Saturday, June 20, 2015

From Signal Hill to Johanna's Ride the Boot

The morning dawned with beautiful sunshine and I got busy packing up the bike because a couple of the guys were coming to take me up to Signal Hill, then we’d make a quick pit stop at Mile One Harley to get my hubby a shot glass of his collection. 

From there we would be heading to Goobies and then I would travel on my own to Marystown and the Johanna’s Ride the Boot Memorial. 

It was going to be a busy day. 

The guys came and grabbed me around 11am and off to Signal Hill we went. 

Signal Hill is the home of the very first wireless transatlantic communication. 

On December 1, 1901, Gugielmo Marconi received that first transmission from the abandoned Diptheria and Fever hospital, one of three hospitals that had operated on the Hill over the years. 

Before the advent of wireless communications, flags were waved by signalmen from signalling masts that were built on the top of Cabot Tower, and conveyed information about what the ship was carrying so that merchants could get ready to receive their cargo. 

It is also one of the most natural defense positions to protect and defend St. John’s Harbour. The last battle in the Seven Year’s War was fought right here in 1762. 

The French had captured St. John’s in June of 1762. They had hoped it would strengthened their bargaining position with the British, since they had lost Louisbourg and Quebec City. 

In September, of the same year, Lieutenant-Colonel William Amherst took St. John’s from Torbay. 

Standing on the ridge I swear you can hear the crack of muskets firing and the boom of canons. The place exudes the history it has experienced. 

We had to head out so that I could get to Goobies on time to meet with the Lys Unit of CAV and I still needed to stop at the Harley shop to get that shot glass for hubby, so off we went. As it turned out we were about a half hour or so late getting to the meet up, but everyone had waited for us! 

The weather was starting to turn overcast and cool and the wind was picking up, so after a cheque presentation to the Conga, some photos and a ton of hugs, I was off on my own to go experience the Johanna’s Ride the Boot Memorial. 

The time I spent with my brothers and sisters of the Newfoundland riding community so far had been top drawer. I enjoyed and will cherish every minute. 
They shared so much of their history, culture and the communities they live in, with me that I was already missing people, feeling melancholy and a wee bit blue. Yes, these people had gotten under 

my skin and invaded my soul. 

But, I had one or two more adventures yet to experience before my time here on the Rock was to be over and so with a honk of the horn I was off to Marystown. 

 I rode off with such mixed feelings, the wind was blowing pretty good and it attempted to rain, but it never amounted to much. 

I thought about how it came to pass that I was 
going to be attending one of Newfoundland’s 
largest events, and how a man named Tom Hollett had found out that I was coming to Newfoundland and contacted tourism to ask if I could change my travel plans. 

I was supposed to spend four days in St John’s and take the ferry from there on the Saturday. Instead, because I had agreed to attend the event, passage out of Port aux Basques on Monday morning was arranged as was a room and a truck that would haul me and the bike back the 900 KM’s to Port aux Basque. 

Travelling on a bike at night is not recommended on the west side of the island. 

I pulled into Marystown and headed to the Marystown Hotel & Conference Centre. I knew I was at the right place because the parking lot already had about 75 bikes in it. This in spite of the weather warnings. 

Reuben Noseworthy met me at the front desk and ensured I was settled in and had the help I needed. 

Reuben’s son Michael helped me to unpack the bike get my gear dropped off in the room. The wing of the hotel that I was in was under renovations, but for the rally all the work had stopped so as not to interfere with the gathering. 
The room was huge with full kitchen and I knew I was going to enjoy whatever time I got in it. 

We headed downstairs to the rally registration. 

What a well run meet ‘n’ greet and silent auction they had going on. After you registered, you were told about the meet ‘n greet just across the way, and filled in on the details of the next two days. Every rider got a really great shoulder pack filled with map, itinerary, a patch, some candy and water. 

Then you were invited to stop at the various tables to purchase raffle tickets for the bike, buy your tee shirt and bid on the silent auction items. 

I got to meet Barbara Noseworthy, what a wonderfully warm woman. Although she tended to tear up a bit at her daughter’s name being spoken, you could see the determination in her eyes that this year’s memorial ride for her daughter was going to be special. 

After spending some time chatting and snapping photos, I headed to go and find something to eat. 

I stopped into my room first and dropped off the shoulder bag. Next thing I knew a bunch from the CAV had invited me out to the back stairwell for a beverage and a gab. 
It was 11 pm before I finally hit the hay! 

I woke up and grabbed my cameras and the gear I’d need for the day and headed out to the bike to start getting it ready. It had rained over night and it was trying really hard to be nice, but just not quite getting there. 

