Vikings NL: the Prequel

When your father is a murderous wanna-be king, banished from the throne, living his life on the run, trying to take back what was once his, what are you supposed to do? Join his rebellion? Wander around grumbling and pillaging, trying to gather an army to take up his cause? Or do you strike out on your own? Go find your own kingdom to rule?

Viking wanna-be’s often stand out in the crowd due to their bright colors.

Leif Erikson said, Dad, I’m outta here. You can’t fight the French, the Brits and the Pagans and win. I’m going the other way. And so he sailed west, trying on Iceland, then Greenland, neither of which met his must have settlement list: navigational landmarks to set up trade routes, lots of trees for building boats and enough animals that no one starves. When he landed on very tip of the Great Northern Peninsula he declared, Vineland!

Open boats on North Atlantic crossings. What has happened to us?

Sheri and Eric huddled in the green Clam as a wall of rain swept through the Tablelands. The cocktails were strong and the cell coverage was so weak as to be non-existent, giving us time to dissect our run up the Great Northern Peninsula. With a Master’s degree in Vikings studies from Netflix, our multi season binge studies of Vikings, Vikings: Valhalla, The Northman, and The Last Kingdom, gave physical context to our field trip to L’Anse aux Meadows on the extreme tip of Newfoundland.

A Viking ship in bronze and a Park Ranger in Columbia.

The first and only Viking settlement in North America has been reconstructed by Parks Canada and it’s just like TV! Set on the banks of a rugged coastline, you can walk through Ragnar’s no window, mud walled main house with sod roof. Soaring timber ceiling with vented skylights let the fire smoke out and sunlight in. Bjorn and Freda are on-site, spinning tales about the day to come. Men will make iron, build boats and get drunk while the women will, cook, clean, and get drunk. They will plan a raiding party! It’s a miniature Kattegat in the making. Eric wondered if they were taking reenactment actor applications for next summer.

Two guys pretending to be Vikings. Whose beard is better?

Arriving at open, we just beat the people on the bus tour excursion from the cruise ship. Luckily they were even older and slower than us. The buses are the lifeline of the Great Northern Peninsula – Viking settlement, fish and chips at the Daily Catch, souvenir shopping at the Viking Shop if time allows. We stayed one step ahead of the AARP members giving the reenactment players a chance to practice their lines before the arrival of the main audience.

New multi-family listing on Zillow in L’Anse aux Meadows sub-division.

L’Anse aux Meadows is the pinnacle of cultural attractions if you’re an explorer at your core. Why sit at home in your dark sod house when you can get on a dragon boat with your mates and go make new frenemies? We love them for all their viciousness, their gods and beards and maiden warriors. We wish they would have blogged about their reign of terror and exploration, but we’ve got TV and the re-enactors to help put the pieces together. It tells the story of humanity coming full circle for the first time as descendants of the hominids who had taken a left turn out of Africa meet up with the descendants of those who had hung a wide right to the America’s. European Vikings and Indigenous Inuits meet for the first time in 100,000 years to catch up on things. The rest, as they say, for better or worse, is history.

Viking brand. Leif missed out on the downstream residuals.

Viking themes have taken over the town. You can take a ride on a dragon boat, attend a feast dinner, dress up and battle at the Norse Experience. We didn’t do any of those, only because they were closed, but we did watch the documentary, read every exhibit, talk to every re-enactor and immerse in the historical vibe of the quest for world domination. Unfortunately Leif and company only stayed 15 years then went home to Kattegat to prepare for a future series. They didn’t find the riches they were seeking and refused to trade their technology AI/secret sauce of the day – iron making. They didn’t leave a note, just artifactual evidence of “we were here and now we’re not.”

Coming full circle in the modern age. Inuit artist carves Viking sword.

Down the road you can get a 5 star rated fish and chips at the Daily Catch, an all window restaurant on the water serving three bus trips a day. While Eric waited on the to-go order, Sheri popped into the Viking Shop where octogenarian Donald Young was working the store for his son, who was re-enacting down at the Meadows. A descendant of the Inuit people and a lifer on the Northern tip, Donald gave up fishing in his 30s to become a professional whale bone carver. Collecting washed ashore ribs and jawbones, he fashioned carcass into collectibles like polar bears, Viking ships and swords. He described in great detail how to cut, smooth and shape the bone into a polished treasure. Be warned, his pieces are illegal in the US and will be confiscated as contraband if found hiding in Sheri’s luggage.

There’s no place like home.

On our own reenactment of Vikings migrating south down Viking Highway 430, we took a hidden detour to the Underground Salmon Cave. Sheri likes to find a few off the beaten path but kinda along the way options. Like icebergs that break off in Greenland and drift past St. Anthony every year, some Atlantic salmon originate up river on the peninsula and take an underground passage through a cave to get to the Atlantic. Being salmon, each year they feel family pressure to return to their hometown freshwater cave with hopes of meeting a nice Salmon and starting a family. We were mostly curious as to how we were going to see the salmon if they were underground. 4 miles down rutted gravel road 432, we donned our mosquito jackets and took the mile walk to find a dozen or more salmon in a holding pattern against the current flowing from an underground cave. It looked like another successful match making year.

The Daily Catch – fresh from the freezer

At the end of the day we checked into Lomond site 6 and set up camp surrounded by Quebec Francs in RVs. The rains came just as we finished and haven’t stopped since. Low clouds are caught by the mountain ridges giving the feeling of being smothered by a thick cold wet blanket. The bugs patrol the fields and forest edges below the clouds. The fog rolls thick on the lake. Our small camp stove throws meager heat into the vinyl clad Clam enclosure where we huddle penning our sagas and getting creative with our canned provisions. Surprisingly, we don’t need internet access to know that Gros Morne translates to Big Moody.

Vikings NL: the Prequel