Last year we had borrowed JK & Dana‘s TomTom for the trip to PEI, and once on the island, it took us a way I don’t think I had ever gone before (not that I remembered anyway) to reach our cottage, but this year we had my iPhone and Google Maps. I had pre-planned our route there, and so when Amy started complaining that she had to pee and wanted me to alter my route on the fly – so we could get there faster – I had to refuse. I’m a slave to technology afterall, “I can’t turn there, the GPS is telling me to go straight!” So just like last year, Amy REALLY had to pee by the time we rolled into our final destination. Last year she had a reason for having such a chipmunk sized bladder (she was pregnant) but this year she had no excuses. In her defense (and mine too really) I did actually offer to stop after she told me she had to pee, but she opted to just keep going, what a trouper. ;)
Other than Amy’s pea sized bladder, the trip from Fredericton to PEI was actually pretty good. The closer we got to PEI, the nicer the weather became. By the time we rolled into the cottages where we were staying, the sun was shining in clear blue skies. It was the start of a week of beautiful weather – a welcome change from last year’s rainy stay. During this trip we only saw one day of rainy skies, whereas last year I think we only saw one day of sunshine.
Once again this year we stayed at Windermere Cottages in Stanhope. My family has been staying at these cottages for over 30 years now. I have very fond memories of the time we spent there when I was a kid – things like playing horseshoes with my dad, buying candy at the little store they had onsite, walking to the beach down what I considered to be our own private pathway, watching lobsters crawl around on the kitchen floor before we boiled them up, or even catching a budgie bird from the trees around the place. Without a doubt though, the times playing at the beach and in the sand dunes was my favourite. Anyway, suffice it to say, I’ve got an attachment to the place. This year was different though, and I guess that’s to be expected with new owners.
Jack and Deb sold Windermere over the winter, but took care of the bookings for this year. That was their only involvement with the place this year, and sadly it was all too apparent. If I could sum up our experience from this year in a few words I’d say this, “Reduced service for way more money.” That’s obviously not a good thing.
It started immediately after we arrived – we had booked three cottages, and they were all supposed to be side by side – they weren’t – there was a cottage between each of the ones we rented, which made things like group meals a bit of a PITA. Apparently payment was expected upon arrival, instead of at the end of your stay. Perhaps this is standard at most places, but I can’t say I’ve ever been asked to pay up front before – and certainly never at Windermere. We didn’t end up paying until the following Friday, most likely because we simply weren’t around when the lady came looking for us, and since she was only there for a very short time each day – it’s not surprising she missed us until then. Yep, there was nobody staffing the office, just a once a day visit to check messages, that was it. None of our cottages had been cleaned before we got there, that was all too obvious. They had rationed us to a certain number of dish clothes (2!), etc and had a nice little sign that said something to the effect of, “This is all the linens that you get for your stay, if you require more, there is a laundromat located at such and such a location, about 10 kms away.” If you’re going to pull something like that, at least make a (coin-operated if you must) washer and dryer available in the little store building that was sitting idle – all locked up – instead of making your guests waste their precious vacation time sitting in a laundromat. As I just alluded to, sadly there was no store on site anymore – the kids were disappointed because that meant there was nowhere close to buy candy anymore. Also, the horseshoe pits had been ripped out, for no apparent reason. On top of all that, the price was $200 more this year as compared to last year! I can’t really complain about the actual cottages since I knew exactly what we were getting into, having stayed there so many times in the past, but I guess we looked past some of the inconveniences before because of the excellent service we used to get. This year all those little inconveniences were way too noticeable unfortunately. But anyway, enough about that, I think I’ll just say that I don’t think we’ll be back again, and I think that’s really sad considering the 30+ year history with the place. :(
The plan, for us (the Ottawa Haggertys) at least, was to spend the week relaxing, visiting the beach, and just hanging out with family who we don’t get to see very often. We were especially excited that Liam (and Grace) would get to spend lots of time with their cousins. I brought my bike along in hopes of getting out for a ride with my brother, but sadly that never happened. I did get out once on my own though, for a short 43 km ride where I only suffered one flat, which felt like no bother at all compared to Trev’s epic 5 flat ride from the week before.
I do have to tell the story of our deep sea fishing trip. My brother Mike, Dad and I headed down to Covehead wharf one afternoon in hopes of finding a boat to take us out fishing. Last year, at the end of June, we went out and didn’t have much luck, catching a few cod that we weren’t allowed to keep and nothing else. This year it was a completely different story! We arrived at the wharf and starting looking around to see who was available. We got wrangled up by a guy who was working for “Fishy Business” and taken down to the boat. Before long we were off. Before starting the fishing, the captain talked about how the fisheries were screwing them, etc as a pre-amble to saying that we’d basically have no luck at catching any cod. Our first stop, however, was to fish for mackerel. The captain gave a quick demonstration of what to do – he said to let your line drop for about 5 seconds, then lock it off and then reel in your fish, which he did! Somebody made a comment to the effect of, “What are you paying the diver you got down there?” To which Chris, the captain, replied, “Not as much as you guys are paying me.” Everybody got a good laugh out of that. In the end though, it ended up being just like his demonstration for me – I’d drop the line, wait a few seconds and then reel in the fish, sometimes two at a time. Final tally by the end of the afternoon was 58 mackerel for me, and my brother was a close second at 43. I think my dad brought in 7 or so – but he was busy helping other people out on the boat, which I think he likes to do. As expected, unfortunately we didn’t catch any cod. We took a couple of bags of mackerel filets back to the cottages with us and cooked them up on the BBQ. Pretty tasty – I think my niece Cicely enjoyed it the most.
Not much else to tell, which I guess is expected when you spend the week relaxing. Add to that the fact that I’ve got a memory like a sieve and it’s been a month now since we were there and that may explain why I’m drawing blanks for any other highlights from the trip. Perhaps Amy will pipe in with some stuff that I’ve forgotten. As always, lots of photos to check out over on Flickr. Also as usual, any with the kids in them have been marked as private to friends and family so if you’re not already marked as a friend and want to be, send me an email. I’m actually still in the process of sorting through the photos and uploading them, so you may have to check back a few times before you see them all.