Thursday, September 29, 2011

Orangeville, ON to Drumheller, AB

First of all, I want to say to the many students we missed connecting with, from Ontario to Alberta, we are very sorry and sad that we missed you! For some, our schedules didn't merge, others we didn't know where you were, and for others, the geography was hard to manage. But we are still sorry, and hope our paths cross again soon.

Secondly, for those who have been following this blog and wonder if we dropped off the edge of the earth, we haven't, though Drumheller where I am writing this is right next door to the edge. It's just that ever since Ontario, we have been either driving or talking with students or sleeping. Nothing else. It has been marvelous, and I will tell you briefly about it.

After a needed day's break in Orangeville, we moved on to Kitchner/Waterloo. People say it that way because there is no space or barbed wire to tell you when you have passed from one town to the other. There are three Kaleo students there who didn't know one another, so we arranged to have breakfast with them at Cora's, a place that only does breakfast. It was so fun chatting with them all: Catherine (K5), Deborah (K6) and Emma (K7), and I hope they will stay in touch.

We then went to St. Jacobs, a little town Catherine had introduced us to the day before, which has the most amazing Farmer's Market. We went a little nuts buying cheap and very fresh fruit and veggies, forgetting that we would be crossing the border the next day and would have to leave them behind!

So Ally (K3) benefitted as we met her at Starbucks in London - so good to see her and hear her side of her wedding story after hearing her husband Tim's. Also happy to reap our harvest were the girls at Erin's house (K5), who topped their yogurt with the blueberries and blackberries we missed picking at home this year. What a wonderful crew Erin has gathered around her as she studies there! So good to hear her story and her heart.

It was a tough decision: should we go north or south around the Great Lakes? Either direction there were students to visit, and either way there were students we would miss. Sorry, Daniel and Nick and Jenny - we would have loved to see you as well, but we chose the southern route. Another day, we hope!

We were kinda nervous about this route, all Interstate highways and skirting the edge of Chicago. It was not as bad as we thought, though not especially scenic. We ran into more tolls, and were ready for the bridge at Sarnia (where on earth are you, Mike?), but not the tollway past Chicago. The matronly woman at the booth said, "Sixty cents, nope, American only," which we didn't have, so she wrote up a pink slip for us instead. Really. No credit cards?? It was a very long day, the farthest we had traveled in a day, and we were so glad to find Eric (K6) and Ellie (K7) at the end of it.

Ellie is working at the Discovery Centre at the local museum, and she took us for a tour of cool stuff to do, like make tornados and do tricks with mirrors and (the best) a thing that makes a bubble all around you. So fun. We chatted lazily at a local lake that had more boats per square 100 yards than I have ever seen. Eric has the unique opportunity to serve at a church plant, and on Sunday we got to see him in action leading worship, and that evening teaching his very precocious youth group.

Both their sets of parents spoiled us rotten, and it was cool to have dinner with everyone at Ellie's house, plus Shawn and Danielle who used to serve at Qwanoes. It was hard to leave.

Minniapolis is home to a family that sent to Kaleo both John (K2) and Ben (K7), renowned for their love of Ultimate Frisbee and Jesus, not in that order. A very fun household! Dad Steve is very excited about a TV show about motorbikes and stuff he is working on. We greatly appreciated the electric heater he gave us, which is currently warming my toes (pun, if you didn't notice), since the nights are getting chilly.

A bit stormy the next day, and the waves were getting bigger on Lake Superior as we finally found it on the other side of the grotesquely fantastic overpass maze of Duluth. We decided it was best to strike directly north to International Falls and Fort Frances, where Sarah has relatives. And, where we had more toll trouble! No signs told us about the $7 toll to cross the bridge into Canada until we had pulled up to the rickety shack where a young lady told us we could turn around in the narrow lane ahead and find cash. That prompted some interesting response, first from a friendly customs officer who wondered what the heck we were doing, and then from an even friendlier citizen, who stopped to offer to go and pay our toll with his pass. We spent an interesting evening with several cousins of Sarah who came over to check out the spectacle of Western relatives, and whose conversation - for lack of sleep or perhaps translation - I could not follow.

