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Our Northern Maine Finale

We changed our minds, which we seem to be making a habit of doing as we live this life of travel! After looking at our list of places to see before leaving Robbinston, Maine, we realized we could see almost everything. So we decided to stay with the original timeline of leaving on Thursday, July 13th.

First was a return to Saint Stephen and Saint Andrews; both places were high on the list for one more visit. Despite questionable weather for Tuesday, July 11, we took our bikes with us across the border around 2PM in the afternoon. But we forgot that when you cross the river from Calais, Maine (USA) into St. Stephen, New Brunswick (Canada) you lose an hour due to the time zone change. UGH! Our goal was to explore the Ganong Chocolatier and check out the exhibits and hands-on displays, examine vintage chocolate boxes and machines, and peek into the studio where Ganong’s famous hand dippers still craft chocolates the way they have for over one hundred years.

But God's grace was with us when we arrived in time for the last tour at 4 PM. Officially dubbed ‘Canada’s Chocolate Town’ in 2000, St. Stephen is home to a sweet history. The Chocolate Museum celebrates historic innovation and tells the story of candy-making in St. Stephen. Ganong introduced many Canadian confectionary firsts: Delecto boxed chocolates, Chocolate Nut Bars, Heart-Shaped Boxes, and Ganong Original Chicken Bones. Unfortunately, the hand dippers had left the factory for the day, so we missed out on that piece of the historical process. However, we did get some samples at the end of the tour and purchased some dark chocolate, sea salt covered caramels too...of course!

Continuing on to the town of Saint Andrews, we rode our E-bikes to the lighthouse and we observed the tidal difference during the high tide period. From the blockhouse at one end of town, we rode down the main street to the lighthouse at the other end.

The tide was coming into the Passamaquoddy Bay and up the St. Croix River so we had an opportunity to see the full effect. The place I was standing a few days earlier in the week at the channel marker offshore from the Pendlebury Lighthouse, was now literally under 20+ feet of water!

Returning to the downtown area, we enjoyed another marvelous dinner of fish (Haddock) and chips and also specially seasoned grilled Scallops. From our outdoor table waterfront dining experience at the Harbour Front Restaurant, we watched the tide drop over a foot in less than an hour. Unfortunately, there was no time to golf St. Andrews this trip. We biked back to our parked truck before the rain and headed back to the USA gaining back the one hour lost earlier in the day.

Campobello was on the agenda for our last full day of this leg of our journey, Wednesday, July 12. Campobello Island is in Canada and we remembered to factor in that one hour time change.

Roosevelt Campobello International Park preserves the house and surrounding landscape of the summer retreat of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and their family. It is located on the southern tip of Campobello Island in the Canadian province of New Brunswick and is connected to the mainland by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Bridge at Lubec, Maine in the United States.

The cottage, built in the Shingle Style and completed in 1897, was designed by Willard T. Sears. It was given as a wedding present to Franklin and Eleanor in 1908, by Franklin's mother Sara Roosevelt. In August 1921, 39-year-old Roosevelt, who would go on to become the 32nd President of the United States, was stricken by a severe paralytic illness, believed to be polio at the time, leaving him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.  FDR was no longer able to stay at the "beloved island", but he sailed there in 1933 and visited briefly in 1936 and 1939. Eleanor Roosevelt loved the cool summer weather and visited many times with her children and friends. Armand Hammer acquired the cottage in 1952. After Eleanor's death in 1962, Hammer deeded the property to the governments of the U.S. and Canada. In 1964, they created the 2,800-acre International Park.

After our arrival at the park, we enjoyed the Visitor Center exhibits and a short historical film then walked down for a guided tour of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s magnificent 34-room “summer cottage” which has been preserved and is almost exactly as it was in 1920. Our guide gave us an interesting tour of both floors of the memorabilia-filled cottage. From there we walked over to the neighboring Hubbard Cottage which was built in 1892. Designed by Gorham Hubbard, a successful Boston insurance broker, it was sumptuously appointed. Featuring a magnificent picture window, Hubbard Cottage is a wonderful example of “rusticator” living on Campobello Island.

Our visit ended with a 3 PM appointment for “Eleanor’s Tea” at the Wells-Shober Cottage. The afternoon program is served with New Brunswick-made King Cole tea and homemade ginger snap cookies; it was arranged in advance by Mrs. Karen Teague through an online reservation. The three ladies who hosted the event shared a more comprehensive narrated account of Eleanor's life and accomplishments. Our mothers would be proud as we displayed proper high tea manners!

Our next stop was the Head Harbour Lightstation on the northeastern most point of the island. Unfortunately, the tide had come in too far for us to walk out to the facility, so we resorted to taking photographs from a distance.

However with the tide coming in this rapidly it afforded us another unique opportunity to see the 2nd largest whirlpool in the world. Getting back in the truck we made it in time to catch the ferry from Campobello to Deer Island. We arrived just as the whirlpool effect was starting and had a great vantage from the southwest tip of the point.

Old Sow is the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere. It is located off the southwestern shore of Deer Island, New Brunswick, Canada, and off the northeast shore of Moose Island, the principal island of Eastport, When the tide comes in from the Bay of Fundy, located off the Atlantic Coast between the State of Maine and the Province of New Brunswick, a tremendous amount of ocean water, called a current, flows swiftly into a confined area called the Western Passage before emptying upriver into Passamaquoddy Bay. After making a sharp right turn to the north, traversing a deep trench, flowing past an underwater mountain and encountering several countercurrents, a portion of the current "pinches off" to form the huge circular current called Old Sow and often several smaller ones, nicknamed “piglets.” Circular currents of all sizes are commonly known as whirlpools, vortexes, eddies, and gyres.

Old Sow varies in size but has been measured at more than 250 feet in diameter, about the length of a soccer field. While the turbulent water can be dangerous to small-craft mariners — some of whom have barely escaped a 12-foot drop into the Sow’s gaping maw — its swirling motion has a positive environmental effect. It causes nutrients and tiny sea creatures normally found in the bay’s colder, deeper waters to rise to the surface. This process, called upwelling, ensures good eating for the resident fish and seabirds. We timed it perfectly and stayed for an hour to observe this unique ocean phenomenon.

An hour later we were back on the ferry to Campobello. We finished off the day with our trip back over the FDR Memorial Bridge to Lubec, Maine, USA to enjoy another seafood dinner. This was another very full day of sightseeing in this area that I have fallen in love with. I experienced a truly melancholy feeling about leaving before returning back to the campground to prepare for the next road trip. We will return someday but from here it's on to Bar Harbor, Maine for a five day visit to Acadia National Park.


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