Burning Pizza Boxes to Make Pizza

Remember how I mentioned that, here in Prince Edward Island, the ballot boxes from the Provincial General Election are burned in an incinerator that, in part, generates the heat for Province House where MLAs elected in those elections meet?

Well out at The Fifth Ingredient in Cape Traverse they take the pizza boxes they’ve just served you your pizza in and burn them in the oven. To make more pizza.

We Feed the Boxes to the Fire!

Renting a Fiat 500 for the Weekend

I was taking the bus by Enterprise car rental on University Avenue a few weeks ago when I spotted a Fiat 500 in the lot. When I got back downtown I called them up to see if it was available, but it was committed; they did, however, promise to give me a call when one became available, and a week later, this past Friday, they did, indeed, give me a call in the early afternoon.

I immediately hopped on the bus north and about 45 minutes later I was bopping around town.  I called up Catherine and arranged to head to the shore and soon thereafter we were motoring north toward Stanhope for an afternoon of trendy European fun.


We’d rented the long station wagony version of the Fiat 500 last year for a trip to Maine, the Fiat 500 L, and it was a nice car. But the tiny original model is a completely different beast: it’s the smallest car I’ve ever drive (save for a test drive of a Smart Car), and yet inside it was roomy (at least for 2 people) and it drove like a nimble spitfire.

My favourite part of the car’s design is its centre console instrument cluster, which is wonder of compact design:

Fiat 500 Speedometer

Packed in there are the speedometer (outside ring), tachometer (inside ring), odometer, time, temperature, digital speedometer, fuel level and engine temperature, the gear the engine’s in (P for Park on this display) and – the “Time B” line – a line of text that can be toggled among things like the current trip’s time and the current track playing on the radio.

I much prefer this to the ubiquitous touchscreen displays mid-console that every rental car I’ve driven in the past few years has been afflicted with.

We had the car for the weekend, so after Catherine and I motored out to the beach and back on Friday, Oliver and I went up to Souris and back on Saturday: it proved a perfect car for a father, son & dog trip.

I drove 315 km in total, and put about $25 of gas into the car on the way back to Enterprise, meaning that the gas mileage was about 35 MPG or 6.67 litres/100 km.

Shore Market in Stanhope

It’s on my list of Things to See and Do on PEI, but it bears additional highlighting: the newly-opened Shore Market in Stanhope, next to Richard’s Seafood, is that kind of place you wish were just up the street from your cottage at the beach (assuming you have a cottage at the beach, which we don’t, but regardless).

They sell Receiver Coffee (both beans and to-go; the iced coffee is fantastic), milk, fruit and vegetables, breadworks bread, meat, beach supplies, band-aids, and the kinds of sundries1 that you need when you’re out of the city. And capers: big jars of good-looking capers, for $8.35.

They also sell beer and wine, through an anachronistic “you can buy beer and wine if you show a food receipt from Richard’s next door” scheme that’s not their fault (someday PEI will fully recover from temperance, won’t it?).

It’s all wrapped up in a tiny, perfect, whitewashed wharf-shack.

So you can get head out to the shore, have your lobster burger and fries at Richard’s, then grab and iced coffee next door before you head out for more adventures.

1. It’s taken me years to take the word “sundries” seriously: up the street from my grandmother’s house in Brantford, Ontario was a corner store that had it right on the sign – “Food, Milk, Cigarettes, Sundries,” or something to that effect. I read it as “Sundaes” and nothing my grandmother could do to explain that wasn’t it could convince me otherwise.  It’s a very useful word, of course; but that shroud of doubt took a long time to burn off.

What is there to see and do on Prince Edward Island?

A couple of times a year I get an email from faraway friends or family that’s some variation of “my buddy Gregor is coming to PEI in a few weeks: what should he be sure to see and do?”

I’ve just had another one, and rather than responding privately, I’ll respond here so that others in the same pickle have a place to look (or a place to point).

The things listed below are limited selection that reflect my own particular tastes rather than being any attempt at being broad and universal (of particular note: I’ve left out a couple of places that I don’t want tourists gumming up).

These are the places I take people when they visit, the ones that are not “generic anywhere.”

