2013 … A Dream Year

angel  004What a year!  We traveled a total of 9,448 miles in Island Girl, from Florida to Maine to Canada, then south and west reaching Arizona by the end of the year.  We visited 18 states and 4 Canadian provinces.  In October we reached a couple of milestones:  one year of fulltiming and one year of blogging.

Whew!  Here’s a month-by-month recap of our dream year:

January – visited with friends and family in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

February – stepped back into nature at Everglades National Park.

March – a nice long stay in Funky Key West for ocean fun and an awesome air show.

April – a busy month: first north and west to the Gulf Coast of Florida for more family time, then back east to the John F. Kennedy Space Center and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, north to St. Augustine, and north again to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and the low country of South Carolina, and finally to Atlanta to see old friends.

May – visited the Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Washington, D.C., then ended the month in New York City and upstate New York where we visited more family and friends.

June – a quick stop in Boston and then on to beautiful Maine.

Here was our route for the first half of the year.

July – crossed the border into Canada on the 1st, and spent the month in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  Discovered absolutely astounding people and places.

August – visited idyllic Prince Edward Island, buggy Kouchibuguac National Park in New Brunswick, then over to Quebec to the gorgeous and oh so French Gaspé Peninsula.

September – visited the St. Lawrence River in Quebec where we saw an amazing number of whales and concluded our fantastic Canadian summer in charming Quebec City, then crossed the border back to the U.S. to enjoy the beautiful Vermont autumn.

October – continued leaf-peeping in Vermont, then began our westward journey with stops at Niagara Falls, then Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky,St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, visiting friends and family along the way.

November – a stop in Denver, where the journey began, to get annual checkups for all and check in with friends and family.  Then south to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

December – another busy month.  Traveled around New Mexico, south to Albuquerque, then further south to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and Las Cruces, then crossed the border to Arizona and ended our most unforgettable year in Tucson.

And here was our route for the second half

Some things we learned:

We ran a little hot this year, with an average stay of 8 nights at our 45 stops, not complaining, it was fabulous, but we’d like to slow it down a bit this year and try staying longer in each place.

We set a goal of no more than four hours driving time between stops and for the most part kept to it; averaging 185 miles per trip, but a couple of the trips were still way too long.

denver  038We stayed too far north too late into the year, and plan to head south earlier next year to avoid frigid cold and snow (although the falling snow was beautiful).

Crossing from the east coast to the west coast really took a toll on us, we were tired puppies by the time we reached Denver, and plan to stay in the West next year.

Our planning paid off in some fabulous campsites, on the other hand, we discovered that it’s best to have a balance of planned and unplanned stops.

Re-connecting with family and friends, and making new friends along the way has been one of the most important parts of our journey.

NYE2014  002And we learned to be grateful each and every day, we are so fortunate!

We wish you all a very Happy  and Healthy New Year in 2014!

~ Brenda, Hector and Angel

One Year Fulltiming!


Leaving Colorado 1

Leaving Colorado 2It’s true, we’ve now passed the one-year mark since we began our journey.  It has been a rich and full experience and yet time has passed very quickly.

Before I forget, I’ll answer a question that was asked just before we left:  What if we don’t like it?  Well, we love it.  Even though the first time I woke up in Island Girl knowing that I’d be living here for a while, my first thought was – What have I done? – I quickly came to love it and have never looked back.Isl Grl Redo  004

In fact, I was surprised at how easily I adjusted, particularly to the confined quarters. Hector and I decorated our new little 400 square foot home just as we had our other homes, and we really enjoy our interior space.

And we’re also really happy with our upgrades and our custom office space.   Hector is able to work on his Apple computer (the photographer gets the big computer) in our comfy chair by the desk, while I work on our laptop on our comfy couch simultaneously.halifax

Island Girl feels downright roomy with her 39’ length, and we have plenty of storage space.

And the journey has far exceeded our expectations. We’ve spent quality time with friends and family across the country, many of whom we’d not seen in waaay too long.  And other friends have come to visit.

Along the way we’ve also met lots of different people, learned new things, and just enjoyed spending quality time together.  We’ve visited a total of 14 states, including parts of the Midwest, South and Northeast.

