Photo of the Day

The sun was elusive again this morning, but on our fifth day of vacation I had run out of patience waiting for the rain to clear off enough for me to go exploring for the landlocked lighthouse I knew was not too far away from our cottage. Tristan is always up for an adventure that includes a walk and I am woefully short on my FitBit goals this week, so off we went into the dull grey morning in search of the lighthouse.

We hadn’t been walking long when we were surrounded by a good old fashioned Scotch mist. The first discovery we made was a little hollow with these two gravestones huddled off to one side. The one marked a death that occurred in 1835, and the other was too worn to read.

Walk to St Peter's Lighthouse

We followed a rutted old red dirt road between two fields of potatoes (you knew you were in PEI, at least!) through vegetation dense enough that it grew up into a canopy at one point. A few turns in the road later and it opened on to a bit of a marsh and there on the far side of the pond was the old abandoned St Peter’s Harbour lighthouse.

Walk to St Peter's Lighthouse

The lighthouse was built in 1865 or 1876, depending on which source you read, and it was decommissioned in 2008. It sits on a big pond, the last remains of the former St Peter’s Harbour. A few wooden pilings mark the old wharf, but the pond and the lighthouse are now landlocked. Decades of drifting sand have accumulated in dunes around the lighthouse, so it’s considerably landward and almost entirely lost in the sandy dunes. This is an interesting account of the lighthouse history.

Walk to St Peter's Lighthouse

Walk to St Peter's Lighthouse

Walk to St Peter's Lighthouse

As we poked around the lighthouse, the mist gave way definitively to rain, but Tristan and I were in explorer mode and the rain bothered neither of us. We could hear and smell the sea crashing nearby, and found it over the crest of the dunes behind the lighthouse.

Walk to St Peter's Lighthouse

The rain continued but the sun nearly burned through the clouds as we walked along the Gulf beach toward St Peter’s Bay. The light was amazing, the sea smelled amazing and the waves provided a symphony of background music.

Walk to St Peter's Lighthouse

We made our way back past the pilings of the old wharf we found on our earlier explorations of the beach, but the tide was flooding across the pilings in sprays with each crashing wave. It was seriously awesome!

Walk to St Peter's Lighthouse

We finished our loop on the bay side of the peninsula, a much shorter walk back than our loop out following the road. The rain gave way to mist, and by the time we made it back to the cottage, we’d walked about four kilometers. I asked Tristan if he’d do the same loop again with me once or twice again before we left for home, and to my delight he said, “I’d do it again right now!”

It’s good to have a buddy when you like to explore. :)


It’s raining again, as the old Supertramp song goes. But that’s okay! This vacation’s soggy start has been completely redeemed by an absolutely rain-free lovely adventure up around the easternmost tip of the Island yesterday. There was a charming miniature railway ride, there was a picnic, there was a beach, there was climbing on sandstone rocks, there was beach combing and sea glass: all of our favourite things about PEI. THIS is the vacation I have been anticipating!

We started with a loop up the Points East Coastal Drive from St Peter’s Bay, where despite the forecast for a mixture of sun and cloud, we were spattered by an intermittent drizzle. By the time we made it to our first destination, the Elmira Railway Museum, the clouds had given way to (gasp!) patches of blue sky. And SUNSHINE!

East Point and Basin Head-2

Trains haven’t run on PEI since 1972, but back in the day the Elmira station was the easternmost terminus. The 250+ km of rail have been torn up, save for a kilometer or so near the station, and most of that distance has been converted into a bike and walking path called the Confederation Trail, so the Elmira Railway Museum also marks the eastern end of the trail.

We didn’t pay the nominal fee for admission into the museum itself, but after having fun last year on the miniature trains at the Cumberland Museum, I knew the family would be tickled by a ride on the miniature trains. I had no idea that the ride would be as long as it was, or as charming. It’s seriously worth the drive out to Elmira if you are the least bit interested in trains. If you go, get the second train for half price deal.

