Dearest Canadians, I know that Prince Edward Island is not part of Nova Scotia.
To all unaware non-Canadians, now you know too.
To all Canadians who didn't know that Prince Edward Island is its own province, well, I recently spent a week not knowing if Minnesota was a city or a state, so I'll let it pass.
But yes, Nova Scotia and PEI are two very distinct provinces with their own charms. For us, Prince Edward Island served as a vacation-within-a-vacation, bookended by Nova Scotia.
If you've been reading along on our journey, you'll know that we just crossed an impressive 8-mile long bridge to get to PEI. (Hey, if you haven't been reading along, see Part 1 and Part 2).
It quickly became apparent that Prince Edward Island has a lot of farming going on. We knew PEI was known for its potato farming, but amazing fields of yellow were around every corner. I was pretty sure potato flowers mainly came in white or purple, so what was this golden crop? It turns out we had come to PEI when the canola fields were in bloom. Hey, you gotta fry those potatoes in oil if you want french fries, amiright?
Our first stop was Argyle Shore Provincial Park, part of PEI's Red Sands Shore. We descended a steep staircase over the red cliffs to get to the beach. It was breezy and warm and the formation of the cliffs made me feel like an avalanche could happen at any moment.
From there, we grabbed a bite to eat in Charlottetown, checked out Saint Dunstan's Basilica, and headed to the north side of the island to check in at the Cavendish Breeze Inn. PEI is easily explored in its entirety from just about any jumping off point. Since we'd be here for two whole nights, we decided to make this inn our home base.
When we arrived at the inn, we met Kayo who runs the place. She was super nice and gave us maps and a park pass so that we could visit Prince Edward Island National Park a short distance away. The sun would be setting soon so we got going pronto.
As we were walking toward the beach, BALD EAGLE! It flew right over us. Even though Andy had his camera out, these birds are mighty fast and we couldn't catch up to it. If only we could find a bald eagle that had landed on something!
Andy: 0 Bald Eagle: 2
If I see a new body of water, my toes are getting dipped into it. Even though it was the end of August, I'd read that the waters off the north shore of PEI are generally not the warmest. My suspicion was that the water of the Saint Lawrence Gulf would be on the cold side. Oh sweet jesus was it frigid! Totally worth it, even if it did take hours for my feet to stop being numb.
Although Andy's photos of this sunset are killer, there is no way to truly convey how spectacular it was to witness. The only sound was that of the waves crashing onto the sand over and over and over again. The sunset transitioned between light pastels, moody purples, and neon yellows. Really and truly, one of the best I've seen.
All day, I had been dreaming of ice cream. We set out to get some at an appropriately named ice cream shop called Cows. Now, I cannot tell you which flavors we got...the memory of the flavor has faded. But the memory of knowing it was the best damn ice cream I've ever had in my life has not. Seriously, go there.
After getting back to the Inn, Andy dropped off the park pass to Kayo and casually let her know that we wouldn't be needing breakfast in the morning (I had already plotted out breakfast at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company). To hear Andy tell the story, Kayo seemed absolutely devastated/crushed/ruined by the news that we were opting out of breakfast. Poor Kayo - we really bummed her out.
The next morning, we did indeed hit up breakfast at the Preserve Company. The breakfast itself wasn't anything to write home about, but the attached store was a great spot to pick up some gifts for friends and family. Orange Marmalade with Chivas Regal? Hello, awesome. You are coming home with me!
Pro Travel Tip: Don't put that 4oz jar of jelly in your carry-on! The TSA does not giveth, but the TSA will taketh away.
Okay, breakfast in our bellies. Car gassed up. It was lighthouse day.
PEI has over 60 lighthouses - some are touristy, others are on private land. There are tall ones, short ones, striped ones, white ones, defunct ones, and operational ones. Before our visit, Andy plotted out some he'd like to photograph. The PEI Lighthouse Society is the authority on this stuff and gives details down to the flash patterns of the lights.
Our first lighthouse of the day was New London Lighthouse. It is positioned very close to the beach at the end of a long red earth and gravel road. This little lady completely embodied the PEI lighthouse charm we had come to see.
From here, Cape Tryon lighthouse should be a short drive away. We saw a chained-off dirt road with a bunch of cars parked nearby so we took the chance and started walking. There were potato fields on either side. I'm not sure we knew exactly what we were walking toward, but other people were doing the same so we kept on.
Soon, Cape Tryon Lighthouse emerged. This one ended up being my favorite of the lighthouses we saw on the island. Battered and cracked and only 40 feet tall, it was really something special - and very apparent it had seen some intense weather over the years.
It was time to drive to the west coast of PEI to check out West Point Lighthouse. Clocking in at over 67 feet tall, this lighthouse was the fashionista of the bunch. If I were a lighthouse, I'd want to be this one because black and white never go out of style. West Point is within Cedar Dunes Provincial Park. There's a museum here, and an inn where they'll rent you a room in the tower for the night.
If you know Andy, chances are good that you know about his love of the potato. A few fun facts about his potato obsession:
He is confident he could eat his way through a room full of french fries
When asked if he ate any vegetables today, he'll say "yes" - when pressed on which vegetables, he'll say "potatoes"
Being that we were in a potato mecca, it was fitting that we happened upon the Canadian Potato Museum. The inside was okay - we saw a lot of potato-harvesting tools, read more potato facts than necessary for one lifetime, and walked around a gift shop full of potato-related stuff. The giant potato outside the museum was very impressive and Andy felt compelled to take a bite.
The Bottle Houses were not too far away. The story here is that a guy with a lot of bottles on his hands decided to make a small village out of them. And, from 1980 to 1984, that's what he did. He built a house, a tavern, and a chapel out of bottles he collected from local restaurants, friends, and neighbors. It's a weird mix of cool, demented, and trippy.
The town of Summerside was on the way back to the inn, so we stopped for some dinner at the Silver Fox Curling & Yacht Club. I never thought I'd find myself in a town known for curling, let alone eating dinner in a curling club. But this place has mad pride for its curling history. The little boardwalk of seaside shops were super cute and colorful. I'm fairly certain Andy was doing some major trespassing when he took this shot.
We again thwarted Kayo's breakfast by getting on the road back to Nova Scotia early the next morning.
Thanks PEI! We'll never forget your beautiful sunsets, vibrant fields, and hospitality.
On the final part of our Nova Scotia trip, we: ...learn that truck stop breakfasts can be divine ...hike some sea caves in excruciating back pain ...and find the world's perfect bacon!