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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Vikings Are Coming! ~ L'Anse aux Meadows

Monday July 14, 2014

Viking Welcome Party
Our plans in St Barbe were not to immediately take the ferry over into Labrador, but to do the National Historic Site in L'Anse aux Meadows. at and "Meadows" would mean meadows as in a field. Well according to Wikipedia: L'Anse aux Meadows; Jellyfish much for my translation....Who would have guessed!
So many new site discoveries were uncovered since 1960 (the Norse and or so called Vikings.) First the name "L'Anse aux Meadows" translated (by me); L'Anse would mean handle such as a tea cup handle "aux" would mean
Re-constructed Norse Dwelling

The highway from St Barbe followed the westerly coast line for another 40 to 50 miles before turning to an easterly inland direction. Here, the landscape changed to a softwood forest. We really started to notice firewood piled for hundreds of feet long along the highway. Another unusual site was homemade lobster traps by the hundreds.
Life in the Dwelling
That's what they do! Remember, that the majority of lobsters are caught for only two months in the spring. That's followed by the Cod, followed by Stone Crab and so on.

The road here was paved, but more noticeable frost heaves were present. We turned left on Route 430 for the last leg to L'Anse aux Meadows.

It was overcast, foggy with a slight drizzle, but as we arrived at the National Historic Site, we were greeted with metal sculptures of a Viking Scout party. The parking lot did have a handful of cars and we watched a bunch of motorcycle tourist arrive. This gave us the courage "if they can brave the fog and drizzle, we certainly
Natural ~ Nature's Beauty!
can also. We marched towards the Visitor Center for tickets and a view of the glassed in replicas. We waited our turn to also view a documentary film of the Vikings settlement in this very area. We would be on the guided tour for 11am down to the recreated village and the actual building locations that were discovered in the relatively near past...1960.

By eleven, the drizzle had stopped and our tour guide led us down to the board walk towards the excavated building sites. He had a very good presentation about the Norse and the elite Viking warriors. I was totally surprised to hear that the Viking were not all savages and wild warriors as I had
What is he looking at?
thought. They were the only nation in Europe that bathed regularly. Some say, to attract the local women. Our guide also said that they weren't trying to establish a permanent settlement here, but this place was used as a forward base to get lumber for building sailing ships (locally) and also to make cotton sails from the sheep they raised in this area.

The ocean has receded several feet from the location of the original settlement. They were a busy people building their ocean going vessels from harvesting the wood to actually forging nails. Yes, by burning peat moss there was enough iron in the ashes to produce the iron for the nails! Remember this was 1000AD!

Goose Cove, NL
around this Viking site, one has to imagine how harsh this part of the world would have been and still is. The wind, rain and snow must have taken a hardy group to survive. Even on this July 14th day, one could see pockets of snow in the sheltered areas around the bay.
Another thing that I hadn't realized was the fact that they didn't sail all the way across the North Atlantic in one shot. They did have permanent settlements in Greenland, Iceland and England. Their time spent here in L'Anse aux Meadows was relatively short, about 15 years from the archaeological digs. The site has a few side trails that lead to other parts of the bay. After our guided tour and
Goose Cove
meeting period Viking people in the different buildings, our tour ended and we headed back to the Visitor Center via one of those alternate trails. This turned out to be rather a pleasant surprise. We encountered many wild flowers and the foliage with it's many shades of green, after the drizzle. It was just what the camera ordered!

It was lunch time and after leaving the Viking site, we found an excellent restaurant, "The Norseman Restaurant" down by the bay for lunch. I had a combination of local delicacies. After lunch, we strolled around down towards the water and discovered one big Viking statue in an unusual outcropping of rocks. I took my pictures of the Viking and all of the quaint fishing shacks and the fish nets and such.

Onward to St Anthonys. This was the only good size community for everybody to resupply... for food, gas and even a decent size hospital. It was mid to late afternoon when we arrived and we headed towards the bay. Who did we meet there, but the lady traveling alone with her "A" frame trailer. She had left the trailer back in St Barbe and did a day trip up this way. We had a long chat with her the night before. She told us of the set of stairs that climbed hundreds of feet to a wonderful overlook of the bay. She hadn't climbed because she is not in a healthy condition.
Got Wood? Winter is coming!
For that matter, we also declined to climb hundreds of steps. The view from down here at the lighthouse wasn't bad. Oh, there were three Icebergs in the bay! They weren't that far out, but it did call for my 300mm lens (another good photo shoot). After I was finish shooting the Icebergs, I was taking some shots of the wild flowers at my feet. A lady sitting on the bench...a local, said, "Why are you taking pictures of flowers"? "They're only flowers", she repeated. This was the first time in my life that I've heard that one! I really didn't know what to tell her. She was an older lady and I guess she never "smelled the Roses!" We moved on going Southeast towards Goose Cove. St Anthonys looked too busy to find a place to beddown for the night.
Arriving in Goose Cove, we got surprised again. This time the Icebergs were just a few hundred yards from shore. I kept driving to scope out the little village. Ah, I just spotted a huge Iceberg, I drove towards it to a place called
Plumley Cove ~ Notice the boat for scale!
Home for the night ~ Iceberg looming above
Plumley Cove. The end of the road, with a nature trail boardwalk, pointing directly at the massive Iceberg. Parking was available and off we went to checkout this monster. It was like we ordered this Iceberg to park just in front of us. We both took several pictures including selfies. We followed the trail that was paralleling the ocean to see if another Iceberg would be present just around the corner from our view. None was present, but a sign describing the Icebergs and where they were from was inspiring. We headed back to the truck camper and decided this was our campground for the night. After supper,

were we surprised to see all of the locals come down to this spot to walk the trail and view the Iceberg. They didn't even take a second look at the camper. They never realized that we were inside.

Their mission was the Iceberg viewing!

Note: Click on the upper right hand corner to enlarge the map and zoom in to see our detail adventure locations!

That is what we did and saw!

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