ROAD TRIP BACKGROUND: My first day at Michigan State University in 2002 I met a girl who would become one of my very best friends, Emma. She lived on my floor, down the hall. That afternoon she was hanging out of her door and spotted me walking down the hall. She asked me if I knew what time the pep rally was, and I happened to be heading to it right then. I invited her to come along with me, and on the walk from Rather Hall to the football stadium we became best friends. We discovered that we basically had identical childhoods, and loved all the same books & movies & TV shows. Her roommate, Emily (yes, the three of us are Emily, Emily, and Emma), was in the fantastic Spartan Marching Band, and so the first few weeks of school she was at band practice, class, or sleeping almost all of the time. But once things settled down with band we quickly bonded with her as well, and we became an inseparable group of three for the remainder of college. We called ourselves the Red Shoe Cult, or RSC, which is a backstory that must be saved for a different post. (It involves Emily and I coincidentally owning the exact same pair of awesome red sneakers from American Eagle, and then us going out to buy Emma a pair of them as well.)
One of the passions Emma and I share is a love for Anne of Green Gables. We both grew up reading and re-reading the books and watching the mini-series with Megan Follows. One Sunday that autumn we watched the entire mini-series together in my dorm room when it aired as a marathon on PBS. Emma and I have done a lot of traveling together in the 9 years post-college (most of it super nerdy literary pilgrimages), and we vowed that someday we’d make it to Prince Edward Island together. 12 years after we first met and bonded over books, we got to take that trip: our Anne of Green Gables pilgrimage. Emily had to work and couldn’t join us for the trip to Canada, but we got to stay with her on the way there and back and get some quality RSC time in, which is hard to do in person these days since we live in 3 different states.
Emma flew to NYC, and we set off from Brooklyn on a sunny Saturday morning and headed to Massachusetts.
Emily had just moved to a new apartment in Medford (right outside downtown Boston) with her boyfriend, and had a shiny new guest room for us to stay in. She’s not only the best host ever, she also had presents for us when we arrived: signed copies of Bill Nye’s book Undeniable!
That evening we went to Brookline Booksmith and I was completely enchanted. It’s such a happy place filled with amazing new & used books, gifts, and twinkle lights! What more do you need?
I left with a very respectable bag of books:
After a serious amount of book shopping we were all exceedingly hungry, so went out to dinner at The Regal Beagle. I had a wonderfully good pork chop, and a lot of laughs with these two:
The next morning Emma and I hit the road and headed towards Canada. We stopped in Freeport, Maine along the way at the L.L. Bean Flagship store. It’s insanely huge and full of outdoorsy things, and people were fishing in the middle of the store. It’s quite a place. Here’s a giant boot out front:
We kept on truckin’ and drove across the border into Canada, a pretty low-key border crossing, although we did get stopped for routine questioning which added a bit of excitement to the night. We got to go in the office and speak with some nice Canadians, and then we went on our way.
I found us a cute little Inn to stay in right across the border, in the charming seaside town of St. Andrews: The Inn on Frederick. Our room was beautiful and we had a great breakfast the next morning, which became a theme of the trip. (Canadian B&Bs have their breakfast game down in a majorly delicious way.)
The next morning we hit the road again for the final leg to Prince Edward Island. We were arriving a day early thanks to all the extra ground we covered the day before, so we didn’t have a B&B booked for that night. I found an inexpensive motel in Cavendish (the Silverwood Motel), figuring we could lodge a bit less glamorously for one night. It turned out to be a completely awesome find – the motel was under new ownership and had special pricing for its first week open – we had a giant family suite with a kitchen & 4 beds to choose from, for $36!
After 3 days of rainy driving, we were so happy to wake up the next morning to a brilliant sunny day with blue skies. We decided to explore the Anne of Green Gables sites first, while we had good weather.
