With so much time and so little to do in Port Hawkesbury on Monday night, I had plenty of time to work out the exact time I'd need to depart in order to reach the ferry terminal in Caribou, Nova Scotia, to catch an 11:30 departure for Prince Edward Island. The truly amazing thing was that not only did I manage to roll the Volvo out of the parking lot within that window (about 9:40), I had calculated correctly and reached Caribou with just the right amount of spare time. There was a feeling of familiarity upon my arrival; I was reminded of the numerous times I rolled onto a Cross Sound Ferry at both New London and Orient Point. The M/V Confederation was well-appointed and nicely did the job of ferrying myself and the car across the Northumberland Strait, with lunch to boot. I didn't get dessert on the ship, but I got a suggestion for dessert that would not only serve me well on the afternoon, it would produce repercussions on the trajectory of my weight for the remainder of the trip.
Following docking and rolling off at Wood Islands, it was a lovely, picturesque drive of just under an hour to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island's capital and the birthplace of Canadian Confederation, though PEI didn't join the Dominion until seven years after its founding. I'd arrived well before check-in time at the Charlottetown Inn and Conference Centre (then the Best Western), so I parked downtown and walked about a bit. As I walked up Queen Street, I noted, but did not enter, a store specifically and entirely devoted to Anne of Green Gables. (Noting this has served me well since, as the links between that title, L. M. Montgomery, and PEI have nabbed me a few Jeopardy! clues since.) That shop was a footnote on my way to the corner of Queen and Grafton, whereupon I found... Cows. On the ferry ride over, I noted a large placard with a reprint of a magazine's ice cream reviews, which proclaimed Cows the best ice cream anywhere on our little pale blue dot. When I came upon the store, there was a line out the door, which I thought was comprised mainly of passengers from the multiple cruise ships docked in the harbour. Even still, that line heightened my anticipation, reminding me of how customers lined up for the fare of the Soup Nazi on that iconic Seinfeld episode. And the ice cream most certainly did not disappoint. My tastes in this realm run along the lines of those of Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation - that is, chocolate, and plenty of it. The dairy
I checked in and headed out; what the Inn and Conference Centre lacked in views from my room (I was just off the lobby, and so the window overlooked the pool) was more than made up for by the short distance to town, enabling me to explore without employing the car. My travels took me down to the waterfront, past Province House (the closest analogue to our Independence Hall), and eventually around to The Gahan House, at which I enjoyed both a couple of the establishment's own fine brews and a tasty club sandwich. That meal, coming at just about the halfway point of the trip, marked another milestone - it was the first time that I was presented with a check and didn't instinctively think I was being overcharged, having finally internalized the exchange rate. Later that night, I headed back out, with no real conception of what might be available to do on a Tuesday night in Charlottetown. I saw a line, thinking it was for entry into a bar, so I got into it. It turned out that the line was for a concert at Fishbones, one for which tickets had mostly been pre-sold. After seeing many people who possessed those tickets be given priority for entry, I decided it wasn't worth my while to remain in line any longer, so I headed back to the room.
The next morning, I slowed the pace down and headed to one of the beaches on the island's northern shore. I took the opportunity to change into my sandals as I walked the shoreline - and even last week, five months after the trip, I noticed grains of the distinctive red sands of PEI at the bottom of my backpack. I then drove over to Summerside, the second largest city in PEI. After a little bit of time taking in the views there, it was back to the capital, where I was forced to face down a necessary but expected hurdle. I packed six days worth of clothes for an eight day trip... that's right, it was time for laundry! Fortunately, this fell at the perfect time; rain fell just as I'd thrown the clothes into the washer, so I wasn't cooped up in the laundromat while it was nice out. I had a pleasant conversation with the attendant, and smiled as I stuck a pin into a map roughly approximating the northwest suburbs of the City of Brotherly Love. Dinner on Wednesday night was at Prince Edward Island Brewing Company. As I enjoyed more delicious beer, burger, and fries, I had the thought that this will color future visits to Five Guys - when I see where the potatoes are from, I'm inclined to think, "they're not from Prince Edward Island." There must be something in those soils that gives their produce a distinctively good taste.
The weather didn't improve much that night, so I packed it in and made some preparations for the remainder of the trip. In particular, I still had a major decision to make - and then once I made it, I found myself scrambling to execute it. But I'll keep that in reserve to open part four...