Canada 2018

Day 08

July 28

  Today is a 'short' day by design since we want to visit the Viking site up north. It doesn't open until 9 AM or so, so I planned on riding up this morning and touring it this afternoon. The motel has a nice breakfast buffet of the appropriate pork and hen products so I am in like Flint for breakfast.  
  Jim, who lives near Deer Lake, is going to meet up with us and ride part of the way. Shortly after we do due justice to breakfast, he rides in and we are on the way. We head north on highway 430, also known as the 'Viking Trail'.  
  It's a lovely run up through the mountains and along the coast, passing through the lovely Gros Morne National Park.  
  It's a road that skirts by numerous inland lakes ...  
  brooding, fog laced hills ...  
  mountains in the distance ...  
  and often plays tag with the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.  
  In many places, we can see the road twisting off into the distance.  
  We pass through many small fishing villages like this one where the only structures are weather worn cottages that have stood for years against the fierce winds.  
  But some have not stood too well as they have finally succumbed to the constant push of the never ceasing wind.  
  As we head north, I often seen thin fingers of land jutting out in the Gulf, barren of all structures.  
  The weather is sort of iffy today, alternating between drizzle and sunshine, so we keep our rain gear on as it gives extra protection against the windy and sometimes wet blasts.  
  Jim has come as far he can today with us so when I see a convenient pull over, I take advantage of it. He's going to NovaScotiaStoc with us on the ferry, so we'll connect in a day or so when we get back to Cornerbrook. I give him a big hug and wish him well and we are all soon back to our respective journeys.  
  The scenery varies from peaceful, reflective lakes ...  
  to rugged marshy areas surrounded by fogged shrouded mountains ...  
  to windswept views of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence ...  
  to rugged plateaus embraced by low hanging clouds.  
  I find it interesting that you can be looking out over the Gulf one minute in what seems to be an ocean view ...  
  then take a bend and you would think you are many miles away from any resemblance to major body of water.  
  But men and machines must take breaks given their feeble construction, so we do when the opportunity presents itself.  
  As we get closer to the Viking site, we are welcomed to Vinland - what Leif Ericson called this place.  
  On the way to the site, we pass our abode for the evening but we decide to roll on and unload once we have visited the site.  
  Soon we arrive at L'Anse aux Meadows, the only confirmed Viking site in North America.  

There's some interesting discussion as to how the name of place came about since the first part is French and the last part is English. The 'official story is -

Parks Canada, which manages the site, states that the current name was anglicized from Anse à la Médée after English speakers settled in the area. Another possibility is that "L'Anse aux Meadows" is a corruption of the French designation L'Anse aux Méduses, which means "Jellyfish Cove". The shift from Méduses to "Meadows" may have occurred because the landscape in the area tends to be open, with meadows.

  Prevailing wisdom was that Vinland meant 'land of grapes' and grapes did not grow much north of Massachusetts. But Helge Ingstad and archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, a husband and wife team, thought it meant 'land of meadows' and came here in 1960 to explore mounds that appeared to be the remains of houses. And because of their persistence, they were rewarded with this amazing discovery.  
  According to the 'Saga of Erik the Red', Leif Erickson sails past Helluland - 'land of flat rocks' ...  
  then past Markland - land of great forests ...  
  then back to Greenland and  
  on to Iceland.  
  Eventually the Vikings return to seek Vinland and set up a temporary camp here. After some unpleasant encounters with 'local' folks over the years, the Vikings set fire to their encampment and abandoned it.  
  In the museum, there are various models such as this Viking ship ...  
  and tools and such that were discovered during the dig.  
  We are fortunate that our Parks guide grew up playing on these old 'Indian Mounds' and helped during some of the excavations.  

When we stop here, he tells us -

"My brothers and I used to spear salmon in this very stream when we were kids - not for sport but for food."

  As we move along, we see the view the Vikings would have had from the sod houses that they built.  
  Once the archaeologists removed enough layers, they began to find the foundations of the original settlement.  
  There were many buildings on the site, including three halls, some huts for the lower class slaves to live in, and workshops that included a smelter for making nails to repair their ships.  
  Just beyond the site, replicas of some of the structures have been constructed. The basis for the roofs was a hall built about the same time period in Greenland that had been encased and preserved by ice until several years ago.  
  The walls were very thick, constructed from sod placed over wooden frames,  
  At the time, this area no doubt had thick forests that would have provided an ample source of wood for construction.  
  In side, the period reenactors are gathered around a heating and cooking fire.  
  Nearby are the 'tools' of their trade, always handy in case there were visitors - wanted or unwanted.  
  There is also a loom to give you an idea of how they wove the various materials they needed for day to day life.  
  When I look over in the corner, I see something very familiar to me - a churn with it's dasher in place. We weren't Vikings where I grew up, but we sure had churns and such around the home place for making butter.  
  Off in another corner are the tools for smelting iron with a set of bellows. It is amazing how hot a fire can get when air is forced on it.  
  When we turn to head back to the visitor's center, the bottom falls out. I've got my rain jacket on but not my pants. And my riding gear is all draped across Frost so I'm sure it's getting a proper washing about now. There is a 'commercial' site down the road with a reconstructed Viking ship and village, but we decide to pass since the downpour just keeps coming. Since my riding gear is soaking wet, I just put it over my rain gear and we're off to our accommodations.  
  We get back to our cabin for the evening and get checked in. The next job is to get our dripping gear hung up so that it will be somewhat dry in the morning.  

We have a discussion about supper and whether or not we want to venture back out in the weather.

"Well I saw some veggie soup and meatballs so I'll be good'" I tell Alain.

He spotted some spaghetti and chips that will work for him. Since discretion is the better part of valor, we decide we can make do with what we can drum up at the little store on the premises. I tuck a very wet Frost in for the evening and wish her well.

  The cabin has a nice microwave and the necessary implements ...  

so I whip up my meatball, gravy, veggie soup, potato chip soup and it ain't bad at all. It fills the empty spot right well and leaves just enough room for a leftover Snickers bar I have. As I always say -

"If you can't have a laugh, you might as well have a Snicker!"


With supper taken care of, I start to fold up like a nickel card table. The fatigue I feel is close to overwhelming me as I can hardly keep my eyes open. Although it is quite early, I am plumb wore out as we say out in the country. I tell Alain -

"I'm fading fast so I think I'll see if I can catch up on some sleep."

He is a it amazed at how early I am going to bed, but is not surprised by just how quickly my candle goes out.