Campobello Island, Bar Harbor and Belfast, Maine

Friday, June 09, 2017
Bar Harbor, Maine, United States
The drive from Halifax into the US is quite away so we decided to stay overnight at a small village near the border, St Andrews. It’s right on the border but as it is on the tip of a peninsular, you need to drive out about 30 kms to the border crossing. We didn’t have any issues crossing into the US. The other reason for staying close to the border is that we wanted to visit Campobello Island.
We have read a lot about Franklyn and Eleanor Roosevelt as well as seen the series on their lives, and they had a summer home on Campobello Island. To get there, you have to cross a causeway back into Canada through a border check and then to leave, go through another border check into the US. The Roosevelt estate is part of a National Park jointly run by the US and Canada – apparently the only International Park in the World. Their house is fully preserved as are some others in the park. The Roosevelt family started going there in 1883 (Theodore and family) and Franklyn spent summers there until 1939. It was FDR’s mother who acquired the 34 room cottage that the family used from about 1920 and it was here that Franklyn was diagnosed with polio. The sofa he used to lie and sleep on is still there. The place really is a significant part of American history which you can feel during the visit.
From Campobello we made our way south to Bar Harbor. This was not a pleasant drive as Northern Maine looks to be suffering quite a bit from unemployment so the towns are rather depressing and there are lots of trailer homes. As you get further south, things improve significantly and Bar Harbor and surrounding areas are much better to visit. Bar Harbor is on Desert Island which has a lot of scenic small seaside harbours and although the town itself is quite touristy, it’s a nice place to stroll around and look at the shops and houses. We had a great dinner overlooking the water at The Reading Room which is in The Bar Harbor Inn. The drive around Desert Island meanders in and out of inlets and bays and through lovely town such as Southwest Harbor and Tremont. There are also lots of places to stop and just enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
After the 3 day break, our southerly journey continued, this time heading for Belfast. Rather than go straight there, we took the long route vis Deer Island, which is known for its scenery, shops and art galleries but we were too early in the year and nothing had really opened as yet. It was also a bleak day so the scenery wasn’t that good either. So on to Belfast.
We chose Belfast as it was the town next to Camden where we had booked a cottage for 9 days starting in 2 days time. It’s a major seaport in the area and has become one of the biggest ship repair ports in Maine. The town centre had mainly red brick buildings as brick was made mandatory in the downtown area after a fire in 1865 destroyed the inner city. There is a walkway along the waterfront area which goes through the shipyards. While we were there, a large yacht  was being lowered into the water using one of the sling cranes. The biggest one there can lift a 440 tonnes boat and then transport it to the spot where it can be repaired and repaired. The cranes are driven by wireless remote control units around the driver’s waist. It is a fascinating area.