So our first stop: Green Gables. The Green Gables site is owned and managed by the National Park Service, and is open to visitors year round. L. M. Montgomery never lived here, but her cousins did and she visited the house often and it inspired her descriptions of the fictional Green Gables – the setting of the first few Anne of Green Gables books. When the house was turned into a visitor’s attraction the rooms were made up with authentic historical pieces designed to look the way the house would be arranged if Matthew, Marilla and Anne really did live there.
Here are the pantry, kitchen, and dining rooms:
Here’s Matthew’s room downstairs:
And Anne’s room upstairs:
On the grounds surrounding the house are several foot trails. You can walk the same woods & paths that L.M. Montgomery walked when she lived on the Island and that inspired her love of nature.
Here are the Haunted Woods:
And this is Lover’s Lane:
The Balsam Path:
“The woods always seem to me to have a delicate, subtle life all their own…in the woods I like to be alone for every tree is a true old friend and every tip-toeing wind a merry comrade…I always feel so utterly and satisfyingly at home.” – L.M. Montgomery letter to G. B. MacMillan, September 16, 1906
I’m not embarrassed to admit that I was really looking forward to the gift shops at the Anne sites, hoping they’d have some lovely things. Unfortunately the gift shops at all the Anne & LMM sites were disappointing. It looked like someone had overstocked them in the early 90s with tacky things and they’ve been trying to sell it all ever since. There were a few cute things… if you have a small child you can dress them like Anne:
And I am pleased to report that you can buy Raspberry Cordial:
From Green Gables we headed to the shores of Cavendish Beach in the National Park. It’s a beautiful beach, and one that L.M. Montgomery visited often. We walked along the beaches and hiked along some of the dune trails.
All across Maine, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island there are beautiful Lupines growing along the roads and trails. We saw white and pink Lupines as well, but the purple ones were the most common. Aren’t they a lovely wildflower?
After exploring the beach we visited the site of L.M. Montgomery’s childhood home. The house she grew up in with her grandparents is no longer standing, but the people who own the property now created a bookshop and walking trail there as a quiet tribute to the beloved author.
We also stopped at her grave, to pay our respects and thank her for being (and creating) a Kindred Spirit.
We then set off to check into our Cavendish B&B, the Graham Inn. I was feeling a bit of regret about leaving the incredible motel deal and kind of wish we could cancel our B&B reservation and save a lot of money at the motel. But we accepted the fact that we couldn’t cancel it, and knew that it would be nice to stay in a B&B as well. Then we arrived and all remaining traces of regret fell away when I saw the beautiful Inn, in particular the beautiful saltwater pool:
Our room was lovely and comfortable too. I highly recommend the Graham Inn if you are interested in visiting Prince Edward Island. We loved relaxing by the serene pool & going for a swim. The owner is so lovely, she gave us great recommendations on what to see and where to eat.
We went to dinner at a nice place on the water, The Blue Mussel Cafe. I had a delicious stuffed chicken breast. (I’m not a big seafood person and neither is Emma, which makes eating on an island a bit of a challenge, but there were great options at most restaurants.)
Emma won the dessert contest that evening, PEI is known for their potato farming, and she got a chocolate cake made with potatoes. The potatoes make it extra dense and moist, and it was incredible. My carrot cake was top notch as well. (The owner of the restaurant is friendly and kind, and he stopped by everyone’s tables to chat. We asked him for recommendations of what we should see while we were on the island, and he recommended that we go see some live music at the Trailside cafe. When we got back to our room that night I bought us tickets online for a show there – more on that wonderful experience later in the post!)
After dinner that evening we drove back to Cavendish Beach to watch the sunset. We discovered that the road to the beach is a favored stomping ground (or more accurately, a light-footed trotting ground) of some of PEI’s fox population. We were completely enamored with them. I’ve only caught quick glimpses of foxes in the wild before, these friendly ones lurked about and seemed fine with posing for photographs.
Eventually we forced ourselves to part with the foxes and go watch the actual sunset, which was nice too. The striking colors of the red cliffs looked particularly nice in the last remaining rays of sunlight that day.