The road from the border to Kenora, winding between the many, many waterways of the Lake of the Woods, is very beautiful. Sarah told me a story of her mom working at a cookhouse for a logging camp here decades ago, and how she would paddle herself out on the weekends and then hitch a ride home. To our delight, we finally saw some red on many of the trees, though we will miss seeing the full splendor of the autumn colors.

A. (K3) and her husband R. have had doors opened to them to teach in a closed country I can't name here. They amazed us with their stories and photos and videos, which you may not see until heaven, if you can see videos there. It was a rare privilege. They return soon, and will love your prayers, which God will understand even if you don't know who and where they are.

Okay, don't hate me, Prairie-ites, but I felt my heart drop as we left the trees and rolling hills to enter the lands where (as Marv Penner puts it) God sat while he was making the rest of Canada. The first five minutes were lovely.

Holly (K2) wanted to meet us at The Forks in Winnipeg, which is a market kind of place by the river. She brought with her the first Kaleo baby we have seen on this trip (besides Brie's photos), and little Carley was very cute, though a little too fascinated with goose poo. So fun to see Holly, a student just a few years ago, enjoy being a mom. Haley (K7) joined us later, and led us on an exciting follow-the-leader-through-rush-hour-traffic ride to the home of James and Julia (K1), where we would have dinner and stay the night. Steve (K5) also came up from Winkler to share the pizza and conversation. I marveled at the competency and achievements of these students, and conversation continued late into the evening. Not so good, since some had a long way to go, and we hoped to reach Caronport in one shot the next day. But oh so good to see these people we love that we haven't seen in so long. Never enough time!

The trek to Briercrest College and Seminary didn't really seem that long. Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on the iPhone helped. Good thing, because our time there was a marathon! Here was our schedule, quickly established:

9:00 - Ben (K7)
10:00 - Lynnea (K8)
11:00 - Erik (K8)
Noon - Heidi (K8)
1:00 - Kaitlyn (K7)
2:30 - Jim & Anne (Prof & wife)
3:30 - Jade (K7)
4:30 - Logan (K7)
Pray for Jordana (K6 - brother passed away)
6:00 - Mark (K7)
7:00 - Claire (K7)
8:30 - BP's with everyone

9:30 - SS with Wes and Carl (Profs)
10:30 - The Gathering
12:00 - House Church at Taylors (Prof & wife)
2:00 - Alivia (K6)
3:00 - James (K7)
4:00 - Michael (K8)
5:30 - dinner at Alivia & Jayme's (K6)
7:30 - Josh (K6)
8:30 - Meghan (K8)
9:30 - Sam & Jeri (K5), Ben (K6)
11:00 - Matthew (K7)

8:00 - Wes (Prof)
10:45 - Chapel
11:30 - Nick and Leeann (K7 & fiancé)
12:30 - Kurtis (K5 - lunch)

Whew! So encouraging, almost overwhelming, and we were grateful that the school put us up in the hotel and gave us a meal pass. More and more, this trip is becoming all about ministry - both given and received by us.

I am almost caught up. Monday afternoon we made the short trip to Saskatoon, and I have to admit it was quite beautiful with the deep blue lakes and ponds contrasting with the burning gold of freshly harvested fields. Why I didn't stop for photos I don't know, but the colors are firmly etched on my brain. Sarah (K2) met us at the end of the road and caught us up on several years of her life that we had only heard long-distance before. But she also practically refitted our aging computer: memory upgrade, hard drive clean-up, and a good scrub. If you want someone who is good at everything she attempts, call up Sarah.

The road to Edmonton gave us our first truck trouble. We were getting low on fuel as we approached Lloydminster, so I pulled into a little town that had two pumps, one for gas and one for diesel. Bad idea. The garage guys in Lloyd told me that some of those small towns get so little business that the fuel sits for ages. It made the truck quite unhappy, but a fuel additive seemed to solve the problem.

