Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two Days in C'town and Three meals at Gahan House Pub


Bram and I agree, that this cozy microbrewery and restaurant may be our favourite restaurant in the world. Dear El Fogon in Playa del Carmen gets bumped to second, but doesn't have to worry too much since I will visiting it much more often than Gahan.

For lunch, Bram had the Chicken Goat Cheese wrap and I had the Pulled Pork Sandwich made with their house BBQ sauce. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!


For dinner, we shared another build your own pizza (chorizo, roasted red peppers, goat cheese, BBQ sauce) and a prime rib sandwich.

We celebrated our last night in PEI with another dinner at Gahan. We weren't very hungry, and took the server's suggestion of nachos with pulled pork. We weren't disappointed!


And after telling her our story of how many times we had been to the restaurant, and how some days dreaming of eating here was the only thing that got me up some of the hills on our rides, she brought us a complimentary pecan tart, topped with Cow's pecan ice cream as a thank you for our patronage. What a sweet way to finish our trip!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to Charlottetown!

Trip distance: 68km
Lori's new speed record: 47.1 kmh

That's really as fast as I need or want to go on a bike. I wasn't even trying. In fact, I was braking. That should tell you something about the hills we had to climb!

This felt like one of our best rides physically. The light wind was at our backs, the clouds were thick to protect us from the heat, and at least in the beginning the hills were gentle. So we ended up taking the long scenic route along the shore. Then as we got closer to Charlottetown, we hit the hills! It was somewhat cruel, because we could see Charlottetown about 2km off in the distance across the water, but had to ride around the water for 40 km! Plus a chunk of that was on a busy highway with no shoulder. That's the worst for riding. 

We stopped in Cornwall for a better-than-expected lunch at Pizza Delight (restaurant options were limited) and rolled into our B&B by 4:00 pm. 

The Merchantman Pub gets high reviews, but we thought it was mostly average for the price. Bram had the street chicken and I had their award winning east-west burger. While it was indeed a tasty burger, for $13 with no side, I expected more wow.




Wandered around shops and hunted for our favorite peanut butter fudge crunch ice cream before hitting bed early.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Overlooking Malpeque Bay


Victoria by the Sea

(editors note: we have gotten a little out of sequence on our posts. The events here took place on or around August 17th)
We have a whole day to explore this tiny town! We started with our complimentary breakfast in the tea room. Fresh, warm raspberry muffins and baked eggs Benedict. Yum! 


Then a long lounge on the deck of the Island Chocolate shop where I had a coffee rimmed with melted milk chocolate, topped with whipped cream and Bram had a hot chocolate. I sipped it slowly, savoring the sweet and bitter, and they just kept topping off my coffee as I wished. Heaven.


We strolled through the remaining shops before lunch at a little take out stand. Fried clams, caesar salad, and fish and chips. 


Then we decided on a bike ride in search of dessert. The Blue Goose restaurant was further than we expected, 8 km, but it was such a pretty ride. 


We split a piece of blueberry pie with ice cream. The waitress asked, "Should I bring two forks or should I cut it in half and put it on two plates?" We opted for the two plates, and when she brought them I said, "That's one piece cut in half?!" Her response, "It is today!" with a wink. I love people here! Though I'm eating so much that despite all the exercise I'm getting, I'm sure to put on a few pounds!


The clouds, view and light are so pretty here that Bram went out shooting.



After he got back, we went for supper to the Lobster Barn again. Once again we had a delicious dinner at a very reasonable price. Philly cheese steak and chicken fingers, with chocolate peanut butter cake for dessert. 


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Off the Confedation Trail


Look what I made!

Lori writes and takes pictures!

Like I said in a previous post, who wouldn't be creative at Victoria by the Sea?

After dinner, Bram wanted to take pictures and I went with him. I started pointing out things for him to shoot. Then, using my iPhone, I started quietly just taking my own pictures. Here's what I made!

Lori and Bram taking pictures together.


Self portrait.



Another self portrait.

Famous south shore red sand.



