Thursday, August 6, 2009

Soup kitchens, haunted spas and sandstorms

Yesterday we broke the pattern of our days. We split into two groups -- the design was to enjoy the day but save our strength so that we'd make it out last night to see Highland Storm at the College of Piping.

Ellen, Nick and I did a short ride (14 miles) through town, along the way checking out shops, doing a few errands, riding through Spinnaker's Landing (a chief Summerside tourist attraction), riding the boardwalk by the Summerside waterfront. Pam, Howard and Joanne did a local trail ride, then came back and drove to see the beach at Cavendish.

Some memorable moments include:
  • we rode on a main street, and when Ellen saw the local soup kitchen (obscurely called "Soup Kitchen") she thought it looked like a trendy restaurant, until we told her that no, it's an actual soup kitchen.
  • The two groups ended up stopping for lunch at about the same time though to Ellen's chagrin I wasn't hungy and she (unhappily) agreed to indulge me by waiting. Howard, Pam and Joanne loved their lobster in the rough. We went to Sharkey's where Ellen had her first ever lobster roll (and now knows what all the fuss was about.)
  • The beach crew enjoyed their outing, though the strong wind blew sandstorms all over them, and Howard had encounters with jellyfish. He and Pam recreated some of their beach poses from last summer so that we can do a side-by-side compare and contrast (of physique and weight loss, for Howard)
  • At Spinnaker's Landing Ellen bought the traditional PEI dirt shirt for her younger boy, a simpler shirt for the older one (her daughter's gift was purchased later at the College). Ellen bought meditation cards for herself and Pam (confidence for Pam, motivation for Ellen.) Nick and I bought more Celtic music CDs.
  • We rode the boardwalk to the very end, to where it said "no trespassing -- employees only" and decided that sign didn't really apply to us. We continued, even to the point of a gated road (a local told us we could keep going.) What we found there was cool and creepy -- an abandoned building, pretty new, that was built by a Canadian Chinese developer as a spa. But for reasons unknown the project failed. It reminded me of the abandoned dacha in Dr. Zhivago. The no entry sign seemed very Canadian: not just No Trespasssing but Please. No Trespassing. We stayed until Ellen felt menaced by a man coming near (among the most unassuming, least menacing men you could find) but it spooked her enough that we took off.
So we all enjoyed the morning. Our group got back to the house earlier, shared a glass of wine then went to rest. The beach gang came by a little later.

We all got as dressed up as we've gotten since we arrived (which isn't frankly saying much) but everyone looked wonderful. And we'll have photos to prove it. Dinner was at Brothers Two, a decent local joint. Food was fine, and they brought out a piece of cake and sang an impromptu "Happy Anniversay" tune to Howard and Joanne. Great mussels with Thai sauce.

From there we headed to the College of Piping, right across the street. The show was amazing -- better even than when Nick and I saw it the first time. Everyone found it inspiring, beautiful, moving and fun. Bit more shopping at the gift shop -- more gifts for the kids, a tree ornament. We were given a free CD at the show and popped it in on the way home (while we searched for a bank for Pam and more milk for the house) and sounds like all bagpipes all the time. We're all feeling very Celtic, at least for the moment. An interesting Celtic crew: four jews, one Chinese, one half Italian, clearly an unmatched group in the audience. Nick even bought a language book: Gaelic to English. Should be an interesting read on the flight home.

Today is our last ride, and we're determined to make it another good one, like Tuesday's. We plan to start from here, ride 20 miles in each direction but making sure that there's food along the way (and that we pack food too.) A hungry crowd is a cranky crowd. Or to use some of the words that have gained currency: we'll bring food prophylactically to avoid petulance (ok, it's a reach but the point is made.)

It was another great day. I've probably given short shrift to the adventures of the beach buddies, but of course I wasn't there to bear witness. Today we'll all be together again so the our experience will be easier to recall and describe.

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