Where to Eat


Outside of Charlottetown

  • The Pearl – quite possibly the best place to eat on the Island; dear, but worth it
  • Landmark Café – another contender for “the best place”
  • PEI Preserve Company – unsweetened iced tea; raspberry pie
  • Richard’s Fresh Seafood – fresh fish, stone’s throw from the beach in Stanhope; tell the National Park attendant “we’re going to Richard’s” and you won’t have to pay park fee
  • The Fifth Ingredient – a French bakery in the (relative) wilderness; excellent bread, but also pizza and sandwiches and smoothies of note
  • Sheltered Harbour Café – never had a bad meal here; my go-to place in Souris
  • Blue Mussel Café – fresh fish; no fries; stellar location; friendly staff

Where to Drink Coffee


Outside of Charlottetown

  • Samuels Coffee House – unexpected gem in Summerside; even after the “good coffee… in Summerside?” surprise wears off, the coffee is still good, the space is nice and the folks are friendly
  • Shore Market – ice coffee & capers; near the beach; amazing; beside Richard’s in Stanhope (see above)
  • Island Chocolates – Factory Coffee = coffee + chocolate; in Victoria-by-the-Sea near the Landmark (see above)

Where to Beach

  • Blooming Point – a spectacular semi-officially-recognized beach with no facilities other than parking
  • Stanhope – inside PEI National Park; most remarkable for easy access to good food and coffee (see above)
  • Argyle Shore Provincial Park – a nice place to picnic; water is shallow and calm and warm
  • Canoe Cove Beach – another warm, shallow south-shore beach
  • Sally’s Beach – not north shore, not south shore; not near anything; one of my favourites
  • Tea Hill Park – an unremarkable beach with lots of mosquitos; but it’s very close to Charlottetown

What to See and Do


  • City Cinema – an “art house” cinema in downtown Charlottetown. Tiny, friendly and air conditioned with an eclectic program.
  • Confederation Centre Art Gallery – austere, air conditioned, quiet space right downtown; a good place to get away from the crazy tourism-drenched streets on busy days

Outside of Charlottetown

  • Yankee Hill Pioneer Cemetery – the most beautiful cemetery you will ever visit
  • MacAusland’s Woollen Mills – worth the drive up west: the most interesting factory you’ll ever visit; you will leave having purchased a blank, I promise
  • McKenna Road – one of the Island’s “heritage roads”; best avoided after a rain; drive along a clay road under a canopy of trees; spectacular
  • Brackley Drive-in Theatre – the Island’s only drive-in; in the woods (so bring repellent) near the shore; we go at least once a summer
  • Gardens of Hope – walking trails through forest and gardens along the river; beside the PEI Preseve Company (see above); excellent if you need a calm oasis
  • Dunes Studio Gallery – most interesting for the architecture and the views; be sure to visit the gardens behind
  • Trailside Café and Inn – it’s a café and an inn, yes, but most notably it’s a tiny perfect music venue; you will not be disappointed if you see a show here (and do go early and have supper before; you’ll get a good seat and a good meal)
  • Kingfisher Outdoors – kayaking for non-kayakers: they have the kayaks, paddles and life-jackets, they drive you up the Morell River and put you in, you lazily drift/paddle down-river for two hours
  • PEI National Park at Greenwich – hiking for non-hikers: the walk from the parking lot, through the woods, over the boardwalk through the marsh and out on to beach will take you breath away; it’s my favourite walk on the Island
  • Belfast Mini Mills – most interesting to the fibre-loving tourist, but I love the simple pluck of the enterprise

Red Rocket Pi

A couple of years ago I bought canister of Red Rocket-brand breakfast tea at Sobey’s. I knew nothing about the brand, or the tea; I was 100% driven by the sharp-looking aluminum canister and its potential for becoming a box for some yet-to-be-determined electronics project.

The tea finally got finished up earlier this year – we’re not big breakfast tea drinkers, as it turns out – and I brought the box to the office.

Today was the day that the yet-to-be-determined project got determined: I’m putting together another electricity and water meter reader for a new location, and I needed something to hold the Raspberry Pi and the breakout board that go together to make it all happen.

And so, behold the Red Rocket Pi:

Red Rocket Pi

Red Rocket Pi