Jun 20, 2013

Going Home (PEI Day 6)

I decided to get to the airport early the next day because I hadn't been able to check in to my flight online the night before, and because I had something to ask Hertz about the car. It was a good thing I did too, since my plane ticket seemed to have disappeared.

Yes, that's right, they couldn't find my plane ticket. A very nice man named Angus spent an hour searching for it and calling different airlines. When I had been driving through Charlottetown on my way to the airport I was sad to be leaving, but when I thought that I wouldn't be flying home that day I immediately got homesick. All I wanted was to be able to go home now. Fortunately, Angus was finally able to recover my boarding passes and I was finally on my way home!

There's something about walking out to a plane, or exiting a plane by stairs that makes me feel like I'm in a movie. And I got to do it quite a bit on this trip. :)

My first layover was in Montreal, and let me tell ya, it was like entering another country, even more so than entering Canada was. Everyone was speaking French, and I had to go through customs, which I thought was weird. (Come to find out, it made it so I didn't have to go through customs once I actually entered the US. It was still weird though.) 

When I made it to Chicago, I was able to call home. Mom told me that she had been tracking all my flights, which made me feel loved and missed. It was that last flight that was the worst. It was the longest of all my flights, and the last leg of a journey is always hard to endure (I am not a good traveler, have I mentioned?). I also finished my book thirty minutes before the end of the flight, which was a bit rubbish. It was too late to turn on my iPod because I would just have to turn it off again in a few minutes when we started out descent. So I wrote in my journal, but it still didn't take up all the time. I glanced out the window and saw our wonderful Utah mountains, and got a bit teary eyed. No matter how much I loved the Island, or what a good time I had, Utah will always be my home and it felt good to return to it. 

Perks of Being a Mormon (PEI Day 5)

Sunday means church! Fortunately, there is a ward that meets just 10 minutes from where I was staying, so I got all ready for church and headed out early, since I seemed to become lost every time I tried to get somewhere. The church was actually easy to find, so I was there 30 minutes early.

Everyone in the ward was super friendly. They all came up to meet me and ask where I was visiting from, which was great. This is the great thing about being Mormon, there is a worldwide network of people to take you in and make you feel at home. The ward was smaller than I was used to, but the talks and lessons were good.

In Relief Society, I sat next to a woman who lives in New Brunswick (I think . . . ) and she crosses over the border to Maine every week for church! That just blew my mind. Imagine going to a different country for church every week. Crazy.

I had some good conversations with the members, which I should have expected. Everyone apologized for the unseasonably cold weather they had been having, though it's not their fault.

After a good day at church, I decided to take a walk and find a place to sit and read. I ended up walking past Beaconsfield again, and onto a nice little walkway by the ocean. After walking a bit, I found a bench where I could read for a little while.

The view as lovely, and the day nice, just warm enough with a slight breeze. There were people out on the water on little boats, and lots of families taking walks. It was a very pleasant place to read, affording comfort and just the right amount of distraction. 

A little while later I decided to continue my walk circling around past the park and the lieutenant governor's house. I also went on a walk later that night to a different part of town, with a nice little memorial garden, down by the wharf. I also got ice cream again from COWS. 

While I ate I took one last look around Charlottetown, since I knew I wouldn't have time before leaving the next morning. 

You know, I had been a little worried about going on vacation by myself. I thought I might get lonely, but I never did. I had a wonderful time! I was so relaxed and never thought about work or home (except when I talked to my parents). There was always something to keep me busy, and things to see. The people were so friendly that I never felt that any need for anyone else, at least, not for the six days I was there. 

Jun 19, 2013

Blue Skies (PEI Day 4)

Friday night I was starting to wonder what I would do for the last two days I was on the island. Come to find out there was nothing to worry about!

Saturday was a beautiful day! The sun was out, the sky was blue, and the weather was warm. There is a farmer's market on Saturdays in Charlottetown, and I got the bright idea that I was going to walk there, because it was only a mile away. So after breakfast I headed out.

And got lost.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to find the market, so I turned around and starting making my way back.

And got lost.

At one point I looked over in the direction I was pretty sure I needed to be headed, and I saw the spires of St. Dunstan's Basilica, which is right across the street from my hotel. And I thanked God for St. Dunstan, whoever he was, because that's how I found my way back.

St. Dunstan's Basilica
I decided to get some lunch from the grocery store and head out to the beach. I had heard of a beach called Basin Head that was famous for it's "singing sands." On my way out of town, I saw the farmer's market and realized how close I was when I had turned around! Dagnabit! Oh well, it was an adventure!

Basin Head is supposedly located in a town called Souris. One thing I learned about PEI highways is to just follow the signs, and you should be able to get to where you're going. You turn when it says to turn and you go straight when it doesn't. After about an hour I got to Souris, but didn't see any sign for Basin Head. I went straight through without seeing it. I did end up at a beach eventually, just not the one I was heading for. I finally just turned into Red Point Provincial Park. 

The sand was so soft beneath my bare feet. I don't even know when the last time was that I walked in the sand--very possibly five years ago when I went to Cornwall during my study abroad. I found a little place to sit, and I read and listened to the waves, and ran my hand and feet in the sun warmed sand. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was perfect. I even got a little sunburned.

The place I stopped to read

Warming my feet in the sand.

After about an hour and a half, I decided to roll up my pants and brave the water. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the water was not cold! I walked back the length of the beach, just in reach of the tips of the waves before they rushed back to sea. 

I drove back to Charlottetown and decided that I wanted to see go out and see a movie, just because I could. I looked up showtimes and the theatre, and a couple hours later went out to find it. The theatre was a little hard to find, and I had to stop at a Burger King to ask for directions (Google made it seem like it was on the other side of the street, in full view, when really it was behind the mall). I saw Now You See Me, which was a lot better than I was expecting it to be (there wasn't a big choice in movies). 

After the movie, I headed to COWS Ice Cream Parlor, which boasts the best ice cream in Canada. Considering it is the only ice cream I've eaten in Canada, I can neither confirm nor deny that claim. But it was pretty good. 

Not All Who Wander (PEI Day 3)

For my second day on PEI, I had decided to spend the morning in Charlottetown, and then to go somewhere else on the island for the afternoon. Not really sure what I was going to do in the afternoon, I spent my breakfast looking at the tourism materials available. With two or three ideas in mind, I went out into the city.

I love Charlottetown. It's got a small town feel, and just feels so laid back and calm. I had taken a little walk before dinner the night before, and loved how downtown was set up. (I was also whistled at . . . sort of. A man had asked me a question and then said, "Miss, if I may . . ." and then he attempted to cat call, which didn't work, so he added, "I was trying to whistle, but I can't." I smiled and thanked him. I love that he asked my permission first. So Canadian.) The first place I went was the Province House, just down the street from my hotel.

The Province House is called "The Birthplace of Canada." A very nice guide told me all about how representatives from the various provinces met on Prince Edward Island to discuss the unification of the country. These Fathers of the Confederation never wrote anything up or signed anything during this meeting, but it was significant because it started the process. Funny story, PEI didn't even join Canada until several years later because it was a pretty prosperous province and didn't feel like sharing it's wealth. It was only after the shipping business all but disappeared with the appearance of steam powered ships and PEI lost all it's money that it finally joined the union. 

As I said before, I couldn't go anywhere without having a conversation with someone, and it was true here too! I watched the little movie they had about the meeting, then talked to the guide and the security guard for a little while. The guard even gave me three free pins to add to my collection!

After that, I wandered down to Beaconsfield House.

Beaconsfield House was built in 1877 and had all the best of the modern amenities, including indoor plumbing, central heating, and gas lighting. It was built by a ship builder and his wife, the daughter of another ship builder. Interesting story: a house already existed on this property, but they wanted their dream house there, so they picked up the existing house and moved it across the street! That house still stands. Five years later, they were bankrupt because of the aforementioned decline of the need for wooden ships, so they sold the house. This next owner tried to sell it, for a mere $10,000, but couldn't, so instead he and his two unmarried sisters lived there for 35 years. Then it was a home for young women, then for nurses. It has now been restored to it's previous Victorian State. It's a gorgeous home, and the original central heating system still works and it used today!

This house isn't anything important, except that it was for sell and I want to buy it.

After my morning in Charlottetown, I went back to the hotel to figure out where I wanted to spend the afternoon. I decided on the potato museum, because it sounded random and I wanted to see how much one could say about potatoes. I found the directions on Google Maps, and headed out. Somewhere a long the way I took a wrong turn, so I changed my mind and decided to drive the Red Sands Coastal Drive instead.

There are four coastal drives on the island, covering the four different parts. Each coastal drive is marked with a little picture and arrows, so you know where to go. So I just kept following the arrows, knowing it would get me back to Charlottetown eventually.

In all, I drove for about three or four hours, but I didn't feel it at all! The Island is so beautiful, and the highways take you through little towns, and past farms with their fields of red dirt ready for planting, and white churches with lovely graveyards. 

Prince Edward Island . . . is really a beautiful Province. . . . Elsewhere are more lavish landscapes and grander scenery; but for chaste, restful loveliness it is unsurpassed. . . . Much of the beauty of the Island is due to the vivid colour contrasts--the rich red of the winding roads, the brilliant emerald of the uplands and meadows, the glowing sapphire of the encircling sea. (L. M. Montgomery, The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career, 10-11.)
This is what I saw on my drive--and during the rest of my trip--the "chaste, restful loveliness."

The Confederation Bridge. It connects PEI to mainland Canada. 

Just a view I saw during my drive. I thought it showed
the red, green, and blue perfectly. Unfortunately, cameras never capture
what exactly it is that you see. 

After dinner that night, I went on another walk of Charlottetown. It was Prom night for two of the high schools, so I got to experience what a fun thing their Prom is! They "Promenade" to the Province house, where friends and family (and curious tourists like me) are waiting to see them. They come in all kinds of fun vehicles, like the sightseeing bus below. Fancy cars, tractors, pink fire engines, carriages, police cars, and two girls were even pulled along in wagons by their dates! The girls looked lovely in their dresses. It was so much fun to see, and made me wish that I were 18 again and going to Prom--almost.

I got to experience "turn down service" for the first time that night, and let me say, I'm a fan! It sounds so dorky, but they just come in and turn down your bed, leave some chocolates, fill your ice bucket, and pull down the shades (I didn't even know the windows had shades the first two nights!). I liked it, and I felt spoiled!

Jun 18, 2013

Anne with an E (PEI Day Two)

The next day I woke up to the sound of birds, and a little bit of sunshine streaming in through curtains. It was rather cold and windy, but at least it was raining. Thursday was to be my Anne Day, so I got ready and went down to ask the concierge (yes, I stayed in a place with a concierge! And where they would fold the toilet paper into little points. I quite spoiled myself!) how to get to Cavendish, where Green Gables is located. She printed out the instructions, then gave me more detailed instructions. She said that people in Charlottetown are bad drivers, so to be aware of that. I never did notice any particular bad driving habits, so either I'm the same brand of bad driver as the Islanders, or they aren't as bad at driving as the the concierge says.

The drive was very nice, as all the drives are I was to learn later, and I found Green Gables without any trouble at all.

The house belonged to some neighbors of LM Montgomery, and it is what she based Green Gables on, though she admits to not keeping very sharply to the facts. I have to admit I may have teared up a bit while I was on the property. I saw the house, and could imagine Anne in her bedroom, or discovering the drowned mouse in the crock in the kitchen. I could even see Mrs. Lynde making her way up the road to the back door to discuss the latest piece of gossip with Marilla. 

Lover's Lane
Green Gables is part of the PEI National Park. This means that the wilderness around the house is protected and properly looked after. There are two walking paths, about a half mile each. The first I walked was Lover's Lane. I can't even begin to express how green everything is. I don't think the pictures even show it properly.

The second walk was through the Haunted Wood. Montgomery called this wood the Haunted Wood when she was a young girl. The spruces creak and groan in the wind, which to a young, imaginative child would sound like spirits. I tried to capture it on video--you may have to turn your sound on high to hear it. Off of the Haunted Woods there is a path to the homestead where Montgomery was raised by her grandparents, and where she wrote Anne of Green Gables

Only the cellar still exists of that house, but some cousins of Montgomery's live on the property and have opened it up for visitors. They realized by reading her journals how much she loved the homestead and Cavendish, so they have tried to restore it as much as they could. There is a little book shop on the property where you can get a little verbal history of Montgomery's life.

After I was done at Green Gables (and had bought a warmer sweatshirt in the gift shop along with a copy of Anne of Green Gables), I headed over to New London, to see the house Montgomery was born in. Her mother died when she was 21 months old, and then she was sent to live with her maternal grandparents at the homestead we saw above. The docent at the birthplace was a nice woman and we had a good chat (and I came to learn that you can't go anywhere without having a conversation with someone. Islanders really are very nice). She told me how to get to the Anne of Green Gables Museum, in Park Corner just about 6 miles down the road, which is where I headed next. 

The Anne of Green Gables Museum is in the home of Montgomery's cousins (the Campbells). She would come and stay frequently throughout her childhood. She used this home in some of her other books, and called it "Silver Bush." This is also the home where she was married, in the parlor. I also was able to see the room she would stay in, and read quite a few selections from her journals. 

It is at Silver Bush that the Lake of Shining Waters is located. In fact, there is a letter on display in the museum that says that she did use the pond as her inspiration for the Lake of Shining Waters in Avonlea. 

On my way back to Charlottetown, I drove past the Cavendish cemetery. I thought briefly of stopping and seeing Montgomery's resting place, then I dismissed the idea. Not much further down the road, I decided that it wouldn't be much of a pilgrimage if I didn't stop by, so I turned around and went to go see it. My eyes got a little watery again as I told her thank you. Thank you for Anne, for without her I never would have come to PEI.

Weary Traveler (PEI Day 1)

This day of traveling was tough for me. My flight left at 6 am, and being the good girl I am who always follows instructions, my dad and I planned for me to get at the airport two hours before my flight. This meant I woke up at 3 in the morning, which is too early for anyone. Once I got to the airport, I realized that security didn't even open until 4:30! I could have gotten another half hour of sleep!

So, I just stood outside security, being anxious for the day ahead of me. I don't think getting 5 hours of sleep helped at all. Once I made it through security, I easily found my gate, and sat down. I was just sitting there, being anxious, when all of a sudden I felt sick. This isn't uncommon for me--I have a nervous stomach, and being anxious just aggravates it even more--but usually it's just a nauseated feeling that doesn't usually ever come to anything (except for a few times in high school). But then I felt that sour feeling which precedes the inevitable, and I stood up quickly to get to the bathroom. Unfortunately, I didn't make it more than ten steps when I had to stop at a garbage can to . . . let's say, expectorate bile. At the gate. In front of a bunch of strangers. At 5 in the morning. The fortunate thing is that I didn't have anything in my stomach, so it wasn't as horrible as it could have been. Either no one noticed, or everyone politely ignored me, but I was able to sit down not much later. At first I was pretty upset about this (being sick makes one upset anyway), but then the thought came to mind, "Well, the day can only go up from here, right?" And it was with that cheerful thought that I boarded the plane to Minneapolis.

I spent most of the flight listening to my "relaxing" playlist on my phone, and dozing off and on. The landing was a bit rough, and it was even worse when I realized I had fifteen minutes to get to my next flight. So, with little in my stomach, and feeling nauseated from the flight, I raced to my gate. A nice airport employee told me when to get off the tram and which direction to head. I made the gate just in time, as the lady who checked my boarding pass told me. Before asking me if I was over sixteen, because I "just look young."

