PEI Vacation 2009

August 25, 2009

We had such a FANTASTIC time, I don’t even know where to begin describing it.

I didn’t know what to expect when I “won” an RV Rental in the TIANS Silent Auction in December. We’ve always talked about how we thought it would be fun to travel with the kids that way, so this gave us a chance to try it out at a discount to see if enjoying it would be fantasy or reality. We booked my parents to come and take over the B&B and started planning our vacation in PEI.  (THANK YOU!!)  We booked into a Campground called “Twin Shores” in Darnley, PEI and it has spoiled us for all other camping!! Movies, kids activities, a playground, a store, Karaoke, Shuffleboard, Bocce Ball, a Baseball Diamond, and a Private Beach are just SOME of what they had to offer. Four nights was just not enough!

D’Arcy & the kids picked up the RV outside of Halifax on Monday morning and brought it home to pack. Not knowing what we would need, it took us awhile to get everything together. D’Arcy looked at me funny when we got everything in and I asked him how we were going to take five bikes (two with baby seats) & a tricycleplus the double stroller. Being the resourceful man he is, he found a way! We left for the Island shortly after one and took the Confederation Bridge to get there. We stopped in Summerside, near where we had rented a cottage last year, for groceries, and got to the Campground around suppertime.

We immediately set off exploring our new home. I’ve put our photos into slide-shows, chronologically for each day, with captions. If you click on them, they should start automatically.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: RV Trip Day1
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Day Two, our first full day, was Alex’s 9th Birthday. Nobody slept very long and Alex was anxious to open the gifts & cards we had brought along for him. We had breakfast of waffles with strawberry butter & bacon (Alex’s request) then cleaned up and headed for Mill River Fun Park, on the West Coast of PEI. (Also Alex’s request!) We discovered this fun park through our friends who are PEI natives, when Sarah was a baby, and have gone every year since. It is reasonably priced ($9/person over the age of six) and has water slides for every age/level of comfort. We spent the day there. It was so convenient to be able to go to the RV at mid-afternoon and have a snack (cheese & crackers & jalapeño jelly, olives, yogurt & drinks), clean up and go back to the park! Alex took the time to call my parents then too because he was “officially” nine!

We stopped for lobster on the way back to the campground and fed the kids nachos (Alex’s request) as the lobsters cooked. We all went off to Karaoke then came back and had a bonfire. The evening was topped off with sparklers & a waterslide cake that Evan made for Alex with minimal help from his mother… All in all, it was declared to be and “AWESOME” day!!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Day 2 - Alex's birthday
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On Day 3, when we woke up, D’Arcy told me, “You have to bid on this RV Rental if it’s at the Silent Auction again this year!”  We had made a decision to stay at the campground and not go touring around the Island.  We went running, flew Alex’s kite, rode bikes, spent time at the beach, played bocce ball, had a bonfire, etc.  It was so nice not to be on a schedule!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: RV Trip Day 3
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Day Four was more of the same.  We built sand castles & hung out together.  We ran into a number of people we knew, including our former neighbours!!  As it turned out, one of our favourite guests from the B&B had been at their campsite visiting just the night before.  I wish we’d known!!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: RV Vacation Day 4
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Our last day found us getting up and pulling everything together to check out of the campground by eleven.  I think we pulled out at about 11:05 (story of our lives!)  We went into Cavendish and played Mini-Golf and toured the "Ripley's Believe it or Not" Museum.  It was great.  We went to "lunch" at Boston Pizza in Charlottetown. At some point, I asked D'Arcy what time it was and he told me it was 3:50.  We realized that there was no way we could make the 4:30 Ferry, so we changed our plans and took our time.  We caught the 6:30 Ferry and tried to find a campground in the Pictou area, but they were all full.  (Our original plan was to spend the night on my farm in Tatamagouche, but taking the 6:30 Ferry meant we wouldn't get there until after nine and if things didn't work out, we'd have quite a drive to find another park.  We finally decided to camp at a campground within a half hour of home so that we could unload everything in the morning and get the RV back to Halifax by 11:30.

