At 10:22 on Friday night, I boarded an AC flight from YYZ to YYG for my first trek of the season to PEI.
I'd brought a friend with me, one who'd not yet visited the island, and it was fun to anticipate our adventures together.
Although the visit was a short one (2.5 days), we did our best to pack it with Island "stuff"!
Arriving after midnight meant a visit to the all night Sobey's in Ch'town before heading out to the house. Brian obligingly picked us up and went grocery shopping with us -- never saw a grocery story at 2 a.m. before; they took advantage of the lull in shoppers to restock the shelves! -- before driving us out to St Peter's Harbour, around the corner from his own Red Head Harbour.
The night sky was bejewelled with stars, and the Milky way was clearly visible overhead. One of my favourite things about the island (and one which differentiates it so from Toronto) is the sky, and I felt so much joy at this astronomical greeting from above as we pulled into the driveway and unpacked our bags from Brian's trunk.
The boys downed a Gahan House from the fridge which I had had the foresight to prearrange (the beer, not the fridge) while I unpacked groceries and suitcases, and discovered that somewhere between removing my gloriously noise-cancelling headphones and arriving at the house, the headphones had disappeared. Crumb!
Thankfully, Brian had the number to the commissionaire memorised (one advantage of having a friend who works at the tower!!), and I wrote it on a scrap to follow up later.
By the time we'd unpacked and finished catching up, it was after 4 a.m., and glimmers of sunrise were hinting at making themselves known on the horizon, so I stayed up a little longer, and captured the pre-sunrise on my iPhone before falling into bed.
The next "morning" (well alright, it was closer to noon!) our house looker after swung by with the plumber to do a few odd jobs. Then we lounged about and got caught up with the neighbours on one side.
Afterwards I had a nap in the hammock - nice!
Then it was time to show Rick the beach and the light house. We set off into the late afternoon windy sunshine, and snapped a few pics of the old pier en route. How strange it was to be walking in 22-degree sunshine and still see remnants of snow along the treeline!
Sunday was more of a cloudy Island day; rain seemed inevitable, but we'd determined to bike into Morell so that I could show Rick the village, and so I could go to the bank and get some money for our house guy, who had presented me with a bill for the winter's work!!
Although Tats' bike had not weathered the winter on PEI particularly well, and was desperately in need of a new chain, my bike seemed okay, as did one of the others, and we set out towards Hwy 2.
Camera-less, Rick took away only memories of the RedHead fishing huts, the Morell River, and the local stretch of the confederation trail (the visitors' centre was not yet open for the season) before stopping at the bank machine to complete my errand.
Once we arrived back home, we fed ourselves a decent lunch, and then it was off to another vigorous nap in the hammock for me and one on the couch for Rick, before our Sunday night Lobster Dinner, which we had been invited to by our new neighbours Syd and Katie.
The dinner was both delicious and entertaining, as it afforded me an opportunity to meet many "from away" neighbours who'd come to the island to open up their summer homes, or who were living there year round and were eager for the first big social event of the season.
Interestingly, several houses down the road from ours had been purchased by Ontarians over the past 12 months, and I was able to connect with several new neighbours.
Rick endeared himself to all by washing dishes for most of the night. Being an extreme introvert, this was ideal; he was able to observe the proceedings from his central post at the open concept kitchen sink while avoiding direct conversation for much of the evening!
The next morning we took one more jaunt down to the beach as well as the subdivision at the end of the road, and then prepared for our departure after lunch. Brian came to enjoy said lunch with us before taking us into town so that Rick could get a lay of the land in Confederation's birthplace.
No visit to Ch'town is complete without a stop at Cow's ice cream -- Rick treated us to a few scoops at Peake's Warf, and then it was off to pick up some treats for Simon and Alex as well as my Grade 7s at the much-fabled Anne of Green Gables Chocolate Shop... still no chocolate covered red licorice in stock, but we made due with a few containers of their famous chocolate covered potato chips, which I had told my homeroom students about last week, and had promised to try and obtain.
Finally, sadly, it was time to say good-bye to the island, and head off to the Airport.
After checking Rick in (he was on a different plane home than I), we popped over to the tower for a quick tour -- Brian showed Rick how aircraft show up on the radar, and we saw a smaller plane land on 03 before heading back down to the terminal to make our way through security.
Boarding my own aircraft a short time later was a bittersweet event: On the one hand, I am looking forward to returning to my Tatsy tonight; on the other hand, I already miss the island, and am not sure how I will weather the weeks until end July when I finally head back for a full month of summer vacation (this time with the kids).
Those who followed my flight blog for the three years it tool me to earn my pilot license know that I spend my summers on PEI, and that often my Saturday mornings out there are spent at a greasy spoon near YYG, where the local pilots meet for breakfast (and sometimes flying!!!) each week.
This past Sunday after church, Tats, Alex and I went to the Gay Pilots' Association brunch here in Toronto. It was a leetel different from the PEI event we are used to, hehe...
For starters, we were not the only women there!!! Secondly, we were not the only openly GAY people there!!! Thirdly, Tats was not the only commercial pilot there!!!
And there was live jazz music! And the food was edible!
My only complaint was that -- unlike many a Saturday on PEI -- we didn't get to go flying afterwards.
Alex had an excellent time, and asked afterwards, "Mommy, they're fun! When are we going to another Gay Pilot Breakfast?" No worries, kid, Dean's already got you signed up to work the booth at Pride this year, lol!
