Yesterday afternoon we attempted a hike just off Caplin Gulch in L’Anse aux Meadows. Unfortunately the busy morning of exploring the Viking settlement caught up with us and not even half-way into the hike the littlest member of our group had to stop along the trail and take a nap. This unexpected naptime turned into a great opportunity to take in our full surroundings and think about the history of the area stretched out in front of us.
If we kept our gaze pointed to the east it was easy to imagine the Viking ships passing off shore as they made their way towards their encampment over 1,000 years ago. We tried to visualize what their ships looked like and if they had ever made their way up to where we were sitting.
Looking to the north across the Strait of Belle Isle at a snowy Labrador we thought about the Basque whalers making their way to the whaling station at Red Bay. How were their ships different from those of the Vikings and did they have nicknames for the gigantic rock formations jutting up from the water?
We couldn’t even begin to imagine the number of boats that must have moved along the waters below us over the years as part of Newfoundland’s fishery. From those of the French fishermen who first named the area to the boats of the villagers who started the first permanent settlement. The village had no road so boats acted as the primary source of transportation in addition to their importance to the fishery.
On this day no boats traveled through the waters as far as we could see in all directions. Instead to the west a steady stream of cars headed towards the visitor center at the historic site. So, as we waited for naptime to come to an end we chose instead to face towards the east and let our imaginations take us back in time.