Our niece Charis (K3) and her husband Josh are both attending the U of Alberta, she for English and he for a masters in philosophy. Their bookshelves contain the kind of books you wish you dared to read. They are very fun people and we enjoyed our trip to Red Robin's with them. It is good to have so much stimulating conversation with people who understand how high the stakes are in this world, who know that what we think and do matters. The next day we connected with Selena (K5), a glider pilot and also a student at the U of A, who showed us the most beautiful photo of our old, beloved house in Crofton that we have ever seen, and gave us a frame to put it in when we get it printed. We then spent a good part of the afternoon in a coffee shop with Jordan C (K1) and his wife. He is the junior high youth pastor at a large church, an amazing opportunity for a guy with loads of experience but just two years of Bible college. They are mentoring and training him, seeing the vast potential. They filled us in on the wonderful story of how they came together, and Danielle is no doubt a match for this energetic guy. We finished off the evening with Brandon (K3) and Little Kim and Ashlee dropping over, my mind swimming with conversation but so glad to see them.

We decided it was time for a breather. So, after seeing Josh and Charis off to school, which was a little weird since it is their house, and Andrew (K3) coming over to fill us in on his ministry also as a youth pastor in the city, and connecting with Krista (staff), and her two marvels of babyhood, after far too many years, and a quick visit with Kelsey (K6) who we saw in Victoria just before we left on this adventure, we headed for Drumheller, the site of the world-class Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum, which we will visit tomorrow, panting to catch up with these past number of days... And now to sleep.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Montreal to Niagara Falls

Day 11
As much as we looked forward to seeing our nephew Nathan, we were not looking forward to the craziness of driving in Montreal. We meandered a bit on the back roads, had lunch beside the St. Laurence and then launched onto the freeway. Lanes became narrower, construction was everywhere and the lack of signs in English was frustrating. As we entered the city, Sarah became more and more exasperated with the GPS on the iPhone and I eventually pulled over to realize that it was set on Transit Mode and was trying to find us bus routes into the city. That corrected, we soon found Nathan's street - one-way traffic streaming past row houses built right up to the sidewalk. We were a little early, so we parked in a Home Hardware parking lot and waited for Nathan to get back from his work at a video game-making place.

It was nice to see him ride up on his bike, a familiar face in this crazy busy town. By that time, he told us, it was now okay to park on his street, except for two days a month when I guess they clean it. Not being one of those days, we parked and went to his ground-level suite, which was dominated by a baby grand piano he had picked up and repaired for $250. He also has an organ he is working on and a clavichord. We combined resources for dinner and then enjoyed conversation and listening to him play Beethoven and Brahms. He also sings in a local church choir, in which half are believers and others are paid professionals and students. Nathan seems to fit in here, though he grew up on the west coast, but he is not convinced he will stay here to complete his Ph.D. in computer sciences. Wonderful to see him and catch up.

Day 12
We left late enough to miss the worst of the morning traffic that roared past the house all night, thankfully muffled by the brick construction. We found it somewhat easier to navigate without rain falling and a GPS not set to "transit" and were soon on open freeway bound for Ottawa.

We have friends who live a half hour south of Ottawa, Phil and Gwen, who used to serve at Camp Qwanoes with us. They live in a quiet town in a wonderful brick home, built in 1897 and a pretty constant work in progress. It was nice to slow down after the freeway and enjoy lunch and conversation with Gwen, and Phil's 91-year-old mom who is a delightful old soul in more ways than one. We would stay there that night and catch up with Phil too, but first we had a dinner date with a K6 student, Jesse, in Ottawa.

Our drive into the city was quite amazing, especially in comparison to Montreal. Sarah wanted to drive by the Parliament buildings and the Rideau Canal, which neither of us had seen since we were teenagers. I wasn't sure how to do that, and was still a bit nervous from our last big-city experience. When I saw a exit that said, "Scenic Tourist Route to Ottawa," I spontaneously took it, in spite of Sarah's misgivings. She resigned herself to my let's-see-what-happens mood, and except for one slowdown the route took us serenely into the city, right along the canal and past the parliament buildings. We didn't stop, as it would have been too much for Sarah's knees, but traffic was slow enough to get off a few photos with the iPhone, probably a federal offense.

