200th blog post.
I am quite annoyed with myself. Upon arriving in the parking lot of the Red Bay National Historic site. I reach my hand up to remove my Parks Canadian National Historic site pass, which hangs on my mirror. I stop short when I realize it isn’t there. My forehead wrinkles up, puzzled as to where it could be. I would have used it at L’Anse aux Meadows-A Viking settlement. that was quite a few days back. I know I would have had show it at the visitor center to get in. Perhaps I stuck it in my pocket – I try try to think back to what I had on. Scrounging through the coat I have hanging in the cab I come up empty. I relocate to the back of the truck and start going through my suitcase looking for the pants I had on. I find nothing.
I remember I tidied up the cab of the truck up just before leaving St Anthony. I threw out the old 2020 park pass that was cluttering up my mirror. A little voice in my mind says ” are you sure it was the 2020 pass?” My hand comes up to cover my mouth at the realization that I am not 100% sure which year I threw out.
I clearly remember the cashier telling me to take a picture of it, when I purchased it at the visitor center in Gros Morne, National Park. The next logical thing to do was to start scrolling through my photos of that day, so many days ago. Two camera SD cards and a phone photo gallery produced nothing. If I took a picture of it, I can’t find that either.
I have one more idea. A shopping bag filled with brochures, maps and receipts. I start pulling stuff out and sorting it into piles. “Ah ha,” I say when I find the receipt I was given from the purchase. But there is no pass. When the bag is empty I express my dismay. “Damn!” I throw my hands in the air, cursing under my breath. I have to admit to myself the pass is lost. I re-stack my all the camping supplies, books, backpack dry goods, cooking kit, haphazardly back into the truck and lock the door. I will take the receipt into the visitor center and plead my case. Perhaps they will accept it and let me in.
They do not. ” I am really sorry but it will be $15 for a replacement pass.” The lady at the counter said. Boo hoo. I think to myself pinching my lips together. I pay the lady, then initial in the book beside the number change of my pass. I chalk it up to a minor road-trip inconvenience. I can now enter the building and look around.
I am at Red Bay despite my dislike for the whole whaling topic. I get angry thinking about the needless slaughter of the whales. During the summer months the North Atlantic Right whales that survive feed in the waters of the bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In spite of shipping speed limitations and fishing gear regulations, Right whale numbers continue to decline.
With a big exhale, I open my mind and go forward I am here to see the one attraction I consider worthy of world heritage status. The discovery location of the San Juan, a 16th-century Basque whaler ship that was discovered here in 1978. From what I have read, it was surprisingly well preserved in the cold waters. Its wood and ropes survived in the ocean muck. Many barrels of oil and artifacts of the ship have been photographed and catalogued and retrieved to display here in the museum. The San Juan itself remains on the ocean floor. There is collaboration between Canada and the Basque region to build a replica at a shipbuilding school in Albaola, Spain, http://www.albaola.com/en/site/shared-history
I read about the artifacts and the how the keel of the San Juan was measured, there is a small duplicate on display in a glass case. The arrows on the floor guide me forward to the end of the museum. A sign on the door says wait here, and another sign points to the ferry but it is roped off. I slip behind it and open the exit the door that leads out onto the wharf. This is where I am supposes to get the ferry to Saddle Island. there is nothing but wind pushing at the door – no people, no ferry. It looks very deserted and this makes me suspicious. I shut the door and follow the corridor backwards till I find an employee. ” Where do I get a ticket for the Saddle Island excursion?” The man in green shirt tells me apologetically that the tours are not running this year due the COVID. I am so disappointed. All I can say is, “Oh.”
I walk all the way back out – even the gift shop is closed. “Thank you for stopping by,” the lady says. I turn before exiting and ask, “Where are the UNESCO and Parks Canada Plaques?” She pauses at my question not understanding what I am asking. “You know, the big square brass plaques…..” I draw an outline with my fingers, “…that are dedicated to a site. I can’t leave without a picture.” “Oh yes,” she recalls and points me up the hill to the Whalers Museum.
I stand with my back to the wall of the whalers museum, sheltered from the wind, looking out at the stones that hold the plaques. It resembles a mini Stonehenge, one UNESCO plaque and one Parks Canada National Historic Site Plaque both in English and French.
I walk around the front of the building to the road where I can see the long wooden boardwalk of The Tracy Hill Trail, I climbed yesterday. Red Bay is a small place, not sure I could live in such a small town. I wonder what the Basque whalers thought about coming across the Atlantic to this remote area. Were they excited to see a new world? Or was it just about another job and the pay they would receive?
I climb back into the truck and look at the chaos I left behind while rummaging for my park pass. I am not in any mood to tackle it right now. I start the truck up and head back down the hill. I am pretty sure I saw a lady flipping the sign to open on the café across the street. I think I will stop in and get a cup of coffee and some breakfast.
Hours of Operation
June 1st to October 4th 2022
Daily 9 am to 5 pm
Adults Daily entrance $12.50 annual Discovery parks pass $72.50
Seniors $10.50 / Annual parks Canada Discover pass $61.75
Annual family group $145.25
Replacements/ duplicates passes are $15.75
order you pass online here is the link; https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/nl/redbay
Please join me again as I head to Mary’s Harbour.
No money, gifts or perks were received for writing this it is my own experience.
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