I got to pee …badly, I jump out of the truck, flinging open the visitor center door of the Parks Canada, National Historic site at Port Aux Choix, almost breathless with urgency. I flash my park pass, but my eyes never meet the attendant’s, because I am scanning the room looking for the washroom sign. Recognizing my discomfort for what it is, the attendant lifts his arm up from his side, and points towards the restrooms saying, “That way.” I nod and bee-line it for the ladies room.
Whew. Now relieved of that panic, I stroll back out into the main atrium and the attendant is waiting for me, standing straight as an arrow, his hands crossed behind his back, slightly rocking up onto his toes back and forth holding a smile. He is young, probably a college student with a summer job, and I am his target. He wants to unleash everything he knows about this National Historic Site on me. So I open the door to his exuberance by saying, “So what can you tell me about this place?”
He quickly moves towards the first exhibit, a timeline of geology and the first ancient peoples that have left an archeological trail of having hunted, fished and resided in the area. As soon as I hear him mention caribou, I snap to attention. The last time I went looking for caribou was on Mont Jacques-Cartier, in Quebec. I interrupt him with, “I read the caribou can be seen near here, where is my best chance to see them?” He has to regroup from being derailed from his speech and says, “Point Ritchie lighthouse, the caribou are often there.”
I recognize the look of disappointment that slides across his face. He knows he has lost my attention, I have one foot out the door. Not wanting to dismiss how much effort he has put into learning the facts of his job, I ask him about the lighthouse, he says, “It was built in 1892,” and wanting to return to where he was before I sidetracked him he adds, “You can see the 2000-year-old ruins of a Dorset settlement there.”
Before he can get going again I say, ” Thank you, so much for all of your help.” Acknowledging his time and effort gives him a boost in satisfaction. His smile returns and I leave the building on a positive note and drive towards the Point Ritchie lighthouse.
I inhale loudly, more of a gasp really. Oh my. My heart beats fast with excitement.. I can’t believe my luck, I grab my camera and close the door quietly and walk towards the herd of caribou grazing on the lawn near an old foundation of a building. There are maybe fifteen, give or take a few. All sizes from babies to mature adults. I believe both females and males have antlers and I see only one adult with a rack of antlers large enough to be described as impressive and several others have smaller sets. There are a handful of babies weaving in around the legs of all of them, some with tiny antlers, others without antlers.
The next hour I am consumed with taking pictures until they make their way out onto the rocks and head up the coastline out of view.
Oh did I mention there is a lighthouse?
When the caribou wander off out of site. I decide it is time to go investigate some of historic site of this National Park. I head back to the visitor center to get a map.
Please join me on a walk-about on the Dorset Trail to Phillip’s Garden to see an where ancient cultures gathered to live off the land here in Port Aux Choix, NFLD
Happy travels from Maritimemac.
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