East Point and Basin Head

As everywhere else on the Island, we found the locals to be charming and chatty and very kind to the littlest travelers.

Speaking of easternmost points, our next stop was just up the coast to the East Point Lighthouse, “where the sun rises and the tides meet.”

East Point and Basin Head-5

It was a perfect spot for a picnic lunch, although I wish I’d noticed the picnic tables built in to the shape of a ship before we settled into this one. Watch for it if you picnic there!

East Point and Basin Head-3

I think I was more excited by the patches of blue sky than the (admittedly impressive) view from the Lighthouse, looking out to where the Gulf of St Lawrence meets the Northumberland Strait, with Nova Scotia off in the distance. (You can see I’m having fun with my fish-eye lens for these photos. It’s great for big panoramas!)

East Point and Basin Head-4

And then, it was off to one of our very favourite places in PEI, Basin Head Provincial Park. Funny, last year when we visited Souris and the kind folks at the FlavourShack recommended it to us, I was a bit iffy on a beach visit because the skies has been cloudy and the breeze cool. We went, and had an amazing time. Now I’m convinced that Basin Head is some sort of meteorological bubble, because again the rest of the Island was gloomy and coolish, but the beach was perfect!

East Point and Basin Head-6

Okay, so the water was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g and maybe a little more full of jellyfish than we would have liked, but Lucas went all-in and the rest of us waded and we all had a great time.

East Point and Basin Head-11

We explored the sandstone cliffs at the far western edge of the beach this time, as we hadn’t had time to do that last year.

East Point and Basin Head-7

East Point and Basin Head-9

East Point and Basin Head-10

More fun with the distortion from my fish-eye lens. If you look closely at about 1 o’clock on the rounded line of the horizon, you can see the ferry to the Magdalene Islands. I love this photo!

East Point and Basin Head-8

At one point, I handed off the camera to let Beloved have a play with the funny effects of the fish-eye lens.

East Point and Basin Head-14

East Point and Basin Head-13

And when we’d had our fill of a beachy afternoon, we packed up and headed down to Souris for dinner. Of course we stopped by Chef Michael Smith’s FlavourShack while we were there! By lucky coincidence, the same lovely photographer from Chef Michael’s team who took my favourite family portrait from last year happened to be there this time as well, so she took our FlavourShack Family Portrait 2015:

East Point and Basin Head-16

All that plus ice cream, seafood chowder and pockets full of sea glass? Hello PEI of my heart, it’s so lovely to see you again!


Our vacation theme so far seems to be that old 70s classic, “Raindrops keep falling on my head.” It has rained pretty much consistently since we got here. Yesterday morning was cloudy and grey but temporarily not raining, with rain in the forecast for the afternoon, so we planned a little visit to the picturesque village of Victoria by the Sea for the morning, and capitulated to the idea of two dry hours in the Cineplex for the afternoon.

Of course, by the time we arrived in Victoria by the Sea, it was raining. Still pretty though!

A rainy day in Victoria by the Sea

If you look really close, you can see Simon in the lighthouse window. Here’s a close-up of Lucas in the same spot.

A rainy day in Victoria by the Sea

It has looked like this pretty much since we arrived. Gorgeous, verdant rolling hills and a leaden sky.

A rainy day in Victoria by the Sea

And then you turn around and PEI charms you again, this time with a plaque honouring Prince Edward Island’s BIGGEST TREE.

A rainy day in Victoria by the Sea

I mean, how can you not love a place that gives props to the biggest tree? And you need rain to grow trees, right? Verdant fields look yellow and crusty with no rain, and no potatoes can grow without rain.

We didn’t stay long in Victoria by the Sea. Patience frayed right about here, and we hopped back in the car to double back to Charlottetown for a movie. It was not our finest day on PEI, but we did have a lovely dinner at one of our favourite places. Red’s Corners near Montague might not look like much from the outside, but it is the best family restaurant on the Points East Coastal Drive, in our estimation. And hey, the forecast for today seems considerably less grey. There may even be a peek or two of sun, although it’s not supposed to warm up to much more than 20C. At this point, that sounds like an amazing forecast! BEACH DAY!!!!!


I knew managing expectations was going to be an issue on this trip. After a year of anticipation, planning, scheming and endless hours of dreaming, this vacation had a lot to live up to. And the Universe has a wicked sense of humour. I shouldn’t therefore be surprised that the weather that was hot and sunny last year has been cold and rainy this year, with more rain in the forecast, and the “beach front cottage” does indeed have a view of (a few inches of) the water – but you have to walk almost 15 minutes to get to it. So I will admit to having spent most of the first 24 hours here adjusting my expectations accordingly, googling “things to do in PEI when it rains” and admitting to myself that a rainy, cold day on PEI is still better than a sunny warm day at the office.

We’re coming around on the cottage, which you might call “quirky”. The kitchen has no oven, only an oversized toaster oven, and needed some help from Dollarama to round out the amenities. The upstairs is more of a loft than a floor, and you can see daylight between some of the floor boards, and some previous cottager has caulked the edges of the window screens by stuffing kleenexes around the frames to keep the swarms of hungry insects out. It has, to use Beloved’s term, a certain rustic charm, and really only suffers in comparison to the spotlessly clean, modern cottage we stayed in last year near Murray Harbour, which was right on the water. So what we gained in location with relation to the rest of the Island, we lost in proximity to the beach and the character of the cottage itself. And really, that would not have been a problem as we were intending to spend our entire vacation moving from one beach to another – except for the weather forecast. Oh I know, forecasts are unreliable at best, and there are two or three days out of the dozen remaining that look good, and hey, think of the money we’ll save on sunscreen!

We did make it to the beach, even though we had to drive to get there, and then walk a path through a patch of wild roses and shrubberies. And the ocean is always awesome.

An evening stroll at St Peter's Harbour

This is the mouth of St Peter’s Bay where it opens to the Gulf of St Lawrence. In the photo below, you can see the dunes of the Greenwich section of PEI National Park across the other side of the bay.

An evening stroll at St Peter's Harbour

I don’t know whether it was just a bad night for them or if it’s the location but we saw dozens and dozens of jellyfish. Yuck!

An evening stroll at St Peter's Harbour

At the mouth of the bay, this is all that remains of an old wharf.

An evening stroll at St Peter's Harbour

Our curiousity about the old wharf and the dune on our side of the bay drew us on a longer walk than we had anticipated, and we looked around and realized we’d be racing both the incoming rain and the loss of daylight on our walk back to the car. Finding the path back from the beach through the roses would have been an adventure with only my iPhone to light the way! We bid a temporary adieu to the ocean and hustled back along the shallow bay as the tide crept in.

An evening stroll at St Peter's Harbour

Today’s forecast also calls for a cool and rainy day, so there may be movie in our itinerary. But rain or no rain, there will be exploring, and red dirt roads, and rolling green hills, and kids trapped in the car against their will as their parents speculate “I wonder what’s down that crooked little red road?”

And it will be awesome!


My friend Todd has been feeding a fun hobby with remote controlled helicopters and airplanes over the last couple of years, but we hadn’t had the opportunity to see them in action until yesterday.

It was fascinating to see his planes and all the bits of electronics, remotes and batteries that support the works, but it was even more fun to play with my fisheye lens and capture the action.

Todds planes-2

I love how the forced perspective makes it look like a very tiny Todd is working on his very big plane. :)

Todds planes

Todds planes-3

Todds planes-4

Todd’s a dad to many and has the patience of a saint when it comes to kids, and he made sure that every last one had a turn flying the planes.

Todds planes-5


Does anything say summertime like a backyard camp out with your cousins?

Cousins in the tent

Pretty sure they didn’t all five of them sleep like that all night, but they did make it most of the night out in the tent.

Isn’t summer awesome?


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