26 & 27 July
We spent the next couple of days exploring the northwest peninsula of PEI continuing along the east coast up to the tip and then along the western shore. In our travels we have discovered that the PEI provincial parks are very nice with wide open fields leading to beautiful beaches. They are also miraculously not too busy, even mid-summer, with spots always available in the no service sections and often some availability in the serviced sites. The no service sites are huge and many of them are right along the beach. Combine that with free showers and good wifi it has become our overnight stop of choice.
The northern corner of PEI was settled by the French and Irish so it is no surprise that the Catholic Church in Tignish is immense with beautiful grounds and a castle-like manse on this huge, well-manicured property. With the exception of through the two sections of the PEI National Park, the coast roads on PEI don’t run along the water like they did on Newfoundland. Viewpoints are not incorporated into road construction in either Newfoundland or PEI so photo options or options to see the coastline are extremely limited. For whatever reason the houses are set back a long ways from the sea. We have noticed that erosion is a big issue in many places on the island so perhaps that is why they chose to build so far from the shoreline. Or maybe it is because they are trying to keep the cold winter winds at bay? At any rate the roads generally travel inland of the houses so you don't get to see the sea unless you drive to the sea!
As we had noticed on our arrival agriculture is king in this part of the world. Field after field after field of crops cover the countryside completely. There is very little forested area although there are trees separating the fields from one another as well as along property lines. We were told by one gentleman that crops are, by law, on a three year rotation. If a field is planted in potatoes this year, next year it must be planted in a “cereal crop” and the third year maybe corn, clover, canola, etc. There are those who don’t comply with this strategy but it has received substantial support from farmers in order to maintain the integrity of their potato crop and not leach the ground of all its nutrients. A lot goes into growing those spuds you so casually consume at the dinner table, you know!!!
A quick stop at another provincial park revealed a gorgeous beach – yup, another gorgeous red sand beach. At the North Cape (tip of the peninsula) there is a Canadian government wind generating test site so many wind towers of various sizes and shapes dot the terrain, all circling at different speeds, heights and angles. An Interpretive Centre educates the public on the history of wind power, how this site works and what the future of wind power looks like. Donna’s back was causing her some issues so Wayne, Rudi & Betty all toured the centre and came out enthusiastically spewing factoids and information like the Encyclopedia Britannica!!!
A trail winds from the lighthouse past these giant fans down the coast. We all hiked an hour or so to get some views and pics of the rocky, red headlands. Pressing on to Cedar Dunes Provincial Park at West Point in the southwest corner, we set up with time to do a little exploring. There is a pretty lighthouse up the beach so we walked over only to discover that it has rooms attached and is a working B&B with an attached museum. A lighthouse in transition! It was a beautiful evening so we strolled the boardwalk reading all the historical signs along the way. It seems so quiet and peaceful in PEI. Even the campers are quiet in the mornings with no one seeming to be rushing around.