The first rays of sunshine to meet this continent illuminate Cape Spear, on the rare days where you see the sun. 7/27/2015 marks a momentous accomplishment in my scooter journey, arriving at the eastern-most point of land in North America, thus completing my ride to the "four corners" of the continent.
North: Deadhorse, AK
West: Anchor Point, AK
South: Key West, FL or Tropic of Cancer in Baja, Mexico
East: Cape Spear, NL
It was only 9AM and the cold mist was getting to me enough that making coffee in the lee of a baseball dugout wasn't enough to warm me up. I hauled in to the only restuarant in town for a cup of coffee and two pieces of toast. It may have cost $5 but I made the most of my time to write in the journal, eye the CBC newscast on the TV and drink three or four cups of coffee until jittery from the cheap swill. Time to scoot over the barrens of the peninsula where the wind sure did blow. A glimpse of sunshine greeted me as I descended upon Carbonear and paused for two hours at the Library to charge some electronics, dry out my gloves and write in the old journal. The rain had finally disspated but with it's departure came a steady 30mph wind from the west that tossed me around the lane and nearly blew the bike over when parked. It didn't help matters that one of the centerstand bolts had worked loose after being coated from my persistant oil leak. C'est la vie! An unsubstantiated legend clings to Carbonear of a kidnapped Irish Princess by the name of Sheila NaGeria who it is said was rescued by Peter Easton and married his first mate. A sign board is all that reminds us of this legend of the past but as they say, in every tall tale there's a bit of truth.
In 1610, the second permanent English colony in the new world was established by John Guy at Cooper's Bay, now called Cupids. It is the oldest continually settled English colongy in Canada and home to a wonderful museum and interpretive center. Naturally, I arrived at 5:30PM and missed out on that experience yet gathered enough history from the numerous information signs dotting the bay. Stumbling across the driveway and grass of an adjacent home, I walked along the boardwalk above an archaeological excavation of the former storehouse and homesite, it's foundation, graveyard and some tools still preserved after 400 years.
A strong rainstorm was blowing in from the south so I decided I'd poke around the coast toward the chuckle-worthy town of Dildo. I killed some time until it began raining, poking around the town and taking some shots along the water and of the fisherman at Dildo Harbour cleaning their daily catch.
I found a historical interpretive center with a demonstration fish stage, a traditional fishing shack. It was recently built, had a roof and doors! This would make a great place to sleep out of the elements this evening. High winds and my hammock aren't the best combination so I happily waited until it was dark and then quielty set up camp in the fishing stage. The sound of waves lapped the pilings underneath me as the rain trickled down the asphalth shingles to land on the wooden floor supports. Overnight the wind blew so strong it would rattle the door and come up below the open unchinked floor supports. It was pleasant in my down sleeping bag with thick air pad.
From Wiki: The place name "Dildo" is attested in this area since at least 1711, though how this came to be is unknown. The origin of the word "dildo" itself is obscure. It was once used to reference a phallus-shaped pin stuck in the edging of a row boat to act as a pivot for the oar (also known as a "thole pin" or "dole pin"). It was used as early as the 16th century for a cylindrical object such as a dildo glass (test tube), for a phallus-shaped sex toy, as an insult for a "contemptuous or reviling" male, and as a refrain in ballads. The name, then written as "Dildoe", was first applied to Dildo Island, located offshore from the present-day town of Dildo. This use was recorded in 1711 and 1775, and the name was thereafter applied to the Dildo Arm of Trinity Bay and other local physical features. Social scientist William Baillie Hamilton notes that Captain James Cook and his assistant Michael Lane, who mapped Newfoundland in the 1760s, often displayed a sense of humour in the place names they chose, and were not above selecting names that might offend over-sensitive readers. Regardless of the origin, the name has brought the town of Dildo a measure of notoriety. In the 20th century there were several campaigns to change the name, though all failed
Tom offered to take Tony and myself out in the morning to jig for cod. The opportunity to not only head out into the harbour in a small boat but also to participate in a food fishery as old as the people of the island was a cultural experience like no other. This is why I travel. Tom arrived at 6:45 AM and we drove down to the dock where his well-appointed 18ft fiberglass boat was moored. I took my seat in the bow and held on to a the thick bow line as we beat it into the low chop of the waves. Salt spray sprinkled the back of my hood and I was glad to have on a pair of GoreTex pants for the soggy morning. Motoring out to a small flotilla of skiffs, I was handed a spool and jig, and instructed to lower it until it reaches the bottom. I unreeled by spinning the wooden arms until the line slackened then raised it up a few feet off the bottom, roughly 100ft below. Jigging is performed by yanking the line up and letting it fall again, a process that can immediately yield results or take quite a while depending on how hungry the fish (Only Cod is called fish up here) are.
We motored over toward Blueberry Point underneath Skirwink and soon landed the first fish of the morning. From here it was a regular occurance to bring in either a Sculpin, a bottom feeder that is mostly all head, dirty and ugly, or a fish. During the three week recreational food fishery, men are alloted 5 cod per day or 15 cod per boat. These are rules made up by the Department of Fisheries and the "Boys in Ottawa", who many locals possess a strong disagreement with...to put it kindly.
We landed 4 fish, plenty enough for breakfast, and by 8AM returned to the stage (fishing shed and small dock) to process them. Heads, vertabrae and tails bobbed in the water while the sounds floated along the surface. A bucket of cod livers sat with a thick skim on top. The cleaning table is specially made with a hole for the cod livers to fall into, and special notches for holding the fish in place or fileting the sweet delicious meat. Tom made quick work of cleaning the fish and we tossed it into a plastic bag and made our way home.
Back at Tony's house by 8:30AM, he prepared a pot of coffee, fried up some potatoes and onions then tossed the two white filets into a pan of sizzling bacon grease and onion. The aroma of the rich food filled the home and was soon cooked to perfection. It may not look like much but the goal was consumption, not presentation. It was slightly sweet, fresh, crispy and flavorful. It did not have that "fishy" taste that much fish gets after sitting out for too long. It doesn't get much fresher than this. With each bite dissolving in my mouth, I felt a real connection to this place, to these great people. One may travel to a foreign land but until you begin to live with people, participate in their traditional cultural past time and taste the food that nourished their existance, it is all but tourism. This is why I travel, to meet real people like Tony and Tom and satisfy my hunger for learning and knowledge with another deep bite.
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 69'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.