A view of the warf.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Borden-Carlton to Victoria by the Sea

Trip Distance: 20 km

(Lori writing)

After 6 nights, we reluctantly packed up and left Sun 'n' Shade Campground. It was touching that they were as sad to see us go as we were to leave. However, as we read in another blog, it is wise to leave a place before you get sick of it. So on our bikes we went to a nearby town, Victoria by the Sea.

We're on the last leg of our trip, with no more camping or cooking in our plans, finishing our trip on a high note of B&B's and restaurants. We are booked for two nights at the Orient Hotel, which is really a B&B. When we got to our room, I quickly double checked with the owners that we were put in the right room, because it was much more posh than what we paid for...a king size suite rather than a queen size room. Yup, complimentary upgrade because of a double booking!

Victoria by the Sea lives up to its reputation: a quaint 3x2 block town filled with some of the best that PEI has to offer. In general the Island pace is slow, but here time feels like it stops as you stroll through the various shops or along the waterfront. It has a very strong arts community, and I can understand why. Who wouldn't be creative in such a place?!

Along the roads we have seen many properties for sale, and this little town prompted me to go on MLS to see what the prices are like. So tempting to sink into this kind of life for a while.

There are three restaurants in town, two of them having been featured in travel and food media. The third, not as well known (or as expensive) was our choice for dinner. The Lobster Barn, right on the wharf, was a big hit! Sweet potato fries with a spicy mayo to start, followed by grilled shrimp, veggies and jasmine rice, and the grilled haddock with PEI new potatoes. So good I think we will also eat here tomorrow!


Hunter River


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Adventure day: MacCallum's Point

Trip distance: 50 km

(Bram writing)
One of the nice things about staying in one campsite for so long is that it gives us a chance to explore the area more. Many of the tourers we've met have been very strong on the touring component, rarely spending more than one night at any given stop. While I understand the appeal, it's just not enough time for me as a photographer. I certainly have taken a few shots on the road, but I much prefer to have a dedicated shooting day- it lets me travel more lightly so I can cover a greater distance if needed or linger in one spot until I feel I have worked it reasonably thoroughly.

I admit I was also starting to feel restless after so long in camp. As I was considering my options, Lori was hanging out in her hammock and considering another relaxing camp day. The more ready I got, though, the more she felt the same urge to get out and explore. We wound up going out on our day trip together, visiting one of the many points (and lighthouses) nearby.

Our ride took us along the number 10 highway (and some of our experiences on that day prompted us to finally write the previous post on cycling safety, bringing together ideas and experiences we'd both been working through on our own) into the Bedeque area- we went through Bedeque, had lunch near Central Bedeque, and had to travel through Lower Bedeque to get to the point. We skipped North Bedeque.

Lunch was the daily special at the Chillax Cafe, chili and a biscuit.


MacCallum's Point was picturesque. It seems to be a somewhat popular watering spot for the locals, with a dozen or so swimmers and sunners hanging out. I had hoped to get closer to the lighthouse, but it was at the end of a long breakwater and I was reluctant to scramble all the way out. We explored the warm, shallow water for a bit- it was full of mussels and the occasional oyster- before Lori settled down to read and relax while I ventured around with my camera.


There is also a cute old schoolhouse that has been turned into a museum.

On the ride back we stopped for some ice cream. PEI has a lot of local ice cream, and ours favorites are all based on peanut butter. I don't know if we just don't go out for ice cream at home enough or if there is a regional difference, but I don't remember seeing nearly as much peanut butter ice cream at home (sauce, more so, but not in the ice cream itself).

When we got back to camp, another set of cross-country cyclists came in for the night. We chatted for a bit in the games room of the campground, and discovered that they are spookily similar to Lori and myself in a lot of ways. We exchanged blogs this morning before parting ways and beginning our trek to Victoria by the Sea.

North Rustico Harbour


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

May We Be Safe

This post is written as a joint effort. It's a bit of rant, and a bit of plea.

