30.5 mi / 10.7 mph / 1717 ft. climbing
Home: Shining Waters Cottages
Mosquitos were still waiting to make any post-tent-exit activity unbearable, so we took the recommendation of the cycling couple we met last night and hightailed it out of camp for a first-in-a-while restaurant-breakfast, at the Seashell Cafe. After the quick downhill ride out of camp, inside the cute motel-attached cafe we find that very cycling couple, along with several of their friends, all plotting the day’s ride of self-organized bike tour they’re doing (each day someone different drives the van that carries their gear and picks up riders who don’t want to do the whole distance). Sounds like a nice system, and a good way for people of different abilities and interests to still ride together. They were all Mainers, and before breakfast was over we had offers to stay with some of them if we were to end up on the Maine coast. Hmm, maybe!
Ever since we got to Prince Edward Island, Rett has been excited about the idea of wintering here. Partly because she doesn’t want to leave, but partly on the theory that the cratering demand for rental properties for summer tourists (or simply half-year residents) would bring super-cheap rents. So she finally took John D.’s advice (one of the PEI locals we met a few days ago, who believed word-of-mouth through the everyone-knows-everyone network of PEI would be more effective than AirBNB searches) and made a direct inquiry with the proprietor of this relatively-new restaurant/motel. And immediately we had a pretty good lead! She and her husband also owned a set of rental cabins, and wouldn’t be living on-site like they had last winter, so they were very interested in having us fill a bit of a property-manager + handyman role, in exchange for a cheaper stay. She even said she’d be happy to do grocery pickups for us, to make a car-free existence more manageable. Hmm, maybe!
We backtracked the way we had come yesterday, but the perfect-weather morning, alternate lighting, and different perspectives made the 2nd-time viewing at least as good as the first time through. And there were some places we passed yesterday where stopping for a picture was difficult due to traffic, or just not knowing the best angle until I was past it, but these second chances let me have the camera clicking a lot more frequently.
Near Park Corner we made our first offshoot, heading for Cape Tryon Lighthouse (partly due to it being the inspiration for Captain Jim’s “Four Winds Lighthouse” in Anne’s House of Dreams). A red-earth road continued east as the main highway curved south, and I wasn’t terribly surprised to find it incompatible with Rett’s still-recovering riding skills, but was surprised to find it equally-incompatible with all but the most-capable of off-road vehicles. Well, that just meant that our half-mile of walking the bikes through the ruts and washouts was pleasantly-undisturbed. Once we hit the junction that would take us north to the shore, the surface became more reasonable, but we just kept walking because the views improved even more.
Returning back to the Cape Road, we continued east on the now-paved section, and descended to a lighthouse twofer, with the even-more-elegant New London Lighthouse. This one sits near beach-level, just behind a grassy dune, so it was nice to be able to use both as excuses to explore new parts of the PEI landscape.
After the lighthouses, and now approaching lunchtime, Rett pulled over into a parking area at the top of a hill. I was happy because I couldn’t remember if I’d gotten a picture of this place yesterday, and stopping on road at the top of a hill isn’t particularly safe. It turns out the parking area is a bit of donated land created to essentially enable tourists to enjoy (and capture) the iconic PEI view of French River, whose colorful fishing buildings deep set in a green-and-blue bowl essentially define the meaning of “picturesque”. And there was a picnic table for us to make make sandwiches and enjoy one of our best roadside lunch stops in months.
As we pulled into the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace museum (which we had passed yesterday but saved for today), I noticed that Rett’s bright pink shirt, which she’d had strapped to her rear rack, was no longer there! Argh! I knew it had been there when we left lunch, just five miles back, but it must have come loose at some point. Since its brightness should make it easy to spot, I told Rett to enjoy the museum, and I would go back for my third and fourth tour of this section of road (which included a 9% hill).
Luckily I only had to go back a mile or so, and yes, it was easily spotted on the edge of the road. And it also solved the mystery of how it could have fallen off without me (who is always right behind Rett) noticing: it was in front of a mostly-elegant house whose beauty was wrecked by an out-of-proportion 1990s-McMansion-style round-topped window. While making fun of that window, I’d turned my view away from Rett’s bike. And perhaps the house, in a fit of justifiable pique, tugged the shirt loose from the bungee cords. The shirt had a couple marks on it, probably from the chain as it slid down along the bike (luckily Rett had it turned inside-out), but otherwise was no worse-for-(road)wear.
Climbing the hill on the way back left me so knackered that I just let Rett finish up in the small museum on her own. I was satisfied with the exceprt of LMM’s writing on the sign outside, which stated that she frequently passed this place on the way to her relatives at Park Corner (the museum we had visited yesterday), further evaporating my cynicism and proving that she did truly know these places intimately, meaning that we really were replicating Montgomery’s (and thus, Anne’s) experiences here.
Some lucky searching on booking.com the other night brought us an “it wasn’t that cheap 10 minutes ago!” rate on a nice kitchenette-equipped cottage-style room at Shining Waters Cottages back in the heart of Green Gables tourism, so we’d snatched that up. The grill out front triggered my memory of the surprisingly-good meat selection at the Cavendish Tourist Mart, so I rode back over to get some steak to grill for the first time in…years? (Luckily Rett carries all the spices I use in my steak rub!) Oh, and what’s this, locally-picked sweet corn, from a farm whose Facebook page revealed they just started making deliveries a couple days ago? Let’s grill that too! Along with Rett’s sugar-spiced carrots, red wine (and a pre-dinner grilling beer, while I chatted with our German neighbors and showed them how to use their grill), it was the best meal we’ve had in a long time. This bike-touring stuff kind of rules sometimes.