Winters with The Gillinghams
By Maurice Gillingham
Although the past 20 plus years we have resided on the East Coast living in Kelligrews, our hearts are always back home (Englee for me & my wife, Bide Arm). We both spent the first 20 plus years living in an area where five months of taking in and enjoying winters is the norm! No trailers or safe storage required…. haul the sleds out in December (November on occasions) and they’re out until April/May. That feeling of opening the basement door fully dressed, hop on and go! After connecting with my beautiful wife Rita who came with a passion for snowmobiling, ice fishing and of course, a good ole mug up, can be compared to buying your first pick-up truck fully loaded…I’m one lucky guy.
So off we go!
Yelp, just like many others we relocated. Moving from the Great Northern Peninsula (GNP) to the East Coast for work. But thank God we stayed on the Rock and made it an annual family vacation to return home each winter for two weeks with a minimum of one week. As our two boys; Zachery & Jakob grew, so did their passion for the sleds and all the fixings that came with the sport. Both of them learned at a very young age to operate safely and unlike me who
learned on a 16 horsepower Elan, they both inherited Poppy’s Tundra and Tundra II as starters. Of course, that was short lived and within a few short years, we were travelling to the GNP with a trailer and 3 sleds, of course that also included “The Rideouts” (my sister in-law Vanessa, her Husband Brad and our niece Lilly). Just like that, our annual trips grew by three along with the passion. Winter vacations to the GNP quickly turned into two trucks, trailers and five sleds and most recently The Rideouts increased their inventory to three. Twelve hours & 1000 KMs later, were hauling the sleds out from the trailers and ready to go at the crack of dawn. If there’s a day or night run that is missed it’s because the weather stopped us.
GNP – Point the skies and Go!
Pick your pleasure……groomed trails or what I’d call the good ole fashion man made trails. North eastern trail riders groomed trail begins at a beautiful lookout overlooking Englee connecting Bide Arm, Roddickton over to Mainbrook which then connects with Northern Drifters snowmobile club out of St. Anthony. Over 300 KMs return trip of pure Awesomeness. Recommend you take that run in if you’re in the neighbourhood sometime. At any point you want to branch off and explore the country you’ll be in for a treat. So many adventures and trails available that often we can’t cover them all.
Do we take trips elsewhere on the beautiful Island? Absolutely! In fact for a number of years now there have been several trips to Badger (NL) to take in some of the most breath taking scenery from Millertown Jct. to the Gaff Topsails where we visit other popular views such as the Lobster House to our play area known as the Eclipse. Millertown Jct. gave us memories that money can’t buy. There have been West Coast trips as well but satisfaction has been always guaranteed in Central and we never left there disappointed yet. Even after a 70 mm weekend of rain we all left with smiles on our face…not kidding.
Good Friday tradition!
Every trip to the GNP is usually scheduled to include Good Friday. The in-laws for the past few years don’t even bother to take out their sleds until we get home. Good Friday is a popular day for all but for my mother in-law, it’s the one day she cherishes each winter and enjoys to the fullest. If I can paint a picture for you there’s a roaster full of her homemade bake beans and because we normally have half the town with us there’s a menu that you would say I’m lying to you; stuffed squid, squid rings, bologna, fisherman’s brews, desserts and the list goes on. Meanwhile as that’s all happening the skipper is sitting next to a hole on the ice patiently waiting for some trout. We have 25-30 people in our own group on Good Friday for as long as I can remember. I clearly remember each place that we have gathered over the years just like they were all yesterday. Folks often say, can’t wait to go down south for a vacation. For us, a snowmobile trip anywhere on this island that we can take the sleds, is on the top of our list.
That’s it for now as I can go on for days talking about snowmobiling and family trips. Maybe someday I’ll be asked about a particular trip and how it started and where it took us. I’ll never say “ended” as they only pause until you start right back up.