Monday, 29 August 2011

Icebergs and Vikings

Well here we are the morning of Monday August 29th and by all appearances are experiencing a mild fringe weather system related to Hurricane Irene.  We are camped right on the Western Coast of Nfl at a little place called Cow Head - attended live theater here last evening (well done).  We are looking out over the Gulf of St. Lawrence - getting some gusty winds and intermittent rain showers.  It is very warm and humid outside - related to the warm tropical air in the storm I guess.  We are further East from where the brunt of the storm hit the Maritimes.

We had planned a boat tour of the awesome Fjords of Gros Morne Ntl Park today - but think we'll sit the day out and wait for a better day.  Traveling the West coast of the Northern Peninsula takes time - there are many frost heaves in the Hwy and there are many little villages (coves and inlets) that the road winds through.  Very picturesque and interesting.  It is close to a 5 hour drive from St. Anthony to Gros Morne.

We finished off our St. Anthony visit with a tour of the Viking landing site at L'Anse Aux Meadows - a National Historic Site and only authenticated Viking landing site in North America - and the earliest evidence of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere.  This site dates back 1000 years and was excavated in the 1960's.  Between artifact and Saga they figure Leif Erickson, son of Eric the Red. landed here with a group of about 90 people in the late 900's.  It is felt the site was inhabited for about 20 years - and the goal was to find wood for homes and boats - as the main habitation was on Greenland where there was no wood to meet their needs.  Also at this site, they discovered bog iron - which they laboriously processed into low grade nails - further to meet their everyday needs.

Another interesting site in St. Anthony was the Grenfell Museum and original house.  Sir Wilfred T Grenfell was an outpost Dr. who came to the area in the late 1800's and established an incredible number of hospitals, nursing stations, orphanages and schools in Northern Nfl and Labrador.  He was a very charismatic energetic character - totally devoted to his work and inspired many to come on board and continue his work while he traveled extensively on speaking tours to raise funds for the cause.  His contribution is truly impressive.

We rounded a curve coming into St. Anthony, Nfl and this is what we saw!

Indentations in the earth - evidence of a Viking house dating back 1000 years +

A replica of a Viking house from the late 900's early 1000's - the house is built using blocks of bog with the walls 3' to 6' thick - making them amazingly warm on this harsh coast.

Doorway into the Viking bog block house - fires inside with small roof top openings meant that the women who worked inside at their 'work' - suffered a lot of lung diseases.

Sculpture at the Viking site - depicting the merging of ancient cultures

an example of wood piles that we would see beside homes in all the little villages and coves - besides oil, they rely on a good supply of wood to heat their homes.

The Shaw's in awe of the Bergs!  Sad though - as this is also an example of our melting ice cap!

A better shot of one of many roadside gardens that we saw.  Apparently the roadside has the best soil, as when building the Hwy they scraped off what little top soil there was and piled it at the roadside.  These are all private gardens belonging to the locals - and no one bothers a garden that is not theirs.  Amazing!!!!

Sir Wilfred T Grenfell - an amazing man who served the health care, social service and educational needs of the people in the Northern Nfl and Labrador area for his entire life!

Took a wee drive over to Goose Cove - and bingo - another awesome Berg - note the fissure on the right hand side - it is going to calve soon!

One of many roadside wood piles along the Hwy.  Not sure where they get all this wood as the trees we saw were not this big.

Overlooking St. Antony with another view of the Bergs down in the Harbor!

Wind molded trees growing along the shore line en route to Port Au Choix - we think it can be a little windy along this shore.

Maritime Archaic burial site at Port au Choix dating back 5000 years
On our drive down to Cow Head we stopped at another Ntl. Historic Site - Port Aux Choix where also in the 1960's they excavated evidence of habitation in this resource rich area dating back 5000 years.  Unlike the Northern tip and Labrador area, the ancient peoples here had a more prosperous and healthy existence.  The artifacts here are amazingly well preserved.

After the Gros Morne area our destination will to cross over the the East coast - St. Johns and area.  That will be a two day drive minimum.  Our visit to Nfl may be more than two weeks as we had originally planned!

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