We left Springdale Friday morning for a relatively short drive to Corner Brook, Newfoundland. We were thankful we had decent weather, as we'd had just about enough of the rain. Unfortunately, up here, the rain is never really too far away.
Leaving Springdale, there were a few things which I took particular note of. First, the local Tim Horton's (think of Starbucks, but with better food) was so empty it looked like it was closed. There were only three cars in the parking lot. I've been to Tim Morton's all over Canada, and there's always a line at the counter, and there's always a line at the drive-thru.
The second thing I took note of was how Springdale seemed, to me, to be what I would expect a small town in Newfoundland to be like. There's nothing in the way of tourism here, unlike St. John's, so these folks make their living on the water. It's just a cool looking little coastal town:
After getting out onto the Trans-Canada Highway, it was a matter of only a couple hours for us to get to Corner Brook for our show that night. We got settled in our hotel rooms, took a little break for a while, and then went out to yet another successful show. Dinner with clients (where Mike, to his great credit, tried the cod tongue) was enjoyable, and we found our way back to the hotel around 11:30pm. We wanted to be well-rested for Saturday's drive, as it would be a marathon trek from Corner Brook to St. John's; about 450 miles.
We figured on taking between eight and ten hours to make the drive, and that included rest stops, meals, etc.
The weather was, well, it wasn't good. It had started raining overnight, and it just kept comin'. There wasn't anything we could do about it, of course, but neither of us was really looking forward to making a drive like this in the rain. We would have to, though, as the clouds were riding a little low as we got onto the highway:
|The Trans-Canada Highway in Corner Brook, Newfoundland...|
Aside from the duration of this drive, it probably seemed longer because, for miles, there were stretches of highway that were simply straight, and they were straight for as far as the eye could see:
|The Trans-Canada Highway...|
We had gotten a hold of a cord to plug Michael's iPod into the Caravan's stereo, so we kept ourselves entertained by thumbing through his playlists. Being a singer-songwriter kinda' guy, he's got a lot of stuff by a lot of people that you've probably never heard of. It was all good, though, and it helped pass the time. It's not like we'd be picking up the Z90 Morning Zoo out where we were.
While a good portion of the drive was uneventful, a good portion of it was bordering on being a white-knuckle gut-check. Visibility would go from very good to almost nothing in no time flat:
|For stretches at a time, visibility was almost nil...|
Now, while driving in conditions such as those can be fun, this is Newfoundland. Bad driving conditions only get worse when you combine the conditions seen above with these:
When we left St. John's for Clarenville, everyone told us to watch out for moose. We saw none. When we left Clarenville for Springdale, everyone told us to watch out for moose. We saw none. When we left Springdale for Corner Brook, everyone told us to watch out for moose. We saw none.
So, whadda' ya' think happened when we left Corner Brook for Newfoundland, and nobody said a word?
You got it. Moose.
Our first encounter was with a cow and calf. I'd have snapped a picture of them but A) I was driving (not that driving has ever really been an impediment to me taking pictures, though) and B) I was too busy trying to make sure I didn't hit a moose or end end up in a ditch.
Now, we were in a Dodge Caravan. As rentals go, it's a pretty good size. Unfortunately, it's also a perfect size to deposit a moose in the vehicle if you're unfortunate enough to hit one. The general rule of thumb is that, if you hit a moose, you're probably going to be killed. Ergo, they take these things very seriously up here.
Our second moose encounter was far less dramatic. It was a cow off in the distance, and it was never a threat to us. And, while we did have time to cameras ready, we were so far away that by the time we got to where the moose was, it had already trotted off back into the woods.
We finally arrived in St. John's, but it wasn't time to relax. In fact, we had to head back out again. We'd be going down to George Street to get Michael "Screeched in". He'd been looking forward to this, and we weren't about to let a little rain get in the way.
We walked into Christian's Pub about 9:30pm to get Mike signed up for the ceremony. When we got there, the bar was absolutely empty. When we arrived back an hour and a half later, the place was absolutely mobbed. It seems as though a Saturday night "Screeching In" is a popular event in St. John's.
While I won't go through the ceremony (Google it if you want to know), I'll show you one of the highlights. At one point during the ceremony, for some reason known likely only to the most aged of Newfoundlanders, attendees must kiss a cod. I did it last year and, dammit, I was going to see to it that Michael did it this year:
|Michael Lille kisses the cod and becomes an Honorary Newfoundlander...|
|Mike with his certificate of Screechiness...|
Sunday morning came way too early, as we had to catch a flight to Newark. Michael was flying back to San Diego from there, and I'd be flying to Boston. I don't get to fly home until Wednesday, but I'll have an opportunity to meet some new clients in my new territory.
I have one remaining scheduled trip into Canada, and then I'll be done. I'll go up once a year for a trade show, and that'll be about it.