Ottawa is a beautiful city for the most part, and does our country proud. Jesse lives on a quiet and tree-lined street, and she had just arrived home when we got there. She is studying journalism at Carleton, and we hope someday to see her "reporting on location from Armpit, SK." We opted for dinner out, and the simplest was the famous "Hintenburgers" at the end of the street. True, it's tiny and the floor has a distinct northern tilt, but the burgers were marvelously tasty and the conversation with Jesse very encouraging.

We of course didn't want to leave, and consequently got a little lost finding our way back to Phil and Gwen's in the dark, and then kept them up far too late with catching up on their story. But we love these two and are happy to witness their quiet and satisfied life in this small town.

Day 13
Tough choice: More freeway or the quieter route? An invitation from a cousin of Sarah's back to Ottawa for lunch decided it, and we would take the Number 7 instead of the busy 401. Sarah's cousin is deaf, and it was interesting to hear of the issues her community deals with, especially in her church for the deaf. Salmon sandwiches and back on the road again.

The Number 7 is all rolling hills and thick forest and farms and lakes and small towns. It was a pleasant drive but long, and we didn't roll into Orangeville until about 7:30. Phil (K6) and his dad were there to meet us and Ryan (also K7) dropped in soon after from helping a friend move. Between this wonderful family, two dogs (yellow and black labs) and two cats, we were made to feel at home. Justin dropped in too, and proposed a trip to Muskoka Woods Sports Resort the next day, which sounded great to us, pooped as we were.

Day 14
Justin picked us up, and we were happy to learn that we would also pick up Bo (K7) and Jordan (K5). Jordan lives on a farm near Beeton, and it is the first time in a long time that he has lived there into the fall. I have noticed that there are several here in that situation - Bo, Jordan, Justin, Phil - and it is interesting to hear how that is going for them. Tough when you are used to doing your own thing without reference to mom and dad, and harder to be the person you have become while you were away.

As we drove north, the countryside became more rocks and lakes and few towns and many cottages. I was surprised as we pulled into Muskoka Woods that it was not the usual narrow lane through trees, but wide open space and buildings and a glimpse of lake through maples. A beautiful spot. Everything is on large scale here: multiple skate parks (outdoor and indoor), Olympic-style tramps, gorgeous waterfront. The guys tried their hand at the driving range, motivated by a gaggle of wild turkeys roaming the field, which were perfectly safe from their flying golf balls. I offered to stand out there myself! Justin took us to the new leadership centre, a carefully-crafted building with a suspension bridge entrance, astounding design and stunning view of the water. Everything in it has been designed to encourage the metaphor of leadership. It was easy to see why Justin and others we have known love this place. We finished our time with the guys taking a dip in the lake, which of course involved handstands and photo ops.

We wanted to do dinner together on the way back, and the first place we stopped had a great view of the water. We should have taken cue from the question of whether we had reservations, and the first glance at the menu told us that this was no burger joint. We sipped our water, hummed and hawed, and then apologized our way out. An hour later we stopped at Kelseys in Barrie, and enjoyed big burgers for the price of not much more than one meal at the place with the view. This being my 53rd birthday, they had the waitresses sing for me and I blew out the candle on a ice cream cookie thing that I managed to find a corner for. I told them that this had been a great way to spend a birthday, both for the road trip and especially for the company.

Day 15
Orangeville Baptist Church is evidently the place to be on a Sunday morning. We have had so many students from this place - Ally, Viktor, Justin, Jessica, Phil, Ryan, Jeremy, Erik. We surprised Ally and Jeremy's parents by our being there, and they invited us to dinner. So it was lunch and a relaxing afternoon with Justin and his parents, then an energized dinner with the Derksen's. It was great to see Tim, Ally's husband, though both Ally and Jeremy are away at school. Jon (K5) came up from Toronto, where he is interning at an inner-city church, and Jordan came by too, and it was a great evening. We can't get enough of hearing the stories and thoughts and dreams of these students! Very encouraging, often moving, always worth this trip in itself.

Day 16
We realized, as we got home late and left for the day after everyone had left for work, that we were not being the best of guests at the Karklins! They are very gracious, though, and we appreciate the bits of time we have had with them.

