We four women tourists all arrived at the ferry crossing to Prince Edward Island, in 5 o’clock traffic. Priscilla and I had pedaled 50 miles that day. Daughter Nancy and Vi helped secure our bikes on the car, and we ferried from Nova Scotia across to Prince Edward Island, or PEI. We drove around Charlottetown and made a quick selection of overnight accommodations; then we hurried back to watch the sunset from the beautiful sand beaches. Moment by moment the sun and a light wind created beautiful shadows and patterns in the slowly shifting sand dunes. I had never heard of sand dollars, but they were said to be lucky, so we collected several of their flat, round-as-a-dollar white shells on the beach.
Micmac Indians gave this island a name that meant "Cradled on the Waves" and, to us, standing there, PEI did look like a flat vessel floating in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. We drove around the town, located "The House of Green Gables," paid for a place to stay nearby and hurried back to the beach to enjoy the beautiful sunset.
Early European settlers on PEI were French; they later lost it to the British. It was annexed by its neighbor, Nova Scotia - which means "New Scotland." In addition to exporting fish, lobsters and oysters to the United States, the islanders produce and export top-crop potatoes and various dairy products to us. Nancy and I planned this trip to celebrate her graduation from Christian College; Priscilla and Vi, our friends from Kansas City, met us in Nova Scotia, hauling their bikes. Nancy and Vi took turns driving, and Priscilla and I usually pedaled.
We knew that some of the world’s highest tides were in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, so we stayed a night in Digby and saw two fishermen unloading their boat, carrying tackle and other gear up a ladder 35 feet from boat to dock. One man loaded smaller items into a bucket, and his partner on the dock pulled the bucketful up by a rope several times. That was a tough job! The next morning both fishermen stepped off the dock into that boat, which was floating against the dock! The tide, as predicted, had raised their boat 35 feet!
Our most unusual experience was unplanned: We drove to New Brunswick’s "Magnetic Hill," where the road "helps" cars up a hill as if a magnet is pulling the vehicle. The trip down the hill required our car to work hard - perhaps in second gear!
We went into the tourists’ shop and asked, "What pulls our car up that steep hill? How does that thing work?" No one could explain it. We guessed they didn’t want to reveal a trick, but I recalled another area like that on a western trip.
We were in the car to leave when Priscilla yelled, "Wait! Everyone get on your bike!" She was the "brain" of our tour. We took off downhill with hands touching the levers, ready to slow our speed. No! We had to pedal hard to get down that hill! And we flew back up with feet spread out wide; no pedaling was needed!
Even Priscilla doesn’t know why it works as it does. Optical illusion? Perhaps?
Today is not too soon to plan for excitement during this summer’s vacation. Buy a few travel magazines now and write for promotional literature from the places you’d really like to include this summer. Having an early plan will save your time and money, and you’ll have more memorable experiences in 2004.