Day 85. Cruising through PEI and an Outstanding Find




We've only 65 kms to the Northumberland Provincial Campground today, so Gin and I team up and get behind the handlebars. The cruising is pleasant, wind and sun at our backs. Gin takes pride in pumping up the grades while my thing is to build up speed on the way down and tuck it out. In this way we are constantly passing each other and we chirp each other as we pass. Again every day is different and today because we are in rolling hills, we have some spectacular views of Northumberland Straight. I hurtle around a corner and a hawk flushes 3 brilliant yellow finches out of a hedgerow, who zip in front of my handlebars.

We reach the campground and it seems fairly ordinary until we curl through some woods and come out the other side to an immaculate grassy field overlooking the sea. A seaside drive-in movie, it is. Gin returns after a peek and reports a beauty red sandy beach, nearly everyone splashing in the waves. Doesn't take us long before we are basking in the warm salt water, just the ticket after a hot sweaty bike ride. A small group of people with buckets is combing the knee deep water. I go to inspect and they are digging out bar clams. These are prolific on this beach. The learning curve is short and after we learn the trick, we too join the hunt. The trick is to wade slowly until you see an aberration in the sandy bottom, a small black spot. This is the bar clams foot, barely sticking out of the sand. The trick now is to reach down quickly and dig like crazy with your hands and grab the prize before it beats you and digs down to freedom. These clams are fast, but we are good, especially Q Dawg, who soon has his hands and pockets full of the briny catch. We place them in a big pot full of seawater so they can self filter out their sand and Q and I begin a very lively chess game on the beach, interrupted by sips (of cold beer) and dips (into the inviting ocean). This place is paradise. Hardly any flies, warm water, families playing, gentle vibe and living off the land with seafood at your feet. Lucky Charlettowners are only 20 minutes away from this beach, which has just soared to #1 on my list (sorry Steve in the Bahamas).

Back at the Starship we discuss how to prepare our bounty. The old semi trucker next to us says they're too chewy to steam, unlike the smaller beach clams served in restaurants, more like razor clams which need the same prep. We decide to fry half for appies and mince the remainder for clam chowder. I take on the appie task. First we steam all the clams, so they open. Some are as big as your closed fist and the prize inside is substantial. I set them out and clean them by removing the gut and cutting the toughest part (the bright orange foot), into pieces. We wash the final bit of sand away, them drop them into an egg and cream wash, then shake them in a ziplock bag of crushed whole wheat thins and pancake mix. From there they go into into the frypan where a bubbling butter and lemon combo fries them to a golden brown. Gin is cautious, but overall we declare them tasty, downright potable in fact. Quinn is busy prepping the rest for chowder. We improvise as we go. Coffee cream comes out, bacon is diced and sautéed along with PEI's finest new potatoes and a dash of good old s and p. Broth is stolen from a package of Sapporo Ichiban and soon it too is bubbling on the stove. Because we have chicken in the barbie tonight, we stick the chowder in the fridge for our new guests to enjoy tomorrow.