St. John’s area crap weather survival tips

By Sarah Smellie

Let’s be honest here: things may be all right now, but St. John’s has some rather intense weather on the way. We’re talking a day of solid snowfall that accumulates into ten-foot-high snowdrifts, followed by a day of pissing rain which turns the snowdrifts into giant, oozing masses of gook. Some days it even slushes. Giant, half-liquid, half-solid clumps fall from the sky, slapping down on your head and drenching you on first contact.

But don’t let the weather run your life and drive you to spend your February evenings drooling over an empty pizza box. You can beat the frostbite and the cabin fever. Here’s how.

THE CRISP AND COLOURFUL STUFF

September and early October are incredible in St. John’s. Fall is in full swing, snow has yet to fall and the leaves change to shades of brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. Your main goal here is to get out of the congested areas and take in the fall colors.

Ride a Bike. You can bike out to Middle Cove in about 30 minutes from downtown. Take Logy Bay Road, since Torbay Road is a nightmare, and turn off at Marine Drive, to your right. You’ll go right by the ocean and have some genuinely spectacular views. It’s an easy ride and any old bike will do. However, if you’d like a bike with a few gears and maybe a flashy paint job, the Buy and Sell is typically a great place to find low to mid-grade road and mountain bikes for very little money.

The folks down at Canary Cycles, at 294 Water Street, also organize weekly cycling groups which will give you a chance to meet some people while you take in fall-time scenery.

Hike. The East Coast Trail. It’s right there. People come here from all across the country to hike it for a very good reason – it’s easy hiking, well maintained and it’s bloody spectacular. Get your maps, tips and all other information at www.eastcoasttrail.com

THE WHITE STUFF

Come December, there is rarely a shortage of snow and, when the wind actually lets up (it does, every once in a while) we can have some near picture-book perfect winter days. Here’s how to take full advantage of these glorious days:

Cross-country ski. You don’t need fancy equipment to cross country ski. The Sally Ann on Water Street, Value Village on Kenmount Road and Play It Again Sports on both Torbay and Topsail Road all sell old cross country skis, boots and poles for dirt cheap. They’re perfectly adequate for anyone interested in pleasure skiing. It’s also really easy to teach yourself how to ski – just slide your legs around, push with your arms a bit and see what happens. You really have no excuse. And with beautiful and well maintained trails for every skill level that run through Pippy Park at your disposal, why would you want one? You can take the bus out to Pippy Park if you don’t have a car or, if you just want a quick ski, you can ski around Long Pond. In fact, after storms the snow plows aren’t exactly prompt and you can ski right out your front door and all around town on the streets.

Skate. Ice skating is great because the worse you are, the more fun you have. Situation: damsel in distress, in need of a strong, supportive arm. Mundy Pond, off Blackler Avenue, Kent’s Pond and Kenny’s Pond, both off MacDonald Drive, all freeze up real nice and support all kinds of bladed folk throughout the winter.

THE SLUSHY STUFF

Look, this stuff is just impossible. I wouldn’t voluntarily venture out in it for all the Gore Tex in Vancouver. So, these are the days where you stay indoors. We’re all aware of what the best indoor physical activity is, so I’ll just skip that and move on to some less popular ones.

Yoga. It really isn’t just for the batiked and dreadlocked. Yoga honestly will kick your arse from here to next Tuesday while somehow leaving you relaxed and centered, even if you don’t believe in “centering.” To get you started, check out the Yoga St. John’s section of the following website: www.bodymindspiritdirectory.org/Canada-Newfoundland.html

Give up and watch a movie. Okay, this is a cop-out, but sometimes giving up is all you can do. Suit yourself up and tromp down to Capital Video and work your way through the rickety shelves of old VHS movies. If you’re having trouble deciding, the lovely gentlemen behind the counter are always happy to give you their stellar recommendations. They’ll do a full-on consultation with you if they have the time, bless their hearts. Blockbuster? As if.

If it’s a Thursday, however, MUN Cinema is always good for an excellent show. They screen rep films every Thursday at Empire Theatres in the Avalon Mall at 8pm. Their schedule is posted at www.mun.ca/cinema/.

THE ALL-THE-TIME STUFF

Haul yourself up Signal Hill. It’s not just a tourist attraction and it’s not as far away as it looks – it only takes about 30 minutes to walk to the top from Georgetown. Furthermore, the road gets maintained throughout the winter so you don’t have to worry about slogging through ten feet of snow. Come snow, rain or sleet, this is a necessary walk: there’s nothing like the view from Signal Hill to remind you that life really is a little bit bigger than your upcoming Calculus midterm.

Dance, you fool! Pick an excellent music venue of your choice and just give’er. Some of the best bands for dancing here in the city—in my humble opinion—include: The Idlers, Mercy the Sexton, The Pathological Lovers and Mark Bragg and the Butchers. Don’t worry about looking like a fool, everyone else is on the floor shakin’ it for all it’s worth, too. For live show info, check out a copy of The Scope.

Hey! I see you’ve found a copy.

See you out there,

— Sarah.