Fall asserted itself today by throwing a temperature of 8 degrees at me. I haven’t had a riding day that chilly since I left Vancouver! Had to pull out some warmer gear that I haven’t used in a while.
I got up in good time and once again enjoyed being able to do a day trip without having all the gear on the bike. Leaving about 9:00 a.m., I headed for the Irish Loop. This area of Newfoundland had a large influx of Irish settlers in the 1800s and the Irish influence in the culture and music is strongly evident throughout the Avalon peninsula.
I didn’t have breakfast at the hotel as the restaurant was busy and I wanted to get some road behind me. So I thought I would ride for a bit and see what showed up for breakfast along the way. In spite of the morning being a bit chilly, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Fury ran along like she was glad to be out for a spin again. We arrived in Ferryland about 10:00 a.m. and stopped at the Irish Loop Drive Restaurant for something to eat. It was a delightful place – lots of windows so diners can appreciate the million dollar view they advertise, Irish music playing in the background, and great local artwork on the walls and for sale. I loved the painted salt and pepper shakers. If I wasn’t so busy being “anti-stuff”, I would definitely have found a place to tuck a set of them into my gear!
Restored by 2-eggs-and-toast-and-coffee for $6.00, we set off down the road another kilometer to the Avalon Colony. This historic site is believed to be the first settlement in North America. It is also one of the richest archaeological sites of its kind in the Americas. While fishing had been going on in the area for a long time already by the French, Portugese, English, etc., it was a “migratory” business – fisherman took their catches to Europe and did not settle. Around about 1621, Sir George Calvert brought a dozen settlers over to establish a colony. Discouraged by French attacks and piracy, and dismayed by the cold, harsh winters, he didn’t hang around for too many years, abandoning the colony in 1629. I assume the governor he put in place, Captain Wynne, kept things going because Ferryland was a happening place for trade and commerce. In 1637, Sir David Kirke took it over and turned it into a very prosperous community. Over the years, both the French and the Dutch attacked the colony and levelled it, but the colonists came back and rebuilt and the community persevered. After the death of David Kirke, his wife continued to successfully run the plantation and is respected for being a pretty savvy entrepreneur.
The admission to the museum, which displays these stories and the fascination discoveries from the dig site, also includes a tour of the archaeological dig and the 17th century kitchen replica. I didn’t want to use 2 hours for the guided tour, but they had a booklet that I could take over to the site for self-guided, so I went over and had a look myself. The reason this site is such an amazing dig site is due to the old adage “anything worth doing is worth doing well”. The streets and walls and buildings were so well done that they have discovered amazingly well-defined structures and items around the site. The kitchen reproduction is beautiful and the staff member, in period costume, will be happy to show you around her kitchen. She handed me a “puzzle jug”, to see if I could figure out how to drink from it when the wine was poured in the bottom, but the top of the jug was holes. I had ideas about what it should do, but didn’t figure out the how. Not telling, either!
It was after 12:30 by the time we headed back out on the road. The day had warmed to a tolerable 16. The road was a bit rough, as I had been warned it would be, so I kept the speed down and just enjoyed the scenery. Again, riding through some areas I would have sworn I was back in Rankin Inlet – vast expanses of rocks and water and no vegetation except low grasses and bushes. Like I was in the middle of nowhere, with a little hut here and there that may or may not be occupied. Then, after a few kilometers, we dropped down a steep hill into a valley and all of a sudden there are trees and ocean and people. It’s the oddest sensation.
Can’t tell you what little village I had passed last but as I came over a causeway, I saw the prettiest old wooden bridge down a stretch of gravel road. I decided I must turn in here, in spite of the sign warning me that the road was not maintained by the department of transportation. It was rocky and rough, but didn’t look TOO bad. We managed to skirt the worst and joggled our way over it about halfway before it started to get worse yet. So I stopped Fury and took a couple of pictures and then just sat and enjoyed the view for a bit. It was not so easy getting her turned around to go back out and I thought maybe I was going to be in trouble yet. But with some care, patience and perseverance, we got turned around and back out onto the highway.
A bit further on, I rounded a curve onto a lovely vista and rode into St. Vincent shortly after. St. Vincent has a long, broad stretch of beach that looks almost out of place. I drank in the sight, but due to the ATVs tearing around on the sand, I didn’t stop to take pictures. Until I saw the fish hanging on the clothesline! That was a first for me, though I had seen pictures of it before. My phone didn’t do a very good job of it, but I thought it would be rude to go right up to the person’s house and take one, so I took what I could. We didn’t stop again until St. Mary’s where I stopped for a water and a washroom break.
After that, it was time to get headed back to St. John’s. I felt very satisfied with the day, enjoying the ride in the sun and the minimal traffic. Arriving back at the hotel, I cured my helmet-head and went across the road to Fionn’s for supper. I was just finishing up and had paid my bill when 2 women came in. I saw them indicating at the table I was at, and figured they were hoping to sit there, so I got up to go. Walking up, I said “Were you wanting that table?” They said it was their favourite table and I said maybe I would just join them then! They thought that was a grand idea and it was cemented with a hug from Jackie. Shirley and Jackie are mom and daughter and come to the restaurant often. We had a great time yakking and having a drink. Clearly a couple of girls I could get into trouble with. We generally behaved ourselves, though, and feeling like old friends, carried on our way. What an amazing day! Again! Now it is time for sleep to see if it can be repeated tomorrow.