Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Come Play on Our Island


     For the past 10 years I have been going on a bike trip with a group of friends.  The destinations and people change somewhat from year to year, but, generally speaking, we are a bunch of retired teachers who do our trips on bike trails built on old railway beds.  That means they are relatively flat!  We have done trips in Quebec, PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine. 

     There have been some memorable trips for sure.  For example, there was the trip my dear friend Cheryl and I took to the Magdelan Islands. 

We didn't take the bikes off the bike rack.  Well, it's windy there.  And there are other things to do and see.  There's...

la boulangerie,
la fromagerie,
la patisserie,
la chocolaterie,

There was a former student to visit on L'ile D'Entree.

There was a little bit of gin to drink,

and some knitting to be done.
     Then there was our first trip to PEI where I booked us into an interesting establishment which was not only off-the-grid, but also off-the-beaten-path.  I get the feeling my colleagues were not exactly thrilled with my choice since it comes up every time we get together.  Some people, Donald, refer to it as The Funny Farm or Hillbilly Haven.  I will admit it was unusual. 
Hillbilly Haven
      And there was the trip to Quebec to bike Le P'tit Train du Nord, a linear park north of Montreal.  We biked 200 kilometres, 100 of which were paved, on a trail that seemed to be going downhill all the time.  Fantastic!!  On the advice of an old friend who had summered in the area, I booked us into an auberge in Mont Tremblant.  The accommodations for the 12 of us for 3 days included gourmet breakfasts and dinners.  Making the reservations over the phone in French (sort of), I was worried that I had misunderstood the final price as it seemed rather low.  I thought perhaps I had missed a zero or two in my understanding and was anxious that my Visa would implode when we checked out.  Happily, it was simply a great deal and my Visa survived.
Le P'tit Train du Nord

     This year, we decided to return to PEI to redo a section of the Confederation Trail in mid-September.  Still traumatized by my Hillbilly Haven faux pas, I was a bit nervous in searching out lodgings for us.  There was not a lot available for 7 people but I finally found a cottage at Greenwich which appeared to meet our needs.  Greenwich Cottage

 Cottage at Greenwich
The main cottage would sleep 5 people and the bunkhouse, which we fondly labelled The Woodshed, would sleep 2. 
 The Woodshed
The Mesheaus graciously volunteered to take The Woodshed, which, they assured us, was quite cozy. 
 Interior of The Woodshed
The Greenwich cottage had everything you would ever want or need, including WiFi, a Boston Bruins toaster, and an outdoor shower. 
Outdoor Shower
The Main Room
The Kitchen
The Bathroom
Double/Single Bunk Room
 Main Bedroom
The View from the Cottage
I was in touch with the owner on several occasions in making arrangements and she was most patient and helpful.  All in all, the cottage was a success.  Phew!  I recommend this place!
The Confederation Trail
     Our first day of biking was beautiful, fresh enough to encourage an energetic pace.  We started out in Morrell in the sunshine,
Peggy, Donald, Mike, Mary, Rick, Joan.
 and finished at Elmira in a hailstorm having covered 55 kilometres. 
Elmira, the End of the Line
We went by the ocean,
across bridges,
 and through the woods.
     Personally, I love the part through the woods.  I am reminded of the book The Substance of Light about the art of Mary Pratt.  I am not able to capture the substance of light through words or pictures but it is somewhat magical biking through the canopied trails where the light dances and leaks through the trees.

     Biking in mid-September offers a feast of color.  I kept jumping off my bike to take pictures in an effort to capture that color. 

Don't those colors just make you want to KNIT!!??  Inspired by the autumnal hues, I call these mittens, October. 


     Back in my other life as a teacher, in September and October I would take my students outside to inspire poetry in their souls.  One poem I always shared with them was A Vagabond Song by Fredericton's own Bliss Carman.  The line from that poem that stands out in my mind is "frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills."  While biking in PEI, I kept looking for the perfect picture to reflect that line of poetry. 
...frosty asters like smoke upon the hills...

A Vagabond Song
Bliss Carman(1861-1929)
There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.

Bliss Carman
    In the last few years our bike trips have become more relaxed.  There is no urgent need to complete a certain number of kilometres each day.  We are flexible and open to alternative activities such as.... 



making sand angels,


     Last weekend when I was telling my 90-year-old uncle about our PEI bike trip, he said in his sage and forthright manner, "Barb, don't you think you're a little old for that?"  I hope not!
Uncle Shirley
Until next time....