We’ve experienced the lovely Arkansas autumn, Buffalo National River  024the fabulous gulf coast of Florida,Henderson Beach   080

the wild and subtle beauty of the Everglades,flower  024

and the wilder side of Florida in general. Ft Myers  056

We returned to the “black” waters of the Okefenokee Swamp,Swamp 011

and to the Great Smoky Mountains.Smokies  007

We visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina, OBX  055

and spent the beginning of our summer on the breathtaking coast of Maine.Penobscot  169

keys  021We traveled to extreme opposites; in Key West, Florida, we stood at the southernmost point of the U.S.sunset  027

And months later made it to the furthest northeast state of Maine.boothbay harbor  095

We spent just under 12 weeks in Canada, where we visited four provinces and learned a ton about our neighbor to the north.

There we saw the amazing tides of the Fundy Coast,New Brunswick117

the unique rock formations and the beautiful lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove,peggy 25

and the rugged beauty of Cape Breton Island.cape breton  030cape breton  011We traveled to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, brier 50along the gorgeous landscapes of Prince Edward Island,

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and the spectacular Gaspé Peninsula,Perce  073

where we visited its Northern Gannet colony in Ile de Bonaventure.Perce  049

We saw the whales of the St. Lawrence River,st lawrence  115

and took many walks around beautiful Québec City.quebec city  046

And Angel visited rivers, lakes, rocky and sandy beaches, forests, went boating on various boats and ferries, and even went whale watching.River Dog  006

In total, Island Girl traveled 8,534 miles this first year.

And Hector and I have grown even closer during this journey.  Living together in such tight quarters can bring out the best or the worst in couples and sometimes both.  We’ve been married for a very long time and are very comfortable spending lots of of our time together while traveling.  Even after all of that we had a few grumpy patches along the road, but ultimately found our groove.

And, interestingly, some of the working aspects of RVing helped us to strengthen our partnership.  I named a previous post about leaving and arriving at our destinations “The Departure Dance”.  And I really do believe that there is a choreography that you both create and “perform” on a regular basis.  But it’s important that the choreography feels right for both of you.

That extends to the day-to-day chores and responsibilities as well.  Learning to support each other in a way that takes into account each of your likes, dislikes, talents and skills can make the journey much more enjoyable.

Rv Repair SedaliaAnd, not surprising to any RVers out there, we’ve discovered that things tend to go wrong in the most inconvenient of times.

The first time was on the first week we were on the road, when our water inlet broke.  Another time, our refrigerator broke down on a Sunday, the day before we planned to cross the border into Canada.

The first Hector fixed himself, the second, we found someone who was able to fix it.  But we learned that when things go wrong (not if, but when), we should:

  • Stay calm
  • Ask for advice and/or help, there is a very helpful community out there
  • Be flexible
  • Have or make a plan B

footAt the same time, it’s been difficult to be away from most of our friends and family in Denver, and we really miss them.  But we can always visit and plan to soon.

And there have been other challenges along the way; minor medical issues and having to figure out which doctor to go to in unfamiliar places.  The same for finding veterinarians.

And, less critical challenges like not having access to cell phones, internet or TV (sometimes a good thing) in some places.

But right now we wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything else.  And we are continually learning and growing.  For me this blog has been a huge learning experience.  I’m not the most tech savvy person, and when we began this blog, we knew nothing about blogging.  But I took on the task of figuring out how to get started, and spent several frustrating weeks using the process of elimination to figure out certain aspects of the blog.

Well, we just passed the 100 post mark on the blog.  And it’s is another example of working as a team.  Hector is in charge of the photography, I write the posts.  Then we combine the two.  From organizing how to divide the subjects to creating the final product, we support each other.   Sometimes we collaborate from the beginning, other times we work independently and get together at the end. The blog is another choreography.

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When I started writing this post, Hector wrote me a little note with some numbers and fun facts from the year.  He ended the note with “i love you still”.  And I feel the same way.

And the journey continues.

~ Brenda

Dunes, the East Point and a Bridge

PEI  107PEI  106Since we visited the northernmost and westernmost points of PEI, we head out to visit the easternmost point of PEI.  You even get a little certificate for having visited both ends – okay we’re suckers for this kind of stuff.  PEI is world famous for its Blue Mussels and mussel operations dot the coast.

PEI  112PEI  108PEI  110PEI  109We start on the northern part of the Points East Coastal Drive.  Our first significant stop is in Greenwich.  The Greenwich peninsula separates the Gulf of St. Lawrence from St. Peter’s Bay.

