Ditch the Travel Guide


If I don’t get to this straightaway, I forget, and then so much happens, and then so much more, until the pile is way too large to properly fold and put down on paper, so it just sits there, getting moldy. But that’s a disservice to myself, and tonight I’m determined to clean up, because if I don’t, it’ll never see light.

I had a long day on my way from Bar Harbor to Cavendish, P.E.I. My very first thought after driving across the island was that I might have made the same mistake I made by going to New Zealand; the only paved roads were the highways, and they had no shoulder, and they had 18-wheelers, and they had 100K speed limits.

Things got a little dimmer when I got close to Cavendish and pulled into the Fodors-recommended lobster shack in New Glasgow and it was full of fanny-packed tourists.

Dinner was great though, and so my spirits were lifted a little bit only to sink back down when I arrived in Cavendish at my accommodation, having passed glow-in-the-dark-mini-golf, a Ripley's Believe It Or Not, a Go-Cart track, and all kinds of uber-touristy shit I had not expected.

As it turns out, and nothing I read about PEI told me this, but a large part of the tourism portion of the island relies on people who lose their bowels for anything related to “Anne of Green Gables,” and those people have a penchant for being Japanese. Which is fine with me; go ahead and be Japanese and travel. Be German, be English, be whatever you are, but you are a tourist, and you are not interactive with your environment. I despise tourists, although the line is fine and I admit it.

My room is small, but I walk down to the beach to watch the sunset, which is late here because it is an hour ahead of EST. I was happy to be on the road, and there was the lapping of the waves on the red sand, and the sun setting, and I was excited to ride again in the morning.

I got up around 9 or so in order to go the restaurant that has the free breakfast for my hotel-motel-room-closet.

There was a lady there with her husband and when they got there, she learned that the hotel had only given her husband one free ticket for breakfast, and not two, which is what they needed to get two free breakfasts.

She could not believe it, because it just didn’t make sense, and she could not figure out how someone could make that kind of mistake, because obviously they were two people and not one person, so why would he have gotten only one free ticket? She could just not figure that out. So when the waiter came over to ask for the tickets the lady said that they only had one ticket and the waiter said they needed two tickets and the woman said that this was ridiculous and said that they were clearly two people and not one and it didn’t make sense that the hotel didn’t give them two tickets and she refused to pay the $6.95 for the breakfast she had. After they left, I gave the waitress a $20 bill and told her to be strong.

I also left my Fodors guide to Nova Scotia in my room, on purpose. It had not done me any favors so far, and I needed to get remote. 

I needed a ride. For some reason, I had 100K in mind, because I was in Canada, and things are measured in K and not M. The ride was great, because it turns out that there are plenty of paved roads in the north, and that I am here very early in the season, and the traffic is a fraction of what it will be in just a few weeks. The sun is out, and I’m still feeling about average until I am heading up a steep incline and a silver Mazda minivan pulls up next to me, the rear window goes down ghetto and slow, but out from it comes a tiny, cream-colored fist in a thumbs-up position, and a little girls’ voice that says “Good job, keep going!”

That basically reset the whole deal, and I took my head out my ass, and the rest was wonderful. Beautiful white, to pink, to purple lupins everywhere, golden fields, and red clay fields, and long straight rollers. I stopped about 70K in for a lobster roll and an iced tea and a view of the ocean. Within the last 6K a red fox came out of the woods and scared the shit out of me, until I realized, much later, that they are very common and not hungry for humans.

When the ride was over, I made my way to Malpeque, about a 20 mile drive from Cavendish. This part I had very high expectations for, and I always say that’s a no-no when traveling, but I felt confident that this could not go sideways. I wanted Malpeque oysters in Malpeque. There is only one place where you can do this, and it’s on the second floor of a fishing hut right on the small harbor. I made several wrong turns down red, muddy roads, but that was also part of the fun. At the Oyster Barn, there is only one window, and about 8 tables. In August, the line runs down the stairs, out the door, and around the building.

This is because Malpeque oysters are a very, very good oyster. The menu had other shit on it, but I paid no attention. I was also in luck, because oysters come in many sizes, but I prefer mine on the large side, and they had those in stock. They were shucked perfectly, and there was a fine film of seawater floating the meat so delicately, so tenderly. The Keiths beer was cold and served in a frozen glass and the first oyster got to me, emotionally, immediately. It was incredible and the only time that I have ever felt the rumored aphrodisiacal effect.

Then I drove to Charlottetown. I had a couple of great meals there, including one place called Terre Rouge (red earth) that was all local meat and homemade charcuterie and cheeses and local beer. I went for a ride which was not great. The first ten miles and the last ten miles was all Trans-Canada highway and no fun, but the middle 20 were really great. If you want more “Anne of Green Gables” and tee-shirt shops though, you can’t lose.

I went out to dinner at 4:30 that night, and managed to restaurant hop for about 5 hours and have around 6 appetizers and a number of beers before falling heavily to bed at the Dundee Arms.


The next day, I would be taking the ferry to Nova Scotia, and then driving North to Cape Breton.


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