August 21-22: Goodbye, PEI, and hello, rain

I knew I wasn’t going to leave PEI until late yesterday afternoon, and I was lucky that my last day on the island was such beautiful weather – bright sunshine and low 70s, like a perfect summer day at home.

I spent my morning driving along the north coast through the rest of PEI National Park, admiring more rust-colored beaches.

I've seen a lot of hawkweed in my time, but never in this bright an orange.
I’ve seen a lot of hawkweed in my time, but never in this bright an orange.
Dunes covered in grass at PEI National Park.
Dunes covered in grass at PEI National Park.
People actually swim in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at these beaches.  The water, according to a signboard I saw, was supposed to be around 16-18C today (upper 60sF).  Brrr...
People actually swim in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at these beaches. The water, according to a signboard I saw, was supposed to be around 16-18C today (upper 60sF). Brrr…
I love PEI's sand. Just look at the colors!
I love PEI’s sand. Just look at the colors!

I gradually made my way to Charlottetown. I’d planned on going to Province House, where representatives from Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (but ironically enough, not PEI) got together and decided to confederate themselves into Canada, back in the 1860s. Unfortunately, though, the building was closed for conservation work, so I basically walked around town for a bit, then drove out to Victoria Park, which is on a stubby peninsula sticking out into Charlottetown Harbor.

Charlottetown (which had the only stoplights I saw on the island) has some really odd-looking (to my eyes, anyway) traffic signals.  Yes, the red lights are square and the yellow lights are diamond-shaped.
Charlottetown (which had the only stoplights I saw on the island) has some really odd-looking (to my eyes, anyway) traffic signals. Yes, the red lights are square and the yellow lights are diamond-shaped.
Looking out across Charlottetown Harbor from Victoria Park.
Looking out across Charlottetown Harbor from Victoria Park.
The Charlottetown (pop. 35,000, and the biggest city on the island) skyline from Victoria Park.
The Charlottetown (pop. 35,000, and the biggest city on the island) skyline from Victoria Park.

Victoria Park sort of reminded me of a miniature Stanley Park, with a waterfront promenade and lots of flowers and trees. But considering that I haven’t seen Stanley Park since I was a kid (in spite of the fact that Vancouver is only about four hours north of Tacoma), I could be wrong [g]. Anyway, it was lovely.

And so I started wending my way back towards the Confederation Bridge, with a detour to Fort Amherst/Fort LaJoye National Historic Site, across the harbor from Charlottetown. The double name is because the French settled it first, then the Brits took it over after the Treaty of Utrecht and renamed it. This was another site where the poor Acadians got booted out.

The Charlottetown skyline from Fort Amherst/Fort la Joye.
The Charlottetown skyline from Fort Amherst/Fort la Joye.
A monument to the Grand Derangement (the expulsion of the Acadians) at Fort Amherst/Fort la Joye.
A monument to the Grand Derangement (the expulsion of the Acadians) at Fort Amherst/Fort la Joye.
The remains of Fort Amherst.
The remains of Fort Amherst.

I was admiring the view when I got to talking with an older local couple, who I got to ask about the climate. I was astonished to learn that Charlottetown Harbor freezes over almost every year, just like Lake Erie does. I’m not sure why that astonished me, except that I guess it seems too far south for salt water to freeze over. Anyway, I find it very difficult to imagine this part of the world in the wintertime for some reason.

Field of what I think is rapeseed (the plant they make canola oil from) on PEI.
Field of what I think is rapeseed (the plant they make canola oil from) on PEI.

I drove on along the south coast of PEI, past fields and ocean and views, until I reached the bridge, where I paid my $46 Canadian to cross back to New Brunswick, and then turned west, looking for a provincial park that said it had campsites. It took me a while to reach Murray Beach Provincial Park, but it was well worth it, right on the water with a nice sandy beach and an incredible view, especially at sunset.

Sunset at Murray Beach, New Brunswick.
Sunset at Murray Beach, New Brunswick.
Doesn't it look almost tropical?
Doesn’t it look almost tropical?
One last sunset shot.
One last sunset shot.

This morning I woke up to clouds, which, since I’d figured on a driving day across New Brunswick, didn’t seem like a bad deal. It was when I stopped for lunch and groceries about noon, and came back outside to a driving rain at least as heavy as the one on Cape Breton Island the other day that I thought maybe this wasn’t so great. I did make it to Woodstock, NB, about an hour west of Fredericton, this afternoon, but there was no way I was camping in this, so I found a motel, and I am taking full advantage of Real WiFI [tm] tonight.

Tomorrow I shall cross the border into Quebec. Here’s hoping it won’t be in a downpour.