The Interpretation Centre has information about the wildlife and the parabolic shifting sand dunes, one of the most unique ecosystems found anywhere in the world.   Then we head out for the short hike – under 3 miles – over to the Parabolic Dunes.

It’s a pleasant enough hike and then you reach the boardwalk, which goes over beautiful Bowley Pond, bordered by the parabolic dunes – stunning.   The dunes also contain a number of Aboriginal, French and Acadian archeological sites.  And they are now protected as part of Prince Edward Island National Park.

The wetlands area, Bowley Pond, is full of plant life.  Beautiful grasses and cattails stir in the wind, and, with the backdrop of the dunes it’s breathtaking.

PEI  120PEI  114PEI  115PEI  113PEI  124PEI  118PEI  116PEI  117PEI  119As if that isn’t enough, the boardwalk then leads to a white sand beach, and one of the most spectacular beaches we’ve seen.  It’s also practically deserted, since the only way to get there is by the trail or a VERY long walk from the end of the beach that is accessible by car.   The water is clear and almost Island Girl temperature – but the search continues 🙂

PEI  121PEI  127PEI  132Back in the car we head towards East Point and stop in at the lighthouse.  The East Point Lighthouse is an active lighthouse, located where the St. Lawrence and Northumberland Straits meet.  It was built in 1867 about a half a mile away.

In 1882, a British ship was wrecked off the point partially due to the position of the light, so in 1885, the lighthouse was moved within 200 feet of the point.  Then, due to erosion the lighthouse was moved again in 1908.PEI  128

PEI  129The lighthouse, where we received our “Tip to Tip” certificate, is open to the public.  There are three floors on the way to the top, with each housing some artifacts, including some Fresnel lenses.  On the first floor, they uncovered signatures of some famous early settlers while stripping some paint. PEI  131

The second floor has an old Marconi radio that Hector was pretty excited about.  And the third has some artifacts related to the lightkeepers’ lives.

Then you climb a ladder to the top with a beautiful view of the water.  You can definitely see how the ocean could get very angry around here.PEI  133PEI  126PEI  130PEI  134

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PEI  142PEI  141Next, we head to Souris Beach, which we heard was a sea glass beach, to go beachcombing.  I’m a little disappointed, as there is not too much sea glass, and the pieces are pretty small, but we find a couple of nice ones.  Sea glass hunting may never be the same after Inverness Beach in Cape Breton Island.

PEI  143Alas, it’s time to head home, and we’re not even halfway around the coast.   There are just too many fun things to do along the way.PEI  145

Sadly, it’s time to leave Prince Edward Island for our next destination.

PEI  209PEI  205We’re off to Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick.  This time, instead of the ferry, we cross the confederation bridge, which conveniently connects Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick.PEI  146

Can I drive Dad?

Can I drive Dad?

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PEI  204 PEI  150PEI  151The bridge was completed in 1997 after four years of construction.  Eight miles long, it is the longest bridge crossing ice-covered waters (not ice covered now, thankfully), and one of Canada’s top engineering achievements of the 20th century.

It was a bit windy that morning, and I was concerned about the crossing, but we heard that they will not allow us on it if they consider it too windy.

But weather is ok when we arrive, and it’s smooth sailing across.  And we also save money, as taking the bridge to leave the island cost $59 compared to the ferry, which would have cost $109.  Not bad.

I heard that Panmure Island, on the southern side of the East Coast drive has the warmest water on the island.  Darn, we didn’t make it that far.  Oh, well, I guess we’ll just have to return.

~ BrendaPEI  214

Green and Red PEI

PEI  155PEI  157PEI  152PEI  195Based on our first experience with the North Cape, we decided to tackle the Central Coast Drive on a couple of different days.

We headed to the Green Gables Shore on the North of the Central Coast Drive first.  This area is home to the Prince Edward Island National Park, located along 25 miles of the shore.  Cavendish, the hometown of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of the Green Gables is located alongside the park.

The now famous House of Green Gables, once owned by her family and its Victorian surroundings inspired the setting for the book.  The house is now managed by Parks Canada.  And thus the Green Gables Shore.

There is a lot of “Anne” stuff all over PEI.   A major tourist draw.

PEI  153PEI  154PEI  165PEI  164But I must confess that neither of us has read the book, and so this is not our main focus.  I’d thought about reading it while on PEI (I’ve been trying to read books about the places we’re visiting).  Instead I read a crime mystery novel, Meat Cove, that I bought from its author in Charlottetown.  It’s set in Cape Breton Island, PEI, Quebec and Vermont, which just happen to be places we’ve just visited and places we’re going to visit.  And it’s a fun summer read.

