Tuesday, August 16, 2011

#3. Visit Lanse Aux Meadows

En route to St. Anthony last weekend we decided to stop by and see the Viking site, "Norstead", in Lanse Aux Meadows.

It was on my 101 in 1001 list. I had never been there before.

I've always been incredibly fascinated by the fact that Vikings sailed here and settled for a while. Fascinated as my mind churns up great fantastic stories of mystery and romance, intermingled with a battle with the sea as they crossed the great Atlantic in a boat with oars so large I cannot imagine anyone rowing them!

And so, I was very excited to visit. We showed up almost at the last minute and the girl let us in for FREE!! (She told us not to tell so...shhhh!)

When we walked down to the site and the first building, the "Boat" House, we were greeted by this man.

He approached us with his crazy white beard, sun-bronzed skin, and beautiful blue eyes, spoke to Charlotte and immediately sent her into a fit of hysterics. He thought it was because he was "scary", though in fact it is because Charlotte has severe stranger anxiety and had screamed her head off at cooing soft-spoken old ladies in flowered dresses. He proceeded to explain the long house was where the women were, where everyone slept, ate, and "made love". He said the women (plural) had already tried that day to convince him of love-making but, alas, all he had was his powder horn (pointing to said attachment on his right hip) and even that was a little "soft". Mom looked at me with shock on her face (but laughter in her eyes, I might add), which he noticed, and commented, "Isn't it wonderful when you can talk about such things and the children have no idea?" I very nearly began to argue that point but thought better of it since Mr. Santa-Viking himself did earlier point out how he often got in trouble for talking too much and I was, five minutes into our visit, much inclined to believe him.

We walked on...

Next, we visited the blacksmith shop where we were greeted by just about the prettiest young Viking I could have ever encountered, and said so. He merely gave me a 16-year old smirk and set off into his spiel about the power of the village blacksmith, who had the ability to deny anyone he didn't like weapons and even cookware. And so, he shut the windows and doors of his smoke-filled shop to the outside to keep the secrets of his trade alive only for his son, to whom the knowledge would be passed. But then that great power and secrecy turned into an early death (estimated at 25-35 years) due to smoke inhalation complications. On the up-side, he was apparantly quite popular with the ladies who seemed to like the idea of power and wealth accompanied by a short life span. I had to admit the idea had some merit.

The church was the next stop. They called it a church. I honestly have no idea what type of religion or belief system the Vikings practiced. Since it was Sunday, Mom and Charlotte sat in the pews while Sarah and I stood in the pulpit and spoke briefly about how the present two would probably be the extent of our congregation if we were in charge of "preaching".
The "Church"

Sarah and I standing in the pulpit

I liked the Viking ship hanging from the rafters

From the church we went to the longhouse with the women mentioned earlier. Here, they explained how everyone - up to 25 men and their families - basically slept together on a row of fur-covered beds, with the exception of the King and Queen of the village who had the priveledge of a private bed chamber across the room. Clearly, there was no room for secrets. Literally, no room. The longhouse was also where all of the cooking was done and meals were taken.
The trading post was attached to the longhouse. Sarah refused to trade her mini bubble blower or her lip gloss for a knitted bracelet but her cuteness got her one anyways. She chose the pink one, of course.

Mostly, Sarah and Charlotte were interested in the animals - the chickens, rooster, and a pig. Sarah was quick to point out an error on the town map. The map displayed 4 pigs, where in fact there was only 1 pig. And the chicken coop was not on the map at all. She was not impressed over that error. How was she, afterall, supposed to know about the chickens if they were not on the map?

And thus concludes our trip to Norstead, Lanse Aux Meadows - a little journey back in time where love-making might, in fact, not take place in the 25-man longhouse after all, but rather up behind a tree somewhere, splinters and pine needles be *cursed*.

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