Although it seems impossible for anyone living on Prince Edward’s Island to be more than twenty minutes from the beach, a good chunk of Cedar Dune’s Provincial Park’s RV population hails from towns just less than twenty miles away. They still commute to work, cook suppers, raise kids, etc. but, for about $30 a day, choose to do so a few feet from a beautiful red sand beach. We noticed this trend a few years ago at a different island provincial park and thought it strange. After a few days here though it seems much less strange as the parks offer a constant sea breeze (and most homes on the island lack AC), a trio of teenage girls who plan activities for the children (something Henna enjoyed), and a soft red world of warm water looked over by a light house and ringed by low grassy dunes. It was at this beach that I first knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Corey. Now close to fifteen years later we get to watch Henna play at the same beach. If only we were so lucky as to have this in our backyard.
In a collection of short stories, Paul Theroux commented that islanders tend to exaggerate the distances between points and it is not uncommon at all for locals to have never traveled just a few towns over. This is definitely the case here where the local teenagers working the Tim Horton’s in Charlottetown had no idea a national park existed thirty miles away. It was only marginally better at the gas station where several people (all locals) gathered around our map to help us navigate our way back to the park. Charlottetown is a small city (about 35,000 people) with two used book stores (yeah!), a comic shop, some history, and a few seemingly good restaurants. East of the city are postcard perfects towns with quiet harbors, bed and breakfasts, and a cool distillery. We spent our first night on the island at Red Point Provincial Park and would have enjoyed our stay better if it did not rain. At the most northeast point of the park is a lighthouse and seal hangout where we spied bobbing shiny black heads in the choppy water. Directly north of Charlottetown is the Cavendish area which is known wide and far for Anne of Green Gables. A cousin’s farm, which was used as inspiration for the book series, has been made into a national park and is a good place to wander to about. The west side of the island is decidedly more rural with Cedar Dunes close to the most south west point of the island. After spending almost two weeks in Newfoundland (where distances are always greater than they seem) tiny PEI is somewhat of relief. You can drive the entire perimeter of the island in a day (but why I am not sure). The largest wild mammals on this island are the elusive coyote and, except for a few thickets of trees, it looks very much like Iowa (except of course for the red sand beaches and lighthouses which are everywhere). At roadside stands and out of trucks parked alongside the ride you can pick out berries, potatoes, scallops, lobster, and mussels (the fish coming right out of Styrofoam coolers). Last night it was locally grown green beans, new potatoes (the first potatoes of the season, they are smaller and more delicate than the next crop), and salmon. Yesterday it was scallops and the day before steamed mussels. The living here is good.
Now on the last morning at PEI I sit in the car waiting for either the rain to stop or the ladies to wake up. It is off to the mainland next and then in a little bit home. Until then the road is our home. Noel