PEI  158Back on the road, we drove through beautiful fields of wildflowers and found French River, a stunning pastoral scene, directly by the French River.   We also got some education about harvesting mussels.

PEI  161PEI  159Hector asked a fisherman who was tossing these “dirty” buoys onto the wharf about all of the little buoys we saw in the water.  He explained that they were used to grow “mussel seeds”(baby mussels), which attach themselves to the buoys.

The “mussel seeds” are then taken off the buoys and placed in “mussel socks” – long tubular nets, and placed in deeper water where they grow larger.  Interesting indeed.

PEI  160PEI  163We leave the wharf and head out to an overlook.  The “patchwork” of greens, colorful buildings on the wharf, the river and the fields of wildflowers make for one of the most beautiful scenes we saw on PEI.  It’s another clear, blue sky day, and we gawk for quite a while.PEI  166

PEI  162PEI  167Next, we head to the town of Cavendish for a quick touristy stop as we’re looking for a Prince Edward Island patch.  While shopping on the Cavendish Boardwalk, we sample the famous COWS ice cream, made right here in PEI. PEI  168

It’s rated as one of the top ten ice creams in the world by Tauck World Discovery, a luxury travel company.

And, yes, it’s delicious.

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PEI  171PEI  173Then we’re off to Cavendish Beach, which is part of the national park.  It’s really pretty but a bit crowded by our more recent standards so we opt to ride our bicycles on the Cavendish Dunes Boardwalk.

PEI  182PEI  179PEI  175PEI  178These huge red dunes are beautiful, and we stop at a couple of overlooks and walk to some red cliffs along the way.   We intersect the Gulfshore Way West bike trail which goes alongside the ocean for a ways.  Just lovely.PEI  183

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Next we drove to North Rustico Beach, where we had an early dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant.  The couple we met on the ferry, Beth and Dave recommended this restaurant.  Coincidentally, it’s lobster season now, so we have a wonderful lobster dinner there and head home afterwards.PEI  156

PEI  196PEI  208Another day, we tackle part of the Red Sands Shores drive, on the south side of the Central Coastal Drive.   Here we visit Victoria-by-the-Sea, another artists’ community and find a really picturesque lighthouse here, the Leards Front/Palmer Back Range Lighthouse.  It was established in 1879 and is unique in that it houses two lights, each pointed in a different direction.PEI  197PEI  198

PEI  190Beautiful farmlands cover PEI with a patchwork of patterns and colors.PEI  191PEI  189PEI  200PEI  201PEI  203PEI  202Further down the road, we stop at Chelton Beach, and walk for a bit along its red sand.  The water is almost Island Girl temperature, but not quite.PEI  206PEI  207

Still searching for that place to jump in the ocean …

~ BrendaPEI  212PEI  213PEI  211PEI  210

The Windy Side of PEI

PEI  061PEI  057PEI  058PEI  064The tourist literature divides Prince Edward Island (PEI) into three distinct coastal drives:  North Cape, Central (which includes the Green Gables Shore and the Red Sands Shore) and Points East Coastal Drives.  But distances on the island can be deceiving, since those coastal roads can be slow-going.  So it’s a good idea to build in time for activities along the way, or for gawking at the beautiful scenery.

We set out for the North Cape Coastal Drive (a bit misleading since this is Western PEI) first, which we’d heard was the most spectacular.  This is the (mostly) French Acadian part of the island and also has a Mi’kmaq community – on Lennox Island.

Like the rest of PEI, the area has  many picturesque farmhouses on beautiful patches of pastoral land all along the way.  We make a brief stop in Tignish, a fishing community.

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As we approach North Cape, which is the northernmost point of PEI, we see a few giant wind turbines, then more and more appear in the sky.  We are fortunate that there is a clear blue sky today, making the white wind turbines stand out even more as we reach our destination.PEI  075

PEI  068PEI  066Here on the windiest side of PEI is the Wind Energy Institute of Canada Test Site established in 1980 as Canada’s National Wind Energy Laboratory, a 38-acre facility that houses wind turbines of all shapes and sizes.  Using data collected by the test site, the North Cape Wind Farm was developed with 16 Vestas wind turbines that have a total capacity to power 4,000 homes.

