Understand Newfoundland (Day 309)

Last September my Dad and I rode our motorycles from my place in Whistler to my parents’ house in Cornwall, Ontario.  (My mom was there, too, driving my car.)  It was a huge ride, totalling 16 days and 7,000 km (about 4,400 miles for my imperial friends.)  We took the scenic route and back roads as much as possible.  We rode through mountains, prairies, mud and gravel.  For weather, we had rain storms, hail, and Arctic fronts from the north. Tornadoes missed us by 30km. On the road, we dodged pot holes, dogs, bears, deer, mountain goats, and foxes alike. We endured multiple mechanicals.  It was *epic*.

After that, I would often say that I had ridden a motorcycle across Canada.  But, this was not entirely true.  I had ridden across most of it, but not all.  The roads of Eastern Canada had not felt the rubber of my tires.

Just recently, my Dad and I finished the job.  Joined by my brother Jeff on this bike, and my mom in her car, we rode from Cornwall all the way out to the most easterly point in Canada:  Cape Spear in Newfoundland.  And back.  It was another huge trip.  The weather was much better to us this time around, only raining a few days.  This trip we collected about 6,000 km over 15 days.  Now it’s official — I have ridden a motorcycle across Canada :)  Days later, my butt is still numb from all that riding…

Three riders on the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia.  From left to right:  my brother, myself, my dad.  (pic by Sue M)

I had never been to Newfoundland.  So, during this ride, I got to do a little domestic travel.  My first impression of this island:  foggy.  Wow.  Thick and soupy.  Other random observations:  Newfoundland seems to have a billion ponds, they are everywhere;  the houses in the coastal communities are quaint and colourful; the people have an interesting accent I wish I had picked up; and the locals are extremely friendly people.  I won’t go into details, but time and time again we were shown great hospitality from strangers.  It got to a point where if we saw anybody on the street acting in anything resembling an unfriendly manner, my brother would say, “They must not be from around here…”

A classic Newfoundland scene.  In general, the houses are so colourful I wonder if there was a shortage of white paint back in the day when they were all built?  This is Newtown, Newfounland (pic by Butch M)

Of note in Newfoundland is George Street in St. John’s.  This is the city’s big party promenade.  My brother and I had many good times making laps of this street.  As often happens in my travels, I got very lucky with repect to my timing:  Unbeknownst to us, we arrived in St. John’s for the George Street Festival!  For three nights this street goes nuts — it is rammed full of people partying and drinking on the street.  I love this stuff.  Not only that, but Blue Rodeo (a fine Canadian band) was playing one of the nights.  My family and I were there and it was killer.  At the end, they offered to rename the street after us; we graciously declined.

Some mild chaos on George Street.  This is nothing, you should have seen it later that night.

Newfoundland is home to the beautiful Gros Morne National Park.  We spent 3 days there.  The highest peak there is Gros Morne Mountain at 806m.  I went to climb it.   I’ve noticed that motorcyclists don’t hike, and hikers don’t ride.  It seems these two activities just don’t mix.  In all my years of hiking, I have never seen a motorcycle at a trail parking lot.  Judging by the looks of the hikers in the parking lot when I pulled in on my bike, neither had they.  I ignored their stares, parked my bike, climbed the mountain, bagged the peak, and rode back to camp.  Bam.

Which of these doesn’t belong with the others?   … At the time of this picture, there were 17 cars and my lonely motorcycle at the trail parking lot.  There you have it:  your favourite world traveller, breaking boundaries wherever he goes…

Oh, by the way, on the hike, I was just plodding along, minding my own business, when I ran into this large fellow:

Damn, he was big!  And, he was pretty much right on the trail!  I was roadblocked for quite a while.  I tried to talking to him:  “Hey Mr. Moose, what’s shaking, big guy?  Listen, this is your territory, I’m just visiting… but would you mind just sliding over a bit so I can get down the mountain?”

I thought this was a reasonable request.  He turned his eyes and ears towards me, looked me over for about 3 seconds… then went back to mowing down on some plants.  He proceeded to ignore me, despite my pleas.  Apparently I was no threat.  In the end, I had to Indiana-Jones my way through the bush and detour around him.  Good hiking, though.

I realized I need to re-read my own blog while I’m at home.  I started telling a friend a story when she said she already knew it — she had read it on my blog.  Haha, I have forgotten which stories I have put on this blog.

Anyway, I’m at my parents’ house in Cornwall.  It’s good to be home.  Today I did some stuff that a lot of normal people do, like mow the lawn.  Good times.  Also, I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have access to a fridge and cupboard full of food!  (My parents tolerate me pilfering, thanks!)  This is a luxury I have not had in almost a year.

Up next is some visiting with friends, cottaging, and a buddy’s wedding.  I’ll be back…

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2 Responses to Understand Newfoundland (Day 309)

  1. Brent says:

    Welcome back to Canada buddy! go out in the backyard and break a goalie stick over the crossbar to make your presence official!

  2. Shawn says:

    Ha! I think goalie sticks and crossbars have not been living in fear as they did when I was living on the continent :)

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