Sunday, May 31, 2009

Random Research from Newfoundland, Part I: The Best Of, a Baker’s Dozen

On a dead end road, the spy car is stopped. We’re waiting for the safe house operator to arrive. Exposed, with no where to go.

“I don’t have a signal, either,” the AMHL Photographer/my wife says about the spy phone. She goes to sleep, and I take first watch.

All is calm on this random island—until two counterintelligence operatives wearing orange life vests speed by in a motored boat. They cast suspicious glances in our direction but continue west. Close call…and the mission, to identify the best of Newfoundland Labrador, continues…

1. Best weather: Light snow in late May
Frosting the “pine-clad hills" of the Avalon region, the snowy image may grace our next Christmas card.

2. Best ice-breaker: “How are ya gettin’ on?”This conversation-starter is common on “The Rock,” but any come-from-away posing this question with the correct pitch and pronunciation will (without raising suspicion) get the locals talking.

3. Best iceberg: Trinity Bay, Bonavista Peninsula (pictured)The AMHL Photographer captured this pinnacled ‘berg off the coast of Melrose.

4. Best Sign: Bonavista City Limits
Bonavista: Home of NHLers Michael Ryder (Bruins) and Adam Pardy (Flames).

5. Best History Lesson: Cape Bonavista Lighthouse
Thank you to the modern-day lighthouse guides. The light no longer needs an overnight keeper, and weather trends are tracked by someone else; but our guides are now history’s beacons.

6. Best Cup of Coffee (and Blueberry Cheesecake): Walkham’s Gate Pub, Bonavista
Java so smooth to the palate and cheesecake sans too much sugar: These two items belong together like hockey and donuts.

7. Best Hockey Color Commentator: PJ StockThe former Bruin, now retired but still sporting a playoff beard, still packs a powerful, yet playful, punch as a between-periods analyst on Hockey Night in Canada.

8. Best Book I Didn’t Buy at Chapters: Forward Thinking, The Danny Cleary Story
I have way too many hockey books in my queue, but after perusing this Newfoundlander’s biography, I was tempted to add Brendan McCarthy’s book to my bookshelf.

9. Best Donut Book Not Available at Chapters: Do Donuts Fall in the Winter?I had no idea what the book is about, but the title is catchy, eh? It's not available in the Chapters in St. John's, so you'll have to order it online.

10. Best Musical Performance: Chris Hennessy at Shamrock City, St. John’s

A pint of Guinness on the stool beside him, a guitar in his hands, and a soothing voice to comfort the crowd. Nobody does “Candle in the Wine” any better.

11. Best Place to Read Ghost Stories: Random Island
Spine-tingling tales from Dale Jarvis. Best to read Haunted Shores: True Ghost Stories of Newfoundland and Labrador with a security blanket or, even better, a real person to watch your back.

12. Best Radio Station: VOCMCall in or just listen to Open Line or Back Talk. Or when these programs are off the air, listen to the likes of Paul Brandt or Shania Twain (both Canadians) or tune into the news at 590 on your AM dial.

13. Best News: Daffodil Place Meets Its GoalsThis haven for families fighting cancer, which raised seven million dollars in just two years (a year sooner than expected), will conduct opening ceremonies on June 12, 2009.

Part II: Food and Fred's