Prince Edward Island!

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July 7th, Shediac to Summerside, 57 miles cycling, 9 miles riding [part #2]

Confederation Bridge. That is the name of the link attaching PEI and New Brunswick. This 14km long, billion dollar bridge was newly opened on June 1st to much fanfare and publicity. Its claim is "longest bridge over ice covered waters". Opening of the bridge has increase traffic on the island by 30% and some say changed it forever.

Seeing this new bridge was one thing I looked forward to on the trip. My view of the bridge was like the picture on left since bicycles are not allowed on the bridge. There are actually nice 4ft shoulders, but it is more a safety concern with winds, etc. A free shuttle service (i.e. pickup truck) is provided for cyclists. Not a bad deal since autos pay $35 to cross the bridge. While I was being driven across, radio chatter concerned bridge attendants catching one cyclist trying to sneak across. Claims he spoke only French and didn't see the signs. They may write him up with an $85 ticket.

Shuttle drops you off at a nice visitor area. Got info and maps about PEI. There is something about islands, particularly small islands, that can put one in a vacation mood. Decided to take a few easy days on the island. Cycled eighteen miles west to Summerside. Many potato fields, hay fields and small farms. Primary roads are fine, but secondary roads were a bit beat up. First two motels I tried were full (at 1pm!), but try number three was successful. Decided to stay for two nights.

July 8th, Summerside, 12 miles

Rest day on PEI. Slept in until 6am. Spent some of the morning wandering around the harbour. PEI grows 1/3 of Canada's potatoes and Summerside is the leading port in terms of amount of potatoes exported. With all that, I was surprised to find U.S. potatoes in the local supermarket. Perhaps this is because potatoes aren't harvested here until the fall.

Saw a nice fabric/painting exhibit in downtown Summerside. After that I wandered back past a museum dedicated to the fox industry. Apparently in the early 1900s, raising foxes for their fur was a leading industry on the island. At one point the business became speculative and a single pair of breeding foxes sold for $22,000. That crashed and the business is largely over now.

Over lunch I cycled to the nearby town of Miscouche. This is the start of the Acadian region and there is a nice Acadian cultural museum here. Acadie is the French name for a part of Nova Scotia where many French speaking settlers came. In the 1600s and 1700s, that region changed hands between England and France seven times. Finally, in 1755 with Britain and France again at war, the British deported 6,000 Acadian families from the area. Some had already settled on PEI (named Isle de Jean by the French). In 1758 there was a further deportation from PEI. The museum describes some of the early history as well as efforts to preserve language and culture.

In the afternoon, came back and took a boat ride out to the Confederation Bridge. A nice cruise out during which the boat went right under the piers. Got a better impression of the massive size of the Confederation bridge. Also made reservations in Charlottetown for the next evening. Motels are filling fast on the island, took me five tries.

July 9th, Summerside to Cornwall, 53 miles

Still in easy island mode. Took an easy scenic route today so that I'd be assured of accommodations. Left Summerside and cycled northeast with the wind past Kensington to the north shore at Cavendish. Gently rolling terrain with many low hills. Some grades are steep, but none are too long. Winds from the south, so tailwinds for this portion.

Cavendish is a touristy area and home to Prince Edward Island National Park. One of the premier attractions is the "House of Green Gables". In 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote "Anne of Green Gables", set in the fictious town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. This any many of her subsequent books were set in this area. Picture at left is the farm house described in her book, and picture at right is Anne's room. There are numerous souvenirs in the area including many red-haired, freckle-faced, Anne dolls with straw bonnets. While I haven't read the books, it was nice to see the farm house set in 1800s style.

After visiting the home, I decided to slowly head back to Charlottetown. It was spitting rain and there was a bit of a headwind. Slowly made my way across the low hills and south to Hunter River. From here eastwards and to the largest city on the island, Charlottetown.

In Charlottetown I decided to seek out a bicycle store again. The tread on my front tire had completely worn through in at least three places. I had two spare foldable tires with me, but I expected the tread to wear out on my rear tire before I was done. Found a good bicycle store, MacQueen's on Queen Street. In addition to servicing/selling bicycles, Gordon MacQueen organizes one and two week bicycle tours of Cuba. I bought nine tires and mailed eight home. The store had Michelin foldable tires which are otherwise discontinued. The store did a good job in cleaning the drive train, fixing my front brake and a few other maintenance items.

Cycled over to the motel for a short day in mileage. Motel told me every place was sold out between Charlottetown and the bridge. Good thing I had a reservation.

July 10th, Cornwall to New Glasgow, 50 miles cycling, 14 miles ferry

Easy cycling today. Overcast skies and winds from the south, but the total mileage was low. Little traffic on the road as I passed through Charlottetown. This somewhat in contrast to the day before when traffic had been amazingly heavy in town. After Charlottetown the road became rural with only one restaurant on my route until reaching the ferry.

Potato fields, but also other crops. Some wheat and other grasses. Also a fair amount of forest. Occasional rolling hills, but less than in yesterdays travels. At mile 16, I encountered Alice, another touring cyclist. My guess is that she was in her 40s or 50s. She had come from Vancouver and was also underway to St. John's. Her cycling tip of the day was, "if you want to leave your bicycle and wander around town, find a fire station...likely to be people there and likely to have some extra room".

Departed from #1 to take #23 as a short cut. It saved six miles, but also included three miles of gravel. Fortunately, the gravel was in good condition. Reached the ferry departure point and waited for an hour for the next ferry. There is some concern that the new bridge will cause ferry traffic to decline and eventually be canceled. Our boat was perhaps half full, but not certain how this compares to normal. Hour and a half to make it across to Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia! Another beautiful province. The initial route into town wasn't particularly picturesque, mostly nicely graded expressway through the woods. Passed by a large paper mill before making my way into town.

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