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North America » Canada » New Brunswick
September 14th 2013
Published: July 7th 2017
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Geo: 44.8927, -66.9327

If you are in Maine, only 2 hours from the Canadian border, have a day to fill and want to see some beautiful scenery then I suggest visiting Roosevelt Campobello International Park in New Brunswick as I did today.

The weather forecast was for a cloudy day, which I thought would be perfect for a drive. Getting to Campobello from Bar Harbor is easy. Head back up the 3 to Ellsworth, North on Hwy 1 to Hwy 189, East on Hwy 189 to Lubec and then over the border to Campobello. The border crossing is easy, but they don't stamp your passport, which is one of the main reasons I went. Now I will have to go to Canada at an entrance where they do. Anyway, the island itself is a small 2 miles wide by 8 miles long so you can cover a lot of ground in a short time. Just remember, you are in Canada so speed limits and distances are in kilometers and signs are in both English and French. The entrance to the park is a short distance from the border and there is no entrance fee.

FDR grew up spending his summers on the island and eventually built his own lavish summer “cottage” where he returned often up through 1939. It was on the island where he decided to run for political office and where he developed polio. It was also where he made close friendships with the Canadians that lived on the island. The park was later established in 1964 as a symbol of the close relationship we continue to share with Canada to this day. Your visit to the park begins with a short video and then you are free to explore. There are two “cottages,” the Roosevelt and the Hubbard, which are viewed through a self-guided tour. These
aren't really cottages, but homes we would like to have as our main home today. The Roosevelt cottage has 34 rooms and almost everything in it is original. The views out towards the Bay of Fundy are ridiculously gorgeous and I don't think I would ever leave if I was a guest! There are guides at various points in the house to give information and answer any questions you might have. They are very friendly and knowledgeable. I also walked down to the beach area, which has a great view back up to the house.

I stopped to pick up lunch at a little roadside restaurant called Family Fisheries. I got my
lobster roll with fries and slaw and continued north to Head Harbour Lighthouse. This light is at the very tip of the island and getting there requires more work than I was willing to do. It is down steps, across slippery rocks, up a steep ladder and then repeat, I think 2 more times. And this is done during low tide. (Of note, the Bay of Fundy has the world's most extreme tides. I think there can be a difference of 28 feet at times!) I wasn't up for that so I just ate my lunch and watched for whales. The lady manning the information stand said she had just seen a Minke whale about 5 minutes earlier. So of course I did not see anything other than 2 porpoises, and those aren't as exciting as a whale!

I also checked out the carriage roads that lead to different nature areas in Campobello Park. The furthest drive goes out to Liberty Point at the southern end of the island. Here you can also occasionally spot whales (I did not) and lots of birds and maybe a seal pulling out onto a rock at low tide. While a jumping humpback whale would have made my year, the craggy rocks and crashing surf were enough to satisfy me.

Time to head back towards Bar Harbor. The guy on the US side of the border was a little more thorough in his questioning. Where are you from? What did you do? Are you staying locally? Can I look in the trunk? I guess I could have been bringing back a seal or something, but I was not! As I was driving I decided to do the Schoodic Peninsula loop. This is part of Acadia and is the only portion connected to the mainland. It is less visited than the main part of the park and I am not sure why. There aren't as many trails, but there are some gorgeous views! You can look across at Cadillac Mountain and you can walk right up to the crashing waves of the Atlantic. The one-way road through the peninsula ends at Schoodic Point. Here, the craggy coastline meets the open ocean and the resulting spray is like a geyser in Yellowstone. You could spend all afternoon sitting on the rocks, but time again was ticking and it was with much reluctance that I headed back towards the car.

So, if you like driving and need to check a Canadian province off your “Where Have I Been” list, I highly recommend the drive to Roosevelt Campobello International Park. Everyone is friendly, the food is good and the scenery is beautiful. You just might find yourself thinking about building your own summer “cottage” on a tiny island in New Brunswick!

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