It is this second leg of my journey that the best story comes in.

My seat was next to a guy, probably mid to late 20s. We chatted a little bit, but since I get sick on every mode of transportation (except trains), I eventually said that I was going to try to get some sleep and put in my earbuds. He said okay, and then started talking to me again a few minutes later. After doing this twice, I realized that I wasn't going to get any rest on this flight, so I stopped trying. About halfway through the flight he asked me how I felt about long distance relationships. I told him that I'm not very good with them, and then he asked what I would say if he asked me out. I told him I'd say no. "Well, I'd just like to hang out," he responded, "I'd like to show you Minneapolis." I said that I didn't expect I'd be getting back to Minneapolis anytime soon. Then we got to talking about polygamy, because I'm from Utah and apparently that's all he ever heard about Utah. And I found out he was originally from India. It wasn't a horrible way to spend a couple of hours. But the good part came while we were descending for a landing in Toronto. He leaned over and whispered, "Do you mind if I ask a random question." I didn't. "Well, I have three hours before my next flight, and you have 2 hours. Do you want to have a fling?"

Hahahaha. Seriously, the moment he said that I thought, "Oh, this is going to be a great story to tell!" I politely said, "No." "Are you sure?" he asked, "What if you change your mind?" I told him I wouldn't and the answer was still no. A couple of minutes later he leaned over again and said, "I didn't offend you did I? I just thought that if I didn't put myself out there then nothing would happen, and I . . . I think you're cute and you have a pretty smile." I assured him I wasn't offended (in fact, I was quite flattered that he wanted to have a "fling" with me!).

I went through customs, which seemed an unnecessarily drawn out process, and had half an hour or so before boarding my last plane. We arrived in a rainy Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, about two hours later. Even from the air I was struck with how green the island was! I had had the idea of taking a bit of a walk around Charlottetown that night, but with the rain I didn't want to. Instead, I unpacked (I had read somewhere that if you are staying for more than one night, you should unpack, and I'm glad I did), then took advantage of the jacuzzi in my room and sat in there and read. Then wrapped myself up in a large bathrobe and sat on my comfy bed and watched some TV, with the fireplace going. It was lovely, and helped me recover from all my traveling.
You can see the jacuzzi in the corner

Nice welcoming fireplace, so cozy!

I could almost sleep well on this bed! That's a big deal!

Carry On Packing

Before I get started on the particulars of my vacation, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the choice I made to only pack a carry on. I am so glad I did this! I always knew where my luggage was (which was good when I didn't have a very long layover), it prevented me from over packing, and it made going through customs much easier.

I looked at a lot of people's tricks to packing a carry on for a certain number of days, and I was able to pack for a 6 day trip, with an extra outfit I didn't even wear! I had 6 shirts, two skirts, a pair of tennis shoes, pajamas, a pair of jeans, underthings, a straightener, hair things, and make-up (remember that your plane outfit will give you at least another pair of pants and another pair of shoes). By the time I had it all packed up, I still had enough extra room for souvenirs. The trick to packing only in a carry on is rolling the clothes. I only took the bare necessities in both clothes and make-up. Also, since you are allowed two carry-ons (a suitcase and a personal item), it's easier enough to put in the things you're going to want during your trip in your personal item. I took a back pack, and packed an empty purse in it, along with my phone, books, passport, itinerary, journal, and wallet. This I could just put under my seat on the plane and get into it.

I also take a purse with a strap long enough to cross over my body. It may not be the most attractive purse, but I like having my hands free, and not have to worry about keeping track of my purse while I'm wandering around.

So, I'm not an expert at packing and traveling, but those are just a few tips I've been learning about.

Jun 9, 2013

Doing New Things and How They Make Me Feel

You know how in murder mysteries, it seems like where ever the main character goes, he or she is always surrounded by murder? Like, they are on vacation, and someone gets murdered. They just can't catch a break!