Today's destination was Niagara Falls, with visits with four students on the way. Justin lent us his car for the day, as he was leaving for a spiritual retreat at a monastery in New York. We were grateful, as it was hard to imagine driving the truck through even the outskirts of Toronto on our way to Hamilton. I don't know why speed limits are even posted. Even at 10 over, we were clearly the slowest vehicle on the road. It should have been a simple route, according to Google Maps, but a couple wrong turns meant the exploration of some of the more industrial parts of Toronto and Hamilton. But we reached Kylie's house (K6) before she did, so it was all good. We ate our lunch with Kylie and her mom and friend in the house that she shares with four other girls. She is studying nursing at McMaster University, which she finds a motivating and challenging environment with its open learning style. She is quite involved with Navigators there. We are encouraged with how many Kaleo students are in leadership with a Christian group at their secular school, making a difference there.

We next scooted off to St. Catharines to find Caroline (K7), who is attending Brock U in medical sciences but who is more interested in the administrative side of things in that field. Texting enabled us to locate her at a park downtown, as she was just biking home from her job at a golf course and had a meeting with her Campus Crusade group coming up. So it was a short visit but so good. We could see in her face the maturity and grace that others saw in her when they asked her to take a leadership role in the group, which surprised her as they usually ask third and fourth year students. We sat on a bench in the park, enjoying the sun and the breeze as we relived memories, gossiped (politely) about Kaleo and heard her story. It was hard to let her go.

By now we were realizing that we didn't have much time for the Falls, but they were so close! Traffic was building too. The last time I was in the Niagara Falls area was 35 years ago, and it has certainly changed. Wow, has it changed! I certainly don't remember streets that look like Las Vegas. The Falls themselves are buried behind a huge tourist sieve to strain out their money. Without losing any of ours, we eventually stumbled upon the road along the Falls, and even at this time of year and at this hour there were throngs of people. Parking was a problem, and rather than pay "$18 per entry," I dropped Sarah off as close as I could and went on a hunt for the cheap parking spot. Take note: On Portage Road just above the power plant by the falls is a small parking lot that doesn't cost anything. There is a fence that says not to cross it, but if you walk a hundred meters back toward the city, there is an easy pathway down to the $18 parking lot. That's my kind of deal. I found Sarah, who had not seen the Falls before, and we enjoyed a half hour of oohing and aahing with the tourists. Niagara Falls are truly spectacular and worth seeing. But I could do without the trappings. Sarah's mom has a very old photo of the Falls, with buggies going by and without the bells and whistles, and I think I would like that better.

We were going to get to Redeemer College later than expected, but it worked out fine. There was Anna (the first K8 we have seen) walking across the grass, and it was so good to see her - a miracle, really, considering all that God has done to bring her to this place. We picked up a bite to eat, and Jessica (K7) skipped out of her accounting class for a minute to say hello, and we assured her we would stay until she got back. So good to see these girls doing so well, and their hopes in spite of the challenges. It was great to tell our stories and pray for one another, and once again the time went too quickly and it was so hard to leave. But wonderful to leave them in God's powerful hands.

The trip "home" to Orangeville was much easier than the trip there, following the same road most of the way, and hoping the iPhone wouldn't die and leave us GPS-less before we got there, as the plug in Justin's car wasn't working. Great day, but we decided the next one would be a day off for us, hiding out at Justin's for the day like he was hiding out in New York.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Bay of Fundy to Quebec City

Day Ten
After an astounding breakfast that would last us all day, Katie took us to the Bay of Fundy, famous for its big tides. Our first stop was for almost-as-famous cinnamon buns at the little town of Alma, followed by a walk on the beach and rocks, mostly to catch up on the life of Katie, who we haven't seen since the end of Kaleo Seven.

On the way back we ventured up and down some very steep roads to places named Cape Enrage and Hopewell Hill. This is lobster country, though somehow we missed eating any. Everyone has lobster for sale, even Mickey D's:

Saying a fond farewell to Katie, we literally set off into the sunset in search of the town of Minto and our good buddy and student, Robbie. It was a little further, and further, and further into the bush than we thought, and we expected to make mooseburgers any moment, though we didn't see any, in spite of the many signposts that promised we would, so slow down. At the end of it all, up a dark driveway, was Rob.

