22.7 mi / 9.7 mph / 1243 ft. climbing
Home: Cabot Beach Provincial Park
We’re riding again this morning, but still on an Anne of Green Gables mission. We’d head west, still along the north shore of Prince Edward Island, catching sites along the way, and then return tomorrow, stopping for more.
Today’s main event was the Anne of Green Gables Museum. This is another relatives’ house that L.M. Montgomery frequently visited, still owned by the descendants, who now are doing an honorable job of attracting Anne-tourists like us. It’s also the purported site of “The Lake of Shining Waters”, an iconic love of Anne’s from the novel.
As we approached the museum with the ribbon of road descending into a beautiful pastoral valley, the lake appeared, Rett stopped, and instantly burst into tears. I could feel it too: it was Anne’s Lake of Shining Waters, and Rett had come to it after a near-lifetime of Anne-like hopes and dreams, now proving to us tempering Marillas that such dreams could become reality. And she had come to it on her bicycle (a form of transportation Anne used), after an incredibly-long journey that, a month ago, was within a hairsbreadth of to coming to an end. And then to complete the image and compound the emotions, a horse-drawn carriage appeared between the reeds rolling down a path on the far shore. We were fully there, inside Anne and L.M. Montgomery’s world.
Once we pulled ourselves together, we pulled into the museum, and first made ourselves some lunch on the porch of the gift shop. Coming into the house, we got the oft-repeated spiel from the hostess, who, with odd specificity declared that people from the United States and Japan (and seemingly nowhere else) come there to get married (L.M. Montgomery herself was married in the house). As an eternal skeptic, who suspected that the current relatives here had just opportunistically declared their lake to be the true Lake of Shining Waters, I was gladdened to see on display a note from Montgomery herself stating that it was in fact her inspiration (hmm, though did she just write that note at the family’s behest to help them out…ok, no, shut up, skeptical brain!)
Looking at some of the “historical” rooms in the house, appointed with all the period furniture (including specific pieces familiar to LMM), I was suddenly struck by how similar it felt to my grandparents’ farmhouse in Wisconsin. Another example where I realize this “history” isn’t anywhere near as distant as I tend to assume. And then I marvel with gratitude at the fact that, in essentially one generation, our family went from my mom growing up in a house like this, in a community very similar to this, to me, spending my career designing technology incomprehensible to my grandparents, allowing me to retire at a young age and travel the world…visiting places that remind me of my grandparents’ farm.
Done with the museum, I happily indulged Rett’s wish to take a ride on the carriage we had first seen across the lake. It was really expensive, so she didn’t even think to ask ahead of time if I’d be willing to do it, but given the setting and the emotions attached to it, it felt to me like the most worth-it horse-drawn ride she’s ever wanted to take. And I was glad that she saw it the same way: foregoing a bunch of middle-of-a-city rides with sullen horses was a fair trade for this loop through farmland, along the Lake of Shining Waters, and in view of the coastal dunes. Our driver was “Matthew”, intended to play the role of Anne’s adoptive father, but thankfully he didn’t seem to cotton much to that. Instead, we got something even better, a native PEI old-timer, who could talk to us about what it’s really like to live on this island.
That ended our Anne activities for the day, but we continued further west for a place to sleep.
As we entered the campground we talked to an older couple who had once-upon-a-time done an 11-month bike ride around the US (almost exactly the same amount of time since we’ve started!), and who had recently returned to riding thanks to the assist provided by their E-bikes. Even though we like to performatively turn up our noses at E-bikes (mostly out of jealousy), in truth those are stories we love to hear.
Cabot Beach is our third PEI Provincial Park, and it has an unusual layout I’ve never seen before: each site is surrounded by a C-shaped ring of trees, and the campground “loops” are made of a ring of 10 of those C-shaped sites, with their openings all facing a communal center. And there are no campground roads leading to the sites (or the loops), it’s all green lawn everywhere. And, correction: many of the C-shaped tree rings have vanished over time for some reason (disease, old age, or wind?). I reserved one that still had a healthy tree population, because privacy is always good, and they might provide a break on a windy day. Well, that was a terrible idea, because the mosquitos were insane. Immediately upon arrival, well before dusk, we could just see clouds of them hovering in the shafts of sunlight, waiting to attack. Luckily it was cool enough that I could just immediately put on my rain gear to fend them off, because there was no other option. And Rett did a post-shower coating of herself in repellent that seemed pretty effective, but also just moving over to a grassy area behind our site dropped them to nearly nothing. But it would definitely be an early night into the tent tonight.