Let me say here that overall, riding here has been a pleasure compared to back home where I have indeed been side-swiped by a careless driver and we have had things thrown at us by cars going 100 kmh. Generally drivers here are very courteous, slowing down and giving us a full lane when they pass. Although, we have also joked that we can tell where a car is from by how much lane they give us on passing (Islanders give us 4 feet, Quebecers give us 4 inches).

Generally people like us and want us to be safe. But they say it like this, "Oh be careful!" before launching into the cautionary tale of the cyclist from Alberta who was killed at Hunter River...on a stretch of road that we were on just a couple of weeks after she was.

I try really hard to take what they are saying in the spirit that it is meant, which is that I think they are trying to say, "Oh my, cyclists are so vulnerable on the road! May you be safe." But sometimes it does rub me the wrong way, because to be frank, there is not much more that we can do to be safe... We wear helmets, reflective gear, safety triangles, lights, try to stick to quiet roads or paved shoulders, don't ride at night and don't ride if we have been drinking. The only additional measure we could take is to not ride at all. It's a little along the lines of trying to teach women how not to get raped. We do what we can to use common sense, but in the end, whether or not someone hurts us is dependent on someone else.

The poor woman who was killed on the road was also an extremely cautious cyclist. She was killed by an allegedly drunk driver. ( http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/07/16/edmonton-cyclist-killed-pei.html?cmp=rss ) I say "allegedly" in the legal sense that he may not yet have been convicted this time, but according to local sources, this will be his fourth DUI conviction and he is facing 25 years in prison. Anecdotally, we have been warned many times that drinking and driving is a common problem on PEI, and the number of beer cans at the side of the highways seems to back the tales up. As a cyclist, what can we do to protect ourselves from that?

The answer, obviously, is nothing.

However, there are things you can do, if you really care about our safety and the safety of all cyclists- and I believe you do care!

First, and this is a no-brainer, have zero tolerance for drinking and driving. Don't do it yourself, and if you see someone making a bad call, intervene. This should not be controversial in the slightest, and it's the law in one form or another in most countries.

Second, and this should be a no brainer, have zero tolerance for distracted driving. Numerous studies have shown that talking on a cellphone (even hands free) or worse, texting, has at least as much of a negative impact on your situational awareness and reaction times as driving under the influence does. Similar to alcohol, most provinces either have or are introducing laws banning the use of cellphones and other devices while driving. Unfortunately, while most people seem to give lip-service to the idea, actually following through and putting the cellphone down is less common.

Every day- no exaggeration, every single day- that I've been on the roads I've seen at least one driver on a cellphone, usually more. My biggest scare so far happened in Charlottetown, when I was fully loaded and struggling up a steep hill with no shoulder. A semi truck, complete with a big load of its own, came trundling up behind me. The driver was talking on his cellphone. I ended up forced off the road because he either didn't see me or just didn't care, and I believe that I would be road pizza had I not taken the risk of a wipeout off the side of the pavement.

Unfortunately, we don't yet have the same culture shift around distracted driving that we have around drunk driving. A good friend of mine is often taking and making calls while driving, and sometimes even texting. Every time I am a passenger and he does it, I try to call him on it, but it's always hard. "I can handle it, I'm a good driver" or some variation is the typical response. What he doesn't seem to get is that he can handle it every time up until he can't, but then it's too late and someone is hurt or dead in a completely preventable accident.

So, please, have zero tolerance for driving under the influence of drink, drugs, or distractions. When you see someone you care about making one of these mistakes, stop them. When you see a stranger doing the same, intervene if you can. Standing up against drunk and distracted driving is both legally and morally the right thing to do. Anyone who gives you grief for taking such a stand does not deserve your respect.

That's the relatively obvious stuff. A little harder, but no less valuable to everyone on the road (motorist, cyclist, hiker, or whatever) is changing how you drive around cyclists. Indeed, this post has been bubbling in my head for about a week now, right after a chat with a couple at the lobster supper in New Glasgow. The line I just can't seem to get out of my head is the guy saying, "The thing I really hate is when cyclists take up a whole lane on the road. Like...I don't wanna have to slow down!"

