The Viking Saga
Trip Start Aug 13, 2009
53Trip End Oct 15, 2009
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Where I stayed
Atlantic Ocean View B & B
August 27, 2009
Awoke about 8:00AM and joined a large crew in the dining area. Sat next to Rob and Jocelyn from Ottawa (his mother lives in Victoria Park Lodge in Red Deer). The usual Newfoundland breakfast - eggs/meat/toast/cereal/coffee/tea.etc. I’m not sure what our cholesterol levels will be on return to Alberta!!! This B&B did not have openings for tonite so made arrangements to stay at the Atlantic OceanView B&B in Quirpon - a few kms away. Hostess (Louise) told us that the house was owned by the son of our last B&B hostess (Thelma). He is currently living in Calgary - obviously a ‘family affair’
After breakfast, we headed to the L’Anse Aux Meadows historic site
The tour started with a description of the archaeological dig. Dr. Ingstad (Swedish) and his wife started the process in the 60’s and in 1977, Parks Canada continued the dig. In 1978, the site was designated a UNESCO world heritage site. After the completion of the ‘dig’, the sites were recovered, due to erosion problems, mounds now marking where the original walls of the long houses existed. Following this, they have reconstructed the village, based on what the artifacts have told. Locals, knowledgeable in the history of the site and legendary norse sagas, re-enact what life may have been like at the Viking camp. To enter the site, we passed through the ‘Meeting of Two Worlds’ - a bronze sculpture created by two sculptors - one from Newfoundland and the other from Sweden. Interestingly, the two sculptors worked independently of each with only minimal guidelines for their creation
Incidently, before we started the tour, we could see a large rusty object off in the distance. The guide informed us that it was the remains of a shipwrecked grain freighter run aground in a storm in1947 due to a mistake in identifying the proper lighthouse. What we saw far across the bay was the hull of the ship still lodged on the rocky beach where it came to rest forty odd years ago. Thinking about this, one cannot help but be impressed with the accomplishments of the Viking explorers who, without compass, charts or previous knowledge of the area, somehow brought their primitive boats into this same harbour and safely landed in a New World a thousand years earlier!
The tour of the site, reconstructed so realistically, was very interesting and thought provoking. Incredible to stand on the very site where, more than a thousand years ago, the first Europeans made landfall on this new world. Approximately 500 years later, the explorer known as Columbus was credited (to great applause) with the same feat - the discovery of the New World.
From L’Anse aux Meadows, we headed down the hiway, stopping at Dark Tickle - a local craft store and tea room
Found a trailhead that lead us out to the ocean - over bog, through trees , up and down and eventually to a great lookout atop a high and very windy peak. Good to get some exercise. Unfortunately the trail was somewhat the worse for intermitant invasions by 4X4 “bikes“.
Decided to go into St. Anthony (the largest urban centre on this north tip of the northern peninsula. Unfortunately, we got in later in the afternoon and missed the best part. Our exploration led us to the Grenfell House and museum but it was closed. We were able, however, to explore the trails out back from the house. There were ‘story plaques’ along the trail so we were able to learn that Dr. Grenfell was a British dr. who practised medicine around the turn of the 20th century in northern Newfoundland - the only doctor in a huge region, without whom the isolated fishermen would have had no medical help at all. He reached out to the remote Newfoundland fishing villages. His story was fascinating and his holistic approach to health care was refreshing - working with the locals to recognize important lifestyle issues affecting health (those ‘determinants of health‘). I was surprised to see the size of the local hospital - not sure how many acute beds there are but the building seemed quite large. We feel disappointed that we were not able to explore this ‘story’ further.
Enroute back to our B&B, we stopped at the Griquet Parish Hall to attend the production of ‘Foley’, a monologue performed by a member of a local theatre group - actually a group who come to the area for the summer months to provide entertainment for the many, many tourists who visit L’Anse Aux Meadows. They are also involved with Norstead - a reconstructed norse village adjacent to the historic site. The drama ‘Foley’ was a monologue recount of George Foley’s life with George reflecting primarily on relationships with his mother, father, sister, wife. It was very entertaining with moments of humour woven into the stories of a troubled soul.
Home to our humble and totally isolated B&B in Quirpon.