Jul 11, 2008
|And our first venture into Canada - Friday, July 11
Today we are leaving Acadia and driving north to the Canadian boarder. Our destination is the town of Robbinston, Maine which is just across the water from New Brunswick. We have reservations at the Hilltop Campground in Robbinston, where we plan to spend a day or two getting organized for our trip into Canada.
The drive up along the northeastern Maine coast is one I'll never forget, not because we saw anything spectacular, but because we were on highways that wound through small towns and rural valleys where we could get a feel for the country. This is not an affluent area and many of the houses, sided with wooden shingles, are in desperate need of paint. But the landscape is wild and beautiful and the homes and stores look perfectly in place.
One of our favorite stops was Wild Blueberry Land, a huge purple dome that turned out to be a great place to get blueberry pies and ice cream. The blueberries in the ice cream were frozen, and on a hot day they were delicious.
As we drove farther north the roads got narrower and rougher, and we finally reached an intersection where if you turn right the road takes you to West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, and if you go straight the road takes you to Campobello Island in New Brunswick and East Quoddy Head Lighthouse. We turned right.
West Quoddy Head Lighthouse is at Quoddy Head State Park in Maine, and it is the easternmost point in the United States. The lighthouse is brick and is painted in red and white stripes. As lighthouses go it is not a tall one, but it is fitted with a first order Fresnel lens. It shines out over the channel that lies between Maine and Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, and these waters flow into the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. Tides here average between 23 and 26 feet.
We spent an hour looking at the lighthouse displays and talking to the friendly ranger. They had a map of the continental United States showing where the southern, northern, western and easternmost points are located. This makes two we’ve visited on this trip now - the southernmost in Key West, Florida, and the easternmost at Quoddy Head, Maine.
From there we returned to the intersection and turned right toward Campobello Island. A friendly Canadian official looked at our passports and asked us a few questions, then waved us across the border and we entered New Brunswick.
Our first stop was at the Visitor Center where a nice young woman gave us some information on New Brunswick. She couldn’t tell us much about Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia because she’d never been to either place. Not far past the Visitor Center you come to the Roosevelt Cottage, the site of which is now an International Peace Park. It is funded and staffed equally by Canadians and Americans, and it is the place where Franklin D. Roosevelt spent his summers as a boy, where he contracted polio in his thirties, and where one of his sons was born and where the Roosevelt family spent most of their summers for most of his life.
There is a fine museum with a very friendly staff, and you can tour the cottage (actually a 37 room mansion). Young men and women guide you through the home, but you can walk it at your own pace and take pictures. All but three pieces of furniture are original, and it’s a bright and cheerful place where you can imagine the family being very happy.
Outside the grounds are beautifully preserved. Down at the water there are interpretive signs that explain the salmon farming operations that are now the staple industry of the local economy. The waterfront views are lovely and the skies today were stunning.
From the Roosevelt Park we continued on to the East Quoddy Head Lighthouse, which is about the same height as the other one, but is out on an island that you can only walk to at low tide. It is white with two large red crosses painted on either side. At the base of the island several families of ducks were swimming and feeding with a lot of quacking and splashing.
On the way back we stopped and had an excellent Pollack and Scallop dinner at the Lupine Lodge, then re-crossed the border and returned to Maine. The American officials ran our license through their computer and the officer boarded the motorhome and looked in the refrigerator and the bathroom. He waved us on and we headed for Robbinston.