Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Gentle Island

The Gentle Island - that's PEI Tourism's theme for Island promotion this year and it does fit, even if it seems, like a lot of things about PEI, to suffer from a bit of a case of the cutes. (Next time we've determined we're going to keep a running list of the cute, saccharine names of the B&Bs and tourist operations to share with you. Keep insulin handy. "Desired Havens" was probably the most head-explodingly-cute name this particular trip.)

We went from August 10 (Husband's birthday! Happy Birthday, hon!) to August 12, enjoying a great long weekend there. We got there on Friday evening after a leisurely drive and a stop in Charlottetown in time to catch some kayakers sailing past Cove Head Wharf inside the PEI National Park at Brackley Beach.

A few minutes later we caught the last of the sunset over Brackley Beach itself.

We stayed at one of the places we stayed last year, North Winds Brackley Beach, where for a pretty reasonable price you can get a fantastic executive suite with a full kitchen, a fireplace and a jacuzzi.

The next day - Saturday - we explored Cavendish, which was a part of the Island we didn't visit last year. We visited Cavendish Beach East and West. There are some really striking rock formations there, shale made from the same red sand that creates the sandy beaches.

Cavendish is also the location of the Green Gables Heritage Site, Anne-author Lucy Maude Montgomery's burial site, the house L.M.M. was married in, and the site (now home to a bookshop) of the house L.M.M. grew up in, which makes it "Anne Central", which makes it the tourist mecca of the Island.

Now, Husband and I don't visit a lot of touristy places when we travel, so we don't have a lot to compare it to. But we were completely overwhelmed by the tourist kitsch and crapola at every turn. In this photo, Husband is standing in front of the Wax Museum, which is next to a Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. (No, we didn't go inside, and I'm insulted you asked.)

This photo is of some unidentified object erected outside the entrance to the Ripley's museum. No idea what it is supposed to be. We speculated it is a replica of The World's Largest Spliff. I choose to Believe it Not.

Within spitting distance from the Wax Museum and Ripleys were The Fantazmagoric Museum of the Strange and Unusual, Jurassic Bart's Dinosaur Museum & Petting Farm, Santa's Woods ("It's Christmas all year round!") and Sandspit Amusement Park (home of The Cyclone roller coaster). At least claiming some kind of connection with the woman at the heart of PEI tourism were Avonlea Village and Shining Waters Fun Park (a tenuous Anne-of-Green-Gables connection, there, at best).

It was like a little tiny Las Vegas.

All Cavendished-out, we returned to Brackley Beach, the best lyin'-on beach we'd seen all day, and joined the crowds baking in the 25° weather. The sun was incredibly hot and the water... "bracing" would sum it up nicely.

This shot was early afternoon. By 3:30 or so, when we'd had enough sun and packed up to do some more exploring, there were easily three times as many people on the beach and more arriving every minute.

We made sure we took a return visit to The Dunes, the gallery, restaurant and shop where we found such great stuff last year.

Happily it was not raining this year when we visited, so we were able to really enjoy the extensive system of fountains, water gardens and statuary the owners have developed out back. It's a really fun place to wander and shop.

This is one of the rooftop water gardens/fountains at The Dunes. The place has multiple levels, with artwork, furniture, sculpture, jewelry and more in every nook and cranny.

Dawn from our room balcony on Sunday. We took a very leisurely drive back, following much of the so-called "Blue Heron Drive", again just wanting to see more of the stunningly beautiful landscape that is PEI.

On Monday, Husband was back to work but I'd taken a week off just to de-stress. It turned out to be about half downtime and half-work, with a number of household chores that had been put off getting done, some time spent with my Mom O, who hadn't been well, and some time working on a painting I've been trying to finish forever and reading some books I'd been wanting to get around to. It wasn't as relaxing a break as I'd hoped - but it helped.




Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

Islands. It's always islands.

Great pictures! And your description of the nest of tourist-kitsch reminded me a lot of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf (where the global mother-ship of the Ripley's franchise squats.)

Your post triggered me to fire up Google Earth (not a good idea for me if I have anything else I want to get done in the next hour or two) and fly around PEI. Panoramio has some great photos scattered all around the island.

Thanks, ronnie.

3:04 p.m.  
Blogger Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Beautiful place- makes me even more ready for a vacation! Next month, we swear...

10:08 p.m.  
Blogger Peggy said...

I loved Anne of Green Gables, but from your report, I think I'll give that particular section of PEI a miss. I can buy junk here at home.

5:08 p.m.  
Blogger Xtreme English said...

and a "spliff" would be...???? babelfish can't handle canadian english.

7:42 a.m.  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

Hey, ronnie, don't bogart that answer to Ms. Carew's question, eh?

Spotty internet connection or not, you should be the one to address that.

12:15 a.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

A spliff? Why it's a reefer, a joint, a doobie, a little hand-rolled cigarette of weed, grass, ganja, pot, herb, mary jane, marijuana, y'know, Cannabis Sativa.

Whew, I'm tired.


10:44 a.m.  

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