehouse, drive into the lane they tell you, get out of your car and stretch your legs when everybody else does, get back into your car when the intercom tells you to, and follow the attendants' instructions and the car in front of you to drive RIGHT ONTO the ferry!

And then leave your car and head up on deck to enjoy the view!


Here's our last view of Nova Scotia:



And then we were on our way!



The weather was beautiful, probably the warmest we'd been so far, and it was a lovely day to cross the Northumberland Strait.





We saw a dolphin and several seals:



Of course, some of us had better things to do than simply sightsee. At least she's reading Anne of Ingleside...


Once you saw the above photo, you knew that this one was coming next, right?


They did have shipboard activities on the ferry, but I couldn't bear to stray from the open deck, so that's where we stayed for the entire crossing:




We drove from the ferry to Cavendish, checked in, swam, and got groceries from the touristy grocery store in town, me kicking myself the whole time that I hadn't stopped at the Atlantic Superstore in any town we'd passed on the way, darn it. But the good news is that they had swim goggles and Whippets, so Syd was basically living her best life after that.

There are lots of French-language TV channels where we were, and my rule had been that if we were going to watch TV, we had to watch it in French. Exceptions turned out to be a super-weird show called Love Yurts that Will happened upon and then we could not stop watching--like, every yurt is more hipster than the last! The last episode that we caught had the couple building a yurt with a tiny skate park inside!--and all the Sharknado movies, which, maybe there was a marathon? All I know is every time someone turned on the TV Sharknado was on. I could only tempt them away if there was also an episode of Funniest Home Videos in French playing on a different station.

ANYWAY... I'm going to show you Green Gables in another post, so that I can lovingly detail every step that I took into that magical world, so here's what else we did on Prince Edward Island!

Mainly, the beaches of Prince Edward Island National Park!


As soon as we got off the ferry, we noticed that the light in Prince Edward Island was strange. The sand is red, and it lends a reddish cast to everything, a little like a sunset, but not really because the sun is high and the lighting direct. It wasn't unsettling, but it also wasn't something that I got used to.

The kids, of course, settled right in:


I almost didn't pack beach toys. By the first of August, the stores in our town had tossed their summer gear and were busy selling sweaters and long pants, grr. It took three stores, at least, before I found swim trunks for Syd, I had to buy beach towels from Amazon, and I didn't think I was going to find beach toys at all until finally Matt had the inspiration that we should try the Dollar Store.

The buck each that I paid for these beach toys were more than worth it, though, even for a 12- and 14-year-old:






We drove the coast, visiting several beaches. Will mostly did this--


--but Syd helped me explore!


 













Will took a little more interest when we went tide pooling:


Actually, no. No, she didn't. That's a book in her hands:


The kids had seen a couple of lobsters while they were playing on the beaches, but here we had a much better view of happy lobsters scuttling around on their lobster business:




Ah, she put the book down for a minute!



And when we finally got back to the hotel on this day, exhausted from a full day of Green Gables and beach after beach after beach, you know what I did?

Take Syd to the motel pool, because she was dying to swim some more...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

We Went to Canada and Saw Kejimkujik National Park!

Here's what we've done on our trip so far:

Here's our first stop at Steamtown National Historic Site.

Halifax is a good halfway-ish stop across Nova Scotia, so in between our two visits there, we spent a night in Kejimkujik National Park.

Will very much wanted to visit Kejimkujik National Park because it's a Dark Sky Preserve and she wanted to see the Milky Way as something real, not just the "see that cloudy bit? No, not that--that's an actual cloud. That little smudgy part! No? It's pretty subtle. Try to stare hard!" kind of Milky Way that's visible where we live, and we're lucky to get that only because we live outside of town.

To that end, and because Kejimkujik National Park is in the smack-dab middle of nowhere (probably why it makes for such good stargazing!), I booked us a rustic cabin next to the lake for the night. We'd planned to spend a full 24 hours in the park, much of that stargazing, but as you'll likely have begun anticipating as soon as I mentioned that we wanted to go to Keji to see the night sky, as soon as we got there it started clouding up, and by sunset the sky was completely overcast.

