Our adventure on Grand Manan Island! We had been told that you really need at least 2 days on Grand Manan but since we only had one (Chad & Alex leave for Quebec City on Wednesday) we decided to make the best of it.
Our plan was to rent bicycles and tour around the island. Jan had called the rental place a few weeks ago and been told that yes, for sure there would be bikes available and no we didn't need to make reservations since it's early in the season and it wouldn't be that busy. Since we could walk to the bike rental place from the ferry, we opted to save the $40 it would cost to bring the car over, and walk to the bicycle place on foot. That would have worked out just fine, except that when we got to the bike rental it was closed. A young man arrived and told us that not only was the bike rental not open for the season yet, but that we couldn't rent the bikes they did have because they were all in various states of disrepair and were waiting on the parts to fix them. We weren't the only ones in this situation - another couple had done the same thing as us!
So we walked over to the tourist information, confirmed that there was nowhere else on the island to rent bikes, and then decided to try to rent scooters. There were two scooters available at the Post Office building (which is a penny candy store, gift shop, pizza parlour, etc. all in one) run by a man named Walter who retired to Grand Manan a few years ago. We went through the instructions on how to use the scooters, and had Alex test drive one. By this point we'd decided we weren't really sure we were comfortable with 2 people per scooter, and opted not to rent them. Walter agreed with our decision, and showed us where to go for a hike around the island instead.
So after polishing off a delicious veggie pizza from the Post Office and trying out salmon jerky (which is very good and we went back at the end of our hike to buy a whole bunch more), we started off. We headed down to the beach and then over to the bakery which had just opened for the first day this season. We were told at the Information and the Post Office that we must go there, and they weren't wrong. The pastries (which we ate later on our hike) were delicious and light, not overly sweet. Apparently some people will come to Grand Manan just for the bakery.
Then on our way to the starting point of the hike, we passed a man selling strawberries at the side of the road, so we grabbed a container of them too (also very delicious). Much bigger than the little wild strawberries we found along the hiking trail, but just as good.
The hike was lovely. We went by the cemetery, and then around the North tip of the island, stopping along the way at the Hole-in-the-Wall and various other lookouts to admire the view and snack on pastries and strawberries. There are a bunch of campsites along the way that had great views, although admittedly they would be cold if the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. We finally arrived at the lighthouse, and got a tour of it, telling us about the history of the lighthouse itself (still in operation although now completely automated - even the fog detection is automated), with panels around the lighthouse to tell visitors about the history of the lighthouse keepers. The archipelago around Grand Manan resulted in a few big shipwrecks, so there were several lighthouses built to help prevent future crashes.
We didn't realize how close to the ferry we were after leaving the lighthouse. We checked out a little local gift shop, and then headed back to the Post Office to pick up some more salmon jerky. We probably could have made the 5:30 ferry, but didn't quite realize that and instead opted for a nice dinner at the Compass Rose (which funny enough is owned by the same people as the bike rental place). It's a BnB that did a very nice dinner - pan fried haddock with dill tartar sauce, or chicken with pesto. They also serve a delicious rhubarb punch, which we were able to get the recipe for. The perfect drink for a hot summer day!
After dinner, Alex decided to head back to the gift shop to buy a knitting howl she had been debating. She didn't have much time though, so she had to Sprint there and back! We all made it on to the ferry with 15 minutes to spare. Loads of time! A quiet ferry ride home, and then we had to pack up our cottage as we leave tomorrow for Quebec City. Alex snuggled with the cat one more time (who actually came and sat on her lap for the first time), and then called it a night.
By the end of the day, we were only 1,000 steps behind Alex's record of 22,000 steps (achieved the day we went hiking in Forillon National Park). A busy day, which we all agreed ended up working out for the best!
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