“Do you really want to drive all the way out to Lubec?”My husband posed this query several months ago as we planned our trip to coastal Maine.
Oh, yes. I certainly did.
“If we’re going to travel all the way to Maine, I want to stand on the furthest most eastern point in the United States,” I answered.
So here we are, standing on that very place, which actually is in nearby Quoddy Head State Park — a little point that juts into the Atlantic farther than any other place in the country. And it’s as pretty as it is notable. Nearby is the iconic West Quoddy Head Light, the candy-striped lighthouse perched on a cliff. We take pictures, then head out on a 4-mile park trail that becomes much more of a challenge than we anticipated. We soon learn that a sea-level hike is not synonymous with easy. Rocks, roots and rain the night before test our coordination and patience.
Maybe we should’ve asked a few questions at breakfast an hour earlier, but we were distracted by the exotic, popover-like confection created and served by hosts Dennis and Sue Baker, co-owners of Peacock House Bed & Breakfast. The couple, last from Pennsylvania, fell in love at the first sight of quaint Lubec (population 1,650) abut 10 years ago. Having decided to venture into the B&B world, the Peacock House fit their plan.
“We didn’t tell anyone what we were doing until it was a done deal,” Dennis explains, “because they’d tell us all the reasons we shouldn’t do it.”
They have proven to be loving stewards of the house, built in 1860 by a sea captain for his wife. (The captain’s picture hangs over the fireplace.) The couple has spent the last 10 winters repairing and renovating. Today, the home is warmly welcoming, as are the Bakers, who say that even though they live on the edge of the earth and off the beaten path, there is no sense of loneliness.
“The world comes to see us,” Sue says.
What brings all those visitors to Lubec?
“They come to get away, to hike, to see Campobello,” Sue continues. “If you’re looking for fine dining and shopping, this is not the place.”
I might argue that point after tasting the Brazilian fish stew at the Water Street Tavern & Inn, a short walk down the hill from Peacock House. Who would expect to find such a delicacy in Lubec?
“I like to try different things,” says proprietor Jim Heyer, who just happened to grow up in the same place and era in Ohio as my husband. His otherwise quick visit to our table morphs into a hometown reunion and extra glasses of wine.
Heyer and wife, Judy, originally intended just to save this aging, weather-beaten waterfront building, then sell it, but “we got carried away,” he admits. They not only created a gathering place for residents, business owners and visitors — “This is what a tavern should be” Heyer says — but beautifully renovated several nautical-themed rooms and suites. The tavern also displays art by locals, and Heyer is proud of his wine selection.
The next morning, we debate whether to visit Roosevelt Campobello International Park, just across the bridge in New Brunswick, Canada. When I fret about the time it might take to return, the Bakers give us a look that says, “You’re kidding, right?”
I explain that in San Diego, a three-hour delay at the San Ysidro checkpoint is not uncommon.
“Well,” Sue laughs, “here you might have to wait 30 seconds … ”
It is a mere 15-minute drive to the idyllic summer home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and family, the only international park in the world. FDR spent many summers on Campobello during his formative years. After he married Eleanor, they built a home on the many acres of natural wonderland and spent many summers there with their five children. FDR also contracted polio here, and after he became president in 1933, visits there were rare.
The 34-room “cottage,” which includes living quarters for several servants, nannies and teachers, is perfectly preserved and contains many of the family’s possessions and artifacts of the times. Even FDR’s hat sits in the corner of the first room guests enter, giving the feeling that he might just be in the next room. Well schooled docents, both Canadian and American, are stationed throughout the home to answer questions and relate anecdotes about the family.
Despite the drizzly autumn day, the garden was still vibrant, including the ornamental kale, so perfect looking that it appeared unreal.
We had to leave the island all too soon, and our only delay at the border was a nice chat with the agent.
Peacock House Bed & Breakfast – Open May through October; (888) 305-0036; peacockhouse.com
Water Street Tavern & Inn (207) 733-2477; watersttavernandinn.com