Tuesday, 12 July 2011

PEI: Blaine, the Rain, Lumberjacked, with Woods-a-stacked.

Coming across the Confederation bridge was as anticlimactic as finishing flossing.  The one and a half meter concrete guard rails robbing me of much of an ocean view.  Still, the drive around the province/island was refreshing.  I just drove around and around, soaking in the sights, and the fresh Atlantic air.

I met my fourth couch-surfing host at the far end of North Rustico's tiny peninsula.  Blaine was working on building a house with views facing the sea to the East and the harbour to the West.  His friendly demeanor and  maritime accent put me at ease instantly.  We went to grab a bite to eat up the road, and I had to splurge on some of the finest fish n' chips I have had to date.

As we got to know each other, I quickly realized that Blaine was a born entrepreneur.  He is the king of firewood in the North Island, and has his lot of land filled with various vehicles,  a couple of pick up trucks, a car, a dumptruck and a loader.  Also blocking his view from Route 13 a mountain of logs weighing in the tonnes, several dozen I am sure.

In PEI the demand for firewood is high, the island is for the most part one giant rural community and is thus not pipe-lined to a source of natural gas, as it would be too costly for any company to build pipes to accommodate the island's winter population of 140 000.  So wood stoves tend to be the cheapest alternative when compared to the alternatives of oil, or electric.  Four cords of wood will last most people a winter, and at $160 a cord, the savings are immense.

Blaine showed me the beaches on my second day, pointing out the strands of seaweed known as Irish Moss strewn about the rainy beaches.  Irish moss washes ashore in giant clusters after a storm and can be collected and sold for the carrageenan, a thickening agent used in many foods.

I was invited to have a dinner of seafood chowder with Blaine's parents.  The homemade biscuits and chowder was the best thing I ate while in PEI, by a long shot.  We also enjoyed a slice of apple pie with a daub of ice cream for desert while I listened intently to the stories Blaine's father recounted about living a life on the coast.  Once again I was witness to the unmatched hospitality of the maritime people.

Blaine took me to one of his cutting lots in a small patch of forest he had payed to chop, and we filled the back of his pick up with fire logs.  Blaine's chainsaw skills would make that dude from Texas look like a wee little lass.  It astounded me how quickly several felled trees were turned into money.

On Sunday, we went out to the "AQUANUT", Blaine's forty foot boat.   We arrived about an hour before some expected company was to join us at sea, only to find out once starting the boat's engine, that the alternator was burning up.  I was impressed when Blaine went into a compartment in the boat's floorboards and produced a brand new alternator.  I was in awe as I watched him uninstall and reinstall alternators in less then a half hour, once again astounded by his abilities.  The company arrived and we cruised out from shore a little ways, anchored, and everyone took turns jumping into the chilly Atlantic.  There were two little girls, Ceilia, 2, and Aspen, 6, who were the centres of attention.  Their parents Mellisa and Darren were super nice folks vacationing in PEI from Calgary.  Blaine emerged on deck, in a wet suit and full dive gear and jumped in the sea disappearing beneath the surface, only locatable by the clusters of bubble that breached the salty surface. 

After the peaceful, laughter filled voyage we headed to land and had a nice dinner.  I extend my thanks to Darren and Melissa for picking up the tab on that one, due to the kindness of strangers my journey is allowed continuance.

Blaine and I went back to his place where we began tackling the trees in front of his place.  We hauled and cut logs into firewood for over 2 hours until we had the back of his dumptruck filled to the brim with firewood.  I slept good that night.

On Monday, I went to work with Blaine on a dilapidated property and dug some three foot holes for fence posts.  Blaine paid me 65 bucks for my work that day and the evening before, and after thanking Blaine for everything, once again I was on the road, but not before a quick trip to the beautiful beaches!

Before I hit the bridge, I did something I have never done in my life; picked up hitchhikers!  Matt and Nicole were young bohemians who were at event on the island (I wish I had known about) called "Woods Talk", a small gathering of eclectic personality and music somewhere in the PEI forests.  We had a great conversation and they gave me some ideas of places to visit in Nova Scotia.  I dropped them off at the side of the road and we parted ways, I hope to run into these two again at some point, our time together was too short.  Did I mention they were couch-surfers as well!

                                            Blaine: the man with the plan.

I am excited to explore Halifax, and so the one grand adventure continues...

Budget check after leaving PEI and 11 days on the road...$950.   Thank you MT for paying my toll across the Confederation Bridge!

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