Bill, Mary Ellen & Bowie - Newfoundland 2018 travel blog

Road side gardens

Iceberg in the distance

Fog rolling in

Newfoundland laundry scene

The drive north along the coast has been a combination of sun, stunning views, and wind. By day three we are in St. Anthony just outside of L’Anse aux Meadows at the northern tip of the northern peninsula. We start out in fair weather with lots of stops along the way but end up in a howling gale with horizontal rain about 3 hours into our drive. It gets more remote as we move north but we start to see see what can only be described as tilled garden plots scattered along the side of the highway, some are in the middle of nowhere. We are told that when the highway improvement we done it cleared land along the roadwas back 50 feet and the soil is good. Locals take advantage of that and they plant vegetable gardens in neat rows, fence them with rough fencing to keep the moose out (still have not seen a one!) and for the short growing season that they have they take full advantage.

Our stop here is for two nights at Pistolet Bay so we have time to see the UNESCO World Heritage site at L’Anse aux Meadows and all the area has to offer. The recreation of the village settlement that represents the first Europeans to sail to North America is stunning. The story of how they found the location of this site given it is over 1000 years old and was only settled for around 15 years is astounding. It starts with the Icelandic Sagas which includes a section on the Norse Sagas which speaks of a place called Vineland. A Norwegian archeologist and his wife study the Sagas and begin the search for a place in the Americas that could have been considered a vineland (grape growing region) back 1000 years ago. They start in the southern states and work their way northward and are about to give up when they come across and elder of the first nations tribe who describes mounds he has seen on the northern tip of Newfoundland and after careful research and an extensive dig at the site they were able to conclusively prove that the Norse settled at this site. I have abbreviated this story considerably but that is the gist of it. It is a fascinating tale of how they adapted and survived here, how they navigated back to the same location and ultimately why they abandoned the site. I loved the recreation of the structures and the descriptions of the reaming mounds which cover the landscape.

Coming to this ancient site was one of the goals of this trip and I was excited to be here…but there was another unexpected thrill that we did not count on. From L’Anse aux Meadows we drove to a small fishing village called Great Brehat which we were told there were amazing views of the Atlantic. We climbed to the top of the look-out and were treated to a view of Icebergs off in the distance. It was awe inspiring to see the line of bergs that comes from the north in Greenland and follows what is known as Iceberg Ally, a current that carries the ice south along the eastern shore of Newfoundland. The icebergs are not close to shore and the fog rolls in as we stand and watch. We drive about 10 kms to the next cove and find an ice flow (low profile ice berg) sitting right off shore in the bay at St. Carol’s. As well there are chunks of ice that have broken off floating in the water and I found one chunk that someone had placed on top of a table for me to hold. It is a moving thing to do to hold something that was made possibly millennium ago!

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