Saturday, August 25, 2018

Tuesday August 25, 1998 - Labrador

Green Point - sunny and windy, cloudy later.

It rained all night long. I kept waking up and hearing it. Around 5.00am it let up and I opened the windows a crack. At 7.30 I woke to a clear blue sky and sunshine. But the black flies were so thick outside I had to dig out my bug net to wear while getting breakfast. Even so I got several bites on my face and ankles, and the bites on my face raised great red bruises but only itched a little bit.

Red Bay harbour
After eating I went to the Red Bay Visitors' Centre at 9.00am to see an hour long film about the raising of a Basque ship called the San Juan from the Red Bay harbour, and about the excavation of the Basque tryworks and cooperage on Saddle Island at the mouth of the harbour. In the Red Bay cemetery they found skeletons and clothing dating from the seventeenth century. They would have been the Basque whalers. These whalers came over from Europe every summer to catch whales and render their blubber down to oil that would be shipped back to Europe in the fall. The whalers did not overwinter, but they stayed in the Red Bay area for the whaling season. The San Juan was a ship that was intended to return to Europe full of whale oil, but it got caught in a storm and sank. The work of raising it was complicated; they had to dismantle the ship so that it could be reassembled elsewhere, and they had to preserve the wood as soon as it came out of the water so that it didn't disintegrate. The beaches of Red Bay are littered with bits of red tile that had been brought over from Europe to roof the tryworks and temporary housing.

Normally there would be boat tours of the island but the sea was too rough to cross this day. I walked around the town to get some photos and while walking on the beach I met a local man and stopped to chat. Turned out he had a shed full of collected red tiles from off the beach which he sold to tourists; I went back to his shed and bought a tiny tile, about an inch square, from him. Also a a wooden needle used for making fishing nets and a slice of whale rib bone. The needle looks like a flat shuttle used for weaving.

In Labrador they stack firewood in huge tipi-like piles
Komatiks (dog sleds) are left by the side of the road until needed in the winter
Since I intended to return to Newfoundland that day, I set out to catch the ferry. I stopped several times to take photos and as a result I was running quite late. Towards the end I was driving 120 kph on a 70 kph road. I even passed a cop at that speed.

I got to the ferry at exactly 2.45pm and there were two buses still waiting to board. The lady said at the ferry terminal entrance said I had time to buy a ticket so off I went to the ticket booth and then returned to board after the buses. I had to back onto the ferry, and was told that I would be the first car to get off the ferry so I needed to be back at my car in time for that.

A young man from Ontario that I had met earlier in Red Bay said he saw whales spouting. We went out on deck and I saw one whale spouting, many dolphins and one puffin, possibly more. A family I met on the Port aux Basques ferry a few days ago were also on the Labrador ferry yesterday and this ferry today. They are originally from Ontario (the mother actually from Manitoba) but now live in Halifax. The oldest boy, Jesse, did a project on Newfoundland for school this past year and was very excited to actually be in Newfoundland now. Their next stop was l'Anse aux Meadows. It was funny to keep running into them (I saw them in Red Bay too) but I don't expect to see them again. The kids liked Yohan.

I was short of cash when I got off the ferry because I paid my ferry fare in cash, so I bought gas on my credit card, filling up in Port au Choix and taking some photos.

I drove straight to Green Point campground in Gros Morne after that. It was already getting dark when I got there, I took the site next to the one I had before and went straight to bed.

I tried to photograph Western Brook Pond, the fjord I mentioned a few days ago, but it was too dark

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