The next morning we had a lovely breakfast at the Inn. This was the first course (all of our breakfasts on PEI had multiple courses, which kept me full until at least 2pm):
Then we set out for one final Anne of Green Gables site: L.M. Montgomery’s birthplace in New London. Unlike her childhood home, this house is still standing and you can see the room she was born in. (Her parents lived in this house when she was born, and her mother died while she was still an infant. Her father moved to Saskatchewan and married a horrendous woman, and left L.M. Montgomery in the care of her grandparents, so she did not grow up in this house.) The downstairs has a little museum devoted to her & her work. I loved seeing her original scrapbook pages, which are collected and published as well.
We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting some of the fantastic art galleries in the northern part of PEI. Our favorite was The Dunes Studio Gallery and Cafe, a huge shop filled with tons of beautiful, affordable art on multiple levels:
In back of the gallery they have a wonderful garden open to visitors. Here’s the view of it from the roof:
And here’s part of their Zen garden:
One of the other art galleries we visited that afternoon had baby goats out back that visitors were allowed to feed! Emma had to drag me away from these cheeky cute little baby goats; I could have stayed all day there petting them and laughing at their playful ways.
We had lunch that afternoon at the PEI Preserve Company, after some extensive tea & jam shopping in their store. I’m posting this photo mainly for the beautiful teapot. I’m not sure there’s anything more comforting during the day than sitting down for a nice tea service.
We stopped for a quick photo outside the restaurant after lunch:
The next morning was our final morning in Cavendish: we were heading south down the island to the bigger town of Charlottetown. Our final breakfast at the Graham Inn was so delicious:
After that incredible breakfast, we headed to Charlottetown. We explored the downtown for a while on foot, visited four bookshops, had lunch, and then went to check in to our room at the Boathouse B&B. It’s a lovely place with a charming & accommodating host named Shirley. I had a bit of an epic nap while Emma read and then we set out for the Trailside Cafe for dinner & live music. A folk musician named Old Man Luedecke was performing that night, and we had an excellent evening. The music was great – we became fans right away and bought CDs at the end of the night. The venue was fantastic – the owners wanted to create an intimate place to watch live music – it’s a small, cozy restaurant, lit by candlelight, and it was a wonderful experience. We were so grateful for the recommendation and the chance to spend an evening there.
The food there was excellent as well, I had a great burger and the best potato salad I’ve ever had:
Our final full day on PEI was pretty low key. I didn’t feel well, so I didn’t explore the historic village that Emma visited. Instead I relaxed and read a book, and celebrated the Supreme Court Marriage Equality ruling that came down that morning.
The next day we left the island early, with the intent on reaching Medford and Emily again before night. We drove all day and were pretty exhausted, but we made it.
The next morning Emily and I went on an early morning bagel quest. We walked an hour in the rain to get a dozen bagels from Bagelsaurus, and it was worth it. After we were all up and around and bageled we went to the Harvard Book Store warehouse sale, where we each found giant piles of books we needed to buy. We shopped around Cambridge for a bit, had lunch, and then relaxed back at Emily’s apartment and watched some of the old Daily Shows streaming on The Month of Zen website. Emily cat, Murray, is super adorable and was also super interested in my bag of books:
That night we went out to eat at the restaurant Emily’s boyfriend works as a manager, The Painted Burro. We had a great meal, including this grilled corn on the cob that had a spicy creamy cheesy sauce business on top:
The next day we took a day trip to Portsmith, New Hampshire. We had a lovely day strolling around the charming downtown, and in particular visiting Book & Bar and River Run Bookstore. Can you spot the theme of our road trip yet? (Side note: New Hampshire became my 40th US state visited! Just 10 more until I’ve collected them all.)
At the end of the day we drove along the coast and stopped at Rye Harbor for some peaceful wave watching and horizon gazing.
That marked the end of our wonderful 10 days on the road. I had an excellent time, and was so grateful for the time I got to spend with my two best friends from college. It was also super nice to get back to Brooklyn and my guy, who I missed very much. :) The mark of a good road trip is being happy wherever the road takes you, and happy to be back home.