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Friday 30 October 2020

Cycling seniors

Last week we rode 88 kilometres on our bikes with our longest ride 25 kilometres. We are enjoying cycling, the countryside, the weather, the picnics and the people we meet along the way. It became colder over the week but we’ve had the right clothing and a cup of hot tea at the end of the ride always hits the spot.

Our final ride last week took us from Ellerslie to Portage and back. In Ellerslie at the beginning of the trip, we met a woman waiting for her husband who was riding west from Richmond. They are in their eighties. They cycled together previously but she has problems with balance now so she doesn’t ride any more. Instead she drops her husband at his starting location and waits for him at the next stop. He goes as far as he can on a particular day. She enjoys driving to the locations and talking to people she meets. Cycling is still a sport they continue to enjoy together.

At the end of the ride we met another couple riding the trail, completing their Tip to Tip for this year. It is a bike ride on the Confederation Trail, from one tip of the island to the other, a total of 449 kilometres. This couple completed the venture last year and was busy doing one of the last sections for this year. They take turns driving to the next meeting point or riding the trail. They were in their seventies.

Meeting these cyclers encouraged my husband and I to continue the sport. As it stands now, we both ride a section of trail and back to the car. We would like to do the Tip to Tip plus return next year. We’ll see what the next six months bring.


I hope you have a better day than this poor woman we saw recently in Emerald.

Happy Hallowe’en!

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Picnic by the sea

It was a day by the sea. We had cycled further along the Gulf Shore Parkway than we had the previous week. Again it was a beautiful October day, a slight breeze and 14 C, 57F, requiring a jacket.

My husband and I started at the Oceanview lookout with a view of the deserted Cavendish Beach in the distance. 

The dunes along Cavendish Beach are in stark contrast to the sandstone along the coastline. 

Gentle waves lapped the shoreline all along the parkway. Not a soul walked the beaches along the way. 

We were invigorated by the bike ride and hungry by the time we arrived back at Oceanview. 

We set up our picnic at a table with a distant view of Cavendish Beach, just above the cliffs.

There is nothing better than a hot cup of black tea to warm you to your toes.

This area is covered in grass but wildflowers and shrubs fill the perimeter. Now they too have reverted to their autumn splendour. 

This day was a gift of nature with the sun, the gentle breeze, the cliffs, sand and sea. Our days of such enjoyment are in short supply now as the last days of October fall like leaves into November.  We appreciate every minute. 

Monday 26 October 2020

Favourites of autumn

Soon we will be past peak colour here on Prince Edward Island for this autumn. My husband and I have been outdoors most days on the trails and pathways enjoying the spectacle while it lasts. Besides, time in nature is good for our physical and mental health.

The scenes which follow are a compilation of photos from the various trails we have frequented the last two weeks.

Claude Monet had a hand in this scene.

Sometimes we gaze upward with mouths agape.

Other times the forest floor draws our attention.

The trails draw us onward.

A stop to look into the trees is a must.

A golden setting is a perfect place for a picnic.

The countryside from the hills of Strathgartney is special. 

The yellow walls of Bonshaw make us stop and stare.

Nature continues to amaze us.

Thursday 22 October 2020

Picnic in the grove

The October sun is warm and the gentle breeze feels like those of August which is strange for an October day. We had cycled on the Gulf Shore Parkway and worked up an appetite. We headed to Cavendish Grove in search of a picnic table to have a leisurely lunch.

We found two tables side by side at the edge of the grove so we could sit in the sun. 

It is perfect. A few people are walking the trails but nobody is eating there. Our crusty bread, meat, cheese, olives and pickles are delicious with a mug of black tea. Lunch is memorable in the October sun.

Later we walked around the grove to take in the sights. The shade in the grove is one of the attractions of the area in the summer, but this amount of shade won’t be around too much longer.

The trail through the glade is particularly beautiful, 

especially with the yellows of the Striped Maples in the area.