Once you have piloted the plane you are flying in, once you have pulled back the controls at just the right moment, have felt the instant your aircraft left the ground, and have looked out straight ahead as it did so and realised, "hey, I am actually flying this thing!", it is hard to find any thrill that will match that experience.
Especially if those moments of take-off have included the outlook over a body of water, the sunlight dancing and sparkling off the ripples of the big lake or ocean ahead, with nothing blocking your view as you soar off into the skies... life on the ground seems, well, sluggish. Slow... and dull.
If -- like me -- you also happen to be a cyclist, you may be lucky enough to experience a tiny little bit of that thrill as you sail, slightly more smoothly and at a quicker pace than the plodding footsteps or crawling car traffic so many of us city dwellers are bound to, across an elevated platform such as a bridge, for example.
Today I had the good fortune to be cycling across such an one.
The Sunnyside bridge offered me the ability to capture -- for the most fleeting moment -- a fraction of the adrenaline rush that flying generates. Cycling southbound as the sun danced for a moment across the ripples of the water of Lake Ontario creating a glimmering spectacle of luminosity on this otherwise grey, gray day. The panoramic vista that lay open ahead of me, glinting and gleaming as I peddled effortlessly high above the Gardener Expressway with the wind at my back, was as powerful as the most potent anti-depressant available on the market.
Ahhh, but the moment was too brief, and the other side of the bridge was reached too soon.
In a flash, I was back on earth, the cold biting my face at ground level, and the crosswind creating a nuisance to fight against as I struggled to maintain both my balance and my forward motion with an extremely overloaded and bulky pannier on only one side of my bike.
Without the thrill of the sky opening up ahead of me, the exhilaration of the preceding 3 minutes was gone.
Oh, how I miss flying!
FINALLY got to go flying in Toronto again; a chum from ground school has his IFR rating, and wanted to practise an approach to Hamilton. So he took lucky me along as co-pilot and to be his eyes.
As it turned out, it was a pretty busy evening at CYTZ, with both company and commercial traffic coming and going like crazy.
Nevertheless, we finally got airborne, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset enroute to Hamilton.
One of the pilots I sometimes fly with on PEI used to joke that this is a flying club where people sit around and talk about flying, but nobody actually flies! ;-P
It's true that more of the boys seem to sit around at the GA building after breakfast than are actually in the air on any given day, but in fairness, the weather was not particularly inviting today....
One of the guys brought a baby, though, and that was good fun: Willem and I discovered an old luggage cart near the lounge, and we wheeled around a bit until we found another willing "driver" to take the 14-month-old passenger for an extended ride around the apron!
After several re-schedulings due to weather, the annual Cable Head Fly-In finally took place on Saturday, August 16 at Jimbo's.
While the grown-ups were very serious eating burgers and folding charts in the fight for the title of master chart-folder (speed is everything; though some noted that Tom gave all the smaller charts to his friends!!!), Alex and Simon enjoyed setting up our new beach chairs in the shade. (Er, we won't mention the other "chair incident", which happened early on, and which some cruel pilot/photographers caught on film, lol!)
After the chart folding and paper-airplane flying competitions, it was time to separate the wheat from the chafe: below left, Tom and his crew give detailed instructions on the message drop exercise. Bottom right, Neil (my soon-to-be-co-pilot), listens intently.
After taxiing out onto the runway, I manage to take a few nice shots from on high before Neil comes in for a low and over, and I drop our message ball out the window with the intent of taking first place in this competition. (The ideas is for ones ball to get on or as close to a painted line on the runway as possible.)
At the end of the afternoon, Tom and Jimbo hand out the prizes (Neil and I win first for the ball drop - yay!), and a very special prize (recognize it, Vinx and Brian???!!!), accompanied by a long-winded and almost-believable story, is handed out to a poor, unsuspecting pilot visiting from away!
Another successful fly-in event at Cable Head!!!
One of the reasons I love being a member of PEIFA is that I get to read the world's most unique emails... here's one you don't see everyday; this was forwarded by our our president:
Today we had to drive out to O'Leary for Tats' aviation medical. In order to make the nearly six hours of driving (approx. three each way) more bearable, we decided to break up the excursion into smaller, chunks. The first stop on our adventure took us to the Bottle Houses, just past Summerside.
WELL worth the $16 family admission, this "museum" and gardens are just magical! (click photos to enlarge)
On the grounds there was also a ring toss game, which the boys enjoyed playing....
Next it was onwards to O'Leary, where Tats went to her appt with the examiner at the newish, bright and lovely Community Hospital, while the boys and I headed over to a nearby school for a picnic under a tree and a romp in the adjacent playground.
After Tatsy's exam (she passed, thank goodness!), we visited the Canadian Potato Museum (only on PEI, lol!), where we saw a number of fascinating current and historic farm implements, and learned about various types of potato pests.
After the museum, we headed back towards our part of the Island, but not before stopping to check out the warplanes in Slemon park first -- one of the planes on display had been navigated by Tats' aviation medical examiner during the cold war!
We explored the three aircraft and even found time to do a little geocaching in the wheel of one of the planes before moving on....
By now it was time for dinner, so we decided to stop by at the New Glasgow Lobster Supper and satiate our appetites for Island fare before heading back to St Peter's Harbour.
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera turned her written attention to prolific blogging for some years, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and SMARTbansho . Homeschooling 4 was her travel blog in Argentina. She now spends more time on her Instagram (@schalgzeug_usw) than her blog (pictures are worth a thousand words?!) Contact Vera by clicking the photo above.
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