Monday, September 28, 2015

Prince Edward Island ~ last but not least

 PEI...known for red beaches, potatoes, lobsters and Anne (with an 'e').

We have been working our way around North America over the our quest to drive in every state and province.  Two years ago...when we arrived in Kansas...we could say that we had been to every state. But we still had two provinces to visit...New Brunswick and PEI. Prince Edward Island was the last on the list! We had heard so many good things about this place...Canada's smallest province....and we were not disappointed.  Thanks to the advice from our resident PEI travel agent (my blogging friend Kathie)...we stayed at the nicest places and made the most of our stay!

We spent the first few nights at Kindred Spirits Country Inn ...a lovely place in the Cavendish resort area...serving great breakfasts (and afternoon tea if you happen to be around at tea time). It is right next to the famed Anne of Green Gables House....and just a short walk to the spectacular beach. 

We were told we needed to check out PEI Preserve Company...and stroll through their beautiful gardens.  Oh...and to dine in their restauraunt.  And be sure to order PEI Potato Pie and Raspberry Cream Pie for dessert.  We did all of the above!

The Preserve Company is on the lovely River Clyde in New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island...a picturesque little village not far from Kindred Spirits. The building (built in 1913) was once a butter a specialty food production kitchen, restaurant and gift shop. The 12 acre gardens on the property were created for Islanders and visitors alike to enjoy the natural beauty of Prince Edward Island.

We enjoyed our dinner with a view...and the server even brought us a printed recipe for the PEI potato pie.  

Just for the fun of it...I made it last week with British Columbia potatoes and Fraser Valley bacon. :)  It was just as good...but isn't it always nice to have someone else prepare and serve your meal?  And for the time I prepare it...I will invite six friends to share it with.  It's not meant to be a recipe for two!

At the Preserve Company...they let anyone have a go at the bagpipes. :)  He looked almost princely in a kilt...and played bagpipes like a pro.

Since we were right next door...of course we visited  Green Gables...a Canadian historic site and part of Prince Edward Island National Park.

Author Lucy Maud Montgomery created the story of  Anne with this house (belonging to relatives) as her inspiration for the setting. The room above the porch was Anne's room.  How fun to tour Anne's house...stroll through the woods...and down lover's lane...and be reminded of all things Anne!

The book has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into at least 20 languages...and anchors the island’s multi-million dollar tourist industry today. We could not believe all the tour buses in the parking lot...and tourists from around the world.

We so enjoyed our time on the north coast...where farmland meets seashore!

Red bluffs...

...miles of beautiful sand beaches

...and fresh lobster rolls  at Richard's at Covehead.

PEI has lighhouses galore...this one at Covehead overlooking the Gulf  of St. Lawrence.

We had a most delightful evening in this a Ceilidh at the community center in Brackley Beach. Some of PEI's top musicians performed lively Maritime songs along with fantastic fiddling and step-dancing.

We took a drive O'Leary, the potato capital of PEI and home to the Canadian Potato Museum. 

We are not always too enthusiastic about visiting museums...but this was one hubby wanted to see.  It's a quaint little museum explaining the historical roots of the humble tuber (self-guided tour)...along with a great collection of farm equipment used in the potato business over the years.  The little restaurant onsite features all things potato.

Our home for our stay in Charlottetown was Elmwood Heritage Inn...a wonderful place in the heart of the city.  The hosts Jay and Carol MacDonald went above and beyond to look after the guests!

From there it was just a short walk to the waterfront....and to the downtown core.

On the last day of our visit...we took in a matinee performance of Anne 'the musical' at the Confederation Building. It was fabulous...and packed out!  We enjoyed strolling the downtown area and had dinner on Victoria Row...a cobblestone street lined with historic buildings and closed to vehicles during the summer months.  How nice to eat outside on a hot summer evening and listen to a live music!  We were sorry that we would be leaving this lovely province in the morning.

But 'all good things must come to an end' they say.  Overnight the sunshine turned to rain. That somehow made it easier to say good-bye!

If PEI was not so far from BC...I'd visit more often!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

our new brunswick 'drive through'...

Bonjour. Welcome to new Brunswick...Canada's only official bi-lingual province where the French and English dwell in perfect harmony.  Apparently. 

New Brunswick has often been described as the 'drive-through province'...and that is what we did.  We drove through...and stopped at many places along the way.  And we really enjoyed our tour of this province...with it's charming covered bridges, historic buildings, farm markets, seaside villages and the amazing Bay of Fundy tides.