On some level I knew this is often the attitude toward cyclists; that we are an inconvenience and little appreciation for the awesomeness that we are. But I couldn't help but be shocked into silence that someone said this out loud to us during a friendly conversation, without any realization that there could be something wrong with it. The best I could come up with at the time was, "Well, at least you have the ability to slow down...we are already going as fast as we can." He shrugged and said, "Well I guess that's true."

Since then I've come up with all kinds of things I wish I'd said instead, like, "Slow down, as opposed to what? Passing us unsafely into oncoming traffic, squeezing both us and oncoming vehicles onto our respective shoulders so that you're not 30 seconds later to your destination than you'd planned?"

Really, most of the time, that's the kind of impact it will have on a motorist to be cautious and safe around cyclists- 30 seconds of travel time and a tap on the brakes. If there is a slow moving tractor on the road, most people seem to understand that the tractor is going as fast as it can and will wait for a safe opportunity to pass. Cyclists are much the same- we're going as fast as we can, there will be a safe place to pass sooner or later, and slowing down might "cost" you a minute of travel time. Racing by us at full speed inches away may cost us our lives. Even if you don't hit us directly, we have to fight against the draft of your vehicle and you've scared us.

In summary, when you have the urge to tell a cyclist to be careful, instead turn that caution back on yourself. Walk up to the cyclist you want to caution and tell them "I know it's dangerous on the roads for you. I will be a careful driver." when you see a cyclist on the road, don't curse them as a nuisance, instead admire their determination and respect their choice to travel under their own power.

Do that, and we all win.

Hunter River, color and infrared


This is one reason I have really started to work with infrared photography for landscapes. Artistically, i love the etherial quality that often comes from infrared capture, especially when combined with a long exposure time. As well, much of my shooting ends up being done in the middle of the day, which is not ideal for landscapes. The files can be a little tricky to work with in some ways, but are much easier in others. Just to show the difference, I have two images of the same scene, one with the IR filter and the other without.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's a small world after all

(Bram writing)

We are approaching our longest stay in any one spot since we arrived on the island. The combination of a lovely campground and rainy weather has made it an easy decision to relax for a few days at the Sun 'n' Shade campground in Borden Carlton. We also have some fun new neighbours, in two senses. The first and most obvious sense is that they are camping in the site next to us (though the sites are very spacious so we have plenty of elbow room). The second sense is that they are from Winnipeg. In the West End. On the same street we live, a few blocks away.

It really is a small world.


Sam and Stacey have been (hitch)hiking on their own adventure for quite a while now, and they just happened to need a place to set up tent before crossing the Confederation Bridge. This campground was the best spot, and they arrived at the office when Lori was there. As often happens on this trip, they got to talking and introductions, leading us to the amusing realization that we are neighbours back home. The first Winnipeggers we meet, too!

We've been sharing quite a bit over the last two days: sangria and freshly baked apple crisp led to a joint kitchen and dinner with fresh fish, fish cakes, fresh salad, and more sangria and apple crisp (they made the latter with hand-picked apples from the trees around the Confederation Trail, fudge, and oatmeal. Best apple crisp ever). During the day yesterday, Stacey borrowed Lori's bike to go on a little photography excursion with me. And, of course, we've shared lots of stories!



Today, Lori and I visited Chelton Beach, one of the spots that Stacey and I had photographed at. The beach is literally crawling with tiny hermit crabs!


It was a lovely beach day, a mix of sun and clouds, plus an impressive rainstorm on the horizon. My ride distance has been about 25km per day over the last two days. And we've just bumped into another two cycle tourers who are camping next to us!

Wheat


Off the Confederation Trail, between St Peters and Mount Stewart. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

One more from Panmure Island


Another one from a while back, on our ride between Wood Islands and Brudenell Park. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lookout


Shot from a lookout point on our long ride between Brudenell and Campbell's Cove. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Malpeque Bay to Borden-Carlton

Trip Distance: 40 km

(Lori writing)

It's interesting how our frame of reference has changed over this trip. This was an "easy and short" ride to our next destination. 40 km loaded seems so manageable now, especially on the confederation trail, which is mostly flat. I hardly notice the slight inclines anymore.

