:: Thursday, June 09, 2005 ::
Thursday June 2nd
Vacation: From the Lightkeepers restaurant high above the entrance to the harbour.
I got up this morning and checked the boat tours. They were only running one at 13 or 14hrs. and they didn’t have the dock in place this early in the season so the owner of the tour boat suggested I call back around noon. It’s still quite early in the season for tourists – the ‘shoulder season' as it’s called. I decided I had time to go up to L’Anse Aux Meadows and check out the 1000 year old Viking settlement there and be back in time..
I saw a couple of more moose on the way there and a couple more on the way back – all by the side of the road eating. On the way back I pulled over and took some pictures. I suppose the novelty of this would eventually wear off, but so far it is still surprising seeing these giant beasts just chilling. I met an older could from The Netherlands on the stop who were trying to take pictures too far away with a digicam but the moose would have been like ants. I could get much closer with my zoom, so the woman – I can’t recall her name or pronounce it – asked if she could get copies so we exchanged email addresses. I asked her if she had dial or high speed and I have to remember that the pics need to be in low res format for her… I told her she can look at them online at Flickr too.
L’Anse Aux Meadows is really at the end of the trail. It is effectively the northern most settlement on the island of Newfoundland. Only Labrador is beyond it. The visitor centre is a modern one and has some good information, artifacts, and offers a nice observation point and telescope (free) with which you can look out on the area where the 1000 year old settlement was. The actual settlement is nothing more than a series of square and rectangular impressions in the ground that follow the outline of the buildings that once were there. It was like looking at a blue print in slight bas relief. A house without the house being there. The four recreated buildings are faithful to the design and construction methods of the time and are really out of time. A long building, two out buildings and an open forge. All are single story structures and made of sod.
The buildings have wood frames and were built in 1979. The interior and exterior walls and roof are all sod: take a flat spade and dig into your front lawn to a depth of about two inches then slice parallel to the surface. You can peel off your lawn this way – and this is often how new lawns are delivered to houses in long rolled strips. This section is then cut square and stacked in a semi interlocking fashion to make up the walls and roof. And has great insulating properties.
I chatted with one of the National Parks people –Stephen – who told me some fascinating stuff as he put together a display for a school group. I asked him about repairs and they said they do them regularly when it gets warm enough. The area isn’t open during the winter, and the snow that melts and refreezes and melts etc often puts over a foot of ice inside the buildings. They were going to relocate the forge as well to a better more appropriate location slightly around the cove and the found some evidence that the Maritime Archaic aboriginal peoples had used that site so they couldn’t do that. They have also found French tools from the 1700s as well. The location has been quite popular.
After taking a trip on foot around the cove a bit and sitting on a bench at a convenient point – it is seriously quiet around here… - I could smell something burning and found that the interpreter for the forge had set up shop and was hammering away making nails. I thought it would be more complicated to make nails but with some iron in a stick format, an anvil and a hammer he created a nail right in front of me. The double bellows were different too. With the two sections working independently, you can create a more constant and hotter temperature as there is no pause between “breaths”.
I called the Adventure Tours folks and I wasn’t going to make it down to St. Anthony in time for 1pm. I still wasn’t conscious of the time diff, and for all the whiz bang my watch has, it can’t be set manually to NF time. So I was a half hour later than I thought. And he was saying that they had only seen one small berg and no whales on the prev trip.
Heading back from L'Anse, I stopped at a place describes as being part of the Economuseum network of establishments. This one in St. Lunaire was a store that shows how a product is made, in this case jams made from local berries. I bought a couple of nice samples as well. You can look right into their kitchens as they make the stuff. I asked the proprietor of it was ok to take pictures and she said yes, but the woman working back there wasn't overly impressed so I didn't take any pictures of her.
Listening to the conversations here in the Lighthouse restaurant, it is unusual to have only one iceberg this time of year. So much for global warming! If there were whales or bergs drifting by, the restaurant with it’s tasty seafood chowder and views on three sides would be an excellent place to be out of the wind perched high above sea level.
:: Mike Wood 17:02 [+] ::