Further along the trail, the area used for weddings and photos isn’t busy. 

However, a plough is working in the field behind the chapel.

Back in the grove, this tree trunk is impressive. 

Above, the leaves range in colour from green, to red, yellow and orange. Nature overshadows much human-made beauty.

The apple trees in the grove have dropped most of their crop at this point. I wonder if it is safe to sit on that bench now?

Part of a tree came down in the last wind storm. It is sad to lose any part of the old guard in the grove. I hope they all make it through this winter.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

A great view

When my husband and I recently cycled on the Gulf Shore Parkway at the National Park on Prince Edward Island, we stopped at Orby Head. From this location along the north shore of the island, you can see the east and west coast on a clear day. And a gorgeous day it was!

The sandstone shoreline is visible east and west, its redness mostly hidden in the October morning shadows. Looking east, you can see a faint flat line just above the sea. There aren’t any mountains here. 

Looking west, the hole in the cliff is nearby, without the bird this time, featured in my last post.

Off in the distance, the lighthouse at Cape Tryon sits above the cliffs just west of a huge colony of cormorants.

The headland at Orby has eroded mightily over the years and is now a favourite perch for some of the greats, like we see today. 

A Great Black-backed Gull and Great Cormorants are sunning themselves in the heat on this ideal location. The gull looks at home among his great friends.

I always enjoy watching cormorants, such unusual pre-historic looking birds. We have many Double-crested Cormorants in the harbour at Summerside. They congregate near the Indian Head Lighthouse during the day and their flight path takes them over our house as they head home for the night. These birds are fantastic swimmers and fly in a loose v somewhat like geese, without the honking. They spread their wings to dry since they have less naturally protective oils than other seabirds.

At Orby, many Great Cormorants were standing on the headland, like this juvenile at the back.

I have never seen this many Great Cormorants together so I was thrilled with this sight. Look at those feet and that face!

Below, closer to the water, others were preening as they stood facing into the westerly breeze. Two birds were fanning their wings having been swimming.

While the setting was impressive as always, the real thrill of Orby Head on this beautiful autumn day was the Great view.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Summer day in October

The weather is unpredictable this year. It had turned cold, then we had a few summer-like days which delighted and surprised us. Always ones to look for opportunities to cycle or walk/hike, we headed to Cavendish to ride on the west end of the bike/walk path along the Gulf Shore Parkway.

This parkway runs along by the Gulf on St. Lawrence and while lined with trees, opens periodically to beautiful beach and sea vistas. We always enjoy driving along the parkway so we’ve looked forward to cycling there since we ordered our bikes.

We unloaded our bikes at MacNeills Brook, overlooking the beach. 

The last time we were here we saw hundreds of jellyfish along the shoreline. The beach is all but deserted today and there aren’t any jellyfish either. A gentle wave lapped the shoreline.

There wasn’t much traffic along the parkway, not that it would have affected us anyway. The slight breeze was warm, as we headed east. There were insects that day which isn’t surprising and it was the first time I’ve felt them hit my face as I rode along. 

The road is lined with coniferous trees which show the effect of winter’s icy blast, especially on the seaward of the road. 

Surprisingly, wildflowers lined the sides of the bike path even though it is past the middle of October. 

We also saw a Great Blue Heron wading in the Gulf as gulls fed nearby.

At Mackenzies Brook, access to the beach has been cut off since rocks were placed along the beach where erosion was occurring. This area is also the site of a hole in the sandstone cliff, on its way to becoming a sea arch. I caught a photo of a bird in the opening quite by accident.

Along the shoreline at one location, there is an ark-like boat with an interesting message on its side. The couple will obviously remember that night and so will everyone else now.

One of the things I love about Prince Edward Island is the way the lifestyle of the people reflects both the land and sea. This pleasure boat is high and dry next to an old barn. 

Down the road, cows in a pasture can look out to sea too.

Riding along, the sound of the sea was a constant. With the wind in your face and the fresh salt air, this ride along the Parkway was everything we imagined it would be.