One of my sabbatical goals is to really make an effort to mostly do only things I want to. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's more challenging than you might first think. Nothing is all good or all bad, so you have to figure out the amount of bad you're willing to put up with in order to enjoy the good. Some other things that you don't like doing (going to the gym) are necessary steps toward things that you really want to do (a month long cycling adventure!)

So we were faced with this challenge at our last campground. One day in to our four day reservation, the bad started to outweigh the good. I'm typically one to just slog on through, trying to make the best of it, but being a little miserable the whole time. I feel quite a sense of accomplishment at my (and our) ability to sort through this challenge in about half an hour before deciding to pack up and head off to our next destination.

And I am so glad we did!

None of the campgrounds so far have really had it all, having to sacrifice things like privacy for community, etc. Sun 'n' Shade Campground is a gem that has the community feel of Campbell's Cove, facilities and ownership presence of New Glasgow, and woodsy feel of Brudenell. Plus it is within walking distance of Borden-Carlton, the little village at the confederation bridge that has a well-stocked convenience store, liquor store, restaurant, Tim Horton's and a Cow's Ice Cream outlet!!

Let me qualify all this by saying that it is primarily an RV resort, and we are in one of the few tenting spots on the edge in the trees. I can see only one other tenting site occupied, by someone who hasn't actually stayed there yet. If I were in an RV, I'm not sure I would be as excited, as they seem to be spaced very close together and I don't see much in the way of personalization that I've seen at other places, such as permanent decks or gardens.

After set up, supper, a walk into the village and some much needed Cow's ice cream, we encountered what so far is the highlight of our trip: the nightly evening concert! A full house was treated to a mix of old bluegrass and country, complete with a mandolins, fiddles, guitars, keyboard and stand up bass. Even the open mic portion of the evening drew in some very talented people. When they announced that there will be a gospel concert on Sunday, Bram whispered to me, "Hmm, I guess we'll be going to church twice this year!" (The one time always being the gospel workshop at the Winnipeg Folk Festival). Concerts are free, with any proceeds raised from raffles and donations going to a children's hospital.

These gentlemen call themselves the Campground Friends, one of them 89 years old, and none under 70.


The middle couple of this group is our camp hosts, Harold and Marnie. I was mesmerized not just by Marnie's skill, but also her look and aura of pure contentedness.

Also, we are clearly in the bottom fifth percentile when it comes to age here, which is just our speed!


Friday, August 10, 2012

Adventure day: Summerside

Trip Distance: 20 km

(Bram writing)

We had a pretty low key day. Breakfast and lunch at the campsite, separated by some lounging around. After lunch, we hopped on our bikes for the quick ride (10km or so) into Summerside, a town large enough to have a boundary area on the map rather than just a dot.

We wandered along the harbourfront, checking out the various craft and souvenir stores. After that, we walked about a kilometer to visit the College of Piping for one of their "mini concerts". They are part education and part performance, with students at the college giving a little history of highland dance, bagpipes, and snare drums, then demonstrating. It ended with a piper, drummer, and dancer doing a little number together. We could tell they were students and the concert was not what I would call "polished", but they were very earnest and decently skilled.

Our ride back to camp was cooler thanks to the clouds that had rolled in. Rain rolled in with them, however, but I managed to get everything important to shelter under the tent before it really hit.

The campground is okay, but not as nice as Campbell's Cove or the New Glasgow Highlands ground near Hunter River. The owners are not as good at keeping the sites clean (no big litter, but lots of little scraps of paper/plastic, beer bottle caps, etc.) and some of the animals, especially the crows, are hanging around and scavenging from sites. It also doesn't have either the sense of community in Campbell's Cove or the privacy in New Glasgow Highlands, while still charging a similar amount. Our little corner of quiet ended up filled with noisy neighbors, bawling babies, yelling youngsters, and blaring boom boxes.

Introverts unite!



Lori has taken to bringing a book with her when I have my cameras going. These were taken closer to the start of our trip in Brudenell park. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012