The North Cape Wind Energy Interpretive Centre has lots of interesting information and displays, many of them state-of-the-art, and offers opportunities for hands on learning about the importance of wind energy and how it can be harnessed.  Another very educational center.  Outside, there is a section of a wind turbine on the ground which really helped me appreciate their enormous size.PEI  073

PEI  067This site is also home to the longest natural reef on the continent, and, at low tide, you can walk out almost 2,500 feet.  We were there at high tide, but could still see much of the reef.   There are sheer red cliffs going into the water, and we walk along the rocky red shore.  PEI is known for its red sandstone, and we’ll see much more of it before we leave here.

PEI  069Out on the rocks, we spot some cairns, these stone sculptures always fascinate me.  Many of the ones here are actually inukshuks, which are cairns formed into a human shape.  Some are quite elaborate and beautiful, they look like works of art.

PEI  071PEI  072We also found a different kind of cairn, a human sized seat that a very ambitious person created with large stones.  The seat is large enough for Hector to sit comfortably in.  It’s well reinforced in the back as well and seems to have withstood the tide.   Very cool!PEI  074

High winds and a long reef are definitely a formula for a lighthouse. The North Cape Lighthouse was built in 1865, remodeled in 1875 and has been moved due to erosion.  It’s now fully automated, with a signature of a one second yellow flash and four seconds off and stands guard by the wind turbines.PEI  077PEI  076

As we come around the north side of the coast, the gargantuan wind turbines continue for miles.  It’s such a contrast to see the farmhouses amongst fields of gold and green and then see the wind turbines as a backdrop.   I’m not sure whether it’s beautiful or surreal or both.PEI  079

I smell crab ...

I smell crab …

PEI  089PEI  091We reach the village of West Point, to see another lighthouse that I’ve really been looking forward to seeing.  I love the black and white lighthouses and this one does not disappoint.  The West Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1875 and is the tallest lighthouse on PEI. And the black and white looks great against the red sand.PEI  085PEI  092PEI  087

PEI  084PEI  086The light was automated in 1963 and the structure is now a lighthouse museum, country inn, restaurant and craftshop.  Very enterprising.PEI  083

PEI  096Continuing down the road, we make another quick stop overlooking the Cape Egmont lighthouse, which was built in 1883.  Due to erosion, the lighthouse was moved back from the cliffs in 2000.  It has a signature of a two second white flash and three seconds off.  Yet another beautiful scene with the lighthouse sitting on more of those red cliffs by the sea.

PEI  095PEI  097Our last stop is at the community of Mont Carmel where Our Lady of Mont Carmel, one of the island’s oldest churches, constructed of island brick, is located.  The church is striking, but it’s unfortunately closed when we arrive. PEI  098PEI  105

We notice lots of cars parked along the road, and ask someone arriving what’s going on.  She tells us that it’s a free event commemorating Acadia Day and the public is welcome.  So we take a peek, and what do we find, fiddlers and dancers step dancing, in French of course.  Very interesting how the cultures intermingle in some ways.  It’s standing room only, and quite a happening, but It’s getting late so we stay to listen and watch for only a little bit.

PEI  104We cut across the last little segment of the coastal drive as we need to get home.  And I can’t say whether this is the most spectacular side of the island, but beautiful pastoral land, pretty fishing villages, a natural reef, lighthouses, gargantuan wind turbines and red cliffs along the sea do make for a spectacular combination.

We’ll just have to check out the rest of the island…

~ Brenda

The Rich Heritage of Prince Edward Island

PEI  212We stayed at another beautiful campsite on Prince Edward Island (PEI).  It was a corner campsite overlooking Malpeque Bay (as in Malpeque oysters) near the town of Summerside.  And our coach windshield faced the sunset.  Perfect!

PEI  001PEI  002First things first, we headed out to the wharf at the town of Malpeque to get some of those famous Malpeque oysters.  They’d just come out of the water that morning and were $6.00 a dozen!  We bought three dozen and had a wonderful oyster and martini happy hour/dinner.  Delicious!PEI  005PEI  004

PEI  003PEI  007PEI  008PEI  010The next day we headed for Charlottetown, the largest city and the capital of PEI, with a population of over 34,000, just under a quarter of the province’s population.  Back on Cape Breton Island, our car’s rearview mirror had fallen off.  Hector tried to do a temporary fix to no avail.  So we drove around for a while without a rear view mirror.  I was happy when we found a Subaru dealer in Charlottetown and got the mirror fixed along with an oil change.