We spent several nights in the Fredericton a lovely bed and breakfast.  Beautiful old buildings lined the streets...often surrounded by hydrangea gardens.  We don't find many buildings that old on the west coast!

We walked the trail along the St. John River...

...and checked out the 'bridge to nowhere'! I'm sure there is a story behind these concrete bridge supports that are lined up in a row across the river...but I don't know it.  The birds used them as a perch...and I thought they made for an interesting photo.

We visited the Boyce Farmers’ Market early on a Saturday morning where we mingled with the locals...bought plums and apples from the Amish...and checked out the beautiful hand carved wooden items. I'm loving my new giant wooden spoon!

A little further up the St. John River we had the chance to step back in time at Kings Landing Historical Settlement.  We had our own local tour guide for the day...who seemed to know many of the 'characters' who lived there as well as all the historical background. 

Kings Landing Historical Settlement is the recreation of a New Brunswick town from 1780-1910....complete with creaking wagons pulled by work horses, the whooshing of hoop skirts, and a restaurant that serves good old-fashioned meals from that era. I had heard from reliable sources that I must be sure to try the King's Head brown bread while we were there.  I did...and was not disappointed! We had a delightful day at King's Landing with our wonderful local host.  Thank-you, Pam!

Our next stop was St. John...where we paid a visit to the famous 'Reversing Falls'...where the highest tides in the world battle the St. John River and force it to flow backwards twice daily.  Though an interesting phenomenon...we thought maybe 'Reversing Rapids' would have been a more appropriate name. While we were there...the fog rolled in and in a matter of minutes, the cruise ship in the port was totally obscured by fog.

From there we carried on to St. Stephen...the chocolate capital and home to The Chocolate Museum. Ganong is Canada’s oldest candy company...founded in 1873...and the maker of the original heart shaped chocolate box as well as the famous pink chicken bones candy. (The yellow American candy once also known as chicken bones is now marketed under another name, since Ganong had the name first.) We debated as to whether or not to tour the museum but when we discovered the entrance fee included 'all you can eat' chocolate..we went for it.  No need for lunch that day!

Next stop...St. Andrews-By-The-Sea. It is Canada's oldest seaside village...founded in 1783 by the United Empire Loyalists.  It's a charming little town...filled with tourists going shopping, fishing, or kayaking.

We continued along the coast...

...and soon found ourselves in Fundy National Park.

Another covered bridge...

...and fish 'n chips on the dock at village of Alma. Note the boats all sitting in the mud...waiting for the high tides to come help them out!

Does that look like New Brunswick to you?  Who knew there were such beautiful beaches on the Bay of Fundy?

Cape Enrage Lighthouse..has been a light station and fog alarm since 1838.  The current light tower is over 140 years old.    You may just remember this lighthouse...if you happened to watch 'The Amazing Race Canada' (season two)...where it was one of the pit stops.

Hopewell Rocks along the Bay of Fundy...where we walked on the ocean floor among rock formations that are known as 'the flower pots'.  One doesn't venture down there when the tide is about to come in!

The main attraction of the Bay of Fundy is the dramatic tide...which can rise as high as a four-story building. And when the tide is out...the mud flats are exposed.  Miles and miles of them. (Or should I say kilometers?)

One more covered bridge and we were out of the park.  After spending the night in Moncton...

...we were off to Prince Edward Island via the Confederation Bridge.  I won't cross that bridge today!

I'll leave you with a few memories of our last night in New Brunswick...spent in Campbellton.

Here it is all about salmon fishing (Atlantic salmon, of course)...the town hosts a salmon festival every summer.  We took in a free 'song and dance' at the local bandstand...mostly in French...and walked along the river.   It was a quiet and memorable way to end our time New Brunswick.

Au revoir. Until we meet again!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

beyond quebec city ~ a road trip along the st. lawrence river

Though we loved Quebec was time to carry on with our planned road trip.  Our route took us along both sides of the St. Lawrence River east of the city...

 ...along winding country roads and through charming villages.  The spires of the church steeples could be seen for miles and at times we heard the church bells.

We left Quebec City...crossing to the south side of the river on the Pierre Laporte Bridge...the longest non-tolled suspension bridge in the world.

From there we traveled east on the panoramic Route 132...

...through beautiful farmlands that sat on the rivers edge. 

