YOUR VACATION IN LIGHTS
A Sister Act Featuring the Canadian Outdoors
Meredith Lloyd Childers of Oakton is the latest contributor to our "Your Vacation in Lights" feature, in which we invite Travel section readers to share the dish about their recent trips. It's a big, confusing travel world out there, and you can help your fellow travelers navigate it. Your hot tip could be the next guy's day-maker; your rip-off restaurant, the next family's near miss. To file your own trip report -- and win a digital camera -- see the fine print below.
THE TRIP: Nine days in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, Canada.
WHEN: June 28-July 7.
WHO: Two sisters: me (age 29) and Erica Lynn Lloyd (26). We travel together well because she's the "creative" one and I'm good with details like navigating.
WHY: A little adventure, a little "Anne of Green Gables."
PLANNING: My sister had always wanted to try kayaking and heard about Outside Expeditions, a Canadian company that provided the equipment and guide and put us up in some deluxe B&Bs some nights, with camping other nights. We spent three days kayaking the eastern coast of PEI, followed by two days of biking back to Charlottetown. In New Brunswick, we spent a day hiking in the Bay of Fundy National Park and stopped in Saint John for the night.
COST: About $1,800 each. I'm sure we could have done it more cheaply had we rented the equipment and skipped the guide or the B&Bs and instead camped the whole time. But being novices alone in kayaks on open water was a little too risky for this accountant, and there's something very nice about staying in a warm bed after you've been caught in a rainstorm on the water.
GETTING THERE WAS. . . not easy. We decided to fly to Manchester, N.H., on Southwest and drive the rest of the way because the fares into Charlottetown were ridiculous. We drove a good eight hours north, seeing nothing but rock and trees. Maine and New Brunswick are pretty boring by interstate. Coming home, we took the coastal route but headed inland because of our slow progress.
HIGHLIGHTS: The kayaking portion was awesome. The coast of PEI is beautiful, with clear, blue water and red sandstone cliffs. Kayaking wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, because we were in a two-person kayak. On our second day of kayaking, we paddled to deserted Boughten Island, where we camped. After eating a dinner of mussels and fresh vegetables, we made a fire and watched the fireworks for Canada Day.
COOLEST ATTRACTION: Green Gables in Prince Edward Island National Park is PEI's main (only?) tourist attraction, and if you read the books growing up (like we did), you'll love every minute of it.
WHAT I'D DO DIFFERENTLY: Charlottetown is home to some of the biggest parties for Canada Day (July 1), including a massive concert on the water. We skipped the concert because we had to leave for kayaking early the next morning. We figured that since the concert was over at 10 p.m., our proximity wouldn't be a problem. Sure enough, the bands stopped playing at 10, but the massive numbers of teenagers leaving the concert -- and partying into the night -- didn't. Also, I would allow a lot more time for Customs on the way back into the States. It took us two hours!
MOST DIFFICULT ADJUSTMENT: We loved it when the speedometer changed from miles to kilometers when we crossed the border, and we got a kick out of driving 100 kph. However, getting used to the conversion while trying to figure out how long we had biked or paddled was not as much fun. Nor was figuring out what to wear when the forecasts were in Celsius.
I GRITTED MY TEETH HARDEST WHEN. . . it started pouring on our last day of kayaking. After a beautiful early morning, the sky opened up, and it poured and poured. We tried to wait it out in a shelter but were nearly numb with hypothermia by the time we reached our lodging that night.
IT MADE IT ALL WORTH IT WHEN. . . that same day, we paddled around the last turn and saw the Inn at Bay Fortune. Although we were muddy and wet, the hostess at the inn didn't bat an eyelash and showed us to a lovely guest room with a patio and beautiful gardens. After long, hot showers, we were treated to some of the best lobster on the island.
FAVORITE FOODS: Because dinners were included in the guided trip, I ate lobster four nights in a row. We also enjoyed the mussels and scallops. We were getting so much exercise that I didn't hesitate to sample Cows ice cream in Charlottetown.
DON'T FORGET TO PACK: Lots of Dri-Fit clothing if you're kayaking and at least one of the "Anne of Green Gables" books to reread.
NEXT UP: Either hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (she's been, but I haven't) or another part of the Appalachian Trail (we've done bits between Panorama and Big Meadows but want to see more). And our parents keep talking about taking a trip over Christmas "somewhere warm."
Want to see your own vacation in lights? We'll highlight one report, along with a photo from the trip, on the last Sunday of the month. To enter, use the categories above as a guide (use as many as you wish, or add your own; for a complete list, go to http:/
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