I fuelled up, mounted cameras and then made my way in for the 8 am biker’s breakfast in the pub. By this time there were over a 100 bikes in the parking lot and the steady drone of bikes rolling in could be heard. 

The meal was enormous and the coffee was hot and strong! 

As we waited for people to arrive, I walked around and got bikers to pet or hug Rita my Beaver, it made for great laughs and a wonderful way to start the day off. 

At 11 AM, Reuben came on the bull horn and explained to everyone what was happening for the day. Then a padre gave benediction to the ride and pretty soon we were off, some 280 bikes heading for Smugglers Cove. 

At noon we were off. 

I was assigned an outrider named Sean who ensured that while I was filming all of the riders would stay safe. 

He and I worked out hand signals and we were able to roll in and out of the bikes easily. 
He also knew all of the places where I could park to get some great riding shots of the parade as it wended it’s way through the Burin Peninsula. 

We stopped at a variety of places, the most memorable being the stop in Grand Bank. We were treated to coffee and squares and all sorts of delights. We were right on the wharf too and it was an impressive sight with all those bikes and the lighthouse. 

Lots of little celebrations were going on, celebrations inside the greater one of the ride, like 
one guy proposing to his lady and she accepted.  Another gal was celebrating a birthday. 

Even though we had intermittent clouds and sun, the day stayed reasonably warm and the threat of rain never materialized. We arrived at Smugglers Cove, about 3pm. There were burgers on and it was like a stampeded! You’d have sworn all those bikers were not the same ones who devoured totes full of cookies and squares and sandwiches. 

Smugglers Cove itself is a unique gather spot being built by Tom Hollett. Tom is one of the biggest champions of tourism in the Burin Peninsula. 

He hopes to have the facility ready for the public in another year or so, but in the meantime, the crew of riders that show up for Johanna’s Ride the Boot get to be the guinea pigs for how the changes and improvements are working! 

Tom donates the use of the facility to the ride. 

The supper that was served that evening was ribs, salads, dinner bun and coffee, tea or you could purchase an alternate. 

The music had been playing all afternoon with a solo artist kicking it off and man could that guy sing. 

All throughout the evening there were presentations, even I was given the opportunity to speak to the audience about my Conga and the mission I was on to educate civilians about veterans causes. 

After finally getting to meet Tom Hollett, I decided it was time to avail myself of the shuttle service and head back to the hotel. 

I fell asleep on the bus and had to be woken up! A sweet couple offered to take me out to the breakfast the next morning and I was ready and waiting when they arrived. For the life of me, as I write this I cannot remember their names. 

I am sure that when I no longer urgently need to remember their names, they will come to me. A sign of growing old I guess. In the meantime, one thing I could never forget was their kindness and hospitality. 

We were served up the most satisfying pancake breakfast and took advantage of the brilliant blue sky by eating outside on the deck. 

Reuben and his gang took the stage, there were numerous speeches and presentations and then the moment so many were waiting for the bike draw. A guy from Calgary won it. 
I went and said my goodbyes to the Noseworthy’s and a few others that had been extraordinarily kind to me and pretty soon Black Betty and I were in a truck with none other than Tom Hollett himself. 

In spite of not riding and seeing Black Betty in the back of a truck, I passed a most pleasurable afternoon and evening with Tom. He is quite the man and I deeply appreciate the time he spent with me and doing what he did in rearranging my travel plans. Because of him and his love for the Burn Peninsula, I got to take part in an event that filled my heart with so much gratitude and love. 

Watch the video - it’s 4 minutes long and does far more justice to the event than my words can: 

We unloaded my bike at about 1 am. 

Cathy Lomond of the Port aux Basques Hotel had reserved me a jacuzzi suite. OH my word did I need that after all that travelling in a pick up. 

I had to be at the ferry for 4 am, I finally laid my head down at just after two. 
I packed up the bike and headed for the ferry in the dark. It was a strange send off to the island. 

After feeling like part of a family, being alone in the line up was truly strange. After tying down the bike I went to the check in desk only to discover there had been a 
problem with the cancelling of the ferry out of Argentia and re booking on this one and I now had no room. 

I was tired. Really tired and I was now very grumpy and I am afraid I wasn’t terribly polite to the man behind the counter. He did not seem to understand that I was supposed to be filming the room and doing a piece on the boat. 

Foiled from doing my job,I went and found a chair to curl up in and spent a few rough hours of cat napping. 

I had a hard days riding ahead of me... In Cape Breton...and I knew I was going to have to stay very cognizant of my sleep deprived state. 

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