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First Day Trip of 2016

One of the things I miss most during the winter months is day-tripping on the Vstrom. I love leaving town on a weekend morning-before most “Sunday drivers” get out on the go-with no destination other than a good place to grab a bite. I’m really not sure if checking out a new restaurant is an excuse for a bike ride, or the other way around!

I really can’t recall going for a day-trip this early in the season before, but the forecast looked promising. I set up a ride using the NL Adventure Rider Meetup group, and we had seven riders show up. The group is relatively new, with the goal of bringing together riders who enjoy longer trips and riding “off the beaten track”. If that sounds like you, by all means join up!

We set off from St. John’s around 11am, took the CBS bypass to Seal Cove, and continued along the lovely Route 60 with very little traffic. Bliss!

I’m not sure how many layers everyone else was wearing, but I had on four and I needed every one of them when we hit Conception Bay North and the wind was coming off of the water, a dense bank of dark fog hovering ominously. I’ll place the blame squarely on the weather forecasters who foretold a westerly wind. The fog was burning off as it hit land though, and I was just happy to be spending the day on the bike – despite the fact that my heated grips were threatening to ignite my gloves.

Our lunch destination was Crooked Phil’s Cafe in Carbonear. It’s a beautiful, bright little spot with a great menu, incredibly friendly service and very reasonable prices. I had veggie pizza and a salad, and of course about a gallon of hot coffee!

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It’s salad dressing, not molasses. I swear. 

After lunch our companions all headed back to town, either turned off by the cold or having to see to other commitments, leaving just myself and Mark. We headed off in the direction of Heart’s Content, which was a good description of my mood at the time. Nobody to answer to, nowhere to be. Just me and the bike, with the sun shining down on the open road.

This is my eighth summer riding a motorcycle, but there’s still places on the Avalon that I haven’t seen. The Heart’s Content lighthouse was one of those places. It’s not particularly spectacular or remote, but a very pretty spot all the same.

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I love the “barber pole” paint scheme. 

We returned via Route 80, along the coast of Trinity Bay. It was much warmer than the Carbonear side, so we really enjoyed the ride back to meet the TCH at Whitbourne. It was hard to believe that it’s still pre-May 24: the unofficial start of Newfoundland summer.

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Stretch break/photo-op in Whiteway

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A close up of “Shag Rock”. Pretty spectacular rock formations in the bay!

If you know of any other great little restaurants I can use as an excuse for a day trip, I’d love to hear from you!

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Mistaken Point & Cape Race

The Irish Loop is a popular ride for motorcyclists on the Avalon Penninsula. Roughly 300km of coastal scenery, the Irish Loop consists of dozens of communities settled somewhere between the mid-17th and early 19th centuries by Irish Catholic immigrants. Perhaps due to the length of the ride, most people don’t venture off the main roads when doing this loop…which is a shame, because there are fantastic places to see if you choose to venture off the beaten path.

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Ferryland, where we stopped for lunch…brown-bagged it this time: sandwiches and apples!

September 28th was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day. The wind was light and out of the north, making for a great ride up the Southern Shore. I wanted to visit Mistaken Point, so named because of the many shipwrecks that occurred after sailors had mistaken the area for Cape Race and turned northward onto the rocks. The area has been in the news over the past several years because of the multitude of fossils in the rocks. Not just any fossils, but some of the oldest complex life forms on the planet, from over 500 million years ago. Read the rest of this entry

Cape Pine: Riding with Ghosts

My roots are on the southern-most tip of the Avalon, in a tiny community called St. Shott’s. As a child, I frequently heard older people talking very casually about encounters with ghosts or “spirits”, both in St. Shott’s and especially in neighbouring Cape Pine. I emphasize the word “casually”, because these ghost stories were not meant to frighten, just to teach that there is but a thin veil between this world and the next, and encounters with the other side should not scare you, as such occurrences are simply the result of “some poor soul in need of a prayer”.

Myself and Mark stayed in St. Shott’s last night to visit with some of my family members, and decided that it would be a good opportunity to ride out to Cape Pine, a National Historic Site. It’s the most southerly point in Newfoundland, at about the same latitude as the northern border of Italy. Part of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, the number of shipwrecks in the area in the early 1800’s led to the construction of the lighthouse in 1851.

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Cape Pine lighthouse

Read the rest of this entry

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