Rob works nights at the Atlantic Superstore (same as the "Canadian" version), plus ten hours a week at his church. So he was pretty sleepy when we arrived. We all decided to crash and catch up the next day.

Day Eleven
Trouble was, the next day we were all sleepy, Rob from work and us from too much fun. So we went out to Robbie's family cabin on Great Lake, which his grandma picked up for a song back in the fifties. Thanks, Rob, for a lazy day, which was just what we needed! Rob and I walked down the beach and I got to hear his hopes and fears and dreams. Love that guy. Finished the day with another meal with his wonderful, interesting and funny mom and dad, and another chat at Timmy Ho's. Another full day.

Day Twelve
We got to go to Rob's church! He warned us that it might be an unusual experience, and it was different. Definitely a joyful noise to the Lord. But I appreciated the depth of these folk who at first glance may seem simple. Rob's dad, Doug, shared a "Godstory" about the time he threw a boomerang in church (during a skit) in obedience to God, and how it "missed 100 people, a dozen stained glass windows and all the light fixtures," and landed in the coat rack. I wish someone had written it down - it could have been published in the next edition of Reader's Digest. Very neatly told.

Rob is trying to get his church to buy into the idea of "house church" like The Gathering does at Briercrest. About 20 people gathered at his house for carrot soup that we made the night before, a time of prayer and let's-share-life-together conversation. I admire Rob's willingness to take home and use what he has gained these past four years in Bible college.

Should we stay or should we go? And if we go, what direction? There are so many options for getting to Quebec from Robbie's place that we were quite at a loss.

In the end we decided to take a secondary road through the bush to New Brunswick's east coast, a road no one seemed to know much about. Stopping for diesel (a good idea when bushwhacking), a fellow who laughed when I asked him if he was from these parts said he had just come down that road and it was great. "Just set yer cruise to 90 and giv'r." It turned out to be just that, and before we knew it we were at the coast. It was a little alarming to look at the map and realize that since we landed in Halifax nearly two weeks ago, we have progressed west nearly nil. It's okay - we will get to it soon.

The place where we were headed for the night was one that we could only point to on the map, since neither of us could pronounce it: Kouchibouguac National Park. Oh for a sunny day to spend there! Sarah was not up to navigating the boardwalk to the beach, but I could not help myself. How I love long sandy beaches and waves! Even though we are just across from PEI here, the beach was not red, but similar to the beaches near Tofino.

It was weird, though, to have the sun setting behind me instead of in front. The mosquitos were so bad here that we made an early night of it. On to Quebec tomorrow, though somehow I'm not looking forward to it.

Day Thirteen
We woke up to grey skies threatening rain, and a forecast for lots of it for northern NB, so we decided to hoof it for the Gaspe Peninsula and maybe miss the worst of it. We got a bit pounded before we started up into the Appalachian Mountains where it resolved into misty valleys that reminded us of BC.

We are sure it is a very scenic route, but much of it we simply couldn't see. But we enjoyed what we could, which included more massive cathedrals in every tiny town, and the river that winds between them.

We found in the mist the campground we were aiming for, Parc national du Bic. A little steep, since we had to pay an additional fee just to be in the park. So, to get my money's worth, I went for a hike to Cap a l'Original. Beautiful, even in the mist and rain, and I should have taken at least the little camera, because now I have no photos. Though it is on the St Laurence Seaway, it reminded me a lot of the west coast of Vancouver Island. You can check it out by clicking here. Rained all night.

Day Fourteen
Oh, lots of driving today! We alternated between boring and foggy freeway and bumpy but wonderful secondary road along the St Laurence Seaway. I admit that I was a little freaked out about the idea of navigating Quebec City in our big rig, especially since we had no idea where to go. We were praying for an Info Centre, which appeared immediately after we crossed the bridge into the city. There is an analogy there someplace. It turned out to be really easy: one road to the other Info Centre just outside the Old City, and then a $1 bus that took you well into the maze of ancient buildings that is the original Quebec.

