Today started out with a breakfast at the 2 Cats in Bar Harbor, a restaurant
we really wanted to try out. It had a wonderful banana-pecan pancake and
lovely fruit, but sadly, I had an upset stomach and wasn’t up for much in
terms of food. We did buy two of their diner mugs because we liked the name and logo so much—but were told by the waitress that the actual cats live at the owners’ house next door. Then we left BH behind, after four wonderful days there, and headed northeast. The drive wasn’t that much fun because it was raining for most of the way along the coast to Lubec, ME, the easternmost town in the US. We went to see the Easternmost lighthouse in the US just as it stopped raining, and I was satisfied—like the other ones
we’ve seen, it wasn’t tall, but at least it was red-and-white striped! And
it had a Fresnel lens, not some modern substitute.
From Lubec, where we barely stopped, there is a bridge to an island called
Campobello, which is already part of Canada, and Richard had tipped us off
and told us to go there: it has an International (Canada/US) Park because
FDR’s summer vacation residence (“cottage” with 17 bedrooms) in the teens and 1920s is on Campobello. So we got our passports out and took a look (beautifully restored cottage, and not as ostentatious as it sounds, with
pretty small, simple rooms—but obviously, one traveled with an entourage of servants to take care of everything). Not knowing that much about
presidents’ biographies, I hadn’t known that he had five kids, and had a
good time with the pictures that featured the only daughter, Anna, looking
very grumpy as a teenager. I also hadn’t known or remembered that he
contracted polio right on this island during his summer vacation. We then
explored the rest of the island, which is about ten kilometers long and
pretty narrow, and had a ho-hum meal at a restaurant by the public golf
course—-chicken noodle soup sounded just right since I still felt “off.”
Then we drove to the very end, to another lighthouse, with the sun just
starting to come through. It’s a cool island on a little cliffy island that
can only be reached when the tide is low—which it wasn’t at the time.
Campobello has about 900 people year round, 1100 in the season (which again has barely started here), and who knows how many day visitors. The only thing that made noticeable that we were in Canada is that a lot of flags
were flowing and that the signs were bilingual, but everything was really
absolutely the same as on the Maine coast—even the accents, unsurprisingly, which were just as heavy in this part of Maine, and don’t sound either “Canadian” or “East Coast,” so I would really have to study them to figure out what’s distinctive.
We then drove further along the coast, now in sunny weather, to get to
Calais, again directly on the Canadian border, but frustratingly pronounced
“Calless,” which my brain just refuses to do, even as I could handle
Loo-beck for Luebeck, which is clearly the naming inspiration for Lubec! We stopped on the way, though, since we found “our” perfect motel, The
Redclyffe Motel, in a teeny non-town named Robbinston. It’s just classic
drive-up-to-the-room motel rooms, but the affiliated restaurant (which we didn’t try) was a run-down Victorian complete with gingerbread cutouts, with shabby paint but a brand-new bright-red metal roof, and—that was the important thing—the rooms overlook the bay that we are on. They are barely open for their season and we are pretty sure we are the first ones in our enormous room since last fall—we got a discount because one of the window panes has a long crack from last winter’s unusual amount of snow (16 feet at one point) bearing down on the roof. I cannot imagine living here in the winter, and we saw many, many homes and lots of land for sale, waterfront property or not. We checked in around 4:30 or so, and since there was a teeny rocky beach within 100 feet, complete with boat dock and public park, we rambled around a bit and took in the view. Then we drove the 12 miles to Calais and found ourselves a diner with more ho-hum food and looked around a little bit. The city is small, with about 3,000 people living there now, while in 1870, when the port and the lumber industry were in their prime, there were over 6,000. The classic main street area, with former shops and banks, was right on the waterfront, still recalls the bustling business, but there is barely any tourism here now—there is a big visitor center, but it is targeted toward Canadians coming into Maine for locations further south and west. The walk along the waterfront was interesting because you could see the foundations, and in one case, the wooden structure, of the dock buildings that used to be there in the St. Croix River that connects this port to the Bay of Fundy. We also found out that the walk, which also got us a little bit into a wooded area, underneath the bridge that leads to St. Stephen in Canada on the other side of the river, was the beginning of a walk/bike trail system that leads all the way down to Key West (called the East Coast Greenway, although much of it is just roadside biking).
We then went back to the motel, and decided not to do anything else. For
one thing, I was still not feeling well and went to bed early, and for
another, it was late by at least one time zone here—our phones keep toggling between EST and the next time zone, and since our computers are still on Nebraska time, it’s been a little confusing. When Kati called from Mountain time in North Platte and wanted us to do something before the end of the business day, it got really bizarre because the business day here had been over for two hours!