Steady Brook, NL I

The day was hot by Newfoundland standards—85° and sunny, a welcome break from an unusually chilly summer. The temperature drops slightly around dusk and the islanders, wearing t-shirts and shorts saved for this very occasion, flock around the gas station at the foot of the mountain. The mountain is dark, faint outlines of ski lifts visible from the parking lot in the gloaming light. A small pod of Harleys thunders into the parking lot and their riders dismount and potter around waiting to be admired. More arrive, and then more. They are generally, but not exclusively, middle-aged. Men drive, women ride. Expensive branded outfits match bikes. Other bikes start appearing, younger, thinner people on insectoid crotch-rockets with their own panoplies of matching armor and helmets bright with decals of flames and skulls. A gangly neon-green chopper with a back tire so round it looks like a basketball becomes a locus of conversation. The large parking lot is full of bikers now, but the two subspecies do not intermingle. Engines rev, snorting and buzzing. Night descends and bikes start departing in small groups, racing onto the Trans-Canada Highway at dangerous speeds. Ten minutes later the parking lot is empty aside from a few cars parked in front of Tim Horton's for evening pastries. The bikes will return tomorrow.

The dilapidated Toyota 4-Runner pulls up next to the bank of the river blasting a techno-remix of Santogold that nobody particularly wants to listen to. It's late, nearly midnight, and the adventure tour guides jump out the doors and hustle to pull two huge inflatable rafts out of the river. They laugh and verbally abuse each other as the flabby boats slide up the bank and onto their trailer. One, two, then a several kayaks and a canoe are heaped precariously on top of the rafts. Colorful ropes fly through the air, securing the mess of floating things to the trailer. The Toyota shudders to life, paddles bristling out its windows like oars, and the techno nobody wants to listen to blares. The transmission engages with a clunk and the vehicle and boats surge into the night. Adventure tours will be leaving early the next morning, and the next, and the next. They will be departing all day long until nine at night, at which point preparation will begin for the next day. But the guides are ebullient. They will work like fiends for the next three months until the cold banishes the tourists and then... they wait for next year.