We had tea (to the consternation of our French waitress) and a wonderful maple cake at the above bistro on the sidewalk. Sarah's knees were not up to much today, but we got a good taste of the city and the people and art and music and shops. You could spend a week here quite easily, which would be the better (and expensive) way to go. Very, very unique.

Being late, we planned to stay overnight in a Wal-Mart parking lot, but upon asking we were told that it wasn't done here. Shouldn't be surprising in a place that has its own way of doing everything. So now we are in a very boring and expensive city of camp trailers, and can't wait to move on tomorrow. Quebec has been interesting, but I will be glad to cross the bridge into Ottawa in a couple days.

And now I am caught up. Good night!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Cavendish, PEI to Dieppe, NB

Day Eight
After a week with no set schedule, it felt strange to have an Appointment to get to: the Anne of Green Gables play in Charlottetown. We set off early and explored a few more northern beaches of red sand and dunes before approaching the city. We found ourselves there quite early, so we parked ourselves beside the water in Victoria Park downtown and had lunch. We should have started to the play sooner, because after I dropped Sarah off at the Theatre I discovered that there is no place to park in Downtown Charlottetown. As the minutes ticked down I finally went back to the park, parked as close to the theatre as I could, and ran! I got there just a few minutes before the play began, warm and sweaty. I hope the man sitting beside me has forgiven me!

The play was excellent. I had been pretty impressed with the version produced by Chemainus Theatre last year, but this was so much more. Big and complicated sets that moved like clockwork, a huge cast and the polish achieved by 40 or so showings every season since 1965. This was the last day of the season, and it was practically flawless.

By the time the play was done and we had picked up some groceries, we realized that the only campsite we really wanted was the one we were in the night before. Good thing PEI is so small! We went back to the beach, just a little down from where we were before, and enjoyed another brilliant sunset. God is very good at those on PEI.

Day Nine
It was hard to leave that spot. I think there is nothing much nicer in this world than walking barefoot on a beach of soft sand with warm waves running up over your feet as the sun rises. But we packed up again and took another route to see what we could see. Green, rolling hills punctuated with blue coves and inlets, tall and ancient houses in all colors, very little traffic. This took us to the artsy town of Summerside, where we dropped in to the College of Piping just to see their Celtic giftshop, to discover that a mini-concert of highland pipes, drums and dance was being offered in just a few minutes. To our surprise we turned out to be an audience of two, but they performed just the same as if we were two hundred. Two girls about 8 and 10 years of age danced, and some of their instructors gave professional performances of bagpipe jigs and reels, incredible drum solos and tap and highland dances, all for us! We thanked them profusely.

Driving west from there in search of more scenery, we were traveling along a narrow road and hadn't seen any houses for some time when we suddenly came upon a handful of them and - one enormous cathedral! It was open so we went inside. I am sure it would seat nearly a thousand people, and its pillars were marble. It sat right beside the water with an incredible view. What on earth was it doing there? And do a handful of Francophones fill the first few pews for mass on a Sunday?

A little further on, down a dirt road and after the directions of a young man on the side of the road whose accent I could hardly understand, we found a lighthouse for sale! It was at the tip of the southwest cape of the Island above red cliffs carved in amazing shapes by the waves. We didn't buy it, even though it was only $110,000 and included a beach and three acres of land.

It was finally time to leave this bizarre and wonderful Island, this time by bridge. The Confederation Bridge is 12.9 km long and is the longest bridge over ice-covered water. No ice today, though. Because we are in a big Ford truck, we can actually see over the concrete barrier on either side, and because the bridge curves like a snake you can actually see it as you drive over. But we stopped on the New Brunswick side anyway to do the tourist thing and take pictures.

Our destination for the day was Katie's house (K7) in Dieppe near Moncton. Katie says everyone in Dieppe is French, and I think it is true. In fact it has been tough for her to find a job because in spite of her last name she doesn't speak French. She had a marvelous dinner waiting for us, soup and haddock and salmon and rice and veggies, plus chocolate pastries from a local German bakery. Her mom, a wonderfully funny person and by her admission terrible driver, gave us an adventure to be remembered by taking us to beach to catch the last moments of a brilliant deep red sunset. It was wonderful to begin catching up with Katie, who gave up her room for us.