My dream trip was originally planned for August of 2020, but we all know what happened that year. COVID put an end to everyone’s travel plans.

That summer, I had hoped to take my oldest granddaughter to Prince Edward Island to celebrate her 12th birthday. Sometimes a dream deferred brings a silver lining in its wake and that is precisely what happened in this case. Whereas I had originally planned on taking just the one granddaughter, three years later I now had four granddaughters old enough to take the trip. I realized: I have eight granddaughters; I’m not going to take eight trips to Prince Edward Island! It made more sense to take them four at a time, so in July of 2023 the four girls (ages 8, 10, 11, and 15) and I headed out on our adventure.

In case you are not familiar with the geography of it, it is a LONG way from West Michigan to Prince Edward Island (or PEI), off the eastern coast of Canada. Especially when you’re pushing 70. And when you are traveling with four kids. I swapped out some of the driving for the fascination and expediency of train travel by leaving my car in Pittsburgh (after picking up the second set of sisters) and choo-chooing from there to Providence, Rhode Island. I love train travel and the girls did too. For me, it proved the maxim about the journey being as much fun as the destination.

We took in all the beloved “Anne of Green Gables” sites.

We had an outstanding sunset cruise and lobster dinner with the lobsters hauled on board before our very eyes. (We’ll never eat fresher!) We went on a buggy ride, spotted whales and seals in Maine, slept in an old schoolhouse in New Brunswick, and collected sea glass on several beaches.

For two of the girls, it was their first time to swim in an ocean. As much as I would have enjoyed my original plan of bonding with my out-of-state oldest granddaughter, the bonding that happened among the cousins was a joy to behold and something I hope and expect will last for years to come.

Did they get silly sometimes, especially the three smushed in the back seat? Yes. Was there some squabbling? That happened too. (God bless Jeanne Birdsall, author of the “Penderwick” series, whose audio books helped some of the more tedious miles fly by.) But the group experience, the laughs and stories and memories combined to create a huge win overall.

What about the life lessons? In June of 2023, Agnes Callard wrote an article for The New Yorker entitled, “The Case Against Travel.” To that, I simply respond, “Pooh, pooh!” I don’t have the time or space to debate her case point by point here, although I would love to, but I observed so many important lessons learned by my granddaughters as we traveled along.

Perhaps most importantly, we learned to persevere, to not let fear or discouragement or liabilities, imagined or real, keep us from our plans.

I wrote previously here about my 10-year-old granddaughter’s injuries (mild concussion and broken wrists) that she incurred less than 48 hours before we were to leave, as well as the predicted forecast for rain. Every single day. 

I am happy to report that with us working together as a team, my granddaughter was able to participate in almost everything we did, including swimming in the ocean for the very first time. We carried all her luggage, buckled and unbuckled her seatbelt at every stop, dressed and undressed her, and brushed her teeth. The only thing I can recall she didn’t do was climb down a rocky cliff in Maine to gather some sea glass!

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse – the easternmost tip of the United States!

And the rain? It held off until the very last day!