Day 8 CCR: Better Day Than Yesterday
Gander’s temperature was 37° at eight this morning, and the gusty wind blew misty rain sideways. Yet, despite that, today was a much better day than yesterday. We only had 225 miles to ride, so I delayed departing Gander for St. John’s until a little after ten when the temperature warmed to 40°.
We neglected to fill our gas tanks before we left, and Steve has a shorter fuel range than I do by about 50 miles. Since I wasn’t sure how far the next gas station from Gander was, we made a quick return to Gander, filled the tanks and were finally on our way a little before 11:00. As it turns out, there was gas available within Steve’s range, but his low fuel warning light would probably have been on, so backtracking was a good call.
About 50 miles out of Gander the rain stopped and our tires rolled on dry pavement for the first time in several days; there were even widely separated patches of blue showing through the ever-present gray clouds. The temperature must have warmed to the upper 40s, and after yesterday’s chill that felt almost tropical. Dry pavement and warmer temps meant we could cruise comfortably, enjoying the miles of forested, rolling hills that distinguish eastern Newfoundland.
We haven’t seen any moose since we landed on the island, but they lurk in the bushes and forests, choosing odd times to decide to cross the highway. Moose warning signs appear frequently along the roadway, and signs occasionally report the number of moose/vehicle encounters for the year. It’s perfect country for the ungainly ungulates because ponds, lakes and streams are everywhere, providing the lush habitat they thrive in. I don’t think there are any moose predators on the island except cars and hunters (and the occasional unfortunate motorcycle), so their population is large.
Unfortunately, the good weather didn’t last all the way to St. John’s. Thirty miles before we reached our first destination in the provincial capital, the weather reverted to yesterday’s meteorological maelstrom: hard wind, mizzle and temps near 40°. We made a planned stop at Rugged Rock Harley-Davidson to pick up a couple things and got a warm (literally and figuratively) reception from employees who seemed surprised to see two motorcyclists pull up, the weather being what it was. When they discovered we were from the States, their surprise abated. Given what they see on the news about their southern neighbors, they probably think we’re all a little daft.
We spent a comfortable half hour or so at the store, enjoying motorcycle conversation with the staff; meeting the manager, his wife and daughter; drinking a cup of HOT FRESH coffee; and making a couple of small purchases. For me, I bought a new t-shirt to replace the one I bought there eight years ago when the dealership operated under a different name (Mile One Harley Davidson). I was wearing that shirt today and the long-time employees recognized the old logo.
One of the many things I liked about Newfoundland in 2014 was the genuine friendliness of the people. That hasn’t changed. Everyone at Rugged Rock HD was welcoming, going out of their way to make fresh coffee, making sure we got what we stopped for, even if it meant pulling things out of inventory that weren’t on the shelves yet. I enjoyed talking with General Manager Sean LeFresne about the times he had ridden in Western North Carolina, including the Tail of the Dragon and Maggie Valley. I told him the next time he was there to do two things: Visit the Wheels Thru Time Motorcycle Museum and contact me so I could buy him a beer and return the hospitality he and his crew graciously showed us.
Twenty minutes after we left the Harley store we reached the downtown hotel where we’ll stay for a couple days. After a short wait while they worked to get their computer system back on line, we were checked in. In planning the CCR, I chose a downtown hotel here because nearby George Street is home to three blocks of Irish pubs and I missed the George Street adventure the last time I was here. Not this time. After settling in our rooms, we made our first foray to George Street and have some dinner and a brew. We stuck our heads in a couple places to look around, but settled on Bridie Molloy’s Traditional Irish Pub. While the singer in the pub was good, unfortunately he was singing country music instead of Irish tunes. Tomorrow night we’ll have better luck with the music.
But Bridie Molloy’s turned out to be a good time and the braised lamb shepherd’s pie I ordered was wonderful, especially when washed down with a hearty glass of Guinness. We met and talked with people on either side of us, two women from Manitoba and a couple from Quebec. Lots of laughs and camaraderie. Our wait person, Amanda, was a bundle of energy, running from table to bar to table as she waited on several groups at once, all of whom had as much fun listening to her continuous light-hearted banter as we did.
If I continue to meet people like the crew at Rugged Rock HD and Bridie Molloy’s on the CCR, I can put up with a few days of inclement weather. Tomorrow we’ll sight see in and around St. John’s and tomorrow night we’ll will be back on George Street.
Glad your weather moderated some. Sounds like you landed in a great town.
Glad some blue sky finally peaked through all those rain clouds! All the people sounded very friendly and the pub sounded like one of my kind of places, especially the Guinness! Ride safeda!