Ziplining in Avalon and ghosts in St. John’s

Sunday was a day of toing and froing in the area south of St. John’s, known as Avalon. It lives up to its name with lots of beautiful  green scenery and glimpses of islands off the coast that take your breath away.

First up on my list on Sunday was to check out Witless Bay ecological reserve. I drove into Witless Bay but as I had a vague idea of going on a whale watching tour, I had picked the wrong spot. I needed either Bay Bulls or Blaune East. Rather than go back, I went to Blaune East to check out one of their boat operators. They’d closed down despite all the signs.

I drove back to Bay Bulls and to O’Brien’s. I’d missed the tour by fifteen minutes. It was a dreary day again so it wasn’t such a bad thing. But what to do next?

I headed to La Manche provincial park, and did a bit of a drive through it. It’s full of families camping and I couldn’t see a very good spot to park and go for a bit of a hike. Oh well. I continued south further to Ferryland, founded in 1621.

This was another picturesque spot with beautiful coastline and islands. A quick look around and then back up the coast to Petty Harbour. Andrew and I were going ziplining.

We arrived just after three at North Atlantic Ziplines, got suited up with harness, helmets and gloves, then jumped in the van with the 11 other participants to head up the hill. There was a mix of all ages on the tour, ranging from about 11 or 12, up to probably about 70 or so.

After getting out of the van, we hiked up the mountain a bit to the first zipline. We were given our instructions, told how to break (we clamp down on the wire behind the pulley with a piece of leather attached to our glove), and that we had to raise our legs up and point our toes. The test run went fine and then we were off.

We did ten ziplines all up, some crossing great distances or going at fast speeds (about 80 kmh on one of them). Plenty of great views to Petty Harbour and across the heavily wooded hills. A great way to kill a couple of hours. Tell you what though, it’s hard work on the abs. Being heavier than the children, on a number of occasions I really had to work hard to lean back and lift my legs or else I was in danger of not making it to the other end. Was great fun though, especially the really fast ones.

Afterwards I drove out to Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. I wanted to check it out as I planned to be there for sunrise the next morning and thought it’d be a good idea to scope it out. I stood at the most easterly point, walked around a bit, looked up at the two lighthouses on the hill, and then headed back to town.

Later that night, Andrew, Krista and I went on a St John’s Haunted Hike, which left from the Anglican cathedral at 9:30. There were a lot of people on the tour, which was a surprise as we thought there’d only be a small group. Normally there’s a second guide but he was on holiday.

We were led to a few sites within easy walking distance and learned about some of the more gruesome elements of St John’s early years. There were a few ghost stories, but otherwise it was about public execution, public torture and the general brutality of one man (or woman) against another. It went for an hour and was well worth the $10 (though I think we collected a few free riders along the way). It runs from Sunday to Thursday so if you’re in St John’s and want something to do in an evening, check it out.

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