Coincidentally, on that same day the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island was having their Annual Charlottetown Pow Wow on the waterfront.  So we rode our bicycles from the car dealer to downtown.

The Mi’kmaq First Nation occupied Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and portions of the Gaspé Peninsula for thousands of years.  They named this territory MI’kma’ki.  PEI was known to them as Abegeit – “Land Cradled on the Waves”.

PEI  009PEI  013PEI  015The Mi’kmaq belonged to a much larger tribal grouping, the Wabanaki Confederacy, that included the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Abenaki tribes of Eastern North America as well as the Mi’kmaq.  The Wabanaki Confederacy were members of the even larger Algonquin family which occupied lands east of the St. Lawrence River, the Adirondacks and the Appalachians.PEI  021PEI  012PEI  023

The Mi’kmaq lived close to waterways, and used the birch-bark canoe to travel great distances for trade and survival.  They relied on their natural environment for everything they needed, and used their resources sparingly and wisely, and with great respect.  Their education included traditional survival skills and knowledge of other tribes within North America.

PEI  026Early colonists relied on the knowledge and resourcefulness of the Mi’kmaq for their own survival and, during the French and Indian War, the Mi’kmaq assisted the Acadians in resisting the British during the Expulsion of Acadians.PEI  019

“The Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI unifies the Abegweit First Nation and the Lennox Island First Nation in protecting, enhancing and strengthening the Mi’kmaq Nation in Prince Edward Island.” www.mcpei.ca.

PEI  024PEI  017The Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island Charlottetown Pow Wow is one of a number of Pow Wows that take place during the summer and invite neighbors to enjoy music, songs and dancing.

We spent a few hours listening and watching and walked around the booths to check out various crafts.  I love to see the dancers in their traditional regalia, an expression of their culture and identity – not to be referred to as costumes, which generally are not related to a person’s tradition.  The dancing is hypnotic and beautiful.

They had a really funny “potato dance”.  A contest to see which couple can hold a potato between their heads the longest without using their hands.  The announcer has them do different moves (wiggle your hips, stand on one foot, etc) to dislodge the potato.  Fun.

It was extremely hot, so we decided to do some interior touring to cool off.

PEI  037PEI  038We went across the street to Founder’s Hall, a multi-media interpretive center that details the history of Canadian Confederation, starting with the Charlottetown Conference of 1864.  It’s a unique presentation of the events leading to Canada’s birth.  You walk through a “time tunnel” to the beginning of the presentation, which is set up using modern video coverage of a “breaking news event” with narration through headsets along with other interactive displays.PEI  040

The story, in a nutshell, is that delegates from each of the then separate British Colonies came to this historic waterfront for a meeting to discuss the possibility of confederation in 1864.  Each had their own motives and some were more interested than others, but eventually they all agreed.  Hence Charlottetown is known as the birthplace of Canada.

PEI  043PEI  045The Charlottetown Conference led to the Quebec Conference where details were finalized, which led to the London Resolutions, where a draft of the British North America Act was completed in 1867 for the union of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The Bill was approved by the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and July 1, 1867 was set as the date of the union. So Canada Day on July 1st celebrates this new confederation, the joining of several British colonies, not independence as in our July 4th.PEI  044

Not all provinces immediately joined, but they ultimately did.  With Prince Edward Island holding off on joining until 1873.  As they joined, Canada grew “from sea to sea to sea”.  Part of this was the purchase of the vast holdings of the Hudson Bay Company shortly after the US bought Alaska from Russia.  Canada apparently got a really good deal compared to “Seward’s Folly”.

Full Independence from England did not come until 1982.  Canada is now a Constitutional monarchy with the British monarch still as its head of state, a mostly ceremonial role.

Back to PEI, and its diverse traditions.  Today, this province  maintains a Celtic flavor, with a larger population of Scottish descent than Nova Scotia, which is surprising.

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PEI  053And so it was time for more traditional Celtic music and dance. We enjoyed our first Ceilidh at Cape Breton Island, and wanted to check out another one.  So we headed out to the Ross Family Ceilidh, in the town of Stanley Bridge, which was fairly close to us.  This Ceilidh was recommended to us by a group of RVers from Bermuda and North Carolina that we met at our campground back in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia.