We shared the road with farm equipment and bicycles...and took our time soaking it all in.  

Across the river...more picturesque farms hugged the shore.

We stopped at L'Islet...the pretty little village I mentioned earlier that has a wonderful little bistro with great lobster rolls! It is also home to the amazing Maritime Museum of Quebec. The Ernest Lapointe ice-breaker was on well as as the Royal Canadian Navy's experimental hydrofoil called the HMCS Bras d'Or.  Is it a plane...or is it a boat?  We spent the night at Riviere du Loup...a small seaside town known for its beautiful sunsets.

Our next port-of-call on the south shore of the river was Rimouski....where there is much to see and do.

If you visit sure to stop by Les Baguettes en l'air for a snack. What a great artisan bakery!  Though we could not pronounce the names of any of the delicious pastries we were after...pointing worked just fine!

Rimouski is also home to Pointe au Pierre lighthouse...which played a vital role in the history of navigation on the St. Lawrence River. Built in 1909, this lighthouse is one of the tallest in Canada and one of the few to still have its prism. We took the guided tour...climbed the many steps to the top...and enjoyed the fantastic view.  Pointe au Pierre Maritime Historical Site is also home to the Onondaga...Canada’s first submarine open to the public. We took the tour...and learned how 70 men lived for months at a time in this 300 foot submarine.

Here the St. Lawrence looks much more like an ocean than a river...with no shore to be seen on the other side! It was not too far from here that the CPR's Empress of Ireland sank on that fateful night of May 29, 1914...killing 1012 passengers on board (with only 465 surviving).  How is it that we hear so little of this maritime disaster...the worst in Canadian history...following so close on the heels of the Titanic?  We visited the pavilion dedicated to the Empress...heard the story...saw the memorial.  It is here that descendants of those who lost their lives come to pay their respects.

Another wonderful place to visit near Rimouski is Hell's Gate Canyon.  Now that sounded appealing to us since we have our own Hell's Gate on the Fraser Canyon in British Columbia.

Located some 20 miles south of Rimouski, the canyon stretches about 3 miles between sheer cliff walls. We went towards the end of the day...and spent an hour or two hiking on the well-maintained trails. We rather liked being all alone in the park (met only one other couple the entire time)...and crossed the canyon on Quebec's highest suspension bridge...200 feet above the Grand Sault Falls.  We noticed that many visitors before us had left their calling cards...the all-Canadian inukshuk!

From Rimouski...we took a ferry across the St. Lawrence River to Forestville.  While we waited for the ferry to arrive...we chatted with this friendly gentleman (who we dubbed 'the old man and the sea')  American who spoke French but was happy to chat it up with us in English. Out in the seemed there were many folks who could not speak English.  And our French being what is is...we had our moments.  As when we drove onto the ferry.  The attendant shouted something in French.  Hubby walked away from the parked car.  He shouted it again.  Hubby stopped and looked at him.  Finally he switched to broken English...'parking brake on!'  Oh!  It turned out that 'parking brake on' was very important!  The one hour ride across the river on Quebec's fastest ferry was not exactly 'smooth sailing'...and we were glad that the car was still parked where left it.

On the north shore...we drove west along the river to Tadoussac...home to the first trading post on Canadian soil, the oldest church in our country, the iconic Tadoussac Hotel and a wonderful beach that makes it a resort town.  It is also a whale watching destination...we spotted many belugas as we crossed the Saguenay River by ferry on our way out of town.

We lunched at Baie St. Paul...known for it's art galleries, shops and restaurants. Oh...and also where Cirque du Soliel began in the early 1980's. 

Then it was on to St. Anne De Beaupre...and it's famous basilica. It is a Roman Catholic sanctuary...known as a place where miracles take place and attracting many pilgrims from around the world.  Visitors who claim to have been healed have left their crutches behind and two large pillars inside the front doors of the church are totally covered with crutches. We enjoyed our visit...the ice-cream cones we had while touring the gardens...

...and people watching!  Aren't they cute?

St. Anne Beaupre is just over a 30-minute drive from Quebec City.  And so our road trip along the St.' Lawrence River ended where it Quebec City. 

It was a most enriching experience.  Yes, it is a big country...but not TOO big!

What I never mentioned in today's post is that we actually took a week-long detour through New Brunswick and P.E.I. before we crossed crossed to the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.  I'll be 'unpacking' our adventures in those two provinces for you soon!