2010 Vacation Day 5 - Hermit crab racing...

Packed up and on the road by 9:30. A little later than expected, but no biggie. Heading for PEI, to a provincial park called Panmure Island.  Weather and traffic both good today. Made it to the bridge in about 3 hours. Got a little sidetracked nearing the bridge, 3 of us, 2 trailers and a pickup truck, took Hwy 355 to the bridge. or so we thought, and ended up stopped at a construction detour. So we were all sitting stopped, not because of the construction, but because none of us seemed to want to venture further. I hopped out and walked up to the first trailer, he was not feeling good about the state of the road, then I wandered back the the pickup behind us. They figured that the road we were hesitant about would actually get us back to the main Hwy, so we all agreed and they led the way. Sure enough, we were back on track in about 15 minutes. Stopped and gassed up before the bridge, then started out.
The bridge is very impressive. It just looms so large ahead of you.
 The first part is a long climbing stretch to get you up to the main level. It is quite high, and surprisingly, just 2 lanes...I was somehow under the impression it was 4 lanes. Traffic moves along at a sensible 80klm pace. The view is excellent, at least the glimpses I saw during the brief moments I glanced away from the road ahead of me. After a bit, you begin another little climb to the apex of the bridge, a portion close to PEI where the bridge reaches its maximum height. At times it is like driving into the sky. Then you crest the peak and head slowly down. PEI is just laid out before you. Very very nice view, and today the weather was perfect.

Stopped at the visitor centre to eat our lunch, picked up earlier at an Irving gas stop outside St. John. Loaded up on maps, then headed down the T Can towards Charlottetown. Nice drive across, the first thing you notice is the earth, deep red and everywhere. Of course, the road dust is also red, and very opaque. Towards our destination, the roads became ever more rural, lots of very little towns, some no bigger than the sign itself. Stopped in Montague when we got close, for some supplies. Actually a good sized town, probably will be our go to spot. Finally arrived about 4:30, so it was about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the bridge. Towing time that is.

Panmure Island PP is small, about 40 sites. The island itself is connected by a little natural causeway, the beach along this. There are 2 camping areas, across the road from each other. I think we are in the better of the two, but a little walk tomorrow will confirm that. Our site is #38, and we are fortunate to be up against the edge at the treeline. this gives us some shade in the late afternoon. Nice grassy sites, all in good condition.
 Looks like we walk across the field to the comfort station. Steve & Janine are right beside us, they arrived shortly before. Got set up, met some other campers, then headed for the beach. The beach is on the other side of the road, probably 1/2 klm away. A nice walk.

The beach is seperated from the road by a bank of sand dunes. The sand is pink and course. A really good sized beach, and not very busy at all, kinda like our own little spot. The water was calm, and the biggest surprise, it was not cold. Fresh would be a good word, and once you are in, was actually quite nice. The sand bottom went out forever, very similar to Sandbanks...rows of sandbars as you walk out. Our other neighbours, Klaus and his two teenage sons, Zach and Ben, had swim goggles on and were looking for crabs on the bottom. They are everywhere, not tons of them, but noticeable if you look for them. The hermit crab is the most abundant, but the bigger blue crabs are there as well. These guys average 3-4 inches across. The blue ones seem aggresive. They lurk under the sand, then pop out to catch prey swimming by. Or walking by! I spotted one, slowly stepped over to it, and it spun and sidestepped straight for me. So naturally I took a step back, and it kept coming. More steps back, with the blue crab still in hot pursuit. Took a big step sideways, just to throw him off, no luck, he corrected immediately. I guess I was prey to him. At one point he was moving fast enough across the bottom, he was creating his own dust trail, just like he was on a dirt road. Klaus actually grabbed one of the blue guys, wanting to see just how hard their claws could grab on to you. Very good grip apparently, from his startled reaction. He had to pinch open its claw to get it off the side of his hand. I suspect many a swimmer, standing quietly enjoying the water, have had quite the painful surprise.

Before the boys released the hermits they caught back into the water, we lined up a bunch just out of the water, placed our bets, then watched them race to freedom. Some scooted along normally, while others sort of got themselves going then tucked in again and just somersaulted down the incline. Purposely or not, it was pretty ingeneous. The slower ones, and I don't mean physical speed, headed inland...

Fired up some burgers on the Q, a simple meal this evening. Went down to the beach to watch the sun go
down, really nice sunset, and a number of other campers had the same idea.
 Our neighbours have a fire going, and one of the boys, Zach, has a guitar. Steve has his banjo with him, so we all wandered over and sat around the fire. Steve, truly a natural performer, started playing and singing. Zach, a budding guitarist, strummed along. Other campers soon arrived with their chairs and sat in. A few of us were singing along to various campfire type songs, some invented by Steve as he went. Zach play some good renditions of Pink Floyd and Led Zep songs on his acoustic. An RCMP cruiser stopped, shut off the car, and we chatted with her a bit. She said she hardly ever hears campfire singalongs anymore, so she just had to stop and enjoy. We also discovered that two of the guys, Blois and Lawson, sitting there with their wives, were crokinole players. Actually, Blois is the reining PEI champion, beating his friend Lawson for the title. They both have their boards here, so I suspect we may be playing some games shortly. Competition sounds intense, as Bloise, sounding very serious, said that because they use shuffleboard wax, "the boards are pretty fast". After a bit, some rain ended the party, but by that time, it was time to hit the sack anyways.

So it looks like Panmure Island will be a good spot to just hang out.

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