Update 20

Crossing an umbilical bridge, long, shiny-new and far too big to hold the breath upon (but that's tunnels, silly!), we reached the birthplace of this country. Charlottetown, where some hundred-odd years ago those dour-and-sour old gents had bent their heads together, and scribbled together a birth certificate, of sorts. It was balmy and bright, on our day of arrival.

But, I say right here from the start... There is something else, of culture and cherish upon this low-slung isle. Anne, of course, of the Gables Green. With rain now dropping, from a sky gone gray, we drove the miles-or-so to this fabled farm. "I can't believe it!" Brad exclaims, clapping his hands, jumping. "This was Anne's wheelbarrow! Right here! And her pitchfork, over there. Oh wow, is this blowing-the-minds, guys, or what!?"

From here, we toured the northern coast, braving a worse-and-worse weather - a sharp-angled, pounding rain, a vengeful wind - to visit white-sided lighthouses and flooded beaches, to sight waves charging like giants at football practice. "Wheeee!" shrieks Erik, outside, spinning in circles in the miserable weather, oblivious to drench and sodden. A kid in a candy store, Marxist at a strike, Greenpeace at the bow of a whaler. Loving every minute...

And following: We laced our skates, seized our sticks, and prepared to do battle with a wicked foe... Okay, okay; yes, they were only six years old, but, remember now, they'd been skating since curled embryos, had sticks placed in their mouths as teething soothers. Us? Not, to put it mildly, in the same barrel at all. "The sharp-shiny part is supposed to point downwards, right?" So said Val, examining his skates prior to doffing. Our ankles were wobbly at best; our skills, lost a number of years ago in a pile of lessons not taken; our sticks, like the clutched-at walkers of the retired, addled, and bent. But still. Twice the size, height-and-a-half, bigger muscles, determined minds; they can make up a good deal of ground. In the end, we held our own. Barely.

Another pot-of-stew, kettle-of-fish, the next stop. One rink over, the girls were playing. "Girls," scoffs Chris. "No problem!" Stomping one-after-another, we pushed through the double-doors; pressed incredulous faces to the glass.

"They're not," says Brad, with a furrow of worry above his nose, "like any of the girls I've seen before." They whisked past the boards before you could blink; tore from one side of the rink to the other; pounced in a snarling mass whenever a ring of blue rubber skipped free; skated circles around this wobbling, one-breath-from-toppling posse that stepped gingerly onto the ice, ready for Round Number Two... Needless to say, it wasn't pretty.

So, on the way home, in a motor home packed to the rim with bodies, hoots and hollers and songs and shrieks sounded from within, rolling across the streets, across intersections, down alleyways and disappearing into the night. "I love you!" screams an enthusiastic child at pedestrians braving the evening. "I love you like a raisin!"

"He really likes raisins," explains an apologetic mother.

Goodbye to Charlottetown, back across the bridge, southward-bound to Halifax...

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