Sigh.

Instead, we had a lovely, leisurely break from what at times was a pretty harried, hectic road trip. Other than a visit to the visitor's center for Xplorer books and park maps, we did not speak to another soul for the next twenty-four hours. Other than completing the kids' Xplorer books, we did not have a single item on the agenda.

Also, the lake next to our cabin was exceptional:







 

Syd got really into whittling--



--and other than whittling and swimming, we mostly just sat outside, read/listened to audiobooks, and ate picnic food:



I swear I left our food bag alone on the picnic table for all of half an hour the next morning while we packed up the inside of the cabin, but when we settled in for breakfast--

--Will pulled the bagels out of the bag and there was a GIANT spider sitting just underneath. We're not squeamish about critters, but I don't know, there was something about that spider sitting there with all our food. Will went to pull the chips out from beside it, I swear that it LUNGED at her, and we all shrieked loudly and ran.

And then delayed breakfast to go sit on our chairs and read and whittle for a while, checking periodically until it was safe to eat:


We reference that incident a lot now, using the verbal hashtag #girlsgocamping. Honestly, the kids and I are GREAT campers. Just... it was really big. And it seriously wanted to eat Will's face off.

After a very relaxing night, and a morning in which we did not get eaten by a spider (but we almost did!), we went exploring more of the national park. Syd is obsessed with old-school playground equipment, teeter-totters and merry-go-rounds of the type that our town finished replacing a decade ago. She was in HEAVEN here: 

We hiked a few trails and explored some different parts of the lake--

--and spied some critters that we did NOT feel the urge to scream and run away from:





We also developed the shorthand of "militant Canadian politeness" here at this lakeshore:


EVERYBODY had mountain bikes on the trails, which, you do you, but man, it seemed like an awful lot of work to bicycle up giant hills on multi-use hiking trails. Anyway, there was another family at this particular lakeshore, and we were all contentedly ignoring each other and pretending like we were alone on the lake, which is just how I like to vacation, so yay. But then along comes another family biking down the trail behind us, and this woman starts talking, loudly in that way in which she's acting like she's only talking to her family but everyone knows that she's purposefully talking loudly enough that she wants everyone to hear her: "Oh, no, SOMEONE left their bike right on the trail. That is SO rude, isn't it? I know, Honey, you can't get by, can you? Why would someone leave their bike RIGHT on the trail?"

I ignored her. My kids ignored her. The other family there totally ignored her, too, even though both that family and my family knew perfectly well that it was one of THEIR bikes that the woman was griping about.

Finally, the woman broke. "Is this one of your bikes?" she called out to us. I turned and shook my head, then got back to ignoring her. The other family ENTIRELY IGNORED HER. Just kept paddling in the water. I KNOW they could hear her. People across the lake could probably hear her!

So then the woman went back to just speaking really loudly to her kid. She was all, "It's so rude to just leave a bike in the middle of the trail! They really should have moved it off the path! Honey, can you get off your bike and move it? I know it's not your responsibility, but some people just do not know bike etiquette. Someone could have gotten hurt! Bike etiquette is so important," and off they rode, the woman still talking really loudly about bike etiquette. 

Maybe ten minutes later, the family near us started talking about making Kraft Dinner for lunch. They packed up their stuff, walked over to their bikes, got on them, and rode away, none of them so much as commenting on the fact that one of their bikes had been moved. It was EPIC.

Also, every time we saw mountain bikes on the trail for the rest of the day, Will would start going on and on about bike etiquette and how important it is, and we'd all chime in with various rules of bike etiquette that it's so important that people follow.

We're kind of horrible. I do already know this.

The early evening found us back in Halifax, at a hotel that I chose solely because its indoor pool has a WATER SLIDE, and the next day we'd take the ferry to Prince Edward Island!

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