We ran a bit late only to find that a large group of people were walking back to the parking lot because the hall where the Ceilidh was taking place was now full.   Never one to give up easily, I went in to double check that they didn’t have two seats left, and found out they had one seat.

So we sat on a bench outside to see if we could at least listen for a little bit.  I then thought I heard someone saying that one more seat had opened up.  I ran in, and they now had two seats.   So we got in, after 60 people had been turned away.  Crazy!

The Ross Family is an energetic brother and sister act, very talented and entertaining.  One sister plays guitar, the other the fiddle and the brother plays the piano. The sisters step dance, and are joined by their mother for one very fun number.  Another brother made a guest appearance, he used to be part of the group (the drummer) but left to pursue other career interests.   He was a great step dancer.  A fun evening.

PEI  217PEI  216Back at the campsite a few days later, we were joined by Steve and MonaLiza, fellow fulltimers that I connected with through their blog, The Lowe’s RV Adventures.  We figured out that we’d both be in PEI at the same time and set a date to get together.  They are a really fun couple and we had a fabulous time together.

We munched on Malpeque oysters, delicious appetizers that Steve made, and a berry pie that MonaLiza made (so yummy!) and watched the sunset.  So nice to meet others who are living this lifestyle and enjoying it like we are.   We hope to meet them again along the way.PEI  215

On to other adventures across the island…

~ BrendaPEI  218

Island Girl’s First Boat Ride

map_atl_canadaPrince Edward Island (PEI), where we are headed next, is the smallest province in Canada; 2,170 square miles in size and with a population of over 140,000.

pei flagThere are two ways to get to and from PEI, one is to take a ferry which connects it to Nova Scotia, and the other is by crossing an eight mile bridge which connects it to New Brunswick.

hector  034hector  022They have an interesting model; you only pay (whether the ferry fee or the toll for the bridge) when you leave PEI.  And, since we planned to take the ferry from Nova Scotia to PEI and to drive out of PEI on the bridge to New Brunswick, our ferry ride was free.  There was one catch, we had to standby for the ferry as reservations are allowed only for those that pay (round-trip either way or one-way departing PEI).  Confused yet?

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hector  044hector  043 (1)Anyway, we weren’t going to complain since we were about to take a free 1 hour 15 minute ferry ride across the Northumberland Straight.  But we did plan to leave Pictou in time to standby for the first ferry of the day, just in case we didn’t get on.

And, when we arrived, there were already quite a few RVs , cars and large trucks lined up already.  We were advised that more truckers with reservations were expected, so there definitely was a possibility that we wouldn’t get on.

While we waited for the first ferry, we started chatting with the couple from the RV that was next in line, Beth and Dave.  We were amazed at how many RV’s and trucks there were but they told us that the next ferry due was the larger one of the two.  Finally, the ferry arrived and they started loading cars, then trucks, then RV’s.  It’s quite incredible how many big rigs they loaded on board, but alas, we didn’t get on.

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The GPS Ferry upper left is kinda cute!

The GPS Ferry upper left is kinda cute!

But we were third in line for the next ferry, so it seemed that we had a pretty good chance of getting on, even though that was going to be the smaller ferry.  We continued chatting with Beth and Dave, who are from Nova Scotia and were taking a brief vacation trip to PEI.  That made the time go a lot faster and in no time the next ferry came and we made it on.  Island Girl boarded that ferry like a seasoned boater!

hector  027hector  029RV’s, trucks, and, interestingly motorcycles (which get strapped to the deck) are boarded onto the lower deck.  Cars get loaded on the upper deck.

We had the option of bringing Angel upstairs as long as she stayed outside, but she’d have to climb three really long staircases so we chose not to.  There was a nice sea breeze and we left the windows  in Island Girl open for her.hector  030hector  031

hector  032hector  045Once we reached the top deck, we ran into Beth and Dave once more and spent the ferry ride getting acquainted.  Beth has a blog – Summer Friends – in which she features her vintage trailer, a cute and well loved “Glendette”.

hector  033hector  038The crossing was calm and beautiful.  Beth and Dave gave us a few tips about PEI, and once again time went by really fast and before we knew it there was an announcement for everyone to prepare for arrival at PEI.

hector  040hector  041So we said our good-byes and headed back down to get ready to drive Island Girl off the ferry.  Angel looked comfy and relaxed and ready for the next adventure.  And off we went onto the beautiful Prince Edward Island.

~ Brenda