We have been an enjoying a few relaxing days in St. John’s now that the Tour du Canada 2013 has ended. The most luxurious thing so far is sleeping in a real bed every night (along with not having to set up and take down a tent every day!).
Saturday morning started off with breakfast at the Bagel Cafe. We met Mike and Rob in the hotel lobby and walked over to the cafe. Elaine met us there. Gee and Larry arrived later, having slept in later than we had. Breakfast was superb. Even better, I didn’t have to eat it standing up while hovering around the camp kitchen!
Early in the afternoon we picked up Becky, Louise and Elaine and drove to Cape Spear. Yes drove … there were no bikes involved! Cape Spear is the easternmost point of land in Canada. Susan and I had been there before but it was the first time for the other three. The wind was howling when we got there and we commented that it would have been a wild ride out with a tailwind but a very tough return into that wind.
At Cape Spear there is an old lighthouse and keeper’s house that you can tour. The tower was built of stone with the house built in a circle around it. The theory was that if the house should burn down the tower, with the light, would continue to stand and continue to be operational. A new house could then be built around the tower. The two-storey house was quite cozy and it was interesting to get a glimpse into the life of a lighthouse keeper. First operational in 1835, the lighthouse was used until the mid 1950’s when it was replaced by another lighthouse nearby.
From Cape Spear we could make out Signal Hill in the distance. Even though it was cloudy, it was clear enough that we decided it would be nice to see the view from Signal Hill when it wasn’t shrouded in fog. So off we went, back through St. John’s and up the hill we had struggled to climb only a day before. The view from the top of Signal Hill, even on a cloudy blustery day, is quite stunning.
By now it was mid-afternoon and lunch was in order. Yellow Belly Brewhouse and Public House on Water Street turned out to be an excellent choice. After lunch Becky and Louise picked up bike boxes (at a cost of $10 each for something that would be thrown out anyway, but there was no alternative) from a bike shop a few doors down. Louise thought her bike box was a little small for her bike but the fellow assured her it was a standard size and would be no problem. We loaded the boxes in the back of our vehicle and drove the three ladies back to their hotel. As Elaine would be leaving in the morning we said our goodbyes. It will seem strange not to see Elaine standing by her bike in the morning waiting for me to be ready to ride … as has been the case for most of the past 10 weeks.
At 6:00 we met up with friends Bill and Meleta to go out for dinner. They took us to Press and Bean on Water Street where we enjoyed a great dinner and a very nice visit.
Sleeping in on Sunday morning felt so good after a summer of getting up early. We had a late breakfast at Smitty’s in the hotel then set off for the Avalon Colony in Ferryland south of Bay Bulls. We had a very interesting tour of the archaeological dig at the site of the colony dating back to the mid 1600’s. The tour of the excavation was followed by a presentation by a costumed interpreter in a reproduction of a typical kitchen from the era.
On our return to St. John’s we stopped by the Extended Stay to say farewell to Louise and Becky. Upon our arrival we found Louise, assisted by Michel, trying to fit her bike into a bike box that was too small. To accomplish the task they had to remove both wheels (you should only need to remove the front wheel) along with the fenders in addition to the seat and handlebars (which is normal). So much for the assurances of the guy at the bike shop that the bike box was the right size for her bike!
We returned to the hotel with the thought of walking somewhere for dinner. With rain pouring down we decided to settle for dinner in the hotel instead.
Yesterday (Labor Day Monday) we again slept late. By the time we got up and organized it was basically time to go for lunch. In the lobby we ran into Rob who had discovered that the pin that held the two halves of his bike together wouldn’t come out therefore he was unable to pack his bike up as he had originally planned. Of course the bike shops were closed, it being a holiday, so the hotel was trying to locate some kind of box for him that he might modify to fit his bike. Unfortunately they couldn’t find anything. By the time we got there he had pretty much packed up the components of his bike as best he could. With his flight at 10 pm there was no chance he could find a bike box before he left.
As he was now killing time Rob accepted our invitation to come for lunch. We walked down to the Duke of Duckworth and enjoyed a great lunch along with a pint or two. Upon leaving the pub Rob went off for a walk while we strolled back towards the hotel. On the way we stopped in at a chocolate shop and made a couple of purchases. Just before we left Rob wandered in. We continued on to the hotel and discovered a bunch of cardboard boxes folded up in recycling bags in front of the business next to the hotel. I zipped back to the chocolate shop to let Rob know about the cardboard.
As luck would have it Rob found a couple of boxes large enough to fashion a customized bike box out of. I retrieved some packing tape from my room and after about an hour’s work we had his bike all packaged up.
Back up in the room I turned my attention to my own bike. Fortunately the bike box I got from Cranky’s that had been transported across the country in our support truck was the right size (I never expected otherwise). It didn’t take too long to disassemble the necessary parts of my bike and pack it up. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the room.
Dinner found us at The Club, another fine restaurant just a few blocks from the hotel.
Surprise, surprise we slept late again this morning. By the time we got to the Classic Cafe a block from our hotel it was a few minutes after noon and they had stopped serving breakfast. We quickly switched into lunch mode and enjoyed a fantastic meal. I had never before had Cod au Gratin and it was absolutely delicious.
We spent several hours this afternoon at The Rooms, a combination of provincial museum and art gallery. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
For our last evening in St. John’s we had made reservations at Portobellos, a couple of doors down from our hotel. It lived up to its billing as a very fine restaurant. With a great view of the harbour it was a perfect pick for our last night.