August 20: Cavendish, er, Avonlea, and beautiful red beaches

Okay. Is everyone familiar with Anne of Green Gables? The story of an orphan adopted by mistake (she was supposed to be a boy) who won everyone’s hearts over, anyway? The source of one of my favorite quotes? “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it… Yet.” Well, today I visited Green Gables, or at least the house L.M. Montgomery based Green Gables on (it belonged to some of her cousins). I also saw what’s left (just the foundations, alas) of the house where she wrote the book, and the house where she was born.

The path through the woods that I took to Green Gables, named after a landmark in the books.
The path through the woods that I took to Green Gables, named after a landmark in the books.
The Haunted Wood, which is actually quite lovely and not haunted at all [g].
The Haunted Wood, which is actually quite lovely and not haunted at all [g].
I did not expect to see jewelweed here, for some reason, but here it was.
I did not expect to see jewelweed here, for some reason, but here it was.
Hollyhocks in the garden at Green Gables.
Hollyhocks in the garden at Green Gables.
Green Gables itself.
Green Gables itself.
I thought this was clever.  This is the bedroom done up to look like the room Anne slept in the night she arrived.
I thought this was clever. This is the bedroom done up to look like the room Anne slept in the night she arrived.
And this room next to it was done up to look like her room as described near the end of the book.
And this room next to it was done up to look like her room as described near the end of the book.
I was walking back up the Haunted Wood trail to Merlin, when I spotted a little boy and his grandmother peering at something on the edge of the trail.   This caterpillar turned out to be what they were looking at [g].
I was walking back up the Haunted Wood trail to Merlin, when I spotted a little boy and his grandmother peering at something on the edge of the trail. This caterpillar turned out to be what they were looking at [g].
The view from the path to the remains of the house where L.M. Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables.
The view from the path to the remains of the house where L.M. Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables.
And another classic PEI bucolic farmland view.  The whole island looks like this.  It's so charming.
And another classic PEI bucolic farmland view. The whole island looks like this. It’s so charming.
This little dude was on the porch of the bookstore near where Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables.
This little dude was on the porch of the bookstore near where Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables.
The cellar hole of the house where Anne of Green Gables was written.
The cellar hole of the house where Anne of Green Gables was written.

Yeah, Cavendish, PEI, is to L.M. Montgomery and Anne Shirley what Hannibal, Missouri, is to Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer. There is one big difference, though. Most of the Anne sites are part of PEI National Park, so they’re not quite so commercial and in your face about it. OTOH, outside of the national park, there are amusement parks and wax museums and omigosh all kinds of silly stuff.

Touring Green Gables, and walking through the Haunted Wood was a lot of fun this morning, though. I took Lonely Planet’s advice, and parked Merlin at a little town park at the other end of the 1km long Haunted Wood trail, and approached Green Gables that way instead of from the huge parking lot and modern visitor center. They were right. It was much nicer. I had my parks pass in my pocket, so it wasn’t like I hadn’t paid or anything.

The Haunted Wood is just your basic spruce and birch woodland, but it’s a special spruce and birch woodland, because it’s the one where Anne got her wits scared right out of her because of her own imagination. Anyway, it was fun to make the pilgrimage, which is something I’d always wanted to do.

After a picnic lunch, I drove along the shoreline part of PEI National Park and admired the broad Gulf of St. Lawrence and the bright blue sky and the rusty red sands and cliffs. I’ve never seen an oceanscape quite like that one, and I enjoyed it very much. Then I drove around the island for a bit, and went back to my cabin, and chilled out for a while before I went out for dinner.

The northern shore of Prince Edward Island is gorgeous, isn't it?
The northern shore of Prince Edward Island is gorgeous, isn’t it?
Another view of the shore.
Another view of the shore.
This is the hamlet of French River, which apparently has been voted one of the prettiest towns in Canada for years.
This is the hamlet of French River, which apparently has been voted one of the prettiest towns in Canada for years.

I had a lobster supper tonight [g]. I ate soup and a half bucket of mussels (that’s how they serve them, by the bucket) and salad and a whole lobster, the mussels and lobster accompanied by melted butter, and the best dinner rolls I’ve had in a very long time. I finished the whole thing off with lemon meringue pie, and they basically had to roll me out of there when it was over. That’s more food I’ve eaten at one time since before I left home, I think. And every bit of it was delicious.

Lobster suppers are a staple of New England and the Maritimes, and especially of PEI, so this was a splurge I’d been thinking about making for a while now. Since I’m headed off of PEI and across New Brunswick towards Quebec tomorrow afternoon (I want to spend the morning in Charlottetown), I knew this would be my last chance. The supper place was just a mile or so down the road, and it came highly recommended by Lonely Planet, so I thought why not? And I’m glad I did!