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PAUL SMITH: We spent our Florida money on a side-by-side

Lovely bridge crossing in New Harbour. GOLDIE SMITH PHOTO
Lovely bridge crossing in New Harbour. GOLDIE SMITH PHOTO - Contributed

It looks like this is going to be a stay-home summer for Goldie and I, most of us I guess. Not that we will be sticking around the house and yard for all of June, July and August, but I doubt very much if we will be leaving the province.

Although with the Atlantic bubble, I’d consider taking a jaunt over to Prince Edward Island to have a crack at some striped bass.

That fishery has been very good in recent years. I was planning on a salmon fishing adventure on the Baltic coast of Sweden but that’s postponed for a while.

And I have no idea when I’ll get tarpon fishing in Florida again. I’m having serious doubts about May 2021.

Oh well, there are fish to catch and lots of stuff to do in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I have been thinking about buying a side-by-side for quite a while now. They are expensive, so I’ve been putting it off.

Actually, Goldie wants this machine more than I. She fancies off-roading around the country, berry picking, having picnics, trouting, ice fishing, and the like.

And she is weary of riding on the back of a quad, been there and done that sort of deal. Neither do I like anyone on the back of a quad with me, so that works well.

And then there are the grandchildren. Wouldn’t it be nice to take them off-road adventuring with us. Yes indeed, so I went shopping for a rig that seats four.

Here’s the thing: We usually spend a month in Florida each spring. It doesn’t look promising for southern vacations anytime soon, so we went shopping for a side-by-side with our travel money.

And we weren’t the only ones with that strategy. ATV and UTV sales have never been better. There wasn’t much left around to choose from by the time I got around to looking in mid-June.

Heading out for our first ride. PAUL SMITH PHOTO
Heading out for our first ride. PAUL SMITH PHOTO

 

Based on philosophy of use and my preferences, I had narrowed down my decision to either a Yamaha Wolverine or a Kawasaki Teryx. The final choice was easy because there were no Wolverines left in stock. I love Yamaha, but I bought the Kawasaki.

The dealer delivered the rig and I parked it beside my Yamaha Grizzly. Good Lord what a beast of a machine.

I could put my first ATV, a Yamaha Trike, in the back seat.

These off-road vehicles have come a long way and this was going to be a new experience. Goldie and I took a short run on the Spaniard’s Bay railbed.

The alders are grown in along a few stretches and we got our first scratches. So that was over with.

Goldie wasn’t thrilled. But there’s no way to actually use one of these machines and not scratch it. A classic waxed shiny car it is not.

 Tailgate French fries at Pitchers. PAUL SMITH PHOTO
Tailgate French fries at Pitchers. PAUL SMITH PHOTO

 

I should point out that I am not selling my quad. Some folks replace their quads with side-by-sides and all is well in their world. That would not work for me.

I’ve heard people say that a side-by-side can go anywhere a quad can go. I don’t think so.

My Yamaha Grizzly is agile, nimble, powerful and versatile. It can traverse brutal terrain, especially with an operator that can use his or her body weight to full advantage. It is the perfect moose retrieval vehicle.

A trip to my moose hunting cabin in the Teryx would not be pretty. And we have shot many moose in place no side-by-side could reach. At least that’s my way of thinking on the matter. Feel free to comment and differ.

I should point out that I am not selling my quad. Some folks replace their quads with side-by-sides and all is well in their world. That would not work for me.

But a side-by-side has its own unique advantages above and beyond the obvious one, carrying more people.

They are grand for ice fishing. You can carry a ton of gear and two people for a comfortable day on the pond.

We could go UTV camping all the way across Newfoundland with two kayaks strapped on the roof for an evening paddle.

A couple of people can go off salmon fishing on the west coast, using the Newfoundland T’railway for access to so many great rivers. I need to install a set of fly rod racks.

I can throw my waders, fins and float tube in the back and drive off for a long day of trouting on our local woods roads. I might enjoy this summer.

When you read this, I’ll be salmon fishing in Labrador, living in a tent for two weeks.

So, Goldie and I had to get in a tester ride in the new machine. I don’t have a trailer yet, so we left from the house.

It’s only a short run up to the railbed and access to plenty of trails. We were headed to the Old Track to meet up with my hunting buddy Robert and his partner Sherry. Then we’d go for a ride somewhere that Robert would surprise us with. It ended up being a long initial run.

There are many hundreds of miles of fantastic riding trails in Newfoundland. PAUL SMITH PHOTO
There are many hundreds of miles of fantastic riding trails in Newfoundland. PAUL SMITH PHOTO

 

It took us an hour to reach Rob and Sherry’s trailer on the Old Track.

We went to Shearstown by way of Muddy Hole and then continued on in through Butlerville until we reached the Tractor Road, an old trail across country that connects to the Old Track. It used to be a berry-picking road but now it’s just a grown over trail for off-road vehicles.

Trees grow fast. In the 1970s, you could drive this route in a car, and now you need four-wheel drive engaged in several places. It was fun.

Robert informed us that we were going to Pitchers in New Harbour for a plate of homemade fries. It sounded like a long drive and it was.

We stopped a few times for a chat and a rest, soaking up the warm June sunshine, which is not often the norm on this island. It was a beautiful day.

A few others joined us on the run for a total of five machines. We pulled into the Pitchers parking lot and had a proper UTV tailgate party. It was grand, good company, lovely weather, a comfortable ride and great scenery.

I even sized up a few places to bring my float tube along next time. We put 50 miles on the Teryx. My first impression is satisfaction in my choice.

Rory and Harry are pretty excited about Nan and Pop’s new side-by-side. They will come for a visit when I get back from Labrador and we’ll go off for a full day, complete with trouting, a boil-up, maybe a swim and for sure an exciting ride. Stay tuned.

Anyone out there carry a canoe on a side-by-side?

Paul Smith, a native of Spaniard’s Bay, fishes and wanders the outdoors at every opportunity. He can be contacted at flyfishtherock@hotmail.com or follow him on twitter at @flyfishtherock

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