Chris and John in South Carolina

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oh Canada! June 13th - L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland

Day 16 Tuesday, June 13th – L’Anse Aux Meadows

We headed out right after breakfast to visit nearby Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, which is part of Pistolet Bay Provincial Park.  On the way there we FINally saw moose!  Not one moose in all of Labrador, but today we spotted 8 on our way to the park.  Yea!

The reserve is on the NE side of Ha Ha Bay (no, really), and is a geologically rare limestone barrens which sports even more rare flora.  The area had been an active quarry until an observant botanist from Harvard found endangered Burnt Cape Cinquefoil growing all over the area.  

Burnt Cape Cinquefoil

There are a couple dozen other plants rare to the province found on the reserve, but our guide told us it was the Cinquefoil that clinched the decision to take the area out of production and turn it into a reserve. 

You'd n
ever know by looking at this seemingly barren place that it was home to so many special and rare plants.  

The plants are very very small and stunted due to the harsh environment.  And many of them are astonishingly old!  Here are some pictures of ones we were lucky enough to see.  

This is a 400 - 500 year old Tamarak tree, and yes, it has grown absolutely flat to the ground.  It isn't 3 inches tall.

Alpine Azalea

Lapland Rose Bay, which is a Rhododendron

This is a 'very old' Willow tree, according to our guide

Alpine Birch and Alpine Willow 'trees'

The flowered spike in front the finger is Alpine Meadow Rue

very rare Arctic Bladder Pod

very rare Crepis Nana or Dwarf Hawk's Beard - not blooming, alas

Butterwort, a carniverous plant - not in bloom

A Moss Campion plant that may be as much as 50 years old

A very old Juniper tree

Rare Alpine Pussy Toes

The ground surface in the reserve is made up of gravel to cobble sized pieces of sharp, angular limestone.  This covering is made from centuries (millennia?) of freeze/thaw cycles breaking up the limestone.  Because of the harsh weather environment, these cycles produce in the limestone bed an interesting phenomenon - polygonal ring structures that are visible on the surface.  It almost looks as if someone built a circle to use as a fire ring or something, but the structures are totally natural.

If you look closely, you'll see roundish depressions spread across he surface in the foreground of this picture.

Our guide standing next two some of the polygonal forms, and below, John's hat in the center of one to show scale.

Not to be outdone by New Hampshire, the Burnt Cape reserve has its own cliff-face persona, a formation they call (unimaginatively) The Face in the Cliff.  To me it looks like an old woman with an old fashioned lace trimmed bonnet.  Our guide told us some people think it looks like Queen Victoria.  What do you think?

On the way out of the park we saw yet more moose.  I guess this was our day for moose sightings.  

Hey, who you lookin' at?

Now you see me......

Now you don't!

We had lunch in the Highlander at the wharf in Quirpon.  Now here’s a little tidbit.  How do you think you’d pronounce Quirpon?  I guarantee you won’t guess unless you are a local.  It’s pronounced kar-POON, like harpoon.  I’d have never thunk it.  

As we walked around the wharf, we saw this lonely scene - so indicative of the area.  Evidence of a once thriving way of life that is steadily passing away.

One lonely curtain flying in the wind reminds us that this was once someones home

Our afternoon was spent visiting Norstead, a re-created Norse trading post.  It was a bit early in the season, so they didn't have their full complement of costumed interpreters, but the few who were there were fun and informative.  John was especially interested in seeing the scale replica of a Viking knarr, the type of vessel Leif Eriksson used to sailed across the Atlantic in about 1000 a.d.  My impression was the same as when I saw scale replicas of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, 'Gosh, that's a darned small boat for sailing across uncharted seas'.

Norstead welcome center

Boardwalk from welcome center to the village

Goat paddock and Newfie goat, with whom we got up close and personal.  Well.... up close at least.

The Viking knarr replica which you are able to step into, if you like, using the ramp beside the vessel.

I guess that's a landing boat next to the knarr.  It looks pretty small and tippy, but it probably is a very worthy craft.

All the structures are built with sod roof and walls.  This is the church with an inside shot below.

While John was admiring the Viking boat, Chris had fun taking pictures on the rocky shore.

On our drives along the area, I couldn't help taking more pictures that pay tribute to a former way of life.

On the brighter side, John was determined to see some Newfoundland dogs while on the island.  The proprietor of the Dark Tickle store had two 'grand dogs' owned by her daughter.  They were coming to the store as part of the Iceberg Festival going on that week, but we weren't able to be there when the dogs visited.  So the nice lady told us how to get to her daughter's house where we did see the dogs cavorting in the yard.  The owners were not at home, but their nice neighbor came over to visit with us and let John pet the pups.

The dogs are named Sebastian and Nevis.  They were so active, it was hard to get a good picture of them, but they are big and fluffy and slobbery and friendly.

We also saw this fellow who lived at, or near, the dogs' house.  The neighbor told us he had been a stray who chose to stay, and he appeared well looked after.  Notice the one blue eye and one gold eye?

Dinner that night was at the wonderfully laid back Daily Catch where among our fellow diners was the couple from Queens who had been with us on the ferry over from Blanc Sablon.

If you visit the area, you do need to eat at The Daily Catch.  Yum!

By the way, The Dark Tickle store's web site has a weather cam with a couple of good photos/maps of the area.  You can also buy their cool stuff from their web site.

One final parting shot for the day is this hand made road sign - indicative of how thoughtful people are in this place.

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