Once we made that decision, everything was great.  Sarah wasn’t happy on the Ferry (she doesn’t like the noise!) although she insisted we take it, rather than the Bridge!  Once we bought them all drinks, they were happy.  When we got to the campground and parked & hooked up, we were able to set the girls up with a movie while we played a game.  We had a blast, although I’m sure we were all very aware that this was our last night of freedom for quite awhile!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: RV Vacation Day Five
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While Olivia conked out, Sarah managed to stay awake, watching her movie until midnight.  We got the RV unloaded and back on time.  Well, we were five minutes late, but there were other people in front of us!   “Their Last Breakfast”:

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It was an amazing vacation, one that our boys say is second only to Disney World.  That’s got to be saying something…  We made many great family memories last week and I’ll be sad to have school start again next week.

From the words of one of the songs in “Anne of Green Gables – the Musical”:  “Why can’t it always be summer?”

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We left the beach last week with the promise of returning again on Friday.

Yesterday, as soon as the guests were gone, the cleanup was done and swimming lessons were over, we (the kids & I) headed back to “the cottage” while D’Arcy stayed home, looking after the B&B and – you guessed it – writing his Thesis.

It was a gorgeous day, sunny & hot, the way a summer day should be!  We went through the McDonald’s drive-thru to feed the kids and I had a McLobster.  We hit the road, after stopping at the market for some corn-on-the-cob and fresh berries to take with us.

The Tall Ships have been in Nova Scotia for the past couple weeks, and were docked in Pugwash, so we checked them out as we were passing by.  I have never seen so many people in Pugwash, and the excitement in the air was palpable.  If you notice in the photo, “Theodore Tugboat” led the procession of Tall Ships in and had his place of honor among the others!

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We drove along past some farms, and apparently my daughters are not farm girls!

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(Either that or the smell was coming from Evan’s feet!)  ;-D

It was mid-afternoon when we finally arrived at the cottage and this time the tide was out, and just starting to come back in.  We grabbed all the shovels & pails & beach equipment we needed and went down to the sandbars.

Evan found a "tickle fish" and everyone else was curious

Evan found a "tickle fish" and everyone else was curious

Walking from sandbar to sandbar

Walking from sandbar to sandbar

Olivia would lie on the sandbar until the water came in around her and covered her

Olivia would lie on the sandbar until the water came in around her and covered her

After a couple of hours of digging, playing, running, swimming & burying jelly-fish, Nate decided it was time to go back to the cottage.

After a couple of hours of digging, playing, running, swimming & burying jelly-fish, Nate decided it was time to go back to the cottage.

We stayed on the beach a little longer, but Olivia wasn't too far behind!

We stayed on the beach a little longer, but Olivia wasn't too far behind!

The girls at the beach

The girls at the beach

Back up at the cottage, Nate had fun hosing the sand off everyone!

Back up at the cottage, Nate had fun hosing the sand off everyone!

Luckily, Alex was a good sport!

Luckily, Alex was a good sport!

The boys spent the rest of their time shooting golf balls off the bank onto the sandbars.

The boys spent the rest of their time shooting golf balls off the bank onto the sandbars.

...while the younger set went "fishing" in the bunk house.

...while the younger set went "fishing" in the bunk house.

Sarah pulled them all over the yard - pretty impressive since they each probably weigh almost as much as she does!

Sarah pulled them all over the yard - pretty impressive since they each probably weigh almost as much as she does!

Olivia (we're getting haircuts today!)

Olivia (we're getting haircuts today!)

Sarah was being a ham, and did not want her photo taken.  Nice face!

Sarah was being a ham, and did not want her photo taken. Nice face!

Sandy & Nate

Sandy & Nate

Nate loved Olivia's cupcakes!

Nate loved Olivia's cupcakes!

After a supper of hodge-podge, corn-on-the-cob & cold pork tenderloin, we enjoying the evening on the deck.

After a supper of hodge-podge, corn-on-the-cob & cold pork tenderloin, we enjoying the evening on the deck.

The boys went down at high tide and tried to collect as many of the golf balls as they could find before we left!  (See all those little white dots in the water?)

The boys went down at high tide and tried to collect as many of the golf balls as they could find before we left! (See all those little white dots in the water?)

It was a fun day.  Other highlights included finding a starfish, many hermit crabs, depleting the jelly-fish population by burying them, doing the dishes in quiet companionship, and the memory of two naked two-year-olds, climbing into the freezing cold water in the old washtub.  Olivia’s clothes were soaked so she drove home, naked, wrapped in a towel.  The girls were both asleep by the time we got to the end of the lane, and the boys weren’t far behind.

Yesterday felt like the first day of summer to me.

We’ve been packing in lots of summertime activities, but as you may have noticed from our photos, most have taken place under overcast or precipitating skies.  Yesterday turned out to be a gorgeous day, so I packed the kids in the van, left D’Arcy home working on his Thesis and minding the shop, and we headed to the beach. Not just any beach, but to our friends’ cottage on a wonderful private beach along the Northumberland Straight.  I have spent many a happy (and sad) times at that cottage, and I love the fact that the kids now ask me when we’re going to “the cottage”.  They’ve been there every summer they’ve been alive and I’m glad that area holds special meaning to them; I hope they grow-up with a happy feeling when they think about our visits there.

The tide was completely in when we arrived, so the girls made themselves at home right away, playing on the bank while we waited for the tide to turn so we would have some beach to play on.
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After about an hour, we went down to the small patch of sand that had appeared.  Evan was waiting (impatiently) to build a sand castle and spent some alone time at the water’s edge.  (Where did this teenager come from?!?)
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They all threw rocks into the water, and did their best to skip stones.  (Some had better technique than others…)

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Alex & Evan both climbed the rocks that have been placed against the banks to protect them from erosion.

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Sarah found a lady bug and named her “hot chocolate”.  She played with her quite a long time before letting her go.

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Then she went back to the serious work of digging in the sand.

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When Evan came around, he started to play ball with Olivia.  She has no fear of the water and was prancing around like a little mermaid.

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When everyone was getting hungry, we moved back up to the cottage, where we tried throwing the boom-a-rang.  (We were never successful at getting it to come back to us!!)

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Olivia warmed right up to Grammie F, even though she hadn’t seen her for awhile.  She and was enthralled by Clara, holding her for a bit and asking about her the whole drive home.  “Where’s Clara?”

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She loved the freedom of the cottage, and used the kayak as a balance beam.

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Once the wind had died down, the kids were able to make huge bubbles – fun for both the kids & the grownups to watch!

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Before long, it was time to pack up and come home, but not before we made plans to get back there this weekend when Sandy & Nate will be home too!

It finally feels like summer has begun!

How lucky are we?

June 20, 2009

I remember back in 1994, I was lucky enough to travel to Germany & the Netherlands and got to go visit my “sister”, Bettina, an exchange student from Berlin who had lived with my parents and me in 1989-90, the year the Berlin Wall fell.  My friend Karen & I met a guy on the train along the way from Iowa, who had NEVER SET FOOT IN THE OCEAN (Other than flying over it, he’d never seen it!!)

I’ve never forgotten that.  Imagine never being in the Ocean!

Aren’t we lucky, that Alex got to go the beach for the day with school on Friday, just because it was a close, easy & inexpensive trip.  Here are some photos – don’t you wish you could have been there too?  I do!  (However, I was having an equally wonderful time at Sarah & Neil’s preschool concert while Ginna was the lucky one who got to chaperone!)

Happy to be spending the day at the beach

Happy to be spending the day at the beach

Pulling a piece of driftwood in from the Atlantic!

Pulling a piece of driftwood in from the Atlantic!

A perfect day in every sense of the word!

A perfect day in every sense of the word!

Parachute!
Parachute!
More games!

More games!

Low(er) tide

Low(er) tide

Alex & Maddie

Alex & Maddie