Monday, August 24, 2009

Greenwich NP, PEI - the bungee incident

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The neighbors on both sides showed up last night making our decision to move a lot easier. Lots of people up here leave their trailers at a private campground for the whole summer. Guess they make a long term deal with the owners to keep costs in check. The neighbor on the right was a pleasant chap from Nova Scotia. He came up on weekends aboard the Wood Islands ferry. I didn't get a chance to chat with the other neighbors. They were so intent on whatever they were doing inside that they never came out of their trailer.

Anyway, since I didn't think we'd actually be going far, I had a brilliant idea. This idea was so brilliant it almost ruined our entire vacation. It was that close. From time to time, within national parks, I had bungee corded the boat to the rack on top of the van. Today, I decided to do the same thing only go a little further and a little faster. Carol had a couple of hand mirrors to monitor the boat and I thought all was going well. The speed limit on the island is 50 mph so I figured if I drove a steady 45 nobody would mind too much. After about 10 miles I pulled over to check on the bungee cords and let a few cars go past. Everything seemed in order. I pulled out and resumed our course for Montague.
As I started to ascend a gentle hill I noticed a long line of cars going the opposite direction. Just as I came even with the second to last car, I heard two loud pops in quick succession. I looked in my rear view mirror in time to see the boat slam into the last car in the procession. I quickly pulled over and turned off the engine. I got out of the car and went briskly over to where the driver had stopped. “Are you all right? Is anybody hurt?”, I asked. A young man in his early thirties got out unloading a stream of obscenities at me. “You just about took my windshield out” was the only bit of pertinent information that he could offer, and that I can repeat here. I told him I was sorry, that it was all my fault, and that my insurance will pay the damages. I invited him into the Casita to talk it over. I was quite relieved to learn that no one had been injured. Jack's major gripe was that he was already late getting his girlfriend to a wedding. After a few minutes, he calmed down. He saw we were from Arizona and started to apologize for his language. I replied that I'd have felt and said much the same. I asked what he wanted to do. I could either call Allstate and submit a claim or write him a check for $200. We both agreed that submitting a claim might take months to get approved. He said, “I'll take a check. Since you clearly have enough money to drive all the way here from Arizona, I don't figure your check will bounce”.

After shaking hands he sped off to the wedding and Carol and I deflated the boat, as well as my ego, on the side of the road. We must have looked a curious sight because several people slowed down as they passed, and one lady stopped to ask if we needed assistance. I'm convinced there must be a government plan to be extra nice to Prince Edwards Island visitors. “Tourism is our future... be nice to tourists”. I mean, how do you explain it? Here I am, smashing a guys windshield due to complete and total negligence and by the time the meeting adjourns he's practically willing to guide me personally around the island. I could shrug it off if this was an isolated incident, but it's not. I have yet to find anyone remotely rude or mean here. I don't even bother locking the bikes up anymore. One just gets the feeling that the crime rate here must be extremely low and nonexistent toward tourists. In contrast, last March Carol and I spent the night outside Ventura, California, at a camping area facing the ocean along Highway 1. Every 100 feet there was a sign stating that everything left outside your vehicle, chained or not, will be stolen even if you are inside.

Back on the road to Montague, I was shaken but not stirred... to beat myself any further over the head. I made a stupid mistake and was grateful it had not been worse. If it had hit the lead car it could have been a pileup. . . Nothing for it but to go shopping. Pulling into the parking lot of one of Canada's chain grocery stores, I asked Carol to pick up some happy food. The first thing she did, once we had the groceries stowed away, was to produce a 4-pack of Red Bull. Not exactly designed to calm ones nerves but I was happy to pull the tab nonetheless. I needed to restore my Wu. For me, the best way to accomplish this is to get into water, preferably cold water. Looking over the map, the Greenwich N.P. was the closest candidate. Plunging into that water was the best thing I'd done all day. Not only was I refreshed but my Wu was back. Must be some vestige of an ancient ceremony from a million years ago that still resonates in my DNA.

There were no campgrounds at Greenwich so consulting the map again we saw that the Stanhope campground, in one of PEI's several National Parks, was just another 50 K down the road. We arrived just in time to nab the penultimate available spot. Yeah. Just call me Mr. Wu Hoo.

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