Monday, 16 June 2014

It Was Just Like Summer

Here on the rock, we have plenty of cliches related to the weather. A guy I met at a gas station on Saturday said to me "...some day for riding. This is our summer, enjoy it while it lasts" And like summer it was indeed! Friday came in sunny but a tad cool, but Saturday and Sunday were dead on summer days...and then it was over! Enjoyed it to the fullest while it was here, though. My ride Saturday was about 750 kms round trip to a little outport called Embree in the north central part of the island. It started with a conversation with my neighbour on Friday night. As we chatted in the driveway, I mentioned to him I was planning a highway run and said in passing I might head for Gander. For CFA's Gander was once know as the crossroads of the world because it was the last point of land before many flights embarked on a transatlantic journey and so they stopped in Gander to refuel. That was an era of aviation that is long past and with it, so too went Gander's glory days. Anyways, back to my we started chatting. He was doing a charity group ride called Ride for Dad, a prostate cancer fundraiser. It's a great cause and they had an banner turnout with over 800 bikes, so good for them. I'm not much for group rides but I did support the cause... I mean I'm a guy with a prostate, right.

I've been pretty lucky with neighbours in the 18 years I've lived in my neighbourhood. The folks on one side have been tolerable enough and the guy has a cool muscle car ('74 Plymouth Duster) that we've spent many hours chatting about, working on and generally admiring. My new neighbour, the guy I was chatting with on Friday night, is much younger and moved in a little over a year ago. He is actually a former student of mine from about 15 years ago, he and his lovely wife. He currently teaches French at the same school where I work. So far we get along pretty's hard not to like a guy who is kind enough to mow one's lawn just because I jokingly suggested he ought to. I felt kinda shitty  'bout that for a minute, but then I just put in down to his good nature and moved on.

I'm rambling aren't I. I think that may be a hallmark of this post. Anyway, young Caleb (neighbour's actual name) says "well, if you're going to Gander you should go to Lewisport". I'm not sure why he thought that was a good idea, and now having driven through Lewisport, I'm still not sure, but I know he had the best of intentions and indeed it worked out fortuitously. When I mentioned it as a possible destination to my frequent riding buddy Frank a.k.a. Furry G, he got excited and said well we have to go to Embree, but he would not tell me why. "OK" says I, because really I didn't care that much as long as we had a good long ride on a sunny summer day. So, off we headed,west, and at a good clip. It was indeed a great ride, therapeutic as they all usually are. It was warm, traffic wasn't to heavy the further west we went and police sighting were limited (and fortunately came when we were in traffic and at a more respectable pace). The bike ran well and with each joyful mile the stress of a long work week disappeared on the wind.  We finally arrived in Embree and the big secret was was the Newfoundland navy. Actually, it was a rusting hulk of metal and some rotting wood that once had been the HMS Calypso, the pride of the Newfoundland Navy in the early part of the 20th century, when Newfoundland was an independent nation and, as a coastal state, we had a navy. Sadly, this derelict hulk, such an important artifact of our proud ocean going history, has not been preserved. However, to an avid scholar of Newfoundland history,as Furry G is, it was a pretty big deal. I did appreciate, if not share, his enthusiasm. Here are a couple of then and now shots.

HMS Calypso under full sail. She was a  full sailing ship with an engine to boot

Naval trainees

The hulk on the left in the background is the remnants of Calypso, which had been renamed Briton by the time she was decommissioned. The hulk in the foreground on the right..well, that's me.
Now, getting to Embree took a few hours and close to 400 kms. A body does get hungry. I try not to have too heavy a meal while riding as it just kind of sits in my stomach and that's not all that comfortable. I do have an affinity for coconut cream pie, though, and I have rated the quality of this particular dessert dish at various stops across the island. The best, hands down, is at the Big Stop Irving in Deer Lake. The Irving at Gander, where we stopped for a late lunch, holds down the # 4 spot. Frank is a fan of fish and ships and we have talked about doing a motorcycle tour guide for Newfoundland and Labrador. We figure we'll criss-cross the province, check out the local grub and report back, both on the riding and the food. Tentative name is: Fish & Chips and Coconut Cream Pie: a motorcyclist guide to Canada's tenth province.

Looks like a big plate of custard but there is a huge chunk of coconut cream pie under there...some good!

Well, with the tidbit of Newfoundland history examined, the pie sampled and the day thus far enjoyed, we turned around and headed home. We initially had planned to do a loop heading back to along the coast before hitting Gander and the TCH again, but time prevented that on this trip. It was almost 4:00 and we wanted to make it home before dusk and the moose were hard to see. Also,by this time I was feeling kinda sore, still feeling the effects in my neck and shoulders of the fender bender in May, and the advil I was popping were not helping.

We made it back into St. John's just a bit before 8:00 PM. I was pretty tired having driven over 750 kms since 9:30 that morning, but I savoured every mile of it. I have had a head cold since last Friday, and I don't know if it was that, maybe combined with being tired from the ride but I could only mange one drink of Cap'N Morgan before it was lights out for the day as the VOCM cabin party lulled me to sleep.

Sunday arose as brilliantly sunny and warm as the previous day. It being father's day, I was looking forward to some family time. Other than having the good sense to hang on to their mom, my three kids are the best thing I have ever done, or will ever do. There were nice cards and presents, a great BBQ steak courtesy of my lovely wife and the day ended sitting around a fire, another of my stress reduction strategies. The best part of the day was sitting on the deck with Sherry & the kids, just talking and listening to music on my son's laptop. At one point America's "Ventura Highway" came on. I thanked God my kids don't totally hate me and they have decent taste in music.

Cape Spear, eastern most tip of the North American continent
For part of the afternoon Sherry and I did take a walk along the south side of St. John's Harbour out to Fort Amherst at the very entrance to said harbour. Again for the benefit of CFA's like the person from Ukraine who stops by to take in my musings, this part of St. John's Harbour is called the Narrows, so named because it is where the coast line narrows coming in from the ocean before opening out into the Harbour. We also got out for an hour or so on the bike, just around the city. It's been a great season for icebergs and the tour boats are loving it. Here is a sampling of yesterday's views
At Fort Amherst, St. John's Harbour Entrance
Cape Spear
The light house grounds at Fort Amherst

So, it's Monday as I write this record of the weekend that was. Today featured a return to the cool spring weather with rain and temps around eight degrees. But, if this weekend was indeed summer, it was a great one. Until the sun shines again, See ya Out There! Ride On....

1 comment:

  1. Gotta love the great weather you had and a wonderful tour on the weekend. Winding down with a relaxing Father's Day. More summer is to come.