Friday 16 October 2020

Notes from the isle

Every so often, the weather surprises us. It was hot and humid in the latter part of September and has now turned cold. However, there was a wind storm last week which lasted three days. The wind gusts on the first day were as high as 89 km/h or 55 mph. It lifted six pieces of soffit from our house. While I was willing to wait out the wind storm, my husband was determined to save the remainder of the soffit. Out went our huge step ladder, with husband on it screwing in pieces of soffit hanging from the deck above. I held onto the ladder, feet firmly planted, steeled against the wind gusts. Success! We didn’t lose any more soffit and retrieved the pieces from around the neighbourhood for reuse. The winds were the strongest I have ever experienced while working outside. With a friend’s help, the soffit was fixed after the storm.

One grape vine winds its way around one of the support poles of our patio deck. Usually we share the grapes with the crows, stealthy thieves that they are. This year they didn’t get many of the grapes which is unusual. Maybe they are social distancing. This meant I had some grapes for juicing. It results in quite a mess in and around the juicer. However, the glassful of juice which resulted was tasty, just shy of sweet. I made it last two days, drinking it in sips, savouring the rare home grown treat.

Soup season has begun again for us. As the weather turns colder in the fall, the soup pot comes out. Our most recent soup was a creamy butternut squash with carrot and onion. We like ginger, nutmeg, allspice and garlic in the soup too. I always add a touch of turmeric. For our main meal, we have a sandwich with it. So good! Stew season is also on the horizon. 

Our grandchildren have been back at school for over a month and dance classes have resumed after school. While there have been new Covid cases on the island, there isn’t any community spread to date, no hospitalization or deaths from over 60 infections. The cases are the result of travel outside the four Atlantic provinces, known as the Atlantic Bubble, but the people self isolated when they returned. This Bubble has kept people here safe thus far. We were able to get together with family for Thanksgiving last weekend. A recent outbreak in neighbouring New Brunswick however, keeps us on alert and following precautions strictly.

Listening to the world news every day can bring one to despair. However, a local news story about a city park has caught our attention. Beavers moved into the park where they cut trees, like beavers do. Residents who frequent the park are unhappy with the rodents’ tree cutting activity. The city has responded saying it will relocate the furry lumberjacks. I feel bad for the beavers but they should realize you can’t set up chop just anywhere these days.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday 13 October 2020

A new ride on a changed trail

My new E-bike has arrived finally and I am enjoying the ride. My husband and I rode around our neighbourhood before we headed further afield. It took me some time to adjust to the pedal assist, throttle and gears. It is lots of fun however and the day it arrived I felt like a child at Christmas. 

Then we had high winds, up to 89 km/h, 55 mph, which ruled out cycling for several days. When we were able to ride again, we took to the Confederation Trail. One month ago, when we rode this particular section of the trail, the scene was different.

Remember this old fence and the horses? 

The horses are not in this field as the fence is destroyed, probably a casualty of the wind storm. It was sad to see the old fence this way.

This was the trail last month, 

the green walls reaching skyward as we enjoyed the setting. A month later, 

the green is replaced with autumn colour, predominantly red, as the maples reveal their Canadian identity. The sight makes us stop periodically to take in the fleeting beauty. 

Many of the fields are already harvested and have been replanted for winter to prevent soil erosion. This field was harvested last month 

and seeded with grass which has grown well. 

The sound of water along the trail is unusual and again we stop. 

Ice has started to form on the water, a reminder our days of cycling are numbered for this year. It’s gotten a lot colder this last week.

There is something calming to the spirit about cycling. Although the physical effort can be demanding, riding with the wind in your face, the sound of the birds and the occasional sighting, eyes on the trail ahead and the vegetation all around, are all exhilarating. The spirit absorbs the essence of the experience. You can call it the effect of endorphins, but I like to think the spirit recalls the experience and provides a sense of well being. I can’t wait to go again.