Saturday, August 16, 2008

Aug 14 - 15: Bonavista Adventures

Thur Aug 14: Glovertown to Clarenville 90 km

The morning gave us clearing skies and a bit of sunshine. We had a relaxing start to the day and didn't get off until after 10 am. We rode along the water through Traytown and up a honker of a hill to get back to the TCH. The next part of the ride was through Terra Nova National Park, which has large, rolling hills with some nice views of the ocean. A road-side highlight in this park was a huge field of orchids. I think they were ladytress orchids, or perhaps really big bog orchids.

The hills kept our average speed down, and because we started so late we realized later in the day that we couldn't make it to a campground. We ran into Greg about 15 km into the Park and he said he was off to Clarenville, possibly to a motel. After having a quick bite to eat at a road-side cafe outside of Port Blandford we decided to call a B&B in Clarenville. We decided on Sonia's Heritage House B&B. What a stroke of luck!

Upon arriving at Sonia's we found Greg had decided to stay here too. Then we met Judy Lynn and Roger, and Roger's seeing-eye dog O'Riley. They are friends of Sonia's and although originally from the Rock, were here on a visit. Judy Lynn is a professor at University of PEI and, of course, we have friends and colleagues in common. It really is a small, small world!

As Mike moved into our room in this renovated 113 year old traditional Newfoundland home (including three storeys, coffered paneled ceilings and a slate roof), I got a ride up to the liquor store with Judy Lynn and Roger. When we came back, I found we had been invited for a cod dinner with Sonia and Lawrence. It was delicious! Then it was off for a bonfire at the fireplace in the backyard and lots of Newfoundland stories.

The world will grow even smaller for us as Sonia and Lawrence's son Lee is leaving for Victoria next week. He is going to start work with a family relative who runs an industrial window washing firm. I fired up Google Earth and showed Lee exactly where his new home would be. We will keep in touch with Lee when we get back home.

Friday, Aug 15: A tour of Bonavista Peninsula

No riding for us today. A huge tropical storm tracked through Newfoundland, dumping over 70 mm of rain and with winds in excess of 60 km/hr. Over a breakfast of partridge berry pancakes Sonia offered to drive Greg, Mike, and me out to Bonavista, with stops at Amhurst Cove, Bonavista, Cape Bonavista, the Dungeons, Elliston (to visit Sonia's mom and try her partridge berry tart), Trinity, and Port Union. We also called in at a farm in Lethbridge.

The wind was roaring and the rain lashed down for most of the day, but we got to see the North Atlantic in a storm state. I can only imagine what it must have been like for John Cabot as he stood on land at Cape Bonavista in 1497. We were almost blown off our feet as we stepped out of the car at the Bonavista light. I was only too happy to be off the bike!

Sonia also took us to look at her new property in Amhurst Cove. She had grown up in this area and spent many hours looking out over Amhurst Cove. Her property has the same outlook she enjoyed as a girl.

By the time we had a bite of lunch and toured down the east side of the Bonavista peninsula the rain was beginning to lessen a bit, but the wind was still up. We were in the lovely church in Trinity with the wind making the old building creak and groan like a ship in a storm.

In all we toured over 200 km in the car with Sonia. She gave up her whole day for this. Thank you so much Sonia. We would never have seen this area were it not for you! And, Sonia's stories brought the whole place to life in a way no tour book ever could.

Our day wasn't over when we returned. Lawrence had been cooking up a fine pea soup with dumplings and salt beef while we were out. A huge Atlantic salmon was roasted on the bbq, and we all sat down to a wonderful dinner. After dinner the guitars, mandolins, drums and tambourines came out and people dropped in for a kitchen party. We were singing and playing well into the night. The evening finally wrapped up with a bonfire under a clear and calm night sky. With the full moon over the trees of the backyard, Mike and I finally made our way to bed. All in all a highlight day in Newfoundland. I see why people love it here so much.

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