Friday, October 05, 2007

The Trip - Campobello

We went into Canada for the second time, this time without Scooter. On the way south from Houlton, Maine, we had stopped at a scenic viewpoint overlooking Grand Lake, and there was a couple on a BMW motorcycle. I asked the man if it was air-cooled or water-cooled, and he said air. I told him that back in 1976 my then-husband had a BMW R75/5, and that was during the time the BMW people (and the riders) were debating whether they should switch from air- to water-cooled. They finally decided on both, though the man at the viewpoint said the Japanese do a better job with the water cooling.

And, as it almost always happens, one of us asked the other where they were from. They're from Augusta, Maine, and were out for a day ride. When I told them we were headed for Lubec, they asked if we were going to Campobello, FDR's family summer home. I'd heard the name but hadn't heard that it was near Lubec. The man explained that it was a Canadian island whose only entry/exit was a bridge from Lubec, and they have the Roosevelts' cottage preserved in a Park. So we decided to go, staying an extra night so we'd have time to see it.

We drove over the bridge, which rose high enough to make me woozy if I glanced over the side, so I kept my eyes on the bridge. On the island side, we went through Canadian customs, where they asked questions similar to the ones by Houlton. Only at Campobello they were more prepared for day-trippers.

We stopped at the visitor center, because neither of us knew a thing about the island. The lady there knew a lot, and told us in a cross between a Maine and a Canadian accent (not much in the way of "R's" but saying, "aboot" instead of "about"). I guess when your only outlet from the island is in Maine, there's more blending of accents than in other parts of Canada.

She gave us a map of the island, which is only ten miles long, and showed us which way to go to get to the different points of interest. FDR's cottage is part-way up the west side. And the East Quoddy Lighthouse is on the northern tip. Just off the northern tip is a trap (I pictured a little box-shaped lobster trap, until she told us it's at least the size of the visitor center building) where a minke whale was inside the night before, and divers had tried to help it get out.

We started with the no-longer-in-service Mulholland Point Lighthouse just down the road from the visitor center. It was taken out of use when the bridge was built and equipped with lights to guide the fishermen (American and Canadian) who go in and out of the bay. The lighthouse is now part of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, which takes up much of the south end of the island.

We drove north to the Roosevelt Cottage visitor center and read some of the history of him and of his family's residence on the island. Then it was time for the 20-minute movie, followed by a tour of the Cottage. Yes, just your average summer cottage...

I had a little trouble getting excited about FDR. In conservative circles, FDR's domestic policies are often viewed as the impetus behind our country's move toward socialism or the Nanny State. He's very much out of favor that way. But at the same time, he understood the importance of fighting against the enemies of liberty, no matter how bad the odds, so he's very much in favor that way. And as I read the displays that talked about the romance between Franklin and Eleanor, I remembered Margaret Truman's book about the First Ladies of the US. Truman said that by the time Eleanor was First Lady, she and Franklin did not get along. At. All. But that wasn't part of the exhibit.

I loved the children's play room--they had six children, but one (FDR Jr.) died in infancy. So they named another son, their youngest, FDR Jr. Two boys with the same name.

On the way up north to the lighthouse, we saw signs of the low tide, though it's possible these boats were abandoned rather than just beached until the tide came back in.

But low tide was a bonus gift to "the adventurous," as the island's visitor center lady described them. The East Quoddy Lighthouse sits on a small island just beyond a small island just beyond the northern tip of Campobello Island. When the tide is low, adventurous souls can make their way across the exposed seaweed-covered rocks between the islands. I took a look and decided I could be adventurous.

This was the scary set of stairs--not quite level, narrow steps, steep. I held the railings with both hands, glad there weren't any spiderwebs like on the other sets of stairs.

At the lighthouse, it was obvious it's in the middle of being repainted. It should look sharp when they've finished. But there was no admittance to the tower itself, no chance to see the Fresnel lens, except from below, and that wasn't close enough. But what do you do? (Gallic shrug)

I retraced my steps, back up the scary stairs and the spiderweb stairs and over to the picnic tables that looked out at the gigantic trap. From there, my mom and I watched for the minke whale, which was still in the trap. We spotted him, a dinky minke (only 15 feet long instead of the full-grown 30 feet), as he broke the surface for air, looking more like a dolphin than a whale (my photo only caught the fin).

After the minke show, we drove back south and crossed the bridge to the US Customs, where they grilled us about our lack of purchases in Canada--even alcohol or tobacco--and looked in the trunk. The agent asked if the Toyota was a towed vehicle. Yes, our RV was in Lubec, we said. He sent us on our way.

1 comment:

Bekah said...

Oh to have such an "average cottage..."