Sunday, July 29, 2012

When lighthouses mock you, it's time to go home

Day 7: Saint John, NB, to Newmarket, NH
Total mileage at end of trip: 2,151.2

It's official: I got to my last pair of underwear. So it was time to go home.

I hit the Maine border at 8 a.m. ADT (7 a.m. EST). I was tired and dirty and hungry. And right before the border is the Chocolate Museum. It was, of course, closed. That made me feel all
And a little while after that, I whizzed through Perry, ME, and past The Red Sleigh, a shop owned by a friend I met this past spring. Because the world was still asleep, it was closed, and I felt all
Originally, I thought I'd go down to Lubec and then come back to the Perry/Eastport area. Then I drove to Lubec and appreciated the distance and felt all
You get the idea.

Lubec, however, is the gateway to Campobello Island! The summer home of FDR and Eleanor. I've been wanting to check this out for a long time.
Nice, ahem, "summer cottage."
There was a similar stove in the house where I grew up.
Also, that turkey must be hella old.

That was all well and good, but when I had stopped by the visitor center, the ladies there said, "If you're feeling adventurous, you can go all the way out to the lighthouse and walk over during low tide." Well, I was feeling all pro about walking the sea floor during low tide, so I hurried my hiney right out there.
Saw this on the way--a cove full of broken boats. Eerie and awesome.

The East Quoddy Lighthouse is at the northern tip of the island, and it looks out over Fundy Bay. The kind guy at the stand in the parking lot accepted my $5 and smiled as I walked down a pleasant little trail. There were artists out painting and raspberry bushes almost ripe for picking.
Well, this looks peaceful. I immediately saw a seal swimming by, eating fish.

Ohhh, that little sandbar must be what the ladies meant by "feeling adventurous." Meh, no problem.

Wait. What the hell is this business?
C'mon, Kel! Don't be a wuss.

Wait. Did the lighthouse just mock me? I slowly made my way down and walked over the "sandbar." It was actually really slipper rock. Then I saw this.
Dude, this is bullshit. The staircase is still wet and slimy from the ocean.
And this thing is all rotted through...
I managed to get up the staircase and thanked all the gods that no one was there to see. I walked along a path lined with beach roses and found my happy place again. And then saw this
And made the mistake of looking down.

Yawwwwn. Whatevs, you weak American.
Go home if you can't handle it. Did I just see a whale pass by?
What? This is so cruel. Doh. I can do this. I must be over the worst part. 

Apparently not. Are you kidding?
At this moment, I thought of all the times my family and friends said, "Be careful!" thinking that something bad might happen up in the wilds of Cape Breton. Little did they know I was about to die on a completely vertical staircase in the hopes of . . . of what at this point? What did I have to prove? 

"Did I just hear a blow?"

Huh? I looked over and saw a man walking over the slimy rocks below, coming toward the stairs. He was referring to hearing a whale in the bay.

Me: Are you teasing me? Or are there really whales here?
Him: No, there are whales. Some minke whales went by a little while ago.
Me: Is the bay deep enough at low tide? (thinking I'm all boss now that I've been on a whale watch)
Him: It's 300 feet deep in this bay.


Then he bounded up the stairs. Bounded up the vertical stairs. A younger guy followed suit. They moseyed along and left me standing there.
Again, for emphasis.
With white knuckles and no pride, I slooooowly inched my way down the stairs. And just in time to hit the bottom and see the two guys come back, holding several boxes each, and go down the stairs without even holding on. They are doing work at the lighthouse. "You get used to it," the guy said when he saw my face. I decided they must have super powers.

The bottom here is a very narrow path over slimy rocks and sea "stuff."
Looking back at hell.
Oh, fer chrissake. Are you still bitching? Just move your ass already.
Once I got to the lighthouse, the scene was worth it. Typical rocky shores, lots of birds, the occasional seal. And then I saw it--whales from shore!!! Yes! A small pod of pilot whales very close to the rocks. At that moment, I knew my trip was complete. 
Yeah, yeah. Take a bow.
The only problem was that now I would have to go back. I won't lie. I was pretty nervous about the stairs. And as I got closer, I saw this
This poor woman was stuck at the top of the stairs. Her husband and son had left her behind and were telling her over their shoulders to just walk down the stairs. But she was paralyzed. And they were annoyed. I felt for her. I completely understood. 

I took a deep breath and inched my way back up the stairs. It was very unpleasant.

At the top of the stairs, I saw the woman, sitting on a rock and feeling frustrated with herself. So I asked if I could sit with her a while. They were up from Pittsburgh, and had never been here before. And when she got to that staircase, she just couldn't do it. All she needed was someone to understand that she had hit a limit she wasn't ready to challenge. So we just looked out at the water and talked about travel for a while--they were headed further north; I was heading south/home. When my heart had stopped pounding and rejoined my chest, I thanked her and was on my way. Then to each person I saw struggling on the first staircase, I helpfully said, "Oh, it only gets worse." with a big smile.

After Campobello, I was a little lost. Not geographically, but my sense of adventure had waned. I was six hours from home. And as I drove south, I kept thinking about my bed, my shower, my kiddos. It was raining on and off (I had no idea severe weather was on the docket), and I couldn't stand the thought of finding a place to camp so early in the day when I could be home by dark. I forged ahead and got to NH by 6:30.
Stella promptly fell asleep in my backpack.
And Finn was all tuckered out after biting me repeatedly.
So while it was an excellent adventure, doing this,
it's very good to be home to this

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