Saturday, 28 June 2014

27 June

Last night we walked out of our cabin in Wiltondale around midnight.  For our bodies that was only 22:30, so we weren't sleeping yet.  Immediately, the starry night was immense: the milky way showed in full glory.  The cabins in Wiltondale are indeed in an isolated spot.

This morning, the alarm clock at 08:30.  A fully blue sky but the grass is wet from last night's dew.  Breakfast on a picnic table on the grass outside the cabin.  Around 10:30 we're off.   Catherine is driving; it's her first time since she got her license.  Today we'll have a long drive, first 400 km from Wiltondale to l'Anse aux Meadows, then 40 km to St. Anthony.  And we still want to make some stops in-between for lunch and sightseeing.  It's a pity to hasten through the spectacular Gros Morne National Park, but we'll be back later and spend 5 days here. Possibly not in as nice weather, though.

As we overtake an official vehicle parked along the road, I notice a bear in a cage in a trailer behind it.  The bear is moving.  Presumably officials had to take care of it for some reason.

We stop in Bellburns to have a picknick at the shore.  At some point, we see and hear something moving in the water.  After watching a bit more, it is clearly a whale.

More driving.  As we are approaching the northern part of the Northern Peninsula, we start to see ice bergs.  First small ones, but they get larger and larger as we go on.  We're tempted to stop for photos, but we know they'll be better further on and that we are short on time.  We want to go to l'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, and the visitor centre closes at 18:00.  We can probably just about make it by 17:00, which is just good enough.

More driving over the empty roads of Newfoundland.  The population density appears similar to Lapland (indeed: 1.2/km²).  The landscape is somewhat  different, mountains have different shapes.  There are boreal forests, swamps, midgets (they call them black flies), and the ocean, but the shape of the coast is different from Scandinavia.

At 17:00 we reach l'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site.  Although the visitor centre closes at 17:00, the outside remains open until 23:00, so we have plenty of time to explore.  We watch a surpringly informative 15-minute video introducing the site, the history of the vikings in North America, Vínland, etc.  Quite interesting.  Then we hike through the sites.  Some reconstructed viking huts, and the actual archeological remains.  The oldest European structures in North America.

We're unsure about how late we can arrive at the cabin, so we keep the hiking at l'Anse aux Meadows short.  When we do arrive it turns out the cabin is next to a convenience store, so we could have arrived later. However, the landlady recommends us to drive to the Fishing Point at the end of the road, to watch the icebergs before the sun sets.  We follow her advice and indeed, they are spectacular here.  The setting sun is just behind us, so the light conditions are excellent.  It is, however, really chilly here.  We may be at a latitude south of Amsterdam, but the microclimate at this spot is not unlike Hammerfest.  A chilly wind from the icy sea, with the air temperature probably not above 12°C or so.  We walk around, take photos, and head back to the cabin.

A long day indeed.

(Photos on Facebook)

No comments: