July 5, 2016: Our grandson, Jordan, drives us to Brampton, where we’ll stay the night with Maire and John. I look at him as he takes over the wheel. He’s 25 years old, a man, tall and handsome and cool. He has huge brown eyes and wears a hat with an outward cockiness that is both charming and avant-garde. Whenever I get to the edge of a trip, no matter how much I am looking forward to it, I suddenly don’t want to leave.
July 6, 2016: At 6 a.m. we catch a cab with Maire and John, meet Wendy and Dennis at the airport, and off we go. Now I’m excited, looking forward to the new adventure. I sleep until twenty minutes before landing, so I’m refreshed and raring to go. Our B & B, the Elizabeth Manor, is not one of our favourites, mainly because we discover we have to share a bathroom that’s on two different floors. Sharing’s okay, but climbing in the middle of the night is not. Wendy and Dennis insist on doing the climb, though we do search for a bucket. The gardens out back are spectacular. Too bad they’re drenched from the pouring rain during the night and early this morning. It continues to drizzle, but the greenery is bursting because of it.
As Wendy’s booklet-itinerary tells us, being in St. John’s means you are “enveloped in colour” – even in the rain. “Take a walk through Jellybean Row, bearing witness to colours you just won’t find anywhere else, with names like Bakeapple Jam and Foggy Dew.”
We head straight to the Duke of Duckworth. The Republic of Doyle filmed here often; it was featured as their favourite pub and partly owned by the main character. As cheesy as it was, Vince and I always enjoyed that show.
We walk from there along Water Street, visiting some interesting little shops, then we hit George St., which we pretty much have to ourselves at this time of day. O’Reilly’s is the pub we enjoyed the last couple of times, so we spend a couple of hours there, listening to the music and drinking beer. The Irish influence on the songs makes you want to sing along – and we do.
At Kelly’s, we discover Ray (Blacky) O’Leary, who has a great voice, plays both the guitar and the boron (an Irish drum). We sing, dance, and, judging by how I feel this morning, consume a decent (indecent?) amount of alcohol. A quick visit to Yellow Belly rounds off the evening.
The beds in our house are very comfortable, the price was right for the sharesies, so I’d recommend it for a stay in the city. Nice and close to downtown, too. Try not to get the sharsie, if you have a choice.
July 7, 2016: For our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary, I have given myself a hangover. Luckily I get to sleep in a bit and after breakfast, I feel a bit perkier. Though Maire says perky people in the morning aren’t welcome anyway.
Off we go to Grand Falls-Windsor, along the winding road from the Avalon Peninsula toward the Bonavista Peninsula, through thick forests and a pallet of green that has every shade and nuance you can dream up. Here and there a deep blue pops up in the form of lakes and rivers and ponds. Mist dances across the water until the sun comes out to bathe it all in silver. Now and then we drive up and across treeless and moss-covered terrain, the Newfoundland Rock. We pass signs to Conception Bay, Come by Chance, Heart’s Delight, Dildo, Deep Bight, Tickle Harbour.
As our booklet tells us: “Unique adventure awaits. What’s around the next bend in the road? A picturesque fishing village? A breaching humpback? A glistening iceberg? There are fiords and mountain vistas of stunning beauty. Places where sky meets horizon in blazing colour, and where stands of spruce flow in an evergreen sea.” And it’s true. We’ll suddenly come around a corner and there is a sulky blue bay, white-tipped waves rolling, a ship slicing through. On one side sheer rock points to the sky, their carved shapes laced with red and black and white. We make a comfort stop at the Terra Nova Provincial Park information centre and wander through the exhibits. Birds and animals that need protection, sea life, and a beautiful vista over the lake.
When we finish the drive, we're a little tired, and have time only to brush teeth, powder underarms, and get back into the van. Judy and Paul Gill (Dennis's sister-in-law and brother) welcome us into their lovely home overlooking the sea in Botwood. They treat us to great conversation and fabulous food - Newfoundland salads galore! For dessert, an amazing surprise: an anniversary cake. Carrot, of course, as my Cugina knows me well. Of course it was Wendy's plan, but Judy kindly carried it out.
We are absolutely stuffed when we say our good-byes. We visit Dennis's parents' grave, tour the town, and head back to the Carriage House Inn.
This is a beautiful place! Around 15 rooms, all new, with every facility. Even Gordon Pinsent stays here when he's in his home town of Great Falls-Windsor.
We're in bed early, but it's still well past nine.