Last night I had a dream that I had just arrived on my vacation on PEI and there was a murder at my hotel. Besides showing that I watch way too many murder mysteries, I think it also shows how nervous I am about going on vacation. At least this dream I know won't happen (well, I'm fairly positive), whereas the dream I had about a month ago about missing all my connecting flights was worse because it actually could happen.

Here's the thing: I'm a naturally nervous and worrisome person. I really wish I weren't, but it's not exactly something you can just turn off. So, this vacation, while I am excited for it, also makes me nervous. I mean, I'm leaving the country. By myself. To go to place I've never been, to do things I've never done before; like, rent a car, have my own hotel room, navigate a place I've never been. I've never been on a plane without having someone else I knew with me. So, yeah, I'm a little nervous.

And people, trying to be kind, sometimes make it worse. Having them express their excitement for me makes me more anxious about this trip. That probably seems weird to a lot of you, but it's almost like I have these expectations I have to meet now. My solo vacation isn't so much about me anymore, but everyone who is expecting to hear about it. I know that they are excited for me because they are my friends--I completely understand that. But it doesn't change the fact that every time someone says "I'm so excited!" I get a feeling like a rock in the bottom of my stomach. And then I think, "Why are you excited? You aren't going." Which is probably rude. Sorry.

Lately I've been thinking about the last time I left the country, which was just a little over five years ago. I was sitting in my mom's office at her work, because my plane didn't leave until about 1 or something. She had a TV and DVD player in her office, so I was watching movies. A teacher came in, and after mistaking me for a middle school student (I was 20 at the time), I explained to him who I was and what I was doing. When he heard I was leaving for England that day he asked, "Are you scared?" He was the first person who had asked me that, and it felt good to say, "Yes, a little." I have no idea who that teacher was, but the fact that he could see that I was nervous was such a nice break from all the "Wow"s and "That's going to be amazing"s.

I know a lot of people don't understand why I decided to take a solo vacation--especially all you extroverts out there. I know that sharing an experience with someone can be awesome, because I have shared some amazing experiences with people. But I need a break. I need to be away from my work and my coworkers, and just regular life in general. I need to be able to go on my vacation and not have to worry about if the other person is having a good time, or what they want to do (because I know I would). I can do whatever I want, because it is wholly my vacation. If I want to read in a park (if it doesn't rain the entire time I'm there), I can and I will. Another reason I wanted to do this by myself is because I want to see if I can. I'm a single girl (woman, I guess, but for some reason I can never call myself a woman. A woman is someone who is much more sophisticated and grown up than I am) who wants to travel (even though I'm a horrible traveler), but I might not always have someone to travel with, and I don't think that should be something to hold me back. I shouldn't have to wait for there to be someone to go with me. 

So, this trip, which I leave for very early Wednesday morning, is my guinea pig, my trial run, my beta test. And, despite my nerves, I'm sure I'm going to have a good time.

Jun 1, 2013

May Book of the Month

Okay, so I've been slacking on my blog writing. But I will never miss a Book of the Month post, so here it is.

Last month's book came as a recommendation to me and I was a little weary of it (as I usually am of recommendations from people), but I actually enjoyed it (obviously, or I wouldn't be paying the recommendation forward).

It's called The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It is what I would call adult epic fantasy, which is why I was a little nervous of it at first. But the main character is intriguing, and the story moves quickly for a 600+ page book. There were some things I didn't like and parts that I felt went to slow, characters that I wish didn't keep popping up, but overall, interesting. It was also easy to see that Rothfuss is a bit of a gamer, with some of the references he put in.

I am told that it is the first book in a trilogy, but that the second book isn't worth the read (isn't that how it almost always is?). Fortunately, I felt that the first book wrapped up things pretty nicely that I don't feel manipulated into reading any of the rest of the series if I don't want to--meaning, it doesn't stop in the middle of a sentence, though there are some things that weren't addressed.

Since this was a good month for reading for me, here are a couple runners up:

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. You don't really notice how well something is written until you are an adult. There are so many good lines in Winnie-the-Pooh!
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett. Supernatural mystery that was fun to read. Probably the beginning of a series.